Saturday, October 23, 2010

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. For realles.

If I was really, really goode Ich be riteing this all in Middle English, but since I ain't, that's just about all you're gonna get. However. Those of you who love Chaucer, Middle English and all things mashed-up will want to check out Brantley Bryant's Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. Hysterically funny, sometimes punny and always Chaucer-referential, the blog makes Speak Like a Pirate Day look like kindergarden while sending up everything pop-cultureish; then and now.

The blog became so popular, it becameth a booke. 
For realles.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Molly Fisk's Kickstarter Essay Project

So have you heard about Kickstarter? It looks like a mighty cool way to get projects funded in a very interweb-tastic way.  The main premise is a person with a project figures out what financial support would be needed to get that project under way, like a play produced, a movie made a cd cut, a book published... then posts a description of the project,  with goals, prospects, benchmarks, etc. on the Kickstarter website

Also included: a plea for funds ... but not just any old plea. First of all, a goal is stated, $1,000, $149, $10,000...whatever the creator determines is needed to get the roll going. Secondly, a deadline. The money has to be raised by such-and-so date, otherwise it's a no-go, and the contributions are rescinded. Actually, your credit card isn't charged unless and until the goal is reached by deadline day. Thirdly, there are many sorts of enticements for contributors: a copy of the book, perhaps, or acknowledgement in the program, or a poem a day, or a personal signed copy of cd or dvd. The projects are multifarious and the enticements (rewards) all over the map. It's worth checking it out. Because it may give you hope, a good kick in the pants, to get that book finished, if there might be a way to fund its publication.

Molly's latest poetry book
pub: March, 2010
Here's a worthwhile project to start with: Molly Fisk's Kickstarter Essay Project. I first heard about Molly Fisk when friends of mine signed up for her Poetry Bootcamp and raved about it and her. It's just what it sounds like, too. Six days, six poems, get real. Like her poems, real.

But I'll let Molly tell you about  her Kickstarter project:

"I'm an award-winning poet and I write weekly four-minute radio essays called Observations from a Working Poet for my local community station. I've written 215 of them so far, gratis. People love them, and I love writing them. They're haphazardly funny, poignant, fierce and/or edifying, and always thoughtful. And I have a good voice for radio. You can listen to one here as a podcast and see what you think. "
Molly's Kickstarter is to match a $5,000 grant from Corporation for Public Broadcasting to market her book to radio stations, do readings, send out podcasts and CD's etc.  She has until Oct 22nd and she is oh, so close! No donation is too little (a cool thing about Kickstarter) as every little bit adds up. So, check out the website, check out the project, donate if you are inclined or spread the word to any and all who might be so inclined. Let's get the ball rolling!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

September: The Write Month

September is always a busy literary month around here: The Petaluma Poetry Walk one weekend, the Sonoma County Book Festival another. It's loaded with literary birthdays, too: Euripides, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Truman Capote -  and that's just in the final week.  Like any good writer, the month is unpredictable: tar-meltingly hot one week, cold as the proverbial witch's-whatever the next. 

Last Saturday, I squeezed in a quick visit to the Book Festival, hoping to hear Abraham Verghese and Yiyun Li at the Santa Rosa Library and Robin Ekiss and Molly Fisk at the Poetry Tent. It was a cooker of a day, though not the hottest it's ever been. Still, hot is hot. Fortunately, the library lecture room had air conditioning. Unfortunately, by the time my tardy self got there, the lecture room was packed and the overflow crowd crouched in every bit of the shade on the garden patio, where an excellent sound system was set up. Verghese's voice was clear and distinct in the baked air; even as I melted on a corner of a stone bench, I felt I was melting for a darn good cause. 

I'm in the middle of Verghese's novel "Cutting for Stone" now; I loved his two previous books, the memoirs/personal histories,  "My Own Country" and "The Tennis Partner." Between him and Atul Gawande, we are rich in doctor-writers with most excellent prose and great stories to tell. 

Yiyun Li
We should count Yiyun Li in that category as well; she was on her way to a PhD in Immunology before she made the (excellent, imo) switch to writing. I was third in line to get into the lecture room for her reading, you betcha. She read an excerpt from "Gold Boy, Emerald Girl," just published Sept 14th. It sounds like it might be a kinder-gentler world than that of her previous book "The Vagrants," which is a stunning work of art. Can't wait to read the new book (signed, of course!) 

A bit later on, I wandered around the square in a heat-induced daze trying to find the Poetry Tent and bumped into (yes, quite literally)  JJ Wilson (co-founder and leading spark of the festival) and we both agreed that Yiyun Li's work and writing is just brilliant. I confessed to her that when I'm stuck on a fiction piece, I'll pick up "The Vagrants," find a sentence and use it as a model for construction and inspiration; it gets me going again. 

To my regret, I missed both my poet-friends; guess the heat melted my synpases, particularly those relating to spacial orientation, and cooked whatever meager concept of time was left to me. Apologies to Molly and Robin!

JJ and I are not the only ones who think Yiyun Li is the bee's knees ~ she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (in September!) as announced here on the NewsHour.