Saturday, January 30, 2010
Photo from iPhone at Open Books, January 28, 2010, Seattle, WA
So I want to tell you about the best dinner ever we had at Kabul before the reading and how the photographer from the Seattle Times was there and we'll be in next Friday's insert about the restaurant, but I know you want to hear about the poetry.
But I'll set the scene-- 6 of us, Annette (my co-editor from Crab Creek Review), Lana (our poetry editor) and I all carpooled down. We met Martha Silano, Susan Rich and Ann Hursey there, all local poets (and more than that, friends) who were also coming to the reading. Susan suggested the restaurant and it was some of the best food I have ever eaten. And the Spanish wine... the best.
But to the reading...
After we ate, drank and talked, we walked to Open Books...
We arrived at 6:30 and the bookstore was well, open and empty. (I had thought the reading was 7...it was at 7:30 pm) However, this allowed us to get front row seats and browse the bookstore. I already had Kary Wayson's book, American Husband, but purchased Olena's chapbook by Hollyridge Press.
Olena & Kary arrived about ten or fifteen minutes before the reading. Kary was beautiful in a black dress with a hint of gold and black leggings & books. Olena was in her almost thigh-high black leather boots, ripped blue jeans and a backwards Nirvana t-shirt which I appreciated being a college student during the grunge era here.
I guess I should say this immediately so you don't think there will be a part in this blog where I have a deep conversation with Olena and reveal something interesting. It won't happen here. Why? Because I am incredibly intimidated by Olena and said all of five words to her, "Would you sign my book?"
Olena reminds me of the tough girls I feared in elementary school. The ones who in 5th or 6th grade were making out with boys behind the tire trees while I was trying to find the correct mixture to my rock polisher so my rocks wouldn't come out with a caky film on them. They were the girls who knew that you put pot in ZigZags and that they weren't some sort of neat art paper to draw a series of dog cartoons on.
Since I have never spoken with her, I do not know how she is in real life. If she is a sweetheart or someone who might push you down a hill. Kary and her seem to have a close relationship, so I tend to think she is a sweetheart to some, and perhaps, a hillpusher to others. Both of them, however, are two of my very favorite poets.
Kary, on the other hand, is the anti-Olena. She is sweet, approachable, good natured, and absolutely charming. Watching her read, I was so happy for what she had achieved and her excitement for the night beamed through. She started out the reading by reading the first poem in her book (the title poem) and thanking everyone especially Open Books, which she said is, "For a poet in our town, similar to giving a speech at the Academy Awards."
Kary read for a bit then Olena came up and read from her chapbook. She made some interesting comments about her and Kary that I wished I would have jotted down in detail, but in the car ride home we talked about how these comments basically were their acknowledgment of how hard they work for their art. That was how we interpreted them. They are loyal poetry readers and read works (prose/novels too) out loud to each other. For me, that was one of the highlights hearing them say that as an undergrad, that was one of my favorites part of being an English major. It was inspiring to hear that they still do that... and not just do that, but then discuss the work that was read and interpret it.
Olena called Kary back up to the mic after she finished reading then leaned against the wall while Kary read (I think Olena may have wanted a conversation back and forth between her and Kary, I wasn't sure). Kary read a few more poems while Olena slowly slipped into a sitting position on the floor watching Kary. Kary read a few more poems and discussed her process on some (which as a poet, I always appreciate). One poem in her book is the same poem with 4 different endings and I loved that idea. But also, how certain poems have inspired her, a poem from Theodore Roethke, for example.
Kary ended with a poem, Olena came up to the mic. There was a good round of applause (Did I mention there was standing room only and that the once cool Open Books now was a small sauna? It was. So many people, so much body heat.) But it was all good.
I ran up to Kary to have her sign my book (Olena was next to her being introduced to Marty, who I sat next to in the first row along with Susan Rich) and while Olena was there, had her sign my book as well. This is where I said my 5 words to her and hoped she would sign my book without telling me how incredibly square I am. Yes, I even still use the word "square," this keeping me out of the kingdom of edgy coolness even more.
I will double check my notes (of which I took few) to see if there was anything else to share, but I think those were the highlights, at least in my eyes, and in my boots.
R. thought this was a little odd that the gallery was also handling Little Nickel newspapers, but figured, they're a local art gallery and are trying to get customers to come to them for whatever reason. R. continued talking for a bit, but when the man really seemed to be out of the loop, she asked, "And whom am I speaking with?"
R was a little stunned to discover she was speaking to the gas station attendant at Arco. (It seemed she has dialed the number directly above the art gallery by mistake...)
So yes, Crab Creek Review is now sold in the fine independent books of North America such as Open Books, Elliott Bay Books, Bulldog News, the Kingston Art Gallery... and the Arco gas station right before the floating bridge. ;-)
What a way to expand our readership!
This was my favorite story of the week.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
According to my Google widget "Days Since" it's been 68 days since my last poetry submission.
I did receive my first acceptance of 2010 from Poetry Northwest! They have always been one of my favorite journals, so I'm thrilled to be included in there.
I realize I probably will not get a lot more acceptances if I continue not submitting. Poetry is funny that way, you tend not to get accepted if you do submit. Weird.
I've mentioned Kary's book, American Husband (OSU JOURNAL AWARD POETRY), as a favorite of mine. My biggest critique of the book is that it is too short. I think it's only 48 pages, something like that. But I just love her writing!
