Archive for September, 2012

Procrastination Station #112

Friday, September 28th, 2012

2012-09-21 Kürbisse I

Is anyone planning on getting me a Christmas present? In case you’re stuck for ideas… this this this! (Thanks, Priscilla!)

Aaaand a Christmas present for the OBSESSIVE TYPEWRITER LOVER in your life? (Know anyone in these parts who matches that description…?)

If you want to look thoughtful and melancholy: Wear lots of black. Black pants with a black shirt would be a good idea. Something fun to wear to a poetry reading or cafe is a beret. For shoes, boots or ballet flats would be nice. Don’t go overboard on makeup and jewelry.

I’VE BEEN DOING IT ALL WRONG FOR YEARS! Learn how to dress like a poet in five easy steps! (Or yaknow, you could justbuy this.)

I love this short ‘n’ sweet concrete poem from Stephen Nelson.

And speaking of short ‘n’ sweet — what would YOUR one-line obituary be? (answers in the comments, please!)

Regina has a poem up at Golden Horses!

Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.

THIS! Thank you, Zadie Smith! And your other writing rules are also pretty darned excellent!

A lovely new poem from Mr McGuire!

OK, one more novelty typewriter product which I am coveting, and then I’ll stop, OK? But just LOOK AT THIS FROCK! (Thanks, Ruth!)

Dad, I love your fatness, because your fatness is part of you. Your fat body changed my and my sister’s diapers. Your fat body sat next to me on the couch when I was just a tiny child and watched Star Trek, both the original AND The Next Generation with me, making me the geek I am today. Your fat lap was the one that, when I was a child and computer games were still pretty damn young, would let me sit upon it as you played (for both of us, me shouting directions gleefully), Designasaurus, and, I admit, often I’d laugh so hard that I would pee my pants with excitement, WHILE IN YOUR LAP. And your fat self was ok with it (not thrilled, but it never stopped us from playing again). Your fat body was the body of the man who let me and my sister put scrunchies, elastics, bows, ribbons, and sparkly hair gel in his hair. Who let us give him terrible comb-overs and pig tails, because you loved us. Your fat self taught me subtraction better than I was learning it in class.

This letter to a fat father from his fat trans son is beautiful, sad and brave. Please read.

Gorgeous rainy autumn photos from Katja! (Have you noticed I am totally crushing on her blog?)

I just discovered The Improvised Life blog and now I am in love…

I know I post these all the time here but this might be THE BEST Passive-Aggressive Note ever!

I want to start a clicktivism type campaign called Fire Christina Hendricks’ Obviously-Cruel Stylist And Let’s All Club Together To Buy Her A Cardi.

OMFG it’s a PONYBIKE! (although, did they miss a trick or what by not making it a unicorn?) Thanks Ellie!


This badass 87 year old is kicking Republican butt in the cutest way!


It’s not perfect, but this new M&S ad is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of diversity. (Also, love the fact that one of the top-rated Youtube comments is: “Anyone else reckon the silver haired woman is fit as f**k?”)


I TOTALLY LOVE THIS SONG!

Have a great weekend!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Things I Love Thursday #64

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

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Peace One Day in association with Scottish Women’s Aid & Shakti Women’s Aid

Last Friday, I went along to the Edinburgh event for Peace One Day, which had been put together by Scottish Women’s Aid and Shakti Women’s Aid, as this year’s Peace One Day campaign had a focus on domestic violence.
It was absolutely fantastic. I joined a group of wonderful ladies, a few men and more than a few super-cute kids who gathered around the poetry tree in St Andrew’s Square Gardens. The event kicked off with a recording of survivors and allies talking about all the reasons why domestic abuse should stop. As their voices drifted out of the PA and across the garden, a beautiful, bright-pink rainbow appeared over all our heads. Pretty amazing.

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We also heard from a speaker from Shakti who read one survivor’s testimony; a policewoman who regularly deals with domestic violence call-outs, and a representative of Scottish Women’s Aid. Finally, the evening was wrapped up with music from the truly brilliant Commotion Samba.
It was fantastic to be among a group of wonderful, like-minded folk, getting together to celebrate survivors and bear witness to those still suffering. A really poignant and empowering event — well done to all involved in organising, and hooray to all those who came along.

