Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I want everything I want

When Emma drew this illustration for Every day I learn to survive the day, & then the day is over, I just knew she was a representative of me. It's hard to explain, but easy to feel. I made her my avi, but I wanted more -- I wanted her to be a real object I could carry around with me. I've been pretty caught up in the rush of enamel pins that are having such a resurgence, & it hit me that this would make a perfect pin, & fulfill so many of my dreams at once. & so it was.

This brutal beauty will be hanging out on my coat all winter. Maybe you need a little strength as well. Friday the 13th she launches into the world. Find her if you want her.

As a very crazy bonus, if you are currently a Black Ocean 2015 Subscriber, not only do you get all the books for $10 & free shipping, you also get one of these ladies with your December books. If you want to be a subscriber for this years books, you can still do that. & get a pin. For free.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Who will replace you

During my time at MFA, I suffered a heartbreak which left me "not writing" for pretty much an entire semester. I put that in quotes because I don't think I've ever truly stopped writing, though I have stopped noticing the changing ways in which I write. In this case, it was in bitter little fragments jotted down on random index cards I always had lying around.

So in spite of all the times I couldn't turn in a packet, I still managed to build a manuscript culled from all the little stabs of writing, & turned in a tiny book of tiny, brutal poems. Minuscule hardly even begins to describe them, some of which were merely a title. I carry on this tradition even now, thanks to Twitter, which is designed perfectly for this kind of writing.

The brevity of these poems lend themselves to single panel animations pretty well, & Emma & I have been working together to make them into little self-contained events. We had a lot of luck making them into a larger narrative as well as letting them stand alone. But one level of atmosphere that was missing was sound.

In order to get a fuller effect, I wanted to make a gif with sound (which someone pointed out to me was "just a movie") & thanks to Emma & Ryan & I working together, we managed to make this, just in time for Halloween:


I'm super happy about how it turned out & already have big plans for the next one!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Try again

I recently saw a map of favorite Halloween candy per state & candy corn came in at the top of OR's list. I totally believe this, because candy corn is actually really good.

I know that it gets a pretty bad rap, although I'm not sure why, because I love them. But before you buy that bag just to fill a glass hurricane enough to anchor a candle for a seasonal display, try this trail mix suggested by Emma!

Spoiler alert: it's candy corn plus peanuts. Everyone I've served it to has loved it -- even people who don't really like candy corn. 
If you want to see even more cute drawings of these two, check out Emma's post about it, but the quick version is you put equal amounts of peanuts & candy corn in a bowl & voila! Pumpkin carving party snacks. (Yes, you will be having this at my pumpking carving party. What.)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Old habits die hard

I can tell I've slipped back into my bad habits again, last minute-ing everything in a wild panicky flurry, but anything that gets done is a victory, so here we go:

Full length:
Tampa Review {Oct 31}
Academy of American Poets {first book, Nov 1}
Fordham University Press {don't know anything about this, but CD Wright's the judge, so..., Nov 7}
Yale Series of Younger Poets {first book, Nov 15, I dare anyone I know to win this. Please.} {Also, my favorite part about the guidelines is that yr manuscript must be 48-64 pages. Is this the new length of a book of poetry?}
Nightboat Books {Nov 15}

Black Lawrence {Oct 31}
Little Red Leaves {Oct 31}
Tupelo Press {CD Wright is the judge of this too!, Oct 31}
Finishing Line {Oct 31}
Sixth Finch {Nov 3}

I'm finding it hard to keep up with all the journals lately -- too many is a good thing, but it's still too many -- but pretty much any place you like is open right now, so pick 5 & send!

Monday, October 19, 2015

People want you to read my book

& I am one of those people.

I'm pleased as punch that At Night was tagged as recommended reading (along with a bunch of other haunting books that I have just ordered) over at Story Animal.

​In case you're not sure what the book's all about, or if you'll like it, you can check out reviews by Sonya Vatomsky in Fruita Pulp​ & Jess Schnabel for the Bloodmilk Book Club​, as well as the mini-review by Kristen Evans in her recommendation!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A what
But really, if I can't actually become a demon for Halloween I need someone to help me be a Midinette.

Monday, October 12, 2015


I love collaborations of all sorts, but lately I've been over the moon (no pun intended) about working together with Emma Trithart on animated, illustrated poems. We worked together on the day of the recent Super Blood Moon Eclipse to make this foreboding sweetie in celebration:
This wasn't our first foray into gif poems, but I've apparently been so remiss that I didn't even mention when our first collaboration came out as one of Poor Claudia's 10 Sources
It's a stark little narrative called Every day I learn to survive the day & then the day is over, which has actually spurred us into our next big undertaking, which I'm hoping to be able to tell you about soon!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Remove, reappear

There are things I've wanted to say, but I've held back, or I haven't figured out how to say them, or the climate has been so wrong it didn't seem worthwhile. & so I've stayed away.

