Archive for the ‘Caveman’ Category

Time again on a lovely near-summerlike Sunday afternoon for The Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by and at the Monroe County Convention Center.  Featured readers were Kentucky poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell, whose latest book is NEXT DOOR TO THE DEAD from the University Press of Kentucky; and local actress, prose writer, and poet Patsy Rahn, a founding member and one-time chairperson of the Writers Guild.  Kathleen led off with several poems having to do with the fact she currently lives next to a graveyard, along with some others about Kentucky, and ending with a long and interesting speculative piece about an apparently middle-class housewife, ancient Egyptian mummy currently at the Kentucky Science Center.  Patsy followed before a larger than average audience with poems about the Fourth of July and children, among other subjects, ending with a long poem about the beauty of landscapes in China.  Then when it was open mike time with, as well, a larger than usual number of participants,  I read five short, “light” pre-summer type pieces that shared the attribute of all having recently been rejected (but not to worry, several are already out again, testing the waters martyrs_2of new magazines), ending with one of a demon wife taking the expression “Shoemaker, Stick to your Last” a little more literally than usually expected.

For a second Sunday punch, this one comes courtesy of Mike Olson via Facebook’s ON THE EDGE CINEMA.  Sometimes these lists end up here because I think they’re interesting in general, but sometimes because they’re something I want to save for myself too.  This is one of the latter, films that probably won’t be to everyone’s taste — including some I’m not sure of myself; of those that I’ve seen some are hard to watch, but all are brilliant at least on some level.  So herewith “New French Extremity/French Extreme Films List” on HORRORNEWS.NET, for which press here.

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Easter brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” for March, presented in conjunction with the Bloomington and Monroe County Convention Center.  The featured poets were Jonathan Abraham Antelept, philosopher, poet, dreamer, and author of THE CRYSTAL IN THE BURNING GARDEN, who spoke about and read on topics related to resurrection, metamorphosis, change, rising, and overcoming; followed by Dr. Abegunde, who we’ve met before (cf. March 6, January  25, et al.), “an egungun (ancestral) priest in the Yoruba Orisa tradition, Reiki Master, and doula with a focus on the recovery of ancestral memory from the Earth and human body,” who read four poems on a recent trip she had taken to Sudan.  While the overall turnout was good  for a weekend when many would be home with their families, only three “old hands” read at the open mike session that followed, my presentation being in the middle with two recently or about-to-be published poems, both of which we’ve met before, “Plus-Size” (see February 28, et al.) and “On the Other Hand” (March 20, et al.).

But the headline event for the day for me was a new fiction sale, albeit a small one, for a story written last October called “Killer Kudzu.”  It was a silly bit, perhaps, of science fiction/biological horror, but answered the call, at 1100 words, for short humor pieces from Yard Dog Press.  The occasion is a second volume of FLUSH FICTION, the first published just ten years ago in April 2006 with a slightly shortened story of mine, “The Dragon Tattoo.”  The idea was a volume of mostly amusing flash fiction suitable to keep in the bathroom for those in need of a brief sit-down and read.  Volume 2, however, will be using slightly longer stories and with an eye for readings/performances at conventions on the editors/publishers’ circuit to help advertise the Yard Dog line (including, I might add, a five-volume series, BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE, of which I have stories in the first four from 2001 to 2007, an oblique reference to which also appears below for March 17, et al., re. “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians”).  But also for its original purpose.

Back into the swing of things for spring with March’s First Sunday Prose Readings.  Guest readers this time were Indiana University Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies visiting faculty member Abegunde with excerpts from a continuing “memory work,” a composition neither wholly fiction nor nonfiction; Lisa Kwong, an “AppalAsian poet in the Midwest” and MFA graduate currently teaching Asian American Studies and Freshman Composition, this month reading from new work in progress, mostly essays but also ending with two poems; and historical novelist Annette Oppenlander reading from her latest book, ESCAPE FROM THE PAST:  THE KID, in which time-traveling gamer Max journeys to the wild west of 1881 New Mexico, rubbing elbows with, among others, the original Billy the Kid.  When open mike time came, my offering was a 400-word piece as a sort of background on last month’s “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale” (cf. February 7), recounting the arrival of the “casket girls” in New Orleans (in one sense covering much the same ground of my 2014 DAILY SCIENCE FICTION story “Casket Girls” — see April 17 2014, et al.) but adding the sense of irony to it that I then transferred to the character Claudette in last month’s offering.  And one other thing, written for an exercise as a 500-word or less story containing the exact words “taxes,” “carpenter,” and “vinegar,” in this case ending up with the title “The Flavor of the Jest.”

