Monday, December 31, 2007

Peace in 2008

Peace in 2008 sand sculpture on Santa Cruz beach
Originally uploaded by J-Byrne

Happy 2008!

2007 becomes 2008: Happy new year!
Originally uploaded by Optical illusion

2008 New Year's Resolutions

1. Make choices out of compassion
2. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
3. Dream big--um, scratch that... make it Live big.

Gratitude List

1) Family & Friends
2) Hedgi the Hedgehog
3) Crab Cakes and Creme Brulee
4) Buttercup the chicken laying an egg today while we were there.
5) Cowboy boots
6) electric blanket & space heater
7) blue skies
8) the Kuan Yin statue on my desk
9) the library
10) making through another year safely, happily and with a desk of poems.
11) democrats (who vote) ;-)

To a new year and a new administration! Remember, Election Day is only 11 months away- November 4, 2008 - vote early and vote often.

To 2008, the end of an error!

Wishing you all a creative new year!

Don't ever believe poetry is irrelevant in dark times

Ferlinghetti argues that poetry can save the world
Steve Heilig

Sunday, December 30, 2007
From the San Fran Chronicle

Poetry as Insurgent Art
By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

What is the "use" of poetry? Or, as more than one author has asked, Can Poetry Matter?

More than 50 years ago, renowned American poet William Carlos Williams wrote famously that "It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there."

A practical man who was not only a poet but also a practicing physician, Williams' lines are usually read to imply that poetry - good poetry, at least - is essential to one's inner life and spirit. In the cultural doldrums of the early 1950s, that rang true for many people.

Around the same time Williams wrote those lines, Lawrence Ferlinghetti arrived in San Francisco, fresh from Paris with a doctorate from the Sorbonne and a love of the printed word. He soon co-founded the landmark and still-thriving City Lights Bookstore and publishers, issuing not only his own work but also the first printing of Allen Ginsberg's iconic poem "Howl" and many other works by writers who became known as Beat and others. Ferlinghetti has been poet laureate of San Francisco, received numerous awards both literary and civic, had his paintings widely exhibited and printed and, nearing 90 years of age, is about as famous as a poet can be in these times.

In other words, Ferlinghetti should need no introduction. That he still might, to the vast majority of Americans who rarely, if ever, read poetry, is part of the lamentable background to his latest book. It has been argued that the current decade is the 1950s all over again, but worse. And for Ferlinghetti, poetry's "use" extends far beyond the personal into the political. "Poetry can save the world by transforming consciousness," he argues in "Poetry as Insurgent Art," a slim hardback pocketbook manifesto of prose epigrams, seemingly addressed to poets and those who might be.

"I am signaling you through the flames," he begins in the new section from which his book takes its title. "The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it." Poetry, in this vision, must be a political statement, arrows slung for freedom of expression, thought and resistance. "Write living newspapers," he counsels. "Your poems must be more than want ads for broken hearts" - in other words, to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, to write mere "love poetry" in such times is "almost a crime." So "challenge capitalism masquerading as democracy"; "Liberate have-nots and enrage despots"; "Don't cater to the Middle Mind of America nor to consumer society." And so on, in variations of his admonition to "be committed to something outside yourself."

This is a tall order for poetry, to be sure. But the six or seven (mostly) one-liners on each of the 30 pages are testament to Ferlinghetti's enduring vision and commitment. Some of these lines read as if they could have been penned in the Beat heyday, decades ago: "Stand up for the stupid and crazy"; "Dig folksingers who are the true singing poets of yesterday and today." Political economy, down-home mysticisms, and occasional cringe-worthy silliness ("Make permanent waves, and not just on the heads of stylish women") all blend into his own version of Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet." Thus, poets should "see eternity in the eyes of animals," but not "be too arcane for the man in the street." Ferlinghetti can be self-deprecating: "Don't lecture like this. Don't say don't." But he is also dead serious: "Don't let them tell you poetry is bull-" and, especially, "Don't ever believe poetry is irrelevant in dark times." Indeed, as Williams would probably agree, in dark times and in this vision, poetry becomes even more essential.

The second major section of the book, "What Is Poetry?," was started by Ferlinghetti in the late 1950s; here he provides backup for his argument for the importance of poetry, and that "life lived with poetry in mind is itself an art." Here, the political returns - somewhat - to the personal, as "poetry is the shortest distance between two humans," is "the anarchy of the senses making sense"; and "it is a pulsing fragment of the inner life, an untethered music" which "restores wonder and innocence."