This has always been my answer: remove. Move backwards until you can move forward. Or move at all.

The bad news is that makes a lot of silence here. The good news is it looks like I'm moving again!

I've got a lot to catch up on, but I'll start with this: At Night has made it back into the top 10 books on SPD's poetry bestsellers list!

I love thinking of my book out there on the shelves of bookstores across the country, just waiting to be found by the right person, or imagining them in the hands & homes of so many friends & strangers.

If you don't have the book already & want it, or have the book but want a copy to share with a friend, SPD is offering it for 40% off using the code SPELLBOUND during their Season of the Witch sale. You've got until Nov 1, but why wait?

Move while you can.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Airing forever

A while ago I read a handful of poems & talked about At Night with Selina Scheumann for KMSU's Weekly Reader & now the podcast of the aired interview is up on the site.

I'm pretty sure they cut a whole bunch of giggles (though you can still hear a few laughs that escaped the editing process), because I remember having a lot of fun doing this & Selina was so sweet.

It was a strange feeling to be sitting at my dining room table, staring into my kitchen, talking into the open air, hoping I was actually answering the questions that were being asked from so far away. Now it's strange to think anyone at any time can sit in on our little chat & have me read to them. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

So, what? You sold 10 copies?

My book is performing tiny miracles without me: it made it all the way up to #7 on SPD's Bestseller List!

I can't say that everyone who heard the news understood its significance, but if you're a writer & yr on a small press & yr reading this, you probably do!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The future determines the past

There is going to be an extra second added to our night tonight & it got me thinking about technology & time & I realized I'd been keeping a bunch of tabs open that fit, so I finally put together another TinyLetter.

It's full of ancient computers & clocks, the dreams of computers & their take on the meaning of life, the pitfalls of uploading our consciousness to the internet or linking our consciousness' together, & the fact that we now know the future determines the past.

Bonus link! Tonight is the bright return of the "Star of Bethlehem" after 2000 years. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A vast & timeless dark

Publisher's Weekly just did a super accurate review of my book ("Incantatory, ruthless, and seductive, the poems in Ciccarello's debut roam a vast and timeless dark" "Duplicity and concealment govern the transactions both between people and within them" "a strange and commanding poetry of atmosphere") & I was thrilled.

There is something so verifying about having your book reviewed by Publisher's Weekly. Something that makes being an author just an ordinary fact. Like, there it is out there, just a regular book living its regular life.

This is, I think, especially important when you are on a small press, because you will not get the kind of coverage a larger press might provide, & perhaps most important if you are a poet. Because the sad fact is that everyone outside of the poetry world treats you like a hobbyist.

I am lucky enough to live in a place with a large poetry community, with tons of poets as friends, to have people say "Oh, it's on Black Ocean? That's great!" because they know how great it is to have a book out with Black Ocean. But everyone I encounter outside of that world stuns me with questions like "Did you publish it yourself?" or "Can I see it?" (like, am I carrying around a copy of my book at work? No.) or "Can I have one?" (Yes! Please take yourself to the Hawthorne Powell's & bring it up to the cash register like you would for any other book.).

All the comments are prefaced with this kind of "Awww, cuuuuute!" attitude that disregards the hard work I've put in (getting an MFA! Holding onto a futureless job because it gives me time to write! Actually writing!) & the competitiveness of the publishing world I've had to overcome to make this book a reality. I know that they don't know any better, but it still disconcerting to see how trivially you're taken by the world at large.

I'm really interested to hear if this is shared by everyone in a creative field or endeavor, or if it's limited to poets, so please feel free to share yr experiences with me.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Celestial Magic

Yesterday was the solstice--the longest day of the year, the shortest night of the year & the official start of summer. I packed my day as full as I could, spending time with women who were important to me, bringing new treasures into the house & being outside as much as possible. 

I also celebrated by building a Litha altar filled with things from or that remind me of the beach, which is what I most want to experience right now (because it has already been so unseasonably hot & dry). I carved the rune for daylight into my candle & let it burn while I looked over the beliefs I had written down during the equinox & thought about what I could do next.

Some of the things I wanted to make true by believing in them did happen (friends continue to gather around me! I was not sad when people who were wrong for me left my life! I came to terms with some emotional junk surrounding money!) & some of them I clearly need to keep believing in (handling my responsibilities on time! Clearing my space! Making space for thinking!) to see the changes come to pass.

