Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Self-Doubt Means that We Care & other thoughts on creating...



Dear Reader,

Many of my professor friends are getting ready to return to their teaching jobs.  Many of my parent friends are seeing their kids off to school.  Yes, no matter how we may try to deny it (or savor it), summer is ending.

In certain ways this can create a downness in each of us.

For me, I realize how much I didn't do this summer.  I realize how much time I spent working.

I confess I was on my paddleboard the least amount I can remember than in years past.  It makes me long for summer even while summer is going on.

Sometimes that happens.  Sometimes life is the thing passing you by without you noticing.

I confess I've been feeling a little down lately.  Maybe it's the ending of something. Maybe it's the beginning of something else.  Maybe it's regret dressed as ending or just time shaking me up a bit.

Maybe it's because I am in the final proof of my manuscript, Hourglass Museum, and there's a fear and doubt that comes with that.

A friend (who isn't a writer) recently said to me, "I'm not sure why you're nervous, this is your third book?  Shouldn't you be over that now?"

My first response was:  Yes, I should be over it.

But then I went deeper and realized that if I wasn't nervous, then I'd be sending out something into the world where I took absolutely no risk.  I'd be sending out a loaf of Wonderbread without the "wonder."

My self-doubt and nervousness means that I care about what I write.

I care about readers holding my book and connecting.  I understand "not my audience," but I care about "my audience," people who expect good work from me, I want to live up to their and my expectations.

 I want to create something beautiful.  That is what it always comes down to.


~


I heard someone say--

If you're depressed, you're living too much in the past and if you're anxious, you're living too far in the future.

I confess I've never been good at understanding my own feelings or living in the present, so life can be rough sometimes.  I must live in about 5 separate universes because I feel the above as well as hopeful, thankful, and happy, all at the same time.

I'm a nebula of paradoxical emotions.

Though I confess sometimes I love to be in the melancholy of autumn.  Sometimes I love to be Elvis Costello's Sulky Girl in leather boots.

~

I confess I've been cleaning out my bookcase, which really means, I've been moving things around and found an old Julia Cameron book Walking in the World: The Practical Art of Creativity.  It's not as good as the Artist Way, I believe, but here are a few things I had underlined in the book--


Making art is quite literally a path to "our Maker."

We have answered yes when our true name was called.

There are no certain routes.

Sometimes I don't know who I am.

But we must stay focused on *what* we are doing, not *how.*

Each slight increment of mastery holds the sweet promise that the days of awkward repetition and frustrating blunders do lead somewhere after all.

Self-pity likes to make us feel the world is an adversarial place and that the odds are stacked against us.

Doubt is the signal of the creative process.  It is a signal that you are doing something right--not that you are doing something wrong, crazy, or stupid.

Feel the feelings, but don't act on them.  This, too, shall pass.

Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

Sudden problems in my life usually indicate that I need to work on my art.

All artists get discouraged.  All artists have deep inner wells of self-pity into which we periodically dive.  All artists are doing better than someone else and worse than someone else.  All artists are doing better today than they have done in the past and worse than they will in the future.  All artists specialize in self-doubt.  It is how we hone the creative imagination.

Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.



Amen.

~ Kells

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Poet's Accessible Blackberry Cobbler (Easy for All)




So this is what I do when I need a little sweetness in my life-- cobbler.  I also make Apple Brown Betty and Apple Crisp as well.

But it's blackberry season in the Northwest and the vines I curse at for growing where they are not supposed to grow are feeding me and making me happy.  My yard makes dessert!

Here's a Blackberry Cobbler ANYONE can do.  Teach your kids, teach your partner, teach your cat This is easy easy easy and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.  Seriously.  It's simple.

And when you're done, read Robert Hass's poem:
Meditation at Lagunitas




Poet's Accessible Blackberry Cobbler


Makes 6 Servings, or one great yummy serving throughout the day


Ingredients:

4 cups of fresh blackberries (honestly, I don't measure anymore, I just fill the bottom of my baking dish)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice  (I just squeeze a half of a large lemon & call it good)

1 large egg

1 cup of flour (I use wheat 'cuz I like to keep things "healthier" and not feel guilty for eating all of it in a day, but other friends have used almond meal to stay gluten free)

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons of butter - melted (optional) -I left the butter off one time by accident and I didn't miss it, so now I just skip it and eat extra ice cream to make up the calories.


