Friday, November 22, 2013

At Last...

Ever since I was a 10 year old little girl, when I was sneaking off into the forest to write my first novel, or skipping playtime at recess in order to devour books-- I have dreamed of having my own real, live book published. And today, at long last, that dream has come to fruition.

My first full-length poetry book, entitled "Edison's Ghost Machine", has just been accepted for publication in 2014 by Kelsay Books. They are a wonderful independent press that publishes so many fine poets and I am falling over myself thrilled that they have opened their hearts up to me and have so much confidence in my work. It is a very startling sensation to have my life-long dream come true, and I'm so thankful to all the people in my life who have, over the years, put up with my mental breakdowns over my book/helped my revise my work/given me feedback/taught me valuable lessons/encouraged me/believed in me. It has been a very long road.

Now comes the next, and incredibly exciting part of it all: brainstorming ideas for a beautiful cover and revising my work. The press has generously given me a couple months within which to revise/edit my manuscript as necessary, and of course the relentless perfectionist in me will be using every last second of that. Of course I have revised the book on countless occasions, but this time it's different-- I won't be editing a stack of papers that afterwards will be sitting under a thick pile of dust, sadly in the corner. Instead, I will be editing a stack of papers that afterwards will be shot off like a canon into the ether, into buildings and bookstores, into all of your hands and (hopefully) hearts.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tupelo Press Fundraiser: A Poem A Day In July

Today is the first day of July, which means I will be writing a poem every day this month as a volunteer poet to raise money for Tupelo Press. This is a wonderful cause and I'm so proud to be a part of these fundraising efforts!

How it works: I write a poem every day, and if you like what I write, and want to sponsor me then you can make a donation to the press. If you donate then you are supporting a great literary press and on a larger scale: the poetry community will be strengthened by this! I am in the company of 8 other talented poets who will be writing poems daily with me. We will be working hard every day to create the poems, and this is a pretty intense endeavor-- both physically and emotionally exhausting!

Poems will be posted every day here: Tupelo Press 30/30 Project. If you like a poem I write I hope it will urge you to "sponsor me". Put my name in the "honor" box and give whatever your pretty little heart desires. 100% of the money goes to support the press, I receive nothing (except the happiness that you have read & enjoyed my poem!).

As a thank-you to my sponsors I am offering the following gifts: 

$1+ --- If you donate any amount, even a dollar, I will snail mail you a postcard with a compliment about how wonderful you are.

$25+ --- If you donate $25 or more I will send you a hand-crafted chapbook that will be created from the poems from July & you will get a postcard-compliment-thank-you.

$99+ --- If you donate $99 plus the press will give you a subscription where you will receive 9 books of poetry & I will send you a hand-crafted chapbook & a postcard.

I can't wait to see what loveliness this month brings...

Love,
Jennifer 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Getting Published Again & Grocery Haul

After spending a generous amount of time over the past month sending my poems out to publications, I got my first acceptance letter in quite a while (since last year). My poem "Conversations Overheard In A Bowling Alley During A Citywide Power Outage" will be appearing in the next issue of Cleaver Magazine. I will be among fascinating company. Getting published in a magazine or journal that I respect never fails to fill me with a rush of adrenaline&serotonin&sky-high-confidence&optimism. It is a great drug, and better than any bottle of liquor or chemically manufactured powder.

I steer into and out of a raw/vegan diet. I have recently veered back into it. Today my trip to the market consisted of the following 11 items:

basil
bananas
pine nuts
Larabar (granola type energy bar that consisted of simply dates and cashews)
pomegranate
Cripp pink apple
hummus Salad Dressing
cremini mushrooms
arugula
Zico coconut water
sun-dried tomatoes

8 years ago I consumed a regular diet of bagels and chicken nuggets. It is interesting to observe the change of pace.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Italian Summer Salad Recipe

