Monday, July 31, 2017

Flashback to Sonny Liew

Singapore artist tops 'comic book Oscars' nominations

A Singaporean artist's graphic novel has topped the list of nominations for the Eisners, the Oscars of the comic book world.
Sonny Liew tells the BBC about the challenges he faced in making the book, which has been criticised by the Singaporean government for "potentially undermining" its authority.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, meta FFFFIIICCTIONNN

One of the most interesting books I’ve read since becoming interested in the puzzle within a puzzle of meta-fiction is the GRAPHIC NOVEL The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew.

Okay let’s just begin by talking about Singapore.

That was quick, right? If you’re like me (semi-engaged and somewhat geographically astute) then you know basically where Singapore is, but not much more. Such as I did not know it is a city-state. One of a very few cities that act as nation states. They are what they are.

Then I went to Wiki and read a GLOWING account of Singapore’s history. Mt first reaction was WOW, I did not know this—but then, on second thought, why does EVERYTHING sound great.

Sonny Liew born in Malaysia, lives in Singapore. (What’s the difference? Well, now I know.) But the biggest question is this: What does history and geography have to do with comics????

I can’t answer that except this book works. On so many levels. One hand you have real history and then on the other—what is “real” history. History has always been written by the victors and only recently have historians tried to correct a record. Then there are revisionists. Some revision of history does merit to minority groups, gving them a voice in what was once a narrow field of voices, but some revisionism reveals a bias that continues to marginalize and leave others out. History is riddled with subjective view points that we might not ever be able to escape.

Thus, enters Sonny Liew with an outsider’s eye. His main character could perhaps be argued as his alter ego, Charlie Chan Hock Chye, an aging comic designer/illustrator whose story takes us through Singapore’s modernist and multi-cultural history. (It is an old culture but with new beginnings.) He gets behind the curtain of the shiny Wiki entry and tells a nuanced story where opposition is easily dismissed as “communist” and young passionate leaders are destined for prison and exile. In order to attain a veneer of multi-culture amidst unity—there is a price to pay. In order to arise from back streets unto an international mega-city—there are untold sacrifices. The “real” story is much more complicated. And Charlie Chan’s personal narrative loops and is interwoven into the upheavals of Singapore. And not only Charlie’s story but the marginalized comic writers and drawers fighting for shelf space and to gain the backing of a publisher. In a small country you not only have to make it big locally but become internationally renown. For Charlie it is bitter medicine to swallow that he might not ever be able to break out as an artist. His superheroes are the ordinary ones that fight for everyday justice.

AKA the Night Soil Man who turns into a Giant Cockroach

This is a book that is mesmerizing and dizzy with front and back, looping, and turning a story this way and that. We get to see history and the underside of history. And, in the end, our heart hurts for the hopes and dreams of a lonely comic artist.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Flashback to an earlier flash

this is also a flashback to Grace is having a birthday--we never stop worrying

Treasures in the Sand
July 2015, Mothers Always Write

When my daughter was five or six I packed the car and drove to the lake. I had to lug bottles of water, a bag of fishy-smelling beach toys, a lunch cooler, and a lawn chair across the parking lot and down the stairs to the beach. I stopped to take a breath and take in the scenery.

Broken flips flops, water engorged diapers, plastic bags, and pieces of glass littered the shore from the weekend. My daughter took off barefoot to scare a gaggle of seagulls. I screeched for her to be careful (I imagined her cutting her foot and getting an infection), but only managed to scatter the seagulls before she got to them.

I set up my lawn chair, trying to avoid a decomposing fish with flies buzzing around its dead jelly eyes. Almost immediately we were surrounded by a horde of children wanting to borrow our beach toys. I could not keep track of them and my daughter, who had wandered ankle-deep into the water only to run back when a frothy wave unfurled and threw itself at her. I didn’t even bother to sit down. What was I thinking! This place was a death trap.

My daughter came running back, “Look Mommy,” she shouted excitedly. In her hand she clenched a plastic tampon applicator, a shiny foil condom wrapper, and tabs from beer cans. “Treasures!” she exclaimed.
This past week my 23-year-old daughter came home from a semester abroad in London and traveling solo through Spain. Just like that day on the beach, I envisioned every last thing that could go wrong—and did, a little bit. She had her phone stolen on the train, she got caught in the rain, she missed her flight home, but despite all the bad stuff that happened she made it back with treasures: a button found outside a West End theater, a picture a friend had scribbled on the back of a napkin, a postcard from Madrid, a seashell found on the beach at Malaga, the fragment of a map folded and refolded in the rain outside a castle.

I might not be done freaking out—there is ALWAYS something to worry about—yet I’d like to learn to distill treasures from trash and keep in mind memories, smooth as sea glass, churned up by rough waters. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Medley of places to Submit

1) A Very Short Story Contest
It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a short story that ran fewer than ten words. One version of the story places the bet at the famed Algonquin round table. Whether true or not, there is an actual bet-winning short story attributed to Hemingway:
For sale. Baby Shoes. Never worn.
You have to admit it's pretty good. It builds, and there’s a whole world of background and emotion lurking beneath those words.
We would like to make a similar bet with you. Write a great short story in ten words or fewer. (You may use a title, but that goes into the word count.) Submit it to our contest. Entry is free. Winner of the bet gets a free Gotham 10-week workshop. 
We’re a new Medium-based literary magazine that focuses on fantasy and sci-fi flash fiction. We love magical worlds full of dragons and speculative looks at the future, and we think these two genres are important to our culture, which is why we want to give writers of these genres a new place to publish their work. One that pays them, too. (Yay!)
3) Journal of Compressed Arts

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is looking for, as you might guess, “compressed creative arts.” We accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, and even kitchen sinks, if they are compressed in some way. Work is published weekly, without labels, and the labels here only exist to help us determine its best readers.

