Sunday, August 12, 2018

Lauren R. Korn : my (small press) writing day

I am currently living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, fortunate to have the opportunity (one I may never have again) to live without an income. I have, since high school, always held a job, so I’m still trying to figure out what or which daily routine will most benefit my practice and my time. My partner, also a writer (a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing), has their own daily routine, one that is well-suited to our life here; but I am still aimless in my pursuit of comfort, literary and otherwise.

I became a bookseller in the winter of 2013, plucked from my job as a pizza slice-slinger and dropped into a carefully-curated independent bookstore in Missoula, Montana. In 2014, I jumped ship, trading one independent bookstore for another, and I remained a bookseller until I moved to Fredericton last August. Bookseller became my mindset as a reader. I began to hoard books, both relishing in the galley closet of the bookstore where I worked and buying books by the armful; it became my job to know about forthcoming and backlist titles, titles that were selling well, and titles that needed my nudging. The books on my own bookshelves tripled in number. My routine, still influenced by this mindset, includes research—thumbing my way though publishers’ websites and scrolling through Twitter, a great resource, I think, for writers and readers alike. As you can see from the photo of my workspace, I write and work surrounded by growing piles of books and manuscripts.

The poetry I am writing now documents my transitional and home-making experiences in Atlantic Canada, which means that my daily routine consists of reading, analyzing, and translating my horoscope. I do this, because I am trying to capture the rhetoric of prophecy. It’s not that I want these poems to be prophetic; it’s that I want to complicate the relationship between the speaker “I” and the reader “you.” In conversation, I call these works in progress my “horoscope poems,” and I’ve collected them under the working title Other Modern Divinities. This is all to say that I have been thinking about the stars and about (dis)comfort. The following is the first poem I wrote in the series: “Your horoscope for Saturday, December 16.”

Today, your watchwords are forgiveness and surrender.
They are the same. You are a long, wool scarf

carried by a wind that slights you;
though this coastal humidity has kept your skin

moisture-rich, there is a dry patch between your brows.
Combination complication, an advocation: lavender baths.

Your bed-partner rises each morning before the winter sun.
You will never again get a full night’s sleep.

Your body is a compound leaf; or, it is an exposed, bare stem. You linger
in the sheets. Late to bed, late to rise. This is part of your aesthetic.

The balsamic moon you glimpse from your mattress is choking you,
but the salads you prepare every night for dinner have been on point

for months—mouthfuls of sweet corn, caramelized onions.
Wax sentimental, repeat recipes. You are cause for celebration.

You might head to the mall today.
In front of mirrors, be kind to your body,

its rounding and softening edges. When I say, “forgiveness” and “surrender,”
what I mean to say is, “your discomfort is not immutable.”

What I am saying is, “your discomfort is not immutable.”

Admittedly, I’m fairly new to poetry—though it has already served me well. It brought me to the Tin House Summer Workshop last year, to a workshop led by Mary Ruefle and her eccentric, singular perspective; and I’m a poetry reader for a number of literary magazines. It is often the case that I begin my day with full queues of poetry. Until I begin my coursework at the University of New Brunswick this fall, my writing time is practice and, above all, reading.

I am also the Interviews and Reviews Manager, and now the Director of Content, for The Adroit Journal. When I’m not receiving and responding to e-mails from readers, publishers, and writers, I’m reading and editing interviews, reviews, and blog posts awaiting publication. I came to this job in January, and it has become a part of my daily routine, be it weekday or weekend.

Writing constitutes very little of my literary citizenship—citizenship being at the heart of why I do what I do. It was while working for the University of Montana’s literary magazines, The Oval and CutBank, that I first felt the joy of bringing literature to life, of guiding a Word document from accepted submission to a typeset page in a journal or book—to a physical artifact (or, in the case of Adroit, a readied blog post or online issue). For many of my first months here, I was glued to my computer, designing and typesetting chapbooks and literary magazines. The pride I feel in a published, hand-held book—be it a journal of many writers or a collection of one—is like no other, and it’s a feeling that guides my perception of literary communities and of the publishing industry as whole. But really, I’m enamored by the minds of others, and I want my citizenship to be one of support and elevation. This makes sense to me: I am a Capricorn.

My (small press) writing day is at the service of your writing day. For now.

Lauren R. Korn is a poet and graphic designer currently living in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is the Director of Content for The Adroit Journal and will be an M.A. student of Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick this fall. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming.