Tag Archives: How To Be An American

Everyday Sexism, with a Twist (more spoilers) and some Thank Yous in the New Year

5 Jan

Happy New Year kids!

Before we talk some more about Star Wars, I need to do a little recap and say thank you to some people who were end-of-the-year awesome.

First off, thanks to Mark Lindberg who wrote this really wonderful review of This Is Sarah (which you can buy here for 99 pennies!) including the following:

Colin’s hope and single-mindedness is infectious, it’s hard not to believe him, extremely hard not to root for him, but at the same time, we hear the people around him constantly telling him he has become dangerously obsessed and possibly delusional, which it’s also hard not to believe. A fantastically complex place to put me in as reader!

You can read the whole thing here.

And if 99 pennies is more than you want to spend you can throw your hat in the ring for the 2 copies that we’re giving away on Goodreads here. I’ll sign them for you! Entries are open for the next 13 days.

Secondly I want to thank Susan Tepper for her really wonderful review of my new poetry book How To Be An American:

Every poem in this collection is rock-solid and jarring. If you care about the world at large, you might want to read this intelligent, captivating book by Ally Malinenko who is not afraid to speak out. Most highly recommended.

*Blushes*

You can read her whole review here. And if you want, you can also enter the Goodreads giveaway (also 2 copies) which also ends in 13 days!

Yay books!

Thirdly, many thanks to Peter at Portside for giving this poem about East Germany a home. I have done an absolutely terrible job of sending out poems (or writing them for that matter) so the fact that I have anything to share at all is basically a miracle.

And finally, I started a new novel while the other resides in submission hell causing me to refresh my email like a psychopath and habitually curse out any spam that appears. The new thing is still a gooey mess but a) I don’t hate the first 3K plus words (which is a miracle) and b) I’m excited to work on the next few chapters (also a miracle).  Oh and I’m trying really hard to not say “What Would Rey Do?” every single time my MC opens her mouth….. just every other time.

Okay so STAR WARS…..POSSIBLE SPOILERS YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

I posted some spoilers last week after I saw it and it included my excitement that my niece Neve will have a character like Rey to look up to and because I knew that my sister was having trouble finding a Rey toy, I offered to brave the Disney Store in TIMES SQUARE (that’s how much I love Neve) to see if they had anything. They didn’t. Neither did the comic book shops. Or book stores. Or anywhere toys are sold.

Because apparently Hasbro screwed up big time prompting a #WheresRey hashtag.

So they got this:

Rey

Annie Rose, ladies and gentlemen, taking us to church!

Hasbro responded with this:Rey

Right, sure. Insert massive eye roll here. Because, lest we forget both Mattel and Hasbro neglected to include Black Widow in the sets for Age of Ultron and worse THEY GAVE HER MOTORCYCLE TO CAPTAIN AMERICA AND FREAKING IRON MAN.

So while we were in Forbidden Planet we saw this, hanging on the wallorphan black

That’s hands down the most bad ass Orphan Black t-shirt, a show I adore, in which Tatiana Maslany plays 4 amazing clones. My husband is also a fan of this show and when he saw the shirt he audibly squealed and then said, “What do they mean, ‘women only’?” because next to it was a little sign saying exactly that.

That shirt is available in women’s sizes only (i.e. cut tight). No sizes for him.

There were other “women only” t-shirts on display at Forbidden Planet. They included Ms. Marvel, Lumberjanes (which won the Eisner btw) Ghost World and Orphan Black.

All shows/comics with women in the main role.

And it’s not really Forbidden Planet’s fault. The makers of the shirts didn’t bother to make a male version. Because what red blooded American Male would want to walk around with a WOMAN on their shirt??? How embarrassing. And what boy would want to play with a  GIRL flying the Millennium Falcon?? GASP!

mf

Hmmm…Chewie, BB8 and Finn. Last time I checked, neither BB8 nor Finn flew that fucking ship. Ever.

