Three Weeks of Poe

As of yesterday we have had Poe, our little Yooper ginger kitten, for three weeks. In that time she has gone from this:

…to this:

Out veterinarian say she is around five months old even though she is about as big as as three-month-old kitten. Or she was when we picked her up. Good diet, comfortable surroundings and lots of loving attention have turned her from a half-feral animal who hid in a bucket in our bathroom the first morning after her arrival, to the de facto ruler of the house, as all cat people will recognize.

I haven’t lived with cats in about fifteen years, and I have not “owned” a cat since the mid-1980s, and those were somewhat tame barn cats never allowed inside the house. So this is both a new experience and one with frequent spikes of nostalgia and deja vu.

She has adjusted well. She took to her litter box the first day and has had no accidents that we have found. She is wonderfully affectionate though still has the primal barn cat reaction to sudden loud noises or unexpected situations like my girlfriend or I changing our clothes. She is also still working on object permanence – a human being laying in a bed is fundamentally and ontologically different from that same human being walking around or sitting on the floor. And a human being sitting anywhere is an invitation to climb into a lap, which can be quite painful when the human in question is sitting on a cafe-height chair and the kitten in question has to climb the final bet because she can’t quite jump high enough to reach the lap in question in one motion.

So this experience has been absolutely wonderful so far, and we plan to keep Poe with us. We might even pick up a companion for her at some point.

Cats, I understand, do tend to accumulate.

Poe Try Poetry

I would say this past week was another quiet one here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey, but with a new kitten nothing is ever quiet. I did manage to get Poe to sit still long enough to enjoy Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, the only new book to arrive in the past week.

My reading schedule is waaaaaay off for this time of year, thanks to Poe, who is distracting in the very best ways. I am reading a lot of short fiction, as I planned, and loving it! My subscriptions to Pulphouse, Amazing Stories, The Paris Review, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, etc., are finally paying off.

I have also been closely following the 2020 State of the World conversation over at The Well. Sterling, Lebkowsky and company are touching on some interesting and deeply concerning topics, as well as pointing out that the unease (to put it mildly) that Americans are feeling right now is basically how most of the rest of the world has felt for decades, and to a large extent how things have been for us for a long time, though we do tend to take pride in our ability to live in denial. Food for thought as well as loads of writing fodder.

My next literary update will likely be a little late and will certainly be loaded down with books from ConFusion 2020, which starts in FOUR DAYS!

 

The World in Many States

For the past twenty years Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have held a talk over at The Well in which they discuss the current state of the world and what that might mean for future states of the world. The talks are wide-ranging and erudite, funny and snarky and depressing and hopeful and all points in between.

This is a list of all of the talks currently available on The Well. This is as much for my own convenience as for spreading the word. If nothing else the talks are excellent sources of ideas for stories.

2020 Books and Reading List

Welcome to the Big List of Books for 2020. This is the sixth iteration of the list of books and reading materials acquired by the Library at Winkelman Abbey. The previous five are here:

This list will continue the process started last year – book titles will link to the book publisher or distributor or other place (like Indiebound) where books can be purchased. Only as a last resort (or in the event the book was created using CreateSpace) will the link go to Amazon.

And as always, you can find the complete list of book I own over at LibraryThing, and the terribly incomplete list of books I have read over at GoodReads.

January

  1. Gibson, Andrea – Lord of the Butterflies (Button Poetry)
  2. McGuire, SeananEvery Heart a Doorway
  3. Hurley, KameronThe Light Brigade
  4. Berardi, Franco “Bifo”Breathing: Chaos and Poetry (Semiotext(e))
  5. El-Mohtar, Amal and Gladstone, MaxThis Is How You Lose the Time War

The Kitten of the North

Poe has been with us a little over a week, and in that time we discovered that (a) Poe is a girl, and (b), she is extremely affectionate, going from half-feral when we got her into the house, to insisting on sitting on our laps, shoulders and heads.

No new books here in the first week of the year, and my reading time has been limited. I am still working my way through Sayak Valencia’s Gore Capitalism, and opened up Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (again) just for some light reading. I also finished all the stories in issue 7 of Pulphouse, which is a truly excellent magazine. I am glad they are back in business and are making a good go of it.

This past Thursday, January 2, I went back to work after almost two weeks off for the holidays. More importantly, I started in on my new morning routine, which is really more of a clarification and expansion of my old morning routine. It goes something like this: Wake up every morning at 5:30. Work out for about 45 minutes. Do writing stuff for an hour and a half. Work out for fifteen more minutes. Get ready for work.

The writing stuff is broken up by day. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I write. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I edit. on Friday, I submit. That meant that this past week I got in one day of editing and one day of submitting. It worked well; I got in some good edits on three poems and submitted four older poems to three journals. We will see how this goes. As a sub-goal I will try to send out about five submissions a week of variously assembled packets of poems and whichever of my large slush pile of short stories are ready to send out into the world.

As I get fully into my routine, which will likely happen in February, I may adjust some things to account for my girlfriend’s new morning schedule when she starts her new job, and the wants, needs and demands of the kitten.

