Ostrich Review

Archive for the ‘Tuesday Grab Bag’ Category

Tuesday Grab Bag: Two Strains of Writing Exercises (And You)

June 30th, 2015

Pens and Paper, photo via artur84, freedigitalphotos.net

Recently, I’ve been relying a lot on writing exercises (I love them!), anything I can get that jams into the hollow nooks of the brain with something of enough plasticity that I can make a poem from it. Last week I attended the (awesome) New Harmony Writers Workshop where I had a lot of different writing exercises thrown my way. Since then I’ve been sorting through all the exercises I’ve tried out through the summer, and thinking about the trends between the ones that work for me and the ones that don’t work for me. Here’s my theory: we can generalize writing exercises into two general groups: exercises that pull from the writer and exercises that push something onto the writer. I’ll explain with examples: (more…)

Tuesday Grab Bag: Badass Females in Television & Films: To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before

June 24th, 2015
Because it’s (sadly) not 1994 anymore and a trip to the movies doesn’t cost $3.75 a pop, I go out and see about 3-5 movies a year (for example, 2014’s movie-theater-worthy films: The Grand Budapest HotelMaleficent, Boyhood, The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6). Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t on my 2015 list, but I saw it and fell hard for Imperator Furiosa. Which got me thinking: who are the other badass females I’ve loved before? Here’s the Top 10, in the order they came into my life.
Coming up on my next TGB… Badass Females in Literature: A Good Woman Isn’t Hard to Find. And, if you’ve never heard the song behind my subtitle, you need to listen to Julio Iglesias (yes, Enrique’s dad) and Willie Nelson, right now.


Thursday Grab Bag: Interview with Kristina Marie Darling

May 28th, 2015

Kristina Marie DarlingInside this week’s Grab Bag, we have an interview with Kristina Marie Darling, in which we discuss her poetry collection Fortress (read my review Fortress here). Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose. Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation Archive Center.  She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.


1. In your TNB Self-Interview, you say that you “erase pain from” Scarry’s The Body in Pain. Can you elaborate on your interaction with the text throughout the writing process?

While drafting Fortress, I was inspired by many recent procedural erasure projects by innovative women poets. I had just read Yedda Morrison’s Darkness, for example, which is an erasure of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. She removes people from the book, and this procedure she has created (in which she consistently removes specific elements of the source text), functions as a critique of or commentary on the original narrative. Darkness is, after all, an ecopoetics, a mediation on the natural world. This is something that we tend to neglect when reading Heart of Darkness, and Morrison’s procedural erasure serves to refocus the reader’s attention, bringing to light ethical questions, images, and pieces of language that would otherwise be buried in the plot-driven prose of the novel.

With Fortress, I wanted to do something similar as I engaged Scarry’s book, using erasure as a means by which to refocus readerly attention.  I erased passages that depicted human suffering from the book, calling the reader’s attention instead to the most lyrical moments in Scarry’s original work:  a blue thread, a fragile arc, hands placed on a piano as though it were another form of breathing.  By excavating moments of beauty from Scarry’s prose, I hoped to call the reader’s attention to moments where redemption becomes possible.

2. One thing I found really compelling about your collection was your unconventional use of whitespace and footnotes. What is your conception of the field of the page? Did that evolve or shift as you wrote Fortress?

At the time I wrote Fortress, I was fascinated by literary texts in which women’s voices exist in marginal spaces.  Jenny Boully’s The Body: An Essay is a prime example of this, where we are presented with footnotes to what seem at first like empty pages.  I was intrigued by this idea of redefining what is possible within the marginal spaces of a text.  Here we don’t have the pressure of sustaining the main text, and narratives can be elliptical, fragmented, or purposefully incomplete.  The marginal spaces in a book become a place of freedom, experimentation, and possibility.  Additionally, this focus on marginal spaces speaks to the hierarchies we impose upon various components of a text (i.e., the main text is supposedly the more important, marginal notes being seen as ancillary, tangential).  As a feminist writer, I’m deeply invested in rendering the reader suddenly aware of these hierarchies, and of course, subverting them, questioning and interrogating the ways in which we assign value to language.

3. In a somewhat related question, I want to talk a bit about the tactile nature of the book—its physical shape and feel. Were these conscious choices, or were they necessitated by your unconventional use of the field of the page? How do you feel that the tactile nature of Fortress interacts with or informs the way the collection is read? 

