Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Confession Tuesday

The Patron Saint of Dumb People
* * *

Dear Springtime Reader, I confess Tuesdays come quicker than I like, but I have a few things for you, you and the anonymous stranger on the side of the screen, you and the friends who check up on my life here, you and you and you...

Let the confessions begin--

I confess the gym's community hair dryer is nicer than my own hair dryer.

I confess that if I ever lived in the city again, all my stuff would be ripped off because I've gotten used to a small town where you don't need a lock for your lockers and if you leave something somewhere, you can return a week later and still find it.

I confess I probably care less about pesticides than you do. I also have no problem eating a cookie that was just dropped on the floor and I only say "5 second rule" to make the people around me more comfortable.

I realize that when it comes down to it, the three things I hope to teach my daughter is "be kind," "use your manners," and "don't be the girl who smells like pee." In life, those things may take you farther than any good education.

I confess whenever I hear "pretty and smart" I think of the lines from a Linda McCarrison poem "Wrought Figure"--

"I'm hard on women, you said. It was
July and night, heavy and fragrant
all around the table set for the
short season out on the porch. Shells
of lobsters, broken, were heaped on plates,
each gruesome body part a woman scorned...

Ten days I took to trace the problem [saying]
...and I love men, pretty and smart, as you are,
land am not rare in this but, as you
confessed, successful, meaning bested by
fewer than 1 best. Let us dance, then, on
the lawn of what's left of summer. . ."


Dance on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

It's been a week! I week since I told you how I almost buried Stanley Kunitz before his time and now, what have I done in a week? Not much reader. These are sins for the innocent. Confessions rated G.

Let's begin--

1) If you were to drive by my street last night at 8 pm, you would have seen my in my blue velour PJ bottoms, a long john top and red crocs carrying 2 blue recycle bins with a cat scratcher balanced on top. And you would have felt bad for me when the cat scracher house fell and began to roll away. You would have felt bad or you would have laughed.

2) My biggest disappointment this week was that I went to have lunch with two friends and the bakery we eat at was closed and I was heartbroken I didn't get to have my Milano sandwich and more so--Esther's Orange Cake and I was so disappointed and if this was my biggest disappointment of the week then I'm doing quite fine (perhaps a little spoiled, but quite fine.)

3) On Sunday I made dinner for my family. This is a confession because I do approx. 5 % of the cooking in the family. When I cook it's a big production (because I have little idea to what I'm doing). But I made halibut with avacado, tomato, corn, and basil relish.

After having a child, I felt quite guilty for not knowing how to cook, I was (and am) the mom who buys cupcakes or the birthday cake at the bakery instead of makes them herself. And I've grown to realize what a great lesson my daughter is getting-- men can cook (and cook well). And the roles that were decided for us long ago do not have stay if you don't want them to.

4) Oh the recipe I made? I got it from Live with Regis & Kelly. I figured if it could be made on tv in 10 minutes, I could make it in 60.

5) I got my haircut and I left the salon looking like Ellen Barkin. Now I look like an Ellen Barkin version of myself, but not as sexy.

6) I went to eye doctor on Friday and I have 20/20 vision (though still have the very very lowest prescription for reading/computer glasses if I need them.) But what he said that made me the happiest was, "If you hadn't told me you had optic neuritis, I wouldn't have known, all the scarring on your optic nerve is gone."

Backstory-- In Dec of 2006, I lost the vision (slowly and one eye at a time) in both my eyes. It started on December 6th in my left eye and by Christmas I could barely see out of either eye (though my vision was starting to improve slightly in my left eye). It was ridiculously scary, but also fascinating in knowing that my vision would get terrible and then correct itself (which it did). It turned out I had optic neuritis, which can be one of the symptoms of MS.

On the day I first lost my vision I had drank a motherload of diet soda, specifically diet coke. Drinking a motherload of diet soda was nothing new for me at the time, but I remember thinking I should go downstairs and get my water bottle, but instead, I opened a can of cheapo Albertson's brand orange soda (I could taste the artificial sweetener when I drank it) and soon after there was this terrible pain behind my left eye and then I completely lost vision in it and it slowly came back.

