A much-delinquent Big Poetry Giveaway Post

big poetry giveaway 2014

Oh, yeah, I only just now am getting around to announcing the winners of my giveaway in June… At least I didn’t keep the entrants in suspense that long! I actually notified everyone and sent their books out by mid-May… but that was also a very hectic month, so I never got around to announcing the winners here like I was supposed to. Well, better late than never!

Although I started the month giving away three books (a copy of Dance in Poetry, a copy of Mercury Retrograde, and a copy of my chapbook), as a result of winning a silent auction at Poetry at Round Top, I inadvertently ended up with duplicate copies of some chapbooks from Dallas-area poets. So I ended out giving several bonus prizes as well. It turned out to be a banner year!

Laura E. Davis won the copy of Dance in Poetry.

Katrina Roberts won the copy of Mercury Retrograde.

Lissa Clouser won the copy of We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are.

Patrick Horgan won a copy of One Saturday by Budd Powell Mahan.

Jeff won a copy of black crow in flight by Ann Howells.

Jennifer won a copy of Ovarian by Ellen LaFleche.

and Andrew Albert J. Ty won a copy of Illya’s Honey 17.2.

 

Big Poetry Giveaway 2014!

big poetry giveaway 2014

Yay! April is almost here! And April is always full of wonderful things. Like the Austin International Poetry Festival. And Poetry at Round Top. And my birthday! (I’m turning 30 this year. Woo!) And National Poetry Month. And for the ambitious people, NaPoWriMo.

So of course it makes sense that such a poetic month would include an event all about sharing poetry. That would be the Big Poetry Giveaway, hosted by Kelli Russell Agodon.

This year, I’m delighted that one of the books I’ll be offering is a copy of my chapbook, We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are, published by Finishing Line Press in May 2013. I’m so excited that I can finally offer up one of my own books. I feel like a real poet! :-P

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I’m also offering a copy of Dance in Poetry: An International Anthology of Poems About Dance, edited by Alkis Raftis. As someone who has been dancing most of her life, this book has meant quite a lot to me, and I want to share it with another lucky reader.

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Finally, this year I’m offering a third bonus book! I’m offering a copy of the Kattywompus Press anthology Mercury Retrograde: Fried Electronics, Transport Mishaps, Snarled Communications, edited by Sammy Greenspan. I have two poems in it, surrounded by great work from a number of other authors.

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Want to win one of these books? Leave a comment with your name, and whether or not you have a preference for a specific title. Your comment must be received by 11:59 p.m. Hawaii time on April 30th. Make sure I have a way to contact you if you win! Winners will be selected at random at some point in the first week of May.

Since the Big Poetry Giveaway tends to bring new readers, many poets like to include something about themselves in their main BPG post. So here are some fun things about me:

  • Avocados are my favorite thing to eat.
  • I direct the Austin Feminist Poetry Festival, which takes place in September this year.
  • My favorite band is the Mountain Goats.
  • I have a red belt in Kung Fu and will test for my black belt this November.
  • I have a full-length manuscript out for submission, and three chapbook-length projects in progress.

Remember: enter anytime between now and April 30th to win one of three books! All you have to do is leave a comment! And if you’re a poet who wants to give poetry away, head over to Kelli Russell Agodon’s kickoff post for instructions on how to do so.

I look forward to a great month of poetry.

 

Review: The Eye of Caroline Herschel by Laura Long

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Regular readers know I don’t write many reviews for this blog. While I keep a reading journal, but generally, I keep my reactions and opinions private. But when Laura Long, a fellow member of the WOM-PO listserv, put out a call for reviews for her recent chapbook, I was intrigued. And not just because I get excited to encounter other poets published by Finishing Line Press.

The Eye of Caroline Herschel: A Life in Poems is many things for such a small book, and managed to hit several points of interest for me right from the start. First, I’m always interested in fictional autobiography/biography; it’s something I studied extensively in college, and still excites me to this day. Second, I’m always fascinated by poems about science and math (even though math is perhaps my weakest subject, and I barely held my GPA together during high school chemistry). And finally, a the chapbook is all based around the life of an eighteenth-century female astronomer, and work that raises new awareness about women in science is always worth a look.

So who was Caroline Herschel? In the nineteenth century, she was a serious contributor to the field of astronomy, discovering a number of comets, including the 35P/Herschel-Rigollet. In addition, she expanded upon the star catalog developed by John Flamsteed, correcting discrepancies in his work and adding several hundred stars of her own.

Born in Hanover in 1750, joined her brother, William, in England in 1772. William Herschel had been supporting himself as a musician, but became fascinated by astronomy, and taught Caroline mathematics so that she could assist him in discovery. They worked in collaboration for a number of years, and served in the position of King’s Astronomer. Although their collaborative relationship faltered after William’s marriage, Caroline continued her work independently, and received major honors for her her discoveries. She died in 1848.