Our response time is generally 1-3 days. Also, our acceptance rate is currently about 1% of submissions. We pay writers $50 per accepted piece and signed contract.

Available everywhere you download

Monday, July 24, 2017

Flashback to Happy Birthday, Grace!

from a previous post: Friday, July 24, 2015


Before 1989 was the Cold War. There was also no grace.

I remember when my daughter Grace was born the summer of 1989. In the middle of the night I’d get up and feed her. I kept a little radio playing by her bed for white noise, so that every little noise didn’t wake her up. It was just she and I and WGN or WBBM in the wee hours of the night.

Then one night while I was nursing her within the glow of the radio dial I heard the most fabulous news. I use this word because it sounded like a fable. Often I dozed while feeding her. The announcer said the Wall had fallen.

There had been tremors, rumblings leading up to this earthquake that brought down the Berlin Wall. Czech citizens were being issued passes to go to the West for holidays—once a rarity—and in Poland, Solidarity had made headway in their fight for workers and nationalistic rights. Ultimately Solidarity saw the end of Soviet rule and helped move Poland toward democracy. In my dream-like state I thought I heard the news reader say the Wall had come down.

This was confusing. Because when I went to bed there had been a Soviet Union and now it sounded like things were falling apart. And I hadn’t even been asleep that long.

I waited until a faint light entered the room and then I woke up my husband, whispering because the baby had finally gone back to bed. “Hey, the Wall has come down.”

He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Together we both listened to the radio as we were TV-less. We were astonished at how quickly the world had changed. By Christmas 1989 we were viewing images of the bodies of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu, former dictator of Romania. Indeed, it was a new world.

But it didn’t last long. This summer Grace will turn 26 and she is now living in a post-cold war, post 9/11 world where more than ever we feel unsafe. Russia has ambitions; ISIS (as well as other forms of extremism) is threatening the pan-Middle East, plus polemic politics here in the US make us feel once again the chill of a Cold War.

For one brief space of time, in the middle of the night, while nursing my newborn there was this thing called hope. Every once in a while I like to revisit that moment. Happy Birthday Grace.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flashback to Flash

I missed the fireworks this year in Chicago--basically gunshots which I can hear anytime!

Anyway, thought I 'd post a flashback to “4th of July Anarchy (Foster Beach)” Spring 2015, After Hours

4th of July Anarchy

Where Foster Beach becomes Omaha Beach, where the shock and awe of Baghdad rocks Lakeshore Drive, where everyone in the city not only owns a gun but an arsenal of fireworks. Where the sky lights up and the buildings reverberate the chest-thumping KABOOM, where all night long m80s punctuate the city soundscape, and the pop-pop-pop of Blackcats compete with infrequent gunfire. Where Roman candles sizzle and burst setting off car alarms and where children chase falling sparks as if they’re fireflies. Where screamin’ meemies spin and whistle while overhead pinwheels of color blossom and dissolve into a shower of stars, once alive but now extinguished, leaving behind contrails of vapor. We shake the numbness from our ears. Where even the moon smolders behind a haze of red, green, and yellow and sulfur clouds hang suspended, making the apparitions below seem as if they are moving in slow motion. Where each concussive blast answers with yet another explosion, louder than the last. Where all too soon it’s over.

Except for the pretty girl in short shorts dancing, her face aglow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Work @ Sleet

While I was gone rambling new work came out at a great journal, Sleet.

A sweet suite or series based upon accumulated parking lot memories: enjoy!

...across the parking lot, I spied a coyote silhouetted, the bristled hairs on his back standing up.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Great Spruce Head Island

I'm back from Art Week 2017

will blog after I sort my notes out

until then, enjoy:
the buoys of summer

a table is set

Double Beach


Friday, July 14, 2017

The Rambler Has Returned

What does it mean to travel and come home—
To feel your gypsy blood stirred
To understand a little bit of what it’s like
For the ocean to swallow the moon

The highway holds me, calls me
And I followed wherever it leads
I am no braver than you
It’s just that curiosity overcame fear

Yet, I amaze myself!
The miracles wrought by these middle-aged bones
Long, steady climbs, map-reading
Flat-fixing, chowder slurping—skills!

Each day I faced the world, unknown
I can do this, I reminded myself, maybe
I’m out to find midnight, constellations
Spread out across the sky, quiet bays

I had no idea I’d meet a fisherman,
A lady selling blueberry ice cream
A tree with a huge burr, a fairy table
Fellow travelers waiting at the dock.

Together and alone, strangers and friends
We plied the open road
It’s not about certainty, getting there

If only to say I did it, and would do it again.

Monday, July 10, 2017

While I'm out

Here is a guest blog I wrote

Friday, July 7, 2017

While I'm out

Here is a guest blog I wrote

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

While I'm out

Check out this guest blog I wrote:

Monday, July 3, 2017

While I'm out

Check out this guest blog article I wrote: