Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington Writers Guild’
This was to be the one on poetry, last month’s premiere “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local tavern and music venue Players Pub, being dominated by prose fiction — including, ahem, my opening reading of “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS (cf. February 10). And so it was, mostly, with even its musical component being poetry-based via Evansville Indiana group SHAKESPEARE’S MONKEY, a “poetry band” reminiscent of 1950s coffeehouse poetry accompanied with jazz (albeit in this case, guitars and hand percussion), who we’ve met before at the Bloomington Arts Festival Spoken Word Stage (see September 4). The featured readers this time out were Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer whose poems included a Pushcart Prize nominee, local poet Eric Rensberger who began his reading with a guitar accompanied “Medicine Show” spiel introducing bartender “Dr. Joe” and the pub itself before continuing with the more “serious literary part,” and First Sundays Prose Series Chair Joan Hawkins breaking the pattern with two prose “creative memoirs.” Then the open mike session added four readers of whom I was second, reading three pieces from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “La Méduse,” “Émile’s Ghosts,” and “Night Child.”
Then for another quick note, I’ve added two pieces to “Poetry (Essays)” under PAGES in the far right column, my ILLUMEN feature “It Begins With the Sound” (see November 5, et al.) and “What Is a Novel in Stories” (see February 13), the latter admittedly really about my upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but springing from Edgar Allan Poe’s essay “The Poetic Principle.”
The announcement, from Editor/Publisher Weldon Burge, was brief: All of the Smart Rhino books are currently on sale at Smashwords, most at 50% off. The sale is until March 11, so grab them while you can. Just search for the individual titles. But the finding them may possibly not be quite so simple as it may seem (hint: for some, you may have to toggle the “adult” switch ON). For mine, press here, but — remember — then toggle the words “Adult Content” at the top right to be sure it’s on (a check mark is good, circle with a slash through it is bad). Then scroll down past THE GOOD FIGHT 3: SIDEKICKS for the ones I’m in, and ignore PRESIDENTIAL PULP plus the history one at the very end. These are all anthologies or magazines with stories by me in them, whether or not they may be on sale, with the Smart Rhino ones being INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS and UNCOMMON ASSASSINS (this latter, I think, toward the very end). But linger a bit, perhaps there are others that you may like too. Or if in a hurry, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS can be found here and INSIDIOUS here (the “Adult” switch pre-set), with my stories in each being “The Wellmasters Daughter” (see August 16 2012, et al.) and “Labyrinth (see January 23 2015, et al.) respectively.
In other news, we had another pleasant, sunny afternoon for this month’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and Boxcar Books. And for two hours, we had a good crowd as these things go, with about eighteen people (fourteen of who persisted through open mike afterward) for featured readers Eric Rensberger, with a contemplative essay on books and dust; Joan Hawkins, standing in for advertised reader Jenny Kander who couldn’t make it due to illness, with a memoir of 1974 Prague under Soviet occupation; and bestselling “rural noir” fiction writer Bonnie Jo Campbell with two short shorts from her MOTHERS, TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS collection, an excerpt from the title story, and the opening paragraph of her novel ONCE UPON A RIVER. Then after the break (with lovely cookies), mindful of Mardi Gras having been less than a week before, I ended a walk-on session of some five readers with a New Orleans set “Casket Girls” story, “Death and the Vampire,” in which the flavor of Death is found to be, if not the best, at least not bad.
Another month and, on a crisp but sunny afternoon, it was time for February’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf., e.g., January 29, et al.). Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, some 18 to 20 people attended, with the featured poets Indiana University MA/PhD student Nathan Schmidt reading a long poem, “Because I Would Not Stop for Him,” its title based on an Emily Dickenson line “Because I Would Not Stop for Death,” followed by Nancy Chen Long, author of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry winner LIGHT INTO BODIES and other poems and chapbooks, with seven shorter works, several on subjects related to “home.” Following the break were nine walk-on readers (including Tonia Matthews with a delightful series of variations on the theme of “chocolate”) of which I came in at number six with four previously published poems loosely about death: “Dust to Dust,” “Firelight,” “A Little Night Music,” and “The Instrument Maker.”
And so, to Mardi Gras and March!
This was a first, the Players Pub Spoken Word Series (see January 29), premiered Thursday night from 6 to 9 by the Bloomington Writers Guild in conjunction with local bar and music venue Players Pub in off-downtown Bloomington. This will continue on second Thursdays every month, combining musical interludes with readings of various sorts. This time, for instance, the readings were prose, with the musical guests the group Urban Deer, while next month’s will most likely feature poetry and, from out of town, the group Shakespeare’s Monkey. The name of the series is not necessarily fixed yet either, but a flavor is already being established, more freewheeling and possibly “adult” in nature than, say, the more formal First Sunday Prose and Last Sunday Poetry programs.