Prep:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place blackberries in an 8" x 8" baking tray that is slightly greased. Sprinkle blackberries with lemon juice.

Using a wooden spoon, stir together flour, sugar, and egg in a separate bowl, until it is course, then pour over blackberries in an even manner.

If you chose to have melted butter, drizzle that over the top.

Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Let stand for 10 minutes or until you can no longer wait to eat it.  Serve on plates with french vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  If you're fancy, add a sprig of mint.

~


Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.  

     --Robert Hass


Enjoy!


~ Kells


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Weekend Confession: Pity Parties & Refocusing for Fall



Dear Reader,

It's been a week and a half since I last confessed, sliding in late has been my summer way, but it's the end of the August with summer slowing down and autumn beginning to show in the red leaves, so let's begin--

I confess I've been a little emotional lately, a little overly-dramatic.

I've been trying to figure out what's causing this--life, hormones, not enough sleep, too much summer--but I've found myself in this wah-wah space not counting my blessings, but instead wanting to scream: I'm broke and everyone is eating my candy!

Yes, welcome to the pity party version of my life.

Truth be told, I am not broke, it just feels as if there's this open window and all the money in my hand keeps blowing out through it (completely missing the savings account).  However when I feel "broke" I have to remind myself of the fact that if you are currently living in the US right now and making over $25,000 a year: Congratulations, you are one of the richest 1% of the people in the world.  Seriously.

This is why I hate it when I get all cranky and poor-me-ish.   I just want to tell myself to shush up.

But it's so weird when you know you're *not* supposed to feel a certain way (rationally), but you still do emotionally.

So, I'm thinking about fall, thinking about my upcoming projects and making plans (I like to make plans)--

Here's what I'm focusing on this fall:

BLOG:

Will continue Confession Tuesday
      (and hopefully, *on* Tuesday, none of this any-day-of-the-week summer nonsense)

Will focus my Thankful Thursday posts on books & authors I love and have read


BOOKS:

Will be publishing a book of poetry exercises called The Daily Poet with Martha Silano in late 2013

Finish up edits for Hourglass Museum, a book of poems by White Pine Press


TWO SYLVIAS PRESS:

We'll be putting out Dear Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's Diary & Poems in eBook edition by Esther Helfgott this November.


There is so much good in the world.  I can forget it when I'm feeling slumpy.  When my guardian angel is saying, Hey babe, settle down...

Sometimes I need to just sit down, count my blessings, and put life in perspective.

And well, everyone is not eating *all* my candy, but I didn't really want to share my meltaway mints.  Still learning, I am... still learning.

Amen.

~ Kells

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Postcard from Denise Levertov: Poem "The Secret"


The Secret


Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don't know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can't find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.



~ By Denise Levertov



~ Kells

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Confession Tuesday on Wednesday-- The Crazy Poets Edition (aka the NO LIST Edition)



Dear Reader,

If you're not a poet, you couldn't care less about this post. Or could you? I always forget...


You wouldn't even need to address this post because it's about poetry and seriously, besides mimes and opera singers, we're a small group.

In the last couple days there have been lists made about poets.  "Movers and shakers." "Influential poets." And these lists have been shared...as if they *mean* something.

Here's the deal, people on the lists love that they are on the list and people not on the list feel bad about themselves.

In reality-- lists suck.

People make lists to show they are "in" (or want to be "in") or know the right people.

People make lists because they want to feel important.

But in reality, it brings us back to an "us" and "them" world, when really it is "us" and "us."

So I'm making a list and we're all included because-- guess what Einstein-- poets are poets are poets and poetry is for everyone and not an elite group.

And if you're writing poetry, consider yourself a "mover or a shaker" (whatever the eff that means) or consider yourself "influential" in poetry, because your neighbor and her neighbor are reading poetry at night because you mentioned you wrote poems and they are not watching the Kardashians or Breaking Bad or not caring what the poets are doing.


Dear Reader,

So you can see I am somewhat, a little, a tad bit, annoyed that there are many of us writing poetry and someone is making a list without your name on it.


And that sucks.

In the real world, no one knows how much you are doing or how you are sharing poetry, or writing poetry, or dedicating yourself to your art or anything.

The lists are created based on appearances.