Makers of things: Men can’t be allies against sexism if we don’t give them a chance to be proud of strong female characters. That’s pretty obvious, right?

Everyday sexism, kids, with a twist.

It’s 2016. We shouldn’t be having these conversations anymore.

 

Flying Monkeys, Books and the Cold Unfeeling Universe

4 Dec

Where the flying monkeys did this year go?

I mean honestly. I distinctly remember whole days in January 2015 and there is no way way they were 12 months ago.

Anyway I wanted to do a whole book blog about what I read this year but that’s going to wait till next time because we got some other things to talk about. Good? Good.

 

book

First and foremost How to Be An American is out in the wild and for sale!

Here’s proof:

oscar

That handsome devil up in the left hand corner is none other than Oscar Varona, the amazing artist who created the cover collage. And that sly fox on the right is Aida.

Aida is a phenomenal artist. Here’s a bit of her work:

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Those are from a series she did on women who influence her. Incredible.

As for my book, someone needs to give a copy for Christmas to their super Team USA relative so they can write a scathing review on amazon calling me communist and telling me to love it or leave it. Seriously. Can we make this happen?

Until then, here’s what Jessica Fenlon had to say:

drawcloseGot @AllyMalinenko‘s “How to Be an American” today – so happy to read these ‘rejected’ poems! The tough kind to write – and to read – thin clear slices of moments, the good part of Bukowski, walking a line leaning to one side and then another but never falling down, never tangling really. So clear when we hit the drop-lines in the poems they sink into you. Sometimes there isn’t a drop, sometimes it’s a slow eddy, a dance with an idea I myself have considered. I like the steps Ms. Malinenko takes . . . 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5 of 5 stars)

So the book is on amazon – but I’ve got a few copies in my hot little hands that I will sell to you for less than the drones at Amazon so by all means hit me up in the comments or via email (ally dot malinenko at gmail dot com) if you’re interested. And if you’ve got something creative you cooked up I’d be happy to do a swap!

In addition, Bookfish Book who published This Is Sarah has lowered the price of the ebook to 99 pennies. I may be biased but I think it might be worth that.

22360316

Also the other morning while I was staring at the wall wondering what the hell I was going to do with my writing mornings now that my sci fi book is done, I spotted a few copies of Sarah just sitting there looking all sad and lonely and wishing that they were in the hands of readers so I decided that because I don’t visit the post office nearly enough, I would do a goodreads giveaway. So that’s in the works in case you want to try and win a copy.

Next up, in the book department is this little number:

51zb3cEK73L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I’ve certainly crowed about how much I love Jersey Devil Press here before but seriously, they’re such a great home for all us little weirdos. I’m over the moon honored to have not one, but TWO (I know, right!) stories in their anthology. The first is Paper Heart and the second is Vital: A Love Story (which was written for Eirik and Monica when they were going through some serious shit)

I’m super excited about this because honestly, I love these two stories so very much. And I’m honored to be included in such a great collection.

So a huge thank you to Laura and Sam and Eirik and Mike.

And while I’m dishing out the thanks, thanks to Richard Vargas and his amazing Mas Tequila Review for including some of my poems in the new issue, which I have been pleasure delaying the end of because I don’t want it to stop.

And thanks to Drunk Monkeys for publishing Telling All My Secrets about that super crappy day I had to spill the beans to my amazing parents about having cancer.

Another of my favorites, Clockwise Cat, also included two of my poems in their new Clockwise Cat Strikes Back Issue. Thanks you timely feline.

And because it’s the end of the year, it’s award time so a million trillion starburst-y thanks to Drunk in Midnight Choir for nominating me for a Pushcart. It’s an incredible honor that out of all the amazing pieces that DMC published this year, they highlighted mine.

And finally, here’s an interview I did with Your One Phone Call

What is your writing process?