Only one doctor (my granola ob-gyn) considered it could be related to the aspartame in the diet soda (I swore it was aspartame poisoning), all the others said it was either a first symptom of MS or it was caused by a virus. It really could have been caused by a virus, but since that December, I haven't had anything to drink (or eat) with aspartame in it. I know drink sparkling water or just water with all my meals. And I drink a lot more coffee.

I have had 2 MRIs which have all come back perfect and I have one more scheduled for spring to check to see if I'm someone with MS. In the NW, we have a large population of women who have MS and though they don't know what causes MS, I hope that all my non-healthy behavior of spending months and months at Greenlake sunbathing throughout my youth, may have given me enough Vitamin D to not have it. I hope to be the freaky gal who lost her vision for no apparent reason except perhaps, punishment from the environment gods because on the night I got optic neuritis, I had 2 movie choices to watch--An Inconvenient Truth or The Break-Up (with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn), I chose the latter. Do bad movies cause blindness? Maybe this was my mistake.

And with eyes wide open, I say Amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photos from the Letters to the World Anthology Reading with Seattle Poets, April 17th 2008

Seattle Wom-pos LETTERS TO THE WORLD ANTHOLOGY book release reading at the University of Washington's Women Center, April 17th, 2008

* * * * *

We had a lovely reading Thursday night at the UW Women's Center celebrating the Wom-po Listserv's (Women Poets Listserv) new anthology Letters to the World.

We each read our own poem in the anthology and then a poem by another poet. Below are photos of Seattle area poets who are in the anthology. We missed Kathleen Flenniken, Jeannine Hall Gailey, and Neile Graham who couldn't attend, but their poems were read to the audience.

From left to right: Susan Rich, Julene Weaver, Martha Silano, Kelli Russell Agodon, Carol Levin, Shin Yu Pai, Lana Hechtman Ayers

Shin Yu Pai


Susan Rich


Carol Levin


Julene Weaver


Lana Hechtman Ayers


Martha Silano


Kelli Russell Agodon

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Letters to the World Anthology Reading in Seattle tonight

What a bad poet/reader I am not to mention this on my blog--

I'm giving a reading tonight with many other fab Seattle area poets at the UW Women Center.

Here are the details--

April 17, 2008 : Seattle, WA 7:30 p.m.

Kelli Russell Agodon, Shin Yu Pai, Martha Silano, Susan Rich, Carol Levin, Lana Hechtman Ayers and others will read at the University of Washington Women’s Center
Book for a book release party for Letters to the World, an anthology that collects poems by 258 members of the 11-year-old Women’s Poetry Listserv (WOMPO).

I'm forgetting a few poets, sorry, I'm typing quickly. Jeannine Gailey will not be there due to doctor's orders (bad doctor taking away my dinner date!) but I'll be reading her poem for her!

There will be food!

MAMMA MIA! Looking for Women Dynamos 40+ & Fabulous--

Okay, this looks pretty cool. Since I'm turning 40 next year, I've been feeling as if I'm walking into the decade of becoming invisible, but I just learned about this CALL FOR 40+ and FABULOUS women by PONDS

They are looking for trios of Fab 40+ women and the winners get a trip for the opening of MAMMA MIA! in London.

If you're in NY, you can head down on Monday for the auditions, or if you're elsewhere you can audition online--


Come Audition in New York City
on Monday, April 28!

Spotlight Live, 1604 Broadway (at 49th Street), Monday, April 28, 11am - 4pm.
To reserve a time slot call: 866-99-DYNAMO (39626).

Or, Enter Online! We're looking for:
The trio of women who best embody the sassiness, sexiness and confidence of Donna & the Dynamos from the movie, MAMMA MIA!

For more information, go to the Ponds Website for contest details and everything you need to know.

Anyway, just in case any of you need a little something to spark up your life and have always wanted to see London. This sounded like a fun time to me (and a possible creative non-fiction essay)!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Forgive me, Reader for my straightlaces, for my corset tied a little too tight. It's been one whole wide week since I last confessed and I've got a story to tell you. Reader, dim the light--

To the confessional:

1) I confess I am knocked out by Benadryl, (ahem, children's benadryl). I want to be the edgy poet in the trench coat and black boots kicking her legs off the cliff, but I'm the geeky girl behind the CAUTION tape with allergy eyes.

