It's raining! I can write again!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
and thought I'd share because it made me happy. If you do watch it, watch for the guy in red bikini underwear and an umbrella hat. And right after him, I think I guy runs by with a stuffed monkey in his back pocket (but I could be wrong on that.)
Call for entries
to the Scars Publications “Sexy Poets” 2010 Wall Calendar
The 2010 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar will include 12 poems from different writers, and 12 images — some of the images will be Scars images (nature images, or images taken from around the world), and some of the photos from poets, either as a portrait or of poets reading poetry.
The premise is that poets would submit photos of themselves (and yes the phrase “Sexy Poets” can be interpreted in any way the poet sees fit, I mean, we don’t have to be models to prove we’re sexy...) along with poetry for consideration for inclusion in the Scars Publications Sexy Poets 2010 Wall Calendar.
So, we wanna try something new, if there is genuine interest in this plan. Here are the details:
Any poet is allowed to submit not only poetry (up to 20 lines max, but 10 lines or fewer is preferred) for consideration for the Scars Publications 2010 Poetry Wall Calendar. But this time, instead of using our own images for the calendar (12 images for the 12 months of the year), we would like Poet photographs, so we can call this “the Scars Publications Sexy Poets 2010 Wall Calendar.”
Go here for full details of how to submit...
My question... Is "sexy poet" an oxymoron? ;-)
Actually, I love it when people get a little playful with poetry. I might have to submit.
"I'm too sexy for this poem, too sexy for this poem, too sexy to roam..."
From the Roadside Shrine. Union, WA
Dear Reader, I have a lot to confess, I've indulged, I've had guilt, I've experienced the first pang of fall anxiety, met a madman, and still, good news arrived yesterday.
Let's begin. To the Confessional--
On Friday I had this weird feeling I get in the fall about staying close to home. It's a feeling I don't like to get because I can easily become a hermit/loner/life-frightens-me-gal if I allow myself. Of course, this mainly happens in the fall when the weather/season begins to change.
Strangely, that Friday night my daughter broke her collarbone. Just roughhousing with friends with an already hurt collarbone from a playground collision earlier in the week. And the guilt comes in with that we didn't realize it was broken until Monday.
I confess during a mountain biking adventure, my friend and I accidential ended up in some scary man's backyard. He was quick to come out of his shack (older man with a black leather vest, jeans, white t-shirt) and try to intimidate us (i.e. stand in our way of leaving) with his (said with a downhome accident) "I just wanted to see who was on my property, and what's your names..."
And "You girls shouldn't be out here and if you ever need to cut across my property again, you need to knock on the door because I wouldn't want to accidentally shoot you..." (then a list of all the guns he keeps in his home). My response, "Ya, it would pretty much ruin a day of mountain biking to 'accidentally' shot." That made him give a slight smile and move out of our way so we could get back to the road.
I also asked him his names while we were leaving. "Stokes, S-T-O-K-E-S," he said. I just wanted to get that documented here...just in case. ;-)
While I love living in a small rural community, I have to remind myself while a lot of us are "New Small Towners" (meaning, we were all city folks who escaped Seattle or the suburbs to live here and have similar values) there are a lot of old town boys who love their guns and their right to shoot 'em. I've realized lately that I am more afraid of the hunters (and crazyfolks with guns) around here when I mountain bike than I am of the black bear, cougar, and random deer jumping in front of me.
Old town meet new town. Let's try to get along and not accidentally get shot.
But I confess, I also have good news. The ying and yang of life. I learned yesterday that I will be spending a week at the wonderful Hedgebrook with two other favorite poets and Carolyn Forche.
I promise to take some notes and photos. And I promise and commit to doing a lot of good writing and work while I am there.
Other short confessions--
I confess I am beginning to resent email because I haven't been able to keep up with it.
I confess I do love fall as much as it sometimes makes me sad.
I confess I went to to Facebook recently, but am spending a lot less time there.
I confess I try to remain hopeful, but sometimes I am cloudy day.
I confess there is a lot of good in the world, you just have to look for it sometimes.
I confess I get concerned when really good news and really bad news happens at once. It can completely freak me out.
I confess I am hooked on Wasabi peas and berry trail mix.
I confess I ate a half of jar of Wasabi peas yesterday because I had nervous energy after learning my daughter broke her collarbone.
I confess I felt better by the evening, but went to bed early.
I confess I've been sleeping for over 9 hours each night.
I confess I feel better when the house is clean and not cluttered.
I confess I feel as if I'm spinning my wheels a lot lately.
I confess I try to replace fear with faith.
I confess gratitude also helps.
I confess that sometimes confessing makes me feel better.
Thanks for listening.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Peter and Kelli, August 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Mural, 1943-44, and a sketch of the large signature that an art historian sees inside the painting.
©2009 POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/UNIVERSITY OF IOWA MUSEUM OF ART, GIFT OF PEGGY GUGGENHEIM 1959.6
I *love* stuff like this--
An upcoming book makes the provocative claim that Jackson Pollock spelled out his name in giant letters in his iconic Mural—but not all scholars agree.
by Kate Taylor
Among the reasons that people continue to be fascinated by Jackson Pollock’s paintings is their Rorschach quality. Viewers have perceived many things in them, from scenes out of classical mythology to Jungian symbols. In Tom and Jack, an upcoming book about the relationship between Pollock and his teacher Thomas Hart Benton, art historian Henry Adams finds a very surprising image hidden in Pollock’s 1943–44 Mural: the artist’s own signature.
