Tag Archives: poet

Outside 3: 4 micropoems

winter yearning

spring hunting

summer burning

autumn starving

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spring burning

summer hunting

autumn yearning

winter starving

*

summer yearning

autumn hunting

winter burning

spring starving

*

autumn burning

winter hunting

spring yearning

summer starving

*

Photo by Quinsey Sablan on Unsplash

How I Wrote My Author Bio…

And kept updating it through the years…

I have had real trouble over the years figuring out how to present myself as a writer in a professional capacity. Having an author bio is a necessity in both traditional publishing and the independent writing community. But do I know how to write one? Maybe? Kinda?

Not really. Just like I have trouble writing a book synopsis, when I have to look at and summarize my writing self in 3 or 4 sentences my brain does the buzz buzz buzz flatline.

(Side note: I drew a comic strip in high school and one of the characters was a cat named Flatline. I need to bring back Flatline.)

All I know is when I re-read my author bio it felt stale. And cluttered with useless anecdotes about me as a person that didn’t really tell you anything about what I do or my writing.

At this moment, I’m re-organizing and “re-branding” my blog and my author bio along with it. So I thought I’d share my process and research with you.

Freelance Writing has a crisp, concise list of 6 rules that will help focus the content of your bio.

Scribe Writing focuses on the importance of the author bio in relation to marketing and also has 6 steps/rules for writing the bio. Also, a fancy template.

reedsyblog also has an author bio template and an approachable, conversational tone.

All three authors of these posts say pretty much the same things (use 3rd person, list your “credentials,” add a memorable personal detail) but the best advice I’ve heard for writing an author bio—and writing in general—is to look at your favorite authors and see how they do things.*

Two of my favorite authors are Janet Fitch and Chuck Wendig. Fitch’s bio is short and sweet; the first sentence talks about her most successful book, the second sentence talks about her 2nd most successful book, and the third sentence tells you where she lives. Wendig’s bio is a slightly longer paragraph. It mentions his blog and a laundry list of awards and publications, as well as where he lives and who his agent is.

Fitch’s bio does not employ the “personal touch” that Freelance Writing, Scribe Writing, and reedsyblog recommend. Wendig’s does a little bit at the end but it is more of an afterthought and a nod to his personality, and does not interfere with the informative content.

Back in the early 2010s my author bio also included a looooong laundry list of awards and magazine names that unfortunately no longer exist. Basically a long string of italicized letters that tried their best to put you to sleep. I also included “interesting” personal details like:

Daydreams about deepsea fishing.

Only writes when the cats let her.

Likes to (do something) and (something else) while sounding clever and esoteric.

Is surprised when she uses the word “esoteric” correctly.

I also included my day jobs in my author bio because I thought it was important that you knew that I was a STRUGGLING writer who had to SACRIFICE her writing time to feed herself (and her cats).

All of which is not relevant to my actual writing. You can get me as a PERSON by reading my blog or scrolling through my instagram.

It feels like the advice out there today gives you the option to include extra bells and whistles on your bio to be as punchy and fetching as possible while conveying ALL THE INFORMATION in a small, tidy package.

I want to do things differently this time. I want to include details that are writing-supportive and stand the test of time. Because I really don’t want to write another bio next year. So here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Jessica Halsey was born in Arkansas.

She writes poetry and contemporary fantasy and horror fiction.

Is there really anything else you need to know?

She wrote The Echo of Something Hitting for her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College.

Is the phrase “horror fiction” redundant?

She will self-publish the first book in her paranormal werewolf series, The Slaughter Chronicles, sooner rather than later.

Too much?

Okay, here’s the “final” draft:

Jessica Halsey writes poetry and genre fiction. She is the author of three chapbooks and The Slaughter Chronicles, a contemporary fantasy/horror series about werewolves. She wrote The Echo of Something Hitting for her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. She was born in Arkansas, USA.

*Please don’t copy someone else’s bio and paste your name in it.

Blood Tree Literature

Had some brand new words published last month at Blood Tree Literature. I wrote this poem while I was at my last job. A lot about that experience hurt my feelings.

Check out Issue 6, there’s some seriously awesome writing inside. I’m so grateful and honored to share space with these amazing writers and artists.

Thank you so much!!!

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Photo Credit: Blood Tree Literature

Writing The Echo of Something Hitting

I was waking up at 4:30 a.m., cursing my alarm clock. Awake before dawn, cold, sick/hungover, I’d trudge to the bus stop with frost crunching beneath my boots to get to work. It was an hour long bus ride if the traffic was good. I used that time on the bus to read and write poetry. I earned my MFA, start to finish, on that bus. Crossing the lines, riding over the river, circling the familiar pathways.

But before the bus was the dead kitten. My anchor.

See, while I was thinking about my graduating thesis, my “masterwork” of poems I was walking to the bus stop. A rooster crowed. There was fog, there was sleet, there was ice and the wet cold soaked into my marrow. My bag was too heavy with books and not heavy enough with food. I didn’t have enough alcohol/I had too much.

There was this image in my head of this ghost-woman under the foggy streetlight but that wasn’t reality. She was orange and I thought she was my speaker, the thread that would connect everything in my collection, but she wasn’t. I don’t know where she’s gone now. Maybe she wasn’t real to begin with.

I know she wasn’t real because the poems didn’t feel real. They weren’t working. I was stuck.

