Thursday, January 31, 2008

Things That Go Broke in the Night...


I woke up this morning to find that our thousand year old furnace had broke during the 30 degree night. The house was a balmy 62 degrees. We knew the furnace wasn't a spring chicken, we dressed it up in duct tape and insulation. It was held together with safety pins and scotch tape. We asked it for a few more winters, it said, yes yes yes. But last night, after one final touch-up yesterday afternoon it exhaled its last warm breath onto our family.

My house likes things to break all at once. It's the blue drama queen on the top of the hill, so I wasn't surprised when I went to my laptop to find that during the night we'd lost all internet access and email. While talking to a very smart 18 year old at tech support, my cordless phone breaks into hissing mode and disconnects. Smart 18 year old boy was lost back into the world of someone else's problem, while I called back and talked with Randy, who I lovingly nicknamed, the man who knows nothing. Randy and I talked for another hour (our first date) but we didn't connect. He let me down easily, he was sending a blind date to take his place (the internet repair man)--no charge, no hard feelings-but this relationship wasn't going to work out. He just didn't understand me and we said our goodbyes.

*

Who was it that said, "Any idiot can face a crisis, it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.” Ah, Chekhov, that's right.

Anyway, since I'm typing this, I'm back online (no help to the help desk or the internet man who wasn't going to arrive until Monday, but the magic internet gods I do not see came to my rescue and put me back online.)

So I thought today would be a good day to do a gratitude journal, to remember all I have, even when I'm heating my home with propane at $4.37 a gallon, I am thankful for propane.

Oh the furnace man? He arrives sometime between 2 and 4...


Gratitude Journal

1) Space heaters, electric blankets, wool socks, sweaters, and a propane fireplace
2) Warm showers.
3) My golden retriever who tells me, "Well, since you have nothing to do and it's cold in here, let's go for a walk," which we did.
4) Acceptances-- Crab Orchard Review took 2 poems for their summer issue (congrats to January too who will be in the same issue)
5) Swiss Muesli with raspberry yogurt
6) Leftover Pink Champagne birthday cake
7) Did I say "space heaters" already?
8) People with skills who can fix furnaces.
9) The internet gods
10) hot coffee made fresh
11) Barack & Hillary
12) It's not raining
13) Dove chocolates
14) Nana is 96 and one day
15) An old home with a new roof, a good view, and alotta love.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

90 seconds to make a change...



I just received this email. Go to u-Tube to watch this 90 second video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnq6cD5jk1Q


and if you agree, you can sign this petition: http://support.afsc.org/site/PageNavigator/DefundRefundPetition

It's a great video, nothing scary, but very very important to watch.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Confession Tuesday


Dear reader, it had been one week since my last confession. Mostly I've been busy with poetry, with writing, but occasionally I do something I can confess. Mostly, I'm a saint with a slightly crooked halo.

I confess I may not have a lot to confess.


1) Some of my biggest decisions have been made in airplanes or high places. I decided to leave Seattle and move to a small town alone on a flight over the Cascades after seeing Johnny Cash in the Spokane airport. I became a vegetarian on a British Airways flight back from London. I decided to quit my corporate job while having dinner atop the Space Needle and looking down over Seattle and thinking, There’s got to be something better out there.

2) I just bought my copy of Li-Young Lee’s new book Behind My Eyes and I haven’t read a page of it, but did look at the author photo.

3) We’ve had cable for one year and I regret getting it. The problem is that now it’s become norm, the way it’s always been, a commonplace. It’s sort of like letting your family sample 101 flavors of ice cream every day for a year and then telling them, I’m sorry, you’re only going to be allowed vanilla from now on. Though for me, it wouldn’t matter because I don’t really like ice cream.

4) Tomorrow my Nana turns 96 and I’m going to her birthday party. I know it will be fun and she’ll be happy, but I also know she won’t remember it.