But back to the book. The Eye of Caroline Herschel consists of twenty-one poems written from Caroline’s perspective, starting at age sixteen, and ending with her ghost. We experience her discoveries, her successes, and her frustrations. While Caroline destroyed her diaries later in life, and there is limited biographical information to work with, you won’t leave this collection feeling as though you’ve read fiction. While this chapbook might not always be factual in terms of what Caroline was thinking or feeling, it most certainly feels true. You come away with a sense that you actually know her. But then again, while much has changed since Caroline Herschel died, women still have tumultuous relationships with family, and definitely still face struggles in the face of work. Plus, it’s 2014 and women still have not achieved equality in science fields. Caroline Herschel was an eighteenth-century woman, but her story still resonates today.

As for the poems themselves: what struck me, first and foremost, was the way the book opened and the way the book closed. It’s not always easy to have equally powerful openings and endings. But “Caroline Talks Back to the Poets” and “Caroline’s Ghost Speaks” are two of the most intense, forceful, enduring poems of the book.

Rather than tell you about the poems, though, I’d rather share one with you. The title poem is hands-down my favorite in this collection, and Laura Long has given me permission to share it with you here:

The Eye of Caroline Herschel

I cannot stop how I see even though
sunlight floods in to blind me.
Sometimes a comet startles me
in the middle of the day–a ribbon trails

from a woman’s sleeve, the tail
of a cat slithers beneath a chair,
a bloom at the loose end of a morning
glory vine wavers from the fence

into the breeze. I stare at the flowers
erupting from green. Each blossom
is a comet sprung from seed, flaring
a tingle of scent that bees wobble around

in drunk orbits. The air is shot through
with erased paths. Every spot of darkness
waits to be stung open by light, as a string
on a violin waits to be touched.

What I love about this poem is the way it renders the ordinary extraordinary. Sleeves, flowers, musical instruments, are all imbued with the awesome power of a comet hurtling through space. Everyday things rendered magnificent if you know how to look. That, to me, is what poetry is all about in the first place.

So go read this book. And then consider where you find cosmic brilliance in your own day-to-day life. I know I see comets now in the swirl of flour on the wooden board I use to roll out pita bread. And the arc of two dancers moving around the floor. And the shape a kung fu artist takes when striking with a sword.

Quick update on the play promo

Just wanted to leave a quick note about the promo sale for Hand in Unlovable Hand. The title is now available on Kobo and Google Play. The Kobo listing is currently not showing the promo price, but it should be set shortly.

So in case you need a rundown of every place where you can get the e-book:

Amazon
Google Play
Kobo
Smashwords
Or get it direct via Payhip:

Remember that the $0.99 promotional price only runs through the 15th! And if you’re in town, come check out the remaining days of Frontera Fest. You won’t regret it!

Frontera Fest Special!

Last month, I had a one-act play I’d written produced as part of Frontera Fest, a local theatre event. It was quite an event, and even if we don’t make Best of the Fest next week, I’ll be very happy with how things went. But that’s the subject of a longer post for later. For now, I’m happy to announce that I’ve published an e-book version of the script. (There will be a print run sometime later this month.) And for the duration of Frontera Fest, it will be available for just $0.99!

Hand in Unlovable Hand is currently available at the following online retailers:
Amazon
Smashwords

Or, you can buy direct from Payhip:

This offer is only good until the 15th. After that, the price goes up. So get it while the getting’s good!

(Note: This play contains mature themes and is not suitable for all readers/audiences.)

Literary Love for January

The new year turned out to be a great month for my reading list. This isn’t a full list of everything I’ve read, just my favorites.

Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo. It’s no secret that Sandra Cisneros is my favorite poet. I read Loose Woman once a year. But I also adore her fiction, and Caramelo is no exception. Stylistically, it’s the kind of novel I want to write. It contains some of the most poetic prose I’ve ever read.

bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions. This is the third time I’ve read this book. Each time, I gain some new perspective on compassion, love, and ethics. hooks does not shy away from the often-derided topic of love, and talks about how it belongs in contemporary American life. It always makes me think, address my own shortcomings. It’s like a way to recalibrate myself, set new intentions for the way I handle people in my life.

Celeste Guzman Mendoza, Beneath the Halo. I’ve been lucky to get to take workshops with Mendoza in Austin and San Antonio, and was very excited when I found out this book had come out. Mendoza tackles family, faith, and trauma, and though each section is self-contained, the poems all play off each other, for a work that has perfect thematic resonance.

Ntozake Shange, nappy edges. I’ve been in love with Shange’s work since reading For Colored Girls… in college, but I’d never read this collection. Reading Shange’s work gives me occasional moments of poetic communion, but at the same time, it challenges me to check my privilege as a white poet and feminist, and think about my own work and what I’m doing with the political side of my writing.

ire’ne lara silva, flesh to bone. I am so proud when I can endorse the work of a good friend. It wasn’t so long ago that I was writing about ire’ne lara silva’s work without having even met her yet. But now, I’m thrilled to call her a friend, and thus be especially happy about this book. Even when she’s writing prose, silva has a poetic voice, and doesn’t shy away from taking long, hard, intense looks at the subjects of her stories.

