Tag Archives: Molly Gaudry

SSR #8 of 15: Frequencies, Vol. 1

10 Jul


Frequencies Vol. 1
Bob Hicok, Molly Gaudry, & Phillip B. Williams
music from Here We Go Magic, Outlands, and Sharon Von Etten
Yes Yes Books
155p/ $18

Music and poetry! Poetry and music! Clap tracks, boom boxes, marches for love and melody, heartbreak, patterns taking shape — it’s all in here, in every frequency!

A Penny for your Thoughts? –Pt. One

30 Oct

When individuals use money, they know very well that there is nothing magical about it–that money, in its materiality, is simply an expression of social relations. . . . The problem is that in their social activity itself, in what they are doing, they are acting as if money, in its material reality, is the immediate embodiment of wealth as such.
     –Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology

One of the things I enjoy about running is the time spent outdoors, away from websites and televisions and cell phones and nearly every distraction, save the occasional armadillo or coyote or neighborhood dog. It affords time for reflection and, when I’m not running alone and when we’re not running especially hard, for conversation.

A few days ago, I was out for an easy run with the cross country team that I coach, and one of my runners asked me about my writing. “Why do you do it?” Scott wanted to know. “Is there any money in it?”

Of course, if you’re reading this on Vouched, then you probably have good answers to both of these questions already. But it did provoke a long conversation about the ways in which writing can become a commodity.

At the beginning, I told him, I wrote a lot of things that weren’t very good. Some of these, I sent to editors who sent back pre-made postcards in the mail or who stuffed photocopied rejection slips into my self-addressed, stamped envelopes. But eventually, I wrote things that were, I hope, better, and a few editors said yes. And then a few more. And then an especially kind editor offered to publish a chapbook.

And then, I told Scott, if you do this long enough and diligently enough, maybe one day you start to get the occasional editor who seeks you out, who asks you to send your work to her journal.

“What about then?” he wanted to know. “Then, do you get paid?”

Not hardly.

But then I told him how enough of these sorts of publications could lead to a book deal, which probably wouldn’t amount to much money, either. But that a book deal (or two, or three) could help a writer secure a teaching or editing position that was paid–so that, if you were lucky, eventually, you’d have a job that paid you to do something else but that supported your writing.

Which brought me back to the question: Why do writers write? I know Stephen King’s answer, of course, but in the world of small presses and independent journals, is it ever about the money?

And of course, my answer is no. The writing is not about the money. And, for that matter, I told him, neither is the running. Now, I’ve met a few elite runners who have sponsorship deals, who are paid to run, but for most people, running isn’t about the money any more than writing is–running a great time in your local 5k race isn’t about the money any more than having a poem published by PANK.

A couple of months ago, Jeff Edmonds–a philosopher and a much better runner than I am–had this to say:

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: one of the best reasons to run is its utter uselessness as an activity. . . . The fact that a run has no exchange value on the open market is a mark that it, as an experience, cannot be exchanged. Its value, like that of life itself, is inherent and singular.
     –Jeff Edmonds, The Logic of Long Distance

Like a good run, a good poem really has no exchange value on the market. Now, we might pay for it–we might pay the runner who wins a race, or we might pay the poet who excels at the craft–but even in the act of paying, we disassociate the payment from the act. It is not payment for the act, as it might be when we take a car in for repair. When I ordered Matt Bell’s How They Were Found, for instance, or Molly Gaudry’s We Take Me Apart, I didn’t really consider–in a monetary sense–the value of the book, or of the time, or of Matt’s or Molly’s craft; but when I had a new battery installed in my truck last weekend, I certainly considered the value of the battery, of the time, and–to some degree, at least–of the mechanic’s craft.

I know for a fact that I have never written a poem and then said, “This poem is worth ten dollars.” Or a hundred. Or a thousand. Or one.

So why do we buy and sell these things? Why do we, here, right here on this website, ask you to buy books? How do I tell you that a particular book is “worth it”?

When I (finally) made the decision a few months ago to offer a print edition of Willows Wept Review, I agonized. How could I ask people to pay for something to which I could not assign a value?

If Žižek is right in his reading of Marx, if money “is simply an expression of social relations,” then we might begin by asking what the social relations are in independent literature, by asking not only what values we assign those relations but also how we assign them.

What are, we might ask, the economics of expression?

SSR #5 of 15: We Take Me Apart

12 Jul

Today I want to share with you the loveliness that is Molly Gaudry and her words. Her novella, We Take Me Apart is a release of Mud Luscious Press:

We Take Me Apart worked its way into me like an aroma, its words are imprinted on the tip of my memory so their trigger is easily caught and they leap back to life at the most unforeseen times.

SSM: “The Sky as John Saw It the Night Kate Sparkled” by Molly Gaudry

12 May

When I first read this story a couple years ago, I remember thinking of 2 of my favorite Russell Edson poems, “The Pilot” and “The Taxi.” I don’t remember why I thought of them, except perhaps that 1 has this underlying, quiet sadness to it, and the other an overt and spastic glory. And perhaps in retrospect, I recognized both in this story by Molly Gaudry.

The sky rolled up and fell through the hole in Kate’s roof and bounced from her forehead and floated to the floor, upon which it made a crinkly sound as it brushed the hem of her bed skirt. As it brushed the hem of her bed skirt, she sat up and said, “Who’s there?”

“Who’s there?” she said. She said it one more time, then got out of bed and found the rolled up sky hiding behind a plant stand holding ivy. Behind the plant stand holding ivy, she bent, and the rolled up sky trembled when she picked it up. She picked it apart and it resisted when she tried to unroll it. She tried to unroll it and it sighed. It sighed wide open and the stars exploded in her face.

Read the full story at Abjective.

Perhaps it’s the underlying sort of magic in it, that naturally, the sky would roll up into a scroll, that when someone would unroll it, the starts would explode in their face an all-consuming glitter. Naturally. Perhaps that’s why I recognized a magic like Edson’s poetry, where spectacular events just happened without hesitance or explanation, where spectacular events didn’t need explanation.

The story knocked something loose in me. It showed me how language can move and play, which was something I think I’d lost at some point in my undergraduate studies. It’s something I’ve always appreciated about Molly’s writing, whether in this story or in her novella in verse, We Take Me Apart.

In a review I once wrote about WTMA (and the same sentiment holds true for this story), I described Molly’s language as cartwheeling, because from what I remember of cartwheeling as a kid, it was something not everyone could pull off, but something that when pulled off by someone capable it contained an unanswerable grace, an awe that giggles up from inside you, that makes you want to try it yourself.

Molly Gaudry’s “Soulkeeper”

23 Sep

Molly Gaudry has an excellent short prose piece over at Necessary Fiction titled “Soulkeeper”:

The third the troubled middle girl who fell in love with the tin woman did nothing she was taught nothing she was told. Was told to kill the tin woman. Burn the tin woman. Chop the tin woman into pieces. But would not.

Head on over and read the whole thing. When you’re done, come on back and tell us how great it is.

Or better, tell somebody else. We already know.


2 Jul

Despite some email glichery, I’ve finally gotten word that sunnyoutside and mud luscious are both on board with Vouched.

This means I’ll be able to offer Modern Love by Andrew Scott and For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things So Uselessly & Carelessly Destroyed… by Hosho McCreesh, both out on sunnyoutside.

And also, We Take Me Apart by Molly Gaudry and when all our days are numbered marching bands will fill the streets and we will not hear them because we will be upstairs in the clouds by Sasha Fletcher.

I’m glad to finally get things going with both of these presses, as the Vouched table wouldn’t feel complete without the four of these titles.