Olena's first book is my favorite. Mine is completely dented and folded. It is worn because I love it. It's called And Her Soul Out Of Nothing (Brittingham Prize in Poetry)
I didn't like her Shattered Sonnets book as much. But she is still one of my favorite poets. I'll be buying her chapbook tonight.
So off to Seattle early to meet for dinner with a few of my favorite friends, then the reading and a ferry ride home. I'm looking forward to this.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Playing the violin at 6 am and realizing I am 100% better when I play at 6 am (because my head isn't getting in the way)
wasabi peas with lots of wasabi
the kids at my daughter's school and their sweetness
someone being excited to see you after a long time (and someone noticing you haven't been around)
recognition: not poetry or success, but someone saying "hello"
the most incredible red bell peppers I've ever eaten
my golden retriever bringing me his stuffed bunny when I got home today
coming home and seeing my husband sweeping the the hardwood floors
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
But a few minutes ago a good friend whose had her own challenges in life, just sent me an email about her good friend, Emily Warren.
Emily's baby, Emma Claire Warren was delivered 15 weeks early, and the family is asking for your good thoughts and prayers.
I confess that one thing I have not told you here is that my daughter was born not breathing and there is an absolute helplessness you feel as a parent in such situations. Thankfully, the code-blue button was pressed and within seconds my room was filled with folks who were trained just for this type of emergency. They helped my daughter take her first breath. She spent 3 days in the NICU and I spent sleepless nights in worry about her. Emma Claire will spend much longer in NICU.
The Warren Family started a blog about Emma and her life beginning at 25 weeks that I've linked up here. She is very tiny and hooked up to a lot of wires as you can imagine. She's only 26 weeks and obviously, in the best situations would still be in her mother's womb growing. But here she is, in the world, this small little girl. Please send your good energy and prayers her way.
I confess I am a big believer in prayer, good energy, and good thoughts in helping another living being. She's quite small and could use all the good thoughts, good energy, and good prayers you can share.
I realized yesterday (after baking 150 homemade dog cookies for my daughter's class) and catching up on a ton of emails, I haven't been putting my own writing first.
Yes, I had Saturday, but besides our writer's retreat, I realize I somehow have allowed my own work to slip to the #2 position. So, to balance that I woke at 5 am and instead of going back to sleep, I sleepwalked out of bed to my laptop to write.
So here I am. This is why this will be short. I'll do my confessions later.
Thank you husband for making coffee.
Thank you cats for greeting me.
Thank you loud hedgehog drinking water at 4:55 am for waking me.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Here's us at the beach (Ronda, Jenifer, me & Annette)
It was muddy so I dorkishly tucked my sweats into my pink socks that I'm wearing with red shoes. Nice.
We live in a very rural community and I knew no one would look twice at my interesting outfit. By the way, the pink socks (that I'm also wearing now as I type this) were a gift from Ronda for my bday and they are super-soft and warm. Plus, they have little rubber dots on the bottom so I can do yoga in them.
Three of my favorite poet friends and I got together on Saturday to have our own writing retreat to generate new work. We arrived at my friend's house at 9 am, our arms filled with books, food, blankets, pillows, paper, pens, notebooks, slippers, and laptops.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
There are so talented people in the world.
Stephanie from the blog, So I Gathered, is one of them.
I just learned I won her January giveaway of this gorgeous pendant, which is so my style. And on my birthday month.
Here's her website if you're interested in learning more about her or her creations. And I saw on her blog she will be teaching near me at ArtFest in Port Townsend, WA. I had no idea we even had an Artfest here, but it sounds fun.
And if you like these features, please consider following us. We'd love to have you!
I met Erin at PLU's MFA program (lots of letters there!) She's wonderful as a person and poet. 2, 2, 2 good qualities in one.
She's just started her blog, so go and wish her well and encourage her to keep it going. Blogs can be tough in the beginning because you don't know who, if anyone, is reading and I want her to keep going just for my own personal selfishness of liking her.
Also, Erin, Great web address!
Friday, January 22, 2010
I originally say it on Charlie Jensen's's facebook page.
I think this article could inspire a couple poems.
Also, if your password is "monkey" please change it, as you may be hacked.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
Here are some images from our last year at Crab Creek Review. Though the journal has been around for 26 years, last year was our first year as editors (Annette Spaulding-Convy, a fantastic poet whose book will be picked up soon is the other editor). We had to learn a lot and realize just what goes into publishing a literary journal. The first big realization is that "your work is never done." Once we finish an issue, there's another one biting at our heels.
But really, it is so worth it. It is so worth it opening a folder of poems put together by our wonderful poetry editor, Lana Ayers, and falling in love with someone's writing. I fell in love with a couple poets this morning. I spoke up for their poems.
In so many other places in life, poetry doesn't matter. But in our group, in our pages, it does. We stand up for our favorite poems. There will be a poem overlooked and someone will say, "Wait, that was my favorite" and then it is published. Someone will say, "I love this poem, we have to take it." And it is.
It's a magical moment. This morning in my living room with Lana & Annette, saying, "We need this poem in our journal." Needing poetry. It's a good place to be on a Thursday morning.
