Time to Read

Friends! I have two readings coming up very soon. After spending so much time and energy on my collaging adventure this year, I’m excited to get back behind the mic, especially on Wednesday, Oct 22nd with Miriam Toews, who is one of my all-time favorite writers and people. I just adore her. Also: The great Portland poet Adam Adamschick. Also: Ace Hotel lobby!?!

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And then on Saturday the 25th, I’ll be reading at the Bone Tax Reading series at Ford Food & Drink, alongside John Beer, Wendy Bourgeois, and Zosia Rose. Gonna read some new poems and maybe even an old one. :)

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Collage Summer Heats Up

Every time someone asks me what’s been going on, I usually shrug and say, oh, more of the same. Or something like that. I think it’s about time I just fess up: I’m busy as f$ck!
I go to work and then I come home and “go to work” again, until way past my bedtime. I thought July and August were like vacation months. Times to lay out in the sun or on the beach. Sadly, it doesn’t work out that way. Besides the recent Future Tense/Scout Book releases, me and team Future Tense (Bryan, Tina, Mareika, and Ariana) were working hard on getting Wendy C. Ortiz’s memoir, Excavation, out into the world. I’m expecting boxes of the paperback in the next day and then we’ll FLOOD THE WORLD with them! Watch out!
Besides all that, it’s been collage madness over here. And I’ve got a bunch of things coming up. Here we go…

1. I’m doing a collage slide show at the Entertainment For People show this Friday night, July 18th at Disjecta. It’s kind of hard to describe what exactly this entails. I think back to the time I saw Crispin Glover do his “Big Slide Show” and I feel like that’s sort of the vibe I’m going for. A visual roller coaster of weirdness, beauty, and precision cutting! Also there will also be awesome folks like Laura Gibson, Arthur Btradford, B Frayn Masters, and host Dan Kennedy.

2. Starting on August 5th, some of my collages will be part of the show, Sex From Scratch, at the Waypost in Portland. The other artists will be Molly Schaeffer and Natalie Nourigat, who illustrated Sarah Mirk’s awesome new book, Sex From Scratch. I just recently bought my first frames for some of my more sex-y, relationship-y collages. I’m so excited about this being my first art show. On Tuesday, August 5th, Sarah and I will be hanging out there and maybe selling art, books, and other things from 7:30-9pm.
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3. Just two nights after that, on Thursday, August 7th, I’ll be joining forces with A.M. O’Malley and the Independent Publishing Resource Center to kick off a new once-a-month Open Collage Night. This means you can come hang out at the IPRC and make collages with me, A.M., and whoever else wants to show up and cut and paste for a few hours. There will be some scissors and old magazines and books to cut the heck out of, but you’re encouraged to bring your own stuff too. Go ahead and bring some beer or other refreshments as well.

4. Besides all this, I’m continuing with my collage column, Paper Trumpets, on The Rumpus. Next ones posting on July 23rd and August 6th. Stay tuned to that.

5. I recently signed up with a retail partner and will be selling some collage prints and other collage-centric products soon. Like Andy Warhol’s factory, I’m planning to take over the art world like a mofo, or at least sell a few postcards and T-shirts. More (less vague) info on this adventure soon!

Cougar Cave, June 2014

Cougar Cave, June 2014

Pre-VIDA Call to Action!

I found this ad in a 1964 women’s magazine. Almost fifty years before VIDA, Faith Baldwin tried to give female writers a kick in the butt.

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LitHop #2

The gigantic literary party of Portland, LitHop PDX, happens tomorrow night. I’m so psyched. It’s turning into something like a book geeks Mardi Gras (show us your poems, we’ll throw you some beads). So fun. Go to the website and check the schedule. And keep in mind that me and my partners Bryan Coffelt and Jeff Alessandrelli do not make money on this shiz, so buy us drinks if you see us. Or next time you see us. Any time really.

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Also, I’m psyched that my collage column, Paper Trumpets, has launched at The Rumpus. So excited and happy that I’ll be exploring this passion for altered images with y’all.

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See you on the streets!

KS

What’s Inside the Sorrow?

Oh, man, do I love Emily Kendal Frey’s new book, Sorrow Arrow (Octopus Books). I also love the cover art by Treasure Frey (no relation).

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But I wonder… what is the void in the middle doing there? Is that the sadness? Is it a frame for something missing? A fill in the blank? Is it the arrow, or the target for the arrow? Or is it simply what it is?

As someone who thinks in collage (I say that like it’s a brain disease, and maybe it is) I had the urge to fill that space. To alter it in some way, as if that openness in the art were an invitation to collaborate.