2) I confess I don't mind tax day because we pay someone to do our taxes (and we usually get a refund). I am truly amazed at people who do their own. I honestly think by paying someone to do our taxes we 1) save ourselves a huge argument 2) end up getting more back because we are definitely not tax experts 3) save ourselves A LOT of time 4) don't fret tax day.

3) I do consider my job as a poet/freelance writer and do report my income and expenses for it. Last year, I probably earned between $3500-$5000 in the poetry world after expenses. Thank God I don't base my self-esteem as a person/poet or I'd be in the self-help section right now looking for a book called "You Are Not Your Salary." This year, because of the Dorothy Rosenberg Poetry Prize, I've already topped that. To quote Forrest Gump, in the poetry world, money is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

4) The Stanley Kunitz has died story (or Why I May Never Appear on Poetry Daily)--

A mentioned in an earlier confession that I helped keep a rumor going in 2000 that Stanley Kunitz had died. I said one day I'd share the whole story, so for National Poetry Month, here's the "Stanley Kunitz's Death was Greatly Exaggerated" story--

In 2000, I attended at the Skagit River Poetry Festival and somehow a rumor began that Stanley Kunitz had died.

As I went to readings, famous poet after famous poet would come up to the podium and talk about the late-Stanley Kunitz. There were many tears and much sadness. Stanley's poems were read, stories were told, yes, it was repeated over and over that Stanley Kunitz had died.

When I returned home from the festival, I went to my #1 place to find poetry news-- Poetry Daily, however when I went to read the written news of his death, there was nothing there. Being the good poetry citizen that I am, I immediately emailed Poetry Daily to tell them that Stanley Kunitz had died and I didn’t see anything about it on their website. I believe it was Roy who emailed me back saying what sad news that was and that he’d look into it.

I remember not asking in the email if Stanley Kunitz had died, but stating it. I was so sure I knew the correct info and in fact, I had not questioned it. Famous poets wouldn't lie about Stanley's death, I mean, this was a poetry festival, why would this information be wrong?

Poetry Daily later wrote back that he couldn’t find any info online about Kunitz’s death. I said I was pretty sure it happened because the poets kept talking about it and I was concerned it hadn't reported it. I became upset that Stanley's death wasn’t being reported about in the news. I was sure the news media was once again, disrespecting poets.

A few days later I learned that Stanley Kunitz had not died. In fact, Stanley Kunitz was fine and alive, probably in his garden. I have no idea what/who started the rumor at the festival, but I was the voice who kept it going. Writing this now it doesn't seem as embarrassing as it felt then, but I remember feeling horrified that I had killed off a poet before his time. I should have written back to Poetry Daily and explained why I was giving them false info, but I never did.

When my book was published in 2004, a copy was sent to Poetry Daily and they didn’t use a poem. I remember thinking, “This is because they see me as the crazylady who tried to convince them that Stanley Kunitz is dead.” (It could have easily been because they didn't like my poems, but it's much easy to think it's because they thought I was crazy, which I much prefer than to think they didn't like my work.)

Anyway, Stanley died quite a few years later *after* the rumor. His real death was twice as sad. And oddly enough, he died on my own father's (as well as my step-father's) birthday, May 14.

Here's part of Stanley's obit from the Washington Post--

Stanley Kunitz, 100, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet of far-ranging style and influence and who twice was U.S. poet laureate, died May 14 at his home in New York City. The cause of death was reported to be pneumonia.

In about a dozen books, Mr. Kunitz's literary approach veered over the decades from metaphysical sonnets about love and loss to stark ruminations on his father's suicide. Gradually, he learned to "strip the water out of my poems" and acknowledge the benefits of a simpler, more intense approach....

If you're interested, you can read the full obituary here.

Anyway, now you know my life as the poetry gossip queen. Forgive me. I have not caused any other poets to die before their time...I think.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some Learn from the Dalai Lama, Others from a Moose

Things that are kicking my arse this month--





my cat who keeps putting my laptop into hibernation mode


Things I could use a little more of--



sunny weather



We have a sunny day here in the NW and Jeannine gets sunburned and I have an allergic reaction to sunscreen. How white is that? I swear, I'm the Darwin fish that falls off the car. I thank God my daughter has some genes from a warmer part of the world.



