Writing Process Blog Tour with Jackie K. White

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour!Muench.WolfCentos copy

I’d like to thank Simone Muench for inviting me to participate.

Simone Muench is the author of five full-length collections including Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), as well as the chapbook Trace (Black River Award; BLP, 2014). She is a recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship, two Illinois Arts fellowships, and residencies to VSC, Yaddo, Artsmith, and ACA. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and directs the writing program at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies, while serving as chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

You can read Simone Muench’s responses here.

1. What am I working on?

I’ve been moving between translation and poetry projects this year; first, in the fall when I was on sabbatical and carmen-natalia-martnez-bonillaable to travel to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In the DR, I was able to meet with Sherezada (Chiqui) Vicioso whose collection of feminist essays on Caribbean women writers, Algo que decir (Something Worth Saying) I’ve translated with the help of Socorro Cintrón. Socorro and I are now working on a set of poems by another Dominican, Carmen Natalia Bonilla Martínez (1917 – 1976), Llanto para el hijo nunca llegado (Lament for the Child Never Who Never Arrived). Also related to translation, I’ve recently begun serving as the Translations Editor for a quarterly feature in the online journal, Escape into Life. The first translation feature there is Jesse Lee Kercheval’s work from Uruguayan poets, Augustín Lucas and Circe Maia.

As for my poetry projects, I’m finishing up two chapbooks of elegies that I hope to form into one manuscript: Threnody and The Fury Psalms. Both centered on elegy, the first processes grief through poetic forms, linguisimages-1tic tropes, and seasonal markers to interrogate both personal loss and the loss of language that accompanies it. The second picks up some of those thematics through spliced centos in a larger dialogic structure that ventriloquizes Sexton and Plath, framed by “purer” centos with are then fractured into “extractions” that put a lengthier, discursive poem in conversation with the lyric knot excised from it. I hope to begin soon a “remake” of an older project, Eurynome in Exile, building on these projects and a previous series of “body centos” in ways that will allow me to explore the intersections between translation and poetry alongside hemispheric intersections of “American” identity.

I was delighted to read in Tyler Mill’s blog of her interests in “investigat[ing] the lyric persona, the body, landscapes, and memory,” as that speaks to my interests, as well, and yet, as I’ve been reflecting on my old project related to “exile” and issues of place, I’ve begun to realize that the lurking concern – and one of the lyric poem’s innate concerns – is with time. (Eurynome, Pelagasian goddess of place, was exiled by the Greek Cronus, god of time; you can read an excerpt from the initial project here: Seven Corners Poetry. I’m curious to see how that sensibility morphs what and how I write next, particularly as attitudes and grammars of time seem to be so culturally inscribed – U.S. Americans supposedly future-oriented, for example, and other Americans more engaged with the present or the past…

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  4f55529bee2ec_80495n

My work in elegy differs from others because of its more foregrounded attention to linguistic matters and metaphors as well as in my experimentations with the dialogic, the cento, and other stanzaic forms (couplet, tercet, sonnet, for example). To some extent my elegies also address gender and the gendered body, as well, probably because these later chapbooks or sequences follow my previous chapbook, Come clearing, which has those issues at its core. Another possible difference in my work is a Midwestern landscape sensibility and a tension between meditative tone and clipped or unusual juxtaposed phrasings.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Where “what” refers to content: because I’ve never felt completely at home and because words offer both a home and an exploration of its limits and possibilities—and by “home” I include landscape and body, relational constructs and language(s). Where it refers to genre: because I like the containers that poetic forms provide and prefer lyric to narrative and, to speak of translation as well, because I like to give voice to other voices and to be part of larger conversations in intimate ways.

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Writing Process Blog Tour with Simone Muench

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour!MillsCompHi.indd

I’d like to thank Tyler Mills for so graciously inviting me to participate.

Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre, winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (SIU Press 2013). A poet and essayist, her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Believer, POETRY, and the Boston Review, and her prose has appeared in the Robert Frost Review and the Writer’s Chronicle. Her poems have received awards from the Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Third Coast, and she has been the recipient of work-study scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. A graduate of Bucknell and the University of Maryland (MFA, Poetry), she is Editor-in-Chief of The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought. She lives in Chicago, where she is currently working toward a PhD in creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago and helps organize the Wit Rabbit reading series.

You can read Tyler’s wonderful responses here, and below are my responses:

1. What am I working on?Muench.WolfCentos copy

Project 1 (completed):  I recently completed my chapbook Trace (Black Lawrence Press, 2014) and full-length collection Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), both of which are books comprised of centos, a patchwork form that I find to be deeply under-utilized with great potential to engage the lyric-I in a new, and hopefully profound, manner. The recombinant nature of the cento allows for both homage to influences and predecessors while beginning the conversation anew. And just as each line “converses” with its adjacent line, each poem is in conversation with one another. Ultimately elegiac, these particular poems oscillate between transformation and stasis, wildness and domesticity, damage and healing. The “wolf” of these centos becomes a symbol of a threshold, a transformative space, as well as a mode of meditation, or as the wonderful late Larry Levis notes:

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Writing Excuses 7.32: Astronomy 101 for Writers


The featured guest this week is Eric James Stone, who recently received a Nebula Award for his detailed work that focuses on analog. Translation: he’s the expert the group goes to when it comes to astronomy and its effects within a story’s framework. An added bonus to his repertoire is his recent visit to NASA’s Launchpad workshop.  This workshop focuses on how the moon and rotation of the planet make it habitable for a civilization. It is a good research tool for sci-fi writers, when they are essentially creating life in a solar system far, far away.