Read the whole article at ARTNews
Friday, September 25, 2009
I've noticed that since we've had the best summer of our lives here in the Northwest, I have written and submitted the least amount of work ever. I find when it is sunny I must be outside. When it is one of our hot days (anything above 92 degrees), I want to nap. When it is clear blue sky, I am walking my dog or riding my bike. Poetry moves to the very end of my schedule.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Read. Write. Poem. is sponsoring a virtual book/blog tour of Maya Ganesan's wonderful book of poems, Apologies to an Apple and I am lucky enough to have the first day, September 24th, which is also Maya's 12th birthday.
Now, for most people, having a book is remarkable, but having a book and virtual book tour on your 12th birthday is even more remarkable!
And another remarkable thing? Maya has poems in our next issue of Crab Creek Review. She is the youngest poet we've ever published and in that same issue we are publishing 90 year old Madeline DeFrees, who may be the oldest poet we've published. I love that!
You might be wondering, how I learned of Maya Ganesan. A couple years ago a friend of mine asked me if I'd consider writing a blurb for a young author, "She's eleven and publishing her first book of poems." I was concerned and hesitant. She said, "Let me send you her poems and you can see for yourself." I did and I was amazed.
Maya does not write like any eleven year old (now 12!) I have ever met. Her poems offer insight and are rich with the world around her.
Some, like the poem "Sold," even offer a Rumi-like quality:
I have sold time
would pay the price for it.
She writes to nature around her:
The sparrows have received
my invitation, it seems--
She write to the details of life:
Ribbons, and Bibles
stolen from chapels.
every single of a thousand coastlines
This is definitely a book you will want to check out and if you have kids, a great example of how poetry can written thoughtfully and insightfully at any age. I wrote in my blurb for her, "I am amazed by this young poet and can only imagine the wonderful things she will bring to the literary world in her future." And I do.
Happy Birthday, Maya!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
2) Set my napkin on fire (unintentionally). We walked inside to get the soup and came out to my napkin completely on fire on the table outside (a left it a little too close to the votive, apparently).
3) Threw the I-Ching.
4) Chose a Rune (fertility - and um, in relation to creation not pregnancy)
5) Practiced my violin
6) Decorated for Halloween (partially) with my daughter.
7) Walked my dog
8) Had a dream that my first car broke down in front of Bruce Springsteen's garage, so he helped me fix it. (What a nice guy!)
9) Drew an ink drawing of a purse and a box that read: Emily Dickinson
10) Made a wish
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
It's been another wild week, I'm not sure where to begin so let me just jump in.
I confess that while I feel terrible about the effects of global warming, there is a part of me that is thrilled what it is doing to our weather here in the Northwest.
I confess there is a My Little Pony hanging with a noose around its neck from our laundry room door. This is not because we are mean people, but because we were trying to amuse our cats.
I confess I mountain biked 15 miles yesterday, and I confess this is more of a brag than a confession.
My mountain bike partner has a bear bell on her bike and if I get too far ahead (or too far behind), I get nervous when I can't hear it. I have no sense of direction and feel completely lost on the trails. The only way we return from our adventure is through her ability to navigate through evergreens.
I confess we have never seen a bear while riding, but we have seen lots of bear poop, an owl, and some deer.
I confess I tried twice to get the above photo uploaded correctly and I couldn't do it.
I confess I read the sign a few ways--
Never Grow Old,
Never Grow, Old God
Never, Grow Old God
Never Grow "Old God"
It's amazing what punctuation can do. Or line breaks. My favorite reading is
Never Grow Old.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The first pile contains my favorite poems, the ones I feel strongest about, the A-list poems. These are poems I feel are well-crafted and are ready to go into the world.
The second pile is my B-list poems. I like these poems a lot, but intuitively, I sense more could be done with these.
The third pile is my Good God, Don't Send These Out pile. These are poems that at one time I thought were complete, but aren't. This will become my To Revise pile that I will keep near my desk to work on during my writing time.
* * *
Once I have the poems in three piles, I make smaller piles of the A-list poems 3-5 poems each. These will be what I submit today. This is the easiest part of submitting, I organize my favorite poems together and send them out to my favorite journals.
Once that is done, I have to deal with my B-list poems. One by one I pull them up on my computer to see if my intuition was correct that they are not finished and need some work. If it's something minor, I try to work on it them. If it's something more serious, they are set on the top of my Good God pile until later.
I will probably only have a couple submissions from this pile as I tend to be really picky about what I send out.
After this, I have a large glass of wine and go to bed.
I'm kidding. I usually feel okay after this, but need a walk outside just to get out of the house.
So there it is, how I submit, how I decide what to revise, and how I keep from embarrassing myself with bad poems.
My Submission Journal (above) - Beach Beauties
I haven't submitted since July and have very few submissions in the world right now.
I promised Jeannine I'd submit this week, so today is the day.
I thought I'd explain my cavegirl process, but as a paper-person, this works well for me.
I keep two boxes:
A "Submit These" box - these have the titles of all the poems that haven't been submitted
and a "Submitted" box - poems I've sent into the world.
I keep all the titles of my poems on index cards. When I submit them somewhere, I take it from the Submit These write the name of the journal below it and the date, then I file it alphabetically in Submitted.
When the poem is rejected or accepted, I pull the card and note it.
If it's rejected, it goes back into my Submit These box.
If it's accepted, it goes into the file marked Accepted (imagine that!)
To keep track of what journals have my poems, I have a notebook in which I write the journal's name, and all the poems I sent there along with the date.
That way, I can see both where a poem has been submitted (by looking at the index card which has all the journals listed below the title) and also, what journal has what poems.
I know I end up doing things 2x, but this is the system I keep returning to, even after my fancy Excel spreadsheet. This is what keeps me most organized.
