Tag Archives: poetry reading

Gratitude

8 Oct

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Last night I had the honor – and it was was truly that – of being a part of PinkSpeak – a fundraiser held by Mike Geffner of Inspired Word in which all proceeds goes to Pink Daisy, a site dedicated to helping young women with cancer cope with the daily obstacles of life.

It was an amazing night full of incredibly talented people and to have the opportunity to not only hear their stories but to also share mine – to stitches our stories together, to bouy each other up mattered.

When Better Luck Next Year first came out, I had a reading in Pittsburgh for the launch. During the end, I felt that familiar frog in my throat and I got upset. Not like sobbing or anything but you know, talking got a little hard.

I was upset with myself for doing that. I though it was “unprofessional.”

So this time, I swore I wasn’t going to. I was going to have some level of detachment from this material. I was going to be professional. I was an artist, dammit. Act like it.

Anyone who knows me knows that basically you just have to fingernail scratch the surface of me before you hit all the FEELS. It’s just how I’m built. I used to feel bad about it like I couldn’t hold my shit together but there is power in being this emotional. For one, it makes me incredibly empathetic. I would say empathetic to a fault but I don’t believe you can be. It makes you see the world differently.

So when I got nearly to the end of the reading last night and then felt that familiar catch in my throat and that pinprick at my eyes, I was disappointed with myself. I had come so close and still didn’t pull it off.

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And then I realized something.

I was getting upset because I was sad or scared or angry.

I wasn’t upset because of cancer.

I was upset because I was overcome with GRATITUDE.

Gratitude that I was able to stand on that stage with so many talented artists and knit my story into theirs, creating a web by which we will all carry each other through this fire.

Gratitude that I’m here now, still standing, with my unflappable love of this life and this universe and all of us.

Gratitude to my old friends and new friends who joined me that night, who were there watching me be as raw as I could be and saying, “It’s all good, girl.”

Gratitude to everyone in the audience and everyone else who couldn’t come but donated so much that Mike posted this this morning:

GRATITUDE.

So thank you all, from the bottom of deeply overwhelmed, emotional, gushing heart.

#nycpoet Ally Malinenko @ #pinkspeak #breastcancerawarenessmonth #breastcancer #nycfundraiser #inspiredwordnyc #thepinkdaisyproject

A post shared by Mike Geffner's Inspired Word (@inspiredwordnyc) on

 

Peace love and Starbursts,

Ally

Books, readings, poetry, oh my

3 Oct

Oof.

How the hell is it already October?

It’s this election, guys. It’s killing me slowly.

Speaking of I just spent a week in DC which deserves its own post but I have to say it was both amazing and surreal and sad to be there now. At one point I was standing in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, in the Presidential room, looking at that history, for all its good and bad, and the legacy of men who have lead this country and was struck stone cold sober with the notion that that bloviating noxious man child is a possibility.

That said, this happened after I left. Snicker. Snicker.

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But before DC, I have a few updates to share.

First and foremost I’m doing a reading on Friday at the Parkside Lounge for PinkSpeak.

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More information can be found here.

Featured Artists:

Storyteller/Poet Phillip Giambri aka The Ancient Mariner

Singer/Songwriter Samantha Leon

Poet Keisha-Gaye Anderson

Singer/Songwriter Taylor Tucker

Poet Wynne Henry

Spoken Word Artist/Poet Scott Raven

Poet Dara Kalima

Singer/Songwriter Matt Wiffen & His Band

Poet Ally Malinenko

Singer/Songwriter Natatia Allison

Poet John Grochalski

Hosted by Jenny Saldaña.

It’s gonna be a good night, with a good cause so come join us for some beers, some poems, some songs as we hoist a pint and offer a hearty Fuck You to cancer.

If you’re in town and can come, awesome. If not you can still donate to a really great cause that helps young women with cancer. Cause we need all the help we can get.

I’m also really excited to say that my new chapbook, I’ll Be So Still You Won’t Even Notice Me is available now via Epic Rites press. It’s part of Epic Rite’s Punk Chapbook series where in you can get 12 books for $40 and that’s a pretty sweet deal. The package includes yours truly hooked up with some of her favorites, including William Taylor Jr, James Duncan and Janne Karlsson as well as a whole host of awesome writers.

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(I’m scheduled to do another reading in November at Parkside at which I will have copies available too. More on that later.)

Also I’m excited to be included in Janne Karlsson’s anthology the Bones of Nirvana. Janne did the fantastic artwork for all the punk chapbooks from Epic Rites. He’s super talented and for Bones of Nirvana, he’s illustrated every poem in the collection. Needless to say I was floored when I saw mine. Now I know how comic book writers feel. Art making words better. I’ll share when that’s available too.