And then I was walking to the bus stop and there, in the grey concrete gutter at the edge of the dark, early morning road, was the dead kitten. Nothing ate it and its body was frozen. I walked by that little broken body for a MONTH and watched it get flatter and flatter, the fur and skin seemed to be dissolving into the road, the bones were sinking, slowly, into the concrete.

It was like the road was eating the body since none of the carrion feeders would touch it. It was too cold for the insects. Most insects.

And that made me think about borders and barriers and bodies dying on the road. Animal bodies, human bodies. There are borders between countries, borders between places within countries, borders between roads and rivers, roads and houses, roads and bodies.

I began to explore those places.

And then in the spring a flash flood killed my car. My most loyal, bestest friend in the world. We’d been on so many adventures together and I cried when I had to turn him (yes, him) in to the dealership. More debt, more stress. More mistakes made with the man who is now my ex-husband. I wrote the Echo of Something Hitting because I needed to tell myself specific things about the way I was living that I could not see. Rather, my sub-conscious/my reptilian brain needed to tell me. Go look back at your old poems and see if there’s something you might have realized sooner than you thought.

I began to explore those places too. The flood and transformation. Transformation from catastrophe. (As far as catastrophes go it was a small one but the water sloshing over my boots and then the firemen pushing my car out of the road, all of them wearing grey shirts and water up to their thighs, frolicking in the water like otters. Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how to put them into the book. If any of you are reading this now, all these years later, thank you.)

There’s lots of bird imagery, lots of water imagery, lots of grey. The kitten was grey.

(I tell people my favorite color is green but I think, secretly, it is grey. Grey and the weird pink/periwinkle/grey of some ballet slippers. Is it okay to have more than one favorite color? I don’t mean to imply in any way that green is inferior. I really like green.)

I’m running out of things to say about the book. It began as a collection of poems but as I wrote about the kitten and the road and the river the borders of the poems dissolved and it became what I like to think of as a “lyric essay.”

I got my degree in Cross-Genre and Hybrid Poetry. Hybrid is where prose and lines blend and mutate like sick proteins but they’re not sick. Things unfold and knot up. Things flow freely but they also flicker and disappear. Think deep sea fish and you’re good. The Cross-Genre is not merging “romance” and “fantasy.” Where I went to school, genres were prose and poetics. Genres were how you actually wrote, not what you wrote about.

So a lyric essay, to me, is formatted like an epic poem but has zero meter, too many long pauses, random chunks of prose that float like globules of crude oil in the ocean–they’re soft, not like plastic–

Here’s an article from the Los Angeles Review of Books about lyric essays…and how they can be…banal…(awesome selling point).

The Writer’s Alliance of Gainesville says, “Writing the lyric essay offers the author a frolic in the pool of memoir, biography, poetry and personal essay mixed with a sprinkling of experimental.

What is interesting?

What is over-the-top batshit crazy?

What is self-important pontification?

Maybe it’s all those things. But I feel that poetry is WAY more than just verse and form. Poetry is more than lines and stanzas, more than meter, rhyme, and syllable counts. I guess you could say that lyric essay is the ultimate free verse but free verse is already free verse so…I’m rambling now. I should end this post.

I wanted to say all that because I want to get back into poetry. I want to start working on another poetry collection, one that’s been hanging out in my head since 2007, like dust piling up in the corners.

The Echo of Something Hitting is a hybrid, cross-genre, lyric essay that explores the transformative journey from disaster into survival; an imagined life after death. Becoming something new within the language of roads, rivers, and storms, the text decomposes and reforms to escape the boundaries of words.

Fans of Catherynne M. Valente’s The Labyrinth and Bhanu Kapil’s Incubation: A Space for Monsters will enjoy this handful of words.

Read it for FREE here 🙂

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Photo by Imthaz Ahamed on Unsplash

Liger Signal Boost, Old Rhymes, Boats, and a Girl

SIGNAL BOOST!!!!!

I’ve been a long-time supporter of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and at the end of August, Brady Liger fell ill to a fungal infection. If you can donate something, anything at all, please consider supporting their efforts. Your donations can help pay for medical expenses, food, and bigger enclosures for the animals.

And here are two writerly things I’m going to try to take advantage of this September. The first is my local library’s Banned Books Writing Contest and the second is an international open call for submissions from the Black Library and the Warhammer 40K Universe.

Musings on coffee and other things from stoneronarollercoaster

Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl

“Farewell” is on my tongue by Paulus Silentarius, translated by William Roger Paton

A Play-by-Play of Queer Seduction by Marisa Crane on Chantarelle’s Notebook

The Past by Ralph Waldo Emerson

[we are] by Quentin Baker

Vesuvius by Noah Eli Gordon

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Photo source: turpentinecreek.org

Mirror Angels

My reflections and I

plot the points of our knees

like stars scratched in the floor,

we can’t hold summer

in our flimsy hands.

I lean my head against the point where two mirrors join together in a museum exhibit and suddenly I am one girl split into three. This is educational. This is sacred division. I whisper softly to us but they don’t answer my prayers for rescue, escape. I can only mimic their arms with my arms and I cannot decipher the secret within our bodies.

The rough stars

join constellations

Gaping-Mouth-of-Disbelief

with Grinning-Face-

That-is-Not-a-Face.

I look into the mirrors and there are girls who wear my face but not my memories. I look into the mirrors, I look at us and I am so happy that at least some of us are free. When I stand they turn their backs to me and greet their secret, intangible worlds. I cannot go with them when I walk away.

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This poem was first published in Atlas Poetica in 2015 and republished in Girl + Muse.

Photo by Serrah Galos on Unsplash.