So, as I said, we had an incredible Saturday here in the Northwest, 78 degrees!~ Though while I'm celebrating this, there's this spooky little feeling that if the weather can fluctuate a full 35 degrees in a day, something is not right with the world. Record-breaking weather is no longer something I cheer about. But I was playing ostrich to the climate change beast and just appreciating the fact that I sat watching a Mariner's game in the 300 level until after 9 o'clock at night in short sleeves.

I must tell you, I have hated Safeco Field (which I refer to Mariner Field as the idea of naming stadiums after corporations makes me ill) since it was built. The taxpayers of Seattle said no, but the M's had one fantastic season ( this is the Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez years) and they decided to build it anyway. Their motto: "if we build it, they will win." Well, if you follow the M's you know that's a dream unlived, but the stadium was built (and right next to it, another stadium for the Seahawks reiterating the same message I was taught as a UW Husky: Sports Matter!) I had wanted the money spent on the stadium to go to the Seattle schools and for a long time when I saw these stadiums I thought, "Those could have paid a lot of teachers."

Anyway, I've hated this stadium from the get-go. But I have to tell you, sitting there with my family on a Saturday night looking out to the city skyline, a warm breeze floating through, eating sunflower seeds, peanuts and pink cotton candy, I thought that the stadium was made for us at this moment. It was absolutely one of the best times I've had in a long while.

About the 7th inning, the Mariner Moose appeared at the end of our row. Now, when you're sitting in the cheap seats, you don't expect to see the mascot, I mean, you're thrilled if the pretzel man walks by and will have spontaneous applause for him. So seeing the moose was how I would have responded if say, Dave Matthews had walked in.

Now, as responsible, thoughtful American parents we did what other responsible, thoughtful American parents would do when seeing the moose-- we yelled MOOSE! then pushed our daughter in front of us yelling, "Run to the moose! Run to the moose!" WTF? This our first response?

Thinking about this later, it seems strange that when a stranger comes dressed up in a wacky costume, our first thought is to push our children toward them and photograph the encounter. Though, we were not the only one who felt this way. Children began appearing out of nowhere. The moose was some sort of sticky, fuzzy magnet drawing them in and in.

After our daughter shook the moose's hand, we yelled, "Dance with the moose!" And she did. And then did we. We were drunk on mooselove.

We looked up for a moment and we were all on the big screen dancing with the moose. Dogs were sleeping with cats, the Dalai Lama was in Seattle spreading compassion, the moose was giving high fives, drunk men losing their sunglasses and drunk women were finding them, gnats appeared in the lights like fireflies, and we were dancing with the moose to Louie Louie. I was wearing a soul patch, my husband was wearing a soul patch, strangers passed us their children who we gently placed near the moose, the moose shook and waved, kids who hemmed and hawed missed out, learned a lifelong lesson about "he who hesitates is lost," leaving sadly back to their seats without moose's blessing.

I don't know, it was a ridiculous baseball in-the-moment madness and the whole day was a reminder to me about not to take things so seriously, to be a little less judgmental on the world around me. For some reason (call it ego, or call it Capricorn), I tend believe I know what's best, I know the best candidate, the best things for education, the best ____________ fill in the blank. But I'm ancora imparando (still learning).

I'm still learning that it's not my way or the highway, but a reminder that my job in life is to be the observer on deck and not the captain steering the ship. For a long time, I believed the world didn't turn without me running the streets in the circular pattern. The sun wouldn't rise if I hadn't set the alarm. I guess I'm sort of alarmed out and I've been feeling more happy as the understudy than having the need to jump onto every stage.

I guess if we think happiness is a pursuit, we'll never catch it. But if we sit down and take a look at the view (even if it is in a place we insisted was wrong), we may find that all the seats aren't so bad and maybe we'll even like what happens next.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

NaPoWriMo Lucky 13

Writing Prompt for anyone interested--
Find a recipe with an interesting name and incorporate parts of the recipe into your poem.

She Adds a Dash of Cumin to Lucky Pea Soup

She dices the peppers. Thirty-nine

degrees and falling. Last night, her birthday

and the woman she was raised her pen

to the moon to crossed out another year,

wrote loss. She sees her body in the curve

of the letters and not the words.

She sees the letters she never wrote

in the chili powder. She places bacon

in the skillet and the pop of grease

surprises her, a celebration of heat.

She cannot tell you why she cried

in spice aisle of the grocery store,

why she turned away when she saw a friend

she knew. It’s easier to suffer alone,

with a cold night and diced tomatoes.