Again, a lofty charge, but many have believed it, and some, such as Ferlinghetti, have lived it - even though, as he acidly quips (echoing Ginsberg's famed opening lines to "Howl") in "The Populist Manifesto" appended here, "We have seen the best minds of our generation/ destroyed by boredom at poetry readings."

This impassioned, compact and concise little book won't destroy any minds. But it may stoke some hearts, as Ferlinghetti intends. Long may he add to his poetic warning: "Wake up, the world's on fire!" {sbox}

Steve Heilig is a writer, editor and public health advocate in San Francisco, a frequent book critic and a music critic for the Beat magazine.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resolutions ? ! ?

I'm debating on whether to make New Year's Resolutions this year.

I want to make the resolution: Publish 2nd book. But really, unless I self-publish, my resolution will have to be "submit second manuscript" because whether or not my book gets published has to do with outside forces (known as editors or contest judges).

So I could say my resolution is submit second manuscript--though I had already started doing that, so it's is it really a resolution to do something I've already been doing? Instead, I guess I could say my resolution is to "write better poems." And of course, what better way to kill inspiration than to judge it, so by making the resolution to "write better poems," it will probably have the opposite outcome.

What about have fun with poetry? This gives me the image of taking poetry out to Pizza Factory and giving her a handful of quarters for videos or taking my poems to the pool hall for a beer and a game of darts. So, no fun and poetry this year, methinks.

I could say my resolution is to create a writing schedule. Of course, just because I create a writing schedule (I resolve to write daily from 8-10 p.m. except when The Practice is not a rerun) doesn't mean I'm actually doing it.

So maybe it comes down to resolving not to make resolutions--which I break immediately by making that resolution.

I'm going to think about this more. A year without resolutions may be nice. Or maybe the resolution to be a little less resolved, or involved, or maybe to explore some anagrams for "resolutions"--

Loonies ruts


So into rules!

Hmm, I have one more day to decide, to wonder what 2008 will hold and if I walk straight into 2008 with resolutions in my pocket and fireworks shining around me or if I will wander there with my head in the clouds thinking about kingfishers or which book I should read. We'll see.


My question--

Do you make resolutions? If yes, what are they?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

7 Things You Should Know About Being a Poet

Aaron McCollough told a Michigan Daily reporter "7 things you should know about being a poet." Deborah Ager has challenged other poets to come up with their own "7 things" lists.

Here are my 7 Things You Should Know About Being a Poet:

1) You need to have poet friends for two reasons-- acceptances and rejections. Your family will have no idea why you are so excited about being published in Literary Journal X and no idea why you are so disappointed you were rejected from Literary Journal Y.

2) Poets do not need to wear a beret, black turtleneck, vintage t-shirt, colorful scarf, glasses, whimsical pin, or hold a glass of wine in their author photo to be considered a poet.

3) Poets are rich in words. (Ya, the "gettin' paid" thing. Get over it.)

4) We are not all suicidal, drunks, falling apart, narcissistic, or crazy. However, we may write about those things and at time we may or may not be all of those things.

5) Each poet has one huge character flaw or secret that s/he tries desperately to hide.

6) At a reading, poets should never say, "Here's a poem I wrote this morning."

7) We write because we cannot not write.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Cards from Beyond!

This is something I could see myself doing...if I were more organized. ;-)

Oregonian known as a joker sends holiday greetings from afterlife

By Associated Press
ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) - Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card.

Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently.

His Christmas cards, 34 of them, began arriving - written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."

The greeting read:

"I asked Big Guy if I could sneak back and send some cards. At first he said no; but at my insistence he finally said, 'Oh well, what the heaven, go ahead but don't terry there.' Wish I could tell you about things here but words cannot explain.

"Better get back as Big Guy said he stretched a point to let me in the first time, so I had better not press my luck. I'll probably be seeing you (some sooner than you think). Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Chet Fitch"

A friend for nearly 25 years, Debbie Hansen Bernard said "All I could think was, 'You little stinker."'

"It was amazing," she said. "Just so Chet, always wanting to get the last laugh."

The mailing was a joke Fitch worked on for two decades with his barber, Patty Dean, 57.

She told the Ashland Daily Tidings this week that he kept updating the mailing list and giving her extra money when postal rates went up.

This fall, she said, Fitch looked up to her from the chair.

"You must be getting tired of waiting to mail those cards," he told her. "I think you'll probably be able to mail them this year."

