Buy a Broadside, Support a Family.

2012 has been a banner year for StaciaLBrown.com. Per-post readership and blog subscriptions have increased exponentially, and feedback from readers has been affirming and overwhelmingly positive. I’d like to thank everyone who regularly or occasionally visits this site for their continued support. I hope what you’ve read here has been encouraging, thought-provoking, inciting, or inspiring in some way. This is ever my aim.

I’ve decided to embark on something of a social experiment, born of necessity (which seems ever prepared to prove to me that it is, indeed, the mother of invention) and of self-promotion. These tend to be areas of great discomfort for me. It’s difficult to be candid about what you need (money!) and to ask for it without apology or shame. It’s even more difficult — at least for me — to say: my work is worthy of what I’m asking. I am good enough at what I do to expect fair compensation. You’d be surprised at how often this simple confession of self-worth has remained caught in my throat.

Right now, I’d be deeply appreciative if you’d place a pre-order for a broadside via the PayPal link below. As is the case with so many families right now, particularly single-parent families, freelance-income families, and start-of-the-school-year-pre-first-paycheck adjuncting families, funds here are very limited. Purchasing a broadside today would make a big difference for us.

Until now, I’ve offered all of my blog content for free, without making any attempt to monetize my online content. That will continue to be the case at this site.

But in addition to the continued labor of love I’ll be doing here, providing longtime supporters and new readers with thoughtful, carefully crafted work on a bimonthly (or more) basis, I’m proud to announce that, for a short time, I’ll be offering limited edition poetry and prose broadsides for sale. Each broadside will feature a self-portrait-as-watermark and a piece of original writing, much of which has been featured here in some form. They will be numbered and signed. My hope and intent is that, in forthcoming years, they will become collector’s items.

The following are preview images, purposely altered so as not to be duplicated:

“Gleaning”: a poem, available in 8″x10″ cardstock b&w, limited run of 25 for $15 each
“Missions”: a poem, available in 8″x10″ cardstock b&w, limited run of 25 copies, $15 each
“Sloughing”: a poem, available in 8″x10″ b&w, limited run of 25 copies for $15 each
“Trapeze”: a poem, available in 8″x10″ b&w, limited run of 25 copies for $15 each
“Lovesick”: a prose-poem, available in 8″x10″ b&w, limited run of 25 at $20 each

The “Lovesick” title was previously published here as a blog entry. If this run of broadsides goes well, I would love to offer any of my previously published blog posts as a customized, autographed prints upon request. If there’s content here that you particularly enjoy or value, please consider requesting that I make it part of my next limited run.

Each of these currently offered titles will be shipped via USPS first class mail. Add $4.00 to the total cost of your purchase before submitting your order via the PayPal link below. Pre-orders are being accepted now. Orders placed this week will ship on Monday, September 10, 2012. For orders placed after September 10, please allow 10-14 business days following your order date for delivery.

 

 

Me. You. Summer Writing.

summerwriting
Tentative start date for first teen/adult summer sessions: Monday, June 11

Here is the vision: a circle. At its center, you. You are holding a notebook. The words on its pages are yours, lovingly, imaginatively crafted, full of surprising turns and ironies, full of carefully constructed sentences. There are lines; there are strike-throughs. Imperfections, bold choices, incalculable risks.

I ask you to read from that page: Read its nonfiction, its metaphors, its fictive phrasings, its poetry. Read it and feel emptied, feel absolved. Read it and find nimble listeners.

And you do. You lay the words bare, leave them on the floor to be read, to foretell your future.

The listeners wait, let them linger and breathe in a quiet air, let their full weight and bloom be underscored by silence.

And then we commend you, rush through breathless praise and tactful criticism, give you pages lined with hand-scrawled commentary. We compare your work to the others we’ve read by diverse and lovely writers within and without the literary canon, within and without the diaspora.

You leave feeling more confident in the timbre of your voice, in your command of the ideas borne out on the page.

