fits

I printed a new zine back in January. It's got ten poems in it and it was meant to be a sort of lite version of a longer zine which would include the same poems and a new story. But life is moving quickly and I'd rather put out something completely new next time, so it looks like this little book is the definitive version of Fits. Tim told me it was good. My friend Kaylin told me that it made her cry, which is one of the best compliments I've ever gotten. 

For my Edmonton kids, I think it's still in stock in the 780 distro's vending machine at Transcend Garneau. If you can't make it all the way up north, I'd be so happy to mail you a book or email you a file.

ETA: If the vending machine eats your money, as it did my friend Carmyn's money, please go ask one of the lovely baristas to open the machine for you. They have a key. 

In other news, I have a poem about bread that's going to be printed on some coffee sleeves sometime during the next few months, and another poem about sex and winter included in Forty Below: Volume 2, an anthology of Edmonton writers on Edmonton winters, which should come out in November. Local projects for the win. I'm so excited to be part of all of this. 

xx Lizzie

640

This weekend is the final push before I hand in my undergraduate thesis on Emily Dickinson. I'm writing on a painfully technical, recondite subject. I tell you it's about "capitalized compound nouns and their implications for Dickinson's theological lexicon" and watch your eyes cloud as if to protect yourself. But I first became interested in these ideas in an attempt to understand Dickinson's poem number 640, which kills me on an emotional level, every time.  In order to spare you a lecture on prosody, I'm writing about phrases like Other's GazeRight of Frost, and White Sustenance, trying to tease out how and why they carry such weight in this poem (and 60-odd other poems).  Really I just want to know why 640 is the text that manages to sum up whole years of my romantic and religious experience. So here you go.

640

I cannot live with You – 
It would be Life – 
And Life is over there – 
Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to – 
Putting up
Our Life – His Porcelain – 
Like a Cup – 

Discarded of the Housewife – 
Quaint – or Broke – 
A newer Sevres pleases – 
Old Ones crack – 

I could not die – with You – 
For One must wait
To shut the Other's Gaze down – 
You – could not – 

And I – Could I stand by
And see You – freeze – 
Without my Right of Frost – 
Death's privilege?

Nor could I rise – with You – 
Because Your Face
Would put out Jesus' – 
That New Grace

Glow plain – and foreign
On my homesick Eye – 
Except that You than He
Shone closer by – 

They'd judge Us – How – 
For You – served Heaven – You know,
Or sought to – 
I could not – 

Because You saturated Sight – 
And I had no more Eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise

And were You lost, I would be – 
Though My Name
Rang loudest
On the Heavenly fame – 

And were You – saved – 
And I – condemned to be
Where You were not – 
That self – were Hell to Me – 

So We must meet apart – 
You there – I – here – 
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are – and Prayer – 
And that White Sustenance – 
Despair – 

October 15, 2014

She cannot come all the way

 

She comes as far as water no further

 

She comes with the birth push

Into eyelashes into nipples the fingertips

She comes as far as blood and to the tips of hair

She comes to the fringe of voice

She stays

Even after life among the bones

 

She comes singing she cannot manage an instrument

She comes too cold afraid of clothes

And too slow with eyes wincing frightened

When she looks into wheels

 

She comes sluttish she cannot keep house,

She can just keep clean

She cannot count she cannot last

 

She comes dumb she cannot manage words

She brings petals in their nectar fruits in their plush

She brings a cloak of feathers an animal rainbow

She brings her favourite furs and these are her speech

 

She has come amorous it is all she has come for

 

If there had been no hope she would not have come

 

And there would have been no crying in the city

 

- Ted Hughes

long player late bloomer

stitching books.JPG

(A self-referential post. Let's start with the fact that these photos have been waiting for almost a month to be blogged. )

I've begun to suspect that I don't live my life in the same briskly moving sequence other people do. Looking over my stint as an adult so far, I see one elongated time-frame that I have been drawing out, freakishly, miraculously, year after year.

I am twenty-three. My goals haven't changed much since I was seventeen and most of them are still unmet. I am working away at projects I initiated years ago. I am still trying to keep up with a person I no longer am, still trying to reconcile my idea of a good life with the memory of one particular summer. It's taken me ten years to learn to take my makeup off at night.  I still consider myself a novice in the arenas of Exercise and Healthy Eating. And I've been trying to make the same pot of borscht for a week. 

