Tag Archives: poetry

#BlackDressPoetry and Party Planning!

13900150_739345482874590_536517557273602932_n.jpgBig news is afoot, you guys. The plans for my poetry chapbook launch party are finally coming together!

I dunno if you’ve been to a book launch party before. I’ve been to a few; the normal format is usually as follows: takes place in a bookstore; there is a cheese plate and maybe some wine; there are books for sale and maybe a few intro readers and maybe a musical act (or not); there’s some mingling afterward and maybe a Q&A. I’m not saying this is a bad format–it can be really lovely, and I love how intimate it can feel.

I wanted to do something different, though.

This is my first published book, and I wanted to introduce it in a way that felt very “me.” I didn’t want to follow a prescribed pattern. I wanted to feature some people I know who are extremely talented, and I wanted it to go with the breakup / heartbreak theme–but in a fabulous, sultry, sophisticated way. This is, in other words, going to be Not Your Usual Book Launch Party.

So here’s what you can expect:

  1. Music by the appropriately poetic Master Michael Quinn and Jeff Allyn Szwast; you can check out their tunes here.
  2. I was lucky enough to get both Nancy Hightower and Natalie Eilbert–two poets I really admire–to read with me, and I cannot WAIT to hear them both.
  3. Burlesque with Galatea Stone, one of my favorite New York City performers. She impressively manages to pull off badass-athletic, otherworldly, and funny at the same time, and sometimes in the same act. (If you wanna catch her perform before my book launch, she produces a regular burlesque event and the next one’s coming up August 10).
  4. Signature cocktails! And I’m letting you pick the names. Look out for our poll on Facebook!
  5. A bar napkin poetry contest. Guests write poetry on bar napkins; I pick my favorites and the winners get prizes! I may also publish some of my faves in mini-zine format after the event.

This party is a collaboration between me and poetry publicist extraordinaire Britt Canty, who I could not have done this without. Her endless creativity and ideas have just been astounding, and working with her has been an absolute blast.

I’ll be posting regularly on Twitter with news as the plans come together–follow it using the hashtag #BlackDressPoetry! (Oh, and this is my Twitter handle.) For details on the party, this is the event page–if you’re in town, I’d love to see you there!

Summer Shenanigans

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Obligatory cannon ride.

I’m from Vermont originally, and I think that’s why I love summer so much. Our summers are generally mild, and those 98-degree, sticking-to-your-seat, God-I’ll-die-if-I-can’t-go-swimming-right-now days are few and far between. They are precious. They are to be enjoyed.

In New York, summers are hot. I don’t know if it’s the pavement or something about convection or what. But I love it. Where most New Yorkers are complaining about the sweaty subways and diving into any store that has air conditioning, I am scantily clad and happy. I love the heat. I even love the humidity. Bring it on.

So what have I been up to, besides sweating all over the place? First, I’ve been throwing myself into my romance novel with renewed abandon. I’m writing a historical (ish?) romance set at the end of the Roman Empire. I’m obsessed with it in a way I haven’t been in a long time, and I’m going nuts with all the thoughts I have lately about writing romance and what works and what doesn’t. I’ll be writing more about that here.

I’ve been getting my poetry chapbook ready for publication and planning my launch party. In addition, I’ve been writing poetry in little pieces. A second chapbook is starting to look possible.

Finally, I’ve been traveling. I went to see my parents at Gettysburg for a long weekend around the first of July, and then almost immediately went to Florida with a friend to pick up a 1981 Westfalia. Seeing as how I know how to drive stick and all (I consider this one of my superpowers, along with scary grammar skills and making a perfectly balanced dipping sauce for Vietnamese summer rolls).

My hero in the romance I’m writing is Alaric I, the famous Visigothic general. I’ve been thinking a lot about how you see a landscape differently if you have to use that landscape to stay alive—and keep your soldiers alive. High ground is important. Stay away from narrow ravines. You’ve got nothing if you don’t have a baggage train. Gettysburg was a great canvas on which to paint a battle; it really had a lot of clear examples of terrain used to best and worst advantage.

(For example, in Pickett’s Charge, the terrain the rebels ran up was very slightly uphill, culminating in a stone wall right under the cannons that funneled the troops into a deadly point. Looking at the terrain—and with the benefit of hindsight—it’s easy to see why it was so disastrous).

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Me and the Wheelness.

Florida was beautiful after that. There was so much amazing seafood—the oysters abounded. I spent time by the pool and the beach. I wrote my romance novel and taught my friend to drive stick. We lay awake at night and traded secrets and dreams. I even got some poolside yoga in.

Now I’m back in Bushwick, trying to get back into a rhythm. I’ve got another trip planned for the beginning of August, and it already feels too close. I’m trying to take things one day at a time and not feel overwhelmed. There’s always too much to do and it’s a lie that summer days are long. They’re never long enough.

Kickstarter Campaign and #CollectionofFlaws Twitter Project

I’m really excited to announce the launch of my first Kickstarter campaign! This is my first one, you guys. I hope I did it right.

In case you’re wondering, the video still is me with one of my prizes–the breakup-themed adult coloring book “Have a Nice Life, Asshole” by Creative Collective Design. I’m thrilled to be partnering with them!

I really believe in this project. I think breakup poetry is kind of a difficult subject; there is a lot of the bad, the cheesy, and the funny out there, but breakups are pretty much universal. Most of us have been through at least one. Most relationships don’t end in forever. We’ve all needed really good poetry that speaks to that pain at one point or another.

I’m dedicated to bringing this book to a wider audience—and that’s where the money would go. If you’re into it and feel like you want to contribute, your help will be wildly appreciated!

Also, to get the word out (and to just shower the Interwebz with words, which is what I live to do), I am going to be running a Twitter project. To whit: one line from the book per day, from now until the end of the Kickstarter. So if you want to get a daily dose, the hashtag is #CollectionofFlaws (also #Breakuppoetry). Come get it at my Twitter feed.

Have You Pre-Ordered My Chapbook Yet?

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Cover art by Emily Lubanko

Collection of Flaws in a Black Dress is a Gut-Punch of a First Chapbook

Poet and author Jenny Williamson is pleased to announce that her debut chapbook, Collection of Flaws in a Black Dress, will be coming out in May with Finishing Line Press. It is currently available for preorder here.

“I write obsessively about love and loss,” Williamson says. “I didn’t intend for the theme to go in this direction, but when I looked back at the body of my work over the past year, there was a definite common thread. There’s also a sense of grief, like I’m mourning my own death before it happens.”

Her debut chapbook could be said to be a map of emotional apocalypse, charting a course from epic first-sight to the inevitable heat death of the universe and finally, new hope. Mostly free-form, the language shows a clear sense of musicality and rhythm, with imagery that is frequently as brutal as it is beautiful.

From the chapbook:

Trepanation

When I woke they’d put a doorway
in my skull
round as a bone moon.

The ghosts gnawed through me, trailing
a terrible howling.

It was not painful. Quite the opposite,
this hole in the hull of my ship
rimmed with stars–

I could no longer tell where I ended
and the sky began.

About the Author:

Jenny Williamson writes primarily about sex and death. She is published in journals including East Coast Literary Review, Burningwood Literary Journal, and Vox Poetica. She is also an actress and fiction writer, and currently lives in Brooklyn. This is not her last chapbook.

Collection of Flaws in a Black Dress is available for preorder from Finishing Line Press here.