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Nights drawing in

I always forget how much I love the autumn. For me, it’s Edinburgh’s best season by far. I am loving the dusk, all the shop windows steamy and lit up; the smoke from people’s fires; getting to swish through the first fallen leaves; digging out my super-cozy, massive chunky boots, wearing them to work and getting snarky comments from my students (WHATEVER, my feet are so cozy!); taking lots and lots of photos of cool stuff out and about; Lovely Boyfriend and I wearing our matching fingerless gloves because we are goofy (his are blue, mine are pink — double goofy. NB: we both bought these gloves before we’d met, it’s merely coincidence); doing more baking (see below) because baking is totally an autumn/winter thing; starting to buy Christmas presents (I know, I am mega organised); getting excited about Halloween; plotting a trip to beautiful, autumnal Paris in a few weeks. I love this time of year… why do I always forget?

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Vegan baking!

So, having got vegan chocolate brownies and vegan cinnamon rolls down to a fine art, a few weeks ago I decided to try scones. I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe from her brilliant book Vegan Brunch, but modified it to add raspberries and blackberries. The resulting scones were pretty delicious, but kind of squidgy thanks to the extra moisture added by the fruit. I felt like I was just a whisker away, though, so this past weekend, I gave it another go.
This time I took Isa’s suggestion and used blueberries. As these don’t disintegrate while mixing, they worked out much better. I made the scones US style — super huge and not shaped at all, so I didn’t have to worry too much about them rising. Needless to say, they were awesome. Hooray!

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Amazing stuff in the post!

& finally, I am extremely grateful to the lovely Lewis Young, poet of my long-time acquaintance and the brains behind The Adult Teeth Recording Company. Lewis started Adult Teeth a little while back, with a view to “put[ting] records out there that aren’t already out there, providing those who truly consider themselves fans of music with interesting, vibrant, delicious, exciting and mind-altering sounds and words - in a format that is as close to art as it can be.” That means awesome, unique sounds; it means poetry fused with those sounds; best of all, it means vinyl.
I opened up my wee package from Adult Teeth and instantly “squealed is that green vinyl?!” I love my records, and I especially love coloured vinyl. My copy of Fleetwood Mac on limited edition white vinyl is one of the first things I’d save if the flat was on fire, closely followed by my cloudy-blue copy of We May Be Skinny and Wirey by the Crocketts. Coloured vinyl is so the way to my heart.
And what’s on the coloured vinyl is pretty fantastic, too. It’s described as ‘art-rock’, but it’s a kind of fusion of mellow new-wave-y sounding tunes (I thought of Elvis Costello at times) crossed with pin-sharp spoken word. You get work by two artists (unless they’re pseudonyms?) on one 7″ single, so there’s plenty of bang for your buck. Buy the record right here!
I also got some Adult Teeth info via a very colourful flyer; a cute pin badge; stickers (now adorning my turntable); and perhaps best of all, a copy of Lewis’ own experimental poetry pamphlet — a series of alternative readings of The Owl and the Pussycat. This includes concrete, musical and oulipo versions of the classic poem I loved from childhood. You can buy it at the Adult Teeth store, too!
A huge thanks to Lewis for sharing his handiwork with me. Please go and support this very deserving little indie label!

What are you loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

“Writing to the setting sun”: George Watsky in profile

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

George Watsky

In August, One Night Stanzas played host to an exclusive spoken-word gig at the end of George Watsky’s Nothing Like The First Time tour. I started a write-up for it, but got bored: it was my own gig after all, and I spent the last three months or so organising it. The man himself is far more interesting. See if you agree.

THE FIRST TIME I saw George Watsky, he was stepping onto the stage at Camden’s Barfly, ready to launch into the penultimate gig of his twenty-four-city Nothing Like The First Time tour. Initially, I couldn’t get over how small he was – at 26, he looks more like a geeky high-schooler than a hip-hop wunderkind. For the gig, he wore an outsize t-shirt with goofy slogan – “dreamers think with their heart” – and a San Jose Sharks cap which he constantly fiddled with, turning it backwards, forwards, backwards again. But if boyish awkwardness has been a difficulty for Watsky in his efforts to get noticed as a hip-hop artist – one of his lyrics registers the complaint, “I’m the best rapper alive / who gets mistaken for Michael Cera everywhere that he drives” – then it doesn’t show. This tiny, funny-looking guy has become one of the genre’s fastest rising stars, thanks in part to the gawkiness that makes him stand out in a scene all too often characterised by macho posturing.

Watsky began to be noticed as a talented performance poet, winning over a dozen slams in the San Francisco area between 2005 and 2006, and scooping top titles at the Youth Speaks Grand Slam and the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam. He was contacted by HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, and his performance of “V for Virgin,” a poem that advocates remaining chaste in spite of peer pressure, aired in the show’s sixth season. Subsequently, Watsky toured campuses across America, and in 2007 released his first record, the “barely-heard” Invisible Inc. This laid the foundations for the 2010 album Watsky, an eclectic mix of tracks dealing with everything from George’s struggle with childhood epilepsy to his thoughts about the privileges and challenges that come with being a white rapper.

