Embroidered Worlds Meets First Kickstarter Goal in 24 Hours!

We reached our first Kickstarter goal of $5000 in less than 24 hours! That’s amazing!

Thank you thank you thank you!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far! Щиро дякуємо! 

Someone asked me a question about the stretch goals, so I wanted to take a moment to explain.

The way Kickstarter is set up, if a project does not reach its funding goal, none of the rewards are processed and the money is not charged. So instead it encourages creators to establish a series of goals, starting small and building step by step toward the most ambitious version of the final product.

In planning the Embroidered Worlds Kickstarter campaign, we were able to set different goals along the way. We would love to achieve all of them, but we started modestly. That way, no matter what, once we were funded we would be able to publish the book of stories by Ukrainian writers published in English for the first time!  We have now achieved this!

This means we can turn our attention to the next goals, and share the project with more people. Hopefully we can broaden our audience of readers!

  • With our base funding of $5000, we will be able to produce and print the book, with, at a minimum, the stories funded by the grant, as well as translations into English for a story written in Ukrainian by Tatiana Adamenko and stories written in Hungarian by Károj D. Balla and Éva Berniczky.
  • At $7000 we can commit to adding a selection of diaspora stories including ones by R.B. Lemberg, Valya Dudycz Lupescu, and Natalka Roshak, and also pay all three editors for their work.
  • At $10,000 we will produce a completed collection, including stories by Elizabeth Bear, Anatoly Belilovsky, David Demchuk, Halyna Lipatova, Askold Melnyczuk, and Mikhailo Nazarenko, Stefan O. Rak, and A.D. Sui.
  • At $20,000 we will hire a Ukrainian artist to design custom bookplates for this campaign only that will show that your copy is an original Founder edition. These bookplates will be sent with all print copies (for some international shipments, in separate packaging).
  • At $25,000 we’ll provide all backers a swag pack of cool, exclusive digital rewards from Atthis Arts.
  • At $30,000 we will hire three Ukrainian artists for interior illustrations, and include those in the book, all editions.
  • At $50,000 we will make available a limited-edition, numbered hardcover, with art prints of the cover and illustrations that can be framed.

Each level allow us to enhance the reading experience for our backers. (How amazing would it be to be able to make a limited-edition, numbered hardcover edition! Art prints!)

Achieving these stretch goals also means that more books are being ordered and shared! In turn, that makes it possible for our publisher to continue producing more wonderful projects in the future. I’ll keep posting updates and information here, and if you’re a backer, you’ll be receiving updates from me and others on the Kickstarter page as we go through this campaign.

Thank you again for your support, generosity, and enthusiasm!

Neil Gaiman delivered a commencement speech that was published in a book, “Make Good Art.” I’ve quoted from it before, because Neil is wise and there are a lot of good gems in there. I’d like to leave you with this:

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do you have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make art.

And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that’s been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

Thank you again. We are able to make good art because of your support. Thank you.

Let’s keep making good art. Together!

“Ukrainian American Poets Respond” Book Launch

It has been 197 days since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Ukrainians are still fighting.

Every morning, I check Twitter to see the updates from Ukrainian journalists, activists, artists, and writers that I follow. There is always news: Here is the devastation and sacrifice. Here is the heroism and resilience. Слава Україні!

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian diaspora tries to collect resources, rally support, and share the stories, names, and photographs to help the Ukrainian people and keep the world from forgetting.

On Friday, September 16, I will join other Ukrainian American poets for a reading at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York City.

We will be reading our poems from the “Ukrainian American Poets Respond” anthology edited by Olena Jennings (Poets of Queens) and Virlana Tkacz (Yara Arts Group).

I am honored to have my poems included in this collection, and I hope that some of you will be able to come out on the 16th:

Tickets for the Ukrainian American Poets Respond Book Launch

Ukrainian American Poets Respond Book Launch Information on Facebook

You can also order a copy on Amazon or from an Independent Bookstores near you.

Слава Україні! Slava Ukraini!

A Pause

I’m home drinking coffee from my new mug adorned by Magic the Bengal (a gift from the good folks at the Night Garden Project and Great Lakes Bengal Rescue). Look at those gorgeous eyes! If you’d like one, you can purchase one here.

Last night was the second annual Induction Ceremony for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. I’m tired, trying to catch my breath. It was wonderful event, and I am so proud to be a part of it, but truly it deserves its own post. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe when I can add photos by 8 eyes Photography. It’s so much better to have photos, and I was backstage the entire time and so unable to take any.

I still have so many things to catch up on. I attended an all-day seminar at the Art Institute for volunteers who teach in the schools. It was nice to be back at the Art Institute, to learn about some new and existing resources. I really don’t get down there enough. I also need to bring the kids downtown more often, to enjoy the incredible cultural treasures that Chicago has to offer.

The featured writers along with organizers, Sonya Arko and Anna Golash.

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art had a wonderful reading series with some of my favorite Ukrainian writers/artists visiting from out of town: Askold Melnyczuk the novelist and founder of AGNI, and  Virlana Tkacz, a poet, writer, and the founder of the amazing Yara Arts Group. It was nice to just sit in the audience and listen.

Virlana Tkacz reading some of her poetry.

Also reading were Alexis Buryk and Roman Skaskiw. I really enjoyed their work, and especially appreciated the voice and characterization in Skaskiw’s writing.

Roman Skaskiw reading his fiction.

It was a mix of styles from writers new and seasoned. Though their voices and perspectives were different, I was struck by the repeating themes of identity, home, and authenticity.

As diaspora writers, we retain a collective memory and vision about our ancestral home–Ukraine. Many of us have been raised with an appreciation of our almost mythic motherland–its physical location, history, and achievement are praised and preserved. Yet we are also a part of a new world, an American reality, and there is a natural desire to also be a part of that world. So we stand on the threshold, between the old and new, longing for two things simultaneously.

In his introduction, Askold Melnyczuk mentioned that as writers, we often have themes or obsessions in our work. I think for me (at least right now) this idea of thresholds is an obsession: I’m fascinated by doorways in between worlds and realities, shades of gray in between the light and darkness, the places where the sacred and profane meet and cross.

“The threshold is the limit, the boundary, the frontier that distinguishes an opposes two worlds–and at the same time the paradoxical place where those worlds communicate, where passage from the profane to the sacred world becomes possible.” ~Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane

That’s the thing about thresholds: they suggest passage, possibility, transformation. A good story is a threshold, as is a good storyteller. They sweep us up in the complex beauty of words that are not truth but become true. We cross over and enter the world of a story, and if the writer is successful and if the reader is open, we bring a little of that world back with us.