He died a week later.

An After-Christmas Mint

Taking Down the Tree

"Give me some light!" cries Hamlet's
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. "Light! Light!" cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it's dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.

The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother's childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.

With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcases increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.

By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.

Jane Kenyon

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy All-Of-Your Days

Whatever you celebrate, wherever you are...I send warm wishes, safe travels, and the ability to stop quick for posing reindeer.

Merry Everything.

See you in 2008!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In California During the Gulf War

Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among
trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts,
the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought,

certain airy white blossoms punctually
reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink--
a delicate abundance. They seemed

like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed
festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving
the sackcloth others were wearing.

To some of us, the dejected landscape consorted well
with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue,
daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons.

Yet the blossoms, clinging to thin branches
more lightly than birds alert for flight,
lifted the sunken heart

even against its will.
But not
as symbols of hope: they were flimsy
as our resistance to the crimes committed

--again, again--in our name; and yes, they return,
year after

year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy
over against the dark glare

of evil days. They are, and their presence
is quietness ineffable--and the bombings are, were,
no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany

simultaneous. No promise was being accorded, the blossoms
were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed
the war had ended, it had not ended.

-- Denise Levertov

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We're Getting Close....

So Christmas is sliding through the front door with wet boots and an umbrella here in the Northwest. Outside, the sky is a holiday grey and the fog, just enough to make us keep hope there will be snow...though we know most likely our homes will glisten with rain and not snowflakes.

This is the stocking I've had since I was little. Born in 1969, I've met a lot of other people my age with similar stockings--the felt and sequins rage. The one item I had with my name on it where it was spelled correctly with an "i" and a "y."

I remember this stocking stuffed with everything from a Lifesaver book to underwear. Usually, there was a plastic candy cane filled with Hershey's kisses or some other candy poking out. Oh the treasures of the stocking.

What I want this year (besides my hat back), is a lot of world happiness. I've been asking for world peace the last couple of years and I think it's a big order. I think if we start with happiness first, it may lead to peace. It may lead to one person being kind to another and so on. It may lead us to see each other as people, not groups or enemies, but to see each other as individuals with gifts to offer, with families, with the hope of living another day, another year.

It's easy to forgot what's important as bills slide into our mailboxes, as commercials tell us how our lives aren't perfect because we haven't upgraded to HDTV. So many reasons not to be happy...look past them.

A reverend once told me that we were put on this earth to remember where we came from, to remember how we arrived with nothing and yet, we still smiled at others. We were all born with hope and goodness. We can still find it in others and in ourselves. And while it can be hard not to be distracted by the craziness of culture--celebrity, commercialism, chaos--I'm taking a moment to be thankful for I have that can't be wrapped--the voices of my husband and daughter down the hall laughing, the breath of my golden retriever asleep on the floor, the snoring (yes, snoring) of my cat Eliot on the couch.

And while I love the rip and unwrap of Christmas, what Santa brings, what we find beneath the tree, I know it's temporary, like this and this and this all of this around us. So I say "thank you" for what I have. And I wish you the very best holiday season--Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice--and if I could wrap up some happiness for you, I would. If I could mail it your way, I would. I would offer you a bowl of happiness, a garden of happiness, a house of happiness, a world of happiness, a poem of happiness--

now that I can do--

The Great Wagon

by Rumi

When I see your face, the stones start spinning!
You appear; all studying wanders.
I lose my place.

Water turns pearly.
Fire dies down and doesn't destroy.

In your presence I don't want what I thought
I wanted, those three little hanging lamps.

Inside your face the ancient manuscripts
Seem like rusty mirrors.

You breathe; new shapes appear,
and the music of a desire as widespread
as Spring begins to move
like a great wagon.

Drive slowly.

Some of us walking alongside
are lame!


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don't go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.


Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?


They try to say what you are, spiritual or sexual?
They wonder about Solomon and all his wives.

In the body of the world, they say, there is a soul
and you are that.

But we have ways within each other
that will never be said by anyone.


Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts

in the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.

* * * *


Dear friends,

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Best wishes to all.

* * * *

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last Minute Gift Ideas....

Support Poetry Magnet for your Car from Redactions

To order a "Support Poetry" magnetic car ribbon (8" x 3 7/8"), enclose two stamps and a $5 check made out to: "Tom Holmes" and send to 24 College St., Apt. 1, Brockport, NY 14420.

or here's a great price for a subscription to Redactions:

Subscriptions are $8/year or $15/two years.

