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New Website in the Works

January 12, 2015

Hey all,  a new site is in the works and more details will be posted when available.

Looking forward to new poem/internet magic!

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On Video, Crowdfunding, And The Future of Publishing

June 5, 2012

Hello friends!

The first Write Bloody contract winner has been announced. It’s Miles Walser! Miles is awesome. Yay Miles. Also, watching Andrea Gibson do mini-trampoline jumps is pretty much the most adorable thing on the internet right now. I can’t wait to hear who the other winners are!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about crowd-sourcing and how art gets out into the world ever since the finalists for Write Bloody were announced. For the first time this year, Write Bloody asked each finalist to make a video of one of our poems to post to youtube as well as sending them a copy of our completed manuscript for their editors to judge. They gave each author a lot of freedom with what kind of video we wanted to create (Artsy? Live Performance? Claymation rap battle?) and gave us a few suggestions.  I freaked out, emailed every film-maker I knew, realized that there was no way I was going to be able to produce a successful collaboration on two weeks notice, and then bought a tripod for my i-phone and fucking did it myself. Having a very VERY patient sweetheart (hi Marc!) to hold said tripod and loan me i-movie (which I also taught myself to edit on) were utterly necessary to the success of this project, but I think it came out pretty great. See for yourself.

The clincher here, was that 20% of our overall scores on our manuscripts were based on how many youtube ‘likes’ our videos received. I saw a lot of disgruntled poets on facebook, wondering why a publishing company would put such power into the hands of consumers, musing on the debasement of the printed word and how this kind marketing left a bad taste in their mouths.

But here’s the thing: this isn’t anything new.

Publishing companies have been trying to come up with interesting ways to market their books ever since the serial novel died out. And using digital media and mediums like youtube aren’t anything new either. The videos I and the other finalists posted are essentially book trailers. The marketing we had to do to get people to watch them is essentially the same kind of marketing authors have been doing every time they release a written work (and the same kind of marketing every winner in the manuscript contest will need to do when their book is released.) The medium is different, but the skill set and tools remain the same.

It’s not enough to just be an artist, and I’m not sure it ever was. Now, you have to been a marketing machine, a blogger, a tweeter, a clever promoter. And honestly, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

Take musician Amanda Palmer, for example. She just raised over a million dollars to fund her new record and tour on Kickstarter. This has been all over the internet,  and its not an understatement to say that she has fundamentally changed the game for artists using crowd-funding to make art. She’s met a lot of resistance to this too; criticism ranging from “Leave money for artists who really need it” to “Stop begging your fans for money and just release the damn record and sell it to us like normal.”

But what’s normal when it comes to art production? Is writing 10 grant proposals in a month only to get turned down by all of them, normal? Is working 40+ hours a week at a day job to fund all of your art projects by night and weekends, normal? Is joining a record label or a press in order to receive an advance up front, then seeing zero profit as your label or press pays down your advance against the actual sales of your art normal? Thinking about art in terms of commerce is always uncomfortable, but art doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Artists are real people, and we have bills and rent and impractical shoes to buy just like any other worker. I’m not saying being an artist is the same as working in a factory (goodness knows my class consciousness is more refined than that) but I am saying that art is work, and it takes time and money and real physical and mental energy to produce. I also don’t buy any sort of purity argument about pretty much anything ever (sanctity of art production, sanctity of marriage, etc.) but its also true that even musicians on major labels or writers on big publishing houses struggle to get their work out there in the form they want it in and make a decent living off it. Perhaps even more than independents, since big labels/houses have SO many artists to work with, and it’s easy to “get lost in the marketing calendar” as they say. Hell, that’s why Amanda Palmer isn’t even on her major label anymore. It’s why Cory Doctorow releases all his books under creative commons licenses when possible.

I love that Amanda Palmer posted an entire breakdown of how she’ll use that millon dollars. I love that Write Bloody is asking its readers to tell them who they love and want published. And yes, I think there’s a million right ways to communicate with your audience and a million right ways to talk about how money, class, and economics play a role in getting work out there. Amanda Palmer and I, for example, both have the time and the technology to blog and get word out there about our work via the internet. That’s a fucking privilege if ever there was one, and I’m lucky as hell to have that know how, time, and means. And the internet is a double edged sword for artists. While I love the transparency that comes from a blog about where money is going in a project, or how a publishing company makes decisions about who gets published, it’s also true that once you’ve connected with an audience via the internet or crowdsourcing, your audience expects you to communicate. Its a contract of sorts, if an unspoken one, and every moment building an internet presence (while so often necessary to get your work out there) or chasing down money to make art (via kickstarter, grants, or day jobs) for many of us translates into less time making art. But how wonderful to demystify that process! How wonderful to give people the opportunity to directly invest in you as an artist or in a specific project you’re working towards. It’s been incredibly rewarding to hear from feedback from people on the video I never would have gotten around to making if it weren’t for this manuscript contest. I ran into Natalie from Another Perfect Crime and the Rain City Girls Rock Camp at a show the other night, and she said “I joined youtube so I could ‘like’ your video!” Holy shit. People appreciate what I’m doing. Thanks for the wake-up call, universe.