This recipe is inspired by a dish that was often prepared by the mother of an adorable little girl named Gaia whom I was a nanny for. Gaia's parents were lovely people, and owned an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. I would always pay close attention when the mother cooked, and she made the most incredible fried zucchinis as an afternoon snack, by thinly slicing a zucchini and frying it in extra virgin olive oil until browned and slightly crispy, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. It was such a simple way to showcase the natural sweetness of a ripe zucchini. The fried zucchini is perfect on its own for a snack, but for when I want a more substantial meal I will whip up the following (I made this for lunch today and took a photo of it, but instead of using fried zucchini I used leftover grilled zucchini from yesterdays BBQ. Still delicious!):

Italian Summer Salad 

Serves 2 

Ingredients

1 zucchini (thinly sliced)
1 can tuna in water (drained)
2 corn on the cobs
10 spanish olives
2 oz. tricolor penne pasta
salt
pepper
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Step 1: Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

Step 2: Meanwhile, fry the zucchini slices in a few tablespoons of olive oil until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Dice up the olives and toss with remaining ingredients. Add drained pasta when it is ready and top with the zucchini.

Simple! This dish is best served at room temperature or slightly warm.

Love,
Jennifer







Saturday, June 1, 2013

DIY Project: Turn Rejections Into Art!

For almost a decade I've been saving my rejection slips from publishers. I'm unsure why I treasure them so much, but I've always wanted to do something with them. I pro actively try to turn the experience of receiving a rejection notice into something positive. I'm not always successful but at least I try! So the other day I decided to celebrate my rejections and finally create something pretty out of it-- I decoupaged a journal with my old rejection slips and various other photos. Here's a guide if you are interested in doing the same:

You will need: a journal 
                           sharp scissors 
                           various magazines 
                           decoupage glue (I used Mod Podge Glossy for this project)
                           a foam brush
                           damp cloth 
                           pile of rejection slips




Step 1. Cut out pictures from magazines to use as filler/background (if you want you can skip this entirely and decoupage using only the rejection slips, but I wanted a few splashes of color). 




Step 2. Apply glue the the back of a picture/slip and press onto the journal cover, making sure to smooth wrinkles out. Repeat until the entire surface is covered. Use damp cloth to wipe off excess glue if necessary. 














Step 3. Let dry and apply 3-4 coats of glue on top, letting dry between each application. 

Voila! 

Love,
Jennifer 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Submitting Poetry to Publications & Dealing With Rejection

For me, the most pleasurable aspect of submitting poems to publications has always been the copious amount of reading it entails. In order to figure out whether my work is a good fit for a magazine/journal, and in order to know which poems would make for the strongest submission, I must read through their back issues or their online e-issues. I come across a lot of amazing work during this process. Here are some such cases:

“Listen, my live one,
        I glow for you.
I am your night-goat.
Feeding and fattening,
I trim your darkness,
            hold back
the wild cosmos.”

-Charlotte Innes, from her poem “Night-Goat”. Read the full poem at Crate Magazine.

"Anguished Compass" by Derek Hung, is also an amazing poem and has the kind of ending that gives me chills.


Of course the least pleasurable aspect for me is handling the rejection letters/emails that come pouring in. I have been sending my poems out to magazines since I was 12 years old, and have trained myself to have a tough skin and to not take things personally. I've also had to become persistent and confident. One magazine in particular, I submitted to multiple times over a period of years before they finally accepted my work. It took me a very long time to realize this, but I've learned that in order to be a successful writer I had to celebrate the rejection slips! If I am trying to find the perfect home for my poem, then I might have to go down many roads until I find a place that's just right. Every rejection note is just eliminating those paths, and narrows my options down further, therefore bringing me one step closer to the *perfect* publisher of my work.

One of my most beloved poets of all time, e.e. cummings, has an amazing book of verse entitled "No Thanks". It was rejected by 14 different publishers, but he had such confidence in what he had created that he took a $300 loan from his mother to publish it himself. He named it and dedicated it as a "no thanks" to all the publishers who had turned it down. He then created this visual poem listing all the publishers who had rejected the book, and shaped the words into a funeral urn. You might perhaps view this behavior as a little bitter, but I find it charming to display such confidence!


A publisher once said this about one of my favorite novels of all time, Vladmir Nabokov's Lolita: "… overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian… the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years."


Oh, what madness!

