Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2oo9!



I'm getting ready to wake the family... yes, I'm the only one who could stay up to midnight without napping to it.

Even my golden retriever is out under my desk (scared from the fireworks), Eliot cat-1 asleep on the sofa, and cat-2 Ace, asleep in the dog's crate. I think the hedgehog is up running in its wheel- i love you nocturnal hedgehog.

But before I run up to wake them, here are my resolutions as they come out tonight--

be more patient

continue writing, but work more on essays as well as poems

enjoy more things and experiences

be more patient (did I mention this?)

healthy living, but with sweets daily

be thankful

get more sleep


To all of you who have read this blog another year, a toast to you for putting up with me and may 2009 hold everything you ever needed or wanted, and may you always have laughter, friendship, and the time to write and rest.

To a new year and a new and awesome president!

signing off until 2009...

Hello Violin...

Here's some photos of my new (old) violin. From what I know about it, it's from Germany made by a violin maker named Carl Friedrich Pfretzschner (born in 1743, died in 1798). What I love about it is the sound (it's a very forgiving violin and if it were a wine, it would be full-bodied wine), the color (it has a lighter wood color than most violins), and the inlay mother-of-pearl detail of the flower on the tail piece.

I took these this morning--




Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confession Tuesday - Late Night Edition

It's been an interesting end of the year, the snow has melted (mostly), the rain has returned, and I'm thinking about the new year.


To the confessional--


1) I learned today that I didn't win the book prize I was a finalist for. It was for Univ of Wisc. & I learned Robert Pinsky was the judge. He chose 2 other poets (one male, one female)to be winners. I was a bit bummed, but life goes on.

I'm thinking if I learn if I'm a finalist again, I might take the opposite approach, which is not to tell anyone. If you know me, this goes against every cell in my body because I believe in the power of good (and plentiful) energy. Can you see a little superstitious Capricorn typing this post...ya, maybe.


2) I couldn't stay bummed too long after receiving the rejection letter from Wisconsin because I was off to choose my new (old) violin. I played the violin for over 5 years and somehow always managed to remain below-average. I'm now finally ready to leave 4th chair, second violin for good.

My lessons begin on January 8th, the day before my 40th birthday. My violin has been chosen and is home with me. I hope to post some photos of it soon, maybe next week when my bow is ready.


3) We didn't go see Benjamin Button tonight because I saw it was a 3 hour movie and honestly, long movies always feel like too big of a commitment for me. Instead we stayed home and rented Iron Man (loved it).


4) I make resolutions each year. I'm working on being more patient (in all -most- aspects of my life). And continuing to be imperfect (and this one I'll achieve with flying colors).


5) I'm glad that even when the world sends rejections, they don't take away my chocolate supply.


6) I'm going to go talk to my violin about this poetry stuff.

Do you make resolutions?

January (aka PoetMom) makes a poet action plan and has some great ideas if you're wanting to make some changes in your life or writing life.

Read her post here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts on Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Books

Here's an interesting article from The New York Times about how the internet and people reselling their books online is hurting publishers and the book industry.

Article by DAVID STREITFELD
"Book publishers and booksellers are faltering. But don't blame the recession - it's all the fault of the Internet used books market. "

Be warned though, the article kind of peters out at the end of page two. I really thought it should have gone on one or two more pages, but I'm wondering if the newspaper only gave the author so much space. Anyway, just realize that before you read--there will be no resolutions, ideas, or thoughtful considerations to this article--it ends, but kind of quickly and with me wanting to find page 3 (there is no page 3).



But that said, it's a good article for you to read if you're a writer and it brought up some thoughts in my mind, I thought I'd share. And be warned, like the article, my thoughts don't come to any sort of conclusion and rereading them they are a little random, what can I say, it's morning and I'm still on my first cup of coffee.

But anyway, some thoughts after reading the article--


1) If you are in the book industry or an author, you need to have an online presence that allows people to find the info they want about you and your books. I cannot tell you how many times I have been disappointed because I have googled a poet only to find a few random poems online and maybe a blip about their book on the publisher's page.


2) The publishing companies need to think out of the box. Remember "Video Killed the Radio Star?" We now have "Internet Killed the Newspaper Stand." So with people turning to the internet to get their information or find their books, what can a publisher to do to be competitive?

--POD (Print on Demand) - I think this is may be where publishers need to move to and it's even better for the environment. Books printed when they are purchased.

Of course, not all books could be purchased that way, but instead the huge inventory printed then not selling, print a good amount and allow readers to have books purchased directly from the publisher and mailed right to our front door. Many of us do this through Amazon already, but if the publishers offered the option of ordering directly from them for a lower price, I'd be right there. Especially if they had say gift subscriptions I could order for gifts for people, something like $30 a year = X numbers of books mailed directly to your home. I love that idea.

I do try to buy my poetry books directly from presses like Tupelo Press (one of my favs) because I know they earn more money that way. But I'll be honest here, when it comes to the big publishers, I watch out for my own pocketbook, not theirs. I'm always very considerate with the small press, but I am definitely less likely to order secondhand books or use the library when it comes to major presses.

BTW, I think poetry presses can get away with having an inventory because they usually only print 500-1000 poetry books on the first printing. (Amazing, it's it?)


3) I do think we'll see more writers self-publishing too (especially if publishers are accepting less manuscripts). And I think that can be a good thing. Since with poetry, 3000 books published is concerned excellent, with the technology available, we could easily publish our own books and get them out via the internet and consignment at various independent bookstores (another reason to support your indies!) You would really only need 500 to start out with a poetry book and it's a great thing to sell at your readings. But there are always a few concerns with self-published books.