What I Read in 2019

The following is a list of all the books I read in calendar year 2019. Despite it being an extremely busy year, I still managed to squeeze in reading time, mostly by avoiding distractions like sleep. I only listed the books I completed.

In this list are 26 fiction titles, 19 poetry collections, and 5 books of nonfiction. On a five point scale, almost all of these were in the 3 to 5 range. I only scored two books lower than 3. I’m not including scores here because I included them in GoodReads and, less consistently, LibraryThing.

What this list doesn’t show is all of the short fiction and individual poems I read in mailing lists, magazines, websites, literary journals and the like. Those together would probably equal around a thousand pages, or say four additional books.

I can say that it was the poetry books that got me to 50 titles for the year. Not that poetry is trite or easier to read than prose; it is simply that poetry books (the works of Evan S. Connell notwithstanding) are in the main shorter than prose works.

Though each of these books was in some way remarkable, I want to specifically call out five of them for sticking with me well after reading:

  • Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin (fiction)
  • Here: Poems for the Planet, edited by Elizabeth Coleman (poetry)
  • Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang (nonfiction)
  • The Language of Saxophones by Kamau Daaood (poetry)
  • Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski (memoir)

For 2020 I will track my reading a little differently: I will keep two lists, one for books and the other for short prose. As I ramp up my writing practice I will be reading A LOT of short stories as study for my own work. Keeping an account of this reading will help me figure out my own skills and shortcomings in the art.

Date Author Title
2019.01.17 Palmer, Ada Too Like the Lightning
2019.01.25 Steinmetz, Ferret Fix
2019.02.12 Greylock, TL The Blood-Tainted Winter
2019.02.14 Tucker, Phil Death March
2019.02.18 Clark, P. Djeli The Black God’s Drums
2019.02.25 Hernandez, Catherine Scarborough
2019.02.27 Link, Kelly Origin Stories
2019.03.13 Adams, John Joseph and LaValle, Victor (eds.) A People’s Future of the United States
2019.03.27 Oliver, Mary Why I Wake Early
2019.03.29 Huey, Amorak Ha Ha Ha Thump
2019.03.31 Dickinson, Seth The Monster Baru Cormorant
2019.04.02 Ferlinghetti, Lawrence A Coney Island of the Mind (50th anniversary edition)
2019.04.03 Ridl, Jack Saint Peter and the Goldfinch
2019.04.04 sax, sam madness
2019.04.11 Kocher, Ruth Ellen When the Moon Knows You’re Wandering
2019.04.13 Montes, Lara Mimosa The Somnambulist
2019.04.21 Cooper, Wyn Postcards from the Interior
2019.04.24 Evans, CJ A Penance
2019.04.25 Vodolazkin, Eugene Laurus
2019.04.30 Ostups, Artis Gestures
2019.05.10 Palmer, D. Thourson Ours is the Storm
2019.05.20 Comola, Jessica everything we met changed form & followed the rest
2019.05.26 Townsend, Tracy The Nine
2019.06.13 Coleman, Elizabeth J. (ed.) Here: Poems for the Planet
2019.06.20 Brace, Kristin Each Darkness Inside
2019.06.30 Krieger, Scott Illyrian Fugue
2019.07.01 Liu, Ken The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary
2019.07.04 Tomlinson, Patrick The Ark
2019.07.07 Tomlinson, Patrick Trident’s Forge
2019.07.12 Roanhorse, Rebecca Storm of Locusts
2019.07.17 Kowal, Mary Robinette Scenting the Dark and Other Stories
2019.07.27 Turgenev, Ivan First Love and Other Stories
2019.08.06 Kuznia, Yanni (ed.) A Fantasy Medley 2
2019.08.23 Chateaureynaud, Georges-Olivier A Life on Paper
2019.08.28 Daaood, Kamau The Language of Saxophones
2019.09.01 Serna, Rudolfo A. Snow Over Utopia
2019.09.06 Ivanova, Adelaide The Hammer
2019.09.19 Jin, Yong A Hero Born
2019.09.19 Breedlove, Lynn 45 Thought Crimes
2019.09.23 George, Jenny The Dream of Reason
2019.09.28 Kooser, Ted Local Wonders
2019.09.30 Rhein, Christine Wild Flight
2019.10.18 Harrison, Jim True North (re-read)
2019.10.29 Pimentel Chacon, Sasha Insides She Swallowed
2019.11.16 Straczynski, J. Michael Becoming Superman
2019.11.17 Buckell, Tobias It’s All Just a Draft
2019.12.02 Ashton, Dyrk Paternus: Wrath of Gods
2019.12.05 James, Marlon Black Leopard, Red Wolf
2019.12.17 Wang, Jackie Carceral Capitalism
2019.12.19 Fisher, Mark Capitalist Realism

Paws for Poetry

First, the most important news of the year. As of Christmas day, 2019, we have a cat! Internet, meet Poe, our Yooper ginger kitten. As near as we can tell he is about five months old. We adopted him from my girlfriend’s sister’s farm in Rudyard. Or rather, he adopted us. All of the cats were approachable, but Poe was the only one who stuck around to socialize after being fed.