But even better, they have this product: Klean Kanteen 27oz Kanteen Stainless Steel Wine Karafe
The Klean Kanteen Wine Karafe! They are truly a forward thinking company. Do not be surprised if you receive one of these from me for Christmas. If I was Oprah, these would be on my Favorite Things List.
I am so annoyed for selling water bottles with BPA in them. A couple years ago I purchased these for my family (and they weren't cheap) so we could avoid toxins and now this. Aimee's blog first alerted me to this issue with SIGG bottles (thanks Aimee) and I am amazed how angry this makes me to learn this news about SIGG.
If you have a SIGG bottle with the copper/metal lining, those are the bad ones.
If you want to write Steve Wasik, the CEO of SIGG directly (he's the guy who screwed up), here's his email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the full article from Treehugger here.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Here are a couple favorites of mine--
The Three Wolf Shirt (my favorite is the second comment)
and I enjoy the fact that there is a Landcruiser Tank for sale as well.
And here's one that's not on the list, but should be...or maybe it will be soon. I saw a few funny posts about this special chair.
* * *
If you want to be productive, get these items into your poems. Otherwise, this ends your session of Time-Wasting Sunday.
Because you asked, here's my blog post from last year with my 3 favorite Apple Brown Betty recipes. At the end there's an EZ recipe, and I have served this and no one had any idea it took me 5 minutes to make (well, until I told them!)
Here's my post from last year minus the part about me being cold and wearing wool in August--
I'll include my 3 favorite apple BB recipes. And if you're not so great in the kitchen, try the last one, the EZ recipe that uses instant oatmeal. I swear, it's simple, fast, and yet, tastes so good.
Here are the my favorite Apple Brown Betty recipes--
From my Fannie Farmer Cookbook--
Classic Apple Brown Betty
(You won't need the lemon juice if your apples are flavorful.)
2 cups fresh dry bread crumbs
5 tbsp. melted butter
1 1⁄2 lbs. tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
Juice and grated rind of 1⁄2 lemon (optional)
Heavy cream (or ice cream)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 1 1⁄2-quart casserole or a 9" baking dish, preferably with a lid.
2. Lightly toss crumbs and melted butter together in a medium bowl. Spread about one-third of the crumb mixture in the baking dish.
3. Combine apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and rind (if needed) in a medium bowl. Fan out half the apple mixture over crumbs. Add another layer of crumbs, a layer of the remaining apples, and a final layer of crumbs.
4. Pour in 1 cup hot water. Cover with lid or with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes more. Serve with heavy cream.
Basic Apple Brown Betty
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 Tsp of cinnamon
5 tart baking apples
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar. Add oatmeal to make a stiff batter/dough. Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Lightly butter a casserole large enough to hold the apples. Place all of the apples in the buttered casserole. Spread the topping over the apples. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake one hour.
Serve with vanilla ice cream & whipped cream.
This is one I saw on the Food Network & is super easy esp. when apples aren't in season. I'm typing this one off the top of my head... Basically, you just keep adding layers in a baking dish of filling, brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, and butter. Also, I'm guessing you can use fresh apples for this as well.
EZ Apple Brown Betty
2 12 oz. cans of Apple Pie Filling
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
4-6 instant oatmeal packets (like Apple & Cinnamon from Quaker Oats)
Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Pour one can of applie pie filling in the bottom of a baking pan. Open and spread 2-3 oatmeal packets over the apple filling. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the oatmeal. Sprinkle with cinnamon Cut four pats of butter and place on top of oatmeal/cinnamon. Layer 2nd can of apple filling over the butter, oatmeal, and cinnamon. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar over apple filling. Cover with the remaining 2 or 3 oatmeal packages. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Add 4 pats of butter on top.
Cook for 40 minutes or until brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I had never heard of this poet (or if I had, I've forgotten). But she's a street poet from Berkeley who was first taught by Gary Snyder. I've included an article after the poem if you're interested in learning more about her.
Anyway, I had never read this poem, so thought I'd share it with you--
by Julia Vinograd
No blame. Anyone who wrote Howl and Kaddish
earned the right to make any possible mistake
for the rest of his life.
I just wish I hadn't made this mistake with him.
It was during the Vietnam war
and he was giving a great protest reading
in Washington Square Park
and nobody wanted to leave.
So Ginsberg got the idea, "I'm going to shout
'the war is over' as loud as I can," he said
"and all of you run over the cityin different directions
yelling the war is over, shout it in offices,
shops, everywhere and when enough people
believe the war is over
why, not even the politicians
will be able to keep it going."
I thought it was a great idea at the time,
a truly poetic idea.
So when Ginsberg yelled I ran down the street
and leaned in the doorway
of the sort of respectable down on its luck cafeteria
where librarians and minor clerks have lunch
and I yelled "the war is over."And a little old lady looked up
from her cottage cheese and fruit salad.
She was so ordinary she would have been invisible
except for the terrible lightfilling her face as she whispered
"My son. My son is coming home."
I got myself out of there and was sick in some bushes.
That was the first time I believed there was a war.
Here's an article on her.
After we did that, we wrote a note to our "better self" from our "blocked self" to discuss what might be in the way of us achieving our goals.
For me, I realized I've become a good procrastinator, thinking everything is going to take longer than it does and feeling I need more hours/time than I do.
It's a bad habit, sitting down and thinking, "I can't start this poem because I'm going to need to stop in an hour to _________________ (fill in the blank)." It's one of the reasons I think writing at night works so well for me, there's no place I need to be.
But life is a series of temporary situations all scotch-taped together, so something will always take you out of your poem or writing.
So I've begun telling myself, "Just do what you can do. Start! Begin! You can always stop midway..."
It's been working.