“I spent pretty much all my time and all my money for the last two to three years [making Watsky],” he said at the time. But the hard work paid off: it’s a brilliantly unique hip-hop record, layering whip-smart lyrics over slickly produced, usually collaborative, tracks. ‘Seizure Boy,’ the album’s fourth track and one of the opening numbers at Barfly, starts out as a teenage epileptic’s lament, poking fun at the condition with lines like, “you don’t remember whether you were wetting your gym shorts / in front of Amanda / the girl you’re after / who already thought you were a fucking disaster.” But the song turns into a call-to-arms for all youngsters whose lives are touched by illness: “this is for my sick kids / time to quit this shit / Depakote, Adderall, Ritalin, Pixie Sticks / I don’t give a fuck what you’re writing to the setting sun / use it as a weapon when it’s said and done.” ‘Who’s Been Loving You?’ was also on the Barfly set-list: a real crowd-pleaser, the track serves up floor-filling Northern Soul horns and lyrics like, “this insanity? That’s hereditary / but it’s my family, so we can let it be / wish I’d pretended that my mom and dad are dead to me / but I love my dad, that motherfucker read to me.”

As copies of Watsky began to move, George worked to boost his profile online, building up his Youtube channel by posting self-made videos for the album’s tracks. The video for ‘Who’s Been Loving You?’, which now has 1.5 million views, features home movies of Watsky as a small child. Gradually, these music videos got snazzier, and previously unheard tracks appeared on the channel beside them. One of these was the one-and-a-half minute ‘Pale Kid Raps Fast,’ in which Watsky delivers his lyrics at truly breath-taking speed. The song includes the lines, “I want everybody focussing on getting me to Letterman / to kick it for the betterment of innocent Americans,” and just days after it was uploaded, he pretty much got his wish. The track went viral – it now has over 21 million Youtube views – and Watsky was invited to perform on Ellen de Generes’ TV show on 24th January 2011.
“It’s a video that kind of changed the course of my life,” he recalls. “It gave me this following of people who actually for some reason want to watch my stuff… when I look back, I’m still so excited that it happened.”

Watsky’s appearance on Ellen gave him the boost he needed to take his career to the next level. To meet suddenly-increased demand, he released a flurry of new tracks, most of them collected onto his 2011 “mixtape” – essentially a serialised digital album – A New Kind of Sexy. In early 2012 came a digital EP, Watsky and Mody – but far more exciting for fans was the confirmation that, over summer of 2012, George would be setting out on tour and bringing his music to twenty-two smallish venues across America.
“I don’t know if I can describe to you how stoked I am,” he gushed, confirming the tour in a vlog on March 15th. “This is a dream of mine… a proper national tour. We’re not going to be playing stadiums, but… playing live is the reason I get up in the morning.”

Five months later, I watched George Watsky climb onto Barfly’s fogged stage. Somehow in the intervening period, he’d found a way to get his band across the Atlantic, and added two London dates to the end of his tour. An admirer ever since the Def Poetry appearance hit Youtube, I could hardly contain my excitement as a fairly mediocre DJ warmed up the crowd. I was desperately hoping that everything I’d seen online – dazzling lyrical originality, self-deprecating wit, effortless performance – would translate into real life. Although I was momentarily thrown by the tiny stature of the man who took to the stage, the doubts didn’t stick. Visibly tired from a month on the road and the weight of jet-lag, Watsky kicked off with an emotional thank you to everyone who’d turned out to see him. This was no ordinary hip-hop gig – there was no ego on display, no swagger. This was a scrawny kid who couldn’t quite believe his luck: a bundle of nervous energy delivering a smart, fast-paced, hugely engaging set to an audience almost rabid with adoration. As I glanced around, I realised why he cultivates the goofy teen Michael Cera look. The vast majority of my fellow audience members were shy young blokes, nodding and singing along to lyrics about girl trouble, social anxiety and secretly really loving your parents. My favourite moment was probably mid-set, when the band took a break and Watsky stood alone in a column of spot-lit dry ice, reciting a poem. “Who here likes poetry?” he asked the crowd, and the resounding cheer was accompanied by a forest of skinny adolescent hands. I felt a warm glow envelop me. George Watsky isn’t just a rising star in the hip-hop solar system: he’s making a whole new kind of masculinity acceptable to a new generation of listeners. George Watsky is a hip-hop game changer.