5) While my Nana can’t tell me what she had for breakfast or even remember the conversation we had two minutes before, she can still play guitar, speak French, knit, and remember the name of the family that lived on the corner in the blue house in Boston in 1932. She can even remember the name of their dog.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Time, Beauty, Endings


Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin...



I haven't been a very regular blogger lately. I've been the abnormal blogger with time as the test I cannot pass. Though time is passing with or without my consent. This isn't too complain about what I've been doing, these last couple of days have been both fun and rewarding, productive and lazy. I've had the best of both worlds, but what I'm seeing when I write my checks (yes, I still prefer checks over debit because there is something satisfying about writing numbers out in actual words--eighty-one, forty-three), is that my birthday month has slid past me and as much as I think I am the skier racing down the slope, many times I am the spectator watching and waving my flag.


* * *

Sad News--


Hit & Run - This was my neighbor. He was out at 6 p.m. and was struck by a car...who didn't stop. This happened on Thursday night.


On the Wednesday night before, I was walking my dog on this same stretch of roadway--in our neighborhood, we call it the "the loop." It's about 2.5 miles, which can be broken down to 1.5 miles of rural 25 mph roadway where cars drive slow and move out of the way for you, and a mile of cars buzzing by you while you tread on gravel wishing there was a sidewalk.


I left my house a little later than normal on Wednesday evening and realized about mid-way through my walk that is was getting dark I was wearing an iPod listening to a New Letters podcast with Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). Cars on that road were whipping by me. I thought about the Baudelaire orphans. Daniel was talking about how he didn't like children's books because good always won and if you just had faith and pluck, you'd make it through. But he knew differently, life is not a guarantee...


Jeannine just happened to call me on my cellphone we talked about the randomness of life (like how you can't get a job one year and the next year you've won a huge award and someone is publishing your memoir-- Congrats Paul!) As I was talking to her I was literally jumping to the side of the road to avoid the ferry traffic commuters who were racing home. I was giving her a play by play of my acrobatics as I dodged traffic.


I was wearing a black coat and black hat. Dressed completely wrong for an evening walk. I passed Virgil and two other friends talking in front of his home. I waved and said hello, but didn't stop to talk because I was on my cell phone and wanted to get off the busy road. When I arrived home, I told my husband I'll never walk that late at night again and that I was almost hit by cars, I had to keep moving into random patches of grass and forest to avoid them.


Then yesterday a friend called me to ask if I heard the news. I hadn't.


I'm not good with random tragedy. I play the "what if" game. What if I had stopped to talk? What if he went to his mailbox 5 minutes later? What if? What if? What if? My second manuscript is based on this, feeling secure in an unsure world.


But back to the "what if's," it's a terrible game because there are never any winners. The past remains the past and what happened in a second, happened. We can't go back and rethink other actions. But I guess I always want meaning, I want bigger purpose. I want to know that my 86 year old neighbor didn't die without something positive coming from it-- streetlights on that street for others, sidewalks, speed bumps. I want to know how he could live 86 years, living through wars and earthquakes, miles of city freeways and the most dangerous thing, the recipe for tragic event would be walking to his mailbox at 6 p.m. on a Thursday night.


These questions are not good for an imaginative, anxious mind. I want to know how we can live each day without being hit by a car, how we each manage to walk into the house after a terrible day at work complaining about traffic or a co-worker and not realize that miracle that we made it home safe. I want to grateful for every minute we do have.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Confession Tuesday


Just sliding in here with my confessions tonight.


Confession Tuesday—


1) When I look at the Poetry Daily News, my first thought is usually, “Where are all the women?”