Love,
Jennifer

Saturday, May 25, 2013

BBQ Prep & Poetry Volunteer News

In preparation for Rooster's BBQ celebration I've been trying to curate the perfect menu. Here's a rough outline of what I have so far:

Grilled Steak with Herb Sauce
Roasted Zucchini Skewers
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Red Potato and Dill Salad
Watermelon Sangria
Flan    

It's been gloomy and rainy for the past two days, so planning this menu was a great way to get into a sunnier mood. 

Also, I've been selected by Tupelo Press to be one of their poets for the 30/30 Project in July! Basically I will be writing a poem a day along with the 7-8 other poets they chose. We're basically poet volunteers, donating our creative efforts in exchange for people hopefully donating to support the press. I hope it raises a ton of money for them! Check out the project here

I anticipate that it will be both terrifying and exhilarating, to post up a poem every day onto a platform with such a huge audience, without having time to edit much at all. And I'm doing this coming off the emotional roller coaster of National Poetry Month, which I haven't yet recovered from! But I must push onwards and outwards... 

Love,
Jennifer 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hot off the presses!

I'm so, so delighted to announce that my chapbook, "The Case of the Missing Lover" is ready at last! My warmest of thanks to the lovely Kristy Bowen, from Dancing Girl Press for her hard work in getting my manuscript ready for print. You can purchase a copy here!


The press designed this lovely cover for my book. The images are magnified water molecules that have changed their molecular structure after having been exposed to words of gratitude and love. Perfect! It is so wonderful to have a real live book out in the world that people can actually hold in their hands! 




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Food Delights!

It was so sunny today that it really put me in the mood to wear bright pink and go to the market to buy loads of fresh fruits and vegetables. I snacked on watermelon as I finished up work for today. Watermelon is the best thing to eat on a hot summer day, it's so bright and sweet and hydrating!

For dinner tonight I made:

Dijon Crusted Dill Salmon 

[serves 1]

Ingredients 

8 oz salmon fillet (preferably wild) 
1-2 tsps honey (I use a jar I got from Ochs farm in upstate New York) 
splash soy sauce 
splash apple cider vinegar 
coarse sea salt, to taste 
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste 
1-2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp mustard
fresh dill

Directions 

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Place salmon in a glass baking dish. Brush the oil on top of the salmon with a pastry brush or spoon. Squeeze the juice of the lemon on top. Drizzle the honey, vinegar and soy sauce on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper and finish by slathering on a thick layer of the mustard. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When it's done, sprinkle fresh chopped dill on top. 

Serving Suggestions: Serve with lightly sauteed spinach: saute with olive oil and chopped garlic for an effortless side dish. I'd also suggest roasting a sweet potato so that you have a perfectly balanced meal! 

***
I'm dying to try these recipes: 



Most nutritional bars are completely garbage, but I love Larabars because they are simply nuts, dates and fruit. So you are actually eating something healthy (dense in calories but also dense in nutrition!) rather than eating a glorified candy bar. Larabars are rather expensive though, so if this recipe turns out as good as it sounds I'll be in heaven! 


I am normally so lazy when it comes to salad dressings. I either use a store bought one or I'll just squeeze a lemon on top of my salad, but this one sounds intriguing. I picked up a tin of anchovies at the market today, so as to try the recipe out later this week. I've never bought them in my life though, so I was peering at and inspecting the various types, and apparently so intently that the manager came up to me and asked if I needed help.  


I've never even *eaten* macarons, which is a sin because they are so quintessentially Parisian. I've always been attracted to them visually though, because they are always in such bright colors. They are an intimidating feat though, even for a relatively experienced baker like moi. Professionals regularly mess them up! But I vow to give baking macarons a try-- by the end of this year. Perhaps the next social event I go to I while use as an excuse to make them, because let's face it: they are not healthy at all! And I dare not make dozens of them only to sit around in my house staring lovingly at me day in and day out... 



Saturday, May 18, 2013

A door in a rock


 6 years ago my favorite living poet, Nick Flynn, signed his book for me. He signed it:

"For Jennifer,
A door in a rock"

Now, I never really understood what in the world that meant, nor did I give it too much thought.