The second leg of the Nothing Like The First Time Tour starts on 3rd November. See http://georgewatsky.com/tour for more details.

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Five small ways to change your recycling habits and save the planet just a tiny little bit more.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Recycling

Remember this post? I said at the end of it that I wasn’t going to make ONS All About Poetry any more… so here’s a totally-not-poetry-related post for your viewing pleasure. NB: you should still totally read it.

So… you guys all recycle, right? RIGHT? I like to assume that everyone does, to some extent, because if I did not assume that, I would probably cry and potentially slap people. But although I think most people really genuinely do recycle, it’s pretty likely that right now, most folk are doing the bare minimum they can get away with, ’cause that’s what we humans like to do. HOWEVER, there are several little teeny tiny changes you can make to your recycling habits that will totally make the planet love you more.

1. Recycle the paper off your tin cans
For ages, I used to just chuck used tin cans (that once held beans, soup, etc) into my local recycling bin. Then I read somewhere that — vexingly — sometimes a tin can’t be recycled if it still has food waste in the bottom. This led me to start washing the tins out, usually after doing my washing up — just giving them a quick rinse to make sure they’d definitely stay out of landfill.
One night I was feeling extremely lazy and could not be bothered to go through this process. Instead, after I finished haphazardly washing the dishes, I just dunked the tin cans into the remaining washing-up water and went off to do more fun things. I then forgot about them, and the next morning, got up to find that their labels had unpeeled in the night and were floating atop the now-quite-minging water.
OK, gross, I know. BUT this did mean that I could fish the paper labels out of the sink, leave them to dry off, and then put them into the paper recycling bin. I recently read Edinburgh City Council’s latest recycling handbook and it turns out they actually advise people to do this. Nowadays I always remove the paper labels from cans while washing them out. It takes about fifteen seconds and means double the recycled-ness.

2. Put your envelopes in the right bin!
DID YOU KNOW: you’re not supposed to put paper envelopes in with other paper recycling? ‘Cause I didn’t, until very very recently. Apparently, the gum used to seal envelopes is tricky stuff to get rid of, and paper that’s had the gum on it can’t be recycled as a result. Similarly, window envelopes have glue AND plastic involved. Putting them in with your other paper products means the whole lot could potentially end up in landfill, which makes small furry creatures everywhere very sad indeed.
BUT you can recycle these pesky envelopes — you just need to put them into the right bin. The gum and plastic interferes with the density and purity of recycled paper, but recycled cardboard can cope with it just fine. Therefore, you should put your envelopes in with your cardboard, tins and plastic, where they will be happily accepted into the arms of some big magical machine that turns junk products into shiny new recycled things.

3. Give unwanted stuff to small, indie charity shops.
As a wide-eyed young teenager, I used to volunteer on Saturday afternoons for a Cancer Research charity shop. Even then, before I became a hardcore vegan pain-in-the-ass greenie, I was a bit shocked by the things we apparently “had” to throw out… but as the years passed I convinced myself that times must have a-changed for charity shops. Well… yes and no. Although it does depend on the charity, I recently discovered that many of the larger charity shop chains still have ludicrously strict rules about what they can and cannot sell. Many can’t sell electronic items, or they won’t take clothing or fabrics that are marked, however faintly. Toys and furniture often need to come complete with their original safety labels in order to be accepted. And so on, and so forth.
If you’ve been taking your old togs to a big charity’s thrift store for years, panic not: they don’t just shove everything into landfill. Even in my distant volunteering days, a shadowy figure called The Rag Man used to come around every week or so and take away for recycling any fabric items unfit for sale, and this is still common practice. Also, you can improve your chances of your items being actually sold by taking them into the store during opening hours (many big charities won’t sell on items that have been left on the doorstep for health and safety reasons — a badger might have gnawed on them, or something). But an even better thing to do would be to seek out a smaller, less high-profile charity shop to send your stuff to.
Edinburgh has several such places — there are stores for the St Columba’s Hospice; two Birthlink thrift shops in the Tollcross area; and my personal favourites, the Hospices of Hope shops. Case in point: I recently bought a tablecloth from the Tollcross Hospices of Hope shop, which was priced super low because it was covered in blotches of candlewax (like, really covered). No big charity shop would have put it on sale, but hey — candlewax is super easy to get out, as the Hospices of Hope ladies clearly know. I was able to get a very cute tablecloth for a bargainous price, and they made money for their charity. Smaller charities = less picky = more and better recycling!

