Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday Submission Club


It's Saturday night and I am home trying to do a poetry submission.

Poetry submissions annoy me when I overthink them. I look at my work and say, "Hmm, this isn't good, nor is this." I say, "not this poem, this poem sucks, maybe I'll work on this poem, hey--what's this? I'm hungry, do we have any sliced gouda?" 

I sabotage myself. I can't figure out who to submit to, even though I have a list in front of me of journals I want to submit to.

I put the "pro" in "procrastinate," and so much, I end up writing a blog post (which I am behind on), instead of submitting. 


And wait, I'm the one who wrote that viral piece, Submit Like a Man? I could learn a lot from myself. 

But I have been submitting more, and there's a reason...

Last fall, Susan Rich and I created an email group for the women who joined us at Poets on the Coast called "Friday Submission Club" where we are to do one submission a week and report on it (you can do more than one, but one is the goal). Each Friday, I send out an email to the group and we each check in with where we submitted along with rejections and acceptances.


It's an excellent way to have accountability, structure, and routine.

Also, if you submit once a week, you will have 52 submissions in a year! For me (as someone who loves to write, but hates to submit, that's huge.)

But this week, I kind of lost track of what day it was as I'm off from work and basically just hanging around my yard in a hammock or lounge chair in the sun and reading. Susan sent out this week's email and I don't know, maybe I feel off the hook for having to submit this week... but I know I need to submit.


And tonight I am tired from talking with friends all day (tired in a good way, introvert tired, not-my-friends-are-annoying tired) and really, just want to slip myself into the newly-changed sheets on my bed and read.

So I think I'll be proud of myself for finally writing a blog post (sorry to be so behind) and let me myself off the hook on the submitting tonight, but will promise to do it tomorrow when my head is more in the game. (I am a much better morning poet.)

So that's a thing you know-- find the times you work best and use them. 


My time is morning now. Or after a nap. (Have I mentioned how often I nap? Almost daily. I nap at work, I nap in my car, I nap on the ferry... I seriously try to get a 40 minute - 60 nap a day. It's really like having 2 days in one. I wake up and my brain works again, it's' like magic, except it's science -- Yes, napping is good for you.) 

So tomorrow I will wake up and submit. I promise. 

And maybe you want to as well. Or maybe we can nap and dream we did...


~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Friday, June 29, 2018

My Poetry Manuscript is a Bear...


Self Portrait with Manuscript


I have been a terrible blogger this June. 

I have a list of things I've been up to (mostly having to do with family, personal life, a few small trips), but I'll talk about the literary stuff and my biggest project, my fourth manuscript of poems.

For some reason, this manuscript has been a bear to work with. And not one of those friendly Winnie the Pooh types, all sweet and honey covered, this is the bear that wanders into a forest so large you can hardly see him until you do, then you realize he is chasing a camper or shredding a tent.

This bear is surrounded by poem and so many, he's not sure which are good anymore. He's eating sour blackberries and pulling thorns out of his wrist. 

This bear doesn't want to organized, it wants to run wild through rivers while grabbing a fish. 

This bear growls at the thought of having to "have a theme" or any sort of structure. 

This bear doesn't even want to be named. Just call me "Bear" he says. But you name him something clever, and for a week, he's happy, then he says, "I hate my name and so do you." 

One day I printed out all the parts that made the bear and put it in a folder. I had its ear over its left paw. He had eyes on its knees.  "This is not how you make a bear," said the bear.

I just can't see how to do this. The bear took a nap and I rearranged his den. He woke to find himself in a modern day apartment with organic honey on the table. There are two throw pillows with pinecones on them on his forest green sofa. 

The bear tells me "You have no idea what you are doing." And I agree.

That said, the bear looks more like a bear these days, though I still am not finished.

The bear says, "You will never be finished," and with this, I agree.



~ Kells
 ________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Friday, May 11, 2018

Love Waltz with Fireworks (Filmpoem by Sarah Durn & Kelli Russell Agodon)


Love Waltz with Fireworks from Visible Poetry Project on Vimeo.
April 19: Love Waltz with Fireworks
Directed by Sarah Durn
Poem by Kelli Russell Agodon

Narration by Nikesh Murali


I am thankful to have had my poem chosen by filmmaker Sarah Durn to be part of Visible Poetry Project's film-poems for National Poetry Month.

Sarah was a dream to work with and the film exceeded my expectations!

If you want to learn more about Visible Poetry Project (and submit your own poem in the fall/winter), learn more about them here: https://www.visiblepoetryproject.com/




You can see more poems by the Visible Poetry Project here.








~ Kells ________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Breaking Up with My Boyfriend, Facebook...



Let me be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. 

Facebook is the boyfriend who knows all the cool people, goes to all the right parties, is always in the know, but ultimately talks too much (and is an expert in *way* too many subjects) and keeps taking me on these long dates to nowhere.

Facebook boyfriend has his perks, when I'm with him, I'm feel pretty high, drunk and in love with the world. People are liking my new haircut, my photo, my story, my cat. 

I know everyone's business too--who got married, who got divorced, who went to what restaurant and with who and who ordered catfish tacos. 


I'm like wallflower who somehow wore the right dress and is hanging out with the cool kids-- did you see what Rita Dove is here? Oh my God, Ocean Vuong just popped in! Hey, Richard Siken just showed up!  Someone bring me an appetizer, I'm part of the gang, I'm clicking it with the clique. I may be home in ratty PJs and slippers with cows on them, but no one knows that, tonight I'm at the party of the century and wearing a gown! 

