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The Blarg No. 66: Rosemarie Dombrowski

Get your kicks on The Blarg 66? (Sorry)

If anything can be said to be the modus operandi of 2017, it’s one step up, 2000 steps back; a minor victory followed by countless setbacks; a brief moment of surfacing for air, then right back under water. You get the idea. After a massive effort to keep a pedophile out of congress—a victory so narrow as to not avoid contention or dispute—that same congress voted to end net neutrality, and they’re currently working overtime to push through the most blatantly anti-constituency tax plan ever. To say that the battle is uphill is an understatement of massive proportions. At this point, there is such a disconnect between the government and the people that democracy is flat-out broken, and any meaningful change would take a complete reset—one that could be achieved through votes, but that would first involve a shift in philosophy for the majority of people—a need to make informed, moral, rational, open-minded decisions rather than knee-jerk choices made out of fear and anger.

Barring that, though, here’s an idea: just bench men. The entire gender. There are always exceptions, and I like to think I’m one of them, but another theme of 2017 (and I know it’s not any sort of revelation, believe me) is the inability of men to consider anything beyond the immediate satisfaction of their erection. That can be most obviously seen in sexual misconduct, but it should be pretty obvious that this is likewise the case with all the money boners out there. “You’re giving me how much money? You need me to vote in favor of what? No problem! It’ll screw over which people? The ones who voted for me? Fuck ’em.” So, yes, I’m proposing we take men out of the equation altogether. Who knows, maybe women won’t do any better, maybe they’re equally as corrupt, but I think it’s worth a shot, and my main point is that things are so deeply messed up right now that we’ve got to do something big, drastic, and sweeping in order to progress and break out of this system which is currently hellbent on not only maintaining an arcane, outdated ideology, but dragging us further back into the depths.

One more thing before I put the soapbox away: I am so very, very tired of the standard “man versus Man” defense. Can we just throw that one out? Feeling the need to distinguish yourself as a proper example of the gender doesn’t make you any better, because that is still, in some way, arguing for the superiority of the gender. What really distances you? Being a decent person, that’s what does it. It seems like gender—especially as identity becomes increasingly fluid—needs to move back into the realm of scientific over social function. There are few ideas more exciting than the one that we are the manifestations of our complicated, chemical neural makeup, and not defined by something as simple and arbitrary as the stuff between our legs.

This all has very little to do with my conversation with Rosemarie Dombrowski. Other than the fact that we do spend a fair amount of time discussing the role of art in times of social unrest, turmoil, etc. We also discuss what it means to be the poet laureate of Phoenix, the difference between being a community poet and a feature, and the life-cycle of writing from inception to publication. This also marks Rosemarie’s 3rd appearance on the show (first solo appearance) during December, thus keeping the tradition alive!

Rosemarie Dombrowski is a Senior Lecturer at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus where she is the co-founder and faculty editor of the student and community writing journal, Write On, Downtown, and where she teaches courses on the poetics of street art, women’s literature, and creative ethnography. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014), which was the recipient of a 2016 Human Relations Indie Book Award for Poetry, The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and the forthcoming The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She is also the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founder of merge poetry journal (2005-11) and rinky dink press, an editor for Four Chambers journal and press, and the co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, now in its tenth year.

Listen to LE 66 – Rosemarie Dombrowski

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The Blarg No. 48: Leah Newsom Pt. 2

The screening is over! At last I can put that portion of the Four Chambers Press manuscript submissions process (say that one five time fast) behind me. What makes it to the next round is in the hands of our immensely talented and good looking associate editors. Finishing the passage of judgement on hundreds of manuscripts in the same week where I received a rejection letter for my own was sort of prescient, I thought. As a writer, it’s hard not to feel the sting (or in some cases painful, painful stab) associated with the receipt of a rejection letter, but the perspective I’ve gained as an editor, and certainly through this initial screening process, has made my reaction much more practical—less total devastation, more, “well, fuck, that sucks.” You have to get over it and move on to the next thing.

There are so many variables in the submission process from the publisher’s viewpoint that a writer can only take it so personally. A publisher has limited resources and has to whittle a staggering amount of submissions down to a small number of projects that will be seen through to publication. Perhaps your manuscript had the misfortune of being too similar to the one read before it, or the one that was chosen for publication the previous year (I know that we like to believe our manuscripts are all unique snowflakes, but that just ain’t the case). Perhaps your style didn’t jive with the mood of the reader that day—editors are people, too. Maybe you missed something in the publisher’s submission guidelines and that rubbed the reader the wrong way. Which, taking off my writer cap and replacing it with my editor fedora, can I just say, it’s not that hard people—read the damn guidelines! Yeesh! Anyway, all you can do is keep doing the work, take your lumps, submit to the next publisher. Hell, submit to the same publisher next year—staff turns over, tastes change, etc.

This week’s show is the second half of my conversation with writer, editor, MFA candidate, and all around awesome lady, Leah Newsom. There is a lot of tattoo talk in this half, which I was very interested in, and may have changed my entire attitude on how I approach getting a tattoo. Be sure to check out the literary journal Leah co-founded, Spilled Milk.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 48 – Leah Newsom Pt. 2

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The Blarg No. 42: Mike Pfister

Behold! The forty-second edition of Limited Engagement. 42. The answer which, after seven and a half million years, the greatest computer ever built, Deep Thought, supplied as the ultimate answer to the great question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. That’s right, folks: I am a huge dork. I think that this has been well-established, though, and it shouldn’t come as a great shock to anyone.

We went and saw a little bit of the Emancipation Marathon over at the Phoenix Changing Hands location, and while we were only able to stay for about an hour or so, I’m glad we went. The event, which has taken place for twenty years, is run by Clottee Hammons (LE 40), and features community members reading work to commemorate the victims of American Chattel Slavery. It was great to see the inclusion of children among the readers at the event, as it will be up to them to carry on the legacy, and given Clotte’s work in educational outreach, I know this is no accident. Check out Clottee’s organization, Emancipation Arts, on Facebook, and please support her work.

This week, I talk to ASU professor and drummer extraordinaire, Mike Pfister. Mike was an early supporter of this show, originally as part of the audience, and then as an integral part of the live show, performing opening sets with PressPlay, and more recently the experimental jazz quartet, Klee. I’ve known Mike for years and have worked on a number of projects with him, but I found I didn’t know much about him personally, so I learned a lot through our conversation.

Best,

Jared

Listen to LE 42 – Mike Pfister

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