One reason I have concerns with self-published books is that there isn't that filter of another's eyes or opinions. For example, if you have a new poetry book published at Pitt Press, I know that your book has gone through the editorial process, errors and grammatical mistakes have been removed; I know that Ed Ochester has said "I like this!" If you were to publish that same book on your own, I wouldn't have that extra recommendation and know that the same process was in play--your books are edited well and only what needs to be in there is in there.

Though I think some of this is getting to know the author or poet (and again, I'd be much more open to buying a self-published poetry book than a self-published novel, which seems open to have many more mistakes). If I bought a self-published book from PoetX and I liked it, then I'd be there for book 2 with no concerns about where it was published.

And I have many self-published or self-made poetry books I've purchased and some of them are even better quality than published books (some are hand-stitched or have individual details that publishers can't do). Also, these tend to be purchased at a reading, so if I like the poems I heard and want to return to them, I buy the book. Honestly, when it comes to poets, I really don't care who publishes their book as if I like a poet's work, then like her work.


As you can see, I've moved from helping the press to helping the poet. So be it.

But maybe the presses just need to figure out new ways to do business, production, maybe different advertising. I can count on two hands how many times I've seen a commercial for a book, I guess they assume that people who watch TV don't read. But what about internet ads, I mean, when you're on the internet, all you're doing is reading.

I don't have the answers, but these are some thoughts that the article raised in me.

Do I think books will be come obsolete? No. I cannot curl up with my laptop on the couch. I could see something like Kindle (Amazon's reader) being used by many readers (though I think they will need to lower their price a bit and sell it with a library books already downloaded for the reader, but that's another post...) But I still think there will be people like me who love the feel, smell, sight of a good book. I know I love my slender poetry books I have around me, even when they are overflowing off the shelves. I do see them as little works of art.

And I love browsing the library. During the snow days, it was the only place I risked the snowy roads to visit. It was open 1-4 on the Monday before Christmas and there I went in our dirty Beetle because I was having library withdrawal and had read all my books from the previous checkout. The librarian said a lot of people were feeling that same need to get to the library. Just as there are people who will line up to see a monster truck show, there are people who will line up at a bookstore or library. And I'm comforted by that.

But I do think the publishers have a challenge right now, as do most all companies trying to stay competitive in a tight economy. So we'll see what happens and maybe smaller presses will emerge, maybe not. Maybe new ways to get books to readers will be available, maybe not. But I know there will always be readers who wants books. And I know, I'm always searching for that next great poetry book.

Hopefully, we can all help keep each other afloat for another year...




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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Present...



It's still snowing here in the NW, which for us is extreme weather. I heard myself saying to someone today, "Oh, we only got 10" of snow." *Only* 10 inches of snow in the Northwest? I also shows how perspectives can change.

We may have a different Christmas this year. My mum is currently snowed in about 30 minutes from here and the rest of my family, on a steep hill in Seattle. Our Christmas day celebration may be postponed for us, but we are all safe and warm, and sometimes plans change and well, we'll have a week of Christmas, and that's okay too.

We have enough food and are warm, with electricity and Christmas carols, a pan of cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast, cookies for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and full of hope in safe travels for all you travel this evening wherever you may travel to.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this blog and my random thoughts on writing, life, and lately, weather. I always appreciate your comments and emails. Thank you.

Wishing you the best Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Festivus (for the rest of us!) And my this upcoming new year bring you all good things.

Peace & Poetry,
Kelli

Christmas Past...

Merry Christmas, I wrapped it up and sent it...


That's a line from George Michael's "Last Christmas," which is playing in the background as I type this. (Christmas eve confession: this song made me cry at 16 on Christmas eve). I was such a boycrazygirl. As I watch my daughter grow, I never worry too much of her habits or whether she will become something because if you look at who I was as a teenager, I had impressive goals of "move to California," "become a professional surfer or waterskiier," and to make money, "own a pet store." Let's just say people change.

Was I writing then? Yes, but I didn't understand that people made lives as writers. My father aimed me towards college (maybe hoping a little I'd get a business degree--I am stronger at math than English--but honest when he said, "Kelli, it doesn't matter what 4 year degree you get, employers just want you to have one to show you can finish something."

Writing was considered more of a hobby, but I could major in English (with a writing emphasis) if I wanted to and I did. How I got from there to here is a long story of choices and a voice inside me that kept telling me I was on the wrong path (but what other path could there be? I wondered.) To others my choices looked spontaneous (oh be warned, the Capricorn gal is rarely truly spontaneous, all things have been thought out and considered, just maybe not spoken) and maybe a little reckless. But the thing was, all the choices I had made with my head were wrong. But every choice I made with my gut or heart, turned out better than expected.

As a Capricorn, a realist, the daughter of a business man, this made little sense to me. All my life I thought I was to make the best decisions and invest wisely, which to me equaled "the most secure" decisions. It wasn't until I let go of this idea that there was anything secure in life that I could really live. Still, sometimes I still deal with it, that my life doesn't look like the lives on TV or other people or families, but now I find contentment in that. Of course, my life doesn't look like anyone's life, it's my life. But what a long journey to figure that out...

So for Christmas Past, I am glad I no longer am the young woman in nylons and darling Benetton power suit, or the girl crying in her Mustang, or the person who thought writing was only a hobby. Sometimes it's the smallest voices inside of us we need to listen to, especially if they are the ones that keep whispering and never go away.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Old Man Winter or another miracle?


