CALLS FOR SUBMISSION: The First Fortnight

About two weeks ago, Calls for Submission was released by Pelekinesis. I made a nifty comic, did some guests posts, and have enjoyed some really nice reviews at Goodreads, Amazon, and This Is Horror. Here’s a recap of what all has happened:

Friday, May 5, Calls for Submission received its first review at Goodreads (and at 5 stars, to boot), courtesy of Plant X Publications founder Michael Adams (Thank you, Michael!).

He writes: “A nearly flawless debut collection. Evocative, lyrical prose combines with realistically flawed and complex characters in a pleasing variety of settings, historical and modern, to become a book that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

You can read the rest of the review here or at Amazon.

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Reading Notes: More recommendations for the Women Surrealist Survival Kit

Wow. What a day! The response to “The Women Surrealists Helping Me Through Our New Political Reality” received a great response! I have spent the day nerding out about Women Surrealists, and finding out many other people have been dealing with similar feelings about how to creatively approach the nonce insanity. Thank you so much to everyone who read, commented, tweeted, retweeted, and shared on FB!

As a thanks, I’m posting a little bonus addendum to the piece. First, if you’d like to read more about Leonora Carrington’s quote about the Surrealist Survival Kit, it was part of a series of conversations Penelope Rosemont had with Carrington towards the end of her life. Published as “A Revolution in the Way We Think and Feel—Conversations with Leonora Carrington,” you can find it in Ron Sakolsky’s Surrealist Subversions: Rants, Writings and Images by the Surrealist Movement in the United States.

While I recommended 3 books in the article, my original draft had 5. I cut two of them for length, but still find them essential writings for my kit.

Insel, Mina Loy, Melville House, 2014

LoyAn interesting aspect about Women’s Surrealism is that many members evaded the Feminist label. Not Mina Loy. She made it her mission to polish the flaws she saw in its ideology not only writing blatantly about enjoying sex, but also by observing, documenting, and subverting the various roles of womanhood. You could say that she set down the intellectual premise all women surrealists would follow in her “Feminist Manifesto,”: “Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not —seek within yourselves to find out what you are.”

Insel is a feminist response to Breton’s Nadja, and the male Surrealist concept of amour fou and the femme enfant applied to the Surrealist Woman. In Insel, these dynamics are flipped. The narrator Mrs Jones is not a woman-child, but a widow in her fifties, dependent on her children, firmly established in her career, and creatively bored. The one thing she has is an established reputation and far-reaching influence, which attracts a young, German junky mystic, Aaron Insel. While he then, becomes the homme enfant, he is physically repulsive. It is Insel’s unhinged perspective that appeals to Jones, and eventually she begins supporting him. It doesn’t end well, of course, but what is important is that throughout the novel, Mrs. Jones holds all the cards—she has all the money, she has the career, connections, and experience Insel most covets.

That isn’t why I have this in the kit, though. While this is something of an anti-romance, Loy uses the notion of mad love to show its true delusion. Mrs. Jones uses her relationship with Insel to distract and confront her aging, as well as how society and art movements dismissed women of a certain age.

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait, Abrams, 2005

KahloYou won’t find any gossip here. Reproduced in full-color facsimile and in translation, Khalo’s diary is a full testament to internal fulfillment. It has no concern for dates or time and is a straight connection to her creative mind. On the page you can see her exploring and meshing Greek mythology with Meso-American folklore, lists of associations and puns, days described only in nouns, and poignant spatial mediations like that on the loss of her leg.

While it’s part of legend that Kahlo used her art as therapy to cope with lifelong health complications and mobility limitations, in this diary you see the messy and raw work that went into the final finessed products. You also get to see all of the doubts and anxieties that echo our own creative worries. Towards the end of her life, after having only seven operations on her back in one year, she reprimands herself for not doing enough, or being relevant enough: “Above all I want to transform it [her work] into something useful for the Communist revolutionary movement, since up to now I have only painted the earnest portray of myself, but I’m very far from work that could serve the Party.” And yet…and yet! Those earnest portrayals that analyzed her most intimate tragedies while upcycling Mexican folklore and remixing post-colonial history, have served, nourished, and inspired within more than one political ideation. It achieved a new universality, and that universality was feminine.

 

Publishing Notes: Literary Hub and my Women Surrealist Survival Kit

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An essay I wrote about my “Surrealist Survival Kit” for Literary Hub.

I’m doing a mini-Guest Blog tour for Calls for Submission, and my first stop is at the incomparable Literary Hub! I am very pleased to share that “The Women Surrealists Helping Me Through Our New Political Reality” is now live.

My original intention, and pitch, for this piece was to be a discussion about the last ten years effort at a Women Surrealist Revival. An effort I believe is at its apex, what with the Leonora Carrington centennial, a first ever monograph of Eileen Agar, and the two new Claude Cahun books coming out this summer, including Exist Otherwise, the first English biography of the gender-bending photographer.

But as I started drafting, the essay took a different and much more personal route. I’d been re-acquainting myself with these artists since the election, and fully realized in the writing of this piece how they were helping me reassess and reaffirm what I believe the potential of art truly can be.  Something I had been struggling with all year, and as a result lead to a lot of dead ins and head-wall banging.

But as I started to look at what and who I had been dipping back into–Carrington, Cahun, Césaire, Kahlo, and Mina Loy–all women who commented on the political by drawing upon the personal, I realized I had to step up and go there myself. The Revival turned into Survival.

So, here then, is an achievement of a few things. First, it is the first finished thing I’ve produced since the election; Second, it is both a celebration of the internal resistance of the past, and advocation of its exploration in the future; three, it’s on LITHUB!

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out, and if you liked it, please share it widely with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!