This is a time when the power of light is at its highest, as is the power of water. Which means it's a time to gather together strength from seemingly opposing places & put it to good use. These changes can be as small or as large as you'd like them to be. You can make things better for yourself. You can make things better for others. 

It is also important to keep reminding yourself to make the most of the time that's being given to you. Don't let all those extra hours of daylight go to waste! Don't let abundance make you lazy!

Right now is the time to recognize that you are being given more & do your best with it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Baby tour

I'm off to the east coast tonight to start my first mini-tour as a Black Ocean author, which means I'll be sitting in dark airplanes while everyone sleeps so that I can hang out with some of the best people I know & read from my less-than-sweet little book.

I'll be spending a whole lot of time traveling & reading with two of my favorite people -- Brian Foley & Janaka Stucky, as well as S. Whitney Holmes, who I haven't yet met but can already tell I'm going to adore, but there are also so many people who I can't wait to see, from dear old friends I wish I got to spend more time with, to new pals I'm thrilled to get to know better!

So if you are around any of these places, I'll hope to see you in Easthampton on Thursday night (7pm, private residence, get in touch for details), or Boston on Friday night (7pm, Brookline Booksmith), or New York on Sunday night (7pm, Sunview Lunchnet)!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Don't change

Portland has undergone a lot of changes (which I don't feel are for the better) in the last year, the most recent & most personally crushing of which is the end of Sunday night Eye Candy at Beulahland.

If you have visited me over a weekend, you probably already know what this is & how much I loved it. If not, I'm sorry that we never got the chance to go together, because it was the most fun. Every Sunday night for the last 4 years a vj organized a by-request video night, playing videos from every genre on a big screen. & almost every Sunday night, I was there. 

In the summer of 2011 I had a lot of personal turmoil & the scene I was most entrenched in suddenly seemed unsafe & unwelcoming. In the midst of trying to find out if I still had a place in this town (or if I should leave it) I met a couple of incredible people (Steve Leathers being the one who immediately comes to mind as having changed my life at the time the most) & started two of my longest running Sunday habits -- brunch with pals (that turned into the now-in-its-3rd-year Joy Brunch Club, a story for another day) & "video night" at Beulah.

At first it was mostly people that had moved from Arizona & had known each other previously. Then it started to shift to brunch club buddies. At its height it also included a bunch of poets. In the past months its dwindled to some of my close work friends who get together to play games before the night begins, Ian Whitmore (the other staunchest supporter & most frequent attender of the night, who I actually met there) & a few neighborhood regulars. But at every stage, I felt safe. I felt like I had a space I was happy to enter, an event I was always looking forward to.

I found new songs to love. I saw videos that seemed impossible. Videos I never wanted to watch again. Videos I wanted to carry around with me forever. I argued about artists. I flirted. I found out how much that Len video cost. I ate pie. I discussed the arc of how videos had changed over time. I met new friends. I got a million Halloween costume ideas. I remembered songs I hadn't heard in years. I dragged people into the photo booth. I drank SO MUCH WHISKEY. I danced in the narrow space between the tables. I sang Lit lyrics at the top of my voice.

I feel kind of adrift now that it's ended, losing the thing that helped me feel like I had a place in the hard times & that made Sundays one of the best days of the week, & wonder what can ever take its place. In the meantime, I leave you with this video, which a friend says has become my anthem. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Double down

Today two wonderful things coincided -- a poem from my book went up at The Academy of American Poets as their Poem-a-Day (& out in their daily mailing, which I suggest you subscribe to, if you don't already) & I visited Jeff Alessandrelli's poetry class to talk to his students about my book. 

One of these things is amazing because my poem went out into the world at large, to a huge & anonymous audience, where people are free to respond to it in whatever way they wish, or be utterly unmoved by it, or not even engage with it. Good luck out there little poem!

The other is amazing because it put me in a classroom with a small group of people that had read my book -- more than that, had critically discussed my book -- & were now facing me with questions. It reminded me of my favorite part of teaching, which is discovering & addressing students' concerns.

The world of my poems zoomed in & out for me today, making me a little dizzy, but I feel eternally grateful for all the attention these poems are getting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth is just another word for home

{Lake Kerr}
I used to be so good about sharing the photos I took with my Minolta while camping or on road trips or little overnight stays near the coast or at one cabin or another. So many places I visit are so astoundingly beautiful & so many of the photos I take are nature-filled (maybe I should get better at taking photos of the people I'm with?) that today seemed like the perfect day to choose some gorgeous landscapes from all the piles of developed film I've got sitting around & post them here.