Check out this icicle found hanging from the gutters of a home in Lake Stevens. I think it's fantastic. And no, they say it wasn't carved.

Here's the link on KOMO news, which has the story and a close-up of the icicle.

Confession Tuesday



Prayer Flags on the Cherry Tree in our Yard


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Confession Tuesday


I have spent the last week at home, snowbound. I am not someone who minds not getting out, in fact, I have the tendency to be hermit. I like being home especially when there is enough food and I am warm. Despite one short power outage, I've had both.

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I do believe in angels and miracles as well. I believe in worlds we don't see existing along side of us and in energies we have no idea about. I have wondered if because my family is Catholic (the religion of magical thinking), it is taught early on that there are other things at work greater than us. Maybe this is most religions.

I have felt I was much more spiritual than religious. I like churches, but I don't go to church because I think man can be a poor interpreter for God and I have always felt I have my own direct line.


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I finished doing the Artist Way this week, a 12 week process. I didn't report on it as much as I thought I would. I think because so much of it is inner-reflection and putting it on a blog seems so big and so open.

But I'll cut and paste some thoughts from my last check in--

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the last chapter "Recovering a Sense of Faith" --

"Creativity requires faith." "Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is." "I trust my own inner guide." "We are not accustomed to thinking that God's will for us and our own inner dreams can coincide." "Our truest dream for ourselves is always God's will for us." "By trusting, we learn to trust."


...it will be rituals, or prayers of belief that will continue--whether its making a yearly poster, a vision board, or lighting a candle, I will take a moment to acknowledge there is magic, spirit, energy, a higher power, in the world and in myself. And I think this is what will continue to help me develop my sense of faith.

How does this relate to my writing and creative life? As artists, just by jumping into the world of creating we are saying "yes, we believe." We are small gods creating our own universe. We are saying, "I know the odds, the know the fears, what might not happen, and yet, I still write, create, paint." I still take part in this world that many have chosen not to or overlook. So this is where I'll end, in the realization that despite all my fears, I say yes to the creative life again. And would again and again. I trust that this is what I'm supposed to be doing and while I don't know the roadmap I follow, I believe it will all work out and I'm headed in the right direction...we all are.



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Hope you all have a magical creative joyful holiday season no matter what holiday you celebrate or don't, may your 2009 bring you all good things.

Do you believe in Angels?

By Mike Celizic
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 1 hour, 51 minutes ago

A 14-year-old girl with a history of serious health issues lay dying of pneumonia in a hospital room. But as her mother waited for the girl to take her last breath, an image of bright light appeared on a security monitor. Within an hour, the dying girl began a recovery that doctors are at a loss to explain.


Read the rest of the story here..

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gratitude Journal


Photo: This is the trail by my house I like to walk through.


Gratitude Journal



1) Electricity

2) Safe travels

3) Heat

4) The Propane Man

5) The beauty and peacefulness of snow

6) A late night walk after a snowstorm

7) My golden retriever

8) Snowball fights & sledding

9) Comfort food-- roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, cheese pizza, paninis, tortilla soup, chocolatel chip cookies, brownies, chocolate.

10) Surprise packages arriving

Snow Photos - 2008



The Little Engine that Could - This is the lane in front of my house where our Beetle lives.




Poetry Barn, on hiatus for Winter Break or until the snow melts



The farm down the street from my house

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rain Taxi Literary Auction!

Rain Taxi is having a literary auction online at ebay here.

Now as an editor of a literary journal, I know the importance of fundraisers and how so many of our literary journals skate from issue to issue on limited funds.

What I love about this fundraiser, is that not only do you give to a literary journal, but you can get some cool things in returned--a signed book, broadside or something else.

Anyway, browse and see what they have up for auction, maybe you can get yourself an early Christmas gift.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow!

Many thanks to poet and blogger Maya for teaching me how to make it snow on my blog.


You can add it to your blog by going here...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Resurrect an Old Blog

Someone asked me how I resurrected my old blog, so I thought I'd share that with you in case any of you need to go back in time and get info that has been lost (due to a website or blog being deleted or shutting down).


Here's what I wrote on how I resurrected my old blog--

Someone sent me a link to this website called the Wayback Machine:

http://www.archive.org/index.php

they had seen it on someone else's site and thought it would help me.

It did. I'm not sure I got all my posts, but there were quite a few there. I don't know if it got the individually deleted posts or if all were there, but there were definitely more than I had.

But what was weird when I went there, was that it showed my old blog but all the posts were blank--however, when I highlighted on that area, I could see the words, which I then cut and pasted into a regular document.

As I said, I'm not sure I got *everything* (as I do think some of it might have been lost) but I got a lot. More than I had. And I'm very thankful for that.

If you know the date of the blog post you deleted, that might help because you actually type in the blog or website address that you are trying to find info for.

Hope that helps!

****So while my old blog isn't back online or connected to this blog, I do have many of the posts now saved in a Word file for myself.

Holiday Fire Prevention....

I'm not sure if you know, but I'm married to a firefighter. Yes, I chose someone who could carry me out of a burning building. I sometimes wonder if this choice goes back to childhood because when I was very young, the house across the street burned down on Christmas day because their Christmas tree caught fire. For much of my life as a child, we had a fake (and fire-safe) tree because of this, which is probably the reason I insist on a real tree as a adult. But I've seen those videos of how fast a tree can go up in flames, and honestly, they freak me out a bit.

