Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Writing for Visual & Material Genres

I'm really excited to teach a class at the UI Center for the Book this Spring: Creative Writing for Book Arts: Writing for Visual & Material Genres. The interdisciplinary class is for both writers and visual artists, and asks how material and visual forms present, comment on, and/or merge with textual content. In what ways do we balance readability and individual expression when writing and designing published forms? The class will emphasize tactility and mark making, looking at literature as a physical process, as well as a material product. It will explore a variety of book-related genres and media, including broadsides, chapbooks, concrete poetry, comics, zines, and artist’s books.

Above is a poster I letterpress printed to promote the class. I used craft foam, a scratch-negative photopolymer plate, a found copperplate block, and metal type (see the lockup below, thanks to Pamela Olson!).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nothing is hidden . . .

The Compound Gallery's second installment of their exhibition, The Art of Letterpress, opens this Saturday, Nov 9, and it includes a piece of mine. Inspired by the ornamental designs of Bruce Rogers, the piece includes a quote from the alchemist Paracelsus and features an image composed of found metal ornaments: a tree giving birth to a snake who passes an esoteric secret onto a slightly asymmetrical approaching snake. 

The piece is a variation on the page I printed for the forthcoming 2014 Ladies Typographic Union Calendar:

The LTU calendar is a collaborative project between over 15 letterpress artists, and it serves as an annual fundraiser for student-focused purchases at the UI Center for the Book. You can pre-order a copy by emailing ltucalendar at gmail dot com.

The Compound Gallery opening goes from 6-9 this Saturday, and features work from a wide range of artists including Amos Paul Kennedy Jr, Kevin Bradley (Church of Type), Lisa Rappoport (Littoral Press), and more. The gallery is in Oakland at 1167 65th Street. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Iowa Working Group Archives

I've been working on archives for the Iowa Working Group. The IWG has now hosted a year's worth of book-art-focused presentations followed by casual discussion, and I wanted to make sure they were documented. Check out the latest entry for October: Candice Wuehle and Patrick Reed's The Sacrebleu Defense, which was a performative excerpt variation from their in-progress chapbook. The next IWG meeting will take place Friday, Nov 15, and will feature sneak previews from Iowa students who plan on presenting at the upcoming College Book Art Association conference. To find out more details, sign up for the IWG listserv by emailing iowaworkinggroup at gmail dot com.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chili Dreams

I've always wanted to judge a chili cook-off, and now my dreams are finally coming true. This Saturday night, Iowa City's Public Space One (which is being reincarnated in the space formerly known as ps-z) is holding a silent auction fundraiser featuring lots of art and three different chilis! I have the honor of being one of the evening's Chili Bards—along with Dave Morice and Lisa Roberts—which means that rather than judging, I'll be poetically tributing whatever the cooks have put in the pot. PS1 is at 120 Dubuque Street. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Finally: 'The Taco Group' Slide Show

I created a page last year commemorating a performative reading I gave of my short story 'The Taco Group' at the Headlands Center for the Arts. I went a little batty, though, trying to sync up its slideshow, so I posted a transcript as a placeholder, then forgot about it. Well, I finally had time to struggle through iMovie and make the slideshow, as well as tidy up some of the page's design. Here's a description of the project: 
'The Taco Group' tells of infighting among the members of a sinister kaffeeklatsch, a group whose goal is to build a utopia out of the remnants of the post-functional city in which they live. As I wrote the story, I realized my aim was similar to that of my characters': I was doing a lot of scavenging in an attempt to make something perfect. I processed this a little in an artist's statement, and used recycled materials to construct slides of the utopian city's streets, as well as fixings for a taco buffet. I also letterpress printed the Taco Group's progress report. All these elements came together to form a not-quite-reading/not-quite-installation. 
Check out the updated page here. The story will be featured in my fiction collection forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rob Kirby's Round Up

Rob Kirby reviewed RUNX TALES 3 over at his blog last week, along with great-looking work by Sar Shahar, Sasha Steinberg, Eric Kostiuk Williams, and Sophie Yanow. Rob is a force—not only a talented cartoonist, but an unceasing champion of queer independent comics. While you're over there, check out the sneak preview of TABLEGEDDON, an anthology Rob is editing about comics convention culture. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

RUNX TALES #3 now at Quimby's!

The legendary Chicago bookstore is now stocking RUNX TALES #3 (along with a lot of other awesome stuff). Learn more here . . .

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Phoenix House

I've posted pics of a new artist book, The Phoenix House, over at my website. It's an altered mashup of several different material texts: it began with pages from a found scrapbook, titled The Phoenix House: its photos were torn out, but their captions remained. Using the title and captions, I constructed a textual narrative with memoiristic elements, influenced by several other sources: photorealistic swimming-pool stationary, an interior design book, a late-1990s Adobe Illustrator manual, and the cover from a cheaply published edition of L. M. Montgomery’s classic melodrama, The Blue Castle, with the eponymous building depicted through pirated photos of a night-lit Cinderella castle. I "housed" it all in a first-edition copy of Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, utilizing its cover and illustrations. 

For more info and to see more pics, click here. I'll post scans soon, so you can see the details and read the text. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

More Artist Book Sketches: Pedestrianica

I made more artist book sketches by incorporating a Baudrillard quote into two different book structures (to learn more about this Artist Book class assignment, read this post). 

I was in the middle of returning to my Letter from Pedestrianica posts, working to adapt them into an essay that, because of the way a pedestrian interacts with a cityscape, seemed apt to take place in an artist book format. The Baudrillard quote—"When your driver's license goes, so does your identity"—was in my notebook and haunting me, and I figured playing around with it would help me understand the physical shape this essay might take.