{Cannon Beach}
{Sauvie Island}
{Lake Kerr}


{Nehalem River}
{Lazy Bend}

{Sauvie Island}
I hope this is just the spark I need to get back into the habit of sharing more of the photos I take, especially as summer approaches & heading off into the outdoors starts in earnest.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What more could you want

I always forget how good the book deals are at AWP -- I'm pretty sure it's the cheapest you can find books all year & the shipping's free (because you lug them back yourself, which is the only downside).

This might be second best: SPD has a 48 hr code (APRIL2) that gets you 25% off all poetry titles & free shipping.

SPD just got my book in stock (whee!), & is chock-full of things that might have sold out at AWP (like Siken's War of the Foxes) or that you plumb forgot you wanted while you were there.

{Also, I just picked up a copy of The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa from Canarium for $8 & free shipping; you might want to do the same.}

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How'll you celebrate poetry

Poetry month has begun & that's happy news for any poet.

I'm vowing to write a line a day, because that's all I can handle right now, but it's my little way to celebrate a month of celebrating poems.

As far as poet-ish things go, you should probably already be signed up for the PEN poetry series & The Academy of American Poet's Poem-a-Day, but if you're not, today's the perfect day to start.

In addition, these places are open to reading (& hopefully publishing) your books & chapbooks!
Hyacinth Girl Press
Ashata Press
YesYes Books
Octopus Books
Kore Press
Iowa Poetry Prize
Boaat Press
Noemi Press
Tupelo Press

& of course, I hope to see you at AWP, where I will be hovering over my book at the Black Ocean table like a worried mother hen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Providing for your future self

I'm very jealous of anyone who gets to go to the Chapbook Fest in NY today. I've always wanted to be there & have yet to get the chance. But I'm thrilled that one last lone copy of (the shore in parts) will be at the Greying Ghost table (& taken home by some lucky person) & that everyone will be able to check out first hand the magic that is DoubleCross Press, along with some other great chapbook presses.

Everyone who doesn't get to go should still treat themselves to a subscription of DoubleCross' poetry microchaps, among which they will find mine. You buy it now, forget that you signed up for it, then get surprised in the best way when gorgeous letterpressed chapbooks show up in your mailbox month after month!

Trust me: your future you will thank you.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Art is not for anything.

"Art is the ultimate goal. It saves our souls & lets us live happily."

I'm glad I stumbled on this TED talk tonight, because really needed it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

First impressions

I can't believe I haven't yet posted a picture of the very gorgeous cover designed & illustrated by the very talented Emma Trithart! We worked together to make this delightful & just right piece of art that I am proud to have as everyone's first impression of the book!
{The actual cover will have a gold foil symbol & title. Magical!}
If you click on it, it'll take you right to the Black Ocean website, where it is actually available for preorder right at this very minute.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I believe

Spring has come. It has felt like spring here for over a month (seriously, so many things are already done blooming: the cherries, the magnolias, the forsythia, the daffodils--we are now deep into tulips & iris & apple blossoms) but today is the equinox (& supermoon! & lunar eclispe!), the day where finally, again, day & night are equal. Where there will be more & more day every day for months.

I went on a neighborhood walk to enjoy the mild weather & find fallen flowers for my Ostara altar, & a few camellia bushes provided all the flowers I could use (& more).

I wanted my ritual to be as simple & uplifting as the tray of flowers, so I carved the rune for the sun into the candle & sat on a sheepskin in front of the altar & thought about what I was looking forward to in the coming days.
I wrote down the things I hoped would come true in the next few months, but I phrased them as I believe statements, so they would feel more definite. They're not just things I wish would come true, they're things I believe will come to pass.

One of the things I believed would happen was that I would make more time for my thoughts. It is surprising how overrun I can feel in my own head. I suspect that this will influence a lot of the other things on my list & I hope it also means I'll be writing here more!

I can't wait to pull the list out again at the solstice & see what has changed. I also believe that everyone can take a minute to think of one thing they believe is true &, in that way, make it so.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whatever you've got, give it away

If you've been working on some poems in these dark months & you find them clinging together & perhaps even bolstering each other in their cluster, then I say no one is as lucky as you, because you have a work. Or you are on your way to a work.

You should polish it up & send it away.