The best example they used was Earth. I have not been an avid follower of sci-fi, mainly because I am a fantasy reader through and through. Luckily, the group — catering to their eclectic audience — gave information that I could understand on the 101 level. The first example that caught my interest was their theory of moons and how they affect tides. As a writer, it is always good to know the science behind something, and the moon we have helps predict tides for fisherman. The effects of tides in creation of continents and habitats are also key brainstorming cornerstones in creating alternate worlds.

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Writing Excuses 7.30: Microcasting


Microcasting is where the group, way back when they podcasted this episode, decided to read off some questions fans have asked. To participate in future micro-cast, just tag the group #WritingExcuses with your question. And now for the questions.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

Come to grips with the fact that your work will not be universally loved. Calling bad reviewers heathens and getting fans to bash these reviewers frequently is one of the more passive aggressive ways to deal with bad reviews, even if it is a tad childish. Can we blame them? How many of us writers in the audience have wanted the bad reviews to just go away? Childish pranks are some of the answers, but on the more constructive side, we have Mary. Her interpretation of reviews falls in two categories, ‘target audience’ and ‘not target audience’. As long as the target audience is happy, she can easily ignore the bad reviews found in the ‘not target audience’. When a ‘target audience’ does have a bad review for an author, it should be considered a learning experience. If you are an author that would dwell on bad reviews, the best answer the podcasters give is: “Don’t read them.”

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Writing Excuses 7.14: What ever you do…don’t write


Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Linda K. Strahl, an editor at the Jet Fuel Review. Her full bio can be found at the end of this post.

The podcast for this week is titled Why You Really Shouldn’t Write. The first reason, and I feel the best explanation for not writing, is the difficulty of the task. Howard states, “It’s hard, you really shouldn’t do hard things.” The list they deliver consists of the many ways our podcasters stall and refuse to write. The best justification occurred when they voiced that important truth, “Writing is pointless.” It is a useless pastime that should be ignored and not mulled over for years. A great example is Tolkien, who spent twenty years not writing! Since we all have to admit that we are not Tolkien, we should wait forty plus years to develop an epic fantasy story that really has no hope of being published.

Noticing the dust on your keyboard — and the necessity to clean and polish each individual key — is another must-do-to-avoid-writing task that Howard mentions. The group agrees that watching TV, TiVo, YouTube, commercials and even The Simpsons are tasks that a writer must do in order to not write. Mary also suggests taking cards and writing each word of your first sentence so that you can reorder them in a more original format that challenges preexisting works. Catching dyslexia is another obstacle that could interfere with your work rather well. It is recommended that you befriend many of these diseased people so that you may drink from their glasses and get sick with this highly contagious illness.

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Writing Excuses 7.12: Writing the Omniscient Viewpoint


Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Linda K. Strahl, an editor at the Jet Fuel Review. Her full bio can be found at the end of this post.

Last week’s podcast had the audience go back to basics, which is why I decided to write it up this week along with this week’s podcast, which will be published later. With that note I will write the rest of the podcast in the summarizing format in present tense.  

The group has no guest host and Dan is absent due to family matters and ninjas somehow being involved. This, of course, means that the podcast happens without him. The topic Brandon, Mary, and Howard have decided to broach is none other than the omniscient POV in an author’s tools-of-the-trade handbook. There are a few kinds of this POV that we should all recognize. One kind is the “cinema omniscient POV”, the narrator and camera angle of a story, which is never an actual character in the plot. This POV is actually considered limited omniscient, because the perspective is not all encompassing and limited to the camera and timeline the story has to follow. Brandon corrects their name of “limited omniscient” to Orson Scott Card’s term of “limited third POV”.

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Ekphrastic Blog # 30

Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Linda K. Strahl, an editor at the Jet Fuel Review. Her full bio can be found at the end of this post.

Before I get down to the composition of my poem for this week’s Ekphrastic Blog I wanted to thank my audience for their attendance. I had a lovely talk with my friend from Amsterdam last week, over our Spring Break, and her site has been skyrocketing in views lately. I dedicated the Ekrphrastic Blog # 25 that contains the poem, “The Bells of Amsterdam,” as a surprise for her, and she was thrilled with the traffic on her site. It also showed me that I have an audience that reads these posts every so often and the feeling of being a voice in the void of voices has lessened a little for this blogger. On to the post!

Well, it is the thirtieth post on this blog and I am astonished that I have gotten to this number. There have been some rough patches that this blog post and I have gone through. Last year this blog post was sacrificed to the obligations of school and the Jet Fuel Review publication date. I decided that this semester, by taking two weeks of this post off, I would come back with a better grasp on my dwindling passion that this blog usually instills in me. On this break I found a new music artist via friend and paper editor, Christine Sellin. The artist is British. Let’s face it, my music choices have always been for guys across the pond. Greg Holden and Mads Langer are in the past Ekphrastic posts, and now I add MIKA.

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