I've copied today's news (1/22/08) from Poetry Daily to make my point. The women are in RED. The men are in PURPLE


Deciphering Frost: Transcriptions in Robert Faggen's The Notebooks of Robert Frost challenged. (New York Times)

A "complete saturation of the actual":Christian Wiman's Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet reviewed by Frank Wilson. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The importance of being earnest:Tom Paulin's The Secret Life of Poems: A Poetry Primer reviewed by Mark Ford. (Financial Times)

Frieda Hughes introduces a poem by William Wordsworth. (The Times)

"Because he is pure and direct."Andrew O'Hagan on why Robert Burns still matters. (The Times)

Chill...Advice for the poetryphobe. (The Times)

"We all must catch the train that takes us home."Erika Wurth's Indian Trains reviewed by Sheryl Luna. (El Paso Times)

"Everybody must be falling in love..."David Biespiel introduces a poem by John Donne. (The Oregonian)

Call to consciousness: Karl Kirchwey reviews Time and Materials, by Robert Hass. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Casual eloquence: John Repp reviews Li-Young Lee's Behind My Eyes. (The Plain Dealer)

"to make something really hard really good": Dan Chiasson reviews The Poem of a Life, A Biography of Louis Zukofsky by Mark Scroggins. (New York Times)

Gold in the gloom: William Logan reviews Geoffrey Hill's A Treatise of Civil Power. (New York Times)

Poet's Choice: Robert Pinsky introduces a poem by Charles Wright. (The Washington Post)

Before Burns Night: Andrew O'Hagan appreciates the Scottish bard. (Guardian Unlimited)

Ways of translation: Fiona Sampson considers newly published translations of Pierre Jean Jouve (by David Gascoyne) and Arthur Rimbaud (by Alan Jenkins). (Guardian Unlimited)

American Life in Poetry: Ted Kooser introduces a poem by William Kloefkorn. (American Life in Poetry)

Purple reign, purple reign....I only want to see you baby in the purple reign.


Jilly recently blogged about this as well.

It’s not that I don’t love men, I do. But sometimes I just wonder WTF? (And this doesn't stand for World Taekwondo Federation - it stands for “Where’re the females?” I’m sure of it.)


2) In 2000, I inadvertently helped continue a rumor that Stanley Kunitz had died. (One day I’ll have to write the whole embarrassing story here—it’s truly awful, and if I never have a poem on Poetry Daily in my lifetime, I know why.)


3) I’m not watching the TV news and I’ve stopped listening to NPR (or as I call it “Radio to Slit Your Wrists To”) ten hours a day because honestly, it was just bringing me down. Strangely, I still seem to be just as informed, but with a little less neurosis.


4) I love to play Scrabble and do crossword puzzles, but if I had to choose only one I would play Scrabble because I am ridiculously competitive with such things. If the crossword puzzle was designed for two people to compete, I’d prefer it.


5) Someone recently described me as “shy” and I didn’t understand it. A friend told me that I am not shy in person but I am online shy—I have a habit of deleting blogs or not wanting to be “seen.” (I do keep two blogs, one that you can google, one that you can’t…did you know that?) I realize I would make a terrible celebrity or more likely, I’d be a great celebrity but would find myself constantly hiding under my giant umbrella.


6) I am 39 and have only had three different addresses my entire life. Because of that, I constantly fantasize about living in different places. Whenever I go on vacation, I find myself saying, “I could live here.” If I’m feeling stressed, I go to John L. Scott real estate online and look at houses and condos, but only with views.


7) I have P.E. –Postal Envy to anyone who has their mail delivered to their house and doesn’t have to walk to a mailbox.


8) Every year I on Martin Luther King Jr day, we listen to MLK's "I have a dream" speech either on the radio or internet. We were traveling yesterday and I missed it and it makes me terribly sad to have not heard it.


9) I want to create something to highlight women poets or I want more women writing critical essays or reviews--something to equal out confession number 1. I want to see more women poets in the news.

I know Gandhi says "Be the change you wish to see in the world," so I think I have to start with myself, but I hope some of you writing women out there will join me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jeannine's New Light Box




Jeannine's
husband Glenn made her this fantastic light box. How cool is that?

BECOMING THE VILLIANESS in lights!

All Welcome in the House of Poetry

Jeannine Hall Gailey has a great post about "labels" and schools of poets on her blog right now.