4. Find new ways to use old stuff.
Every so often you end up with an item to throw away that you’re not really sure what to do with. A piece of particularly weird packaging, say, or a household item that’s come to the end of a long life. What do you do when you suddenly have, say, a shipping pallet or the bladder out of a wine box sitting in your kitchen? Answer: get thee to Google and look up [item] + “alternative uses.” I promise you, you will be amazed.
Examples? How many of you have a ton of wine bottles sitting around at home? (Don’t lie!) What about vinyl records too scratched to play? An old metal strainer, maybe? Binder clips? Or even — seriously — unused condoms and tampons! THE POSSIBILITIES REALLY ARE ENDLESS!

5. Stop buying new stuff.
I’m actually properly serious. When you buy new, you are almost always:
– Endorsing sweat shop labour
– Endorsing needless animal testing
– Endorsing the use of fossil fuels
– Endorsing dodgy business practices in general
– Paying a huge mark-up on your items
Sorry to get all heavy-handed hippie on your ass, but really. Second hand stores, vintage shops and flea markets are no longer the someone-died-in-this dives they once were. In fact, they’re trendy. Some of them are like boutiques, even! And then there’s eBay. And Freecycle and Freegle, where you get things FOR FREE! Or Gumtree, where you get them for super cheap! These days, 98% of my belongings are second hand and my lifestyle really hasn’t noticed — except I’m way less poor. Win-win, amirite? Pretty much the only things I buy new now are underwear (but only ’cause charity shops don’t stock it!), occasionally books, and stuff that’s local or made by small businesses or craftspeople (hello, Etsy!). Do I sound preachy? WELL GOOD, I AM PREACHING AT YOU. Stop spending money you don’t have on shit you don’t need — the planet will love you!

Got any particularly good DIY or upcycling tips? Recycling solutions? Want to call me a smelly hippie and pelt me with tofu? Head south for the comments box!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #111

Friday, September 21st, 2012

blackberries

“What [arts administrators] want to see, they think, is ‘innovation’ in art. What they often reward is meretricious novelty in format, often in the form of ill-thought-out interdisciplinary collaboration - rather than in those forms which have proven their equality to human creativity over five millennia of R&D, of streamlining their design in the cultural wind-tunnel.

That’s to say an apparently modest proposal to write a book or paint a couple of pictures might be a thousand times more ‘ambitious’ than that idea to shave a haiku into a dog’s arse, film the results and project it onto Calton Hill. Real ‘ambition’ is usually a matter of vision and content, not external form, which is purely a means to an end.”

I’ve been super-anti-Creative Scotland ever since the massive waste of precious money and energy (oh and HELLO LIGHT POLLUTION!) that was EnLIGHTen… so thanks, Don, for saying what a lot of us were thinking. (& there’s more, in the second half of this article.)

Juliet Cook, editor in awesomeness at 13 Myna Birds and Blood Pudding Press, is holding a chapbook contest!

My sister and I often don’t read the cards in art galleries — instead, we make up our own “interpretations.” Turns out, someone turned what we do, giggling behind our hands, into a website! (Thanks Swiss!)

A whole ton of cool reading-based writing/thinking/discussion exercises for students. Fabby!

Making connections is incredibly difficult for me. It’s not that I’m shy, I actually really resent being called shy, it’s that I am overcome with panic whenever I try to do certain social/ professional things. When I say panic, I don’t mean butterflies in my stomach. I sweat. I don’t perspire. Sweat rolls down my face, I get flustered, I forget how to form words and I get disoriented and dizzy. People don’t tend to react favourably towards a leaking, bumbling mess, and so I end up compounding panic with the fear of looking ridiculous. And so on and so forth. I only found out there was a name for this a few years ago, and it’s called Social Anxiety Disorder.

Thank you, Natalie, for describing it EXACTLY. That’s EXACTLY what it’s like.

This week’s installation of typewriter p0rn!

I am currently obsessed with reading about new ways of using/revitalising old stuff. This was right up my street, therefore. (Know of any other good articles/blogs like this? Give me a shout!)

… and in particular, I am getting SUPER into DIY craft projects based on throw-away household items. Did you know you can make a speaker, a water-balloon launcher, a wifi antenna, a kaleidoscope, a solar oven or a pinhole camera from a Pringles tube? Why the hell would you landfill them?!

Did I mention that Edinburgh Vintage has a sale-tastic sale section? Also a final clearance section full of bargains? Also I just added a ton of new stuff? And also that I am only a few sales away from 200 and when that happens there will be an uber-sale store wide? DID I MENTION THAT STUFF?