Anyway, I recently learned about this website Liberty Mutual BeFire Smart and I wanted to share it with you. It has video by celebrities (so if you're a fan of Marcia Gay Harden you're set!), but it also has-- if you put your cursor under the "Parents" and "Children" - a lot of good information to make sure your home is safer as well as an escape route map plan for your family.

At my daughter's school, we're required to do these yearly (we have an awesome fire department here), in fact, all the 3rd graders just got ice cream yesterday for turning them in and another visit from a firefighter. But I've learned that not everyone does these and if you have kids, it's essential you have a meeting place outside the home so you know everyone is safe and accounted for if there's a fire. This is so important for you as well as for the firefighters as they aren't running back into the house to find someone who is already out.

Anyway, with power outages, pretty holiday candles, and drying trees, this has been on my mind lately. I cannot tell you how many calls my husband has gone to because during a power outage, someone has lit up their hibachi inside (not a good idea). He's also had quite a few calls recently about forgotten candles too and space heaters too.

So, just want to give you an fyi on the fire safety and if you have kids, really make sure they know what to do in a fire and that if ever they are in a fire and they see someone dressed in a mask, they are there to help there. (I mention this because this is another technique our fire dept uses --to dress up in full gear so the kids learn not to be afraid of them. Sadly, kids have hidden during a fire because the person coming to save them looks so scary.)

Anyway, I don't want to worry you too much, but this something close to my heart and I think about it a lot more this time of year because of all the extra hazards (yes, you call them decorations and natural swags, I call them hazards-- I know, this is what 15 years of marriage to a firefighter does to someone.) ;-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flashback!

This is to the kind person who showed me how to resurrect my old blog (the one I regretted deleting). You have done your good deed for Christmas, Thank you!



Here's a post I wrote Wednesday, December 28, 2005. Three years later, I still have the same beliefs on success.

Here you go--

I've got the brains, you've got the looks, let's make lots of money...
Success--


So, there's been some blogging about success lately, what makes a successful poet. Some say that we need a book, others suggest it's the awards (NEA, Guggenheim, Pushcart). Others believe a certain list of journals we've been published in. And even if we have all these wonderful things, is that success? Most people find my blog by searching for the recipe to make a pomegranate martini. More people search for drinks and find me than in searches for poetry (and I *think* I talk about poetry more). Poets know other poets. Regular folks know Maya Angelou, sometimes Billy Collins, and sometimes Mary Oliver.

Poets are not known by most of the world. I thought about this when I felt too nervous to ask Bob Hicok to sign my book. I thought, 99.8% of the US population would *not* feel intimidated by him, yet because I write poetry, he has moved up my "important people list" and therefore making a fool of myself in front of BH as opposed to the random people I meet daily would be more painful. (I did ask him to sign my book and of course, came off socially inept as I tend to do around people I like...It's a gift.)

Anyhoo, perhaps I'm in a different camp with this success stuff because I don't think poetry can make anyone "successful." It's really hard for me to judge a person by their resume. Just as I wouldn't call a CEO successful, just because s/he is a CEO. I don't think credits, publications, and awards make a successful poet. I do think they're incredibly fun to achieve and feel rewarding, but I wouldn't base my life's success on what I achieve in poetry. (This doesn't mean stop I think we should stop submitting or trying to achieve certain goals as a poet, I think that keeps things interesting, I'm just saying at the end of the day, I don't think we'll look back on our lives and think, "I'm so glad I was published in ________." Okay, I *may* say that about the New Yorker, but that's because I can be shallow.)

Realize, this is coming from someone who has no problem beating little kids in Candyland...I like to win. But, I realize "success" can't be achieved through poetry because first, it's so subjective. I'm sure I've had poems accepted because someone was having a good day and I'm sure others were rejected because the someone had just received a traffic ticket. And we can't base it on awards, I mean, poor Emily D., where was her first book award, her Guggenheim?

And isn't it funny how poetry is a sort of erudite crack? I mean, you start out and you write a poem, and it feels satisfying. So you write another and you like that feeling, but it starts to be a bit dull, so you wander into a new neighborhood and try to publish them. You take another hit and then wham! you publish your first poem--and it feels good, really good. So you submit again, another poem in another journal and the high keeps coming back. You need more time to write more poems. You’re up late at night writing and submitting. And with each acceptance, you get your high back, but it’s not as good as the first time.

The feeling begins to wear off a little or maybe things are starting to feel "too easy," so you move from Spindrift to The Bellingham Review. You have to keep raising the bar, keep moving up the ladder to get that next great high. You submit to Prairie Schooner. You submit to the New Yorker. You submit to Poetry. You look back at the accomplishments that first made you happy, first made you feel successful and they seem small.

You publish a book and realize that even with a book, you're still yourself and you keep trying for that next high... You wake up at your desk and find yourself strung out on herbal tea covered in your own SASEs-- and there’s a bill from the post office you can’t explain. You become that disco song, "More, More, More. How you do like it? How do you like it?...." Yes, you’re addicted.

I know how happy I feel with my little poetry accomplishments, with any sort of validation that comes my way. And I do think that our publications and accomplishments as poets should be celebrated. I mean, anytime I can find a reason to have a party for myself, I do. But I do try to remind myself that my success as a poet cannot be written down on a resume, it's something greater than that.

As a poet, I guess if I had to determine how success can be measured, it would be in how much we return to others. This can be through our poems or in person, over email, with a blog, on the phone, through a class/lecture, in a letter, in our books, as an editor, as for me, a poet's success is based on his or her actions as a poet. And even if one is getting paid for any of the above, it still counts. But I guess that's how I measure the success of any person (poet or not), not by what was achieved, but what they returned, not by what they have, but what they gave.