I write a sentence. I re-read the sentence. I change the sentence. I polish the sentence. I re-read the sentence. I delete the sentence.

This goes on for years.

And because it bares saying in the wake of the Paris attacks, the multiple mass shootings in the US, the Syrian refugees desperately trying to find safety, the UK deciding to bomb Syria, the GOP turning into the party of hate and whatever retaliation Putin is planning for Turkey………..Please for the love of the Cold Unfeeling Universe, hug your babies tight.

And remember…”We are all passengers pitching downward into the night…so get up and help someone.”

 

Peace, love and Starbursts,

Ally

 

 

 

How To Be An American is Now Available

18 Nov

So it’s time. Previous snafu is fixed and my new poetry book,

How to Be An American

is on Amazon and Goodreads.

book

That said, rumor has it that I’ll be getting my greedy little hands on a few more copies so if you want to order it directly from me (for cheaper) hit me up at ally dot malinenko @ gmail dot com.

I’m also thinking about doing a goodreads giveaway because why not?

So here’s a bit about what’s been said so far about How To Be An American:

The poems in How to Be an American strike the chords of conversations we should be having, should have already had and resolved, or conversations that should be irrelevant. In this generation’s remake of democracy, Malinenko’s book is an incendiary device.
—Jason Baldinger, author of The Lower Forty-Eight

Ally Malinenko is the embodiment of what E.L. Doctorow meant when he said we need writers because we need witnesses to this terrifying century. In How to Be an American, she dissects the American dream and breaks it down to its petri-dish truths. Malinenko’s America is a country that exports ignorance and consumerism, where the greatest embarrassment is to be poor, vulnerable, and in need. In a voice as direct and unstoppable as an ambulance, Malinenko paints a raw, visceral, and essential portrait of a country without pity, without compassion, and makes the need for change feel like the emergency it is.
—Lori Jakiela, author of Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

Ally Malinenko has an exceptional ability to observe life and write honestly. She is an absolute treasure.
—Moriah LaChapell, editor of The Blue Hour

This is a devastating book that reads as the polar opposite of Walt Whitman—here, the speaker does not see herself of them, these demented Americans. Here, the speaker rises up and says to the Bible and all its believers, to the box stores and all their consumers, to the patriots and all their patriotism, “Absolutely not.” The country inside these pages is lit up like a Walmart commercial and packed with the same ugliness that makes minimum wage unlivable and bargain shoppers unbearable. The loudest voices are all dressed up in stars-and-stripes bikinis, shouting about how great it is to be red-white-and-blue, while the rest of us rape and kill and need a drink to stand the sights. Here are poems that say, “Enough,” that say, “Quit insulting the world.” Watch out, America. Ally Malinenko’s poems are dodgeballs and she’s throwing them at your head.
—Dave Newman, author of The Poem Factory

How to Be an American is a how-to guide without instructions. This book is brave, bold, and honest—a fucking atom bomb to the political and personal poetry scenes.
—Ben John Smith, editor of Horror Sleaze and Trash

It ain’t pretty and it ain’t poesy, at least the way most Americans think of poesy, thank you, Jesus. And it ain’t political, except in the larger sense of human-ness, of flaming outrage, and of deeply longed for compassion. Simply put, this is Ally Malinenko’s incisive deconstruction of many a fetid cranny and nook of the collective American psyche. Pilgrim, save yourself: read it now.
—Don Wentworth, editor of Lilliput Review

And this review from Jessica:

A photo posted by Jessica Fenlon (@drawclose) on Nov 13, 2015 at 9:28am PST

back

That’s an actual rejection notice that I received so extra special thank you to all the journals that did publish the poems in this book. I’m talking about The Blue Hour, Boyslut, Burlesque Press, Camel Saloon, Clockwise Cat, Crisis Chronicle, Dead Snakes, Dissident Voices, Eleventh Transmission, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, Horror Sleaze and Trash, Ink Sweat and Tears, Mas Tequila Review, Red Fez, Regardless of Authority, Underground Books, Unlikely Stories, This Is Poetry, This Zine Will Change Your Life, and Zygote in My Coffee.

