May 28, 2012

Brain Cookies 41: Racism

Oh Lordy!

Here's a great essay about Jewish blackface from WW1 to WW2. I received the link from this compelling trajectory of Sascha Baron Cohen's racism.

Speaking of Cohen, this essay is also pretty good.  

The Awl continues to serve it up: Free to be Straight White Males. Seriously good. 

Coffee and colonialism

The Spear

May 23, 2012

Brain Cookies 40

As you all may already know, today is the Versal launch. Please come join us at Bo Cinq if you are in Amsterdam, NL. 

If you want to hear a preview of some of the journal, listen to my interview on Red Light Radio's Kimchi show.

May 22, 2012

Versal One. Versal Ten.

Versal One.

Versal Ten. 

Brain Cookies 39: Personal

This one gets personal folks. First, I'll be appearing on Red Light Radio from 5 to 6pm today talking about the Versal 10 launch happening tomorrow here in Amsterdam. You can stream the episode at the Red Light Radio website

Second, I was sent this profile of my grandfather last night and I'd love to share it with you if I might be bold. He was a WWII Marine, and a brave and decorated one at that. You can read the profile here

OK, now onto the usual link roundup: 

AbeBooks has a nice collection of minimalist cover designs

The excellent 50 Watts blog has a collection of minimalist poster designs. 

Ring of fire eclipse

May 20, 2012

Brain Cookies 38: Graphics

From the Brooklyn Street Art blog. Photo copyright James Rojo.

This new magazine Suit up or Die is one amazing digital document.

Cool limited edition playing cards.

The Richard Avedon collection. Lots of rich white guys there.

From a ten-year editor, part 4: Occupy the slush pile

“I guess what I was inquiring was if you take solicited submissions from authors outside the slush pile. For all my lit mag publications in the next year prior to my launch, we've done the discussions between me, my agent, and editors. that's [sic] how most authors (new or established) do it.”

“I don’t know you, but I do feel old enough to take the liberty (or, if you prefer, to be so cheeky) of sending you a press release setting out my recent job as a writer. It’s up to you to decide what to do with: asking me an excerpt, a free ebook copy or putting this press release in your ‘archive’ (aka wastepaper basket).”

There’s a tumblr for weird letters to lit mag editors, right?

I recently spoke to two creative writing classes at the University of Amsterdam. We spoke about Versal, submitting to literary journals, the writing process, and editing a mag. I was mostly coherent I think; class started at something like 9am and I was delirious from getting up so early (yeah, ok).

When I have a chance to speak about these things I love, I often find my way towards opinions or conclusions that I’ve long had but never quite directly articulated. Thanks to the sharp questions from the students or my early rise from bed or their professor Jane Lewty’s acute promptings, or all of the above, we had important and insightful discussions in both classes. There were three things we spoke about that stuck out to me, that I’d like to share here. Call them things I’ve learned along the way.

The first is: being a “writer”. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to actually believe that writerly fame is possible. I’ve met too many writers now and read too many works to have a grasp of what that really means anymore. And I told the students that. I boomed something and waved my arms: “There are seven billion people on this planet. No one’s going to be famous anymore. All you've got is inspiration, that little ego inside of you, and god.”

The second: being a woman writer. The “little ego inside of you” is important. Obviously for everyone, that we for-lack-of-a-better-word embrace our drive and talent and look the world square in the eyes. But in all my ten years of editing Versal, only ONE woman has ever contacted me outright and asked me to publish her (cf. first quote at the start of this post). All of the others have been men. I don’t know them, they don’t know me, but they are sure of themselves and they tell me this. I don’t agree with the tactic of course — theirs is an extreme approach. But as I’ve grown into my role as Versal’s editor, as well as into my own poetry, I have cultured an ego enough to steel me through. Through what? Not rejection letters, that's not really a big deal. But standing on stage after the booming voices of men. But taking my place at the microphone during panels. But writing things like this post. But writing at all.

The third: being part of your community. And here is where we are all humbled. I suggested to the students that, given the chance, they should seek out community whether online, among themselves, or in the canal belt of Amsterdam. They didn’t necessarily have to get involved and organize, but they could. They could also just attend events. Become a part. And one day even join a lit mag team. I suggested they not try to start one, unless they really saw a need (in an interview with Roxane Gay not too long ago we spoke about the over-proliferation of lit mags, esp. in the US). But rather bring their talents and energies and passions to a project that is already underway — because funding isn’t great no matter where you go now, and lit mags and lit orgs in general could really use the help.