That’s a great question. I’ve always believed that the book’s design elements, and the way that it manifests as a physical object, are extension of the content, an undeniable part of the work itself. I like to be very involved in the design of my books, choosing cover artwork, the book size, etc. As a small press publisher, I’ve come to realize just how much visual and design elements change our experience of a text. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked on a book for my small press, Noctuary Press, and said to myself, “Wow, this book is completely different in Garamond!” With that said, one of the great advantages of working with a range of publishers is that each press brings something unique to the table. While working with Sundress Publications, I was blown away by their creativity. I would have never thought to make the book a perfect square, but it really heightened the impact of the white space, the blankness of the page. Clearly my book was in good hands with them!

4. Finally, can you tell me a bit about your current project?

I’m preparing to release some new titles from my small press, Noctuary Press, which include Carrie Olivia Adams’ Operating Theater and Emma Bolden’s medi(t)ations. I just finished a rather ambitious erasure of Hamlet, which is forthcoming from BlazeVOX Books later this year. At the moment I’m working on a collaboration with another poet, which centers around the idea of landscape. Stay tuned for details!

(Interview conducted by Ostrich managing editor Danielle Grimes Sutton.)

Brief Reflection on Tomas Tranströmer

March 31st, 2015

Tomas-Transtr-mer-006For perhaps obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about Tomas Tranströmer’s poem “After a Death” since the news of his passing last Thursday. Among the reasons, are that many of Tranströmer’s stylistic markers are compressed together in this poem (via The Academy of American Poets):


Tuesday Grab Bag: Book Spine Poetry

March 24th, 2015


midnight’s children
carve the sky
blue like jazz

(Photo and poem by Ostrich editor Nayelly Barrios.)

Tuesday Grab Bag: A Tuesday Door Prize for Fellow Writers

March 17th, 2015

TGB motivational posterWriting can be a painful process. You know it. The writers pictured here know it. Make sure all your friends and family know how you suffer by refusing to laugh at their jokes. Feel free to tape this motivational poster on the wall above your typewriter.

Pictured: Mary Gaitskill, T.C. Boyle, Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzerald, Barry Hannah, James Joyce, Edith Hamilton, Nostradamus, Lord Śrī Krsna, Maya Angelou.

(Post written by Ostrich fiction editor Sarah Heying.)

Tuesday Grab Bag: Ostrich Feathers (The Highly Sought After)

March 10th, 2015

As we here at Ostrich all know—it tugging at our subconscious and fueling our literary ambitions of bringing beauty into this harsh world—the ostrich is a creature of utmost mysteriousness and unusual, dissonant loveliness. The piercing gaze of the ostrich and its hair sticking up alarmingly like the unibrow of Anthony Davis are a sight one can only call himself lucky to behold. What a rare and awkward creature the ostrich is with its skinny chicken legs and bizarre dinosaur neck. (more…)

Tuesday Grab Bag: In the Kitchen with Emily Dickinson

February 24th, 2015

Last week winter storms descended on my new, and woefully unprepared, home city of Huntington, West Virginia. Marshall University cancelled classes, and after a failed sojourn to the grocery store on Tuesday, I spent the week cooped up in my one bedroom apartment, grading papers, watching old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, and generally trying not to succumb to the lunacy of cabin fever.


Is Slam a Bastion of Argumentative Poetry?

February 17th, 2015

stephen burtI miss, in most contemporary poetry, the arguments, the extended rhetorical passages and essayistic digressions I enjoy in the poems of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and in W. H. Auden, and in Marianne Moore). 

-Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense

To contextualize that epigraph more, it is from Stephen Burt’s initial essay in that aforementioned book where he explains what kind of poetics he’s talking about exactly when he says “elliptical” (spoiler: a poetics hinged on creating a persona and mimicking thought rather than being based around narrative or argument).


Tuesday Grab Bag: Happy (Literary) Valentine’s Day!

February 10th, 2015

gold cupid from freedigitalphotos.netAs is probably apparent by now, we at Ostrich Review love holiday-themed posts. So with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little roundup of gift ideas for your literary Valentine.

Full disclosure: I had way too much fun compiling this list, both because I love making lists and also because I love Valentine’s (and Galentine’s!) day

Hopefully this will give you the motivation you need to get that last minute gift together for you Valentine, your Galentine, or yourself. Don’t forget to let us know your favorite literary Valentine’s gifts by tweeting us @ostrichreview. Happy Tuesday!