It also brought some serious poetry too, but, yes, it was that time again for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic,” presented in conjunction with the Bloomington and Monroe County Convention Center.  The featured poets were Hilda Davis, a graduate student in Indiana University’s Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies — and also a seasoned poetry slammer — and Jonathan Holland, a graduate of Ivy Tech as well as a student at Indiana University.  Both presented rhythmic, sonorous works, both personal to them as well as connected to the world about them, ending up almost surprisingly complimenting each other.  This was followed by the open mike session where I had the number four spot in a field of ten, about as many as I’ve seen read from the audience at these events.  I read two poems, one about werewolves and loss of habitat originally published in STAR*LINE, “No One Wants to Run Through the Woods Naked Under a Full Moon Anymore” (see January 27 2012, July 11 2011), and the other as yet unpublished, “Don’t Always Believe Everything You Read,” in which a zombie explains why the New Hampshire motto Live Free or Die fails to reflect reality (“. . . being dead’s cheap enough — / but living free, sorry, / that’s bucks on the barrelhead . . . ”).

And came time Sunday for the Bloomington Writers Guild/Boxcar Books First Sunday Prose Reading, this month with featured writers Tony Brewer and Joan Hawkins and followed by the usual open mike session, but with a twist.  Two writers — Shayne Laughter and . . . moi — would be allowed ten minutes each, rather than the usual three-to-five.

So it began with poet, sometime radio play and screenwriter, and Writers Guild Chairman Brewer demonstrating that he sometimes writes stories too with an allegory of death and the afterlife (and vultures), “The Trouble with Boys” of young lust and death, and handy hints on tanning one’s deer hide.  The second of these also included an odd interruption, a noisy customer who dropped in to buy a book and, somehow in the course of the purchase, shared with all that he was a two-time rabies survivor.  Tony took this well in stride, though, and ended by introducing Joan Hawkins, fedora crowned, who read a piece from a memoir-in-progress, TALES OF SCHOOL AND SUICIDE.  This was about a marathon New Years Day poetry reading in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 2000s, the highlight of which was actress, director, and co-founder of The Living Theatre Judith Malina (1926-2015)* with a striking ChristmasRatrendition of a scene from ANTIGONE.

Then we lesser lights had our time on the stage, starting with Shayne Laughter with the first part of a contemporary story-in-progress, “The Nature of the Beast,” related to her reading of the previous month of “Emmonsburg” (c.f. December 6), a story inspired by her grandfather’s writings about growing up in Indiana.  This was followed by a refreshment break, and then my “longer” short reading of a tale of the just-past holidays, “The Christmas Rat,” originally published in the Winter 2007-8 DOORWAYS and reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS, including showing copies of the illustrations used with its first publication, followed in turn by several more readings, the last introduced by poet-essayist Antonia Matthews as being probably “more wholesome” than mine.  (But then when I had finished my story, amongst the applause I thought I heard one person mention she was “glad Christmas is over” so, as I see it, I’d done my job. 😉 )

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*Fun Fact:  Though perhaps best known for her work with The Living Theatre, Judith Malina also appeared in several movies including, in the role of “Grandmama,” 1991’s THE ADDAMS FAMILY.

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Saturday, along with the excitement of having sold “Bottles” (see post just below), brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s end-of-year combination business meeting, voting for officers, pot luck party, and open reading, for which I ran for nothing but brought orange slices for a healthy pot luck dessert.  Just like “party calories” though, which do not count, so, too, healthful party food adds no nutrition, so I with everyone else went for the chocolate chip cookies.  More to the literary point, however, I had brought two items for possible reading: one a Christmas story excerpt which would run about five minutes; the other three poems (one of which some people would have heard before but others wouldn’t) which could be read in less than three minutes.

The business/election part ran a bit long so I ended up taking the three-minute option, but adding that the other, a Christmas story involving a vampire and St. Nicholas, would be read “tomorrow” as a First Sunday open mike option.  And so for Saturday afternoon I carroll-borland-as-spidra-in-mark-of-the-vampire-1365795084_orgread the three poems, “as a sort of introduction, to show the up side of vampirism” and all from my poetry collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the jazzy “Hi-Flying,” the unlife-celebratory “Night Child,” and the exhilarating “The Aeronaut.”

Then Sunday brought December’s First Sunday Prose Reading with featured participants Shayne Laughter with “Emmonsburg,” from a collection of stories inspired by her grandfather’s writings about growing up in Indiana; speculative fiction and poetry writer Darja Malcolm-Clarke with an excerpt from a novel in progress, HIS ONE TRUE BRIDE; and Poet Eric Rensberger with “a prose thing” composed by taking an existing text, chopping it up, and reassembling it into a new story, in this case from memoirs by an early American actor, John Durang.  These were followed by the open mike session where, as promised, my reading was of the latter, and larger half of “Naughty or Nice?” as published on December 21 2011 in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION, concerning the vampiress Mignonette and whether she could prove to the Saint that she was sufficiently “nice” to get presents.  And which, by the way, you can find out for yourself by clicking here.

