Friday, December 21, 2007

Giant and Ear

The latest issue of Snow*Vigate, an online journal edited by Doug Martin, is now out. I am so pleased to have a couple of prose poems, "Wingless" and "Borrowed Mirror," as well as the above collage, "Giant and Ear," in this second collection of writing and art. According to the editor's blog, Snow*Vigate is "interested in publishing poetry, flash fiction and drama, non-fiction, short essays on critical theory, prosody, and poetics. We want to see genres coming together and huddling in a blizzard to keep warm. We want to see verbs slapping the hell out of lazy nouns. We want to see God's syntax in snow. The unconscious is sexy. So are the tails of barnbirds, I am told...."

Just click on the above link to read new work by Joanna Howard, Mark Tursi, Robert Lopez, Peter Conners, Ann Panning, Daniel Grandbois, Matthew Brennan, George Looney, Jared Sexton, Jessica Dyer, Robert S. King, Corey Zeller, Daphne Butler, Christopher Barnes, Rebecca Eggleston, Sarah Long, and Derek White. There is also a review of Anthony Tognazzini by Doug Martin, as well as a conversation with Cooper (Esteban) Renner by Brian Beatty and Doug Martin. And lots of intriguing art!

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stirring the Mirror Book Launch

Please join me at the official book launch for Stirring the Mirror from Bitter Oleander Press this Thursday, December 6th, at 7:00 PM at Ruth Keeler Memorial Library in North Salem, New York. (Click for directions.) I'll be reading prose poetry and flash fiction from the book, as well as a sampling of even newer poetry. Signing to follow. Happy December!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Riverine Anthology Readings

Here's a group photo from the November 13th book launch for Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers. The kick-off reading was hosted by editor Larry Carr at SUNY New Paltz. As you can see, many of the contributors came to celebrate the book's arrival. I was delighted to meet the other authors and to hear their words in their own moving voices. Wonderful evening! For those of you who couldn't attend this last reading, there will be another one this Friday, November 30th, at 6:30 PM at Inquiring Minds Bookstore on Church Street in New Paltz. Thanks to Steve Kluge for the photo!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Aqua Phrenology

Here's another collage, "Aqua Phrenology," again created from antique illustrations. Now that I have your attention, I'll invite you to upcoming readings and book signings!

Please come to the Riverine Anthology Book Launch at SUNY New Paltz tomorrow, November 13, 2007, at 5:00 PM, in the Honors Center (part of College Hall, a two story building on the quad). Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, edited by Laurence Carr, is published by Codhill Press. This will be a celebration of the collection's release with readings and signings by authors. One of my prose poems, "The God of Falling Objects" (first published in Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics) is included in this anthology. It's also part of my new collection of prose poems and flash fiction, Stirring the Mirror from The Bitter Oleander Press. (Additional book information in postings below...scroll way down to my first entries.)

Also, come enjoy the galleries and shops of Catskill, New York, this Saturday, November 17th, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. I'll be signing copies of Stirring the Mirror at Bowerbird from 7:00 to 8:00 PM as part of their Saturday Studios, a gallery stroll on third Saturdays of the month. Bowerbird is located at 393 Main Street. Questions? Call lovely owner, Kate Altman, at (518) 943-5776. She is also carrying my Shrunken Worlds paper sculpture ornaments. (Think ship-in-a-bottle...)

For those organized souls who can see past Thanksgiving, please come to my own book launch for Stirring the Mirror on Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 7:00 PM at Ruth Keeler Memorial Library in North Salem, New York. I'll be reading selections from the collection as well as new work, and signing books. More information will be posted as the date races closer.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Space Doll

Writing and art enhance one another, but I rarely use my own art as inspiration for poetry. For a while, I got a kick out of making collages using fragments of antique illustrations. It was fun to experiment with strange juxtapositions, to create new miniature worlds with their own swirling atmospheres. (Of course, I also loved the meditative act of cutting paper with tiny scissors.)

Something about this collage, "Space Doll," triggered a prose poem. I later made it into a tiny dark blue booklet that I gave to friends and passed out at a reading. It became part of Stirring the Mirror, which is a collection of prose poems and flash fiction.