The fetishization of the Geek Girl is, at it’s core, a sexist ideal cloaked in the soft tyranny of “worship” and fantasy. By elevating her to the status of Goddess you may think you are paying her the ultimate compliment when instead all you are doing is denying her her own personhood. A girl who is a geek is a woman with all the flaws and imperfections that come with being human. The Geek Girl is a female-shaped collection of ideas, stereotypes and idealized fantasies about what you want in a woman… only without all of the downsides of being a real person. She has a life and interests, desires and experiences. The Geek Girl is defined by two things: her status as a geek and by the man who loves her.

This is super-long, but it’s great, and I urge you to read it.

Oh my goodness. Can I live here, please?

“Except Graham.” LOVING this round-up of Passive-Aggressive Notes!

Thanks to the many assholes I meet on the net (and IRL), I so needed this to be part of my life. Thanks, George!

OBLIGATORY KITTEN GIF.


OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD IT’S AN ACTUAL REAL WEST WING REUNION!!!!!
(Though no Sam. Sad trombones. But still OH MY GOD! Thanks Chris!)


OK, so this doc is an hour and twenty minutes long, but it’s fascinating. You should absolutely totally watch it.


I really, really, really admire Jane McGonigal.


Total nostalgiafest. I love Queen Latifah and I AM NOT SORRY!

Have a great weekend!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Things I Love Thursday #63

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

It’s been several months since I did my last TiLT, and I’ve had quite a summer! Here are just a few of the things I’ve been loving loads since I last expressed my gratitude here!

Rainbows everywhere!
Long, summery days in my sunshine-filled living room, crystals in the window throwing tiny rainbows everywhere, drinking tea, reading books, writing poems, not having to go to work.
(Like my mug? I got it from Rust Belt Threads, perhaps my favourite Etsy vintage store after Edinburgh Vintage!)

View from our living room window, Hydra.
Hydra, Greece — Lovely Boyfriend and I stayed there for a week, holed up in a tiny whitewashed-stone cottage, writing, reading, occasionally going out to swim in the sea or scratch the noses of the town donkeys. This^ was the view from our living room window!

My SUISS class of 2012
My SUISS class of 2012 — Jill, Joanna, Linda, Dan, Daniel and Sarah, thank you so much for all your hard work and inspiration!

Watsky x2 performers
I MET GEORGE WATSKY, and it was amazing! Thank you a million billion to McGuire, Ryan, Jenny, George and Paul for making One Night Stanzas presents Watsky x2 such an amazing success.

Sneak peek
A great summer for Edinburgh Vintage with tons of lovely new stuff being added to the store all the time, nearly 200 sales and some really lovely customer encounters! Thank you everyone who’s browsed, bought, clicked, liked, re-tweeted and given feedback!

Vegan pumpkin pancakes.
Yet more delicious vegan food — since my last TiLT, Lovely Boyfriend has also gone vegan! This means even more delicious vegan meals for my very happy belly. ^These are sweet potato pancakes with maple syrup, and they were UTTERLY LUSH.

Rainbows over Tollcross
Autumn arriving — my favourite time of year. I have already started taking autumnal walks, foraging for early brambles, sitting in the blustery Meadows with my boy watching cute dogs chase leaves, drinking amazing Chocolate Tree vegan hot chocolate, and planning my Halloween antics.

What are YOU loving right now?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

A questionnaire from Katja.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

I am going to be honest with both of you

I’ve always liked these — I like doing them, I like the headspace they send me into — and I like seeing others’ answers. So I’m not going to apologise for posting this here. Click through tomorrow for more of the usual if you’re not keen on such things. But thanks to the lovely Katja for supplying this. Check out her serene and beautiful blog.

Your favourite virtue
Honesty.

Your favourite qualities in a man
Humility, loyalty, intelligence, passion, empathy.

Your favourite qualities in a woman
Straightforwardness, kindness, open mindedness, patience.

Your favourite occupation
Writing.

Your idea of happiness
Self-sufficiency.

Your idea of misery
Idleness.

If not yourself, who would you be
Marina Warner.

Where would you like to live
In an eco-house I built myself from scratch.

Your favourite colour and flower
Orange, dog daisy.

Your favourite prose authors
Margaret Atwood, Marge Piercy, Marina Warner, Russell Hoban, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Your favourite poets
Dorianne Laux, Patricia Young, Kim Addonizio, Kerry Hardie, Sharon Olds, Paul Farley, Jacob Polley, George Watsky, Edwin Morgan, William Letford, millions of others.

Your favourite heroes in fiction
Boromir, Withnail, and Barry.