And then two more items to complete the weekend.  Friday I went to the opening night of a workshop production of Jean Anouilh’s version of ANTIGONE, in this case combining dance with the action and very well done.  Then Saturday evening, after the party, brought a visit to the local Bloomington Krampusnacht celebration, considered one of the best these days in the United States.  For various reasons this was the first I was able to get to since the initial one three years ago, for which see below, December 9 2012.

Well it is nearly December, the spirits having been let loose on Halloween, and now spiraling down to the longest night of the year.  So I mentioned in introducing three short poems during the open mike section.  But we had already had featured poet Michelle Gottschlich read, among others, a poem involving a date at local Rose Hill Cemetery (not to mention, from first open mike reader Joan Hawkins, a translation of a “found” invoice concerning shipping a corpse from Tahiti to the US).  The latter also was somewhat in answer to second Featured Poet Eric Rensberger who offered a reading of found and partially “stolen” poems.

The occasion was November’s Last Sunday Poetry Reading, sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Bureau (cf. October 26, et al.), on an afternoon that, yes, was gloomy and gray, but did have the virtue that it wasn’t raining.  And the poetry wasn’t all necessarily gloomy, though when my turn came I had pre-selected three older poems that played well off the aforementioned  topics, including the introductory remarks I glossed at the top.  Thus I presented “A Little Night Music,” a two-line verse pointing out that love and death happen in daytime too; “Dust to Dust” about a fire in a cemetery, which also had once been part of an arts display project on Bloomington Transit city buses in 2001 (I noted that I didn’t know which the exact bus was, but had hoped it had been the one going past Rose Hill, as well as the fact the experiment was not repeated); and a “Little Willie” (a what?  See February 16; also February 6 2012) which I noted had the distinction of being published not in a genre magazine but a “more respectable” mainstream journal, “Fire in the Hole,” about a naughty boy who dynamites a grave.

As the Halloween Holiday Weekend winds down, Sunday brought, also, November’s First Sunday Prose Readings (see October 4, et al.) sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild in conjunction with local bookstore Boxcar Booisis-ecover-194x300ks.  This time, in part because of its proximity to Halloween, I was the second of three featured readers, the others being memoir writer and burgeoning novelist Claire Arbogast and novelist, attorney, and nonfiction writer Karen A. Wyle, the first of these reading a chapter from her Indiana University Press published LEAVE THE DOGS AT HOME and the last a borderline “afterlife fantasy” as well as brief sections from her recent writers’ guide to law and lawyers on the topics of criminal defense and divorce.  Sandwiched between, I read “In the Octopus’s Garden,” lead story from THE TEARS OF ISIS, prefacing it by noting it was inspired by a section of DEATH TO DUST, a book on the things that can happen to a corpse after one has died, as well as with my poem “La Méduse” — which also comes just before “In the Octopus’s Garden” in THE TEARS OF ISIS – to help ease listeners into the right mood.*
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*One might also note that, as written by me, MC Joan Hawkins’s introduction to my part of the reading included a disclaimer that listeners should “expect a PG Rating, including such items as Violence, Graphic Decomposition, Overly Fond Memories, Corpse-Eating, Eating of Corpse-Eaters, Semi-Nudity, and Excessively Grotesque Revenge.”  Interested?  Click on THE TEARS OF ISIS’s  picture in the center column.

And comes the last Sunday of the month and time again for the Bloomington Writer’s Guild’s Last Sunday Poetry Reading (cf. May 31, et al.).  This one was a little different, though, in that, rather than individual poets being spotlighted, this month had a local poetry reading and critique group, The Free Range Poets, as its “featured reader.”  Or at least a subset, consisting of Suzanne Sturgeon, Ian Woollen, Jack King, Jerry Smith, and Judy Lafferty Beerman each giving several samples of their work.  This was followed by the more usual open mike session, again coincidentally consisting of five readers of which I, fourth in the lineup, read — with a special nod to Halloween — three poems just out in the current issue of NOTHING’S SACRED (of which I have received a .pdf preview, to be followed soon by a print copy; see also June 24), “The Vampire’s Excuse,” “The Vampire Reflects,” and “Necropolis.”  In all, an enjoyable afternoon accompanied, outside, by not-too-cold weather and some of the most brilliant autumn foliage in several years.




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