Maybe I'm thinking too much about this, but I know the things that I base my self-worth on or my “success” are by the number of people who see me as a friend and if I'm kinder more of the time than hurtful. Mostly though, I guess I base success on how the people closest to me see me. If in the end, my family can say that I did a pretty good job in their eyes, then I made it. The rest of it is bells and whistles, the rest of it is fringe on my already stylish suede skirt.

Of course, if the New Yorker calls. . .


****And I still kick butt at Candyland!

Poetry Stuff

Rejections-- Kenyon Review, Rattle, Smartish Pace
Acceptances - The Smoking Poet (see post below)

Readings: Northwind Gallery anthology reading (photos from the reading here) My hair looks poufy.

Other news - I just learned my second mss is a finalist for a book contest and is in the hands of an outside unnamed judge. I don't know how many mss were named finalists, 5, 10, 20, 50? I'm not sure. But it makes me hopeful. Make a Christmas wish for me...I'd love to be chosen.

Poetry Barn - I'm using 2 space heaters to warm up the poetry barn, it's 25 degrees outside and the poetry barn is a tad drafty. I lost 3 weeks of use of my writing shed because the keyboard to my laptop broke...well, more honestly, I broke it trying to clean beneath the keys. Don't flip off keys to clean beneath them, sometimes they don't go back on and superglue makes things worse. I've had to use an external keyboard up until last week and it didn't fit on my wee desk. I'm going to make the trek out to the barn after lunch.

Other Poetry things--Just bought the poetry book All-American Poem by Matthew Dickman (APR Poetry Prize). Big book, I mean, physically wide. Good poems.

He and his brother are currently the one-two punch of poetry these days. They were both profiled in the September/October 2008 of Poets and Writers (I think that's the one with Billy Collins on the cover.) and they both received acceptances for their poetry collections in 2008. I haven't read his brother's Michael's collection (which I think comes out through Copper Canyon Press), but I like Matthew's work a lot. I haven't been really excited about a poet for a while, so this is a good feeling.

Though I can only recommend the first half of the book as I haven't read the rest. I'm enjoying this collection slowly.


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The Smoking Poet

I have a poem up at The Smoking Poet. It was a poetry contest judged by Dorianne Laux that I entered about 5 minutes before the midnight deadline.

My poem is called "Selected Love Letters I’m Still Trying to Write." It's a newer-ish poem probably written in the last few months. This was only the 2nd place I had sent it. Which is always hilarious as I have poems that were written years ago, that have still never found a home. Oh, poor homeless poems and their stories...

Anyway, if you're interested, you can read my poem here (honorable mention) and the three winning poems as well.


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Confession Tuesday



I took this photo in the Fremont district of Seattle. Fremont is known by the locals as "the center of the universe," so in case there was ever any question, PEACE is at the center of the universe. Just thought you should know that.


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To the confessions--


I sometimes wonder what my maturity age is when it comes to snow. Let's just say that my sled team came a little too close to the parked car and once ended up under a bush. And let the record show, that I was the one who came up with the brainiac idea of standing on the plastic orange toboggan and trying to use it as a snowboard...no parents, it wasn't the kids who came up with that one. Though I had farther to fall, and I did, and my shoulder still aches from my lack of balance and poor judgment. The kids? They did well. A few spills but no ills.

Also, earlier in the day I actually lost the children. How do you lose children when they have tracks to follow in the snow? But I did. Let's just say there is no mother of the year award for me during the snow day.

And my dog? He was also running wild throughout the neighborhood. Yes, I was *that* neighbor, the crazy one who is screaming for her dog and trying to find what hill all the kids went to. Oh, what a magical Christmas moment. My husband said, "You had them for 5 minutes, how did you lose them?" and "You are chaos in fleece."

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If you were to visit my house right now, you'd think it had been ransacked. Like that scene in that Bette Midler movie when they go to her house and Shelly Long says, "Oh my God, you've been robbed too!" and Bette says, "No, my house always looks like this." (Outrageous Fortune, that's it.)


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As the year ends, I've been thinking about blogging, what's good, what's not. Mostly my own, what can I do better, etc. etc. I started blogging because it was a good way for me to understand my own thoughts. By making it public, I had to think more clearly and be a little more articulate than I am in my own private journals, which is mostly just has wah-wah-wah entries or random info or facts that makes very little sense to me when I reread it. Also, I can't read my own handwriting and I prefer typing over pen to paper. It's quicker and less painful.

I was surprised the first time someone commented on my blog...what? Someone is actually reading this? It freaked me out that I stopped blogging for a bit, like the turtle realizing she wasn't alone, I pulled my head back in my shell and pretended the world that existed was only inside with me. When I got braver, I came out again. I deleted one blog I had kept for 2 years because as Jeannine puts it, I'm "shy online." I regret that. Don't delete your blog and if you do, keep a hard copy. You might not get that I can be "online shy" given all that write here, but the internet can freak me out a bit. Too big. And I don't always like it when the spotlight gets aimed in my direction. Too bright. Too self-conscious.

But I've stayed. Why? Because again, it comes down to waking up and organizing my thoughts, a sort of controlled morning pages. But why share them? Because I think it's important for other creative people to know that we all go through periods of self-doubt or darkness, that you can go months and months without a rejection or a good word about your writing. That we suffer from a lot of the same things-- fear, anxiety, worry, ego, pride, vanity, shame, concern, etc. etc. Name your poison-- you're not alone.