Your favourite heroines in fiction
Marianne Dashwood, Lady Harriet Cumnor, Iris Chase-Griffen, Clementine Kruczynski.

Your favourite heroes in real life
My gampy (grandpa).

Your favourite heroines in real life
Hillary Clinton, Jean Kilbourne, Betty White, my friend Martyna, my sister, many others.

Your favourite food and drink
Fresh crusty bread, broccoli, mashed potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, puy lentils, spinach, sea-salt and caramel chocolate from The Chocolate Tree, ImproV’s “uncheesecake”, strawberries; tea, berry juices, red wine, a dry Manhattan.

Your favourite names
Willa for a girl, Dashiell for a boy.

Your pet peeve
Misogyny.

The change you most anticipate
Getting to a place in my life where I can be greener and more self-sufficient.

A gift of nature which I would like to have
Proper real confidence.

How I would like to die
Quickly.

What is your present state of mind
Sleepy, and craving cuddles.

Of what fault are you most tolerant
Ambition, if ambition actually is a fault.

Your favourite motto(s)
I have many. Wiccan folks, who say “an it harm none, do what ye will” are pretty sensible. My mum always says “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” and my dad always says “do your best,” both of which have informed my thinking quite deeply.

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Featured poem, ‘Most Fateful Day: A Ghazal’, by Susan Chast

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Autumn Apples

Most Fateful Day: A Ghazal

A hiss echoed from its spiked tongue and you thought
That the snake had not lied to you in word and in thought?

Watch it slide away and take the apple along too
Neither giving it to you nor to God as we thought

Your tell-tale teeth marks are in it too, along with my own—
Seeing our DNA together, the snake will know that you thought

We’d be together in Eden or in jail and– no matter how much
We pay for it–happiness follows this ability to have thought.

But doubt is quite difficult. I liked it much better
When fate was determined and we need not have thought

About all of the options, the leaves of the trees, whether
To beat you or to love you. I wish I had thought

This before, dear Lady, I opened my mouth to your pleases
And caresses and most seductive scatterings of thought.

Susan Chast’s work has been workshopped at dVersePoets and Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads. One of her poems was recently published in the first issue of Nain Rouge Magazine. She blogs at Susan’s Poetry, and you can find out a bit more about her in this interview at Poets United.

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Want to see YOUR poem featured on ONS? Read this post first: submission guidelines are at the bottom. Good luck!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #110

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Some biology book

Right before I left the States for Europe, I dyed my hair bright red. In a poetry workshop at Cave Canem, Nikki Finney asked the other poets to describe the color of my hair as specifically as possible. Red like paprika, like Kool-Aid, like burnt sienna, like rust… I carry these colors in my head like memories of past lives.

This piece, by Saeed Jones, is really excellent. All about appearance, identity, race, place and loss. Fabulous.

Want to be able to read lying down without getting neck-strain or having all the blood run out of your arms? Now you can… as long as you don’t mind looking daft.

This tutorial on how to make your own small notebook is really cool.

OMG this is a newly-found photograph of (probably) Emily Dickinson! …and speaking of Emily Dickinson: O M G !!!

“Around 11:00PM I received 3 different calls, all blocked, with one leaving a “delete your review!” voicemail and the second stating that I should just kill myself for being such a miserable person for attacking poor Emily. REALLY? And yes, I’m talking with the cops about this already. I mean that’s Misery kind of fan territory. Not long after I heard a loud bang on my deck and I was legitimately scared that it was a gunshot. Far fetched maybe but this was quickly sinking into WTF territory.”

This girl received death threats for writing an Amazon review… and the novelist felt this was pretty OK. I’ve never heard of Emily Giffin but I am sure as hell boycotting her every book after this!

A peek inside the Sketchbooks of the Pros.

Got puns? You do now!

The world’s most beautiful literary magazines — and I’ve been published in one of them! Woo!

You’re thinking about skipping over this one without clicking because it’s called How To Use Google Search More Effectively, aren’t you? DON’T, I BEG YOU. It blew my tiny little mind.

98% of everything I own is second hand. My blow dryer, my picture frames, my sheets (not as gross as you’re imagining). They cost a fraction of what I’d pay for them new, and no one’s the wiser. At least until I tell the internet that I sleep on used sheets.

ME TOO, LADY. And all the other advice listed here is bloody excellent, too.

I contributed to this IdeasMag article on how to make a good impression in your University application. If you’re a prospective student, check it out!

Katja’s meditations make me want to say thank you for more stuff. So, thank you, Katja, for your blog. It’s awesome.