But the other day when I had just woken up I randomly thought of it and a flash of realization came over me. If you are stuck 'between a rock and a hard place'-- in a bad, hopeless spot in life, wouldn't it be nice if there were just a door in that rock for you to reach over, grab the knob on and walk through?! Maybe that door was there all along, and you never even noticed it, you'd just been stewing in your abject misery and lamenting the hardship. But... a door! That's exciting. Why did I never give this more thought! So after this "epiphany" I researched the phrase "a door in a rock", still half asleep and on my phone, and came across an article that explained an old Celtic mythology relating to the idea of a door in a rock. I found this interesting because I descend from the Welsh:

"Celtic Mythology The Gwragedd Annwn [wives of the underworld] were lake-sirens in Wales. These lovely creatures are known to choose mortal men as their husbands. One legend has it that they live in a sunken city in one of the many lakes in Wales. People claim to have seen towers under water and heard the chiming of bells. In earlier times, there used to be a door in a rock and those who dared enter through it came into a beautiful garden situated on an island in the middle of a lake. In this garden there were luscious fruits, beautiful flowers and the loveliest music, besides many other wonders. Those brave enough to enter were welcomed by the Gwragedd Annwn and were invited to stay as long as they wanted, on the condition that they never took anything back from the garden. One visitor ignored the rule and took a flower home with him. As soon as he left the island, the flower disappeared and he fell unconscious to the ground. From that day on, the door has been firmly closed and none has ever passed through it again."

This is an artistic representation of these water spirits: 

I found it interesting also because I am a water sign, and very strongly affiliate with water creatures. Maybe I am one of these lake-sirens, and maybe there was once a man who walked through that 'door in a rock' to that fruitful paradise of love, and maybe he went back out through the door one day, back to reality, only he took something with him, he couldn't leave it all behind completely. And if my heart and my love is this island paradise, then maybe it too has closed and no one may enter it again, because this man took something with him when he left. I just find it funny that I randomly thought of this line that someone wrote for me so many years ago. Why that morning, when I was going through a very rough time? There must be some message, some rhyme or reason, for my brain to behave that way. Or at least I like to believe that it is not just random neurons snapping and firing and deadening all at once. 

Was Nick Flynn really that much of a prophet and that insightful? Maybe... or perhaps it means nothing at all, and since he has millions of fans he just ran out of things to say when signing autographs. Maybe he started using a 'mad libs' formula:
"To _____ (proper noun), A ______ (noun) in a _______ (noun). -Nick Flynn".


I am happy to report that I was productive in something other than my business: I sent out (for the first time since last year) some poems to magazines for publications. I spent the past few days doing nothing but writing cover letters and researching magazines and endlessly editing my submissions. I also sent my book out to a publisher! One day, I just know it, I WILL have a book of poetry published, and then I too can write cryptic & beautiful & prophetic messages for fans when I sign their book.

Love,
Jennifer

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nouns & Daughterhood

I adore nouns. When I must speed through a page of literature my eyes will fix on mainly the nouns, and I can get a good sense of what is going on. If I were to compare language to a human body it would be as such:

Verbs = arms & legs: appendages that move you places quicker, more exactly and with more ease.
Adjectives = brain: modifies objects, people and situations to be viewed in a certain lens.
Punctuation = stomach & intestinal tract: slows down the incoming nourishment because it has to take time to digest.
Conjunctions = sex organs: joins separate animals and can yield offspring
Nouns = heart & blood: pulsing and providing everything with life.
Letters of the alphabet = cells: insignificant and small on their own, but when strung along and joined with others they become beautiful organisms

I know that they are all interrelated and necessary to life, but god! Nouns are just incredible.

In his poem "A Sort of Song" William Carlos Williams wrote: "no ideas but in things". And this simple phrase has been spun into a philosophical idea and remembered for generations, but of course it has validity. After all, his own work is proof: you can think of a single object and recall completely his poems and their deeper emotional meanings-- whether you see the wheelbarrow, plum, or cat.