I know a thousand poets who live and die for poetry and weren't on a list this week.  Does that mean they don't matter?

No. They matter.

What it means is that people aren't paying attention.  What is means is that you live in a small town, or you're an introvert, or quiet, or you don't announce everything you do. or that life doesn't have to be a list with your name on it.  It means you don't live near where said-listmaker lives or you haven't blogged about yourself lately.

I confess I am tired of lists.

Lists of influential poets or any list with my name on it or not, means nothing.

List suck.

What matters if you care about what you are doing or writing or that your art is something that matters to you.

I'm tired of people being neglected.

I'm tired of seeing a list and realizing that half of the frigging country isn't on it.  And "frigging" is an understatement.

Understand, people will always try to put you into a group-- don't let them.  Be the narwhal.  Be the meteor across the sky, so fast and sparkly, no one can catch you when someone says, "Look."

Some of the most beautiful things are seen only by a few people.

That doesn't mean they aren't important.
This doesn't mean you aren't important.

I'm writing a list with your name on it.

When you're not on a list, it just means that some people weren't paying attention. And that's their problem, not yours.  You?  You just keep writing.

And that's their fault, not the fault in our stars. (Did you see how I did that?)

Relax, baby.  Things will all work out.

I'm making a list and you're all included.

Amen.



~ Kells

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Poets on the Coast: Opportunity for Guest Visual Artist or Jewelry Maker or . . .



Susan Rich has a call for a Guest Artist at our lovely Poets on the Coast Retreat for anyone who is interested.

Here's the post from her Alchemist's Kitchen blog:

Opportunity – Guest Artist for Poets on the Coast

For our 3rd annual Poets on the Coast we will feature one guest artist. We are especially interested in visual artists who have an interest in promoting women in all the arts.

If selected, your work (postcards, business cards) will be featured in all conference packets; you will also be listed on our donor list. We will also have your photo and bio displayed.


If you live near Nye Beach, Oregon, we’d love to meet you as well! We are asking for a piece of art (a picture, a pin, earrings, a few notecards) to be distributed to all our women participants. The theme of Poets on the Coast this year is “Collaborative Arts”  and so your work will be seen in this context. We are choosing only one visual artist to be represented at the conference. 

You can live anywhere in the world as long as you can mail us your work by September 1st.

Please send me an email at Susan Rich (srich18(at)gmail.com) outlining what kind of art you make and what you would want to contribute to the poets attending our Poets on the Coast event in September. Our call for visual artists must be in by Monday, August 19th so that we can make a decision by Monday August 26th.

Thanks so much for supporting women artists and Poets on the Coast!
 



~ Kells

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Confession Tuesday (on Wed.): The Find Your Tribe Edition



Dear Reader, 

It's been two missed confessions and a lot of everything else going on.  Apologies.


But with that apology, I realize I owe you two weeks worth of confessions, or perhaps, just to be even more honest, a little more vulnerable.  


Because you waited two weeks, I will not tell you how when making a chocolate sundae at a sundae bar, I hide huge amounts of chocolate sauce under the ice cream so people do not think I'm being piggy, however, there is no way to hide my gluttonous use of whipped cream. I confess, when it comes to sweets, I love more.



So that's not what we're going to talk about.  Let's get to the passion. To the confessional--

I confess last night I returned to my MFA program taking place in the beautiful Pacific Lutheran University.  I was a student there in 2004, almost ten years ago.  I started my MFA program 3 weeks after my stepfather, who I loved, passed away unexpectedly from a stroke. I was a younger mother leaving her 3 1/2 year old to attend school.  All of it felt overwhelming and scary, and yet, I showed up and began.

Returning to school to get my MFA made me realize how much more comfortable I am with writers, or maybe it's a bigger group-- artists, people who are not satisfied with just being one thing--a mother, a wife, a husband, a teacher, a father, a worker, a ____________ (fill in the blank) and create.

I love being with people who are so passionate about something so much that they need their own time.  And they get cranky when they don't have it.

Last night, just walking into this new group of people, I felt completely comfortable even though I didn't know everyone and in fact, there were so many I didn't know.  

I saw some of my favorite faculty members-- Peggy Shumaker, Brenda Miller, David Biespiel, Kevin Clark, Ann Pancake, Linda Bierds, Sherry Simpson, and of course, the director of the program Stan Rubin & Judith Kitchen, some alums now working for the program - Katrina & Rebecca -, a few students in the program I recognized, but a lot of people I didn't know, but who oddly, I felt a connection with even though we had just met.