That said, the first reading ever for this was by . . . me. The piece read was my story “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS, but with a brief introduction from TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (“River Red” being set in the “Tombs” universe, even if not in the latter book) to help set the mood. And also . . . well, maybe . . . as a sort of commercial to push both titles. This was followed by Shayne Laughter, who we’ve met on several occasions before, with a tale called “Incident at Grandmother’s Cottage,” a part of a fiction work in progress; Arbutus Cunningham (a.k.a. Hester), a Saturday morning radio star on local WFHB with four brief and mostly funny (the exception, the third called “After the War,” combining survival and sadness) semi-fictionalized, off-the-wall reflections; and playwright and comedy performance artist Stevie Jay with longer excerpts from a newer work, “Falling Through the Cracks: a homeopathic remedy for the New Millennium in one dose.” The audience totaled some 15 to 18 people (not counting bar personnel), most of whom seemed to stay for the whole nearly three-hour period, and once warmed up seemed quite enthusiastic.
Then another note on new goth kitten Triana, who has momentarily held still and in the light long enough for a new photo portrait, this amongst the jumble and clutter of the printer corner of the computer cave. But the thing is, missing from all other pictures thus far, she has lovely golden-brownish eyes, now seen here for the first time!
Back for 2017, this afternoon saw the new year’s first “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (see November 28, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center. Featured poets this time were Lisa Low, in her final year in the MFA program at Indiana University, whose reading covered such subjects as grocery stores, ghosts, and gold, ending with a group of poems from a work in progress about a girl named Ruby; and Stephen Hopkins, “born in Texas but raised in the Midwest, [and] moved all over Ohio, often,” an IU PhD candidate who read works from his recent chapbook HYMNS OF PERPETUAL MOTION. This was followed by snacks and an open mike session in which I was last of six participants, with five short, relatively light poems about vampires, “The Vampire’s Reflection,” “An Unsuitable Kiss for the New Year,” “Something New,” “Nothing Better,” and “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment.”
Also announced was a new Writers Guild “Second Thursdays” evening series to be held each month at Bloomington’s Players Pub, beginning February 9. While programs will vary, the premiere offering will highlight prose readings, including a short tale by me from THE TEARS OF ISIS, “River Red,” set in the same universe as my upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.
MEET CUTE (cf. November 23), the flash fiction anthology of unexpected, eccentric, or just unusual meetings of couples, has had a few changes in scope, according to Editor Kara Landhuis. An immediate one is a change in pre-publication funding from Kickstarter to Indiegogo, deemed a better fit for a smaller publication’s actual needs. For other news, publication is tentatively planned for January for distribution in February; the funding project itself will close December 31.
As Ms. Landhuis explains, MEET CUTE was born out of a love for several things, most notably: Storytelling and connection. I wanted to create a book that celebrates human connection, and I thought there was no better way than to invite writers and illustrators to collaborate. MEET CUTE will include around 20 short stories (very short — fewer than 1000 words each) written by writers from around the world. There will also be 10-15 black and white illustrations that enrich the stories. My own entry in this is “Butterfly,” a saga of forests and fairytales — or was that insects and axes? To find out more, one will just have to buy the book, or for an inside track, check out the Indygogo crowdfunder by clicking here.
In other action, The Bloomington Writers Guild’s December business meeting and end-of-year party was Saturday afternoon. As in previous years, it ended with an open reading for about a dozen participants, my contribution (in lieu of a story which I suggested I’d save for February’s First Sunday Prose, as being perhaps a bit long for this session) was three Santa Claus poems, posing the question — especially in the case of the first two, which also appear in my collection VAMPS — do we really need Krampus?