What I didn’t understand when I started Versal at the green age of 23 is that a literary journal is in and of itself a community — not just a mechanism of that community. What bugs me about the writers who email us and tell us how great they are and ask us to publish them is that 100% of the time they have not bought Versal, attended any Versal events, or even seemed to have perused our website. They are asking to be made part of the community without joining the community. Without building the relationships that are really what drive this. They feel owed, and maybe they are, but I’m not the purseholder. 

As I’ve seen Versal grow these last ten years, and as I’ve grown, I’ve become increasingly thankful of the community it has given me. And in turn, Versal continues to be my contribution back, my way to be a part. And the more that I’ve worked to be a part, the more I’ve enjoyed some of the trappings of being a writer. I’ll never be Ezra-Pound famous, I’ll probably hang out in the slush pile most of my life, but I’ll really enjoy all of this anyway.

May 18, 2012

Brain Cookies 37: Comics

A comic about Tesla

Thanks to the Bibliokept blog for this scan. Click this link to see it large. 

The book publishing flowchart from Weldonowen. Click this link to see it large. 

May 17, 2012

Brain Cookies 36

A video about John Baldessari narrated by Tom Waits. 

The home of furniture designer Sérgio Rodriguez

John Waters hitchhiking.

Lee Scratch Perry Guinness ads.  

May 16, 2012

Brain Cookies 35

What actors use to get "high".

Anna Arov, one of our wonderful poetry editors, sent this my way. Plastic eating fungi!

Quantum teleportation over sixty miles!

Silly photos of serious writers. Thanks to Her Royal Majesty for the link.

Theo Altenberg

Niels Shoe Meulman

May 10, 2012

Brain Cookies 33

Obama killed it.

In other news:

A student left in DEA confinement and forgotten has to do some pretty nerve wracking stuff to stay alive.

A great interview with Cadence Weapon. I saw him in London a couple years ago and it was one of the best gigs I've even been to.

Our friends at Her Royal Majesty release their new issue tomorrow. You can join the party in Paris, Berlin, New York, London, Toronto and Montreal, or you can order the issue here.

From a ten-year editor, part 3: The funny thing about timing

Leadership is stunning and weighted and breathlessly vulnerable. In the ten years leading this mag, I have learned many lessons, crossed many lines, risked friendships and futures, and stretched far beyond what I thought was possible. So in the lead-up to Versal's 10-year anniversary and tenth edition, I would like to share some of what it's been like to be Versal's editor, stories that intersect, inevitably, with the larger conversations out there around editing, writing, publishing, women, and inclusion.

Part 3: The funny thing about timing 

This is going to be a short one, y'all. My parents just arrived in town, the first of many May extravaganzas that will culminate in the firecracker launch of Versal 10. It turns out that Pilot Books is also nearly done with my chapbook and it, too, will be released this month. Since I'm also turning 33 on May 16 (so is Daniel!), I've run out of days in the month to celebrate. 

All and all at once!

By and large a luxury problem, yeah.

Just make me a halo I can wear around all month? Thanks. 
I also have this song in my head all of the time: 

May 09, 2012

Brain Cookies 32

A little piece of art from Mowgli Omari.

Mugs with climbing holds. Megan and I want these for our birthday.
Joshua Dildine with thanks to the Lion Skeleton blog. 


May 07, 2012

Brain Cookies 31

Roman emperor deaths–now ranked for entertainment.

Also from the Awl, a profile of Roman Mars, host of one of my favorite radio shows 99% Invisible.

How dogs use humans as tools.

A nice New Yorker essay about Game of Thrones, which I have yet to see.

Design against prison.

Finally, I married a Mad Man.

May 05, 2012

Brain Cookies 30

Adam Yauch A.K.A. MCA is no longer with us. Also, you should read the letter MCA wrote to the NYTimes under the pseudonym of Nathanial Hornblower about his video Ch-ch-Check it Out. 

A little history of Cinco de Mayo.

Nikolai Alekseev is the first man convicted under St. Petersburg anti-homosexuality laws. Nothing changes.

The photography of Genevieve Naylor.

May 01, 2012

Brain Cookies 28

Yesterday I missed posting the "daily" links because it was the Queen's birthday, and to celebrate, I sold things on the street and drank lots of beer. These brain cookies are for sobering recovery.

A documentary on Norman Mailer's run for NYC mayor.

Check out these cool paintings of Sci-Fi spaceships.

Two posts on the Occupy Movement. First is a short piece by Noam Chomsky on the movement, and the second a report from the Gawker on early morning May Day raids of protester homes.

John Peel's record collection.

Photography from Stanley Kubrick.