2014 Favorites, Poetry, Winter

2014 Favorites: Muriel Leung

It’s that time of year!  We’ve asked guests and contributors we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2014 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and editor, Muriel Leung, poet and TBJ Contributor.  She writes:

“Four Chapbooks to Read by Four Badass Women Poets”

What are my favorite books that I have read this year? I have had Oprah-sized fantasies about being asked this question, and though I can promise no one in any audience anywhere their own personal copies of each book (or copper tea sets or computer tablets), I am elated to brag on behalf of the following below. These are chapbooks published by small presses—some are e-books, some hand-stitched—by amazing women poets. This year, I vote we give women’s poetry collections produced through small presses their due appreciation and recognize chapbooks for the artistry that go into making them. To boot, I want to make suggestions, in honor of the holiday season, of favorite food, drink, and music items to pair with each book—what else is reading if not an all-senses-on-deck experience? Enjoy!

pafunda1

1. Was there once a leash that led to nothing other than my affection and around a rectangular pond we strolled in such fabrics as are assembled by people? No. There was just a hole. Hello in there. What time?

– from Danielle Pafunda, When You Left Me in the Rutted Terrain of Our Love at the Border, Which I Could Not Cross Remaining a Citizen of This Corrupt Land (Birds of Lace, 2014)

Pafunda’s chapbook possesses probably my favorite title of all time as it exquisitely portrays the repeated failures to reach out to a lover across obstacles that seem at once colloquial and fantastical and are nevertheless, relentless and devastating. Predominantly written in prose poem form, Pafunda approaches the form like a box, filling it with every object possible, teasing that boundary between emotional sufficiency and excess. The book is thrilling, sensationally intimate, and incredibly relevant to the fissures that have come to define the trouble of how we love and connect with each other in modern times.

Published through Birds of Lace, the feminist press is also known for its gorgeous broadsides and chapbook bundle offers. You can shop for Pafunda’s book as well as others here.

How to best enjoy this chapbook: Bake a five-layered funfetti cake with this suggested recipe. When you cut into it, a rabbit will pop out. Do not eat the rabbit. Eat around it. Put on Hole’s “Use Once and Destroy.” Make a White Russian—sometimes drink only the vodka; sometimes drink only the milk.

2. Let me tell you this secret                  all of my eyes had lived before me after 

me all of

These eyes had lived

– from Metta Sáma After “Sleeping to Dream”/After After (Nous-zōt Press, 2014)

Begin at either cover and read until the end. Turn the book over and read another collection entirely. I love a book that toys with the idea of how we traditionally read and Sáma’s chapbook takes the idea of what she calls the “reverse ekphrastics” to lyrically stunning new heights. In After After, Sáma fixates on Argus Panoptes, the hundred eyed giant of Greek mythology and in After “Sleeping to Dream,” the classical takes a modern turn with contemplations on art that traverses natural, bodily, and domestic planes. The level of play operates not only linguistically but also in the handling and reading of the book—a joy in each turn.

Run by poet Marthe Reed, Nous-zōt Press also features other great titles in its online shop here.

How to best enjoy this chapbook: FKA Twigs’ “Water Me” plays while you enjoy a piece of pineapple upside down cake, sliced horizontally from the middle first. Brew some mulled wine and invite a lover over at night. If they turn bird and disappear in the day, then so be it.

eraserpoems

3. the box is blank

tomorrow it will be blank

and everyday after

you must fill it with words

you do

you put words in

they are your words

you are anonymous

[erase]

– from Laura Theobald, Eraser Poems (H_NGM_N Books, 2014)

With expert economy of words, Theobald can make loneliness feel so raw to the bone. Direct and deceptively simple in diction, she exercises a vocabulary of pleading, wanting, and loving in a repeated attempt to fix hold of a “you” that consistently slips away. There’s a precision to knowing too that the language tries to access but before the knowing can be exacted, erasure occurs. This is a collection I can read sitting down in under an hour but I often return to it again and again, each time learning something new not just about erasure, but its other—what keeps.