I started thinking more about this the other day when I was watching "Hungry For Change", which is a nutritional documentary. They were talking about how when a person experiences stress or goes on a diet the bodies reaction is to fatten the body up, because the body interprets this as a signal that a famine is approaching. So the body is only trying to protect us by bulking us up during these times, so that we are prepared for the oncoming scarcity of food. I find this quite adorable- how sweet of the body to be trying to protect us! And all these years I was annoyed that I never had a flat stomach. I apologize dear body, yr good intentions were there all along. But so, one of the tips they give in the documentary is that you should visualize yourself at the weight you'd like to be. This sounds very cliche, I know, but the way they explain it is paramount: your body does not speak English! If you try to tell it you want to lose weight, that you want to be 100 lbs etc. it will hear nothing. It doesn't speak that language, but if you visualize a picture of yourself at a certain weight then it will understand. The body speaks the language of images, of things! That is the universal language. Unless you speak multiple languages you can't communicate with a Japanese/Portuguese/Swedish person. But if you point to your heart and then point to them then they will understand that you love them. And if you show them a picture of a hamburger then they will understand that you are hungry.

Earlier today my mother stopped by my house while I was out. And she showed me she loved me not in ideas but in things, as I returned home to the following:

-An envelope containing a credit card for me to use to help pay for my therapy bills
-Toilet paper in the bathroom
-A book called "Steps to Christ" on my kitchen countertop
-Fresh cherries and apricots in the fruit bin
-My brita water filter refilled with purified water
-A stick lodged in the sliding porch door to prevent intruders from entering


Friday, May 3, 2013

Sing that body electric

I survived National Poetry Month, and completed my requisite 30 poems. Thank god this happens only once a year, because quite frankly I need the next 11 months to recover. It is a difficult experience for me because it forces me to sit down and look honestly at myself, my emotions and my life. I have to dig (usually painful) truths and realizations out, and actually deal with emotions (rather than burying them) to write a poem. Is is emotionally exhaustive, and the next day the process repeats. There is no time to calm my nerves or digest the emotions that are perpetually being stirred up during the month. It is because of this strange chemistry that the month of April always manifests itself in my personal life. Heartache occurs, death, conversations that have been suppressed for years, travels to unexpected places, a diagnosis, signs from god. I know that poetry month is good for my personal development, but I am terrified for next year.

For the past month I've been in a very delicate and open emotional state, and this results in very peculiar and intimate experiences with people overall. Salespeople hug me more, cab drivers hold my hand while I hyperventilate, even a transvestite listened to me ramble all night about my deep life concerns (a lovely, sweet human being she was... dressed as little red riding hood no less!). When I am in this state, people seem to feel my energy and reach out to comfort me, or be an ear to listen to. It's incredible and always reaffirms my adoration for the human race.

Two recent poems I've read that are incredible:

Beginning in an Ice Cream Truck and Ending in a Court Room by Megan Falley

Blood Honey by Chana Bloch

I am very seriously considering organizing a poetry workshop with fellow poets. It would follow the same syllabus as those I had in grad school, with the one glaring exception of having an experienced poet/professor at the helm. I would have to play the role of organizer/poet dictator to keep everything moving productively but we would all be equals. Is this a feasible venture or would it just be a collection of unfocused energy? I've been in so many amazing workshops, but the reason they were so successful was because the teacher was so good at navigating the conversation and guiding everyone with their literary wisdom. I really, really need to be in a workshop though, so if this idea doesn't pan out I will have to find other options. I think my poetry education is going to continue for the rest of my life, as I just don't foresee a day when I could say I know it all.  

Also I've decided that I am going to start putting together my second book. I feel a little embarrassed to start working on a second book before I've even gotten my first one accepted for publication anywhere, but I've been sitting on my hands long enough and I need to move on. I will continue to try to get my first book published, but in the meanwhile I need to start working actively on a new venture. I have so many little ideas but as of now they are extremely vague and undeveloped. The front runners so far are: 

1. Poems inspired by or related to scientific inventions
2. Poems that expound on dictionary definitions (of mainly nouns) 
3. Poems about ghosts, primarily conducting interviews with people who claim to of had experience with ghosts 

Or maybe I could do something completely uncharacteristic and write a book of personal poems about my own life and my own experiences. I am too painfully private so I doubt this will ever happen, but I aspire to do this one day. 