I remember when I first read Kim Addonizio's blog and she was bummed about a rejection. I remember thinking, "Her too?" She's so good, why can an editor get her down?

Because I could look into her life, I felt a little more normal myself. I think that's why I continue to have a blog and post the things I do. Sometimes I get off topic, sometimes I ramble about jars of pickles or things you could probably give a flying-duck about. But every once in a while, I hope my words somehow help, comfort, or even inspire you.

So know, I'm trying my best though I do have blogger fears such as being afraid of becoming a preachy blogger...or a judgmental blogger. If you ever see this in me, please drop me an email. I don't mind the occasional rant and if I see something I'm passionate about (Kiva.org, animal organizations, etc.) I will want to share this with you, but I don't want you to read this blog and feel bad about yourself in any way. If I start doing this, let me know. I want to inform, inspire, and entertain on this blog. Share a story or two. Document what's happening in my life. But I don't ever want you to think there is only one way of doing something or living a life or being a writer or poet, there's not, there are millions and billions of unique ways to live, to love, and (stealing from Rumi) kiss the ground and pray.

*


I like the imperfect people best.





Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sherman Alexie on The Colbert Report




***I was just talking to Jeannine about this and thought I'd share it with you. If you haven't seen this, Sherman & Stephen C are hilarious.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today's Nature


Baby bald eagle

Buddy Holly in today's snow


Buddy resting

Vital Stats Follow-up ;-)

Nancy posted these questions in the comments, here's my follow up--

When did you write your first poem?
***Second grade, I think. A lot happened in 2nd grade for me with writing because we had a teacher who would have creative writing sessions for all the 2nd graders (Mrs. Cameron). She always encouraged me and I don't think she ever realized how much impact she had on my life.

Who was your audience for your earliest poems?
****My mom.

Who was your audience for your earliest poems?
***In college, me or my prof. I never thought about audience or publishing. For me, I enjoyed poetry and was thrilled with the idea of writing. I didn't start submitting regularly until I was at least 30. I wrote for 10+ years and had only submitted say 5 poems to local college journals. It just wasn't anything that was important to me.


Did your first poems rhyme, or were they formal/free verse?
***They all rhymed, though I did use some slant rhyme in this ditty entitled "Love is..."

Love is my mom, love is my dad,
love is the family that I have.

(thankfully, I did not feel the need to use rhyme there or my ending would be the ominous "love is the family that I had." What parent would like to get that creepy close.

I grew up on formal verse and nursery rhymes. I had no idea poems didn't rhyme (with the exception of a few forms like haiku, acrostics, etc.) until I was a teenager.

In college, none of my poems rhymed. I was very anti-rhyme and much more into telling a story through my poems. I did not have the terms to call it "narrative" yet. At the time, I wanted every poem to be like a specific photograph, with a place, a story, and a character or two.


Who first encouraged your writing?
***My mom and most of my early grade school teachers. In college, Linda Bierds was a major reason I ever submitted or became a poet. I started out in college as a fiction writer. I had taken one poetry class and thought it was fun, but loved fiction more. Linda B. was an incredible teacher and took poetry to a completely different level and place for me.



Who did you show your first poem(s) to?
***My parents & teachers as a child.

The other students in my poetry class at the UW. I still do not show my work to my husband until it is finished (or published). Nowadays, I only to my closest poetry friends.

Do you remember your reaction to your first time being paid for writing?
***Kind of.

Did you spend that money--and on what?
***When Rattapallax paid me, I bought vintage Czech glass Mardi Gras beads and I still wear this necklace. I've also bought a vintage green ceramic vase when I won a grant or received some money (it is the closest thing to a trophy I have).

When I won the Atlantic Monthly prize, I bought a statue of Kwan Yin for my garden. Mostly, I squirrel the money away in a writing acct for myself so I have money when cool opportunities come up--like a retreat, or the Carolyn Forche class I signed up for this spring.


When is the first time you called yourself "a poet"?
****I'm still not too comfortable with this term. I'd rather say writer. I think sometimes when people hear "poet" they imagine me with a beret and bongo drums in a black turtleneck. I think other people called me a poet before I called myself a poet.

I do remember writing "writer" on my form when entering London in 1996. That was a big step for me, esp. because at the time I was working a corporate job and very unhappy with where my life was going. It was when I made a conscious decision to change directions. Within a year, I had quit my job and moved to this small town I'm in today. One of the best things I've ever done.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Your Good Deed

This was posted on the WOMPO listserv and I wanted to bring your attention to it as I think it's a very important cause, especially this year with a bad economy, I don't want our furry friends to be forgotten in all this.

Anyway, how you can help--

Go to this website:

And for the shelter name, write in: Natchitoches Humane Animal Shelter
City: Natchitoches State: LA

The Wompo member who posted this adopted a dog from this shelter and said the facility is in desperate need of a facelift.

She wrote:
The physical facility is appalling--cages open to the summer heat and winter cold--room for only 30-some animals, though about 2500 dogs and cats a year are dumped off there. The shelter personnel and the local Humane Society, of which I am a member, work like crazy sponsoring adoption days, foster programs, rescue missions sending dogs to Canada (where there is a shortage of adoptable pets), and low-cost spay and neuter programs


Anyway, please vote to help that community out. And while you're there, you can click on this daily--

The Animal Rescue Site

And just by clicking, donations will be made to animal rescue programs (and there are no awful photos of sick or hurt animals for the squeamish-- I know when I hear "In the Arms of the Angels" on that commercial by Sarah McLachlan for animal abuse, I go running for the remote).