So, here are some “remixes” of the Sorrow Arrow cover. Please enjoy…

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Now go out and buy this wonder!

And if you want to see Emily and I hanging out on the Casserole Reading on YouTube, check it out.

Also, there’s a video of me introducing Emily at a reading almost four whole years ago. 

As you can tell, I adore Emily and all her work.

 

A Postcard From David Rakoff

Recently, I was cleaning up around my desk at Powell’s, where I have now worked for over sixteen years. As you can imagine, it can get pretty messy, especially the leaning towers of review copies, the piles of zine and chapbook submissions, and the various press releases from publishers. Sometimes I find some really cool artifacts though, like thank you notes from authors. Here’s one from the wonderful writer and sweet human, David Rakoff. Just over twelve years ago, I had hosted his reading at Powell’s and then–later the same night–had the pleasure of reading with him and a few others at a tiki bar by Portland State University. It was in support of a Chicago literary journal, Bridge Magazine that was run by Michael Workman and Greg Purcell (who also did a great website called No Slander). His reading that night was wryly funny yet warm and understated. He was the star of the night. 

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The postcard is also addressed to Dave Weich, who did numerous interviews and amazing things for Powell’s web site for many years.

I love having this postcard as a reminder of my very brief time with David and how kind he was. David was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, lost his left arm during treatment soon after, and then passed away on August 9th, 2012. He wrote about his arm in the final essay of his collection, Half Empty, and talked about it to NPR’s Terry Gross. He left us with many insightful, hilarious, and daring works of nonfiction. His swan song, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, was a poignant novel-in-verse that came out last summer. He would have been fifty this year.

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The Blue Girl

Like writing, collaging is about making choices. Recently, I was working on a very simple collage involving a young girl in a blue bonnet placed over a peaceful lake and as I looked for other pieces to add, I found myself faced with multiple choices. This is one of the thrills of making collages–the infinite possibilities. I took some photos of the various stages and ideas. Here’s how it went…

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First, here’s our star: The Blue Girl, as I call her. I decided to flip the lake over behind her, giving it an otherworldly sort of vibe.

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Now, when I say I call her The Blue Girl, I don’t want you to think I was sitting there, moving paper pieces around and muttering in a weird voice, “Well, Blue Girl, let’s see what you look like with this building on your head.”

Well, okay. If you think it’s funny, go ahead.

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“Okay, Blue Girl, don’t be alarmed, but I’m going to put a ginormous camera with a flash bulb behind you. What’s a flash bulb, you ask? It’s like a very slow strobe light.”

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One of the coolest things that sometimes happens in collaging is when you get something that works like a weird optical illusion. One of my main collage heroes, John Stezaker, has mad skills when it comes to this. This Mars Bar, like Blue Girl, comes from an advertisement out of a 1950s-era Life Magazine (or it may be Saturday Evening Post, I can’t remember). Placed at just the right angle, the nuts in the candy become her eyes. Mmmmm, eyes.

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Okay, so this is weird. But I like weird.

“Blue Girl, this is Butterfinger Ghost Boy. He wants to float around behind your head. I don’t know why his eye-holes are so big.”

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I like how Tuxedo Dude can so easily just lean on her shoulder like that. But, I don’t know. They don’t really look like a good pairing. Moving her over to the right kind of screws up the balance of the whole thing too.

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Emerging like a leaping shark behind her is this sweaty boxer guy. His aggressive vibe is kind of a fun juxtaposition (sorry to throw in these advanced art terms). I ended up using him for another collage just a few days later. He was too good to languish in the scrap pile.

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“Blue Girl! Paparazzi alert! Don’t turn around! And watch out for his pointy elbow!”

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I’m a sucker for hands coming into the frame. I mean, that shit looks crazy cool, doesn’t it? And it’s going to squeeze some toothpaste into the sky/lake. Is this some kind of political statement about fluoride in the water?! “Watch out, Blue Girl! Keep those lips sealed!”

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Oh, look how charming that phone is. It matches Blue Girl so well, not to mention the lake/sky. And there seems to be a small flower arrangement attached to the phone, because pretty. I also like the idea that this girl could be thinking of a phone, as in daydreaming about calling some far away friend or flame.

 

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And finally, the official scan (sorry about the non-pro camera phone quality of the previous images)! The newspaper words are fairly minimal and poetic. I like to imagine what Blue Girl would sound like singing by this lake/sky/forest. Yodel-y maybe? Perhaps Enya-ish? Singing is just levitating breathing, right? I think this end result makes the best sense (or nonsense, which is often better). Also–paper cutter! Such nice straight lines.

“Blue Girl, welcome to the Internet. I’ve grown quite fond of you.”