Love,
Jennifer

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Updates & A Recipe!

In chocolate news, my vegan truffles recently had their debut at Chocolate & Vines, a lovely restaurant in Rochester, NY. I was so excited to be featured in this place- their menu is so tempting and the entire concept of the restaurant could not be more perfect! Also, the owner of the restaurant whom I've been dealing with, is such a warm hearted lady and the fact that she had confidence enough to take a leap of faith in a small little chocolatier like me meant the world to me. They already had a main chocolatier before I came along: Norman Love. So I provide them with their vegan chocolates. It is a little bit intimidating to be presenting my truffles alongside one of the top chocolatiers of all time, I won't lie. In fact, it was recently announced that Norman Love will be the head jury member in the World Chocolate Masters Competition being held this Fall in Paris. And my truffles are sharing a counter top with his?! Anyway, from what I hear the customers are raving about my vegan truffles, and the owner of the restaurant places a standing order with me today, so I am pretty ecstatic about that.

Poetry-wise, I am desperately trying not to fall behind too badly. I am currently 3 poems behind and trying to catch up. I was a lot more behind than that, but last night I celebrated Earth Day (one of my favorite holidays) by shutting off every light in the house and writing by candlelight, so I dug myself out a bit. Some of my poems this month have been so dark. Worse than dark, they have been melodramatic! But such is the custom for 30 poems in 30 days. Poetry therapy, my friend Megan called it. I never think I will make it to the end, but I always do...

I went to a spin class and ran a few miles at the gym tonight, so when I got home I was absolutely ravenous. I made one of my favorite salads for dinner. It is such a nourishing and satisfying dish. Here is the recipe:

Smoked Salmon & Beet Salad 

1/4 cucumber thinly sliced
3 baby beets baked, peeled and halved (when I am lazy I buy a pre-cooked package of them that is sold in the produce aisle) [be careful to use gloves when handling the beets or else you will end up with scarlet fingertips!]
1 tomato cut into wedges
1 slice of onion minced
1-2 oz smoked salmon
4-5 spanish olives halved
1 oz. goat cheese crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to taste

Love,
Jennifer


Friday, April 19, 2013

Flightless Bird American Mouth

I can't stop listening to this song (Flightless Bird American Mouth by Iron & Wine): 


I am also enjoying interpreting the lyrics, and relating it to a situation in my own life.

"I was a quick-wit boy, diving too deep for coins
All of your street light eyes wide on my plastic toys
Then when the cops closed the fair, I cut my long baby hair
Stole me a dog-eared map and called for you everywhere
Have I found you
Flightless bird, jealous, weeping or lost you, american mouth
Big pill looming

Now I'm a fat house cat
Nursing my sore blunt tongue
Watching the warm poison rats curl through the wide fence cracks
Pissing on magazine photos
Those fishing lures thrown in the cold
And clean blood of Christ mountain stream

Have I found you
Flightless bird, grounded, bleeding or lost you, american mouth
Big pill stuck going down."

I adore waltzes... there is something about that rhythm that just fits perfectly with me.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month I am doing the 30 poems in 30 days project this April. I have curated an amazing group with 10 other amazing poets who will also be posting daily. It can often be an emotional experience, which can manifest itself in your personal life, but it is a necessary one. The first night I had to sit down and write was extremely painful, as it requires dealing with emotions that are sometimes easier to ignore. Last night was pretty difficult as well. I am just happy that I have 10 other poets who are on this journey with me, so I'm not completely alone! I adore them and am so grateful for their company & support & inspiration.

Here is a link to my poem from yesterday: A Daily Dose Of Spring Poems

Gallop, my fellow sweet poets!