It’s easier to suffer when moonlight

is your best lighting, when the fine lines

only appear near the window.

She cannot imagine her lifespan

without black-eyed peas, without

someone to share them with.

She knows her husband will return soon.

She knows she cannot push away sadness.

She adds a dash of cumin because it keeps

the chickens and lovers from straying.

She stirs together what she’s mixed.

* * * * *



· 4 slices bacon

· 1 green bell pepper, chopped

· 1 small onion, chopped

· 2 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, undrained

· 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained

· 1 cup water

· 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

· 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin

· 1 1/4 teaspoons dry mustard

· 1 teaspoon chili powder

· 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

· 1/2 teaspoon pepper

· 1/2 teaspoon sugar


1. Place the bacon in a skillet and cook over medium-high heat until crisp and evenly brown. Drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble into small pieces.

2. Using the same skillet, add the peppers and onion; stir and cook over medium-high heat until transparent and tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Pour the black beans, tomatoes, and water into a large pot. Stir in the peppers, onion, salt, cumin, dry mustard, chili powder, curry powder, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot sprinkled with bacon, and other toppings of your choice.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NaPoWriMo #10

Write a poem (or sonnet) for someone who is alive.

This one is a little on the sentimental side, but a poem for the day and a poem for my mum (who will think it's perfect).

Poem for My Mother

* * Home late and the poem is asleep* *

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

NaPoWriMo Number 9, Number 9, Number 9

Writing Assignment: - Choose one word and learn everything you can about it (song/movie/book references, its history, its origin, etc), then write a poem about it.

Some Better Place

When I say crazy ....

(nothing to see here, move along)

Coal Hill Review & Nancy Pagh

I have a poem featured here at COAL HILL REVIEW, an online journal published by Autumn House Press.

Autumn House Press is a fantastic press that recently published a great book of poems NO SWEETER FAT by a friend of mine, Nancy Pagh.

And while I was trying to google a poem by her, I found this interview with her where you can actually hear her reading her incredible work via internet. So listen for yourself, she's fantastic.

Tuesday Thoughts

Last night I dreamed I had found the perfect name for my manuscript. I was so excited I wrote it down in my red beaded notebook and I was going email a few friends knowing that they would love this more than anything. Now it's morning and I'm awake and I cannot recall the perfect title. I can recall the excitement, the notebook, the shadow of the words (I can *almost* read them in my mind), but it's lost.

* *

I did my Tuesday confessions last night and I realize I like my morning confessions better as they don't carry the weight of the day.

* *

The shoe thing-- Okay, it's been truly interesting to a nerd like me to hear where and when people take off their shoes and where they don't. I know some people don't like whatever germs are on someone's shoes wandering through their homes, others are more worried about the rug. All summer, we track in sand from the beach in the house and fall/wtr is all wet muddy stuff, I tend to take off my shoes just for the convenience of not wanting to sweep later.

A few years ago I ordered this from Pottery Barn (see photo below) to have right by the front door (because our shoes were always everywhere) and it's one of my very favorite things. When my family leaves their shoes, hats, iPods anywhere near the door, they magically disappear into these wicker bins. Oh, remember the world before we had bins for everything, before the Container Store? I don't.

We have hardwood floors, but I take off my shoes in preference of slippers.

Maybe I should be mapping this. Maybe instead of red and blue states we should have shoeless and shoe state. Maybe we all just own too many shoes. No, never too many shoes.

Confession Tuesday

Forgive me Reader, blah blah sin, blah blah good girl, blah blah forgive, forget, forgotten, blah, blah, when you call my name it's a like a little prayer, I'm down on my knees, I want to take you there... Wait, where am I? Blah blah let's begin--

Today's confessions--

1) I have 7 unread Facebook messages. This is similar to me having 6 unlistened to cellphone messages, and 3 unread emails. Forgive me reader, I missed you and time is a slippery cat running from the bathtub. I will read them and listen to them, but I'm slothlike sometimes (but I am thinking of you). I am more slothlike in April as it seems all I do is trot around in my bedroom slippers from poem to unwritten poem.

