Friday, February 29, 2008

Baby Muse

For a long time I have been wanting to share Baby Muse's mystical powers with other writers and artists. She has a certain something that is so mysterious and inspiring. Since she is only a head, I bought a little wood and glass display case for her, but captivity didn't work out too well. Instead, I ended up using the case as home for a tiny doll couple who sit inside on a bed of moss, staring out into the room from their eternal picnic. I'm still searching for the right setting for Baby Muse. Perhaps she's more of a wanderer, like the creative process. This afternoon I took her outside in the glittering snow for a photo shoot. I picked her a bouquet of icicles. She was awestruck. Just look at that radiant face!

Once upon a time there was going to be a Baby Muse "machine." I planned to put her and her accompanying assemblage somewhere where she could offer beautiful words and phrases to interested parties. I planned to write the intriguing words she whispered in India ink, on slips of pale gold parchment. I have lovely old-fashioned dipping pens which make gorgeous deep black lines. Maybe I'll still do that.

Meanwhile, here's part of the original directions/prose poem that were to accompany the Baby Muse machine:

Baby Muse!

Transfuse Her Energy.

Her cracked fontanel

is an infinite well

of electricity.

Steal a spark of her creativity.

Inspiration guaranteed.

You may bask in her aura for FREE.

You may inhale her essence for FREE.

You may absorb her blue gaze for FREE.

Baby Muse’s First Words

To Amuse and Inspire

A Wee Spark to Start a Fire

in Your Brain

Select One, Do with It What You Will

One Precious Word per Human


Do you think this could work online? I mean, you're right here, reading this -- you're probably a writer in search of inspiration yourself. Or an artist looking for a way into a new piece. Let's try something. If you send me an e-mail with "Baby Muse" typed in the subject line, I will e-mail you back one delicious and free word from Baby Muse's four page (so far) list. I know it won't be written in India ink on parchment, but let's see where it takes you. My contact information is listed in the sidebar.

Are you ready to be inspired? Happy Leap Year.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Snow Wings

I loved my snowy captivity, but...

If you are looking for a literary night out, join me this coming Thursday in Poughkeepsie:

Barretts presents an Artists' Salon: An Evening of Reading and Discussion with Riverine Authors Larry Carr, Dennis Doherty, Steve Lewis, Jo Pitkin, Guy Reed, and Christine Boyka Kluge

Thursday, February 28th at 8 PM
The Muddy Cup Coffee House
305 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY

Christine Owen, producer

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Review in Pif Magazine

Sparkling thanks go to reviewer Kristina Marie Darling and Pif Magazine for the generous review of Stirring the Mirror that just came out the week of the AWP conference:

Pif Magazine Review of Stirring the Mirror

The latest issue of Pif contains some fascinating writing. Check out editor Derek Alger's interview with David Amram, who spoke during the lively AWP panel on New York in the Fifties. David Amram ended his segment of the presentation by playing his own free form interpretation of Amazing Grace on a recorder-like instrument. (It reminded me of The Enchantment Song.)

As Derek Alger explains in his editor's introduction to the new issue, the classic book entitled New York in the Fifties, by Dan Wakefield, "gave me the idea for the panel, and subsequently, when I learned his classic book was out of print, somehow I was able to bring Charles Salzberg of Greenpoint Press together with Richard Luck, founder of PIF, and Charles knew a designer Rob Kimmel, and three months later, a new edition of New York in the Fifties came into being. An incredible experience, five or so people involved, a three-month period, no fights or arguments because everyone had the same goal, and now once again, New York in the Fifties is available to readers."

Panelists included author Dan Wakefield, Tom Fleming, Bruce Jay Friedman, David Amram, Stephen Koch, and moderator Derek Alger, giving their animated personal accounts of life during this period. At a future conference, I would love to see a panel of women tell about their experiences during those same years.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Heady Hive of the 2008 AWP Conference

Here are a few definitions of heady from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition:

1.a. Intoxicating or stupefying
1.b. Tending to upset the mind or the balance of senses
1.c. Serving to exhilarate

And beyond the obvious definition of hive, here's another:

1.b. A place swarming with activity

I think all of the above accurately describe my overall impression of the 2008 AWP Conference just held in NYC. It was an excellent experience for me, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes dizzying, but fascinating in so many ways. I found many intriguing readings and panels to attend, including the majority of those on my wish list in the preceding post. I was delighted to see so many offerings on the topic of hybrid writing, a love of mine: prose poetry, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and the crossbred offspring of hybrids. (I'm not big on pigeonholing writing, but I'm happy to see acceptance of good work regardless of genre. ) One of the most memorable events was A Tribute to Russell Edson with Russell Edson himself modestly listening and reading some of his riveting works, and Robert Bly, Charles Simic, and James Tate honoring him. I loved that. I now am the proud owner of signed copies of The Rooster's Wife by Russell Edson and The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks by Charles Simic. What great titles!

The three level book fair was totally packed and buzzing like the above-mentioned giant hive. (Last I heard, there were 7,500 people at the conference. ) One had to summon courage, slip into boy-in-the-bubble protective gear, pause to find an opening, then enter the flow of literary humanity. But it was wonderful to meet other writers and editors, to match faces and names, to briefly chat with people who have supported and published my work. I found it so interesting to see the three-dimensional versions of invisible e-mail acquaintances. Being surrounded by so many people who are excited about poetry, fiction, publishing, reading, and writing generated an uplifting form of energy.

The two editors of Bound Off were terrific and fun to get to know. Thanks, Ann and Kelly, for hosting my Stirring the Mirror signing Saturday morning! Nick Antosca, author of Fires, signed his books at the same time. We traded books, so I'm really looking forward to reading his.

Staying right at the Hilton was convenient and gave me a quick and easy place to hide and refuel when necessary. I felt that the social bits blended well with the scheduled events, and that I was able to balance the hive-like craziness with some laughter with writer friends or restorative solitude. The days were filled with positive chance encounters and good conversation. There are politics and big egos at work at these massive gatherings, for sure, but I generally operate outside the machine, outside academia. I felt a welcome sense of community at the conference. (Perhaps the glow is due to this being my initial conference experience?)

When I left on Saturday night, I had way too much to carry to the train. And I was exhausted! But on the ride home a single adjective kept popping into my mind: transformative. The experience felt transformative. I'm still processing it all. I'm curious to see what will blossom from this literary frenzy.