Here's some of it:

I don't understand some of the intolerance I read in books of essays and blogs towards poetry different than one's own. Poetry does not have to be all one thing or the other. I've never, in all the years I've spent reading, studying, writing poetry thought to myself: "All other writers should write like me; otherwise, they are bad writers. I know the true way and everyone else is on the outdated/outmoded/too conservative/too experimental path." Whether you write plain-spoken narrative, curvilinear lyric, Shakespearean sonnets, or some experimental-explosion or surreal prose poem, you are all welcome to the house of poetry.

Anyone who labels "the other side" - or even claims there is an "other side" - I just don't understand it. Why is it not all right to be avant-garde, lyric-narrative, stream-of-consciousness, whatever a person wants to be etc? Why must Ron Silliman paint a big broad box called "School of Quietude" and lump everyone who doesn't write like he does into it? Why all the snide remarks about the "other?" Donald Hall does it too. "McPoems written by MFA students are bad; therefore, implicitly, I am good." Fights about schools of poetry - is this a guy thing? Tell me what you think. Because I see it a lot in men's blogs and men's essays


and here's my response--


I think it makes humans feel safe to label things, whether it's poetry or other human beings. By doing it, there's a certain aspect of control, of math: Because X=X then Y.

Our insecure selves like to feel superior to other people (esp. if we're feeling insecure about ourselves). I always think of the quote about having the biggest skyscraper in the city, you can work hard and build the tallest skyscraper, or you can try to knock all the other ones around you down. I think many times, people bring out their wrecking balls and go to work.

The problem for me is, when we generalize or label, we miss the individual or in this case, the poem. We say Categories A,B,and J are good, while C, D, and M are bad. Instead of searching deeper to understand why a poet writes the way s/he does, we write them off.

It's in our history. Think about whenever an artist started painting differently. Think about Picasso's Blue Period.

I like it when poets focus on the specific poem, not a specific category. It's too big. It's like saying everyone in America who owns a _______ is a selfish greedy jerk. Yes, there will be some who are and some who aren't. It's the same in poetry. I don't always like highly experimental work, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I write highly experimental work, many times I don't.

The only association I'd like to have as a poet is by region, to be a NW poet because yes, I live in the NW and that is where you can find me. But I don't want to fall into any "group." I think if I do, then I'm not doing my job as a writer. My goal is to avoid any labels. I'm not a can of soup.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sidetracked

Because I get sidetracked either reading emails or responding to them, I've started setting our cooking timer to 20 minutes before I begin so I don't get lost in my inbox. It seems to be working-- first, I know I only have 20 minutes, so I'm much more quick in responding and second, I don't lose track of time because after 20 minutes there's this terrible alarm that scares the bejesus out of me when it hits (I really need to find a nice digital beep-beep, beep-beep, then the bells of hell shrieking in my ear.)

However, this works. I also do it with my blog-surfing--20 minutes to cruise through blogs, Poetry Daily, Facebook, write a quick blog entry, and then I'm done. I'm surprised how well it works.

I've always known I need about 40 minutes of playtime before writing. I like to complete tasks, respond to the emails I need to, look at my PalmPilot and see what's up with the day, then get to writing.

And I'm getting quicker. This morning, I've taken 16 minutes to type this, respond (and delete) emails and do a quick cruise through the blogworld. So when I return, I'm all set to sit down and write.

I've also been turning my email off during the day, as I'm like Pavlov's dog when I hear that little "bing" that a message arrives. I leave whatever I'm doing to see who dropped me a note.

So, if you're having trouble getting lost in the internet, email, or whatever your poison, I recommended THE TIMER! A little friend to say, "Hey writer, your time is passing, now move on to the words..." (2 minutes to spare, time to go...)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confession Tuesday



January of the blog PoetMom, decided to make Confession Tuesday something for everyone, so I've joined up (you can too) to confess every Tuesday.

