Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bay City Gallery Walk - 04/01/2010

I'll be reading some of my poems tomorrow evening, April 1, 2010, sometime between 5 and 8 p.m. at Ward Studio, 904 N. Water Street in downtown Bay City, Michigan.

I would love to see you there. :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The case for children's/YA lit

Every now and then I wander up to the fourth floor of SVSU's library, where the children's/YA books are kept. I do this whenever I'm especially stressed out. (Ahem--like when Cardinal Sins is due to press within a week...)

Anyway, not only is that part of the library so quiet I can hear myself breathe, but for some reason or another, looking through the books I read when I was younger never fails to make me feel entirely at peace with myself.

Nothing irritates me more than people who disregard children's/YA lit just because they no longer fall within the age range of its targeted audience. I'm an avid reader as an adult because I fell in love with reading when I was a kid. So even now, I go back and read books targeted toward elementary/middle school-aged readers.

My all-time favorite YA author is Han Nolan, who won a National Book Award in 1997 for her novel _Dancing on the Edge_. I read that book when I was twelve years old and loved it. The protagonist was so well-developed that I actually found myself sharing her mindset. For that reason, I was as caught off-guard as she was by the things that happened to her. Psychological mindfuck, for the win--something that can only be pulled off by one hell of a good writer.

In 2006, Nolan released a new YA novel: _The Summer of Kings_. I found it in the library at my high school and, remembering how much I had loved _Dancing on the Edge_, picked it up and read it. I was surprised by how much I still loved Nolan's writing. By that time, I was 18 and reading books targeted toward adults.

Since then, I've gone back and read a few more of Nolan's books. _Send Me Down a Miracle_ and _If I Should Die Before I Wake_ are just as good as the ones I mentioned above. I think she appeals to me just as much now as she did when I was younger because she doesn't underestimate her audience. She's very political, but equally subtle: something I admire a lot in any writer who explores that territory. The fact that she does so successfully while writing for young teenagers is pretty astounding.

I probably wouldn't be reading Han Nolan as an adult had I not first read her when I was in middle school. Knowing that has made me go looking for books I never got around to reading as a kid, and I've come across some pretty interesting stuff.

You might too. Go read some YA lit (or some other genre you wouldn't normally pick up off the shelf). You just might surprise yourself. :-)

Addendum, 03/25/2010:

I just found out that Han Nolan will be releasing a new book this fall!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I only have one sibling, a sister who's younger than me by more than four years. She's a junior in high school and still lives with our parents.

I haven't been back to Grosse Pointe since early January, when I flew home from Colorado. Paige has since turned 17 and fallen in and out of lust several hundred times.

The two of us have always lived according to how our parents (and everyone else we knew) narrowly defined us; I have always been the "book smart" one, while my sister has always been the "street smart" one. We embraced these roles, but I see now that the labels have been extremely limiting for both of us. I'm a bit of a Cowardly Lion and Paige doesn't have very high expectations of herself or her future.

I worry about her. My mom told me recently that Paige hasn't brought home a report card in over two years. I was stunned--not by the fact that Paige hasn't shared her report cards with our parents, but by the fact that they haven't gone to the school to get it themselves.

My mom thinks Paige should be responsible for herself (as I was at her age). If she flunks, she'll suffer the consequences.

But Paige is still in high school. She's not 18 yet. So I think my parents have a responsibility to see that she makes it through high school. If they really think we're so radically different, why do they expect her to approach school the same way I did?

I just sent my sister a text message asking her to come visit some weekend. I think a drunken heart to heart is in order. Besides, I still owe her a birthday gift.

Now all we have to do is convince our parents to let her borrow the car...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tripping over things

For the past year or so, I've been hatin' on my major (still officially creative writing), and what said major has gotten me into (editing and publishing). Hence the quarter-life crisis.

But every now and then, something tugs at my memory and reminds me how much I love to write, and even edit.

My good friend Britt (a fellow writer & feminist) came to town at the end of January for the first time since moving away over the summer. We went to a poetry reading and then out for a few beers. We ended up workshopping some poems in the bar. I fell back in love with writing, and called my mom the next morning to babble on about how wonderful I felt. It's hard to think I once felt that way all the time. My love of writing fueled everything I did, which explains why losing it left me stagnant.

The other day I was in the student publications office on campus, laying pages for this semester's issue of Cardinal Sins. And I found myself enjoying it (which is how it should have been all along). We were on spring break, so the campus was dead, and I think the stillness eliminated the pressure of deadlines and whatnot. It wasn't anything like the euphoria I experienced when Britt came to visit, but oddly, it was better, because it wasn't joy, it was contentedness--something else I hadn't felt in months.

It'd be easier for me to change my mind & do something else with my life if I didn't have these constant reminders of how much I love what I do.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Recently I got together with a friend of mine from the Controlled Burn Seminar. He's originally from Bay City but attends U of M, so lives in Ann Arbor. Since he was on spring break last week, he came back to his hometown and because I happen to live close to Bay City, we got together to catch up on things.

We found ourselves talking about the friends we'd made at the seminar, and what they're up to now. At one point I mentioned that one of our mutual friends had come out as a lesbian. His response? "What a shame. She's too hot for that."

You can't make this shit up.

And it's everywhere.

I regularly attend a monthly arts event in Bay City. It's referred to as the Spoken Word, Music & Open Mic, and until recently, was held at a local coffee shop. Last month, a featured poet explored topics of homosexuality and sexual assault, and the following day, the owner of the coffee shop posted a note to his Facebook page about how he thought her work was "inappropriate" and should not have been shared in a public venue because of its "offensive" subject matter.

When I told my mom about what had happened, she surprised & upset me by siding with the owner of the coffee shop because, as she put it, she's "getting tired of the gay thing" and wishes they'd "stop being so damned vocal about it."

Well, fine. But if you expect homosexuals to shut up and keep to themselves, could you at the very least keep your bigotry to yourself too?