In both books I used yellow-orange—one of my favorite colorsappropriate because of its yield-sign solidarity, convenient because it meant I could utilize recycled manila envelopes. In both sketches, I used old RUNX TALES drawings of my face to represent the identity a driver's license photo attempts to capture. The paradox in both sketches is that, as the reader moves through them, the face becomes less obscured—in the first, through transitioning from the pedestrian icon's head to a more detailed face (before ending in a festive image of violence); in the second, through the subtraction of strips of paper.




I'm still thinking about how these structures and concepts could be worked into a book designed to contain (and interact with) a longer essay. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Artist Book Sketches: Olive Moore

I took a class in Artist Books this last semester with Julie Leonard at the UI Center for the Book, and one of our assignments was to make a series of 3D "sketches". The sketches involved selecting a simple folded form and combining it with a quote of our choice, so that the structure and text inform one another. I picked a line from the novel Spleen by Olive Moore: "And it all began, thought Ruth idiotically, it all began when we gave up eating grass." I placed the text within the structure so as to play with the word began, and tried to embody the tension between carnality and vegetation by collaging plastic wrap, parchment-colored human anatomy diagrams, shredded paper, and blood-red aquarium rocks.




Moore chose her pen name because she said she wanted her books to be like olives: an acquired taste that once acquired, would leave the reader wanting more. After learning this, it was hard not to think of the aquarium rocks as little pimientos. Check back soon for moore artist book sketches!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Zine Librarian (un)Conference this weekend

I had fun designing the logo for the Zine Librarian (un)Conference happening this weekend in Iowa City. Now in its fourth year, the event uses an unconference format to explore issues around maintaining accessible collections of zines.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Website Love

I've spent the last couple weeks revamping my website—tedious but weirdly fun. The funnest part was browsing thrift stores for a book to use in the screenshot above. I ended up using See You at the Top by Zig Zigler, and am really happy about what happened to the text when I carved out the "links". See the new art page here!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Coldfront's Song of the Week: "Pipeline"

I wrote about Depeche Mode's "Pipeline" for Coldfront Magazine's Song of the Week series. "Pipeline" is a song that inspired my story "Warmth", which first ran in The Collagist (along with an interview where I talk more about "Pipeline"). "Warmth" will be featured in my fiction collection forthcoming this fall from Brooklyn Arts Press—the resident press at Song of the Week right now. So dig around and listen to what other BAP writers picked!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New work in The Chariton Review

The Spring 2013 issue of The Chariton Review features five poems I wrote and adapted to broadsides. You can subscribe to the magazine here—the new issue, edited by James D'Agostino, looks great. To see some of the broadsides, visit my website

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mission Creek Book Fair this Saturday!

This Saturday, April 6, is the Mission Creek Book Fair, and I'll be sitting at a table with some comics and broadsides (including this Mission Creek collaboration with Roxane Gay). I'll be sharing a table with fellow cartoonist and UICB student Cody Gieselman (who recently posted this essay on SIFT's blog). If you're in Iowa City this weekend, come by The Mill (120 E Burlington St) some time between 11-7.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Broadside with Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is reading this Tuesday as part of Iowa City's Mission Creek Festival, along with John D'Agata and Andre Perry at Prairie Lights. I collaborated with Roxane on this broadside featuring her short story, "What Long Legs Mean," which will be available for sale at the reading. Printed using handset type at the UI Center for the Book, the broadside is printed on repurposed manila folders and posterboard. To see other broadsides I've printed, click here. The reading starts at 7 and is free.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Top 5 at Matter Press's Blog

Check out Matter Press's blog (as well as The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts), where they posted my Top 5 Pieces of Tone. The list was inspired by a class I took last Fall with poet Arda Collins.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lost in San Jose

Here's an excerpt from RUNX TALES #3, which is going to the printers this week! Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Indiegogo fund. Sorry for the delay—you'll be getting your copies of the comic book in the mail in March and April. Meanwhile, here's me and Nora Benson-Glaspey at the Winchester Mystery House: 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I began studies at the University of Iowa Center for the book last August—around the same time, funny enough, that posts around here started tapering off. But now the talented Amanda Davidson has inspired me to resurrect this dormant blog to “self-interview” for The Next Big Thing series.

I’m choosing to talk about a project that’s just getting started—a wedding-themed novel in ten parts. But I want to take a minute to plug a couple other things. Brooklyn Arts Press will publish a collection of my short fiction this fall (the title is still in negotiation). And I’m now inking the last page of the third issue of my comic,
RUNX TALES, so look for it in April.

Also stay tuned for my Next Big tag-ees for February 27: essayist and poet
Lisa Wells and cartoonist (and my former collaborator!) Amanda Verwey

Here goes: 

What is the working title of the book? 
The Hitch: An Agamist Manifesto 

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
Fascination/torment. From being a guest and working as a caterer at weddings. 

What genre does your book fall under? 
Right now I’m envisioning it as ten separate chapbooks that could be read in any order. Some lean more toward fiction, some toward nonfiction, some are image+text. There is narrative overlap. Despite being created as ten separate books and called a manifesto, I’m thinking of it as a novel. 

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 
Typical wedding stuff: heavy symbolism; tension between the mystical and the carnal; often comical attempts at idyll; Bacchanalic reveling that can tip that idyll over the brink into the realm of the sinister; the bizarre commingling of people from vastly different strata of the happy couple’s lives. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
Its characters include a control-freak wedding planner; his romance-novelist mother; a tyrant bride; a victim bride; a groom who is really a tattered newspaper clipping; a cynically poetic caterer; and me. All of these characters are fairly easy to inhabit. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will first be printed in limited letterpress editions over the next couple years. I'd like to later adapt it to a trade edition. So ideally, both, although it doesn't seem like something an agent would take on.