You can download Theobald’s e-chapbook as a PDF file online here.

How to best enjoy this chapbook: Find two slices of olive bread and cut a hole in each center. Cut a hole in salami. Cut a hole in tomato. Cut a hole in spinach. Put them together to make a sandwich. Eat only the hole. Enjoy it while listening to Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang.” Drink all the dry Riesling you want.

minkang

4. I don’t think I like the feeling of this… this mascara in my eyes

it will go away soon. we’ve got bigger things to toast.

 

I am                              the gaps between your packed buttered

teeth

 

lmfao creying but this isn’t that funny

 

            lmfao but i’m creying

 

                        lmfao oh shit im really creying

 

– from Min K. Kang, The Diary of a K-Drama Villain (dancing girl press & studio, 2014)

I laughed out loud more than once while reading Kang’s chapbook, which parodies stereotypes of Asian women while flirting with technological interfaces as sources of humor and reference. In poems like “Occult Universe,” Kang refers to Yahoo! and tarot cards to find answers to the inanity of racist inquiries like “why are Asians so smart” and “I was asked if my vagina ran sideways.” While these gestures are violent in offense, Kang’s humor diffuses the rage of these inquiries to subvert the balance of power—that we, Asian women, get to laugh at the absurdity of racist mythologies is an empowering experience that we are rarely afforded.

Kang’s chapbook is available through dancing girl press & studio’s online shop here.

How to best enjoy this chapbook: Lechón. Take the whole suckling pig with you to your next bath. Eat slowly with your hands. Don’t share. If this is your first time, warm up with a Mariah Carey lip-sync to “Fantasy.” You can vogue, lapping up soap bubbles, but only if you want to.

***

Muriel Leung

Muriel Leung

Muriel Leung is a multimedia poet and former teaching artist from Queens, NY. Her poetry and essays can be found or is forthcoming in Coconut, TENDE RLOIN, Bone Bouquet, Dark Phrases, and RE/VISIONIST. She is a recipient of a Kundiman fellowship. Currently, she is a MFA candidate in poetry at Louisiana State University where she also serves as the Assistant Editor of New Delta Review.

Standard
Comics, Winter

Episode #111: MariNaomi, author and illustrator of DRAGON’S BREATH and KISS AND TELL

Episode #111! Featuring an interview with MariNaomi, author and illustrator of DRAGON’S BREATH and KISS AND TELL.

Check out MariNaomi’s comic, TURNING JAPANESE, on 2D Cloud’s website here.

A panel from TURNING JAPANESE by MariNaomi

A panel from TURNING JAPANESE by MariNaomi

marinaomi-headshot

MariNaomi is the author and illustrator of the award-winning graphic memoir Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011),Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2D Cloud/Uncivilized Books, 2014), the upcoming bookTurning Japanese (2D Cloud, 2015), and her self-published Estrus Comics (1998 to 2009). Her work has appeared in over fifty anthologies, including I Saw You: Comics Inspired by Real Life Missed Connections, Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women, Eisner-nominated No Straight Lines, Ignatz-winner QU33R and Action Girl Comics. Her comics and essays have been featured on The Rumpus, The Weeklings, LA Review of Books, Midnight Breakfast, Truth-out, SFBay.CA, The Comics JournalThe Bay Citizen, XOJane and more. Mari’s work on the Rumpus won a SPACE award and an honorable mention in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics 2013.

MariNaomi’s artwork has been featured in such venues as the De Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco’s Asian American Museum and the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles. In 2011, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. She splits her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In her spare time, Mari has created and maintained the Cartoonists of Color Database and the LGBTQ Cartoonists Database.

Standard
2014 Favorites, Poetry, Winter

2014 Favorites: Michelle Chan Brown

It’s that time of year!  We’ve asked guests and contributors we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2014 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and editor, Michelle Chan Brown, author of Double Agent.  She writes:

14 Things I loved in 2014

(left to right) Eugenia Leigh, Sally Wen Mao, Michelle Chan Brown and Cathy Linh Che are the Honey Badger Don't Give a B**k Tour!