Also, I stopped visiting Facebook. If I want to know what my friends are up to, I'll call them. I do not need to know who is having what for dinner, who just wrote down a wonderful gem their child said, who is drinking red wine before bed (honestly, I can just guess that it is many of my friends and be close enough...)
Everything in moderation, a doctor once said to me.
We can find ourselves with too much on anything, even too much time is a bad thing.
But being aware of your own bad habits or what makes you not your best self (as Oprah would say) is a good thing. Honestly, it's been hard for me to change my bad habits because I've gotten comfortable reading about my friends on Facebook (feeling connected to them, but really, I'm not, if that makes sense). I've gotten comfortable saying, "I don't have time..." I've also gotten comfortable of putting others before my own writing, which is an odd one for me to say because normally I'm quite selfish.
But sometimes habits begin. We notice them and take steps forward to change them.
I've deleted my Facebook icon off my links. Step one.
We already had a plus-sized gal guinea pig already, Chica. But now we have a second, a new baby guinea pig named Sylvia Plath.
What I love about Sylvia is when my daughter tells someone the name, she said, "It's named after a famous poet." I love that she knows this as I didn't discover Sylvia until I was much older.
So again, the Agodon zoo has become a little larger. Seriously, I just need to be stopped when it comes to strays and rescues.
Yesterday she had us map our lives in a pie chart based on these six things--
My social, intellectual, creativity, and physical were my largest.
My emotional and spiritual were slivers.
For some reason I seem to neglect the emotional and spiritual side of myself. With autumn approaching, I realize I can't do this or I will end up in the seeming never-ending funk when the Northwest skies become a wool blanket of grey that is over us for six months.
If you were to make your life into a pie, what slices would be the smallest? the largest? And would kind of pie would your life be?
* * *
This time of year my life is not a pie, but Apple Brown Betty.
I have yet to make it because the weather has been so incredibly beautiful, but once it cools down and the leaves begin to change, this will be my comfort food- with french vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Somewhere on this blog is my recipes for it, from scratch and the easy version. Both are fantastic.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I found this on Michael Wells' blog & had to share it with you:
Perhaps only a musician could see this photograph of birds on wires as notes on a musical staff.
Brazilian composer Jarbas Agnelli saw a photo in a newspaper of birds sitting on five parallel wires, and was inspired to treat their positions as avian sheet music. He interpreted what he saw as music and orchestrated the tune. [Source]
* * *
Sometimes certain things just make your day, this made mine.
Thanks for the notes and posts after yesterday's post. I actually had a very nice day that included pancakes. How can a day go wrong after pancakes for lunch?
Recipe for Icelandic Pancakes
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
50g of melted butter
mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet ingredients until just mixed. let it sit for half an hour. pour roughly 1/4 cup of batter onto a very hot, greased griddle and cook until each side is golden brown. spread some lingonberry preserves thinly onto one side, then fold into quarters
I read Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success
as suggested by January
Diane Sawyer calls it: "A personal, provocative and challenging book for career women who want less guilt, more life."
While it does deal with women who are working a job outside the home, specifically the corporate world (a planet I left many moons ago), I still found it a satisfying and usable book for my own situation.
One thing I left with was that Dorothy from Oz feeling-- you've had the power all along.
I'm trying to figure out what sounds better? Saying, "I'm a poet" or saying "I write poetry." They both require me cowgirl up if I want to be honest about it.
When someone asks you what you do, is it hard for you to come up with an answer?
I definitely need a normal response without feeling as if I need to go into my whole life history to prove that I am serious and not a writer for Hallmark cards (not that there's anything wrong with that, those folks get a paycheck for writing). But here's how it always plays out--
Person: So you're a writer?
Me: awkward silence then a yes.
Person: What do you write?
Me: (long pause as I go through my head): "what have I written? Should I say the poetry book first or something a little more mainstream like that article I wrote or even better, that essay on motherhood, yes, that's a good one...
Me: I edit a literary journal. (then thinking, that doesn't make sense to his question or make me a writer, just tell him you write poems.)
Me: And I write poetry.
Person: awkward silence. How about those Huskies on Saturday?
My perfect conversation would go something like this--
Person: You're a writer.
Me: Yes, I'm focused mostly on poetry, but also write essays and reviews. Sometimes a little fiction.
Person: I just read Beth Ann Fennelly and found her work to be a very accessible yet complex writer.
Me: She's a favorite poet of mine. Her first book, Open House, was my favorite. I'd love to read another collection by her.
Person: I find there are so many wonderful and well-known poets in America. I've been reading Field, 5 am, and Crab Creek Review and just keep finding more.
Me: Those are my favorite journals as well. In fact I edit Crab Creek Review so I'm thrilled to hear you like it.
Person: Yes, it was wonderful how it was featured on the Conan O'Brien show. And it was lovely how he had you and the other editor come out and discuss the work in your journal, that was how I learned about it.
Me: Yes, that was a lovely night. My dress was Prada, they give women poets free designer dresses you know? The men get Gucci shoes.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
This is from our 2009 Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. All of these poems will appear in Issue 1 of 2010--they were all just too good not to publish, so congratulations winners and finalists!
And The Winners Are... (2009 Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest)
Our Poetry Editor, Lana Hechtman Ayers, wrote such a wonderful announcement letter to all of the poets who submitted work for our annual Poetry Contest, we are going to post it here verbatim:
All of us at Crab Creek Review sincerely thank you for entering our 2009 poetry contest. The hundreds of wonderful poems we received made it an enjoyable yet challenging process to judge. Aimee Nezhukumatathil has selected the following poems:
"bring back the knife" by Victor David Sandiego
“My Eyebrows” by Molly Tenenbaum
"The Cure For Headaches" by Kate Lebo
"The Aprons of Adam and Eve" by Molly Tenenbaum
"And What If Bookmarks Are Claustrophobic" by Josh Cooper
"Fitness For Duty" by Rachel Contreni Flynn
"That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do" by Rachel Contreni Flynn
"Dear Reader" by Deborah Hauser
"Not Sorry" by Kate Lebo
"Greed" by Cati Porter
We are grateful for your confidence in Crab Creek Review and hope you will allow us to consider more of your work in the future.