An extra special thank you to Oscar Varona for the cover art, which you can buy as a t-shirt! How cool is that!

And many thanks to Nathan at Six Gallery Press for taking a chance on this pinko. You’re a good man.

I dedicated it, with love, to my fellow Americans.

We can be so much better. We SHOULD be.

HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN, the New Poetry Book Is Almost Out!

29 Oct

book

How To Be An American, my second book of poetry from Six Gallery Press is out November 7th! Want to know what people are saying? Funny you should ask:

back

That’s a real rejection notice that I received so extra special thank you to all the journals that did publish the poems in this book. I’m talking about The Blue Hour, Boyslut, Burlesque Press, Camel Saloon, Clockwise Cat, Crisis Chronicle, Dead Snakes, Dissident Voices, Eleventh Transmission, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, Horror Sleaze and Trash, Ink Sweat and Tears, Mas Tequila Review, Red Fez, Regardless of Authority, Underground Books, Unlikely Stories, This Is Poetry, This Zine Will Change Your Life, and Zygote in My Coffee

And here’s what people are really saying:

The poems in How to Be an American strike the chords of conversations we should be having, should have already had and resolved, or conversations that should be irrelevant. In this generation’s remake of democracy, Malinenko’s book is an incendiary device.
—Jason Baldinger, author of The Lower Forty-Eight

Ally Malinenko is the embodiment of what E.L. Doctorow meant when he said we need writers because we need witnesses to this terrifying century. In How to Be an American, she dissects the American dream and breaks it down to its petri-dish truths. Malinenko’s America is a country that exports ignorance and consumerism, where the greatest embarrassment is to be poor, vulnerable, and in need. In a voice as direct and unstoppable as an ambulance, Malinenko paints a raw, visceral, and essential portrait of a country without pity, without compassion, and makes the need for change feel like the emergency it is.
—Lori Jakiela, author of Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

Ally Malinenko has an exceptional ability to observe life and write honestly. She is an absolute treasure.
—Moriah LaChapell, editor of The Blue Hour

This is a devastating book that reads as the polar opposite of Walt Whitman—here, the speaker does not see herself of them, these demented Americans. Here, the speaker rises up and says to the Bible and all its believers, to the box stores and all their consumers, to the patriots and all their patriotism, “Absolutely not.” The country inside these pages is lit up like a Walmart commercial and packed with the same ugliness that makes minimum wage unlivable and bargain shoppers unbearable. The loudest voices are all dressed up in stars-and-stripes bikinis, shouting about how great it is to be red-white-and-blue, while the rest of us rape and kill and need a drink to stand the sights. Here are poems that say, “Enough,” that say, “Quit insulting the world.” Watch out, America. Ally Malinenko’s poems are dodgeballs and she’s throwing them at your head.
—Dave Newman, author of The Poem Factory

It ain’t pretty and it ain’t poesy, at least the way most Americans think of poesy, thank you, Jesus. And it ain’t political, except in the larger sense of human-ness, of flaming outrage, and of deeply longed for compassion. Simply put, this is Ally Malinenko’s incisive deconstruction of many a fetid cranny and nook of the collective American psyche. Pilgrim, save yourself: read it now.
—Don Wentworth, editor of Lilliput Review

How to Be an American is a how-to guide without instructions. This book is brave, bold, and honest—a fucking atom bomb to the political and personal poetry scenes.
—Ben John Smith, author of White White White

And an extra special thank you to Oscar Varona for the cover art, which you can buy as a t-shirt! How cool is that!

To celebrate the launch, I’ll be heading to Pittsburgh for a reading on November 7th at 8pm at Modern Formations – sadly one of the last as they are closing. If you’re in town, please come by. There will be beer and laughter. I promise.

