A Poem from My New Collection and for Tonight of All Nights

Two years ago almost exactly, the day before the 2016 American election, I wrote this poem, which crystallized my nervousness about the outcome and solidified my resolve about the future, no matter what. Looking back on it, I realize that those feelings were only the start of what would come next.

Part of me wanted to write a villanelle and had been trying to write one for days, maybe weeks, but it wasn’t coming. I was trying to riff off Dylan Thomas’ famous one in honor of the anniversary of his birth. But it wasn’t working. It just wouldn’t gel. And the problem wasn’t with the form: villanelles are in my wheelhouse and have been ever since I first learned what they were. I love those old French forms, the villanelle and the sestina and their imitation of the Malaysian pantoum, how they foster an obsession while helping the poet discover more layers of what’s at the heart of the matter. I love the puzzle of it all.

The problem with the poem I was trying to write wasn’t the form or even the subject matter, but with my attempt to emulate Thomas in the first place. Not that he wasn’t worth it — far from it. But I found I was trying to speak the needs of myself and of women in culture while trying to conform to the verses of a man. I was trying to bolster a moment of “the future is female” while not being true to the voice of a female.

I tossed all that mess aside and started over. I kept what I needed from the original and from the form, and I added in a hint of Frost to keep Thomas company. Why not? And then I wrote this poem, which was published right after the election in Yellow Chair Review and which is now appearing in my forthcoming collection The Sharp Edges of Water (from Odeon Press).

Tonight is another election eve. I hope tomorrow, if you are a U.S. citizen and are eligible to do so, you will vote as if your rights depend on it (because there’s a strong chance they do). Tomorrow evening will be another vigil. I have many feelings about it, about how it could go, about how I will react in multiple scenarios. But for now, I’m just going to share this poem with you.

The Path Often Traveled, the Path Less Celebrated, the Path of Ennobled Resistance
(A Rule-Breaking Poem for a Nail-Biting Vigil)

Do not go gentle into that stifling night;
Rage, rage against the snuffing of the light.

Do not go gentle into those good old days which were truly night;
Rage, rage against the smothering of the light.

Do not go gentle into that locker room of night;
Rage, rage against the rape of the light.

Do not go gentle into that back alley of the night;
Rage, rage against the beat-down of the light.

Do not go gentle into that Burning Time of night;
Rage, rage against the murder of the light.

Do not go gentle into that murderous night;
Rage, rage against the silencing of the light.

Do not go gentle into that good old boys’ night;
Rage, rage against the extermination of the light.

Crash ungently into that glass sky, crash into the night,
and be light.

November 7, 2016

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Doing It Right (or Right For Me, or Rightish, or Hey At Least I’m Writing Srsly What Do You Want From Me?)

We have found our way back again to the realm of November. I like it here.

It has been a busy time in Angélique Jamail, Author Land. If you’ve been following along you’ve likely noticed several developments:
Finis. was picked up by Odeon Press, who is issuing a 3rd edition with expanded back matter and a slightly new look. Expect it very, very soon.
*  My new collection of poems, The Sharp Edges of Water, is becoming a real live book! And in a fit of lucky brilliance or insanity — not sure which — I let Adam Holt persuade me to do a Kickstarter for the launch. And I’ve been thrilled and humbled by its success so far! To those of you who have already contributed to it, I offer you my sincerest gratitude. (About half the backers’ names are hidden from me until the end of the campaign, so I actually don’t know who all of you are yet.) If you want to take a look at the video and content-rich updates, click here. And if you want to join the community of this project, hurry! It ends in just over a week! (It would be amazing to unlock the stretch goals, but even just to fund this all-or-nothing project, we still need a few hundred more dollars.)
*  I took the plunge and have begun an official newsletter via Mailchimp. I found it to be a fair amount of set-up on the front end, but otherwise things are looking nice and moving smoothly, so hopefully that will go well. Here’s my first newsletter through there, in case you aren’t on the mailing list yet and want to see it. You can subscribe to it from there, if I’m not mistaken, or you can leave your email address here in the comments for me to add you. My intention is to send out newsletters about once a month or so, and it won’t generally be the same as this blog.

And now, we have reached November and my inevitable modifications on the NaNoWriMo. Since it would be folly for me to attempt to write a 50,000-word draft of a novel in 30 days (which, I might add, include a major holiday!) while also being a full-time high school teacher and mom, I tend to just focus my commitment on writing something meaningful and substantive every day. Sometimes (like last year) I give myself daily word count goals. I try to stay flexible, and generally this all works out pretty well.

So this year, I’m doing it again. Tonight I’ve done a lot of front and back matter work on The Sharp Edges of Water and written, well, this blog post. I’m also going to be spending some time tonight working on the new novel I’m drafting, which fills me with joy. I’ve had to put it on the back burner for a while since I’ve been bringing the new edition of Finis. and this new poetry collection into the light, but now it’s time to dive back into Fairuza’s world — she’s my protagonist — and see what supernatural and steampunky excitement she’s unwittingly gotten herself into now. (Hint: it involves an awfully charming historian.)

Okay, enough spoiler-licious details on that!

What else can you expect here this November? I intend to continue with Monday Earworms and the occasional Kickstarter news while the campaign is still going, as well as some other treats and tidbits here and there.

Sally forth, yo. (And if you’re in the US and haven’t voted yet, better get on that, friend!)

