Celebrating Contributor Successes: Q&A with Dorothy Chan

One thing we love at Little Patuxent Review is to celebrate the success of past contributors. Our latest opportunity comes from Dorothy Chan, whose poem, “Animal Discovers Fire, Orders Chinese Takeout with Fries,” we published in our Summer 2016 issue.

Earlier this summer, Spork Press published Dorothy’s first full-length collection, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (available for purchase at this link). Dorothy is a PhD candidate in poetry at Florida State University. She is the editor of The Southeast Review. We’re very grateful she’s willing to answer a few questions for us.

Q: The title of your collection, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold, leads me to read with interest the poem with an almost-identical name, “Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold with the Killer Legs.” But quickly I realize that across your poems, this isn’t the only attack, the only fifty-foot woman, the only centerfold, or the only killer legs. The collection is filled with images and ideas besides these that cycle in and out of the poems in new ways. Here’s just one example, an excerpt from “Jungle Love”:

Our eyes lock for the first moment,
I throw that spear—domesticate him, domesticate you.
I’ll bring that meat home. You can cook it,
Or maybe you want to rescue me from lava,
play the hero as a swarm of killer hornets or killer gorillas
or killer 50-foot women come my way,
you hold me in your arms, fly away—
off into the sunset or into outer space
and I go all vampy Plan 9 on you,
until the director yells “Cut!”

Can you share a bit about how this collection came together? On a craft level, what was it like for you to edit the poems in this collection as a unified whole—after, I imagine, you originally wrote and edited many of the poems as separate pieces?

Thanks for your insightful reading of my poems, Andrew. This collection comes from my childhood. I’m really big on nostalgia. I grew up in the nineties, which was a very interesting decade. I remember Baywatch. I remember Pamela Anderson being everywhere. I remember having a crush on Tara Reid in American Pie—on a side note, her character Vicky goes to Cornell, which is where I ended up going for undergrad—I’m not 100% sure why that’s important, but it feeds into my nostalgia. I remember Hugh Hefner having eight girlfriends. I remember waiting for a table at Denny’s and begging my mom for fifty cents just so I could get the Playboy logo sticker—remember those sticker machines? Of course, my mom said no, and of course I didn’t know what the logo meant at the time. I just thought it was cute. And then I remember sitting at a Volvo dealership, glancing at the TV and seeing this preview of the Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold: the centerfold character takes up a whole pool, and she’s talking to a man who looks so little in comparison. I thought it was fascinating.

I grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which is no place for an Asian girl like me. I had to create my own worlds. But then on certain weekends my parents and I would drive to Chinatown (either in Philadelphia or NYC) to go grocery shopping. They’d always buy me a big Hello Kitty plush, as well. The images and scenes of my nostalgia are extremely varied. I do miss those Chinatown trips.

On a craft level, this collection comes from separate projects that eventually became one. “Section II. My Chinatown (我 的 中國 城),” a quadruple crown of sonnets, came from a larger manuscript of sonnet crowns. “Section III. Centerfolds, Histories, and Fantasies” came from a larger manuscript of persona poems in the voices of centerfolds. When I was in college, I was asked to pose for a silly calendar. I never did, so I always wonder what would’ve happened if I had. And then “Section I. Snake Daughter” came because I had to fill in the gaps. I think this is why the triptych works so well. Sure, I did individual poem edits, but the triptych structure made me think about the narrative as a whole. I had to inform my own exploration, whether it was an exploration of my family history or my sexuality (or even a combination of both, for instance, “My Father is the Son of a Concubine”).

Q: Diving a bit deeper, can you bring us into the process of writing “Jungle Love”? I do wonder what came first to your imagination—the “domestic” layer, so to speak, or the film layer—and how the creative gears turned in your mind.

Great question. I’m against domesticity, so of course I had to throw in, “domesticate him, domesticate you.” The film layer actually came first. Ed Wood is such a great film. I kept thinking back to the scenes when Johnny Depp’s Wood is filming Plan 9 from Outer Space. Or that scene when he first meets “Vampira.” I thought a lot about Vampira. I thought about Elvira. I thought about the 60 Foot Centerfold movie. I thought about all these B-movies, and then the gears started turning.