I’m teaching writing this summer. Six-week courses. Join me.

Send your kids between summer camps. Or enroll yourself. You won’t regret it.

A more official, specific announcement is forthcoming. In the meantime, if you’re interested in enrollment, please email me at wingstowrite@gmail.com or post a comment below stating your interest.

NaPoWriMo: poems 7-11

i am totally flaking out. i had to catch up, in haiku. and not particularly strong or powerful haiku, either. just… rushed, keep-up-with-the-challenge haiku.

so here it is.

i should note that these are interconnected.

(for d.n.l.)

poem 7 – haiku

if prison’s a whale
and your cell, its belly, be
Jonah. wash ashore.

poem 8 – haiku

i know why you need
to circumvent Ninevah:
you’ll find mirrors there.

poem 9 – haiku

fear not reflection,
for in every flaw, there is
awe, grace, and power.

poem 10 – haiku

prisons are, themselves,
the criminals, molesting
all they claim to help.

poem 11- haiku

for the newly freed,
smog is as glorious as
tropics’ salted breeze.

NaPoWriMo: poems 4-6.

poem 4: missions

And then I took you to dinner
because I was used to paying,
every meal an apology for
the way you were raised:

I’m sorry your father left you.
I’m sorry that when he returned,
you were already Ellison’s
man underground, mind half-
Hoovered into oblivion.

Love can be retaught.
You can be deprogrammed.

Like all the other nights, you dined,
relishing saffron rice, ripping
naan into swaths, staining
your ample lips with curry: no
worries.

and later—
when we kissed, I took in
the garlicky grin behind that
mouth so used to secreting away
your truths and I thought:

I should’ve been a missionary,
the way I invade these ancestral villages
and offer the men my salvation.

 

poem 5: untitled

these are not the mud plains
where we met, two mongrels still black enough
to belong to the fields, where we were freer
to court and forge cabals in cottages of straw.

i am sure we are different, though
i cannot speak for you, whose voice is
little more than a wasp’s hum
every seventh summer now.

once, not long after you left, i was hitched
to a plow and made the Molly mule
Zora meant only as metaphor.

i knew then why we never married.

these are not the mines where they found you
and i asked for you, opened and autopsied.
i still dream of your lungs, so
marbled with soot that their blood
hardened sleek as obsidian.

that time, you vowed a return
as a soldier of fortune, as the driver of
a westward-facing wagon:
and you will have bonnets
and petticoats a-plenty;
you will know the shuddering
cool of a parasol’s shade.

belief was impossible to conjure;
reincarnation is not an erasure.

poem 6: morgue

i do not know why
i was called to identify your body
after your overdose in the alley
behind Yummy’s with that girl in the
yellowed gingham dress.

but when i got there, i was told
that i was your emergency
contact and i suppose it made sense
that i would be. we were
so close once that i held
your DNA, stroked the strands
as they gathered themselves
into a hardy little core that
siphoned life, long after you left mine.

i should’ve felt more distress
than i did, looking down at the
milky crust scaling your irises
like acid caking corroded batteries
but Lord, it would be years
before i could fathom
that death would be more permanent
than my belief in you.

And then I took you to dinner

because I was used to paying,

every meal an apology for

the way you were raised:

I’m sorry your father left you.

I’m sorry that when he returned,

you were already Ellison’s

man underground, mind half-

Hoovered into oblivion.

Love can be retaught.

You can be deprogrammed.

Like all the other nights, you dined,

relishing saffron rice, ripping

naan into swaths, staining

your ample lips with curry: no

worries.

and later—

when we kissed, I took in

the garlicky grin behind that

mouth so used to secreting away

your truths and I thought:

I should’ve been a missionary,

the way I invade these ancestral villages

and offer the men my salvation.

NaPoWriMo: poems 1-3.