I'm not sure what I'll be confessing (or even if it will be that interesting), but you're welcome to read along and see what's up. What I can promise? To be honest and to write about the things I'm thinking about right now.

I'm a very unperfect human being, so most likely, I'll have something to say each week.

Let's begin...

* * *

Forgive me, reader for I have sinned or thought about sinning, it's been eternity since my last confession--


1) When I was playing Scrabble last night, I accidentially chose 2 tiles, but I took the A because it helped me spell "jazzy" with the z on a double letter score (FYI-- For anyone wondering how I got 2 z's in Scrabble, the second z was a blank tile I already had.)

2) Later at my poetry group as I was critiqueing poems, I realized I was looking for words with "AV" in them because in my mind, I was preparing my next Scrabble move for the game I left at home. (I ended up spelling RAVE with the V on the triple letter score.)

3) The other night I became so distressed that my manuscript wasn't worthy, that I began to take it apart poem by poem and reorganize it. Finally after not making it better, I just felt too tired to go on. When I woke up the next morning I reread my old manuscript and decided I liked it. (I had to find an old file of it because I basically ruined the current version of it.)
I once read that John Berryman woke up each morning thinking he was genius and went to bed thinking he was a hack. Sometimes I think Berryman haunts my office.

4) I've noticed that whenever I hear about weird weather, I'm less likely to think "huh, that's peculiar" and more likely to think, "We're doomed, we'll never make it."

5) The other night the phone rang and I didn't answer it. When I looked there was a Florida number on my caller ID. I thought, "Could that have been an editor in Florida wanting to publish my manuscript?" (In my defense of sounding like an egomaniac, I had recently submitted to the Tampa contest.)

I went downstairs and googled the number. It was on a list of numbers of annoying telemarketers. Until I saw it was a telemarketer, I realized that I had huge hopes for this second manuscript and it made me a little nervous to realize how much I was invested (emotionally) it. I went to bed telling myself that even if there is a Santa Claus, I'm not to expect him to call my house at 8:34 p.m. with good news.

6) Sometimes I feel guilty because I eat more than my fair share of cake. But I just love the frosting.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

39!


Kelli's Hollywood Cake



IF JANUARY 9 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY:

Widen your horizons in the year ahead. Expect especially smooth sailing in March and June when anything you begin is sure to prosper or be of benefit. Think carefully about what is most important for you and then ask for it since people are more likely to grant favors and lend you a helping hand this year. Budding romantic attachments could blossom in August and if you are single this might be the year to head for the altar. And write a poem.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD EXPLAINS THE WRITER'S STRIKE

New Poem

I don't normally do this, but I thought I'd post the poem that came out of the revision of another poem.

It's a just-out-of-box poem, brand-new, but maybe because tomorrow is my birthday and I'm becoming a little wilder in my old age (I know, my wildness consists of posting early drafts of poems), but here you go, the poem that was born from another... (by the way, the actual poem had a lot of indenting that was lost on the cut and paste, sorry about that...)





Sometimes it’s easier to write...


*poof*

* * *

This will only be here a little while today... And it's gone!

Poem Requests an Apology

What I'm reading--

HER HUSBAND by Diane Middlebrook a biography about the relationship between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. So far, it's fascinating.

What I'm writing--


So yesterday morning I was lying in bed at 5:30 started revising a poem in my head. After debating whether it made sense to leave the great electric blanket to wander into my cold dark office to write, I realized I wasn't falling back to sleep and if I didn't get up, I'd be annoyed with myself for forgetting my revisions.

I revised the poem until about 7ish and felt good about what I had done.

Then last night before going to bed, I looked at my newly revised poem and it's revisions and realize that I basically inserted a brand new poem in the middle of an old poem. Rereading the revised poem, I could see all the tape and staples I used to make my new poem fit within with the old poem.

So last night, I reverted the revised poem back to its old self and created a new poem from the revision. I think this is the first time I've ever written a new poem this way.