I guess this is all to say that experimentation is a good thing. That as writers and artists we are starting to forge our own ways of funding and finding homes for our art, and that I’m glad to see the publishing world trying out new ways of conversing with the audience as well. What do you all think?

Sara Brickman’s Houdini Tiger Rube Goldberg Revival

May 1, 2012

Hello fair internet! I’m back! How have you been? It has been so long since we’ve had a cup of tea. I do hope you’ll join me.

So many exciting things are happening! I competed for and won a spot on the Seattle Slam Team this week. I read all brand new poems, which was thrilling, and I’m a proud member of Seattle’s third all-female team in a row. Woot!

As I draw closer to performance and work on developing my performance skills, I feel myself drifting further from an interest in slam competition. This by no means implies that I’ll stop performing. If anything, I want to perform more, in weirder formats, with musicians, and live painters, and acrobats!  I’m excited to be on a slam team again though, and learn in the tight pressure cooker that is  a summer spent with words and fellow performers.

I’m submitting my Write Bloody manuscript today, May Day, 2012! Everyone in downtown Seattle is getting sprayed with pepper spray, and I feel like I should be there, but I also know that battles with the cops make poetry more important, not less. A longer essay for another time perhaps. If you get a chance, visit YouTube and search for my Write Bloody contest video and ‘like’ it. It’s uploading now; I’ll post a link when it’s online.

I got about 22 poems out of 30/30, which isn’t bad considering I was writing a book and preparing for the Grand Slam at the same time. I plan to finish in May.

Last but not least, I have a performance next week (May 9th!) with the incomparable Alex Guy of Led to Sea. We’ll be doing some collaborative viola/poetry/loop pedal amazingness, along with a whole other stable of writer/musician collaborations. We’re still working on our piece, but rest assured it will be amazing, and the other participants are awesome. I hope to have video to post when it’s said and done. You should come!

This is the beautiful poster! Come!

Hope all is well in your world beautybots.

Over and out,

Brickman

What Whirlwind

July 22, 2010

Internet! I have returned from the real world! I bring back stories of life beyond the screen! And Gold! GOLDDDDDDD!

Sorry for the utter lack of updates in a million years. I have been busier than I ever could have imagined. Since we last met, I made it to the final stage of the Write Bloody manuscript competition,  went on tour, managed to snag a slot performing with The Round at Bumbershoot this coming September, and a slot performing at the Femme Conference in San Francisco this August, met one of my favorite bloggers, had my first poem published in Bestiary Magazine, ate a lot of ice cream, and snagged a job as the new registrar and volunteer coordinator at Richard Hugo House, Capitol Hill’s friendly neighborhood literary arts center.

I’m living life, ya’ll.

I can promise however, that I shall return to the blogging wagon in due time! It’s good to be connected with the real world, but I like the far away one too.

Reptiles and Portraits and Poetry

April 6, 2010

Come to the Seattle slam semifinal tomorrow ya’ll. I hear  Lucky 7 and Amy Everhart are going to cryogenically freeze your heart. Wh’POW! Also, I’m in the slam, and so are Tara Hardy, Matt Gano, Jack McCarthy, Steven Wilbur, Dane Kuttler, Korvus Blackbird, and Jodie Knowles, so it’s going to be RIDICULOUS.

Here’s my 30/30 poems for the last two days. See you beauties tomorrow.

5/30-Portrait

When are you going to write me back?
In the glittering snapshots taken two years ago, I am full of doubt,
am not sure how to keep you but
positive to refuse affection from anyone else.
I’m wearing drunk proud as a tuxedo, dancing my face off with the night
swirling my glass to distant beats and flinting myself on your steel fists.
Flirting was a trick I learned later,
after I’d smoked and started and sputtered one too many times at our old scraping.

I’m polishing my smile for you.
I sweat across the floor to oil the hardwood
and then it peels away from my face easy.
I dunk it in turpentine,
rub that ragged t-shirt across its genies.

This mouth does a lot,
it is stuck with grime, almost regret,
all of it caking off in the lamplight
my chin murmuring muffled approval,
taut skin and blank muscle chewing round and round,
voicebox groaning between my nostrils and gooseneck.

With horsehair I paint tiny windows on each imperfect tooth,
take a needle between my fat fingers and stitch
my big-as-Georgia lips with a kite, flying.
Now,
when you look out from within me
you will always see a sunny day.

4/30-Coil

To break a window
you must believe you belong inside.
The pane will spiderweb for you if you want it hard enough.
Belonging is another kind of letting go.
The man at the window has a hundred names.
His passports string his neck,
flags of every nation he has never belonged to
visas marked asylum denial
colored threads roping his neck in tangle.

The alligator in his back is coiling to strike.
His kidneys coiled under gator tongue tense as sunlight.
He breathes into the nylon of his sleeping bag,
wraps round heating vents Jurassic.
The alligator used to live in this house when it was a swamp.
The swamp used to be soaked in restless
now it’s soaked in becoming,
soaked in the ever evolving city
the gator wonders what was so wrong with bubble
so wrong with simmer.