April is, of course, National Poetry Month. Last year I participated in the 30/30 challenge, writing 30 poems in 30 days. I’m trying it again this year, but I decided it on a whim, on the 2nd. So I’m a day behind. Every 3-5 days, I’ll post a digest of the few poems I’ve written (so as not to inundate you with daily posts). Occasionally, I may include some commentary, but that’s still up in the air. Let me know if you’re interested in the process; I’ll pontificate if it’s wanted. *shrug*

Anyway, here are poems 1-3, written between April 2 and April 4:

poem 1: surfeit

but tonight, let us feast
at the table of what wasn’t.
we will dine on the scraps of
an undercooked love,
use old letters as our linen,
dip our fingers into
the cleansing bowls of all
our ancient secrets. we
will sip hours on a claret
of could’ve-beens,
and at last, when our
rack of regrets is served
we will get through the brine
and the sinew. then, we
will suck dry the bones.

poem 2: picture day, overton elementary: chicago, 2011

(for ukailya lofton)

1.
the candies crinkled
and clacked in her plaits
and the smacking of seven-
year-old lips filled with
blue raspberry
cherry and
watermelon bliss
whipped down the full
length of the hall.
ukailya was having a ball,
green apple grins glossing her
mouth as she waltzed
from class to cafeteria,
cheerily letting her friends
pluck the low-hanging fruit
in her hair. and there, with
the promise of plentiful
wallet-sized keepsakes
of the day she was deemed
the sweetest girl in school,
she skipped into computer
class, the sparkle of flash
bulbs alight in her eyes.
come here, sweetie, her teacher
cooed like the serpent of Eden,
comb your hair into your face
with your fingers. it’s cute.

2.
strip her of anonymity.
auction her to the avatars
and trolls, who skulk
beneath bridges and
grab for young girls.
and when you have sold
her off, left her susceptible
to an echoing hall of taunts,
return to your post, where i
hope you are haunted, by
the wilt of her smile as
she says: “I feel sad that
she put my picture on Facebook.

I don’t think she liked it.”

poem 3: gleaning

i am no Ruth and you,
no Boaz, but were you
a silo, i’d scale your walls
and climb in, gather your sins
into baskets, trudge them out
to the threshing floor.

(our lives are more than the
parables preached about them.)

i’d linger on each stalk and lament
that the interesting bits of you
must be blown off by the winnowing
wind of a Savior who requires
pure grain for an unleavened bread.

(i would envy your weevils.)

but eventually, i would sacrifice
you for harvest; that can’t be
helped. some day, you will be
that perfect loaf and i will be a fish
divided for the throngs.

(we are not yet where we belong.)

Sloughing

for Story

1.

–And after you, the seep:
a bloody comet’s tail, eight weeks,
arachnid crawl
of clots, the slow
retraction of a slackened core.
A self unrecognized, a shell
awash on foreign shores.

2.

Daughter,
you have made me something
akin to Lot’s wife: forewarned
to shuffle off
regret, to slough
the longing
for abandoned lands.

3.

Love is a dermis, earned
by the measured erosion
of ego, a molting of
parsimony, a flaking of
our sin. For you,
I will slough all
my skins; I love
beneath the bone.

The Pacifist Speaks of Pregnancy.

After hearing about Mother Clifton yesterday, it felt really necessary to attempt another poem. I haven’t written one of my own, since last summer.

I didn’t want to write about her, but I did want to write for her, something reminiscent (but hopefully not entirely derivative) of her voice.

This is what I finished this morning:

when you heard about
the occupation of my egg,
you imagined miniature fascists
marching, steel-booted, across
my womb and wanted, instantly,
to liberate it:

were it my troop, trudging through,
he’d build a commune, rather than
staging a coup.

since it isn’t, you engage
in the most passive protest
possible, writing me wistfully
of the world before, as though
i’m capable of recalling
any night that ever preceded
the dustiness of this hidden alcove,
the thump and start of invasion,
the chemical hue of the clouds, after war.