I'm interested in why I was revising a poem that I had considered finished, it was a published poem even, a poem that was nominated for a Pushcart. It was as if I was trying to give a makeover to my old poem, a makeover that didn't fit like taking Shirley Maclaine and trying to make her Amy Winehouse. What was I thinking at 5 a.m.?

I guess the good news from this is that I have a new poem to work on. My old poem is feeling a little bad about itself. It says, "Why did you want to change me?" It says, "Aren't I good enough?" I'll be taking my old poem out for coffee and apologize for my manhandling of it. I know it will forgive me. I've revised incorrectly before, it knows it's not personal.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Excellent Contest from the Poetry Society of America

The Poetry Society of America & The Times Square Alliance

Announce a NEW CONTEST:

BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG VERSE: POEMS OF TIME SQUARE

Help celebrate Times Square, and the qualities that Times Square
represents--diversity, desire, dynamism and the marriage of commerce
and culture--through poetry.

Five winners will receive $1,000 each, plus a trip to New York City
to read their winning poems at an event in Times Square!

JUDGES

Alice Quinn, David Lehman, Tracie Morris

SUBMISSIONS

Accepted from December 15, 2007 - March 1, 2008.

Free to enter.

To learn more about the contest and to enter, visit:

http://poetrysociety.org/



Please consider becoming a member of the Poetry Society of America:
http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa-membership.php.

Excellent Contest from the Poetry Society of America

The Poetry Society of America & The Times Square Alliance

Announce a NEW CONTEST:

BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG VERSE: POEMS OF TIME SQUARE

Help celebrate Times Square, and the qualities that Times Square
represents--diversity, desire, dynamism and the marriage of commerce
and culture--through poetry.

Five winners will receive $1,000 each, plus a trip to New York City
to read their winning poems at an event in Times Square!

JUDGES

Alice Quinn, David Lehman, Tracie Morris

SUBMISSIONS

Accepted from December 15, 2007 - March 1, 2008.

Free to enter.

To learn more about the contest and to enter, visit:

http://poetrysociety.org/



Please consider becoming a member of the Poetry Society of America:
http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa-membership.php.

Friday, January 04, 2008

AWP, Poetry in a Box, & Projects to Start the Year

Welcome to the Hotel AWP--

So I keep hearing more and more how many people will miss out on going to AWP because they didn't pre-register. Who knew?! I almost wonder if this is a plan to make people not wait until the last minute to register, or maybe now with the internet, more and more people know about the AWP and they just have a huge number of participants. I'm not sure. I know honestly, I hadn't realized exactly what the AWP was (or even cared about it) until about 3 or 4 years ago.

Of course, that said, I've only been to one AWP-- Vancouver. And I told myself I wouldn't go to another until my second book is out. So, it could be a long while until you see me at AWP. I could be attending with my senior discount and AARP card. (But let's hope not.)

*

Poetry Love in 2008

I learned yesterday that I'm going to be one of the 14 poets who will be part of this fantastic Valentine's project that Kristy Bowen's Dancing Girl Press is creating.

Here's how Kristy describes the project:

[The project is made of] epistolary poems for a DIY-inspired book arts anthology project due out in February 2008. This is a small limited edition art book project involving each piece as one of a series of 14 “love” letters by women poets/artists in a 5 x 7 box, each with its own author-designed envelope.

I am thrilled to be a part of this and being the Capricorn that I am, have already created my design and will be working on making a hundred of these this month. I see this project as the literary equivalent of receiving a box of chocolates for Valentine's day...except less calories and more thought for the brain.

By the way, if you want to be a subscriber to Kristy's press, for $100 you'll received one of these boxes as well as many other cool things including chapbooks. Learn more about that here.

*

Other projects I'm working on in '08--

My manuscript-- which is complete, just in need of a good home.