He slithers into a man to find something more turbulent to one up the swamp
the inner boil of human vs the ancient bog
human is wheel-driving moss exploding and dandelion
swamp is ocean-want
human is scale-miss.

Scale-miss is a feeling in the spine
shiver and need
anxious and hopeful
claws and whiplash tail hanging so still around your core
that kookaburras rest on possibilities dripping jaws.

Possible will eat.
Possible must swallow bones and all before chance can take flight
or risk everything happening
in a spurt of this and this and that,
and can we not go there anymore?

The time for mistakes is over,
and human reveals itself as boil over
snap-dragon, birthday candle, a lot of words,
not one single leaf, not one piranha.
The gator knows a ticking choice when he hears one
and to get back at home he will strike from within the sleeping skin
dance out his tongue to tickle the underbelly of fateful simplicity.

Everyone knows that simple doesn’t fit in our mouths.
Everyone knows that holding real still
doesn’t keep the bile from burning.

30/30

April 4, 2010

I’m writing a poem a day for the month of April! See them here, maybe on LJ, and on Facebook. Feedback welcome. Here’s the first 3…

Hoppy Hour

Drinking John Mayer’s Patroń in my living room,
with a girl on every couch,
my mouth swivels and my throat sluices like the Tin-Man.
On the stove is rabbit stew, in my teeth,
a platinum alcohol swimming over my enamel like money.

Becca’s on the saw bowing herself transcendent
while Ben proffers the banjo in one hand
celebrity thievery in another
and our senses warm to amber in the cinnamon light.
We talk to the animals.
They have been fighting again.
They tell us they are swiping because we made a calendar of them
captioned their photos with hilarious misspellings.
We can have cheeseburgers they say.
We know.

Living rooms of overall-clad burlesque dancers
are rare and toothy.
Tonight bluegrass whips us and warms us,
laughter makes us loved when we are not sure we believe it.
Tonight, we drink what we can,
all the risk, all the dead-ends jobs melting like cubes in the glass
our tongues gurgling sweetly round fame.

(p.s. I really was drinking Patron stolen from John Mayer’s dressing room tonight. My life is that strange.)

**************************

*************************

In It

My parents minivan was always a giant eggplant.
When summer began, the door always fell off in the rain.
A lot of things never bent back.
A lot of spoons I knew turned to looking over their shoulders
cataloguing mistakes, hatching bedposts
with misplaced glory.

I grew up inside a red nylon tent.
My brother and I called it Red-World.
My parents lived in Grey-World.
Grey-World was bigger
it zipped shut against the rain.

Lately, I’ve been tight as a harpsichord
wired to a drum-machine in February,
tight as a greeting card stanza,
tight as the molecules of every window.

Old glass, the ripple kind, is filled with lead.
Red-World had a window of plastic sheeting
it smelled like Canada
Canada smelled like the good life.
The moose there hung around with passive danger,
and a sound like antler on wood stays with you,
echoes outside of the forests,
and summer has always been a let down.

School hallways were full of clattering hooves.
They came at me, important as Paris,
loud as Prague,
every entryway a dark tooth of thronged normal,
pawing the linoleum with it’s scent of belonging,
and I was in a bubble smelling like Michigan,
a dirt bank of sneaker ripping through the rain-flap
eating cheese in the hall in my bowl-cut
wanting the universe that rushed from the car-top carrier with a hatchet crash
a small pink thing
with a tongue that could bend across the highway.

*****************************************************

You are blank as the Huron on a Tuesday.
When I told you I am on fire, you said
Well, I can offer you some money to shovel in your mouth
but not a bit more sleep.

What I really need is to find that blue pen.
I could also use some cilantro,
a good recipe for rabbit stew,
because it’s almost Easter
and my friends are the strangest chanters of forgotten
or misled or tossed aside religions,
quivering their toes in high-tops under heavy desks at offices,
internet tickling us from productivity till our palms ache.

Back before work claimed us,
the bar had high ceilings, It was a dandelion bloom.
South Main held our adolescence with rattlecan soaked fingers,
streaking us with the colors
it didn’t care to paint with,
we were worthless canvases
waiting to become something,
empty wallets, our limbs billfolding into our futures
and we could only draw in charcoal
only eat pears,
we were always exploding back then,
collapsing at the Fleetwood Diner
giggling and giggling in the most distrustful way
the waitress eyeing us
clutching her tips like savannah meat
her big paws curling into her jaws,
pennies dribbling out
like grease.

Glimmer and Gloam

March 29, 2010

Hello beautiful internet. Welcome to your one stop shopping for all things Sara Brickman.

Last night, my friends Becca, Ben and I walked from my house to the Ave (University Way for you non-Seattlites) to do a little busking outside of Flowers. We ran into my dear friend Danny Sherrard, I found Becca a soybean salad oil box in an alley, and we launched in a banjo, musical saw, and voice explosion. Sometimes, when it’s the first warm night in months, and everyone has had just the right amount to drink, the sidewalk  is the most beautiful stage.

Three shows coming up in April, a Write Bloody submisson to finish, and good friends all around. Bring it on world.