Wishing you all the best in your poetry endeavors,
It wasn't unexpected, he had been very sick with a series of issues since I had begun college. I would set goals for him in my mind-- if he can just make it until Christmas, if he can just make it until my graduation, if he can just make it until I return from Europe, if he can...
He died on a Tuesday, 9/15/02 & his memorial was on that following Saturday, the 19th. Since my wedding date was set for 9/19/93 which was the same date as his memorial I moved it to 10/3/93.
As I said, it's been 17 years since he died, but I still haven't gotten over it.
This may be a darker Confession Tuesday, but that's where I am today.
I keep my father's RayBan Aviator's glasses on a shelf in my office that I turned into a little altar. I also keep a photo of him, which a friend thought was an old famous actor. I wish I could remember the name of who she thought he was. In the photo my father is smoking a pipe and wearing a gold (fake) watch. I still have the watch. The pipes are what caused all his illnesses and I couldn't keep them because of the pain they caused us.
It's 17 years later and my father still ends up in my poems. If you would have told me that 17 years after his death, I'd still be grieving, I wouldn't have believed you. It still surprises me how much I miss him. My mum is 75, a healthy 75 and I can't imagine what a mess I'll be when it's her time. I've never been good with loss. It's a reoccurring theme in my poems.
A friend once told me "We're all writing about loss" and I think he's right.
I confess I still wear my father's off-white Izod cardigan. The other day my mum came over and saw me wearing it and said, "Is that because of what time of year it is?" Her way of asking, "Are you wearing that because the anniversary of your father's death is coming up?" My answer, "No, it just makes me happy."
I confess, when I am aware that it's the 15th of September, the day is harder. Usually I just try to scurry through this week without thinking about it. My mum said, "Sometimes you live your life like an ostrich." I can't say I disagree with her. Sometimes I do live my life like an ostrich, but there is something to be said about the quiet.
In memory of Gale A. Russell
(5-14-26 to 9-15-92)
Monday, September 14, 2009
I was at the chiropractor this morning (bad lower back issue thanks to Mr. Mountain Bike) and thought of you.
I was reading Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland and this really spoke to me and I thought maybe it would speak to you too--
"Art is made by ordinary people. Creatures having only virtues can hardly be imagined making art. It's difficult to picture the Virgin Mary painting landscapes. Or Batman throwing pots. The flawless creature wouldn't need to make art. . .This is a giant hint about art, because it suggests that our flaws and weaknesses, while often obstacles to our getting work done, are a source of strength as well. . ."
What I love this is that I've always had a saying that's "I love the imperfect people best." There's something very attractive to me about someone who isn't afraid to share their difficulties in life, or a woman who doesn't know how to bake brownies, or a man who can't swing a baseball bat, or someone who is considered odd-looking, say too tall (think Lyle Lovett) or a woman who's bangs are a little too short for her face or a child dressed in 57 different colors.
And those of us who struggle with things, whether it be anxiety, depression, motherhood, fatherhood, worry, etc. etc. I think we make interesting art. And while I don't think your entire life has to be built around your issues, in fact, I'd try to stay away from that as an artist as it can suck you dry, I do think pulling energy from what someone may call "a dark place" or the not-so-pretty stuff about your life, or even just the basic imperfections whatever they are from a home with no matching furniture to being someone who always reads the personals from bottom to top, can be a gift.
And these days, we need our gifts.
2. Time to write
3. Coffee in the morning
4. Total raisin bran
5. The portable heatpad for my lower back
7. Family & Friends & my golden retriever
9. Finished projects
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I often tell my daughter, she only fails if she doesn't try. I think this is a good reminder for all of us.
You must fail. You must make mistakes. You must be rejected in order to be successful.
You only lose when you don't try.
Motivation speech officially over. I now return you to your wild and precious life already in progress...
I saw this on Lori's blog and had to share it with you.
Being a Mother & Writer--
I cannot tell you how many times I have struggled with this in my own life and in so many ways-- in how much time I spend on my art vs. how much time I spend with my family, in content and what I write about, the idea of being selfish, needing time alone.
I cannot wait to see this. I have it in my Netflix queue as "saved" as it's not available yet.
Here's the website for the documentary
Friday, September 11, 2009
I'm getting together with two friends today who are also poets to discuss our manuscripts.
All three of us have been finalists in recent contests, so a few weeks ago we decided to exchange manuscripts to talk about how we could improve our manuscripts and if there was anything missing from it.
I'm a very strong believer in looking at one's manuscript to figure out what's missing, what poems need to be written for it to be complete instead of doing the opposite of putting all your poems together and taking out the ones that don't fit as well or aren't as strong.
I'm interested to hear what they have to say about manuscript. I feel I am way too close to it to see or know what's good and bad anymore. It goes back to Tim Gunn's monkey house quote from Project Runway--
Chris, from Project Runway: "Check out my fur-inspired line of clothing, it's covered in human hair!"
Tim Gunn (politely gagging): "I have this refrain about the monkey house at the zoo. When you first enter into the monkey house, you think, ‘Oh my god this place stinks!’ And then after you’re there for 20 minutes you think, ‘it’s not so bad’ and after you’re there for an hour it doesn’t smell at all. And anyone entering the monkey house freshly thinks, ‘this stinks!’ You've been living in the monkey house."