So a member of my writers group, presumably planning to write a “Krampus” story herself but declining to actually go to the local parade right here in town on Saturday night, made me this request: You might describe to me the sights, smells, sounds, etc. of the local parade. I imagine kids shrieking, music, smells of food for sale, etc. Who is it that hands out candy; was it “angels?” And the Krampuses have switches? (I read that the traditional Krampus does. I know he’s Austrian. He has relatives like Klaubeuf.) Sensing an attempt to get me to write part of her story for her, or at least do her research, and possibly in a cynical mood, I replied (after a brief snark that, re. “smells,” there would be crowds and undoubtedly body odor but it would be too cold to smell it) thusly:
I’m jaded myself, I remember the first one when you could march along the route with the Angels and Krampi yourself. But a quick rundown (oh wait, I copied the stuff from Facebook for you in my other email, it’ll tell you what to expect!), based on last year’s which would seem to be pretty much what will happen this year too, were you to go at 5, you’d probably mill around with people in the area behind the Showers Bldg (City Hall), you’d probably find a stand or a person giving out the “Naughty” and “Nice” stickers and choose the one you want to paste on your jacket (Hint: it’s considered bush league to paste on both). There may also be some food stands (or trucks, since those are “in” these days, the trucks probably parked on the street) Also some game-type things to help keep the kiddies quiet, though, half-frozen, most won’t be too noisy. As 6 p.m. works around, it’ll have gotten rather dark and someone will announce the parade will be starting and suggest you head south along Madison St. to watch it. You do, then you stand with others in the cold for awhile, then see some kind of lighted stuff (majorettes with light-up batons? Who knows) way in the distance to the south. In what seems like ages, it will finally get to where you are and move on past, Angels (giving out candy to the “nice”), Bishop Nick, maybe in the parade proper they’ll have the cart with the cage with a couple of “naughty” kids in it, maybe some other stuff, plus guys in Krampus suits. These last may or may not be holding switches or sticks but I doubt they’ll actually hit anyone — lawsuits, you know, not to mention possible criminal charges. But they will run toward children near the parade route with “Naughty” stickers yelling “Rowrrr!” And quite quickly, considering how long it seemed to take for it to get to you, it will be passed. Madison Street will seem deserted, the wind whistling, perhaps a piece or two of trash blowing along the now-empty expanse, and you’ll look around at other people looking as puzzled as you. Is that all there is? you’ll think. Then you remember what you’d read on Facebook, that there may be a sort of after thing, maybe an hour or more later, when some of the Krampuses will go around to the local bars, possibly go inside and yell “Rowrrr!” but you won’t stay around that long to find out. Nor will anyone you know remember having done so in previous years, but if you really want my experience, I usually continue south to Krogers to see if anything’s on sale (one gala year, I stopped in at the Wendy’s to use the rest room), then go home. Another year, another Krampus parade.
Now that it’s over, I can add that it’s really more fun than that, though (as sort of a one-trick pony) it’s still rather short. I only got downtown in time for the parade itself so I can’t report on pre-parade activities, but I can better define “the lighted stuff . . . way in the distance” as lighted hula hoops followed by some guys holding torches (“fire stuff” as a security guard called it, using that a means to get the audience back to the sides of the road where they belonged — clever, I call it) and, while the rustic cart of caged children of years past wasn’t there (though the parade ended with a motorized mini-vehicle with one child), the first krampuses were “forcing” chained kids to trudge behind them. Also, if anyone asks, I wore a “Nice” sticker because, as I’ve explained in the past (see December 9 2012; also December 6 2015) Nice gets you free candy (only one package this time though — maybe the angels were tightening their celestial belts) while “Naughty” gets you harassment. And anyway if you’re truly naughty who’d tell the truth?
Which brings us to Sunday and 2016’s final Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. November 7, et al.), co-sponsored and venued by Boxcar Books. Featured readers this time were Annette Oppenlander, who we’ve met before, with a talk on how her young adult ESCAPE FROM THE PAST novel trilogy was first conceived followed by an excerpt from the third volume, published just last week; award-winning documentary filmmaker, eco-journalist, etc., Kalynn Huffman Brower with an excerpt from an “ages ten and up” science fiction novel in progress plus a part of an autobiographical essay; and Andrew Hubbard who continued a non-fiction piece begun two months back on Nebraska’s Chimney Rock and its surrounding area. Then when open mike time came, with an audience still thirteen people strong (including the man asleep on the couch in back), I read fourth in a field of five (that is, followed by MC Joan Hawkins and thus, technically, not quite ending the session) with a near-future Thanksgiving set 500-word story, written for a call by THE STONESLIDE CORRECTIVE shortly after a recent election, for stories on the subject of “aftermath.”
Time will tell if it gets accepted (or comes true) and, in the meantime, since next month starts on a Sunday with Boxcar Books closed for New Year’s Day, that’s the last of the First Sunday Prose Reading series until February 5, 2017.
The end of November is getting exciting! Books received, TOMBS early-listed on Amazon, freebies for EVERYDAY STORIES II, a new story accepted, and now another. And this by a higher paying market! The word came Sunday morning, sneaking vampire-like in with the mist at 12:17 a.m., “Thanks for sending ‘The Candle and the Flame’ to DARKFUSE. I have finished my review and have decided to accept it and offer you a contract.” In fact the contract had arrived a few minutes before Editor Shane Staley’s email, but that’s the way the internet goes sometimes. Suffice to say I opened the contract later that day, signed it, and now it is back in DARKFUSE MAGAZINE’s clutches.