I can be really kitschy as well. I’ve spent hours looking at Halloween costumes on Trashy Lingerie’s website, and I think my love of those costumes mixed with my love of film is where “Jungle Love” came about. I used to wear the most ridiculous things. I remember this Leg Avenue cab driver costume I wore one Halloween during college. And this schoolgirl costume. And all those crop tops with anime characters and Care Bears on them. All these kitschy, sexy costumes represent fantasy. I used to have so much fun with that fashion ridiculousness, and the poetic page allows me to revisit those ideas. I also tend to riff on lines, so I must have heard a variation of “Feel me up, you tiger,” somewhere.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Summer 2018 Issue Launch on Sunday, June 3 in Columbia

Little Patuxent Review is launching its Summer 2018 issue on Sunday, June 3rd from 2:00-4:00 p.m., at Oliver’s Carriage House, 5410 Leaf Treader Way, Columbia, MD.

This issue is stunning mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. The launch event reading will include many of the writers published in the issue and a chance to mingle and meet them, as well as the editors and staff of LPR, at the reception afterwards.

Our readers will include:

Poetry: Faye McCray, Natalie Illum, Tracy Dimond, Derrick Weston Brown, Gary Stein, Wallace Lane, Paulette Beete, Rachel E. Hicks
Fiction: Ava Robinson, JoAnna Wool, Elly Revilla-Kugler
Creative Nonfiction: Caroline Bock, Gayla Mills

Two from LPR Visit Paul Rucker’s Exhibit in Richmond

Photo of Paul Rucker

Paul Rucker

In our Winter 2018 issue, LPR featured the art of Paul Rucker. Contributing editor Ann Bracken conducted an interview with Rucker, whose work was also featured in our issue launch.

On May 5, Ann and our publisher, Desirée Magney, traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond to see his exhibit. Below are their comments about the installation.

Desirée Magney: On display, in the back section of a large room on the first floor, was a line-up of Rucker’s mannequins dressed in long, colorful robes cinched at the waist. Pointed hoods stood erect from shoulders to well beyond the tops of the heads. Other than the colors, the mannequins’ clothing resembled the garb of the KKK. I had seen photos of Rucker’s figures in our Winter 2018 Little Patuxent Review journal, so I knew what to expect. But I couldn’t have anticipated the impact the actual exhibit had on me.

The figures were very tall and arranged in a crisscross pattern. So, no matter where you stood, you felt surrounded, intimidated, and overwhelmed by them as they towered over you. The eyeholes in the hoods were vacant, contributing to the eeriness the exhibit created. I imagine these were all feelings intended by Rucker—feelings felt in a much greater degree by those who have encountered actual Klan members. Thus, it was a very effective exhibit.

Rucker also had display cases of old Ku Klux Klan newspapers, postcards, flyers, brochures, and pamphlets. There were postcards of actual lynchings. There were photos of people posing with wide smiles on their faces, in front of bodies dangling from thick tree branches.

I queried Ann how Rucker obtained this memorabilia. “He bids on Ebay. He always wonders who he’s bidding against.” Rucker wonders if the opposing bidder is a believer in the doctrines of white supremacy groups or someone like him who wants to make us all aware of this horrifying history and the continued presence of these groups today.

Continue reading

Meet the Neighbors: Jerry Gabriel of the Chesapeake Writers’ Conference

Jerry Gabriel’s first book of fiction, Drowned Boy, won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and was published in 2010 (Sarabande Books). It was a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick and awarded the 2011 Towson Prize for Literature. His second book of fiction, The Let Go, was published in 2015 (Queen’s Ferry Press). His stories have appeared in One Story, Epoch, Fiction, Five Chapters, and The Missouri Review, among other publications. His work has been short-listed for a Pushcart Prize and he has received grants and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (2004), the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (2011), and the National Endowment for the Arts (2016). He lives with his family in southern Maryland, where he teaches writing at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and directs the Chesapeake Writers’ Conference.

Q: I can say that I love the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, but I’m less sure I can honestly say I love the Chesapeake Bay. I just haven’t spent much time on or around the water. What’s the Chesapeake Bay mean to you?

When I was in perhaps fifth grade, I wrote a “paper” on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which I guess fascinated me at the time, but that was probably most of the thinking I did on the subject until I moved here with my wife twenty-five years later.  But my relationship with the Chesapeake Bay is actually pretty rich, if mostly mediated through my children. We live about five minutes from the bay, and we spend a great deal of time there, digging around along the wrack line and in the tidal pools, swimming, getting ankle-bitten by the insidious flies. Though I am not a native Marylander, and I don’t especially like crabs or extreme humidity, I have come to see the bay as a special place. There is a museum on Solomon’s Island—the Calvert Marine Museum—that does a great job of showing the interconnectedness of life in and around the bay, and at the college where I teach—St. Mary’s College of Maryland—we try to speak to that same interconnectedness. I act as faculty editor for a journal on campus that is dedicated to the environmental and cultural change in the region—it’s called Slackwater—and being involved in that project has also made me appreciate much about the bay and its bounty, as well as its fragility.

