Monday, October 22, 2012

In which I am a revenant

I have two readings coming up this week in places I used to live!

Friday, October 26th, 7 pm
Poetry Night at the Gallery Arts Guild: Halloween Edition
342 Main St., Lakeville, CT

I'll read for a bit, and then other people will share their favorite eerie poems. Then ...

Saturday, October 27th, 2 pm
Cadmium Text Series
with Anselm Berrigan
The Gallery at R&F Handmade Paints
84 Ten Broeck Avenue
Kingston, NY 

I will be the one who looks stunned, as though trapped in a time not her own.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kate Schapira and francine j. harris at the Poetry Project at St. Mark's!

So excited to report that this coming Monday, I'm reading with the great francine j. harris at the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church (131 East 10th St)! The reading will be at 8 pm on October 15th. Here's the event listing on Facebook if you want to remind yourself or others that this is happening.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Make it Rain Project Funding Roundup and Note to New Readers

The Make it Rain Project, a poetic effort to raise at least $200.00 each for five libraries in drought-stricken regions of the U.S., raised the following amounts for those libraries between September 5th and now:

For the McDonald County Library System in Pineville, MO: $215.00
For the Bedford Public Library in Bedford, IN: $235.00
For the Taylor County Public Library in Campbellsville, KY: $205.00
For the White Hall Township Public Library in White Hall, IL: $210.00
For the Oxford Lane Library in Oxford, OH: $237.50

People gave so much for the Oxford Lane Library that we were able to fund one more!

For the Horton Public Library in Horton, KS: $237.50

All of those checks have gone out at this point. If anyone is interested in learning how I chose the libraries, you can read about that here. If anyone from these libraries is still reading: thank YOU for the work you do.

I'm considering re-opening donations in case new readers want to help struggling libraries as well. People who've already participated in this project, no matter how, should feel free to sit this one out! If there is interest, I will  approach another round of libraries do another round of "rain dance" poems as well. Interested readers should comment on this post; email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex; or click the Donation button on an earlier post.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Money for the Oxford Lane and Horton Public Libraries! and the future of Make it Rain

I'm delighted to report that I've heard back from the Horton Public Library in Horton, KS (Brown County), and that they'll accept half of the money that came in during this last rain dance. Thanks to you, we'll be able to send them $237.50, as well as sending the same amount to the Oxford Lane Library in Oxford, OH (Butler County). Those checks will go out tomorrow.

I was going to end this project at five libraries. Then two things happened: you all came through like champs and enabled me to give to a sixth, and a Champ Extraordinaire with the initials Darcie Dennigan got the project included in the Brown alumni news list, which goes out next week.

Here's what I propose: after one more message revealing more or less what I've said here, the emails to donors and potential donors will stop. If the news list generates any interest, I'll look for additional libraries to give to, based on whatever funds come in; check back in a week or so to learn more about that.

If you've been following the project and didn't manage to donate this time and/or are feeling the itch to give, I strongly encourage you to donate to your own local library.

Further bulletins as events warrant! Double-donors and triple-donors will get a scarf-related email from me shortly. Thanks again, a thousand times, to all who donated and/or spread the word.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Making of Make it Rain: Rain Dance Poems

While we're waiting: another "making of" post.

In these rain dances, I worked for a balance among incantation, science and humility. I know that they can't "work" in a literal sense -- words have no causal relationship with evaporation and condensation -- but I wanted them to sound like they could work.

Partly for that reason, they're more direct than is usual for me. I often want my poems to do several things at once, and to be somewhat rigorous about those things -- not just to sound true, but to be true. There was one main thing I wanted the rain dance poems to do, and that thing was impossible. To counteract this, I tried to fill the poems with tangibles and ponderables, items to give grit and grip, to make them sound concrete since they couldn't be concrete. 

It might be that their form of working, their concreteness, is the money you all have donated -- but the poems aren't a direct invocation to your money, an attempt to whistle it out of your pockets. In their attempts to move the rain, I did hope that they would move you; I tried to make them moving, as pleas can be. I also tried to make them modest, as pleas must be: the poems give me no power over the rain, so in them I was asking the rain to fall, knowing it couldn't hear me, is not one entity. Humility here was also a nod to science. And around the poems, I was asking you to share what you had, which I know in some cases is not a lot, with people you didn't know -- humility was an acknowledgment that it was up to you whether you wanted to do that.

The poems' incantatory qualities -- their rhymes, consonances and assonances, the tautness of some and the refrains in others -- reflect what tends to move or stir me in a poem or song that's also a plea or an invocation. They are associated in my mind with irrational or instinctive response, with being stirred, with magic. Since these rain dances couldn't work through science, maybe, I thought, they could work some other way.

In a book I loved when I was a kid (Margaret Mahy's The Changeover, if you're curious), a family of witches tells the main character that magic is based on "imagination and exchange." These are key to the workings of certain kinds of poetry, including, I believe, these rain dances.