Small work? Send it to these presses looking for chapbooks:

Boaat (Feb 28)
Tammy (Feb 28)
Tupelo Press (Feb 28)
No, Dear (1st chap, NYC only) (Mar 2)
Cutbank (Mar 31)
Omnidawn (Mar 31)
Finishing Line Press (Apr 1)
Diagram (Apr 27)

Big work? Send it to these presses looking for a full-length:

Ahsahta (Mar 1)
H_NGM_N (Mar 10)
CSU 1st book (Mar 31)
CSU open book (Mar 31)
Four Way Books (Mar 31)
Essay Press (Apr 1)
Noemi Press (Apr 30)

Not quite enough for one of these things? There are plenty of journals looking for your merry band of 3-5 poems. Just hunt around! (A good place to start is Entropy's Journals & Anthologies Section!)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love everyone around you

It's Valentine's Day, which I've always thought of like Thanksgiving, but for love. Love is grand! It should get a day devoted to it where we all eat heart shaped things & remember what joy it brings to our lives. Even if you don't have someone to love romantically, you are always surrounded by people you love, who want to know you love them, who you can probably love better. Do that today!

Someone asked me recently what my favorite love song was & although I'm still far from answering that, I immediately thought "It's probably a Sam Cooke song" because in my heart the sound of love is a Motown sound. Or those sweet late '50s early '60s "golden oldies" that probably read as sappy or ironic or overwrought now but seem so genuine to me. So I made a little playlist of the best love songs I can think of, the ones that mirror in lyrics & sound the way I think about love. Of course it gets dark & sparse at the end but there's nothing wrong with that kind of love either. 

Love never runs out. Keep giving it away.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Last of the month

All this month I've been featured as the Poet of the Month over at Poetrynet & I haven't even mentioned it yet, which should tell you something about how my month has been.

It's a shame too, because some poems I like very much are up -- a previously unpublished poem from a time I was obsessed with Egyptian myth (but really, when am I not), a long poem from my beloved (& now possibly extinct) & if I die, make me how you are, a poem that I love to read out loud that signaled the beginning of a new series filled with women warriors & a gorgeous tumbling poem that probably very few people have seen, because it was published as a limited edition broadside for Parallax's first issue.
If you have a second you should head over & say goodbye to this month of mine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Are you really where you are

I don't know how people find time in the end-of-the-year holiday (c)rush of hosting & making & giving & traveling & drinking & parties & socializing to do a year recap -- I certainly couldn't manage. But I also think it's ok not to spend time pouring over the past year, whether it was good or bad, as long as you learned from it as you went along & are starting this year from a place of accuracy.

I noticed that last year I was very concerned with things closing down -- making deadlines, getting in under the wire, catching all those last chances to do something.

This year I'd rather concentrate on things opening up, on the joy of available opportunities rather than the stress of looming deadlines.

That said, there will probably be no more "you have 3 days to send here" posts, but I still love to share the lists of places to submit I keep compiling, so here are some places that are open now.

Gigantic Sequins
YesYes (Pamet River Prize & Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest)

Each one is a chance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I barely live in this world

A while ago I started a TinyLetter account, because we all know mailing lists are the next old thing, but I never really knew what to do with it. Lo & behold: after posting a list of my open tabs (which were a compendium of ancient spells, songs, clay tablets, & earths inside earth), people actually wanted the links & suggested I make a newsletter of them, so I did.

You can see the first one in my archive & sign up for future ones to be delivered to yr inbox!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Money is emptiness

On Sunday morning I woke up with the ashes of money in my bangs & purse. Saturday night I was a presenter for Poetry Press Week & I am just now processing the awesomeness that happened.
I got to see great performances dreamt up by Jessalyn Wakefield & Samiya Bashir on the first night, & James Gendron & Jeff Alessandrelli the second. There were so many other poets either reading or directing or attending (over 250 ppl came, altogether) & it felt like a big weird family gathering!

For my own event, Donald Dunbar presided over an altar, read poems of mine from a Bible & lit black candles with burning dollars, while his acolytes, Jamalieh Haley & Rebecca Nguyen, dripped wax down the back of his cassock.
Readers I had scattered throughout the audience read lines from a hymnal of the poems I made at the IPRC (with help from Liz Yeary & Jeff Alessandrelli, featuring a cover illustration by Kate Bingaman-Burt), which completed the dark poetic liturgy.
It was amazing to be allowed to create the ideal setting/reading of my work, & even more amazing to not have to be directly represented at all. Poets are very rarely their own audience, having to be their own performer so much of the time, but for one night I was able to just sit & watch, which is a precious gift.  

My favorite photo of the evening came from Poetry Press Week themselves, but a lot of great photos of the event can be found on Instagram & Twitter by searching #poetrypressweek!
Liz Mehl & Justin Rigamonti have created a really unique & impressive show? reading series? event? all those things rolled up into one? & I was so pleased to be included in this one & I can't wait to see more of them moving forward!