To order an issue, please make a check out to “Tom Holmes” and send to: Redactions, 24 College St., Apt., 1, Brockport, NY 14420.

Individual copies of issues 1, 2, or 3 are $5. Issue 4/5 is $8. Subscriptions are $8/year or $15/two years. Please indicate issue number.



Help Support a new journal by purchashing some cool items (even a dog-shirt!) here.
The owl image is awesome!


A full year of ATLANTA REVIEW for just $9.99 !
You can subscribe here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What you should be reading instead of this.

If you haven't read Debra Jarvis' LAST SUPPER post at It's Not about the Hair blog, you need to do! It's fantastic.

Why Poets Should be Paid Well for their Work-

Since I wrote why I don’t put a price tag on my poems and that I believe if people want to have a job full of monetary reward, the role of “poet” may not be the best job for you, I want to write the other side of this—that while I believe that if you are writing poetry *solely* to make money, you may have boarded the wrong train—I honestly do believe poets and all artists should be paid better AND well for their work.

What? You ask, You just wrote a whole post how you give away poems and you aren’t in this to make money. Yes. That is true. But do I believe a poem is worth as much as “The Break-Up” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Yes, I do. In fact, I think poets *should* be paid as much those two, and especially as much as Cameron Diaz—actually *I* should be paid for having to sit through a Cameron Diaz movie, but that’s another issue.

I guess I just want to clear up the idea that I think poets need to be poor to be 1) creative 2) interesting 3) honorable. I don’t. I would love to see every poet I know get a $500K Genius grant and not have to rely on a 1) teaching job 2) part time gigs 3) stealing. I would love to see our books on the bestseller list, and do I think they deserve to be on there with all those long works of fiction? Yes, and again, even more so.

I guess my biggest issue with artists and money is when the money becomes the motivator for what one creates. For example, let’s say pig poems are popular and they are selling like sausages. Journals like the Bacon Review start popping up. Every time you read a poem it’s about a pig or some aspect of a pig. Why? Because consumer demand is changing who we are as artists, they become the source that dictates what we create. We want to write a poem about depression or loss, but happy pig poems are selling and so that becomes the poem we write-- and the poem we want to write, we need to write, disappears into the vapor.

I guess my biggest disagreement with Wendy Cope was how far she had taken it, how there didn't seem to be a gray line. She was annoyed because people forwarded her poems onto someone. Again, I guess I just do not see how this can be a bad thing. Most people in the world have not heard of Wendy Cope, if they get a poem by her and they like it, there is a bigger opportunity for one of her books to be purchased than there would have been when the person had no idea who she was.

I think people share poems because they love them. I know when I send someone the poem “New Poet,” by Linda Pastan, it’s not because I want to take royalties away from Linda, but because I am so in love with that poem I want to share it with someone I feel would love it just as much.

As poets, as writers, and as artists, I think we should support each other both emotionally and as with our checkbooks. Yes, if you like someone’s work, buy their book. It’s a win/win—you’ll get a book you cherish and they (or their press) will get some money from it—poetry will be supported. But again, I return to the idea that most artists (I think) don’t become artists because they are looking for the big pay-off. I’ll return to that Jasper Johns quote again:

I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn't matter - that would be my life.

I write poetry because the payoff is not just monetary and so far, I’ve had a few prizes and grants that have helped me enormously that I am truly grateful for. But I didn’t come to poetry because I thought that it would lead me to riches. If down the road, I sell as many books as Billy Collins or Mary Oliver, I’d of course be thrilled. If I could write poetry without worrying about money, bills, if I can attend this conference or not, the price of gas, etc. etc. because I’m getting enough back from book sales, royalties, prizes, grants, art donors, Oprah, tv interviews, cameos in movies, or in any other surprising way that happens, then yes, my life would be a lot easier financially for me. But if that never happens and I happily go to the mailbox and get my $25 check from the North American Review or just a note that says, “We’ve accepted your poem. Your payment is a subscriber copy,” honestly, I'm happy as well. Because I will write poetry even if no one pays me for it. And I think that is what all people should always ask themselves with any job. If no one were paying you to do this, would you still want to?

I don't believe money is the root of all evil and in fact, I think money can actually do a lot of good for people. Dear poets, I want your pockets to be filled with cash, for each of you to sell a ton of books, and my wish is that we can all be financially independent so we can focus on solely on our art. I understand the importance of artists and writers being paid well for their work and wish it to each of you. I wish it for myself as well.

