Saturday, February 6, 2010

You can take one. It's free.

Not that long ago I was wondering what it would be like to do a 'zine now that it's entirely possible to create slick, professional looking books and magazines with a laptop and a the right software (1).

Well, the other night I stopped in at one of my favorite comic shops and there, on the counter, was the 'zine of my dreams. It was photocopied and tacked together. The pages weren't even cut to the same width so the entire thing was kind of off-kilter.

And it's fantastic. I plowed through it last night with the book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

It's by Alex Houston and called Lookit! yet another diary comic collection woooooo and it's one of the most inspiring "go ahead and take it it's free" things I've ever picked up.

I have no idea how many copies of it are floating around our fair, snowbound city, but he has what he calls a silly blog hanging out at

1. Note, however, that I didn't put creativity on that list. There's a good distance between "exciting" and "professional".

Friday, February 5, 2010

Do I know you from somewhere?

When Percy Jackson & The Olympians first hit the scene I didn't really pay much attention.

I actually bailed out of the Harry Potter series when the last book arrived. I've still not read it.

But today, taking a short wander around the Internet, I found myself caught up in reading the rundown of the first book and I have to say, Rick Riordan came up with something pretty darn fantastic.

Especially for those of us who grew up being minor mythology geeks.

Or, major mythology geeks.

And not just the Greeks. The Romans. The Chinese. The Norse. The Egyptians. The ancient Latin Americans.

Show me a pantheon and I'll show you a good time.

Eating my words.

Even though we didn't have that much money when I was growing up, we were a restaurant kind of family.

Various members of my family owned or still own restaurants or work in kitchens or behind bars. My mother waited tables. I waited tables and tended bar. Leopold worked as a waiter and a host.

When certain combinations of my family gets together our table is bussed with the dishes stacked and the silverware sorted by the time a member of the restaurant staff arrives.

I have been known to go and grab my own ketchup or roll of silverware so as not to make our waiter or waitress make another trip.

I have never and will never use the term "waitron."

Leopold and I have been known to kill an entire afternoon or evening sitting at one of our favorite restaurant bars.

Despite all this I find that I'm very excited about Cathy Erway's book the art of Eating In.

It's not that I think she's going to inspire me to change my restaurant-going ways...but it will give me something to read next time I find myself out to eat alone.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I was a poet and didn't even know it.

I had never heard of the poet Jen Bervin.

This is a total bummer. (Which, thankfully, is no longer a bummer.)

Bervin mixes fiber and textile with the act of writing poetry. Or, more accurately, unwriting.

While I find her work - in general - completely engaging and inspiring, I'm most taken by the erasure poetry she has written.

Or, stitched.

For her poem The Desert Bervin ran a pale blue thread in zig zag fashion across John Van Dyke's book The Desert: A History of Natural Appearances. I'm not even going to try to share some of the poem here because, while the writing certainly stands up on its own, it's really the gorgeous visual of the project that I can't forget.

She's done similar work with the poetry of Emily Dickinson for The Dickinson Fascicles - by drawing attention to what was not written in the poems. On her Web site you can also see an excerpt from her erasure poem The Niagra Book.

As I sit here trying to simultaneously put together a presentation on writing for BIG and give some thought to how to explain the equal nature of active reading and visual literacy to my students next term, my coming across Bervin's work seems like one of those great moments of synchronicity. Here's a poet not wondering what to write, but viewing the work of someone else with a near surgical precision. She's not simply reading, she's listening to what these authors have to say.

Her work also makes me wonder.

How many epic poems did my highlighter and I write in grad school without even knowing?