This is what it means to find your tribe.

This is why it's important whether online or in-person (in-person is so much better) that you connect with other writers.


Last night my good writer friends laughed at my "problems" --I was half-complaining that all my book deadlines have fallen during summer and how much editing work I've taken on and how I've hardly gone out and paddleboarded. They said, "Yes, those are terrible problems-- you're publishing your 3rd book and you're getting paying work, we feel for you."  It's always nice to have friends call you out on your BS.

And they did this in the sweet way and an understanding way.  Saying things like, "Sometimes I feel as if I'm not using my summer correctly either" and "I get it, you need to let stuff drop away so your own writing time can come in."

People either love your writing tendencies or despise you for it.

They think you're selfish, whiny, narcissistic, introverted, or completely in your crazy dreamland, or they love you for it.


Sometimes when I'm out in the world without my friends who are writers, I feel awkward.

I confess I hate small talk and just want to get to what really matters.  I can't talk about the weather anymore.

We need to surround ourselves with people who support our quirkiness and weird creative needs.

I confess, I am currently photographing garbage.  

Yes, I go to the beach each day, pick up garbage, bring it back to my home and photograph it.  It's crazy, but I feel as if I'm creating something larger, it's become a side project.

My family does not think it's weird that there are plastic bottles on our walkway and not in the garbage can.  They realize this is me. They know if I don't do my creative projects, I am cranky.  I get all tense and want to be alone.  Need to be alone.

Some people don't understand this.  They will say you're being rude or selfish.  They will say you should be 1) keeping a lovely home  2) working more overtime so your family can have nice things  3)  hanging out with more friends.

Don't believe them.  

Believe we are all put on this earth to do something more and if you don't know what that is, quiet down and listen to your inner voice.  

Sometimes it's hard to hear because of all the chatter in the world.  That's the challenge.


But we are not put on this earth to create a body without cellulite or to fit in a pair of size 8 jeans.  We are not put on this earth to worry about dustbunnies or have a weed-free yard.  


We are put on this earth to do something greater.  

You might not have the level of Oprah to touch a billion viewers, but no worries, that job is taken. Your job is not.  

Your position on earth has not been filled until you fill it.

Dream bigger.

If there's a weird nagging voice inside of you that is calling you to write, then do it.  It's not there for the heck of it.


If you get the urge to paint, do it.

If you get the urge to start a group that helps abandoned dogs, go for it.


The goal is to create.  

We each have something we're passionate about.  

Sometimes we're afraid to follow that passion because we're afraid it won't work out.  Here's the deal-- doing what you don't love is when it isn't working out.  Living a life you don't want to lead is when it's not working out.

Yes, it's scary. I'm freaked out most of the time, but at least I'm happy. Happy with the occasional freakout is better than unhappy in a unsatisfying comfortable life.

I confess returning to my MFA program reminded me how much better I am when I am being a writer in the world.

Sometimes you don't know the impact your having on others.  Most of the time you don't know the impact you're having on others.   
Quality over quantity every time.

I confess I have to work on this all the time.  I quit my corporate job in 1997 and I'm *still* constantly reminding myself I don't have to live my life like other people.  

I can be one of those kids doing her own thing.  And that's okay.  And for me, it's better.


Amen.



~ Kells

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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Poetry Books by Women Needed: A Request


Susan Rich & I are putting together our famous "Welcome Baskets" for the poets of Poets on the Coast and want to include one book of poetry by a woman poet for each of them.

We will be creating a Reading List / Donor List for our participants and your name & book title will also be included here.

We see this as a sort of "weekend mentorship" for your book to connect with another writer over the weekend and to be there with her when she returns to her room to write.

If you have a book (or 2 even) of poems you'd be willing to donate, we'd love include you.

Our participants come from all over the country and we'd love to share your work with a new audience!

If you're interested, you can mail your books to me (before August 31) c/o Crab Creek Review at:


Kelli Agodon
c/o Crab Creek Review
PO Box 1524
Kingston, WA  98346


Thank you in advance for all who participate.  And if you want, drop me a note at kelli (at) agodon .com  to let me know you're sending a book.




~ Kells

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