Loneliness launched her toward a far-flung planet. Now she endlessly circles, looking down at the pointed rock fingers and craters of a dusty orb. She still wears patent leather Mary Janes and the fingerprints of humans. This is all she retains of civilization. The only life forms below are ones she imagines, humanoid or avian, startling with boredom or beaked hunger. She keeps her arms to her sides. When she turns her head, her crisp orange curls flow like rocket flames. However, neither blink of blue glass eye nor kick of jointed leg can change her orbit.

She coasts in silence. The only sounds at all come from inside. She listens to the shell of her pink plastic flesh to hear the faint whoosh of pulse, the gurgle of a thimbleful of oil. How easily her inner gears spin. How effortlessly her useless metal heart beats with nothing to weigh it down.

(Fittingly, this piece first appeared in Flights.)

I just went upstairs to find a copy of an interview with Paul Roth, editor of The Bitter Oleander, where we discussed the parallels of art and writing. I felt that his "comparison of my writing to painting fit[s], especially with reference to visual emphasis, to imagery." I continued:

In fact, I draw in a way very similar to the way I write. I never have the whole picture/idea in mind at first; it is a gradual building up from one small image, a series of leaps from thought to thought. I might start with a single curved line, a tiny eye, or a splayed claw, then see where it takes me, what each added line suggests. You might compare some of my poetry to collages, the seamless placement of disparate images side by side. With luck, a surprising/vivid juxtaposition elicits a mood or idea, like a good metaphor. Writing metaphors is my passion. They give old concepts a jolt, more color, a sense of newness. I enjoy the density of images working together, playing off one another, sending out sparks.... You want imagery to be meaningful and energetic, not just a decorative surface hiding a vacuum. You want to inspire intense thought and emotional connections.

The best poems might be most like living sculptures, Frankenstein "monsters" carefully stitched and glued from unlikely bits of flesh, with transplants of pieces of the creator's own heart and brain. Sometimes these creations achieve a form of grace, a clear voice and unexpected intelligence. Other times they are awkward and tongue-tied, or can't be jump-started. Each time, you hope that your monster will be able to stand up and walk on its own out into civilization, singing, embracing people without crushing them.

(The Bitter Oleander, Fall 2001 author feature, interview and interior chapbook)

Although it's most beneficial to order directly from the publisher, Bitter Oleander Press, Stirring the Mirror is also available through Amazon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stirring the Mirror Signing at Katonah Fall Festival

For those of you in the area, please join me for a book signing at Awakenings during the Katonah Fall Festival and Street Fair this Saturday, September 29th. I'll be there, pen in hand, with copies of my new book, Stirring the Mirror, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, possibly later if the crowds are promising. Awakenings is at 215 Katonah Avenue. I'll have copies of my first book, Teaching Bones to Fly, also from Bitter Oleander Press, available as well. Scroll down to the August 13th entry for a photo of the cover and blurbs for Stirring the Mirror.

Here's an excerpt from "Giving Away Bones," a prose poem in Stirring the Mirror:


I stood at the corner giving away my bones. My ribs went to the little girl who needed a cage for her ferret. My toe bones went to a gambler to replace his unlucky dice. My spine went home coiled around the neck of a snake charmer. As I plucked out each one, I felt delightfully emptier, translucent as breath. I simply stepped out of my ivory corset.

The only piece I had trouble leaving was my skull. It stared at me with cavernous sockets like twin black wells. I appreciated the way it had cradled my brain, holding my thoughts in its bowl. But at last I kissed its brow, placing it on the desk of an artist, something to hold her bouquet of paintbrushes.

You might think my organs were left lonely and cold, but they were already gone by then -- untangled, shriveled by sun, then pinkish-gray dust blown away on the wind. Inhaled by passing clouds. All that remained of me was something like a peeled mirror, a human image without dimension, distilled to particles of light. Like a paper doll, I turned sideways and disappeared....

(This piece first appeared in The Bitter Oleander, then in No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets, an anthology from Tupelo Press edited by Ray Gonzalez, 2003.)