But I also understand we write poetry because we cannot not write poetry. And I’m not convinced that poetry’s payoff is necessarily written out in check. I don't think a poet should feel annoyed with others for sharing your work. I think in living the life as a poet, a writer, an artist, there is far more to grateful for than there is not. I am thankful for having the time to write a poem. I know that by not working right now, there is a sacrifice. I can't purchase everything I want. I have to think about the dreaded words "living on a budget," but I am thankful every moment for the time I have to sit down and write. And mostly likely, next year, I will getting a part-time job and my writing time will dwindle a bit, so I'm even more thankful for the time I have right now. And I feel lucky and grateful for all that I have.

But I guess I've learned that happiness, satisfaction, or any of those feel good words cannot be tied to money. Poets and artists should be paid more. They should be able to live off their art without having to sacrifice their creative time to pay the bills. But ironically, I like to think of writing as its own version of the MasterCard commercial--

Ream of paper: $4.50
Pencil: 25 cents.
Chai tea at the local coffee joint: $3.23
The satisfaction of writing a poem: Priceless.

Poetry: There are some things money can't buy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I've got a little change in my pocket going jingle, ingle, ingle...

Wendy Cope's article: You like my poems? Pay for them.

A.E. Stallings' response on the Wendy Copy article

* * *

Okay, I've been meaning to comment on this. First, when I read Wendy's article my first thought was I completely understand how she feels and wow, I feel completely feel the opposite.

First if you've come to poetry because you think it's the moneytrain pulling into the station, a long time ago, someone mislead you in a very fantastic way. Sure, it would be great if some wonderful arts donor sent us a check every year to live on or gave us a fabulous ridiculous amount of money for the work on my poems, but in most of our lives as writers, it doesn't work that way. We hope for a genius grant, an NEA, but we continue writing whether we get one or not. We hope our books sell well, but we continue writing if they do not. We hope for a book, and sometimes we get one, sometimes not.

I may be in the minority on my feelings here, but if you find a poem of mine on the internet and want to forward it to your friends, feel free. If you like a poem of mine and can't find it on the internet and want a copy of it, drop me an email and I'll mail it to you so you don't have to buy my book. It's all good.

Then again, I'd be one of those bands allowing others to bootleg my music at concerts. I'd encourage sharing, just like I do with poems.

Cope writes:

"Often the offending websites are the responsibility of well-meaning enthusiasts, who have no idea that they are breaking the law. Neither do the people I meet every now and then who say: "I liked your poem so much that I sent copies of it to all my friends." I'm supposed to be pleased. I've learned to smile and say thank you and point out very politely that, strictly speaking, they shouldn't have done that. They should have told their friends to buy the book. Or bought it for them."

If for some reason someone found my writing compelling enough to share it with another, feel free to be one of those wild law-breaking citizens who puts my poem on the Plagiarist. Feel free to cut and paste my poem off the internet and include it with your Christmas cards.

Cope also writes:

One argument that often comes up in relation to all this is "But it's free publicity". Well, it's true that there are poets who are happy to see their work anywhere and everywhere, just for the sake of the attention. But for those of us who make a little bit of money from royalties and permission fees, and depend on that income, it's different. Free publicity has no value if all that happens is that even more people download your poems from the internet without paying for them.

****This is where I feel for Wendy because unlike me (who will sell her stuff on eBay for extra cash); it sounds as if she's truly trying to make her living from her art. For me, I sort of separate the two. While I'd love to be paid big bucks for my poetry, I don't write with the idea that I need to make X amount of dollars this year. It’s not my source of income, if it was, I’d probably be very resentful of poetry. Poetry would be causing me to write things I didn’t want to write to get paid. I’d be the commercial poet writing what sells instead of what I want to write about.

I disagree on her feelings about free publicity. Because there is really is no such thing as a “famous poet” (truly, it’s an oxymoron), for a poet to have their name out in the world, I believe will only help in the long run. And I think free publicity only helps sell more books. Even her article will sell more books for her because people will want to see what she's writing that's so important that it needs to be kept in a vault with a $14.95 combination lock. (Of course, I'm sure more people will google her poems first.)

I think it's less about attention, but for me, it's a feeling of for some reason I have always felt the need to write, this weird inner desire that it's what I'm supposed to be doing. I have a Charlie Brown/Jasper Johns attitude about it too. Johns was quoted saying, "I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn't matter - that would be my life."

