Category Archives: Writing

Introducing Bird Fly Good

… the magazine.

My lovely readers –

For a few short months I’ve been writing primarily about Austin, food, my poodle, and being crafty. Bird Fly Good has been a fun avenue for expressing how much I love this great city and writing in general.

As previously mentioned in recent blog posts, I’ve started a small press and magazine called Bird Fly Good in which I hope to publish small runs of poetry. The inspiration behind the project is, again, Austin and making books.

Bird Fly Good will continue to exist in small press form and I encourage and ask you all to continue following and reading the new blog where I will be solely focused on writing about poetry and the small press realm.

I will eventually start another personal blog where I will document, report on, and obsess over things, much like what has happened here over the last few months.

Thanks, again. Bird Fly Good promises to continue loving you from elsewhere.

xo,

Jennifer

@birdflygood

&

birdflygood [dot] com

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Obsessed with Type and Jessica Hische’s Daily Drop Caps

I wish I was more artistic. More creative. I wish I had the ability to make stuff like my own clothes or household knick-knacks, or even the talent to paint a decent picture.

I use words instead. Words and paper.

According to 2010 New Year’s Resolution No. 1, I’m going to be making a fat collection of words on paper with the first issue of Bird Fly Good, a new journal of poetry with work from some of my favorite poets from Austin and elsewhere. I’ll be putting some of my snazzy new bookbinding skills to the test, and my dear friend and talented designer Katie Daly will be busting out the design for the cover. Continue reading

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Geek Out on Writing Utensils at the Philadelphia Pen Show

Who’s a geek? I’m a geek. You’re a geek. We’re all geeks. (Yea!)

No, really. We are. Or at least I am. Why? Because I love writing apparatus.

Pens, paper, and office supplies in general are my vices. And I know I’m not the only one out there.

Yea, I’m talking about you, hoarder of cute stationary and little journals with pristine paper – all adored but seldomly used.

We should start a club and hit up the Philadelphia Pen Show this weekend, January 22-24 at the Sheraton Philadelphia Center City Hotel.

I had never heard of such a thing until the other day. I mean really, a pen show?

At first I chuckled a bit, but then realized that if the show was in Austin I’d actually go.

I’m actually kind of surprised that we don’t have an office supply conference/tradeshow type thing around here. I guess we are too cool with our tattoo, record-collecting, and green living conventions.

That’s okay, though. I love Austin. But to all you Philadelphians going to the Pen Show, let me know what you think about the Visconti Homo Sapiens collection of pens made with volcanic lava.

visconti lava pens

Lava Pens

Hot Italian pens. Nice.

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Filed under Austin, Crazy Ideas Unrelated to Austin, Poetry, Writing

For Those Hungry for More Poetry

(As if the news wasn’t enough.)

I’m becoming more enveloped in reading poetry these days.

My reading and writing alternate with the seasons, perhaps, and these days I’m beginning to enter a new period of furiously searching, finding, and falling in love with new poets.

I have the Internet to thank for this obsession. I simply have to open a browser, go to only one or two of my frequented poetry blogs, and the witch hunt begins.

I click and bounce from blog to blog, site to site, promoting and oozing with poetry. Continue reading

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Resolutions: Because Everyone Else Is Doing It

Where has my blogging life been? Nonexistent. I’ve been swamped with other duties including holiday dinners, transitioning to a somewhat-vegan diet, and figuring out what 2010 is going to be all about. I’ve also been trying to figure out how to stay warm. Texans aren’t used to such wind chills and 37 degree highs. I’ll be damned if I move to any cold weather climate and have to stay there.

I’d become a marshmallow. This is me on a wintery day in Austin with a snow flake, circa 2007:

Onto the resolutions:

In the past, I’ve simply made the resolutions, completely forgotten about them, and spent the month of December trying to remember what the old resolutions were before I attempt to set new ones for the following year. It’s a vicious cycle. Continue reading

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Bookmaking with The WonderCraft Part 3/3: Book Binding

Our final class in The WonderCraft bookmaking series was all about bookbinding and different spine stitches. We focused on the Japanese side stitch and coptic binding, which sounds really fancy because it’s really difficult at first.