It's basically my biggest fear to think I'm doing something incredible and artistic when really I smell like poop.
But back to getting together... If you've ever read the Artist Way you'll know that Julia Cameron talks a lot about creative clusters. These are your artist friends you draw positive energy from. They are the circles of people you surround yourself with (hopefully people who bring you up and aren't wet blankets...if they are, there's a chapter on what to do about the wet blankets and crazymakers in your life).
Julia believes that success happens in clusters, that there is no need to feel envious when someone in your group has something good happen to them as it just means something good will be coming your way as well.
It's kind of woo-woo, new agey stuff, but I do believe that energy can be pulled to a certain group working together. And what's the alternative? Be ridiculously jealous when something good happens to someone and wish that is was you. That will put your internal organs in a twist.
There's enough good, publication opportunities, awards, book prizes, kudos, satisfaction for everyone. No one needs to feel as if they are going to be left out. There's room in the party for everyone.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Note in a roadside shrine - Union, Washington August 2009
It's confession time, you might have thought I wasn't going to make it tonight. I did. Two hours before midnight (Pacific time.) Did you think I'd miss it? O ye of little faith...
What can I say? It's been a busy day - back to school night...
Confession #1: Sins in the Consignment Store
I confess the easiest way to live simply (and save money) is to not go into any stores.
I realized my daughter didn't have any pant options for school, so we stopped by our local consignment store. We found her two pairs of cute jeans for $5.99 each. (BTW, if your kids aren't crazy about jeans, the best place to get them is at the consignment store because they are already soft!)
After cleaning out room after room this week, I had told myself I needed to be very strict about what I bring into this house.
I said I'd make a list of what I didn't buy this week--
- a purse (I wasn't in love with it despite its low price)
- a wallet (my current wallet really doesn't need to be replaced)
- a vintage dress (decided to wear something I already had)
- extra canned food for our pantry (we need to eat what we have)
- extras for my bike including a bigger bike bag, a foldable mirror, etc. etc (you can always buy something extra for your bike- I decided early on I wasn't going to be bike-gear junkie, but an actual mountain biker, who bikes and doesn't just buy stuff or talk about biking)
I confess I did not resist a pair of red Clarks shoes for $9.99 for myself.
* * *
Confession 2: Not Britney Spears' Toxic
I confess I not only clean out the house every so often, but I also clean out people from my life.
This sounds bad, I know. Kind of mean and uncaring. But it's true.
If someone in my life is toxic to me (emotionally, physically, or spiritually), I remove them from my life. Especially if I think they are bad for my daughter, then they are gone for sure.
I think it's important to surround yourself with good people.
This doesn't mean I don't love them or won't help them, it just means I won't get involved with the drama. I won't get drawn into their poisons.
* * *
Confession 3: Confessions of a Bad Mom
I know moms aren't supposed to say such things, but I'm excited for school to start this year so I can get some writing time to myself. I know we're supposed to say things like, "I love playing Polly Pockets with my child" but honestly, it's been a long wonderful summer of outdoor adventures, but I'm aching to get back to my writing.
Also, since we're in the bad mom sins, I also pay $15 extra to get the "guilt-free" PTA membership, which means I don't have to attend meetings or work at the science fair, bookfair, etc. etc. Someone recently told me that PTA stood for "Pass the Alcohol" and well, I think that's pretty close to the truth.
Dear Reader, forgive me for Clarks, for my selfishness, for my imperfections (I have many). I'm doing my best (most of the time) and am trying to realize it's okay to be "good enough."
Cheers to all the moms and dads who are sending little one into our education system this week. May your school lunches always contain an Mountain Bar and my their backpacks only come home with smiley face stickers...
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Today, while cleaning I found my old notes from a class with Madeline DeFrees. I can't remember where I heard her talk, but she was talking about "Self-Invented Forms" and here are some she suggested if you're having trouble starting a poem.
SELF INVENTED FORMS--
Take 2 favorite words & write a poem where each word begins a stanza
Write a poem of all questions.
Write a poem with all slant rhymes (while/call, drench/finch)
Write a slideshow poem, each section opens with a different slide
1. Selma in a bathing suit
Write a poem that is one side of a telephone conversation
Write a poem where all lines end with a verb, adjective or noun
She said you could go on like this all day making up your own forms.
I once wrote a kind of faux-sonnet (I called it a "faunnet") where I used varations of the word "red/read" on every other line. It was closer to a ghazal though, but it had much of the sonnet element (14 lines, rhyme scheme) and it mentioned Shakespeare, so I leaned more towards sonnet than ghazal.
Have you ever made up a form? What was it? I'd love to hear from you. Please post your comments on what you wrote.
* * *
PS. There will be an incredible interview with Madeline DeFrees with Anne McDuffie in the next issue of Crab Creek Review. I'll let you know when it's available. It's pretty wonderful.
Here's a few things he said about three of my poems that weren't working well and some things I try to remember when I write --
Poem #1 / Problem #1-- The Unevolved Poem
There is no evolution in the poem. It's interesting, but the poem doesn't have a real sense of purpose, it never really goes beyond it's topic. And as an added bonus, the poem also lacks energy.
Idea to fix it-- Go back to the first moment I was compelled to write about this and try again, try a new path, try to go further, to push the topic further and see if it evolves. Think deeply about what sparked the poem, then allow the poem to move past this original idea.
Poem #2 / Problem # 2 -- The Coward
The poem starts with a sense of urgency and begins to evolve, about halfway through, the poem loses its courage. This is a poem that has purpose, but then the writer becomes afraid of where its going (for whatever reasons) and doesn't follow through.