If you're interested in seeing Crab Creek Review for yourself and reading the poets I fall in love with, you can subscribe here. It's only $15 a year (or 2 years for $28). And we create a lovely perfect-bound with poems and stories from writers all over the world. It's kind of magical receiving that in your mailbox 2 times a year.
And I'll tell you a secret about the next issue and what it will include-- the first interview I've done for Crab Creek Review with Snow Falling on Cedars author, David Guterson. And poems from Molly Tenenbaum, Rachel Contreni Flynn, Kate Lebo, Cati Porter, and others who will be receiving their acceptances quite soon...
With so many print journals ending because of financial issues, we are so thankful to have such a strong readership that keeps us afloat.
Thank you all for your support of the literary arts and our journal. We so appreciate it!
January has a clip from HOWL, a movie about Allen Ginsberg coming to Sundance this year.
I think we're all angelheaded hipsters, myself.
From Jessie on my blog post on Confession Tuesday about Marketing Books--
i confess i want people to read my poetry book when it comes out but i also confess that i do become tired of people who only ever market their book and never want to discuss anything with you (via blog, facebook whatever the source is) except their book.
there is nothing worse than meeting a writer at a gathering of some sort and the only thing they do is say hello and shove their book into your hands. can i at least get a little foreplay? like a how are you?
Yes! Give us some foreplay before you expect us to sleep with you (and your book!) Sheesh, if you're going to request a threesome, then at least pretend to be interested in us.
* * *
Poets/Bloggers who I think are the example of how to market their books while still being interesting incredible people & poets--
January Gill O'Neil, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Sandra Beasley, Mary Biddinger, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Susan Rich, Alison Stine, Martha Silano, Ivy Alvarez, Suzanne Frischkorn (who has the best author photo), Rebecca Loudon, Oliver de la Paz, Peter Pereira, C.Dale Young. (There are more, but these were the folks who came into my head first...)
I am not sure why there are more women than men. Part of me thinks this is because I am a woman and I look for other women on how to be a good example. Another part of me thinks that it could be because women are just awesome. But so are men.
Maybe men tend to a be a little more heavy handed? I'm not sure. I'm going to think about my favorite male poets with blogs and books and see who comes to mind. Do notice I have three fabulous gentlemen in the list - Peter, C. Dale, & Oliver.
But yes, this group above would be a quick list of poets I feel do a great job of sharing their work with readers AND not making feel as if they are desperate to sell their books. They've all got a good coolness about them-- here's my book, if you want it, fantastic. If not, not loss. (Well, they aren't thinking that, but I am.)
More later, I must meet with 2 other editors in an hour to discuss poems for the next issue of CCR and I have not showered. Nice.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Every year I get together with 3 friends to make a yearly poster. It's kind of like a vision board with a little less thought about what we want in life and more towards where we are going.
I tend to use my poster to remind myself of my goals and what I'm focusing on. One big principle for me this year is "Live Your Life on Less." Less stuff. Spend less money. Need less.
There's also an image on there of three women who are exactly the same. This is a huge reminder for me that I have never been happy trying to live my life by what I'm supposed to do or what society expects of me. Next to it, is a painting of the back of a woman with a cat and violin who (if my hair was longer) might look like me. For me, this signifies the natural self and being comfortable in your own skin.
All of our posters were more optimistic this year and less dark.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I confess, I forgot it was Confession Tuesday until I just read January's blog. It's a 4-day weekend for us, so it feels like Sunday, one long Sunday.
I confess that the idea of "marketing" my book gives me that knot in the stomach feeling. I do not want to be the person with the "AUTHOR" nametag on, nor do I want to be the cheesy used car salesman (nor do I see my book as a used car).
I talked with a friend of mine recently, Tatyana Mishel, who is not just a writer, but also a creativity coach (and she's awesome!) who suggested I see "marketing" as "sharing," and to find the way I love to do things and how to do the "marketing/sharing" part of publishing a book while feeling authentic about what I am doing. I liked that idea. I am not a bookpusher and could never be. The idea makes me feel queasy.
I confess I will throw a party when my book comes out and there will be crafts. I may also ask my friends to come as their version of Emily Dickinson. I confess, my favorite parties involve some sort of craft or art project.
I confess what I love about my friends is do not hesitate to be part of my bizarre whims.
I confess I have not been practicing my violin as much as I'd like.
I confess that last night I dreamt that someone had broken into our house in a Winnie the Pooh costume (the really big kind they wear at Disneyland). He had my violin and I remember that made me angrier than the fact that he had broken into our house. I grabbed my violin from him and kicked him down the stairs. I am not a dream interpreter. But I did have a late dinner with chocolate cake and creme brulee to celebrate my birthday and perhaps this extra sugar took me to a very weird world.
Dear Poohbear, I still adore you.
(Seven Day Spell from the Ink Witch)
It seems in my attempt to keep Susan Rich (our guest editor) from getting a lot of spam mail by making her @ a (a) I deleted the 7 in her email.
Thankfully, there are working poets out paying attention who notified me immediately!
It's been fixed in the Call for Submissions post but I just want to post it again...
The email is duende3417 (at) yahoo.com if you want to submit for the ekphrastic poetry theme.
Sorry about that.
One poet wrote that is was the fastest rejection he'd ever received. ;-) Well, there we are, yet another reason your work might have been rejected that has nothing to do with you--- incorrect email addy!