And my boyfriend makes it so much fun. He gives me a numbers on how many people gave me the thumbs up today. Some people give me red hearts. Some people appreciate my sense of humor and give me a laughing face. I am the most popular here. I'm the mayor of nothing, I have a wall I write words on and people show up and respond and like those words. It's like publication for people who don't want to really try. My campaign is built on photos of me paddleboarding, poetry, sunsets, and an occasional cat. 

People leave me sweet notes and I answer important questions for other people like "Am I too old to wear red lipstick?" Definitely not!  "Can canned tuna be bad for cats?" Let's google that, there have been studies about mercury in the meat!  "Is it okay to wear open-toed shoes to a memorial?" (Okay, that one was my question I asked to my Facebook friends and they came through--Yes! Yes, you can wear open-toed shoes to a memorial.) This is so useful. Facebook boyfriends tells me these people are here 24/7 and I can ask them anything and they will respond. It's a magical place where laugh and cry and complain all in a semi-private setting where people may or may not understand our tone or humor and possibly freak out at something said and cause several notes back and forth to get something that could have been minor or overlooked in real life worked out, but right, magical! 


Then Facebook boyfriend woos me with how much he knows about poets. Look who has a book out! he yells.  Look who published this poem in this journal, he says in between showing me photos of children and places I'll never visit. Look, this poet won an award, a big award! Maybe you will *never* win that award...Wait, what? Who said that? Ohhhh, that's my insecure self popping in to join us, okay, it's a threesome now. Me, my Facebook boyfriend and my insecurities, oh my, the night is young...


As good dates go, somewhere a couple hours in you realize the guy you are dating (plus your tag-a-long insecurity) may not be the best match for you. But you're already out. Here is about when my boyfriend turns on me. He says, "Hey, let's do this again for another 2 hours and I'll show you the things I just showed you, but enough new information that you'll hang around." Um, that kind of sounds terrible, but I've been sitting her this long, maybe something fun will happen! 

Facebook and I having our 4th beer while we watch people get into fights over submission fees and terrible male writers behaving badly. Someone brings up Mr. Magoo as a controversial figure in cartoons. As was Fred Flintstone. Someone says, "Once I ran into X and he said, "Do you have any peanut butter and I'm like, You are awful for putting your need for peanut butter before this reading AND he wore socks with sandals. I am so done with male poets!"

So now I'm eating peanut butter from the jar (because the post made it sound so good) trying to figure out who X and the next thing I know, it's an hour later and my peanut butter is gone. I still don't know who X is, but I will be looking at people's feet from this point on and I have peanut butter all over my hands. My boyfriend rudely shows me an ad for weight loss which I mark "Does not apply" and send away.

From there, it all goes down hill... I start hitting the hard stuff and lose a sandal. I slip into another conversation where Opinion dresses incredibly close to Fact, so close that people are calling Opinion "Fact" and I'm staring at my screen thinking--Hey, that's Opinion not Fact, maybe I should chime in and clear that up. And now Opinion keeps popping up as Truth, it's like Opinion is in camouflage and no one sees it.


I'm wandering around with my Facebook boyfriend drunk, shoeless, and covered in peanut butter. My boyfriend and I have spent the day together, but have accomplished nothing (thankfully, my insecurity left right before the weight loss ad saving me from a salad with no dressing for dinner.)

And in fact, I'm annoyed with the world. I've snoozed several people for 30 days like I'm the witch in Snow White with my powerful poison apple. You want to show me a traumatic image about cows being slaughtered while I have my breakfast--SNOOZE. You want me to share the sad story about animal abuse-- SNOOZE.  You have complained about the same people for the last 4 weeks and yet you seem not to be making any good decisions in your life-- SNOOZE. I am the powerful witch snoozing my friends in the hopes that in 30 days they will not post photos of injured animals or those videos that just start playing where they should you how to make mac and cheese in a bicycle helmet in the microwave-- SNOOZE! 


I start to sober up, the day is wasted. I spent my hours on magical beans that grew nothing, plus I'm out a sandal. 

I'm annoyed with the world and its terrible news. And I realize my boyfriend has been making money off me-- it seems he is paid for the time I spend with him because ultimately, he has stuff to sell me...and he has people who work for him that want my attention. And the more I show up, the more money he gets, which seems like a terrible deal. I lose hours of my one-time-on-this-planet and he gets a revenue stream?!

So Facebook, I am breaking up with you.

I am taking a break to reclaim my time and my mind. But with any truly dysfunctional relationship, I know I'll be back, as I always seem to return. Facebook is like the boyfriend I don't need but who always has the best snacks when I'm hungry for nothing.

But I've gotten better at staying away from you even longer because I realize, the secret to Facebook is 1) The less you're on Facebook, the less you want Facebook.  Like Fight Club except instead of hitting yourself in your own face, you're actually writing blog posts or poems. You're actually sitting in a lounge chair in your own backyard reading American Poetry Review and Poets and Writers. 


Facebook, I will be back, but on my own terms at my own time and keeping this in mind--Use technology, but don't let technology use you. 

Still, you do throw a pretty good party. I just need to know when to go home. 



~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com
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