The Japanese side stitch, also called “stab binding,” is very simple and can be modified to make really elaborate and intricate spine patterns. I’m not going to write out the instructions because diagrams are usually more helpful. Check out this wonderful wikibook for detailed instructions. All you need for this style of binding is a needle, thread, and something to punch holes with.

The Japanese side stitch is very sturdy, but prevents the book from opening too far. This makes it difficult to write or draw on the pages after the spine has already been stitched.

binding

bookbinding

Coptic binding was a lot more difficult because the stitching process was slightly more complex, but it gets easier with more practice and repetition. You have to sew on each signature, which is just each section of paper, individually to the covers. For coptic binding you just need your covers, paper, thread, a curved needle, and a 1/8” hole punch. Here is a remarkable tutorial on coptic binding, or the “single needle chain stitch.”

I really like this style of stitching because it allows the book to lay down flat, making it easier to write or draw on the pages.

coptic stitch

coptic binding

Sign up for the next round of bookmaking classes or learn about other wonderful classes offered by The WonderCraft.

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Poetic or Poesque: The Harry Ransom Center Brings All Things Poe

We long for ways to relate to one another. More specifically, children to teenagers to adults. Separated by generations, it’s hard to localize the things that we have in common. Take  Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Gen Y read it in grade school and they can share the experience and understanding with their parents and grandparents; but sometimes we have to look back even further to find that tissue that connects us even more.

Edgar Allan Poe is the prime example because he is probably one of the most well known literary figures. We read haunting tales like “The Raven” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and we were disturbed by his unusual marriage to his 13-year-old cousin. We know he was crazy, an alcoholic, extremely difficult to love and work with, and that his young death remains a mystery. But even in 2009, the bicentennial of his birth, Poe’s poems and short stories continue to serve as a staple of grade school curriculum, as they should be. His legacy goes on as the creator of detective fiction, a fearless literary critic, and a major influence on 19th-century writers.

The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin is a remarkable research library and humanities museum with more than 36 million manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photos, and 100,000 works of art. This fall, the HRC presents From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe, a comprehensive exhibition that commemorates Poe’s birth with manuscripts, artifacts, portraits, and illustrations that give an overview of his life, lovers, literary career, and influence.

Poe Exhibition Poster

Poe Exhibition Poster

I attended a curator tour over the weekend, and take my advice: this is the only way to truly experience an exhibition at the HRC. It is full of artifacts from five institutions around the country and includes Poe’s desk, first editions of his books, and original manuscripts of “The Raven” from the HRC collection.

First Edition of Poe's First Book of Poetry - Tamerlane

First Edition of Poe's First Book of Poetry - Tamerlane

The most astonishing  pieces were the handwritten letters and manuscripts. Simple as they seem, intact yellow-tinted sheets of paper full of words and exquisite cursive, these pages reveal the absolute innermost mind of Poe in his own hand. In a letter to a friend about the death of his cousin and wife, Virginia, Poe describes himself as we already know him: crazy, isolated, and obsessed. He writes about how his wife continued to fall ill time and time again due to tuberculosis, how he “became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity,” and that he found “the cure to [his] misery in the death of [his] wife.”

Letter from Poe - Page 1

A disturbing letter from Poe describing the death of his wife. Page 1 of 2.

In addition, the exhibition includes wonderful illustrations detailing the major themes in Poe’s tales: grief as imagined in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” claustrophobia as in “The Premature Burial,” hallucination as in “The Masque of the Red Death,” and haunted spaces as in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

At the end of my tour, I left feeling completely engaged in Poe’s work and influence, but I think I will always be enamored with the way he lived. No one will ever know what he was really like and how his self-destructive, needy, irresponsible, annoying, and brilliant personality were somehow the basis for his remarkable work and permanence in literature.

The exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center is open until January 3, 2010, and admission, tours, and attendance to special events are free.

The HRC has also digitized their entire Poe archive so scholars and researchers can access the complete collection online at no cost.

Harry Ransom Center
21st and Guadalupe Streets
Austin, Texas 78712
(512) 471-8944

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