I look forward to seeing you at the Fall Festival!

Monday, September 3, 2007

BookCrossing Adventure

Intrigued by the 8/31/07 posting about BookCrossing on the Newpages Blog, I thought it would be fun to release "into the wild" a copy of my new book, Stirring the Mirror. The idea of bookcrossing is to share books with the world, tracking their journeys on the Web site. You first register the book, receiving a BCID number, then label the book and leave it somewhere for an interested reader to discover and take home. Hopefully the finder will go to BookCrossing and note that she/he found the book, along with her/his home location. Later the finder can leave a journal entry about the book (if read), then pass it on by releasing it again. Book on an adventure around the world...I love this idea!

Yesterday was a glorious, clear Sunday. The exact place I wanted to go to release the book popped into my mind. I printed out and attached labels from BookCrossing inside the cover, hand wrote a note to "Dear Reader" on the title page, popped it in a freezer bag, and gussied it up with a lime green ribbon and a neon orange Post-It marking it as a FREE BOOK. Another BookCrossing label with their yellow walking book symbol was the finishing touch. (It shouts "Howdy! Hola! Bonjour! Guten Tag!") We picked up my mother-in-law and drove to Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY. I remembered a particular nest-like sculpture from past visits and pictured the book contentedly resting there, waiting for someone to find it. I stealthily slipped Stirring the Mirror into the hollow of "Momo Taro," a granite sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. (#52 on the walking map, as pictured above.)

After strolling and admiring some of the towering sculptures gracing the green, green rolling landscape for about ten minutes, I couldn't control my curiosity. I circled back to sneak a peek into the hilltop hiding place. The book was GONE.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Guest Blogging on Madam Mayo

In mid-August, I was invited by C. M. Mayo, gifted author of Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico (Milkweed Editions) and Sky Over El Nido (Univ. Georgia Press, Flannery O'Connor Award), to guest-blog on her blog, Madam Mayo. She is also the founding editor of Tameme and editor of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press). Check out her Web page at and her blog at Madam Mayo.

Here's the post, starting with Catherine's introduction:

Guest-blogging today is New York poet and visual artist Christine Boyka Kluge, the author of Teaching Bones to Fly (2003) and Stirring the Mirror (2007), both from Bitter Oleander Press, and Domestic Weather (2004), which won the 2003 Uccelli Press Chapbook Contest. Other awards include winning the 2006 Hotel Amerika Poetry Contest and the 1999 Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award and receiving several Pushcart Prize nominations. Christine Boyka Kluge has "guest-blogged" for me back when I didn't even have this blog--- back when I was doing the "daily 5 minute writing exercises" (a kind of blog). Hers was definitely one of the most original. You can read it here (scroll down to October 22nd, "Falling Mirror").

Thanks for the lovely words, Catherine! These were my literary Web site suggestions for Madam Mayo's readers:

Since I love hybrid writing (prose poems, flash fiction, lyric essays, etc.), collaborations, and experimental work, I was delighted to discover the following Web sites. For summer entertainment and enlightenment, here are links to five extraordinary, inventive literary sites:

1. Born Magazine: Art and Literature Collaboration
They describe themselves as “an experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media.” The editors arrange collaborations between writers and artists, and the results are fascinating. Sometimes a musician gets into the mix. You’ll get lost in these creative masterpieces as you click your way through new little worlds.

2. The Diagram
How can you resist an electronic journal that claims to “value the insides of things, vivisection, urgency, risk, elegance, flamboyance…. Ruins and ghosts. Mechanical, moving parts, balloons, and frenzy.” The Diagram is chock full of odd diagrams and art, innovative poetry and prose, and everything in between.

3. Blackbird: An Online Journal of Literature and the Arts
From Virginia Commonwealth University, Blackbird is a feast of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, art, interviews, streaming audio, and video. There is always something new to intrigue and educate the visitor. Try the “browse” button.

4. Double Room: A Journal of Prose Poetry and Flash Fiction
Double Room’s goal is “to explore the intersection of prose poetry and flash fiction.” You’ll find a wealth of topnotch hybrid writing here, as well as discussion of the forms. Contributors answer questions about prose poetry and flash fiction. Art, too!