Idea to fix it-- Mark the place where the poem begins to go off track, think about what you're afraid to say, and write it anyway.
Poem 3 / Problem #3 -- The Repeat Offender
This poem has a purpose and then repeats it, again and again. It needs a shift, it needs to move forward as it stays in 2nd gear.
The repetition works for awhile, but creates a need on the part of the reader, a need for change. Again this poem lacks evolution. The poem does the same ol' song and dance the whole way through.
Idea to Fix -- Be aware of how the poem is repeating itself and how repetition can become boring if the reader knows what to expect. Create surprise by allowing the poem to go to a new place that surprised both writer and reader. Go through the poem and highlight the strongest parts and delete the rest. Write, wash, repeat. Stop trying to control the poem, allow the poem to lead you to a new place. Put foot on clutch, shift to 3rd...
* * *
It's an interesting feeling as I love autumn with its orange leaves, wool sweaters, and Halloween moon, but in the back of my mind there is that concern that I will slide into that sad nervous worry-filled place that I tend to do when the sun disappears.
In going through my papers today I found some notes I took when a friend started talking to me about worry. She said the root of the word worry means "to strangle" or "to choke" so when we worry, we cut off the possibility that things could turn out well.
I looked this up and she was right--
1.Middle English werien, worien, to strangle, from Old English wyrgan; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.
She also told me to take magnesium as it helps with anxiety and sleep. She said as people we need to fine tune our thoughts because "the good is there." Sometimes when we are in that dark place we need to redirect ourselves, that fear will always interfere with our well-being.
Can you guess that this woman was a poet? She was.
She's no longer with us in this world, her life was cut short by breast cancer. But as I found her thoughts to me today I felt a reconnected with her. And I'm going to try to remember that worry chokes out the good. And not try, but remember.
* * *
I spent all night, until one in the morning cleaning out my office closet. Yikes. I am still not done.
It is a very good autumn reminder as I pull out my The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life
book to ask myself on every single purchase, on everything I bring into this house-- DO I REALLY NEED IT? Yes, I'm shouting at myself because I seem to forget that things need upkeep. They need a place to be stored, they need to be dusted, they need to be cared for.
To be honest, my life is so busy right now with family, school starting, this next issue of Crab Creek Review, and my own writing, the last thing I want to do is take care of material possessions. With everything needing my attention as the month begins, I do not need the things in my life also calling my name: "Kelli, organize me, store me, put me in a place where you'll remember where I am, dust me, care for me..." Seriously Things, I cannot live for you.
I have already told my family that I will be questioning each and every purchase that comes into this house. Every piece of paper that comes out of the mailbox. Every random cheapy plastic toy.
I sound extreme, I know. Like a crazy woman in midst of chaos. In a certain way, I am. Cleaning out a closet has a humbling effect on me, it makes me realize that I make some really bad choices in what I buy. I apparently was going to do some organizing because I found 3 portable filing binders. Or I bought one then lost it and purchased another and another. Who knows. No one needs 3 unused portable filing folders.
This cleaning is a good reminder to me to live consciously. To live intentionally.
Money in the best of its ability buys freedom. I learn more and more each year that stuff is not freedom.
While I love my books and artwork, I do not love the half-used journals of my life, the extra file folders, the wasted paper. I love dinner with friends. I love the brie and how it disappears, not needing to be stored. I love the poetry reading with a mug of chai tea, the giant chocolate chip cookie. I love the play, the movie, the drive to the coast. I love the trip to the ocean, but not the $3 bag of cheapo kids plastic golf clubs tossed in our garage.
This post isn't a lecture for you on how to live, but a self-imposed lecture and a reminder to myself to pay attention to what I bring into my life. Do I want cheapo plastic golf clubs that take up space and are never used again or do I want the memory of playing putt putt golf with my family?
I want the experience and not the thing.
I'm going to see what I can do without. Maybe I'll keep a list of all the things I thought about buying, but didn't. Maybe I'll share that with you if you're interested. Maybe. But for now, I have to return to the evil closet of waste calling my name. Life and it's bits of paper scattered around my room...
Now Leibovitz risks losing the copyright to the images — and her entire life's work — if she doesn't pay back a $24 million loan by Tuesday. Art Capital Group, a New York company that issues short-term loans against fine and decorative arts and real estate, sued her in late July for breach of contract.
It kind of sickens me to read that Annie could lose the copyright to her entire life's work. I would think those copyrights would mean so much more to her than the money. She's someone who would be able to earn a lot of it back if she loses it all.
Still, this article is a good reminder that just because you're wealthy, doesn't mean you're financially savvy or make good decisions with your money.
Though I don't want to assume that Annie is going through this because she is a creative person and creative people aren't good with money, because some are. Just because you're creative doesn't mean you're a dumb arse when it comes to finance. She might have just made some bad decisions. It happens.
Of course, her debts are on a much greater scale, but maybe to her, buying three townhouses are like me buying three expensive cardigans. Who knows. I'm just sad about the possibility of someone taking away her copyright. I didn't know they could do that.
* * *
Friday, September 04, 2009
I thought I'd add a few thoughts to it--
When I was working a corporate job in my late twenties and finally earning the $$$ I had always hoped to, I was miserable. I found an old videotape of my husband and I in our first place together. We had no furniture, 1 dog, 1 cat, and little money. For Christmas ornaments, we raided a 25 cent machine and put hooks on the plastic dinosaurs toys that came out.
When I watched that videotape of myself I started crying. When my husband asked why I said, "The girl in the video looks so happy." She was.
It was then I realized that for the first time in my life that $$ didn't = happiness.