And finally I just want to say thank you to Brooklyn Poets who posted not only a poem with audio track (in other news I hate my voice) but also an interview.  I was honored to be their poet of the week!

DC Trip post coming soon…….

ETA: I completely forgot to thank Red Fez and Drunk Monkeys for their Best of the Net nominations for my poems “Better Luck Next Year” and “While David Bowie was Dying

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

 

 

Better Luck Next Year is officially for sale!

1 Aug

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The writer Joanna C Valente said that “A trauma is a funeral for one; there is no one to mourn you but yourself. The coffin is empty, since you are still alive, but you must fill it with something, and that becomes your former self.”

Or it becomes a book of poems.

BLNY

Better Luck Next Year is officially out and about and available to buy.

And the City Paper wrote a nice review about it saying:

Malinenko’s witty, conversational tone keeps Better Luck from veering into weepy sentimentality. When her speaker describes the sonogram of her tumor, it’s “[l]ike the red spot on Jupiter / a hurricane the size of a planet / here now / inside me” — a brilliant use of simile. When she writes of this news sinking in, “I whisper. Fuck. / The smallest hurricane of a word I know,” it’s powerfully restrained.

The reading last weekend went well. I think. I was pretty nervous and anyone who was there can attest to my incessant shaking. I’ve read poetry plenty of times but never anything as personal or as hard as this. I think I underestimated how hard it was actually going to be. I nearly lost it reading the last poem – the title track Better Luck Next Year – specifically on these lines:

 

and I took the ribbon pin off my bag

because I am not a warrior

or a survivor

but just a young women trying to live with a disease

Specifically the word warrior. The language that we use to talk about a situation – any situation – reshapes it. It frames people’s experiences. The warrior myth – and it is a myth – turns individuals into an amorphous mass stripping them of their unique experience. If you have “winners” then you, in turn have “losers.” As many obituaries read, people “lose their brave battle.” As if I could will myself into better health. As if it were just up to me. That is without a doubt the most dangerous form of magical thinking I can imagine. And it is an aspect of this experience that I feel most strongly about which is why that little word carried so much power.

In the end, I’m sorry I had to write it – that I ever had a reason to write it – but I’m so glad it exists.

So thanks to Kris and Nathan for all their hard work in turning this into a real live book. And if you do get it and read it and have a second to post your thoughts on Amazon or Goodreads, I would be eternally grateful.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

 

 

 

Better Luck Next Year: or How I Learned To Talk About My Boobs

20 Jul

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So in just three days Better Luck Next Year will be out in the world.

As I’ve said before I’m really excited for you guys to meet this book. We’re having a little reading party with Jason Irwin, author of A Blister of Stars and John Grochalski whose new book Wine Clerk is now out. It’s this Saturday in Pittsburgh at the East End Book Exchange at 7pm. If you can make it, very cool.

We’ll talk about my BOOBS. It’ll be fun.

I want to thank Rege at Tribune Review for taking the time to talk to me about the book. You can read that interview here and if you like what you hear check out Littsburgh.

They asked me “What do you hope readers take away from Better Luck Next Year?”

And I said:

“I think the reason anyone writes anything, or reads anything for that matter, is to connect with another person. To put something into the universe that a stranger picks up and says, ‘Yes, I know that! That’s me!’ To cultivate empathy – something we could all use a little more of. Cancer is an incredibly universal disease. You can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who has been affected. But it is also exceedingly isolating. There is a clear demarcation between the life you used to have and the life after diagnosis and it bleeds into nearly every aspect of your existence. So what I tried to do is speak to that as honestly as I could. It was an attempt to dismantle the ‘warrior myth’ and fetizishing of breast cancer. When you scrape away all the ribbons and charity walks you’re left with some very harsh realities. So if there’s anything I hope that people get out of it it would be the ability to speak more honestly about our shared fears and hopes. To speak as honestly as we can about mortality – our own and that of those we love.”

There’s also a few samples of the poems that you’ll find in the book!

And they did a nice spotlight on Jason’s A Blister of Stars and on Low Ghost in general which is an incredible press that I’m so proud to be on.

Or you can listen to what Karina Bush said (a poet that I don’t know, I swear):

“I am impressed by Ally Malinenko, her poems about her experience with cancer are excellent. I think she has a book coming out soon.”

I do! In three days!

(Also that was sent to me by the guy who published her book and did some broadsides for me so I wasn’t like…googling myself, I swear).