The motherhood anthology -- the timeline for this has changed a little bit as my co-editor has had some health concerns. She is still very passionate about the project, but we may not be able to complete it as soon as we had planned to. I've just begun sending emails to the poets who submitted--we received over 1300 poems--but I'm making a batch of "finalists," which are poems that I will share with Elisha for our final choice in the anthology.

I'm only about 1/4 through and I began with poems that were submitted way back in May and am moving my way through the months. So if you submitted, you'll be hearing from me in the next few weeks.

I'll also be mailing out rejections this month and I truly dislike that doing that.

Poems - Always new poems waiting to be written. Always.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Inspiration

Jeannine's talking about what inspires her on her blog.

Here’s her list—

1. Art - Going to galleries and museums really helps me create new ideas, new colors, and new images. Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein and Japanese pop-artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yumiko Kayukawa are a few artists whose work has inspired multiple poems. The weirder, the better. The more I'm around art, there more I think in terms of the visual - and I think that helps my poetry.


2. Novels and short stories. I read a lot of books, but the ones that inspire the most writing lately have been magical-realist types like Kelly Link, Haruki Murakami, and Osamu Dazai (his dazzling Blue Bamboo is a must read for everyone. Loved it!) I think I wrote most of my third manuscript after reading Murakami's After Dark and Blue Bamboo in quick succession. Of course, non-fic, like Hayao Kawai's Japanese Psyche: Major Motifs in teh Fairy Tales of Japan, can also be generative: I wrote a lot of the Japanese folk-tale manuscript because of that book, along with a lot of Miyazaki films, which leads me to my next thing:


3. Movies and Television. Hayao Miyazaki's films in particular, and sometimes good/bad (or so bad it's good) TV fare like Heroes, Alias, and Buffy. Graphic novels and comic books probably should be included here too. My never-ending cycle of consuming pop culture and writing about it is probably unstoppable at this point.


Here’s what I do to become inspired—

1) Read. I grab my favorite poetry books. These change all the time but right now, it’s Tracy K. Smith’s DUENDE, Molly Tenenbaum’s NOW, and Dorianne Laux’s FACTS ABOUT THE MOON, which I just started reading. Sometimes I read old interviewer with poets (The Language of Life with Bill Moyers, any old Writer’s Chronicle interview), or a biography of a poet.

2) Visit or talk to other poets about poetry.

3) Visit art galleries or art openings with other artists. If I’m too lazy to go out, I have a subscription to Art in America that I browse through.

4) Take a long drive, a long walk somewhere new, or a long hot shower.

5) Pull up old poems and begin revising them.

6) Make my life really busy because the busier I am, the more I want to write.


I have never been inspired by movies or tv. I think because they turn my brain to off (which is why I like them). However, music can inspire me. I’ll have a writing “theme song” that I’ll turn on and replay over and over while I write. It was The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” and recently was Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.” But it’s also been the beginning of Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger.”

I would *never* wait to be inspired because who knows when I would write.

On a day I plan to write, I spend about 40 minutes doing nothing except answering emails, browsing blogs, maybe posting a blog entry, and/or checking the news & poem on Poetry Daily. Then I either open up several poems I’m working on to revise or just open a blank document and start writing. If I’m having trouble beginning, I’ll grab a poetry book and turn to a page and randomly choose a few words to begin with. For example, I just grabbed Dorianne’s book and say “Who remembers…” and that would be how I would start writing. I’d edit it out later, but it’s a good way for me to begin. I can also use “She thought” as an opening line, then again, edit it out later.

I write more and better when I write at night than during the day because my internal editor has already gone to sleep, but I revise better in daylight hours. I could write poems all night, during the day, it’s usually more work to write a poem. Night has always been the time when I’m more tuned into “the source,” which may be inspiration, God, or may be just my internal clock. Whatever it is, the darker it is outside, the better my poem. I write much more in the fall and winter, in the spring, my writing starts to dwindle off and in the summer, I barely write at all.

What inspires you? And do you find patterns in your writing life? Do you have a favorite time of day to write?
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