writing. retreat!

the university of wyoming’s estella soto reports from the front lines.

i am engaged in a war with my words on the plains of colorado. where shortgrass is just what it sounds like. short. grass. and where there is no reason – earthly or otherwise – why i should not get a veritable buttload of writing done.

except, of course, that pesky interweb.

the things we googled: ash stymest (image search), vivien leigh (image search), black swan showtimes, JCREW, Southwest Airlines – Search Fares, awp conference registration, definition of tome – Free Online Dictionary, USC Trojans-UCLA Bruins game, coal creek uptown, CHER walkin in memphis, exes [who shall remain anonymous, unknown unknowable soldiers], myspace profile [deleted], facebook profile [wall posts/messages answered], cell phone bill [paid], netflix survey [answered in good faith],  bank accounts [not overdrawn].

the writing process: an essay in 8 photos

first, i printed everything i've written in the last 1.5 years - in various stages of completion/revision - and laid them out on my cot and looked at them. i felt things like excitement and fear.

then i went for a walk and admired the short. grass.

sometimes i think of my shadow as my better half.

as a matter of fact i did pack all of these items into a suitcase and wheel them up to the house. including (but not limited to): the norton anthology of latino literature, patti smith's autobiography, the wizard of oz & sleeping beauty & 8.5 (dvds), a lock-box full of index cards (where i store my heartbreaking work of unpublishable genius).

then i took a picture of the windmill outside.

then i read some queer critical theory essays and a henry james novel and took copious notes compiling evidence for my argument that henry james loves weiner.

then i took a picture of that windmill again. this time, at sunset.

just two writers on the plains trying to extract brilliant prose from our fingertips like...... i can think of a good simile i swear....... just give me a few more days in this little white room on the plains.

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some of these things are not like the others

our last first//friday@secondstory until the spring semester, friday night’s event was pretty fucking rad.  perhaps it was the poetry of kate northrop, or the music of rob joyce, or all that talk about evil knievel and parasites courtesy of kelly herbinson.  or maybe it was the fresh, soft-wood aroma emanating from the flooring stacked in the corner of the bookstore (still under construction as it is converted to a coffeeshop). despite the fact that there were so many memorable moments, one thing we did not remember was the department camera — so we’ve pieced together a collage of friday’s event from camera phones and fbook for your viewing pleasure.

rob joyce drew a crowd of his own. unfortunately, not all of them had chairs.

the people: pensive or sleepy?

the mural: bear vs. wolf w/boner tail?

kate northrop performs for us a poem in two voices.

was she at the reading?

this is what it sounds like when doves cry.

reversecowgirl.

congrats!

we are so very proud of the ever-modest callan wink.  a little birdie told us that a story by this first-year fiction student was selected for publication by the university of montana’s literary journal Cutbank.  the piece was originally written for brad watson’s publication workshop last semester.  mr. wink revised the story per workshop suggestions and voila! success! well done, wink.

wild, west

because of our time spent in this particular stretch of the country… we are forced to think, often, about cowboys and indians.

from a doctor’s report following american troopers killed by cheyenne, arapaho, and kiowa warriors:

Major Joel H. Elliott — two bullet holes in head; one in left cheek, right hand cut off; left foot almost cut off; [penis cut off]; deep gash in right groin; deep gashes in calves of both legs; little finger of left hand cut off; and throat cut.
Corporal Harry Mercer, troop E — bullet hole in right axilla; one in region of heart; three in back; eight arrow wounds in back; right ear cut off; head scalped and skull fractured; deep gashes in both legs; and throat cut.
Corporal William Carrick, troop H– bullet hole in right parietal bone; both feet cut off; throat cut; left arm broken; [penis cut off].
Private William Milligan, troop H– bullet hole in left side of head; deep gashes in in right leg; [penis cut off]; left arm deeply gashed; head scalped; and throat cut.
Corporal James F. Williams, troop I– bullet hole in back; head and both arms cut off; many and deep gashes in back; [penis cut off].
Private Ferdinand Lineback,  troop M– bullet hole in the left parietal bone; head scalped and arm broken; [penis cut off]; throat cut.
Unknown– head cut off; body partially destroyed by wolves.
Unknown– head and right hand cut off; three bullet and nine arrow holes in back; [penis cut off].

–excerpt from Custer’s Official Report of the Battle of the Washita, December 22, 1868.

we must ask: where did all the [penises] go?