Thank you all who brought that to my attention, especially because I was just posting it on CRWOPPS and was able to fix that error before it was post there.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Crab Creek Review Call for Submissions
We are pleased to have our very first, guest editor, Susan Rich, who will be putting together a section of poems for an upcoming issue on the theme of Ekphrastic Poetry.
Here are the details below...
Special Editor's Portfolio edited by Guest Editor, Susan Rich
Theme: Ekphrastic Poetry
We begin with the visual. Ekphrastic poetry is a response in words to a painting, photograph, dance, building, sculpture, Ikea catalogue, child’s drawing, or bumper sticker. An ekphrastic poem begins with inspiration from another piece of art and with the intuitive understanding that art begets art. In a sense, the art object becomes the rough draft of the poem.
We are looking for the best ekphrastic poems, 30-lines (or less) to showcase in an upcoming issue of Crab Creek Review.
For this project, we are accepting email submissions to the email address below. To submit to this special portfolio of ekphrastic poetry, write your name and title of the submission in the subject line and then send your previously unpublished poems in the body of an email to Editor, Susan Rich at: duende3417 (a) yahoo.com
Please send 3-5 poems at the most.
Also, include a short bio and contact info as well.
Deadline is May 31, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
We would love get more followers of our blog, so please check it out and consider following it. We want to update it more and I know if we knew we had more readers, this would be a great incentive for us to get out more informative post for you.
Here's a quick recent post I just did on a new feature that will be in the next Crab Creek Review...
We will add a new feature to our next issue of Crab Creek Review - Editors' Choice Reviews. These will be short, mini-reviews by our editors on our favorite books that we've read over the last year.
published by Autumn House Press
The first class I taught was called: Beneath the Covers - An Editor's Insights to Literary Journals -
Here are some reasons your work might be rejected from a literary journal (or our literary journal) --
You sent at the wrong time or didn't follow submissions guidelines.
Your story/poem/essay is too long.
Your story/poem/essay is too short.
*** As you can see, there are a lot of reasons on this list that you cannot control.
I tried to remind the writers/students that when your work is rejected to think "not now" instead of "not good enough."
I know that sometimes if I read submissions at night, I reject more than I do when I read them in the morning. Knowing this about myself, I make a point to reread submissions the next day in the morning if I felt I've rejected too many the night before or didn't give the work a fair reading. I know when I am tired and want to get to bed, I am more likely to pass on a piece just for the sake of getting all my reading done and getting to go to sleep, where as if I read your work in the morning, you have a much better chance of being selected, because I am fresh and not cranky.
For example, when I talk with people who have never written, there is a lot of explaining to do-- how things work, how we get our work published, what we have published, how much time we spend alone (and need to spend alone), the rejection thang, the blocks, the insecurities, the doubts, SASEs, etc. etc. etc. But when you talk with a writer, you are already close on a level of knowing and understanding that others don't have. It's as if you've found your own tribe and you already know the language.
This *knowing* allows writers to form closer relationships in a much shorter time. For me, this is important. I *hate* smalltalk. In fact, I will avoid pick-up at the elementary school because I cannot talk anymore about the 1) rain/sun/wind/weather 2) season 3) shoes. I swear, these are the only topics you have to be up on as it's basically what the other parents talk about.
At the residency, no one mentioned the weather. It was awesome.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I've gone back and updated the posts so they actually contain a thought or two and not just random photos of a desk and a silver girl reading.
I'm teaching at the Whidbey island writers workshop this week and this is my room. Well, part of it. There is also a great bedroom. It's in this funky inn overlooking the water, it's fantastic and just my style.
I confess I lost $20 or more on the ferry coming here though.
I have a bad habit of shoving cash in my pockets, my too tight back pockets along with my phone, a pack of gum, you name it, I've probably shoved it in my back pocket. I think when I took out my phone, the cash came with it but I didn't realize it. I cannot tell you how it bums me out to lose $20 or $30.
I always thought I'd get to a point where I'd be okay with that, but my capricorness, frugal saver in my is truly bugged by such a little thing. I guess it just feels so wasteful and irresponsible to me.
It is definitely a place I am hard on myself about. It brings up all those little girl fears about not having enough and not being responsible with money.
I guess I should next confess that my dad was a businessman and a fiscal republican to help explain my $ weirdness.
We were so opposite and yet, even with his rah-rah Ronald Reagan, we were so similar when it came to $$.
I confess it has taken me 30 years to become someone who doesn't worry (as much) over $, but I realize when something minor like losing $20 comes up, it surprises me to feel the old anxieties again.
I confess I wasn't planning on making this about money.
However the one thing that gives me a smile in this whole loss of cash incident, is imagining the person who finds my wad of cash and how that will make their day.
That is a good feeling.
I know, I am so bizarre. Plus, I haven't had my coffee yet.
I confess Waking up on an island in a windstorm / rainstorm is a wonderful treebranch seabird symphony. Love it.
Monday, January 11, 2010
: Writers, how do you handle your finances? I’m thinking about keeping my poetry-related expenses separate for tracking purposes, but I’m not sure what that will look like for me.
Do you have a separate account for your earnings and expenses? Do you use a tracking software or Excel spreadsheet? What do you consider a write-off? Any recommendations are helpful.
