Friday, May 20, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #20 -- The End!

With an epic push towards reaching goals, creativity and progress revved up immensely this past week. I found the core of my full collection and a way to go about revising it. I read a little, I wrote a lot, and I even researched.

Let me say that again. I researched.

Me. The lazy poet. The lazy writer. She who makes things up because she is also the she who does not do research. She did. Me did. I did!

I workshopped with my artist friend. That lead me to figure out how to set up a new order for my poems and where I need more.

I listened to back episodes of both Golden Walkman Magazine and The Other Stories. Give a listen when you have a moment. I also listened to Two Dope Queens, not that that has anything to do with sabbaticalling other than I had time to listen to it.

I went to the Public Art Fund exhibit at Metro Tech Commons with S. Hank Willis Thomas's The Truth Is I See You stretches out along the walking path. A line of poetry appears in either a conversation or thought bubble attached to a lamppost. Each line is in English on one side and in another language on the other side. The pole has a sign that says the language and how to say the phrase phonetically. Poetry is art. Art is poetry.
Cranes can talk, too.

And then there was the everyday art, which is always inspiring.
I submitted work to journals. I applied for a blogging gig and a workshop teaching gig. I also began to watch Transcendence to get sci-fi inspired, but it was so horrible that I turned it off. I rarely turn off movies. It was pretty bad.

And since this past Monday was the last day of the Spring semester, my sabbatical is now over. I don't have a final full collection published to show as an outcome. I don't have something that recognizable or tangible. I mean, I have poems. A lot of poems. Those are tangible. But the overall outcome of what I got from sabbatical is not something anyone can hold. The experience, the being in it and doing the everything in it and the savoring the ability to be able to do it, is the best outcome here. Passion for reading -- reignited.  Passion for writing -- reignited. Passion for going out in the world to do lit and art related things -- reignited.

I'm not exhausted or fuming. I'm exhilarated. I'm not saying that returning to teaching will make me exhausted or fuming. I'm saying that the years of teaching, and dealing with all the politics that come with it, had brought me to a brink of sorts. Sabbatical allowed me to decompress, revisit the core of who I am, what I do, and what I'm capable of doing, and now I'm back to good. (Side note: Wasn't there a song in the 90s called Back to Good?)

But for anyone who needs something more concrete than all that, this final week brought me a new best friend. His name is Sinbad. Such an awesome way to end all this.

Monday, May 16, 2016


Because the Hudson Valley knows how to celebrate each season, Eddie and I found ourselves up there once again. We scared ourselves silly for Halloween (meaning I was terrified and he laughed at my terror) in October. We sang along some Christmas tunes and then listened to "A Christmas Carol" in December. On the eve of May first, we experienced Spring through LIGHTSCAPES. Giant flowers and bugs and fairies, all lit up neon and pastel, across the land of Van Cordlandt Manor usher in Spring. We got tickets for the first entrance and were fourth in line in the parking lot. Yes, that's how excited we were. Once inside, we feasted on popcorn and a soft pretzel because we are not adults. And then we entered LIGHTSCAPES. And there's not much to say about it that would add to the experience. All there is to do is look.
Waiting in the car
Waiting in the tent
Rainbow wall
In low-light,things get blurry.
So you walk into this bug's mouth.
And you walk through this castle.
This turtle changes color.
I want this lamp.
This is Eddie's artistry.
Kissing a frog, kinda.
Spooky cellar
This might have been the brightest part, picutre-taking-wise.
Butterfly territory
These move. How they move is a secret! Unless you can tell from the picture.
You can see this guy from everywhere.
We slightly look like maniacs here.
The house lights up to music.
It ends with bubbles! I love bubbles! Bubbles don't appear well in pictures in the dark, so I have no photo-evidence of the bubbles, but they were there and they were magical.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #19

As the end fast approaches, my sabbaticalling has revved up in an attempt to squeeze out every final moment of non-teaching time. My new focus on astro-stuff propelled me forward into all kinds of progress.

Reading-wise, I finished reading a poetry collection and read some works in a few journals I got in the mail. Sometimes when I submit to a contest, I pay the fee so that I also get a subscription. That's really the only kind of payment-to-submit I'm comfortable with. I now have two journals sitting in my living room that I can read through and choose to keep or give away when I'm finished. Also, and I think I've never mentioned this before, I read through online journals as part of my submission process. Whenever I submit to a new journal, I read it first. That's why maybe two submissions can take hours. So I read lots of new and different journals.

Which means I submitted to journals this week. I also found some new paying journals to add to my list of to-submit, and I updated my submission/acceptance/rejection tracking. I had a few poems accepted recently, which lead to the task of withdrawing from other journals.

I wrote a lot. I revised a lot. I tore apart the Astronaut collection. The creatures and critters are on the backburner for now. I workshopped with my artist friend, and that helped lead me to saying what I kind of already knew--the creatures and critters collection is not going to work as a traditional poetry collection, so as I write and revise those poems, I have to think about how I'm going to present them as a whole. So while that simmers, space is the place. The bulk of my writing this week was spent over the course of five days writing and revising a giant erasure poem based on Solaris. Well, it started out as a strict erasure poem, but now, it's kind of erasure and then reorganized. Perhaps now it's a found poem. I don't know. Eddie read it and said it's a poem about space, so that's a good start. It's recognizable as both.