For awhile the Animal Rescue site was having problems getting clicks (you can scroll down to see how many clicks they received over the past week), so if you remember maybe have them be the start of day or pass the info on to someone else so they continue to get clicks.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vital Stats of a Poet

Deborah Ager from 32 Poems invited me to do this--


Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 7 (2nd grade)

Age when I wrote my first short story: 6-7 (2nd grade) it was about a giraffe

Age when I first got my hands on a good word processor: Good? 21 at the UW, 25 or 26, my first computer

Age when I first submitted a short story to a magazine: 39 (I just did this a couple months ago)

Rejections prior to first short story sale: 1 (first s/s submitted and rejected.)

Age when I sold my first short story: let's say 40, thinking positively

Approximate number of short stories sold: Approximately zero.

Age when I first sold a poem: Sold? I probably wasn't paid for a poem until my early 30's, but I had my first poem accepted by Bricolage, the University of Washington's literary journal when I was 21.

Poems sold: (aka "accepted & published") Approx. 127 (not including poems that have been reprinted

Year I first published a book: 2003 (a chapbook, my full collection was 2004)

Books published or delivered and in the pipeline: 2 published book (Geography & Small Knots), 1 mss currently being submitted, 1 mss in process and partial complete, 1 children's story I need to submit

Number of titles in print: 2

Age now: 39

Not in the Christmas Spirit

This article on WikiHow made me laugh today- Passive Aggressive Gift Ideas for Annoying People

The wooden spoon was pretty funny given that there are a few firefighters I know who have the nickname "Spoon" because "they like to stir things up..."

There may possibly be a poem in the last part about the negative meaning of flowers (remember yellow roses for friendship?), this list has some other interpretations--

Hydrangea - heartlessness, frigidity, vanity
Narcissus - egotism
Pennyroyal - escape
Winter cherry - deception
Carnation - disdain and rejection

Hopefully you'll just wrap a little tolerance and forgiveness for the annoying people in your life, but if want a little something else, perhaps a bouquet of nothing special or a box of see you next year.


*

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reading Tonight! Port Townsend, WA

I forgot to mention, if you're around Port Townsend tonight at 7, stop by the Northwind Gallery as I'm doing a reading there with some other great writers and poets like Jennifer Culkin, Holly Hughes, Judith Kitchen and Stan Rubin.

It's a free event and there will be snacks!

Holly-Daze

So how's your holiday season?

Mine has been a little busier than usual, which I both like and don't like. I've enjoyed the festive activities I've been doing, but I don't like that feeling of too busy.

My goal in life is to never be that person who is overly busy. The crazy woman at the market who when you ask how she's doing lists off 50 things on her list. I want to be the woman who when you ask how I am will say, "Fine" or "Perfect" then ask how you are doing. I want to be able to have a 20 minute conversation with you near the satsuma oranges because I don't need to rush off and be somewhere else.

I have never confused being busy with being important. I dislike busy. While I love to have projects I'm working on (particularly writing projects), I dislike that feeling of overwhelmed or too many projects or the "I'm just taking things on to make life pass or because If I slow down I'll have to deal with the real issues in my life." I don't want to be busy for the sake of being busy.

So I struggle with that this time of year and usually, busy is just a week or two at the beginning of December, when everyone hosts their cookies exchanges, holiday get-together or ornament parties. Then next week, the calendar goes not necessarily blank, but there are days and days of nothing. A friend will ride the ferry to visit me and we will write in my Poetry Barn that has been waiting for me to find it again. I will volunteer at the school and take a yoga class. And things will return to a way of life I am happier with, the reason I left my corporate job 11 years ago to live here with less money, more time. I will return to my life where I can be active but not over-active, whelmed but not overwhelmed, engaged but not over-engaged.

These days with so many things trying to get our attention, it can be hard just to sit still. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to get a good book, some cocoa, cinnamon toast, and a soft blanket and curl up in front of the fire and Christmas tree and just read. When my family follows and I look to see them around me with their books, this is my definition of a rich life.

Or just doing nothing with people I love tops my to-do list. Pulling out the Christmas videos-- Elf, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, and just spending the evening hanging out with popcorn, Junior Mints, and Christmas cookies. I have a list of Christmas movies I like to watch this time of year-- A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. All of them except, Frosty the Snowman, as the talking snowman has always freaked me out.

These are my favorite things this time of year. It can be hard to find while being tangled up in lights or lost in a crowd of shoppers. Even when our Christmas tree looks as if its been decorated by monkeys (our cat fell into it and my daughter has been using it to hide toys in), the craziness of the outside world, almost makes the inside world of my house that much more relaxing and while my Christmas decorations make my home have its own personal chaos and create a series of questions I'm unable to answer (why is Santa in the manger? Who lined up all the Nutcrackers in the hallway? Why does the dog have a snowman tied to his collar?) it also reinforces to me that what I really need doesn't come wrapped in box.


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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Confession Tuesday

It's been another week and confessions are popping up on blogs to remind you that it's Tuesday. This is the morning edition to midday edition to late night of confession Tuesday. I sometimes think my morning and late night editions offer a little more than the confessions typed at lunchtime. I think we're more likely to share our secrets as the sun is breaking or turning in for the night. I've never been good at keeping secrets until I got older. I sometimes wonder if this is just a matter of forgetfulness and not maturity. My confessions for the week--

Strangers have been doing random acts of kindness to me this week-- a free bag of gingerbread cookies at the bakery (I tried to pay for them and she said no), the waitress at a Greek restaurant brought my husband and I out free dessert, and a stranger poured me hot apple cider when she learned I was cold. All these acts have warmed me. Of course, I'm supposed to be doing my 3 good deeds, so they've also reminded me I need to get on the ball.