(left to right:) Eugenia Leigh, Sally Wen Mao, Michelle Chan Brown and Cathy Linh Che are the Honey Badger Don’t Give a B**k Tour!

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

(Books featured – left to right): Double Agent by Michelle Chan Brown; Mad Honey Symposium by Sally Wen Mao; Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows by Eugenia Leigh and Split by Cathy Linh Che

kundiman

  1. Not to use terms like “fierce” and “stunning,” which are cliches of poetry-love, but to use those terms for the collections of my fellow Honey Badgers. We did an East Coast/South book tour in July; each reading was a chance to marvel at something new. Sally Wen Mao’s “Mad Honey Symposium,” Cathy Linh Che’s “Split” and Eugenia Leigh’s “Blood, Sparrows, and Sparrows.” Get ‘em.
  2. The Young Writers Workshop at the University of Virginia. I was lucky enough to teach there, or be taught, by my students – hilarious, odd, quirky, brilliant, raw. These high school students wrenched me out of any lingering cynicism about the “use” of poetry.
  3. On Being. It’s not just Krista Tippet’s dulcet voice. I turned 33 this year – the Jesus year, yes – and as I try and slow down and observe and construct meaning, these interviews, with poets, monks, yogis, scientists, on everything from the value of play to the importance of community, have been integral for my own spiritual quest. Jennifer Michael Hecht’s interview, against suicide, is a must-listen.
  4. Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for A Time Being. Each section of this complex, accessible, virtuosic novel spurred me to shake my head and wonder, how does she make it look so easy? I interviewed her for Sycamore Review and was humbled by her wisdom and authenticity.
  5. Kundiman
  6. The Pratt Library – specifically, the Poe Room – in Baltimore. A dazzling space, housed in a former department store, and librarians and curators whose grace, warmth, and beautifully-crafted introductions left me wondering – for me? I read with Kamilah Aisha Moon, whose wrenching, lyrical work is another 2014 highlight.
  7. Drunken Boat. It’s difficult to choose what to publish from all the fine work we receive, but I’m particularly proud of the Debt folio, and the poems of Cynthia Cruz and Kara Candito.
  8. Politics and Prose in Northwest DC. It’s the Rolls Royce of independent bookstores. I spent a good portion of my nineties childhood lipping through From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in the dark, fragrant coffee shop below the store and eyeing, indiscreetly, the Eddie Vedder doppelgängers sipping chai . They’ve managed to retain all the magic of those early years, and their reading series, while VIP-heavy brings in Terry Gross’s co-conversationalist and provides an irresistible chance for Beltway-celebrity ogling.
  9. On the other end of the spectrum, the reading series Poetry Sucks! in Nashville, TN. Why don’t I live in Nashville? Go eat a meat and three, and hang out at this record store/music venue/poetry showcase. Tattoos, winged eyeliner, and genuine niceness
  10. Back to DC: Split This Rock is a wondrous organization. As is BloomBars.
  11. This poem, by Laura Eve Engel.
  12. I’ll be moving to Kazakhstan soon (a Fulbright), and although it’s not from 2014, this book by Professor Kate Brown – A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland – has been essential.
  13. The atrium of the American Portrait Gallery, for writing.
  14. With this album, by Aphex Twin.

***

MichelleChanBrownBW-1

Michelle Chan Brown’s Double Agent was the winner of the 2011 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, Witness and others.

A Kundiman fellow, Michelle received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was a Rackham Fellow. She was a Tennessee Williams scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Wesleyan Writers’ Conference. Her chapbook, The Clever Decoys, is available from LATR Editions. She lives with her husband, the musician Paul Erik Lipp, in Washington DC, where she teaches, writes, and edits Drunken Boat.

Standard