“The Candle and the Flame” is a steampunky, fairytaleish story of a little girl at Christmas time selling not matches, but candles. But nevertheless coming to grief in a friendless, ultra-capitalistic Victorian England. As for DARKFUSE, to go to the guidelines: Here’s what we’re looking for . . . Horror, thriller, suspense, crime, sci-fi, bizarre — anything with a dark slant. 500-2K words paid. They go on to say they will take longer stories, but the emphasis in on the short, with “The Candle and the Flame,” for instance, coming in at about 1700 words. And one more note, publication is scheduled for January 13 2017 to help start off a happy new year!
Then Sunday afternoon brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf. September 25 et al.), co-sponsored by the Monroe County Convention Center. Featured poets were Indiana University Education PhD candidate Julia Heimer Dadds with, to paraphrase, perilous poems for perilous times among others, followed by first generation Sierra Leonean-American poet and MFA candidate Yalie Kamara. No, neither read poems about vampires, and in fact the only such ones were read by me, one of eight walk-ons at open mike time in a well-attended session. But both that I read were about vampires: “Her First Time” from BLOODBOND, which we just met (see November 27, 7, et al.), and a just-written poem for the coming season, “The Vampire Before Christmas.”
Sunday, the second day of a cold snap that’s finally brought November temperatures to November, also brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Third Sunday “prompt” session (cf. September 19). This is kind of fun mostly, a group of us around a table writing like mad to prompts the facilitator(s) offer, completing an essay or story or poem within a fixed time. There are usually three of these, the first yesterday involving description/analysis of a recurring dream, the second a poetry prompt from an outside source, and the third. . . .
Well, a moment on that. The third, for which we had only five minutes (the first two were fifteen minutes each), was to write a “thank you” letter. But my mind wasn’t entirely on this. It seems the cave cat Wednesday (more on whom, here depicted in kittenhood some twelve and a half years back, can be found under her name on “PAGES” at the far right) had her annual visit to the vet last week and the news wasn’t all good. She had been losing weight and, tests coming back, the reason appears to be hyperthyroidism. The good news is she can have the condition treated by eating a special *expensive* cat food, a bag of which is now on order in hopes she will like it. The bad for her is that she must eat it exclusively, which means no more cat treats (her favorite: Friskies’ “Beachside Crunch”). So anyway what came up was a cat-related “thank you” to a hypothetical sister, for the gift of a hypothetical book, with the hypothetical cat “Fluffy” standing in for Wednesday — and which, as a tip of the hat for her, I offer as a lagniappe:
Dear Sister. Thank you very much for the book you sent, 101 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CAT. Fluffy thanks you too, though she thought numbers 18 and 36 were a little rough. Her favorite, though, seems to be number 52, the one that involves catnip. I would have one complaint, however — or perhaps a warning you might include if you give copies to people in the future — for numbers 48, 77, and 82, I would strongly recommend wearing thick gloves. (Your Loving Brother)
Then back to business for Monday, today’s email included a proof copy of Popcorn Press’s LUPINE LUNES, including my Rhysling-nominated poem “Beware of the Dog” (see October 29, et al.), returned with no problems found this afternoon. “Beware of the Dog” was originally published in GRIEVOUS ANGEL, September 11 2014.
I had had to skip the open mike part of last week’s Last Sunday Poetry due to getting ready for early check-in for my “Raising the Dead” reading at that evening’s Ryder Film Festival (see October 31). This week, however, all was on schedule for November’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. October 3, et al.) with local short fiction writer Tom Bitters and a tale of young love nearly torpedoed by an inflatable doll named Mistress Ping; poetry and prose performer Gabriel Peoples with the rambling and funny quasi-historical “The Story of Jack Daniels,” including audience participation; and First Sundays MC and co-sponsor (with host venue Boxcar Books) Bloomington Writers Guild member Joan Hawkins with more of young love, the “Ballad of Renee and Buzz,” and the start of a second piece, both examples of creative nonfiction.
The crowd was reasonably large at the start although, as sometimes happens, it thinned down to about half its size during the break, after which two people read at the open mike session, me and local poet and essayist and sometimes short fiction writer Tonia Matthews. My piece this time was of young love also,”Smashing Pumpkins,” that of the vampires Aloysius and Vendetta in an adventure of Halloween, ice-blood (or is it “bloodcream”) cones, and rampaging clowns, all ending up with a trip to the polls on Election Day.