Additionally, I went back and forth with my online poetry feedback group. We have a second Sunday of the month deadline for sending feedback and submitting a new poem, but that sometimes doesn't go as planned, mostly because realizing it's the second Sunday usually happens as a surprise. I don't know why it's surprising. We all know how to use a calendar.

I watched Home as part of my space exploration. It's an animated movie. For children. I love sabbaticalling.

I listened to two literary podcasts that I recently found. One is The Other Stories, which scores short stories and then offers an author interview. The other is Golden Walkman Magazine. I submitted to it and was accepted, and I'm catching up with the older issues now.

My getting out of the house came in the form of hosting a Poets in Nassau reading at Turn of the Corkscrew in RVC. Our Writers Raise A Glass series is going strong with some cross-genre features and an open mic that asks its participants to read one work by someone else along with their own work. I'm looking forward to finishing out the year hosting there. Then we'll see where I land after being back on the circuit as a host.

A touch of work came home to me this week as the 2016 issue of The Nassau Review arrived in the mail. I'm sabbaticalling not only from teaching but from all things working, which includes serving as Editor in Chief for the review. I left the task of getting it from layout to proofread to printer to the fiction editor, who is also my office mate and part-time trivia team member. And it's amazing. It made my heart sing. It did not make me want to return to work, but it did make me want to return to my office to hang out. That's a step in the right direction I suppose.

I have to go back. Not until September to teach, but I'll go back in August to prepare to teach and catch up on committee work and all things professorial.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The semester ends on Monday. Because that's when semesters should end--on the first day of the week. I think my sabbatical application goes through May, and I plan to keep on doing the kind of work I've been doing well into August. However, technically, a sabbatical is a break from the day to day task of being a college professor. That means, technically, my sabbatical ends on Monday, too. I might have a serious case of the Mondays when this weekend is over.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #18

Eighteen! My sabbatical is now a legal adult!

This week went back to semi-normal with more reading and writing. I finished reading one poetry collection and began reading another. I also read online a lot, lots of journals, some Tumblrs, daily poems, and random links.

Writing came in both prose and poetry. I finished up and submitted my April Poetry Has Value guest-post. That should appear any day now. Then I got to revising old poems, some that I didn't even remember writing. That's the best kind of revision; it's like giving feedback on someone else's poem. Sometimes I'm like, Oooh! I wrote that! That's so good! Most of the time, though, I'm like, What? Huh? What does that even mean? Then I wrote some new almost-poems, though I think what I wrote is stealing from other poems I wrote at the beginning of my sabbatical. Does that mean it's over? I've come full circle? I've nothing left? Well, sabbatical is almost over, but I do have a lot left to do.

The a lot left to do is because of my change of course for Liberating The Astronauts. I'm now focusing on space. The fairies, nymphs, and gnomes have allowed me to give the astronauts some time off, and now that I've returned, my focus is on space. I do have a mermaid on the moon poem (entitled "Mermaid On The Moon" because I'm really creative), so that kind of allows me to move back and forth between the two collections. And the creature/critter poems may not be a full collection after all. They may find their separate ways into different collections or simply individual publications or just hang out on my laptop for eternity. In the meanwhile, the focus is on space and liberation.

So I watched Gravity. It was neither good nor bad. It was short. Like barely an hour and a half. But it was a good start. I made a list of movies I want to watch: Home, Stardust, Paycheck, Serenity (2005), Paradox (2016), Time Lapse (2014), Earth to Echo, Time Line, Upside Down (2012), The Martian, Interstellar, Starman, Barbarella, and The Day The Earth Stood Still. Then I'm going to rewatch Blade Runner, Space Camp, 2001, 2010, Contact, Men In Black, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Space Balls. Some of these are about space. Some of them are space-adjacent. Some are simply guilty pleasure. I also started following some space-related sci-fi artwork accounts on Tumblr, some of which show book covers for books that I will then read or skim.

I'm also going to create erasure poems from Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. Like, the whole thing. Maybe.

After planning all this, I submitted to journals and a reading series. To top off the week, I met up with my brother to see the Warhol exhibit at The Morgan Library. The show is about his books and book cover art (because it's a library), and you're not supposed to take pictures. I took covert pictures. My brother kept walking away from me whenever I did. They are very artsy because they were taken at weird angles. I'm so artsy. However, since I'm not supposed to take photos, I'm not sharing them here so that I don't get arrested.

There were other people who were taking photos non-covertly. They were getting yelled at by security. One woman continued to take pictures and continued to get yelled at. I overheard her telling her friends, What's his problem? These pictures are for educational purposes! I'm all for teachers, of course, but I also understand the rules of copyright, and being an educator doesn't mean you get to break the rules. Plus, showing your students pictures on your phone really doesn't make for a Warhol experience. Buy the book. Or take covert pictures and teach your students something really useful.

The only thing security told me was that I needed to put my coat back on or check it. I put my coat back on.

We also saw the photography exhibit across the hall. We were allowed to take pictures, so my brother didn't pretend to not know me. We liked a lot of the show, but there was this one photo that involved a rock and a cactus and a ruler and we were like, What the?

Two serendipitous instances:

1. Sophie Calle is part of the exhibit and she's one of my favorite artists in the history of art. She includes a lot of writing in her art, and that's probably why I love her so much.

2. There were space things!

We checked out the second floor exhibit while we were there. It was pastel drawings, many of heads that were numbered into the hundreds. The wallpaper was the stunning part, but I have no record of that. We were a bit taken with the heads.

To end the night, NYC's skies confirmed that space is the place I need to be poetically.