Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mini Book Review: Rewilding by January Gill O'Neil & At Home Poetry Writing Retreat

At Home Poetry Retreat:
On Wednesday, my friend Ronda Broach came over to write poems with me. She got her at 3ish, we put out snacks and started writing poems (from openings of lines, from prompts, from word lists, etc.). By midnight, we had written about 14 poems. She spent the night and the next morning, we woke up and wrote a few more poems. When all was said and done, I had about 17 new drafts. I know, it's a bit of a poetry marathon, but it's kind of my favorite way to write poems.  

And while we were writing, Ronda said, "Oh, I have a new favorite book to show you..." and I said, "Me too!" Then we both pulled out January Gill O'Neil's new book REWILDING (just out from CavanKerry Press).

Mini Review:
Januay is one of my very favorite poets writing today. I have every one of her books and have been a fan of her work since the wayback days--I actually met her through the blog community.

Her poems always get my attention, but this book is really some of the best poetry I've read. It's immediate. It smart, strong, it breaks your heart while you are falling in love with this. For me, these poems remind me what is means to be alive--they deal with loss (from divorce to death), fear, beauty, love of family, love of life, and how absolutely complicated this world is and life can be.

They are not afraid to deal with any topic or subject, and this book is award-winning--in fact, if this book doesn't win some award, there is something really wrong in the world because I am one of the pickiest poetry readers around, and this book hits me hard and in all the right ways, and I know how strong it is.

I am not going to say too much about the narrative that runs through this book because the poems are so good, I do not not want to spoil the magic I felt reading them one at a time, in order, in yes, one sitting.  

But if you haven't picked it up, please do. You will not be disappointed. 

By directly from the press here: Rewilding by January Gill O'Neil (it's about the same price as the Amazon copy and the money goes directly to the press)
Or by from Amazon here

~ Kells


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Summer Reads (Novels: Part 1) #SummerReads

I have read more novels this summer than I have in a long time... how have I done it?

Basically, just disconnecting, looking at a book instead of my phone. I always keep a book with me, while for a long time is was a book of poems, now it's novels (though I do tend to always have a book of poems with me, this time I'm reaching for novels.) It's amazing how quickly you can read if you (wait for it...) remember to actually read (and not scroll Facebook or Twitter or Instagram..)

1) You will note that some of these books are older books and not new releases-- why?

Well, sometimes I get my books from other places--used bookstores, our neighborhood Little Free Library box on my street, I have even gotten one at the Dollar Store.

2) I also like to add what I look for in a summer book and what I like. The answer--something to get lost in, an "easy" read without the seriousness of things I need to worry about in real life (like our government, climate change, healthcare, etc.) In the summer, I just want to sit and get involved in the lives of imaginary people. I am not looking to have my mindblown or have to seriously ponder and consider syntax, sentence structure--I just want to enjoy myself. I save more serious books for fall and winter. Summer is about grabbing a book, sitting outside, and reading for the pleasure of getting lost in imaginary worlds. That is what I'm looking for. If I can get lost (and I am picky, I have sent a few of my books this summer to the Little Free Library hoping they find a reader who loves them), I stop reading and give it away.

So below are all books I have finished and read in their entirety. 

Anyway, here's what I'm reading and what I plan to read (yes, I buy preemptively buy books so I have one ready to read when I finish, otherwise, I will not finish a book if I don't have another waiting in the wings.)

What I've Read:

YOU THINK IT, I'LL SAY IT by Curtis Sittenfeld:

Geez, did I love this book by Curtis Sittenfeld. The stories are edgy, smart, intriguing, and they are all short stories, so I loved being able to sit outside read a full story and feel fulfilled. Her voice is engaging and her style/narrator is easy to follow but not simple. She's a complex storyteller who ket my mind actively engaged, which isn't easy to do because I'm an editor, so I'm super picky about what I read. Anyway, this is tops of my summer reads. Love it completely.

CUTTING TEETH by Julia Fierro:

This was one of those "older" books (2015) I picked up because I recognized the author's name as someone I follow on Twitter and I remember liking her a lot. What originally pulled me in was one of the characters was anxious with OCD and freaking out about a possible terrorist attack that she read on a parenting board so she took her playgroup to her parents guesthouse instead of admitting to them she was worried and getting them out of the city. So what you end up with is her playgroup (which is mostly moms and one dad) on a weekend together. As a parent (now with a grown child), it brought me to that time in my life when everything seemed more important than it is. Julia weaves a good story and if you're a parent, you will definitely see yourself in at least one character, if not more. It also maybe make you feel good about your own parenting. ;-) Extra special bonus--my family was freaked out by the Raggedy Ann dolls on the cover, so no one touched my book and I always knew where it was.

The biggest complaint I read about this book is that it's another story about a family going on vacation (in this case, to the Mediterranean) and have to deal with each other. Now, I don't know about you, but these are favorite beach reads for me--flawed characters having to deal with each others' flaws. For me, I found the book something I wanted to pick up and get lost in. I like books where there are human issues, where we have to explore the complexity of humans and relationships. I think Emma did this well and she has enough characters and different plots happening that I was always engaged and interested in how each plot line would end.

Next up on my reading list:


(Have heard good things about this one...)

CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan  (I cannot wait to read this one I have been hearing excellent reviews on it and it will be a movie too, I think?!!) 


  LESS by Andrew Sean Greer
(And this one just one the Pulitzer, I hear!)


  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
(Started this. I know it will be good, but struggling through the opening and have had to go back to reread some parts I seemed to have skimmed over--that said, it has some very engaging scenes... I believe I will finish this, but am putting it down more than I thought I would. But when it's engaging, it's quite engaging. And I always give a book I've been recommended some time to stick because I know how persnickety I can be as a reader and for the most part, am enjoying this... Will give a full review once I've finished it!)

~ Kells


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

John Ashbery’s Last Poem "Climate Correction"-- handwritten at his home in @Harpers Aug 2018 Issue:


You can download the poem for your own keeping here:

~ Kells 


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday Submission Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Kells 

Friday, June 29, 2018

My Poetry Manuscript is a Bear...

Self Portrait with Manuscript

I have been a terrible blogger this June. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Kells
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