So…the First Weekend.

As you know, on Thursday night last week I launched my Kickstarter project in support of the launch of my new book of poems, The Sharp Edges of Water. And now I’m going to give you a little report on how the first weekend has gone.

Um…pretty well.

Kickstarter projects, historically, fund all the way if they reach 60% funding. By historically, I mean 98% of the time. As of Sunday, my book is out of the danger and despair zone. It is, in fact, currently about where I worried it would be three weeks from now. So that’s good! We had an excellent opening and have gotten a little momentum. If you’re one of the contributors so far, thank you! I really appreciate your support! As if that weren’t enough happiness for one author, yesterday Kickstarter marked my book of poems as a “Project We Love.” It was in this exhilarating category with only three other active poetry projects, which, you know, made me feel awesome.

But I know that support tends to come in waves, and I also know that the “close friends and family” surge is winding down, so now it’s on me to hustle this campaign to its end in under four weeks. I’ll be posting updates to the campaign, of course, and those who have contributed to it and are following it on Kickstarter will get those. Some of those updates will be excerpts from the book, artwork, and even a short film or two.

I’m also going to be posting updates and goodies here on the blog now and then. Don’t worry, The Sharp Edges of Water won’t completely take over the blog. You can still expect Monday Earworms and (during October) Witchy Weekends. And I’ll be doing my own modified version of the NaNoWriMo as well, so there’s that to look forward to. (And wow, I’m looking forward to getting back to work on the current WIP, once the 3rd edition of Finis. and The Sharp Edges of Water are out the door. It’s been a busy season, y’all.)

Anyway, thanks for your continuing support of my work. I love what I do, and I love that you’re interested in it, so I guess I’ll keep on doing it!

In Which I Tell You That I (Cannot Believe I) Just Launched A Kickstarter Campaign

I’ll keep this brief because I’m basically zinging with nervous energy right now, but I just kicked off a Kickstarter campaign, which I’ve never done before, to launch my new book of poems, The Sharp Edges of Water. I am so very, very excited — and also? Maybe slightly terrified right now.

Doing this is, frankly, a huge personal and emotional risk for me, and it took quite a lot of talking me into doing it from some of my very close friends. But I believe that healthy professional risks can lead to growth, and so here I am! Wheee! Yikes! ZOMG.

Here is the link to go to my campaign, which ends in about 30 days.

Let me tell you a little about this new book of poems. It is a collection of work that I’ve written over the course of my adult life thus far. Quite a few of the poems have been published before in various places — a proper acknowledgement about this will appear in the back matter of the book — and some of them are brand-spanking-new, written just this year. When I turned in the first completed draft of the manuscript to my editor, the wonderful Sarah Cortez, she took the fifty poems I sent her and culled it down to just over three dozen, shaping them into a relatively cohesive narrative. As a storyteller and fiction writer also, I love this, and I’m truly thrilled with the way this manuscript has turned out.

cover design by Lucianna Chixaro Ramos

Now let me tell you some about the way Kickstarter works, in case you’re not yet familiar with it. I’ve launched this campaign in the hopes that people will become interested in my project and support it. There are many levels at which to give support, and all of them come with rewards, or “perks.” (I guess crowdfunding is a type of investment, as it were.) If enough people support the project to get it to my goal, then fantastic! The project funds and the book gets made! One of the risky things about Kickstarter, though, is if the project doesn’t fund all the way…

It doesn’t happen. No funds at all. Backers don’t have to pay, and the creator sees no benefit.

So yes. It’s a risk.

BUT I am hopeful that we’ll have a successful campaign here! I love this project and am really, really proud to share it with the world. I’ve got an excellent professional team behind the finished product, including Sarah Cortez (the aforementioned editor), Lucianna Chixaro Ramos (the cover artist), and Jesse Gordon (the book designer). They all do amazing work, and I’m thrilled to be able to work with them.

One thing I love about crowdfunding platforms is how they foster independent arts. Indie artists are part of a creative movement that isn’t bound by what marketing departments know are a sure thing, and while that can be scary sometimes, it’s also exciting.

Anyway, I’m at risk now of babbling, so I’ll stop. Go check out my campaign, see what you think. I’ll be grateful if you do. And thank you for supporting the arts!

Spontaneous Poetry: A Festival and a Challenge

Finding the August Postcard Poetry Fest was an accident. It was just one of those dozens of submission calls that overwhelm my inbox every week, but this one, I happened to read. Click here to learn more about how it works, but the concept is simple: you sign up the week of July 4th, you get put into a group with thirty-one other people who have signed up, and then you commit to Continue reading “Spontaneous Poetry: A Festival and a Challenge”

Radio Silence (Actually, Let’s Hope Not!)

Normally I like to post a little more often during the summer months, but I have been neck-deep in poetry revisions for my new book coming out later this fall. (More details on that later!)

And this evening I’m going to be co-hosting the LivingArt program on KPFT, Houston’s Pacifica station, from 6:00-7:00 (Houston time). If you’re here in the city, it’s 90.1 FM. If you’re looking for it online, click this link.

I cannot deny that I’m (probably ridiculously) nervous about this radio appearance — far more so than for any other radio spot I’ve done before. So send some good vibes this way, please. Our guests this evening are the very excellent John Hovig and Adam Holt, and I know they’ll be great.

Catch you on the other side of my editor’s duedate for this book of poems, my friends. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it!