And I feel the same way, but my writing time never feels wasted because even if it the poem doesn't work out or ever get published or no one sees it, the satisfaction came out of creating, of putting something in the world where there was nothing.

But I do understand her perspective and it’s refreshing to see someone who values her poems like that who will say, “these poems are worth $X to me.” And I’m more appreciative that it’s a woman with this attitude given that so many women do not value their time or art. So I can definitely see both sides here. But I never went into to poetry to "get rich." I put that in parenthesis because "get rich" could mean so many things to others, but I didn't start writing poetry because I believed that at the end of the rainbow there was a big pot of gold with my name on it.

If one day, I could live comfortably on royalty checks and money from poetry then that would be ideal. But I'm not going withhold my poems from anyone who wants to read them to make that happen. I am truly thankful for the people who buy my books and I am thankful for the people who read my poems on the internet or in a literary journal. I’m thankful to the people who share my poems with others, especially thankful to them. I feel “paid” if I receive an email from someone saying “I loved your poem.” No, it won’t pay my mortgage, but it will make this house a little warmer and a little more livable for the time being.

Great article/interview with Dorianne Laux that mentions Jeannine Hall Gailey

I was thrilled to see Jeannine mentioned by Dorianne Laux in a recent interview. You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

After the Flood...

Olive Branch--

I don't even know how long it's been since I've written, but if you were worried about me, my home, my family, the streets of this small town, the floods...we are all fine and dry. I was truly impressed how quickly the water receded once the rain stopped. The ark project has been temporarily halted.


What else I have I been up to? Ah, yes...two other poets and myself had a little "submission party" since we last spoke.

Basically, we each arrived with copies of our poems, SASEs, envelopes, postage, laptop, cover letters, and submission guidelines for six of our favorite journals or six places we'd like to be published in.

We sat on my friend's bamboo floor and chose poems. We tried not to get too over-involved in the choosing. This is something I do when on my own. I try to choose the poems I feel best represent the journal or what I think the editor will like. I might as well use a Magic 8-ball because one never really knows what another likes when it comes to poetry. Sometimes I guess right, but sometimes not. So, I tried to make it "fun."

Did I just use the term "fun" while referring to submitting my work? I did. Submitting is not fun to me. It brings out every insecurity I have as well as makes me become the crazy last-minute editor (i.e. "Oh, I don't want that comma in line 16, I'll have to revise this before I can send it out...weeks pass...) Poems that seemed finished, no longer have that sparkle and are returned back into the pile.

Submitting with friends makes it much easier and enjoyable, and while I still left with 8-11 poems I didn't submit because in the end I didn't feel they were strong enough, I still did 4 submissions, then came home and did two more online submissions. So six in a day, not bad. The other poet did seven submissions, and the owner of the bamboo floor poet did two. (15 in all for the math majors.)

It's quite lovely to submit while snacking on coffee cake, fresh cinnamon rolls, peppermint tea, and amidst poet friends. While we talked about poetry, we also talked about life and once and a while a white cat rolled across our poems. The time went quickly. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and left at 1-ish. (I almost left all my submissions under a table, but they were found just before I left!)

I simultaneously submitted two poems where the guidelines said it was okay (I rarely do that), but all the rest are not sim-subs. Honestly, I don't like to do sim-subs because I worry about my record-keeping and having to track that. Also, I don't like having to contact editors to pull poems if they're accepted some place else. The other poet does all her poems sim-subs though and it works very well for her. (And she submitted the most and the quickest too.)

There is a part of me that wishes I could be much more casual that way, but I'm not. I'm not really a multi-tasker when it comes to submitting. My positive outlook would be that I'm the tortoise, slow and steady, but my negative outlook would be that I'm the nervous nelly whose afraid she's going to be mess something up with having submissions too many places. I guess we each have to find which way is best for us. Maybe one day, I will try to sim-sub more, but for now, I'm doing okay as is, one poem at time.


So, since the olive branch is my life staying dry and the dove is submitting my work, the ark must be my writing.

I'm in an online group with 8 other poets and we're trying to write a poem a day for 16 days in December.

So far my favorite title has been: Portrait of Younger Self with Witches’ Butter (and this may be my favorite poem so far). My worst title is "After". (Good one.)

So, my writing life is sailing along. Each day, a new poem. On the first day of Christmas my muse gave to me...