1) I keep my finances for poetry separate, but also do this very easily. Here are the key steps, all you need is 2 folders...
a) Keep a folder somewhere we you other documents (bills, poems, etc.) marked Writing Receipts 2010
b) Money Received 2010 - Writing Folder- This is where you put notes or receipts from all the money you have earned (in book sales, honorariums, etc.) over the year
c) Inside that folder have a piece of paper that says "Mileage" with dates/where/what etc. to keep track of all reading/writing events.
d) After 12/31, take both folders are add up your mileage, how much you made, how much you spent. That is what I use on my taxes.
One thing I've always paid for (even when I was at my poorest!) was an accountant to do my taxes.
I remember going to Sears and using H&R Block as they were really cheap there way way back. I swear, it's the best money spent this time of year. It's their job to know things and help you. I love that I get to ask questions each year about poetry and taxes. And I love not having to stress about doing my taxes. I just bring in all my receipts, sit down and eat the candy off his desk (note: He does not have a candy-topped desk like a magical fairy, but a great bowl of chocolates to share...)
Also, I keep a separate savings account for money I make through my poetry (i.e. grants, poetry contest winnings, book sales, etc.) This way if something comes up poetry-related and I want to go (Hedgebrook with Carolyn Forche, a writing conference or class, or I need to buy a new computer), the money is there without feeling as if I have to somehow find a way to take it out of the family budget and worry if we have it or not.
Since it's the start of the year, I recommend that right now, everyone gets two folders and put your receipts in there all year! If you haven't been declaring yourself as a writer each year, maybe you should be...
Saturday, January 09, 2010
This is not my cake (It's by Wild Cakes www.wildcakes.ca ), but it would be the cake I would choose this year.
I'm 41 this year. Which sounds old because I've never been 41. But I know it's not old (but just "older"), as I'm guessing when I'm 50, 41 will sound spring-chickenish, youthful, and all the adjectives that come to mind when you look back at a younger version of yourself and think, "I was so young then!"
I feel good today. The crankiness has gone. There is overflowing birthday wishes on my Facebook page (as much as I dislike FB sometimes, I love it for the birthday aspect alone).
Last night, a friend called me when I was at the library and surprised me with dinner of salmon and a dessert of coconut milk ice cream with some magical chocolate Bailey's topping. I felt as if I was on Oahu, even with the rain pouring down outside and being wrapped in the deluxe down Snuggie.
My birthday comes right after New Year's (as you can see) so I'm reminded again about my resolutions, what I want do with my year, how I want to move forward.
I want to be more aware of how I take my space in the world, where I am and who I am with. Be a little more mindful of what I'm doing. I am downsizing friendships, ridding myself of the relationships that don't bring me joy or aren't supportive.
In regards to writing, it is a year of closure and beginnings. My book is being published and will have a new life in October in a paper world. New poems are being written along with some other things I keep moving along.
I look at my friends who are also now in their 40's and well, we don't look 40. Or do we?
Something I promise-- never to someone who is afraid to say her age, but instead to say it with pride.
Today's schedule? Basketball game. Lunch. Dinner with friends and game night.
I am hoping there will be cake somewhere along the way.
Friday, January 08, 2010
I am working on a class about writer's block and internal editors, which I am going to teach next week and while I was getting my handouts ready, I end up going on to Facebook (in a poor attempt to procrastinate or take a little break) and find this gem in an article a friend posted by Junot Diaz:
In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.
God, I love that.
You are a writer because you can stop writing. You are a writer because you cannot not write. When there is no hope and you have no belief you'll ever seriously get published or what's the point, you still write.
By the way, Junot Díaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (published by Riverhead) won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008.
I definitely recommend 29 Gifts --
29 Gifts: The Website
I first heard about 29 Gifts on an "Inspiring Women" radio show. It was early in the morning and I wasn't exactly sure what I was listening to. What I learned was the woman being interviewed had been diagnosed with MS and her spiritual advisor gave her the suggestion of "give a gift each day to someone for 29 days..."
I was intrigued by this idea and when I purchased the book, I wasn't sure what I would get. If it would be an instructive manual on gift giving, a self-helpy how-to-change-your-life guide, or something else with a memoir spin. I was thankful to learn it was something else, that in fact, this is Cami Walker's story of how she overcame some challenges in her life brought on by MS, too many medications, her own thinking, and took back her life by focusing on giving to others.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Stacey Lynn Brown and Oliver de la Paz are pleased to announce a call for submissions for A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry.
We are seeking poems that work within the literary tradition of persona poetry: poems written as dramatic monologues, whose speakers employ masks, or whose character and voice are different from the poet's own.
Please submit up to 5 unpublished poems. We will also consider poems whose rights have reverted back to the author.
All submissions will be accepted electronically. Please send an email to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org with the poet's name and "Submission for Persona Anthology" as the subject line, with the poems as an attachment.
The submission deadline has been extended to February 15th. We (they!) look forward to reading your work!
Jeannine is one of my favorite reviewers because she is such a thoughtful and critical thinker when it comes to poetry, so I should not be surprised that she completely nailed the underlying themes of my book and what I was trying to do in her blurb. I am so thankful for the fastest turn-around ever on a blurb. Thank you, J9!