Zyra named him after Edgar Allan Poe. Addressing someone as “po” is also a sign of respect in Tagalog and other Filipino dialects. And before anyone asks, no the cat was not named after Poe Dameron from the latest Star Wars trilogy.

(When I announced the kitten acquisition on Facebook the fine folks there suggested names like “Gravy”, “Pasty”, and “Poutine”. Poutine would in fact be a good name for a cat.)

Unless something exciting happens in the next two days, the January 2020 issue of Poetry will likely be the last acquisition to the Library at Winkelman Abbey for 2019. And that is fine. I have more than enough to read over the next few months, and since I want to hit the ground running on January 2 with lots of writing, editing and submitting, I won’t have as much time to read and catalog. I think of all my various subscriptions I will only be keeping three going into the new year: Poetry, Paris Review and And Other Stories. I might renew the subscription to Restless Books, but I need to draw the line somewhere.

In reading news, I haven’t done much in the past week. Still working through Gore Capitalism and occasionally edging carefully past my copy of A Thousand Plateaus on the way to and from the kitchen, lest I startle it into attacking me.

I doubt I will start reading any new books before the new year; too many and-of-year projects to complete, too much food to eat, and wow, do kittens require a lot of attention.

Happy New Year, everyone!

(PS: You cant have Poetry without Poe! Poetry without Poe is just “try”.)

The Shortest Day of 2019

As we roll into the holidays I have come down with one of the many and varied species of Crud which roll through Grand Rapids on an almost weekly basis. This makes me sad as this, the shortest day of the year, is also one of the most beautiful and sunniest we have had in months, with temperatures in the mid-40s (F) and local squirrels suddenly regretting having grown such thick pelts for the winter.

We had a surprising stack of books arrive here at the Library this week. I suspect it was various publishers rushing to complete their 2019 tasks before the end of the year. As a former publisher (about which more below) I can understand that.

At top left is A Creative Sojourn, a spur-of-the-moment Kickstarter backing which looks like it has a lot of content near and dear to my own heart, it being a journal of sorts kept by a group of creatives as they toured China and Tibet. The nest two are the latest from my subscription to Deep Vellum, Life Went On Anyway by Oleg Sentsov and Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River by Jung Young Moon.

At bottom left is issue 7 of Salvage, which should keep my head in the appropriate place for the rest of the holidays. Next to it is Michael Burstein’s collection I Remember the Future from Apex Books. On the bottom right is the latest from my subscription to And Other Stories, Luke Brown’s Theft.

In reading news I finished Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism and Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism and, mind blown, moved immediately on to Gore Capitalism by Sayak Valencia. I have to say, this type of reading has put my head in an interesting and uncomfortable place, which I think can best be summed up by a tweet I posted yesterday:

Any sufficiently eldritch abomination is indistinguishable from capitalism. Corollary: Any abomination which is distinguishable from capitalism is insufficiently eldritch.

So, yeah, when I’m done with the leftist books I might need some time to reintegrate into the ever (and increasingly) wingnutty world of West Michigan.

Anyway.

A few days ago I removed from the Caffeinated Press offices the remaining copies of the twelve issues of The 3288 Review. And with that, my involvement with Caffeinated Press has ended. It was a good run, but now it’s over, and at present my strongest associated emotion is relief. I suspect that as time goes on my feelings will drift over to nostalgia tinged with regret as, for all its frustrations and long nights, it really was a lot of fun and quite rewarding in all ways except the financial.

Maybe I’ll do it again some day.

The Last Quiet Moments Before the Holidays

Oh, holidays. You never fail to leave me exhausted, burned out and tired of the presence of other humans.

As the year winds down everything within it winds up and thus the already limited available time vanishes at an ever-increasing pace. Fortunately I don’t have much to buy for the holidays and most of the shopping is already done. All that’s left is travel, and that will be done just after Christmas, which will leave a few days for sitting around the house and doing absolutely nothing.

This was a light week for acquisitions here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. On the left is the latest issue of Dreamforge Magazine. In the middle is the latest issue of Rain Taxi, and on the right is the latest (and fortieth!) issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet from the always-superb Small Beer Press. These are timely as, per last week’s note, I plan to focus my reading on short fiction in 2020, and I have several years of back issues of many magazines and journals to work through.

In reading news, I am almost done with Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism from Semiotext(e) and it has put me in quite a mood. I am sure my writing and social media presence will reflect the influence thereof, as well as that of the other books in the stack I mentioned last week. It’s a capitalism time of year, in all its gory details.

Tomorrow after work I will head into the Caffeinated Press office to load up several boxes of books to add to the stack of boxes in my attic. At some point I may catalog them and figure out new homes at various libraries and used book stores,  but for now in boxes they will remain.

And as far as Caffeinated Press goes, that will be that. I will roll into the new year unencumbered.