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Northwest Floods

Missed Connection --

Thursday, Dec 6th -

You: Lovely red-haired Floating Bridge Press winning poet in hat (beret?) rushing past Westlake Center near the Spanish band.

Me: Tall poet in 1940's style coat with faux-fur collar and warm brown hat drinking coffee outside of Starbucks with another FB Press chapbook winner.

You were carrying something and went by too quickly. I tried to say hello, but the moment was over and the band was too loud.

If it was you, leave me a note. I'm sorry we didn't get to say hi!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Self Portrait with Olive Branch

Well, we are drying out today.

Yesterday, when we went to check our unfinished basement, we learned that our 25 year old sump pump had failed and now along with Lake Garage, we had the Sea of Basement.

The ark is still not built and my home is ready to sail away.

I started calling all every giant hardware store in our county--everyone was out of pumps. So I called our small town hardware store and there was one left which they were happy to hold for me to pick up. (There is a whole story about my good luck here in ending up with last pump, which I'll skip, but just a note to whoever is watching down on me--THANK YOU!) And a good reminder to me that the Home Depots and the Lowe's of the world have nothing on the small locally run hardware store when it comes down to it in an emergency.

So within a few hours of wet work, my husband and I got the new pump working, the main part of our basement pumped out and this morning, when I woke up, Sea of Basement had turned into Pond of Unfinished Work.

Thankfully, the main part of the house that we live in, is up high enough that we remained dry and grateful. The sun is out and a dove just appeared in our flowering plum and I swear it has an olive branch in its grasp.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dear God,

Stop raining, the ark isn't complete yet!!

Weather or Not...


I spent Saturday building a snowman and will spend today building an ark. We went from Winter Wonderland to the Seattle Special, which is rain rain and more rain. People joke about the NW and say that it's really sunny here. Yes, we have beautiful blue skies, we have weeks in a row of gorgeousness, but when it rains, it's intense.

Our winters can be grey and wet. They are grey and wet. Right now, I have my car parked in Lake Garage. Our fish pond is almost spilling over. Rivers of children are rushing down my street. We smell of wet wool. Now we must watch for falling trees, their roots are resting in a flooded ground, so down they will come.

But back to Saturday. I spend the day sledding, drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream and a Hershey mini bar tucked in the white cloud. We watched Mr. Bean's Holiday. I loved how all my unraked leaves disappeared under a neat white sheet. I put on a Santa hat. I thought that the idea of building a snowman is always much more fun than the actual building of a snowman. We sat by the fire. We counted snowflakes.

And now all the snow is pouring into Puget Sound. Wet wet wet. But what I love is that I can stay inside and do nothing and feel good about it. I can write, sleep, read, and there's nowhere I need to be and who'd want to drive in this? I can turn on my space heater, have a snack, a cup of coffee, and watch the water rise.

Poetry News?

Nothing here. Some friends and I are getting together this week to have a "submission party." Basically, we're each bringing information about 6 journals (or more) we'd like to submit to, some poems, some envelopes, some SASEs, some cover letters, and off they go.

I've never been crazy about submitting poems, though I know it's "part of the job." Otherwise, I'd just be journaling. And it's easier to submit with friends, with tea and coffeecake.

I've done this once before. I ended up with a poem in the Atlanta Review from that experience.

Speaking of which, I just received the issue it appears in and there's a wonderful poem by Edward D. Nudelman that I opened to. What's funny, is that when I first started reading this poem, I expected not to like it--a poem about writing poem--but by the end, I was won over. And I think that's what a good poem can do, win the reader over. Anyway, I think it's quite wonderful.

Here it is:

The Wrong Poem

I want to start the poem:
She walks across the room
like a subtle cloud that forms
from the rising waters of my need,

but the poem begins like this:
She stands and stares
with both hands
on their respective hips.

I want the poem to include
this line:
As we slip together
into one long fall of fury,
our bodies move weightless
succumbing only to the death
of our own vainglory,

but this one keeps cropping up:
Still you say you need
much more than I can give,
and I keep saying
you’re probably right.

I’m hoping the poem
will sound likes it’s written
in French
or even Portuguese,
but I’m getting a distinct
lower east side vibe.
A perfect closing to the poem
I’m writing would be:
And then she blesses the Adam
of my apple with her Eden kiss,

but it looks like the poem
is going to end with
me saying:
You have an inflated view
of your self worth,
and as for me,
I’ve got my own problems.
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