Here it is:
Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room is a bright, funny, touching meditation on loss, love, and the power of words. Agodon's genius is in the interweaving of God and Vodka, bees and bras, astronomy and astrology, quotes from Einstein and Emily Dickinson, a world in which gossip rags in checkout lines and Neruda hum in the writer's mind with equal intensity. Self-help mantras resurface throughout as a reminder of the ways modern society chooses to deal with today's tragedies, a reminder that a cup of tea and a positive attitude are not always enough when struggling with life's bigger problems. Part of the book deals with the speaker's ambivalence towards marriage and religion, part with the death of the speaker's father, and part with the same themes that Emily Dickinson dwelled on: the natural world and its mysteries and ability to serve as a spiritual guide. This is a book that will linger in your mind with its humor, its honesty and insight, and its fervent belief in poetry and play.
Jeannine Hall Gailey, Author of Becoming the Villainess
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Here are things you should get in order while you are submitting your manuscript--
1) A short & long bio.
One that's right to the point (i.e. Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Small Knots (2004) & Geography (2003). She is the co-editor of Crab Creek Review and lives in the Northwest with her family. www.agodon.com) and another than can be a little more meandering: Kelli Russell Agodon was born and raised in Seattle, educated at the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University where she received her MFA from the ...blah blah blah...
This can be done by a friend, but have it look as professional as possible. It can be hard to avoid looking posed (believe me!), but the more photos you take, the easier it gets. Have one in color and one in black and white (they do not have to be the same photo). Extra points for not holding a wine spritzer.
Write it in third person. Here's an example of my first book's description...
Small Knots is a tender and terrifying collection of poems that maps the progress of a disease, celebrates the family and life's daily small joys, and meditates on what connects us to the world. In Kelli Russell Agodon's carefully crafted lines, the small knots are what bind us all, and cannot be broken.
Make sure it's something you love, I got very tired of reading "a tender and terrifying collection" pretty quickly.
Ugh, I so dislike blurbs or asking people for blurbs, but if you have friends who are poets who might want to support you or say a few words in your favor, ask them for some. If not full blurbs on the full manuscript, maybe just ask a few of your favorite poets for a sentence about your work.
5) A Mailing List
Keep an email list and a snail mail list of friends, family, and people who'd be interested in book. When you give readings, get names and emails too.
6) A list of people you know in other cities you could travel to who might be able to help you set up readings & a list of places to give readings
While so many people complain about the internet, this is one thing I love about it. My poetry community feels smaller. Now, while I'm not crazy about flying, I do plan to do some out-ofstate things to promote my book: AWP, readings, etc.
7) Keep your artist resume up to date as well as your where all your poems have been published
This is good because the resume helps when writing the bio (sometimes we forget all we've done) and you will need to know what was published where for your acknowledgment page.
8) If you have any reviews or articles about you online, cut and paste them into a MS Word file and save them on your computer.
This just happened to me. I went to get a couple sentences from an old (positive) review of my first book and it's gone. That means I have to find it in the Way Back Machine or cached somewhere else. Had I just had it saved in a document form, it would have saved me much work.
9) Keep track of any info that might be good for you promotional use
This could be anything from an article written about you, to a good Amazon review. Anything positive that a publisher might like to have
10) Get a website for yourself.
Even if you're not ready to share it with the world or the thought of your name = poet makes you feel queasy, you will need a website once your book is published. You will. Our world has changed. Authors and poets do themselves a huge disservice by not having a website where readers can contact them, see where they are reading, read their work online and find out how to get their books.
You can do this pretty inexpensively. I have no designer/techie background and I created my own website: www.agodon.com through a Yahoo template. It costs me $8 or $12 a month and I know if moved it to GoDaddy.com it would be less, but because I know what I'm doing where it is, I spend a little more just out of my comfort level.
Those are the main things that come to mind, but I'm sure there are others. Can you think of anything else?
Do them now, do not wait until your book gets accepted. It's so much easier to have them ready then it be slipping and sliding around looking for info. (Trust me on this, I speak from today's experience...)
Gratitude > Crankiness
1) Moroccan salt & pepper holders I bought from Pier 1 yesterday for 98 cents each. They were marked down from $8 each.
2) My pets
3) The Northern Flicker I saw in my cherry tree this morning
4) A clean laundry room with a radio
5) Playing Humoresque on the violin after struggling with rhythm after the refrain
7) A woman holding the door open for me
8) Fresh coffee
9) Going to bed early and falling right to sleep
10) A thank you note from a poet in Iraq
11) New Facebook friends
12) Finding new blogs to read by inspiring women
13) Winning a $6 General Mills coupon
14) Knowing that other poets, writers, and artists are following their own path each day. I gain strength from that.
15) Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
is now out.
I confess I had one of my crankiest days in a long time yesterday. And I confess I am not sure exactly what brought it on.
I realized how cranky I was listening to my reactions to things. For example, my husband told me that on the Today Show they said not to eat bananas to avoid belly fat. My reaction to this was a 5 minute rant on how we should be eating whole foods and especially fruits and vegetables, and that it's irresponsible to tell people that fruits cause belly fat. Belly fat! I even hated the word.
I am 85% less cranky today than yesterday. But still feel a little crankster going on inside me.
I confess some small things helped kick me out of my bad for a few moments yesterday-- Dropping off all our old stuff at Goodwill yesterday. Buying these small Moroccan salt & pepper holders (I'll put a photo of them in another post) for $1.98 at Pier 1, and eating chocolate, lots of chocolate. But ultimately, I felt cranky all day.