Allow me to teach you a new word.

OMG Starbucks bans screenwriters! So funny!

Yes, I was scared at times, but I had also been scared sitting on my futon watching “The Real World.” (Scared of the phone, scared of the future, scared of what people said about me.) The far more terrifying fate, as I saw it, was that I would fail to become the person I wanted to be. I still wasn’t sure what that was yet. I spent much of those five months feeling like a kite dangling on a string. Was I going to head to grad school? Write for television? Open my own school? My mind filled with clouds. But my God, it was fun. It was boring, too. I took eight-hour hikes and let my mind wander, or sang the “Xanadu” soundtrack for the 18 billionth time.

Why every woman should travel alone chipped quite a big block off my terror at the thought of doing just that.

I was chuffed to come across this database of great vegan cookery zines.

…and speaking of which, I am officially a disciple of the goddess Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and her guide to vegan activism is AWESOME.

Political Facebook discussions. So awful. So true.
(I harbour a special resentment for “The Thoughtful One.”)

I am neither an empty man-socket nor a fucking venus flytrap. I am not looking to “attract a man.” I am just trying to do my stuff and then maybe meet a person who likes me because I am also a person. I didn’t want to get all serious right off the bat, BUT SORRY: Women’s grueling, lifelong, losing battle to transform themselves into magical, flawless creatures with Disney hair and 15-inch waists and massive ham-lips is not for the benefit of women. And when men say that they “love to see the woman underneath the makeup,” they’re not saying they want to see your leg stubble and greasy bangs—they’re saying they want you to be better at hiding your maintenance routine.

I utterly, utterly love Lindy West. My sister, my bloke and I all cackled hysterically at her take-down of stupid guys who comment on their ladies’ beauty routines.

OK, you might think I’m ridiculous, but this woman’s videos have CHANGED MY HOUSE FOREVER.

Is it terrible that, rather than buying things from this Etsy store, I am using it as inspiration to make DIY book-based projects…?

OI!!! Edinburgh Vintage is having a SALE! There’s also a FINAL CLEARANCE section! Go buy pretty things and help me empty my spare room!


Zoe Margolis looking HAWT and calling publishers out on their bullshit.


Amy Poehler being a magical badass goddess of wisdom.


& finally, I love this. Who said Etsy sellers don’t have a sense of humour?

Have a great weekend!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

More words of wisdom: Douglas Maxwell on the writing process

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Stage mic

Roughly two years ago I posted here about my first ever encounter with the incredible Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell. He gave a great masterclass on theatre writing — and just on writing in general — for the Scottish Universities International Summerschool, and I was blown away. Since then, I’ve got to know Douglas’ work much better — most recently, I’ve bought his new book, Plays for Young People (psst, it’s awesome), and this Festival I went to see his Dream Play at the Traverse (it was called A Respectable Widow Takes To Vulgarity. Needless to say, it was excellent). But best of all, he was back at SUISS again this year with more words of wisdom for our young writers. Here are just a few I wanted to share with you…

“[Writing] isn’t craft. This is art. There is no rule you must always follow, no matter what all those books say… and you will learn more from just doing your own work than from anything beardy fools like myself say.”

“The temptation for a writer to give up is probably the most constant temptation you’ll face — and you’ll never really break through to a time when everything you write is classic. But you must not give up.”

“You’re writing for a small audience of people like you, not Lord and Lady Such-and-Such. It all works better when you think of the audience as us. Not them — not, I’m going to shock them, or, I’m going to educate them. That’s not the way to go.”

“It’s subterranean autobiography. We’re writing about us. You can write about a world event, but what does it mean to you? Start with real life, and then drop a storybomb in there.”

“There’s nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, but if you really want to really do it you have to finish. You have to write ‘The End’, and send it out there. Otherwise it doesn’t count.”

“Who wants to read a writer who’s got a thick skin? Who says, ‘I love his writing — he’s completely oblivious to the thoughts and feelings of others’? Writers have to have thin skins, they have to be sensitive people.”

“Emotional writing is where it’s at. But when it goes badly, the blood gets everywhere.”

“You’ve got to remove guesswork — either by writing about your own life, or through research. But never guess.”

“It’s hard, because how do you find a voice? It’s a bad phrase, it’s the wrong way around. You’re not trying to find your voice, you’re trying to find a song to sing that suits your voice.”

“If you’re doing it for the money, don’t do it. It’ll kill you… you write it first and then you try to find a home for it. That’s how it really works.”

You can read more of Douglas’ tips for writers in his Playwright’s Guide To Being A Playwright.

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)