Q: Has proximity to the bay in St. Mary’s City influenced your writing at all?

I wouldn’t say my writing has been affected yet by this proximity, but I certainly think it’s slowly working on me. I have lived a number of places, and in some important ways, I think of myself as a place-based writer, so I’m not especially comfortable just dropping my characters into new landscapes. I have to feel like I know a place. That said, I’m working on a book set in the 1860s in the Midwest, a place I couldn’t possibly have known, so take all of this with a grain of salt, I guess.

Q: There’s a lot of history to St. Mary’s. I know very little but I think of early Catholic settlements and of slavery. Have you written about these or other aspects of the history of your region?

Through my involvement with Slackwater these last several years, I’ve learned a great deal about the history you speak of. It’s powerful—and goes way back. Again, I have not yet had any of that seep into my work. But I certainly don’t rule it out. I have become very interested in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries lately, so it could be a case of adding two and two together, creatively.

Q: What’s the origin story of the Chesapeake Writers’ Conference?

Well, there was a poetry festival at the college for many years that was created and directed by Michael Glaser, a poet who is still lives in the area. This conference is an extension of that work, in some ways. But it is also an attempt to make this beautiful spot a hub for literary connections in the region. The campus is very quiet in the summer and it is a great place to get together and talk about ideas related to writing. I’ve been very lucky to gather some incredible faculty members—including folks like Patricia Henley, who has been a finalist for the National Book Award—and it’s just been such a rich experience across the board, for me, for the faculty, for all the folks who attend (including high schoolers and SMCM undergrads).  The ethos—and I think this, too, goes back to Michael Glaser’s festival—is rooted in possibility. No one here subscribes to the “cut me down to make me stronger” theory of creative writing instruction.

Continue reading

“Columbia at 50”: Film and book talk Monday, May 7

On Monday at 7 p.m., the Columbia Art Center will host a showing of Columbia at 50, a film produced by Dick Krantz. Brian England, an LPR board member, was the executive director. Following the video, Len Lazarick will give a book talk on Columbia at 50: A Memoir of a City. This free event is sponsored by Columbia Art Center and Little Patuxent Review.

Publisher Emeritus Mike Clark Receives Howie Award


The Little Patuxent Review is honored to announce that last week our publisher emeritus, Mike Clark, received the Howie Award as an Outstanding Community Supporter of the Arts. Clark received this recognition at the Howard County Arts Council’s 21st annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County. Mike’s speech is available in the video above, and a transcript is provided below the jump.

Much of Mike’s work life was spent reporting the news for the Baltimore Sun. His focus was on Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

After retiring, he helped start a phone referral service for our neighbors in need along with a series of outreach ministries for Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia known as Christ Church Link. He began a holiday gift project to provide presents to low income families and a program offering supportive services to Hispanic immigrants. In addition, he initiated a county-wide backpack and school supply program known as Prepare for Success.

He is a past recipient of the Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Volunteer of the Year award and the Casey and Pebble Willis Making a Difference award.

About ten years ago Mike joined with others to revive Little Patuxent Review, a journal that was founded in the 1970’s by Columbia, Maryland poets, Ralph and Margot Treitel. Mike served as publisher for its first ten years. The bi-annual launch of the notable journal draws up to a hundred or so literary enthusiasts to Oliver’s Carriage House for its public readings every January and June. The journal also has joined with the Columbia Art Center for the past ten years to hold monthly salon events drawing upon presentations by musicians, artists, poets, fiction writers and even a Nobel Prize astronomer talking about the Big Bang.

Mike accepts the Howie Supporter of Community Arts Award for all who appreciate the wonder of artistic creativity and the power of the written word in our daily lives.

Thank you for all your service, Mike!

Continue reading

Photos from Annual Reading on March 17

Little Patuxent Review hosted its annual reading of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on March 17 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. Below are some photos of our readers, including contributors to our most recent issue, four members of the Black Ladies Brunch CollectiveLPR editors, and Ian Anderson, the editor of Mason Jar Press, an independent press in Baltimore. Maria Termini and Anya Creightney were unable to attend, but others read their work, nonfiction and poetry, for them.

Daien Guo, LPR contributor, fiction

Steven Leyva, LPR editor, poetry

 

Ann Bracken, LPR editor, interview with artist Paul Rucker

Ian Anderson, Mason Jar Press, fiction

 

 

Saida Agostini, LPR contributor, poetry

Teri Ellen Cross Davis, LPR contributor, poetry

 

 

Tafisha A. Edwards, LPR contributor, poetry

Katy Richey, LPR contributor, poetry