I confess it is more fun when it's winter break than when my daughter's in school. Maybe this what made me cranky, having to get back to "real" routine.
I confess I know I made resolutions, but I can't really remember what they are. I do not think this is a good way to handle resolutions, forgetting them.
I plan on writing them down today, maybe here so I can remember them and refer to them...
1) Take better care of my things (the resolution my family has chosen for me)
2) Write each morning (have mostly been following this)
3) Give a "gift" to someone every day
4) Live simply and be more aware of what I purchase and bring into my home
5) Choose only the best people to keep around me
I confess, my next post will be a gratitude journal to help kick me out of this crankiest mood.
Monday, January 04, 2010
(Note: We stopped at this roadside attraction ever other summer when we made our annual road trip down to Disneyland when I was a child. I have a picture of me sitting on his shoe and I remember someone was there behind the scenes with a microphone who would say things like, "Hello little girl with the barrette..." We would also stop at Redwood Forest and Sea Lion Caves.
But now, to the words...
From Unconscious Mutterings
365 :: year
Tombstone :: pizza
Dumb :: luck
Intrusive :: medical procedure
Axe ::Paul Bunyan
While doing this I thought of a couple things in relationship to writing. The first is that my first thought might not be my best thought because it could be what other are thinking and that would not surprise anyone. I noticed Michael also had Dumb Luck on his word association and it reminded me that sometimes the first connection we think of may not be the most original.
Also, I think this exercise produces some great words or images to add into poems. For example, I cannot think of a poem I've written that has had either Spike Jones or Paul Bunyan. Or a tombstone pizza. This may be a fun way to come up with your own word list because it's all associated with your unconscious.
The link to this is about at Unconscious Mutterings if you want to do one of your own.
Happy Monday. And to all the mothers and fathers out there, happy end of winter break...
Sunday, January 03, 2010
As I mentioned early, I recently replaced my Vaio laptop with a new MacBook Pro last month.
I have always wanted a Mac, but have never purchased one for three reasons:
1) they are expensive (more than PCs)
2) I was afraid I wouldn't know how to use one once I got it
3) I was afraid editors wouldn't be able to open my documents or they'd come across scrambled.
I finally decided that I was so sick of replacing my laptops every 3-4 years and after talking to various Mac users and visiting our local Mac Store to suck it up and buy a Mac. I chose the MacBook Pro which starts at $1600. Yowza. To me, that's a lot. I know years ago, this was about the normal price for laptops, but now they are under $1000, so in my mind, this felt expensive and well, to me it was expensive, especially when I added on MS Word ($150) and MobileMe ($60).
But as my husband put it, "This is your business. This is your life. Your writing revolves around your laptop, it's not an area where you should be cheap." So, I bought a Mac.
Now, don't get me wrong, I've been a fan of Microsoft as they are a local company in my eyes. Bill Gates went to the school my mum used to jog to each morning. Paul Allen has done a lot for Seattle as far as the arts. So I'm definitely not anti-Microsoft. In 1988, I found an article about Bill Gates in our family Bible my dad had cut out. My dad was into technology and so I grew up not seeing technology as bad, but the future. I know Jeannine's family also were one of the first to have a computer, a Tandy, I believe. Us too.
My father always told me that if I wanted a good high paying job, to get into computers and the tech field. My response, "I like writing stories and poems." So I don't want this post to be anti-Microsoft, because it's not. They keep a lot of my friends employed and I appreciate that. They also donate to the literary journal I edit and in fact, are the ONLY corporation that donates to it. And I think the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing some terrific work in the world. So full disclosure: I do not believe Microsoft is the devil (like a few old-time Mac users I know), but I have been having some issues and complaints with my PC over the years and decided to try something new.
When I purchased my Mac, it took me about one full day to "get it" and feel comfortable on it. There are some things that take a PC use by surprise- like there is no right/left click buttons on the actual laptop, only if you buy a mouse that has it. I'm embarrassed to say my husband and I couldn't figure out how to click on things at first and I was doing a lot of moving through pages by the Tab button. Let's just say, we just weren't pressing the pad correctly, total user error.
Once I got out of old habits, the Mac has been a breeze to use. I watched a few "how to" videos on the Mac website, the best being the one for PC users switching to Macs. And I have been honestly impressed with everything it comes with and not having to worry about viruses.
So here's my quick list of Pros and Cons with moving to a Mac--
Much faster than a PC (though it is new, but it doesn't take forever to load Windows)
Dragging what you need to where you need it- love that.
Finder- if ever I'm lost or need something, I just pull this feature up
Photos, iMovie, Photobooth - all came with the Mac and are easy to use and no "you get to use this for 30 days then you have pay" features like on the Vaio
MS Word on the Mac is better (graphically, for sure!) than on my old Vaio
It doesn't come with all the garbage programs that were always loaded on my PCs. Or with things you only got to use for 30 days, but then you had to pay for it. This is a huge pro for me because as you know from my previous posts, I dislike clutter.
The Calendar syncs with my Google calendar and that right there, is awesome.
Downloads are easier and if you download a photo or image, it's much easier to find
Being able to find documents by "today, yesterday, or last week" is a great feature! Especially for writers who can never remember what they are working on.
Durable! - You might remember, one the third day I had this it slid off my bed onto the hardwood floors and it was absolutely fine.