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It’s a great line-up including Adam Matcho, who has a new book out with LowGhost Press, Lori Jakiela, Dave Newman, John Grochalski, Jason Irwin and John Korn.

In the meantime, here’s the conversation I had with my mother regarding the book’s launch:

Mom: I’m worried. Someone is going to put a brick through your window. Look what happened to Snowden.
Me: O_o
Mom: Russia.
Me: Mom. Please. Stop.

I love you, Mom.

And finally, this book is dedicated with love to my fellow Americans – let’s all be better shall we?

This is Me (with This is Sarah) Trying to Be Less Annoying

30 Jun

cover_WRAP_web

Okay so in an effort not to have a million individual posts here and facebook and tumblr and  twitter and thus irritate everyone that I know, I just wanted to set a little bit of space aside to thank all the bloggers who, in just the last few days, have rallied around This Is Sarah and helped me get the word out.

So first off, thanks to Katie for hosting me on her blog where I had a chance to talk about my favorite parts of writing (the beginning) vs my least favorite parts (the end with all the never ending editing!) and she was also kind enough to include a excerpt. Thanks Katie!

Next up was Sami on tumblr with an interview. Sami asked about the writing process and how long it takes to edit a book and I stopped to do the math and realized I re-wrote This Is Sarah about 23 times from when it started as a short story to now. That sort of gave me a headache.

Much thanks to Mary at BookHounds for including this excerpt from Claire’s POV and to Becky at BarmyBookBlog for giving us one from Colin’s POV. Heather also included a excerpt and so did Lee at Rally the Readers.

And finally thanks to Melissa for not only including an excerpt but for also posting my thoughts on what getting up at 5 am to write can really mean (short answer: exhaustion AND productivity). And finally Annie at Just One More Chapter has a bit I wrote from the perspective of Claire that is not in the novel.

It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but these bloggers not only have tons of requests for reviews and posts but they also have lives so it really means a lot to someone like me that I get a little help in spreading the word.

Thank you bloggers. You rock.

On the otherside of the writing spectrum, I wanted to thank Blue Hour Press, who have always been wonderful for taking these How To Be An American poems and to The CommonLine for taking this poem Take Off.

 

So the tour is going on till July 11th and if anyone else wants to join me, please drop me an email or contact BookFish. Also if you’re interested in reviewing we’re happy to hear your thoughts.

 

Phew, that’s everything. How about we clean the palate with a little Bukowski?

War and Peace by Charles Bukowski

to experience

real agony

is

something

hard

to write about,

impossible

to understand

while it

grips you;

you’re

frightened

out of

your

wits,

can’t sit

still,

move

or even

go

decently

insane.

 

and then

when your

composure

finally

returns

and you are

able to

evaluate

the

experience

it’s almost as

if it

had happened

to

somebody

else

 

because

look at

you

now:

 

calm

detached

 

say

 

cleaning your

fingernails

 

looking through

a

drawer

for

stamps

 

applying

polish

to your

shoes

or

paying the

electric

bill.

 

life is

and is not

a

gentle

bore.

 

Linky Time

27 May

493

 

Hello lovelies

I’m still in the throes of editing THIS IS SARAH so I haven’t done much in the way of new writing but I have managed to get a few things out there.

So real quick:

1. I have a new piece on the Forked Road – under the Quills and Frills section. In this, we post new stuff and once a month Aleathia gives us a prompt.

This was the prompt for Saturday: “Through a freak illness, you lose one of your senses.  Which sense is it, what happens to you, and how do you deal with it?”

Nice, right? Initially I wrote a piece on losing the sense of hearing. It was alright but nothing that I loved. On my walk to work I started thinking about how truly terrible it would be to never enjoy another slice of pizza. So instead I wrote this, about losing the sense of taste. Yup, that’s me. Always thinking with my stomach.