There will always be women who still act as if they are in high school. Remember, it's not you, it's them.

I think the best Christmas present I can give others is to try to be more patient.

My best Christmas present I could be given would be if an editor emailed me to take my second mss.

I have been so busy lately that today I felt as if I was actually spinning in circles in my house. As someone who prides herself on *not* being overly busy, I've just had to deal with this and realize it is temporary and that next week I will not be so overloaded.

But, the things that I've been doing have been pretty fun.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Congrats to the NEA Winners!

Here's the full list

How very cool! Some of my favorite people received NEA grants-- Aimee Nezhukumatathil, C. Dale Young, and Sam Green (our first state Poet Laureate!)

Also, Bob Hicok received one (though I don't know him but love his work).

Congrats to all winners!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

I have much to confess around the sin of gluttony, Thanksgiving, reader. I ate more pie than anyone else. I confess. I confess to throwing a small tantrum when I couldn't find the leftover stuffing, what was I do to without the stuffing? Reader, sometimes I am ruled by my stomach.

So let's begin...

Off with the Hippo's Head (again) --

I wrote a long ranty post about the prices of kid's toys and how corporate America tries to make you feel as if you're missing something by not owing their product, or make your kids feel as if they are missing out. It was long and cranky. It talked about simple living. Opting out of the lifestyle that suggests you must upgrade often. It talked about how poorly made things were (there were some harsh words against today's Hungry Hungry Hippos game vs. the one from the 70's that actually worked without falling apart.)

But I deleted this post because I realize it was really my morning pages from Artist Way and not really a post. It was a rant. And I wanted to spare you my speech from my soapbox.

I think you already know that kid's toys are WAY TOO PRICEY and commercials just want you to feel bad about yourself so you buy something...that will probably break, or be lost, or not work, or work well enough. And you can see how this confession is moving toward rant, so I will stop and say that when the commercialism of the season gets you down and your kids (if you have kids) ask for some overpriced toy you can't afford, smile knowing you only have 23 days of this and then it's gone.

*

Okay, that said, the rest of Christmas I love. I have my tree up. I'm eating chocolate out of Advent calendar. I'm singing Christmas carols in the house, in the car. I love Christmas movies especially Elf, A Christmas Story, and Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. And this may surprise you, but I also like presents. Thoughtful presents though, not expensive presents. My best presents would be a new wonderful pillow (my dream present) one that doesn't get flat and hurt my neck. Or new PJs or yoga pants. Or a book. Or a drawing someone took the time to make for me or a note.

I just don't like it when companies tell me my life is not as good as it should be because I'm wearing the wrong pants or my cellphone doesn't organize satellites by country.

Don't believe commercials. Or ads. Or magazines. Or reality shows. Believe the sunrise and the first bite of your breakfast. Believe the "I love you's" that are said spontaneously. Believe that first blast of cold air (or warm air if you're Jeannine in Southern Cal) and how the clouds look (or don't look) and let whatever birds are in your neighborhood tell you that life is just fine. Just fine with your old computer and your blackberryless phone. Believe that the best things in life aren't things.

See I so want to rant. I'm holding back.

*

More confessions--

I ate more than my fair share of pumpkin pie this weekend. And whipped cream. I didn't mention the whipped cream.

We ended up with two turkeys for Thanksgiving. One we cooked ourselves, and one smoked turkey purchased impulsively by my mum who never believes we will have enough to eat.

Every year we put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. And usually sometime in December there is an accident and the tree falls over (our family tradition). I was talking to Jeannine last year on my phone when fell over that time.

I still have to come up with my 3 good deeds for my family's Christmas gift to each other. On Thanksgiving, new rules were being created like "the person you're doing the good deed for can't know that it's you." I said this with cause us all to have to dress up in a disguise or costume if we were going to do any volunteer work or give any donations. The goal is not to frighten the people we're helping. So we're remaining open on this one, but if we can remain anonymous, then we'll try to.

I don't want to overthink my deeds and most likely, will just do them when they come up, but I do want them to be thoughtful. I really don't want to be the one at the dinner table on Christmas day saying that my good deed was that I let someone merge in front of me on the freeway with honking obnoxiously at them or that I made sure I put the little red flag up for the mail lady. This is my fear--that I won't come up with something *good,* so I won't do anything.

Sometimes this is how life works. We're so afraid of screwing up that we just sit there and do nothing. Sometimes it's just better to try and see what happens. I will. Try that is.

And I promise my good deed will not be deleting my commercialism rant so you didn't have to read it. Because as I look back, I got a lot of down here. I confess, I may have snuck in a mild rant disguised as a confession. Forgive me. I thought you might agree.

And here's a challenge-- do 3 good deeds this month. Or at least one. To anyone. At anytime. And it doesn't matter if they can see you or know you. Help someone with their groceries. Buy and extra bag of pasta and drop it in the Food Bank bin at the front of the store. Smile at someone you would never smile at or who looks like they need a smile. Write a letter to a friend you haven't seen in while. Leave an old book at a bus stop with a note that says "Enjoy."

And drop me a note (kelli (at) agodon. com) about what happens. Or leave a note in the comment section about what you did . I'm curious about how it all works out.



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Monday, December 01, 2008

In the News Today...

News Flash: We're Officially in a Recession--

Um, duh. Thanks CNN, but the rest of us without the cash flow...we've heard.
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