Love,
Jennifer

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On Running

On Sunday I ran the Spring Fling 5k on Roosevelt Island. It was perfectly sunny, and the marshy smell of the water surrounding the island made me feel like I was many more miles from New York City than I actually was. Rooster and I took the tram over and being inside this huge glass walled contraption that went high above the city reminded me of being in the elevator that takes you to the top of the Eiffel Tower. 
Rooster & moi post race

I finished the race in 32 minute and 38 seconds. The last 5k I did I had to stop to walk midway through because I could not keep on running, so my goal this time was to run the entire thing without stopping, and I did it! Here is the proof! Now perhaps you may not consider finishing in 65th place out of 99 runners in my division a great success, but I am so unbelievably proud of that! 5 years ago I started running, and could barely go a minute without wanting to die. I never considered myself a runner (and still don't) and the thought of running a race was the most ridiculous thing, and if someone were to tell me that I'd be doing that someday I would have laughed in their face! I still am surely a beginner though, it is very uncomfortable and painful for me to run and I haven't gotten to that place yet where I enjoy it, but I do enjoy that blissful moment when I'm done, and the hours of feeling accomplished that follow. I guess that is the same way I feel about writing though. 

Here are some quotes on the topic from one of my favorite writers alive:

“In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person's heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside.” 
 Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
― Haruki MurakamiWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
― Haruki MurakamiWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running


“When you see runners in town is easy to distinguish beginners from veterans. The ones panting are beginners; the ones with quiet, measured breathing are the veterans. Their hearts, lost in thought, slowly tick away time. When we pass each other on the road, we listen to the rhythm of each other's breathing, and sense the way the other person is ticking away the moments.”
― Haruki MurakamiWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Redecorating & Photo Shoot


Last week Zaarly.com sent a photographer to my house for an editorial style shoot, to profile me as a chocolatier and to showcase how I make my truffles. 

There are step by step photos of my process, which I thought was a nice & more personal look inside my business: Coquette Chocolatier on Zaarly

I was pretty nervous for the shoot as I've never done something like that before. I cleaned every visible inch of my kitchen (which proved futile since once I started truffling it became quite messy almost instantly). I even reupholstered my dining room chairs with a satiny dark plum fabric:


I love it, and since the things that tend to spill on the chairs are dark (chocolate, wine, and coffee being the main culprits) it will be a sneaky way to hide my less than graceful moments. My mother told me to choose a dark color when I was reupholstering them the last time, but I did not listen and now I realize she was right. That must be the most infuriating part of motherhood, to look at your sweet little girls doing things (wrong) and you tell them hundreds of times your (correct) advice and they don't listen, and one day after learning the hard way they realize you were right all along. Hmm.. that's why I have goldfish.

I have much more to talk about but I'm very hungry so will make some fish for dinner and write more later. 

Love,
Jennifer



Monday, March 25, 2013

Blog Hop: The Next Best Thing

In this post I will be responding to a standard set of interview questions about my forthcoming chapbook. Then, I've tagged another poet to do the same. Thank you so much to the lovely Caitlin Thomson, for getting me involved in this project. Read Caitlin's interview here.

1. What is the title of your book? Is it a working title? My chapbook is titled The Case of the Missing Lover. It is the first title I put onto paper, and I like how straightforward and familiar it is. It will be going to press as is.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?  The Case of the Missing Lover is a choose your own adventure style chapbook. I loved reading choose your own adventure books when I was young, because it felt like I was reading a story made exclusively just for me, of my own creation. Of course, in my book there are a finite number of permutations in the story line and people can have the exact same path as each other. The thought of involving the reader to actively engage in the creation of the story, rather than just portraying a static narrative, was always so appealing to me. Finding my one true, romantic love has always been a driving force in my life, since I was a young girl. After dating and experiencing adult life for so many years, I gained enough material to understand all the various outcomes that a romance can have. All of the endings in my book are based in some way on my own personal experiences with men. I wanted to create a map of love that was based on my personal life but general enough that other readers could relate to and forge their own journey upon reading.