2. I’ve got some poems up at the new Zygote in my Coffee. It’s another batch from the How to Be An American series which I have to admit has petered a bit in recent months. I’m hoping it’s just all the fiction writing but to be honest, back when I started this in October I hoped to have a complete MS by now – approximately 100 poems. I’m stuck at number 53. But thanks to Brian for taking these.

3. I also got a few poems into ppigpenn with the always hilarious Catfish McDaris. Oddly enough all of these poems in some way involve my husband which is a total coincidence.

4. And finally a piece on the Forked Road about my trip to Italy – it involves me hiding out in an Irish pub and breaking an air conditioner. What? It was really hot.

Okay back to work.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

 

Monday Morning Poems, an Excerpt link, and A Small Ranty Thing About This Country

19 May

Good morning, lovelies…

I am exhausted this morning from a fantastic family weekend so I’ll keep try to keep this short.

The very cool Jonathan Penton at Unlikely Stories was kind enough to accept this How To Be An American poem to add to what is a great collection for the May issue of Unlikely Stories. Please be sure to check out the rest of the issue. It’s chock full of goodness.

And I would also like to say thanks to Stephen Williams at Dead Snakes for taking these poems.

I’m a lucky girl.

Also the Forked Road has another THIS IS SARAH excerpt. The book is written in alternating viewpoints from Claire (Sarah’s little sister) and Colin’s (Sarah’s boyfriend).

You can read Colin’s piece here and you can the Claire one here if excerpts are your kind of thing.

And finally I know I said that this is going to a short post but I’ve got this thing nagging at me. I’ve received some rejections for poems lately for the How To Be An American series and both times I was called Anti-American. Before we go into this I feel the need to say the following:

DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NO PROBLEM BEING REJECTED. MY WHOLE WRITING CAREER IS 90% REJECTION, 10% PUBLICATION.

That part is really important to understand. I get that if you put stuff out there you’ll inevitably get most of it rejected. That’s fine. My thick skin is fully insulated. So it’s not about being rejected, okay? Understand? Good.

It’s about the notion that these poems are Anti-American or more so that to criticize our country = Anti-Americanism. I’m just curious when that happened? When did observing our failures (because we do have them) become akin to ignoring our successes? When did my acknowledging that there are places where we have seriously dropped the ball suddenly mean that I’m a communist (which I was called)?

This all seems particularly short-sighted.

This Sunday the New York Times had an article on adding trigger warnings to texts so that college kids can be prepared to deal with thing that make them uncomfortable.

At Oberlin College, a draft petition asked teachers to flag anything that might disrupt a students learning. This is from the NY Times article:

“Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” the guide said. “Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” For example, it said, while “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe — a novel set in colonial-era Nigeria — is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”

Where do we go from here?

How do we possibly grew and fix society if we don’t face the ugly upsetting things head on? Isn’t the point of art and college to challenge us? To make us think?

Now, please don’t for a second thing that I think that just because I wrote a poem that might cast America in a poor light that I should automatically have it published because that would be nonsense. Editors have the right to publish whatever they want. I’m just curious about this notion that to criticize a nation is akin to being its enemy.

Did we really all take Bush’s “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” thing to heart?

Or as we so isolated, constantly hearing opinions that mirror our own that something outside of our experience shatters our delusions about the world we live in?

I write about this country because I want it to be better.

I want the kids that go to school to not worry about dying when they refuse a prom date.

I want parents to trust that when the drop off their kindergarten those babies will come home at the end of the day – alive and well and not in body bags.

In what universe is that wrong???

I want us to be better. And to be better we need to talk about where we fail. And isn’t that the purpose of art? Not to pad down all the ugly parts but to hold them up so that we can see the cracks in the glass. So that we can figure out how to seal them over again?

So that we can actually strive to be the country we’re currently pretending we are?

Sigh….Anyway….that’s enough out of me.

Happy Monday.

Be nice to each other, okay?

Peace, Love and Starbursts

Ally

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