Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Books & People that Have My Attention this Week--

Deborah Ager, author of Midnight Voices and editor is of 32 Poems is teaching an online workshop in March limited to 12 students.

Knowing Deborah, it will be wonderful.  If you've ever wanted the chance to work with a poet who knows what happens behind the scenes at a poetry journal, here's your chance.

If you're interested, find out more info here.


This blog post called Poor Poet Mothers by Sandra Simonds (brought to my attention by Sandra Beasley).

From the blog post:

I know a young mother who is a poet who is struggling as an adjunct and she is also an online tutor. She is a brilliant poet too.  Once another (male) poet said that she “exaggerated her poverty” because she wanted people to feel sorry for her. It reminded me that once I read that Sylvia Plath “exaggerated her poverty” so that people would feel sorry for her.
Guess what? Poor mothers DO NOT exaggerate their poverty. They do not want you to feel sorry for them.
There is no such thing as “exaggerating” poverty.
Poverty cannot be “exaggerated.”


I just finished Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother memoir about raising her daughters (the "Chinese" way vs. the "American" way).  The quotes are my own because honestly, we each raise our kids the way raise our kids, which is usually (and hopefully) what we feel is the *best* way.

I learned that a lot of people were furious with Amy in Seattle. (I was surprised to hear this from my coffee-loving, laid-back, Teva-with-sock-wearing, NPR listening, bookreading, organic-to-the-max eating neighbors).  Personally, I liked Wendy Lui's response in the NW Asian Weekly, I think because she got into politics and after saying she'd only say a few words, she said a lot (I love people who do that.)

And I thought as a mom, afterwards I'd have a huge response to this book.  But I don't.

I guess what I'm realizing the older I get is -- there is no one right way to do anything.  And who am I to judge the parenting of a woman who has two daughters who are incredible musicians and while she is a different type of parent than me, I felt her daughter's were well-loved and taken care of.

There's a scene in the book where she asks her daughter to remake her birthday card for her because it only took the daughter about 3 seconds to make, and I was surprised to hear my own mother say that she couldn't believe she had her daughter do that.

Honestly?  For me, I thought it made sense, we teach people (and our children and family) how to treat us.  If she didn't feel respected or cared for, I didn't think it would hurt her daughter's self-esteem to say, "You know, mommy deserves more than a dot-dot half-circle smiley face."

I guess I feel it's not easy being a mom.  I've made my share of mistakes and things I've learned how to do differently or better.  I'm realizing when my daughter was younger and I was judging other moms it was because I was feeling insecure about what I was doing--I wanted a handbook, a manual, an instruction sheet to figure out how to parent perfectly.

But back to the book, did I enjoy it?  Yes.

Was it well-written?  Well, the poet in me wanted to revise a few things, make it more lyrical and beautiful, but when don't I want to do that.

Can she carry the story and make it interesting? Yes.  I am the worst reader and if I get bored with a book, I'm done.  I have no patience for books that do not engage me.

So was I engaged?  Completely.  I read it in just a few sittings.  I know my interest has to do with being a mom and also the person who likes to look in other people's windows from the street in the evenings (you know how when it's dark and the lights are on in someone's home you can get such an intimate view of people living their lives). Okay, I sound creepy, but I mean to say that I'm interested in what goes on behind closed doors (and not bedroom doors, but front doors--).  (I'm also interested in how people decorate, but that's a whole other blog post).

So do I recommend it?  Yes.  If you're a woman. Or a mom, definitely.  Guys, I'd be interested to see what you think of it.  Honestly, I'm not sure you'd like it as much as the women.


I received an email from Luke Maguire Armstrong about his new book of poems, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About and a PDF of the book.

I don't know Luke and learned only about him through email, but I like that he took a risk and emailed me from Guatemala where he lives saying that it's difficult to promote one's book from another country.

As someone who is currently up to her shoulders (literally) with books on my nightstand I've promised to review, I've been saying no, or not now, to poets in the review category, but he asked something different-- could you tell people about it.  Luke, that I can do!

So here you go--

What surprised me about his book was that was some pretty interesting stuff you don't normally see in poetry books.
iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About

Things that interested me-- his author's note,  his visual table of contents and that he's donating part of the proceeds to the charity.

***I don't normally put books up on my blog that I haven't completely read, but I'm a sucker for charities and regular people doing good things.

Here's Luke's bio--

Luke Maguire Armstrong lives and works Antigua, Guatemala where he directs the humanitarian development organization Nuestros Ahijados (GOD’S CHILD Guatemalan Program) in a mission to "break the bitter chains of poverty through education and formation". To this end the program has schools, clinics, a homeless shelter, a malnourished infant center, and other sustainable programs benefiting 12,000 impoverished people in Guatemala. 

His book, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About, was released in 2010. He is a contributor to the travel site and co-editor of the offbeat travel book The Expeditioner’s Guide to the World. His un-published novel How One Guitar Will Save the World will soon be unleashed upon the world. 



  1. Glad to read your account of the Tiger Mom book! My mom was telling me about the book, from news accounts, and I saw the author interviewed...on Comedy Central, where she was charming. Looks like it will have to go on the "to read" list!

  2. A click on Luke's book cover took me to Amazon--where I could read the Table of Contents and some other things. I'm hooked. It's in my cart. Thanks for the heads-up, Kelli!

  3. And I'm howling over his poem "The Drink Not Taken." For all the posters I've ever seen in English classrooms with those cheery woods, this deserves a place.

  4. Thanks for the kind reading Shannon, and thanks for posting this Kelli. I don´t know what writers living very far away did before the Internet...because it´s through people like you that I can still feel connected with readers and writers while living int he boonies. (:

  5. Kathleen, I heard her on NPR and she sounded charming. Maybe I went into the book with that bias, knowing she was not throwing daggers at anyone, but was in fact, quite interesting and funny to listen to. I wonder if people who haven't heard her live, get a different, perhaps more angry (no humor) voice. I'm not sure. But as I said, I liked the book.

    Shannon, glad you found something you liked!

    And Luke-Good luck! I'm glad the internet can help you out and continued success with your good work.


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