In the picture above, there's a pile of zines. It's four weeks ago, and I'm in the middle of stitching them up. They're a reprint of a zine I published three winters ago. They're what I consider almost-current work. 

I published my first zine at age 14, so I've been doing this almost as long as I've been a poet. Along with everyone else, I expected to grow out of the practice. When I briefly opened a zine-selling Etsy shop in the summer of 2010, I felt childish--and yet, I've spent the past several weeks making the same zines I sold in that shop into a digital archive which I proudly display on my brand-new, very-official, I-bought-a-url website. I'm writing poems to print in a new zine in September. 

In the image below, tails and tops from this year's first beets. I think I've taken this picture before. I've certainly turned it into a poem. It's in the zine shown above. Apparently my own poems are circling back to life.

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These geraniums are the first I've ever had, but I've been wanting to grow them for oh, five years or so?

geraniums.JPG

Here is another glimpse of my puffin sweater, emerging from its blocking bath in the kitchen sink. No, I have not yet taken modeled photographs. So far, this sweater has been almost two years in the making. I decided I wanted to knit it soon after the pattern came out in December 2012, which was also when Tim's mum bought me Colours of Shetland (Kate Davies's incredible first collection of patterns, including the puffin sweater) for Christmas. In December 2013, I got the yarn for the sweater, also from Tim's mum. In March of this year, while I was in Iceland, I finally cast on.

emerging puffin.JPG

And this. This is a sock, or will be. The first of two for my friend Tara, who lives in Detroit, is a PhD student, and once sent me Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman--a perfect present. I promised Tara socks two years ago, right before I promised myself I'd knit a Puffin. 

To round up a few more examples that I don't have photographic evidence of, I'll mention the loaf of Borodinsky Bread that I baked this week. It was the next recipe in Bread Matters, a book I've been working through, Julie-Powell style, since January 2013. The last time I progressed to a new recipe was in April 2013. Why has it taken me this long to get to Borodinsky? Well, there was the hellish autumn. (Note that the hellish autumn began at the end of last August. We're already edging into an autumn that I hope and expect will be much happier, but my instinctive use of language only proves my point: time is unbroken between this autumn and last and sometimes I have an odd foreboding sense of deja vu, as if I am appoaching hell all over again.)  But I also had to obtain rye malt extract, which took me approximately 14 months to track down and order from a brewing supply company. This bread, though, at long last, is scrumptious. 100% sourdough rye with malt and . . . coriander seeds. Sweet Jesus, why haven't I had coriander in rye bread before?

There's also the book of poetry I'm reading, Jesse Patrick Ferguson's Harmonics. It was assigned in a prosody seminar I took in the Fall semester 2012. I presented papers on two or three poems from the collection and managed to essentially ignore the rest. Then, a few weeks ago, a friend picked the book off of my library cart bookshelf and asked me about it. I said something vague about poems by a young Canadian poet who didn't sound like Margaret Atwood but actually straddled the line between formal and free verse in much the same way I try to do . . . Hearing this description coming out of my own mouth, it suddenly occurred to me that I might want another look at this young Canadian poet. As it turns out, two years later, these poems are marvelous. Here's a short one (but if you want a long one, ask me to email you the text of "Work"--I'd be so happy to):

Greasy Spoon Triolet - Jesse Patrick Ferguson

This coffee's black as Satan's piss,

so pass the creamers my way.  

When she comes back, tell her this--                                          

the coffee's black as Satan's piss.                                  

Something's amiss, my little Miss,                                            

and I don't tip well, anyway,                                          

when coffee's black as Satan's piss.                                

Now pass the creamers my way.

 

And Ron Sexsmith gives me a post title and signs me off. 

xx Lizzie

on poetry on the internet

I'm thrilled to bits. I just finished making and uploading text galleries like this one (for A Cozy Home) to accompany each of the digital zines.

 

This is the first time I've been really happy with the way my poems have appeared on the internet. The click-through gallery means that the pieces can be ordered (as they are in a book or zine), that only one poem is on screen at a time, and that the whole poem is on screen--no scrolling is required to read to the end. 

Now I should probably get dressed and clear the bed of laptop, papers, bread-and-jam. Let me know what you think, hey? And Happy Sunday!