5. Bound Off: A Monthly Literary Audio Magazine
Bound Off releases a new podcast of short stories (and short-short stories) every month. Pieces are read aloud by their authors or the editors. Some musical interludes as well. Fun listening!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stirring the Mirror

Stirring the Mirror, my second book from Bitter Oleander Press, just came out! I have been floating next to the ceiling since its arrival from the printer. It's a collection of prose poetry and flash fiction, with an extraordinary, eerie cover image by Malgorzata Maj, a Polish artist. The photograph is a wonderful match for both the title and the atmosphere of the book.

Again, I must thank my wise and compassionate editor and publisher at Bitter Oleander Press, Paul B. Roth. Another thank you to my generous blurb suppliers, the gifted writers Peter Johnson, Mary A. Koncel, and Ray Gonzalez. Here's what they had to say about Stirring the Mirror:

In Stirring the Mirror, Christine Boyka Kluge displays a mastery of metaphor, gliding effortlessly between myth and reality until these two states are indistinguishable. Her focus is on the paradoxical nature of our lives, which seem alternately fueled by loss and possibility. In one poem she writes that the "heart [is] the part that refus[es] to settle down" - a perfect description of the engine guiding Stirring the Mirror, a book characterized by wit, craft, but, most of all, heart.

- Peter Johnson

Stirring the Mirror is a collection of contemporary myths to live by. Traversing the boundaries between poetry and prose with her usual grace, Christine Boyka Kluge generously invites us to reflect on what makes us human. Her vibrant language and unfettered narratives, her cast of archetypal and everyday characters, her wit and wisdom - all delightfully combine to create a book of immense pleasure.

- Mary A. Koncel

As a poet of the earth and the imagination, Christine Boyka Kluge returns these gifts of creation through poems that redefine what it means to be in the world. These poems involve a private sense of vision and exploration as they encompass the outer existence of human understanding. To read this book is to know that Christine Boyka Kluge is writing poetry that touches us all.

- Ray Gonzalez

Pieces in Stirring the Mirror won the 2006 Hotel Amerika Poetry Prize and the 2003 Creative NonQuiction Contest sponsored by Quick Fiction, Brevity, and Del Sol Review. Two works received Pushcart Prize nominations. Selections from the book were finalists in the 1999 Dana Award in Speculative Short Fiction competition, Quarter After Eight's 2000 Prose Contest, and both the 2002 Tupelo Press Chapbook Contest and the 2002 New Michigan Press/The Diagram Chapbook Competition.

Writing from Stirring the Mirror has appeared in many anthologies: No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets (Tupelo Press), PP/FF: An Anthology (Starcherone Books), Sudden Stories (Mammoth Books), Diagram: Selections from the Magazine (Del Sol Books), and Text: Ur - The New Book of Masks (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Some of the prose poems will be reprinted in the forthcoming Online Writing: The First Ten Years (Snowvigate Press) and Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers (Codhill Press).

Last week I received an e-mail from Marion Roach, who does The Naturalist's Datebook program on Martha Stewart Radio Network. She will be reading "The Eye of the Beached Whale" from Stirring the Mirror on Friday, August 17th. I believe it is broadcast at intervals all day long. So, if you have Sirius Radio, listen in!

If you are interested in ordering Stirring the Mirror, here's a link to Bitter Oleander Press. My first book, Teaching Bones to Fly, a poetry collection, is also offered here.

Order Form

If you click on "Books" and scroll all the way down, there is a description of Stirring the Mirror and a sample prose poem. If you are inspired, you can click on "Orders" to print out an order form. You may also find Stirring the Mirror on Amazon. Thank you!

Here is a link to "Guilt," an interactive online collaboration I did with artist/designer Rick Mullarky on The Diagram. "Guilt" is one of the pieces in Stirring the Mirror.


You will need to turn on your sound. Click "Launch in a new window," then "Start." Progress through the piece by clicking on the small white arrows. Enjoy Rick's amazing art!