3. Who and/or what inspired you to write your book? Water is a recurring image and metaphor in my book. This quote by Toni Morrison was very influential: “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”. The idea of a single drop of water going on a journey-- rushing through sewers; human intestines; seeping into the earth; swelling in the sky, and all with the singular purpose of getting back to its origin, is something I compare the journey of finding love to. If you believe in soul mates, soul packs, or that we originate from one large collective soul that existed ages ago, then this correlation makes sense. If soul mates exist, for example, then we started out as ½ of our original soul, the other half being split from us, and our journey on earth is to find them, and return to a state of wholeness. The scientific experiments of Masuro Emoto were very influential for this book. He hypothesizes that water can receive messages and change its physical structure accordingly. In my book the presence of water comes in different forms and functions differently depending on the emotion it is beside.

4. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The first draft was completed in just a few days. It was an intense burst of adrenaline to complete the poems. The editing and adjusting of it was what took most of the time with this chapbook, and it was a learning process. I typically write my poems on my computer or handwrite them on scraps/my journal, and occasionally on my typewriter, but this first draft manuscript was the first, and only of mine, to be composed on an iPad. I think that the different forms of physically creating a poem can greatly influence what results from it. I don't believe that sitting down to write a poem with a marker on a balloon can ever yield the same poem that would come from writing in the dirt with your fingers.

This question initially made me think of a quote by Burton Rascoe: “What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out the window.” The tangible act of typing my book up didn't take long, but the writing process of a first draft starts long before the conscious mind even recognizes there is the idea for a book. So the process could have begun for me when I was a child and being bathed in the tub, or when I was being carried unconscious during a flood through the streets of Spain, or when my face first felt rain. Whatever the catalyst was, I believe the first draft of this book began there, long ago. I believe that ever since then, my brain has been writing the book-- not making much noise, just an efficient machine that sometimes grabbed more material/images/phrases from the various stimuli as I simply lived my life, fueling its engine with my experiences. So, the short answer to this question is that I do not know the maneuverings and whereabouts of my mind well enough to have a real answer.

5. What genre does your book fall under? Choose your own adventure-romance-spiritual.

6. What books would you compare yours to in your chosen genre? I have not read any books of poetry that I thought it similar to in any way, and that is the precise reason I wanted to write it.

7. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? This book is not finished and cannot be finished being written until it is read.

8. Do you have a publisher, or will you self-publish your book or seek representation? Kristy Bowen, from Dancing Girl Press will be publishing my book this spring. I am extremely, ridiculously honored to be affiliated with this press, and am so grateful that they believe in my work enough to turn it into a real live book.

9. What else about your book might pique readers’ interest? There is an overall scientific and spiritual hypothesis that makes the entire experience of reading the book much more important than its individual poems/paths are. The structure and formula I've created is the real poetry, and not the words themselves.

10. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie or to read your work for a recording? I don't think my book could be turned into a movie unless it was a very experimental art film, and I think it would irritate viewers to watch a translation of this into film. Further, the person portraying the “you” in this book will be whoever is reading it, and the personal portraying the “lover” in this book will be whatever the readers projections are. So, my dear readers, you may decide when you read which actors you'd like to play yourself and your lover, I cannot choose that.

 ***

Next up on this blog hop, I will be tagging Chaya Silberstein to post interview answers about her upcoming project. I met Chaya while in Anna Moschovakis' poetry chapbook workshop at the Poet's House in Battery Park, several years ago. I instantly felt a rapport with her, as she is one of the sunniest and friendliest people I'd ever met. Since then, we have attempted to write 100 poems in 100 days together, and are about to embark on the 30 poems in 30 days together this April. I love the fact that her personality shines through her poems-- she is very prolific and creates wonderful, soulful little gems that are very accessible to most readers. This is a difficult feat, too often the world of poetry is considered a private little club, and readers who are not trained in poetry arts can't understand what's going on, but Chaya's writing so warmly invites them in.

Here is her bio: Chaya Silberstein is a roving poet. She serves tasty poems at art galleries, film festivals holiday events and yes, tea parties. She incorporates baked goods, art, spoken word and sometimes African drums. She's taught poetry in classrooms and elderly care facilities. Chaya recently co-published her first book, The Echo of Dreams.

She blogs at: http://poetsdinner.blogspot.com and will post her interview on April 7th.