This has been a long week. I had back to back appointments, one of which was treatment. While I was there something…happened.

I was bullshitting with my oncologist as he checked my lymph nodes, he got a phone call about another patient. Her numbers were bad. There was discussion about changing her meds. He told the nurse that he needs to see her and to make sure she gets an appointment by tomorrow and that she can’t start the other medication until she comes in. After he got off the phone there was a beat and I could see how distracted he was by this news. Then he just started chatting with me again.

Me, one of his “healthy” ones.

And I realized that in this ugly twisted fabric of terrible luck, there are pockets of good luck and I am in one of those pockets. And I am so thankful.

And then today, my mammo came back clear. And I’m good for six more months.

So I bought myself some starbursts

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I love you guys.

Peace, love and Starbursts,

Ally

 

 

 

Books are Coming! Books are Here! Books Books Books!

14 Jul

Howdy from the hot garbage smell that is Brooklyn in the summertime!

Yummy!

So real quick, couple of thank yous before we get to the nitty gritty on the books, books, books.

First off thanks to Anti-Heroin Chic for taking these three poems and to Your One Phone Call for this one. Speaking of poetry, I was incredibly sad to find out that Dead Snakes is no longer. It was a great site for writers and readers and Stephen was a tireless champion of all of our work. I can’t thank him enough for all the poems that he’s given a home to and for all the writers he’s introduced me to. I hope the archive stays up.

So books!

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Next Saturday the 23rd is the official book birthday for Better Luck Next Year. I am super excited for this book to be out in the world, not only because of the subject matter (stupid cancer) but because I think that the folks at Low Ghost helped to put together a really solid book out of the hot mess manuscript I sent them. In the meantime you can add it to your Goodreads To Be Read Pile (should be so inclined).

And if you’re on the fence, here’s what the (amazing) James Duncan of Hobo Camp had to say about it:

Malinenko is so simply eloquent and true that she makes the most personal of her trials too universal to resist, makes those midnight terrors so real you can feel your throat clenching as you pass from one stanza to stanza. I wept as I read her suffering the endless runaround as she searched for medical help, as she picked apart her life for the mistakes she might have made that brought this cancer to her body, as she searched her familial history for tell-tale signs too late to help, as she discussed buying a pizza with her husband on the way home from the hospital because that’s what a human being with or without cancer does when they have to keep on living, right? It is cliché maybe, but I’ll say it: I cried when I read her poetry, because it’s good and real and true and it hit home.

You can read the whole things here!

 

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If you’re in Pittsburgh please do come by the East End Book Exchange at 7:00 pm on Saturday July 23rd for some beers and some poetry and some stories about my boobs, and some possible rants about the “warrior myth.” It’ll be fun. Come.

Also! It’s the release of Jason Irwin’s A Blister of Stars which is a beautiful poetry book – and I’m so glad we’re paired together as it also deals with illness and physicality – and John Grochalski’s Wine Clerk. If you read his first book, The Librarian, then you know what an amazing character Rand Wyndam is and how funny John’s books are. Also, come on, this cover is sweet!

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Some things people have said:

John Grochalski’s is a line that extends back to Steinbeck and Sinclair and up through Fante and Bukowski. Wine Clerk is another brilliant evocation of how miserable the world can be and how surviving with a drink in a dive bar is our only shot at victory.

-Dave Newman, author of Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children

You can preorder now!

 

Next up Epic Rite is including my chapbookI’ll Be So Still You Won’t Even Notice Me – in the Punk Chapbook Season Two. Basically for a paltry $40 you get 12 books of poetry. This is a good deal folks. You can pre-order that one too from the link above!

And finally I got this:

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It was made by the crazy talented Janne Karlsson from Sweden. Now I know how comic book writers feel. Drawings making words better. I’m completely overwhelmed with how cool this is. He also illustrated a poem of mine which will be out later this year.

So that’s about it. Again, if you’re in Pittsburgh please swing by for the book launch.

Peace love and starbursts,

Ally

 

 

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

29 Oct

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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:

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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?

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Reading in da ‘Burgh and other things I don’t have time to talk about

5 Feb

Reading in Da Burg

Just a quick reminder that this is happening so if you want to come out you can hear some top notch writing. I’m talking TOP NOTCH. Well mine will be my usual drivel, but the rest? TOP NOTCH.

Also I really want to write a blog post about the things I’ve been working on but I’ve been too damn busy working on them. Figures.

Point being, things are happening. Work is being done. Words are being written. Eventually I’ll have some news.

Peace Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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