* * *
That said, I don't romanticize poverty. It's not fun if you can't afford to eat or are cold. It's not fun not knowing how you will pay your bills or make rent. It is not fun hoping nothing happens to your car, body, teeth, home, life, because if it happens you have no idea how you'll pay for it.
* * *
That said, having to be creative with money can be satisfying...if you're not hungry or cold.
When you don't have an unlimited amount of $$ to spend, it makes you live more consciously and more intentionally.
* * *
That said, I think you can be an artist and wealthy. I don't think they are mutually exclusive.
* * *
I have always believed Forrest Gump's idea that a person only needs so much money and the rest is for showing off.
* * *
That said, sometimes I'd like to be a show off.
* * *
Last night we bought hummus, greens, baby arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, a bottle of red wine and picked basil from our garden and while having dinner, I felt rich.
I might have even said, "I like our life."
* * *
I think sometimes being an artist is about finding the richness around you. Museums make me feel rich as do libraries. Walking through a garden does too or buying the better chocolate, and the wine that is $2 more. Small gifts, I guess.
* * *
Mostly though, we need to be warm and to be able to afford food for anything to feel right. At least that's how it works for me. If I'm cold and hungry, I'm not much of an artist.
* * *
Sometimes I lose my way as an artist and have to refocus on who I am authentically. I am not my khakis, but sometimes I forget that.
* * *
It can be hard when we live in a world of commercials and product placement.
* * *
Other artists make me feel rich and help refocus me when I get lost in the maze of want. It's time to read the Circle of Simplicity again. It's time to remember why I'm here, what matters, and who I am.
I have Robert Hass's Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005
on my desk right now.
The book is physically beautiful. Red with birds and patterns. It would make a lovely Valentine's gifts--I think about this because I bought this on Valentine's day.
Here's Publisher Weekly's review on it--
From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review.) --
The first book in 10 years from former U.S. poet laureate Hass may be his best in 30: these new poems show a rare internal variety, even as they reflect his constant concerns. One is human impact on the planet at the century's end: a nine-part verse-essay addressed to the ancient Roman poet Lucretius sums up evolution, deplores global warming and says that the earth needs a dream of restoration in which/ She dances and the birds just keep arriving. Another concern is biography and memory, not so much Hass's own life as the lives of family and friends. A poem about his sad father and alcoholic mother avoids self-pity by telling a finely paced story. Hass also commemorates the late Polish Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, with whom he collaborated on translations; condemns war in harsh, stripped-down prose poems; explores achievements in visual art from Gerhard Richter to Vermeer; and turns in perfected, understated phrases on Japanese Buddhist models. Through it all runs a rare skill with long sentences, a light touch, a wish to make claims not just on our ears but on our hearts, and a willingness to
wait—few poets wait longer, it seems—for just the right word.
What I like?
The political poems mixed in with a poem about Iowa in winter.
How Hass never seems to raise his voice in a poem, yet there is passion (i.e. the 4 page poem called "Bush's War")
The understatement of his poems :
"Bone china handle of a coffee mug: the moon"
"Before skin, words."
(both lines from the poem "Twin Dolphins")
What I like about Hass is that he doesn't write to shock, to be witty, to be edgy, to be talked about-- he loyalty is to the poem and to the line.
This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 (or 08?). I'd recommend it if you like your poetry served without irony or self-importance.
* * *
Thursday, September 03, 2009
The Writing Shed waits for me...
Good morning, Poets.
There are some great things happening in our poetry world right now--
Oliver de la Paz won the Akron Poetry Prize and will have a new book out in 2010. Lucky him and lucky us! Can't wait to read it!
Aimee Nezhukumatathil was featured on New Letters on the Air (my favorite podcast) and you can learn how to say her last name correctly as well as listen to her read some of my favorite poems by her. I hope it's still there, my iTouch was able to download her and David Kirby last week. Both were wonderful podcasts.
Also, Aimee is in American Poetry Review!
As for me, I wrote my first poem of September. My first poem since the weather turned global-warming glorious here in the Northwest.
And I bought an index box for my titles (you can also use a notebook for this...)
So I feel like day by day I'm getting back into my writing life. And hallelujah, does it feel good!
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
****What was in the HONOR BAR next to the beef jerky, gummy bears, and M&Ms in the cottage we stayed in at the ALDERBROOK RESORT (I believe it was $14.95)
I confess I'm a day late to confess. I was out of the country, a day trip to Victoria, BC. O Canada.
I confess the Canadians in Victoria are ridiculously nice and especially the volunteers and employees at their Natural History Museum which is fantastic. We spent 4 hours there going through the TREASURES exhibit and admiring a woolly mammoth, or as we began to call him, the holy mammoth, the holy moly mammoth.
I confess I wrote down ideas for titles in the museum. Museums are the best places to find titles.
I confess I then lost my new favorite orange notebook, but because of the kind Canadians, it was returned to lost and found within an hour of losing it. O Canada, thank you!
I confess I used to keep a "Title Box," a box where I would write down titles on index cards to be used later. For some reason I don't do this anymore, I think I will start doing this again.
I confess "Intimacy Kit" would be a great title for a poem.
I confess we visited the Royal London Wax Museum and went through the hall of horrors, which was not as scary as the life sized wax figure of GW Bush & his father. I confess the Olympic runner in wax had the most frightening hairstyle and facial expression. While I realize they were trying to capture his inspirational moment, I'm still not sure what they were going for with him. He was in the "feel good" section, right after Martin Luther King Jr & Bobby & John F. Kennedy.
I confess I would not want to see what I looked like as a wax figure; they made Shakespeare quite bald and Mark Twain looked from the side as if he was doing his own comedy routine. Einstein though, had beautiful blue eyes.