And, in the audio department, I’ve fallen in love with Welcome to Nightvale, a podcast about a small desert town where nothing is as it seems. A mix of science fiction, comedy, and a bit of horror, too. It’ll hit all your genre buttons, and keep you coming back for more.

I’ve moved! (Sort of)

Just a quick note that I’ve gone ahead and upgraded, and thus dropped the .wordpress extension from my URL. So this blog URL is now http://allysonmwhipple.com. I’m not sure if you have to update your RSS reader or anything else; in theory, you shouldn’t have to. But then again, technology doesn’t always work the way we want it to…

UPDATE: If the site seems to be acting weird, that’s ostensibly a normal part of the process. Everything should be right as rain within 72 hours.

Why I Love “A Christmas Story”

Merry Christmas to all!

I should be hastily packing for my trip to Ohio. Or eating breakfast. Or finishing up the last vestiges of work I need to do before I can declare myself on vacation. But instead, I find myself with a need to pay tribute to A Christmas Story.

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Last night, one of my friends posted that he’d seen the film for the very first time, and hated it. Why? Because the parents didn’t talk to each other about their conflict surrounding the lamp. The kids did stupid things and made poor decisions. The bullies hurt people for fun. The staff at the Chinese restaurant acted like racist caricatures. He couldn’t quite fathom why people love this film so much.

I ended up writing a long comment defending the film. And then decided to turn it into a blog post. Much of what is here is from my original comment, with a few changes.

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Many children do act idiotic. I don’t mean that in a nasty way. I mean they are still growing and developing and lack the cognitive skills to act like fully intelligent beings. Bill Cosby has a whole bit about how all children have brain damage. And kids giving each other stupid dares is pretty par for the course. Again, children have a different sense of safety, rationality, and fun than adults do. They’re not mini-adults.

Bullies do hurt other people for fun, sometimes. And when I watch Scott Farkas on screen as an adult, I think about how now, I see him as hardly intimidating at all. But you can see why Ralphie is scared. And I am reminded of how when I was a child, bullies were, in fact, terrifying. Because I was a child, and didn’t see things the way adults did.

The husband and wife have issues with communication, sure. But this was set in the 1950s, filmed in the 1980s, and in 2014? Couples still have communication problems. Sadly enough, that kind of dysfunction is encouraged. I can’t go a week without seeing a magazine headline in a women’s magazine encouraging passive-aggressive manipulation rather than open communication.

People love this film because it rings true. It’s funny, but it stings, because it contains realities of experience for so many.

Because it’s about a time in childhood when you’re starting to really learn that things can be tough and that life isn’t always fair. There are moments of sentimentality, to be sure, but it’s also unsentimental in that it shows that childhood can at time be upsetting, frustrating, and even scary.

Because it’s a film about people who are terribly flawed still loving each other and doing the best they can. Ralphie’s dad is a curmudgeon, but still wants his kids to be happy. The parents have communication issues, but still do love each other. People all over the world have flaws small and large, but still care for family and friends in spite of those foibles. And they recognize their equally-flawed loved ones are doing the best they can, as well.

And if you are not religious, that’s a pretty good lesson to keep in mind on Christmas Day. That we make lots of mistakes and generally muddle through, but still love each other and try to do right by our loved ones.

As for the racist caricatures? I blame Hollywood for letting that one through.

Some quick updates

Life has been a whirlwind lately. There are blog posts I’ve wanted to write, but haven’t made time. However, I have some announcements that I want to dash off before turning in for the night.

1. Registration for the Submission Mission 2014 workshop is now open! For details and a link to the registration form, check out the Workshops page.

2. After over a year of revision, I’m ready to start sending out my next manuscript! I finished the first draft of Curved Tongue, Forked Road a few days after Thanksgiving in 2012. After three beta readers, lots of cuts and additions, and hours spent arranging poems, I have a manuscript I’m excited to share.

3. I’m not on the planning committee of Flor de Nopal, but I believe it’s the best literary festival that Austin has to offer. This year, they’re underfunded. If your bank account has room to spare, please consider making a donation. It’s tax deductible, and filing season is just around the corner!

4. This weekend I’m reading at the Dos Gatos Press Texas Poetry Calendar reading, held at BookPeople on Saturday the 7th. The reading starts at 4. I’m also reading at the Austin Writergrrls Book Festival, held at BookWoman on Sunday the 8th, also starting at 4. Both events are free and open to the public.

I think that wraps it up for now. Hopefully I’ll have time for longer updates in the new year!

Seeking actors for Frontera Fest

Hello, readers!

I’m thrilled to announce that my one-act play, Hand in Unloveable Hand, will be going up as part of Frontera Fest this January. I’m excited to be taking on the roll of director as well as actor. To that end, I’m seeking actors for two speaking roles and one nonspeaking role.

Speaking Roles: 1 man and 1 woman, middle-aged, any ethnicity

Nonspeaking Role: 1 adult, any age, any ethnicity

If interested, email literaryaustin@gmail.com. Include payment requirements and whether you’re willing to work for barter.