It's smarter than I am - when I was at Hedgebrook they had a printer set up wirelessly and my Mac found the network and printer & was able to print my poems when I had only had the computer a week and had not much of an idea of what I was doing.
Not having to worry about viruses. Love that.
So far, seems to be able to do more than PC was ever able to do. And everything about it slick, in that positive way. Beautiful screen and graphics (and I didn't get the no-glare screen and I'm glad).
Does not have an "Insert Key" on the keyboard (I'm sure there's way to do this, but I haven't yet figured it out. I have use the command/delete key, but I haven't been able to figure out how if your cursor is in front of a word, how to make that word to the right of it delete (back up to the cursor) if that makes sense.
Finding Documents- While I love being able to pull up documents by Today, Yesterday, etc. I haven't quite figured out documents as it feels very messy to me (some are in black, some are grayed out). On my Vaio, I could pull documents by only Word documents and by date so I can see everything I added to my folder "New Work." I understand how to sort by date, but it just sometimes feels I'm missing something, but this is probably more of a user error than the Mac as I'm still learning. I should probably watch a video on this.
The metal laptop is cold.-- While I love that I was able to drop my laptop off my bed (though I do not recommend this), my laptop is made of metal and is cold and sharp on my arms. I keep a pair of fingerless gloves to type in until my laptop warms up in the morning. I must be sensitive, but the edge is sharp on my arms and it's too cold for me when I begin.
Doesn't always remember my passwords online-- While it does remember some and there is this feature called "Keychain" it doesn't always show up for me. For example, it remembers my Gmail acct but not my eBay acct. I tried to add both this morning to it, but no luck. Again, this could be user error.
In Mail, I can't go down my address book and add people like I could do in Outlook, I just have to type part of their names, which is fine except when I'm sending out something I don't know who to add I like to go down my contact list to see who I might want to send some info too. Because this seems like such a simple thing, I'm wondering if maybe it can do this, but I haven't figured it out yet.
Things I need to learn about:
Stacks: I don't get what these are for
Keychain: I'm definitely not getting my full function of this.
Documents: the best way to organize my work
iPhoto: if there's a way to cut and paste another image and add it to a photo (like I really wanted a Santa hat on that Whitman photo a few days ago, but couldn't figure out how to do it), or if I need to purchase Photoshop or something like that to have more control.
Email: how to pull up my address book and add names from that list
If any of you Mac users want to offer up any tips or feedback for me, I am listening!
But mostly, if you are a writer and haven't switched to a Mac because you were worried that editors wouldn't be able to open your work, read your work, etc. You can totally make the switch without a worry. Just get the MS Word for the Mac and you are set. I haven't had any issues in sending out my manuscript, poems, etc.
In the end, I think I have found a laptop that fits my needs more than my old PCs (I was a Microsoft gal since 1993 or '94). I'm not planning on going back. I had a very bad time with Vista and that stupid DocX (which MS Word still has, seriously, what was the point of this, so people can't read your documents?)
Anyway, so far I think my Mac was completely worth the money and the day it took to move my files over (which was ridiculously easy and took less time than moving it from PC to PC!) and learning the basic flow of things. I'm glad I made the switch and like most people who have moved to a Mac, my only wish is that I had done it earlier.
* * *
Dear friends, how are your new year resolutions going if you made any?
If I were to focus on the main ones, to write daily, it would seem I am failing already, but I still as if I am on winter break, which to me means cleaning and organizing. There is nothing like excess Christmas clutter to kick me into gear, plus the book, One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good by Regina Leeds (which I mentioned in an early post also), is completely inspiring. Yes, books about organizing and clearing clutter are inspiring to me, I'm odd like that.
The book is organized by month, but in my own special Capricorn way, I'm already on April. I finished cleaning out the final room, our guest room, which could have also been named, "Room where we store stuff and close the door, then clean hectically when someone comes to visit."
While I was cleaning our laundry room, which is in the older part of our home built in 1929, I found the above art nouveau pin. It was pretty magical to find because I have never seen this before and wonder where it came from, if it has always been in our home (I've lived her for 12 years) and I've never stumbled upon it. This is another reason I love old homes, all the stories they leave behind for you. I sort of see this pin my payment for finally cleaning up.
Anyway, now that the house is back in order, my writing life returns officially tomorrow.
Next week I'll be teaching 3 classes at the Whidbey Island Writers Workshop MFA program. I'll share any interesting exercises or info afterwards.
Friday, January 01, 2010
While we were at Hedgebrook, a writer introduced me to I Ching cards. If you've ever thrown the I Ching, you know it's a long process of writing down information (if you throw pennies, than it's heads/heads/tails, etc., six times and writing it a certain way). I'm not exactly sure of the details as I've thrown the coins and let the experts keep track of the details.
Anyway, this writer introduced me these cards where each day you can choose a new card to focus on.
I chose my first card for 2010 and it was #16 Harmony.
Here's the note on the card:
When you are in harmony with the universe all things go your way. When you aren't in harmony, everything is a struggle. Inner wealth is more rewarding. Plan for the future, but you will need support from those around you.
Here's hoping your first day of 2010 is full of harmony.
Cheers to the new year!
1. Write on a more regular basis. Aim for three morning sessions per week. Show up at the kitchen table. Do chores later. Or not at all.