The first time I met poet Roy Guzmán it was at a Great Twin Cities Poetry Reading held at Augsburg College a few years ago—I was riveted by the lyric intensity of his language and his incantatory delivery. Since then, he has continued to press into the inner and outer world and make more vivid, haunting, elegiac, passionate poetry. He is an MFA candidate in the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing Program and is hard at work on this thesis.
I asked Roy to tell us about his dreams for himself as a poet and this question seemed to have connected with his current concerns, “I think about dreams a lot and how they are often constructs of a white supremacist imagination. I don’t know if how I attempt to respond to them falls in line with a process of decolonization, but I do know—or at least I’m aware—that writing is one method through which I choose to dream again, to re-dream, to realize that I can veer away from these kinds of questions and manage to produce work that, above all, speaks to me in a broad level."
Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night is about an opera singer named Lilliet and her past as an orphan, a circus performer, and a sex worker. It's also about fate and the struggle to escape it.
The novel opens at a ball, where Lilliet meets Simonet, a man who describes a new opera that is—apparently unbeknownst to him—the story of Lilliet's life. He's also found something that she lost years before.
The brooch was an imperial trifle, a tiny thing to an emperor, I think, but for me at the time, so much more. Made of rubies, several to each petal, set in either platinum or white gold—I had it before I knew the difference—the stem inlaid with jade. There was even a thorn. At his mention of it, the flower had glowed in the air between us, a tiny phantom, and then was gone.
That tiny phantom, a flower glowing in the air—isn't it lovely? It does so much.
This is the first in a series of blog post interviews with visiting agents for The Loft's Pitch Conference 2017. Today's agent highlight is Roz Foster, of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Registration for the Pitch opens on November 15 for Loft members and November 17 for general public.
If you’ve taken workshop classes at an institution of higher education, at the Loft, or just on your own time—or if you’ve never taken one but want company to abate the tension of being a person writing on their own—and want to once again be a part of a community of writers, a workshop group is the best (and perhaps only) place to start. It is so liberating to interact with other people, not just speakers or narrators, who understand how hard it can be to get so close to your own creative process. For you, dear writer, I have done the work of research and networking local workshop groups. Here are several (free) workshops you can participate in to continue your writing and revising practice.
If you asked me 15 years ago if social media, let alone the internet, would be such an influence in how publishing operates, I would have thought it was a joke.
Back then, it was perfectly normal to pitch all book ideas by phone, sometimes written correspondence, to editors at the publishing houses. Despite the fully working publishing websites, email wasn’t necessarily the first go-to. In today’s publishing climate, it’s a different ball game. Instead, more time is spent communicating through email and social media, and the phone is generally a third option.
This leads to my topic today: Geography.
Though October just started, it’s about time to start thinking about all of the chaos and activity that starts just after Halloween. That is, the month-long events of November. For many, the eleventh month of the year is “No-Shave November.” For others, with much overlap, it is National Novel Writing Month, fondly abbreviated as NaNoWriMo (after all, who has time to shave when you’re trying to pump out a novel?). To get you thinking about what your novel idea might be in order to incubate a plot or a key character before you have to hit the pencil or keyboard, here are some facts about prolific novelists that I hope you find encouraging.
Do you have some poems lying around that you’ve been meaning to come back and work on? Or do you have poems that you’ve taken as far as you can by yourself, but they don’t seem quite done? Want some fresh eyes and ideas? Well, revision is just that—re-vision, seeing your work again.
My childhood falls were composed of overwhelming foliage, too-cold ocean breezes, apple cider doughnuts, and piles of half-decayed leaves that the neighborhood children would jump in despite the rot. The only factor that distinguished my earliest falls from the rest was when Goodale Orchards changed owners and became Russell Orchards. I wouldn’t have noticed the change if “Goodale” hadn’t been such a charming name. But falls never changed much beyond that, even into my teens.
I’ve been out of New England for the past five falls now, but what I’ve found consistent across regions is autumn’s brevity. It seems that summer starts long before the solstice, and winter comes before its designated date, too. But fall never starts until it’s almost over.
Before chilly weather’s novelty wears off, I want to share some poems by modern poets that relate to fall by embodying one of its defining elements—its timing, its fleetingness, its longing, or its temporality. Here they are, chronologically, to enjoy through the season and beyond it.
PAINTER: Could you guys just...a little to the right? Yeah. Right there. Stay right there. Perfect.
FARMER: This isn’t going on the Internet, is it?
WIFE: Are you sure you don’t want to use your phone?
FARMER: ‘Cause I don’t use the Internet.
PAINTER: It’s for a gallery show.
FARMER: I see on the news, the cyber—people break into your computer and steal your—
WIFE: It might be faster to use your phone, if it has a camera.
FARMER: All your money. You make a living from this?
PAINTER: I try. Could you keep your arm? -- yeah, just like that.
FARMER: Sixty years I worked, nobody paid me to color a piece of paper.
When I was four years old, a preschool friend of mine had a pool-themed birthday party. Parents attended to supervise their shrieking, slippery children and escort them, bundled in too-big towels, home. But before each child-parent pair left, the birthday girl and her mother handed out goody bags containing only one item per child: a lethargic goldfish suspended in lukewarm water.