2) My 7 year old boy sense of humor (as well as my gift to laugh at inappropriate times) kicked in yesterday at a poetry reading. The poet was reading something about an abstract painting and instead of saying, "I looked in and saw her beauty," he read, "I looked in and saw her booty," to which my mind immediately said, "Really?" And I burst inside with laughter. He tried to correct booty to beauty, but it had already been said (I laughed again as I typed this.) Since it was a casual gathering many others (who must also have a 7 year old boy sense of humor) giggled as well and the friend next to me said, "I like his Freudian slip better." Overall, it was one of my favorite moments of the reading.

3) The poetry reading I went to was a local annual event held at a favorite Mexican restaurant. They had made a DVD of some of the favorite moments over the last 20 some years and I learned that not only was I in the movie, but my daughter was as well at 7 months old. I had forgotten I had brought her to the reading and held her while I read. (How had I forgotten that?!)

Watching the clip of her at 7 months while I read poetry holding her both warms my heart, but also makes me ache for days that have passed. I feel that much of life these days is in a constant struggle with moving forward and wanting to swandive into the past eight years and soak it up. It made me slow down and look at what I have around me and say thanks. I confess I fall in love with moments that I know will never come again. I confess I fall hard, and fall often.

4) Last night I wore a football jersey from my high school to bed. It somehow got tucked into my armoire with my pjs and camisoles. It wasn't an old boyfriend's or even belonged to anyone I knew, it was just something I grabbed from a box of extras when I learned in my junior year that they were closing my high school. It's just something I never bothered to throw out.

I don't really know how 21 years have gone by since my HS graduation or how the fine lines have gradually become part of my eyes, or why lately the past has seemed to be dropping itself on my doorstep and ringing the bell. Maybe there are times when our minds may need to try to remember. Maybe there are times our minds just needs to try to forget.

5) I amaze myself with my mistakes (my favorite mistakes) and how with every day I continue to learn something new. I remember this line from (of all places) Pretty Woman-- Edward Lewis: It's just that, uh, very few people surprise me. Vivian: Yeah, well, you're lucky. Most of 'em shock the hell outta me. --

As a child, I always thought adults had it all figured out. Who would have thought everyone's as screwed up as everyone else? I think it's just that some hide it better. Who knew.

Monday, April 07, 2008

How a Writer Survives...

If you haven't read this, you should.

NaPoWriMo #8

Soft Sorry you're late

* * poof * *

Is this just a Northwest thing?

I realized that people now take off their shoes whenever entering someone else's home. I hadn't realized how accustomed I've become to this practice, but I do it without even thinking now. (We always take our shoes off in our house as well.)

I never did this as a child, but now it seems to be common practice. So my question is -- Is this a NW thing or do you do this in your part of the world?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nin Andrews and her Expensive Words

I just read this by Nin Andrews on the Best American Poetry blog and it's wonderful. Make sure to go over and check it out.


I find it fascinating how some words (aka "bad words") are worth more than other words. If you speak them, you pay.

Now, I could write some expensive poetry. We all could.

Some thoughts on NaPoWriMo

So, we're on day 6 of writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month.

Here are some thoughts on the process --

1) First, I have to be honest, I've been writing a poem a day since St. Patty's day with about 6 other poets, so by the time April 1st rolled around, I actually felt a little "warmed up" to the process. If I do this again next year (which I'm guessing I will), I will probably start on St. Patrick's day again as I like the extra time to get me moving (this is similar to me starting a New Year's Resolution a few days before New Year's just to get a head start. I know, I'm such a Capricorn).

2) It's not easy for me to post these poems on my blog. They are new and fresh and pretty much unrevised. In a way it's like posting my arteries on my blog and hoping no one points out the plaquey build-up.

3) The revision process-- I am a huge believer and fan of revision. I've never been from the Allen Ginsberg school of "First thought, best thought" (though those of you who are quite familiar with Ginsberg's work will know that he was always revising especially with "HOWL" (which he spent at least a year revising). However, there is a certain energy that first drafts of poems have the trick is to revise without losing that spark.

4) The poems I've posted on my blog have been revised slightly, but not enough for me to consider them ready to send out to the world. For that to happen, I need to sit with the poems awhile, continue revising them and make sure they are smart and pretty babies on their own because many times I just love them because I'm their mother.

5) What I've been learning-- Since it's baseball season again, let's talk poetry as a sport. I've learned the more I warm up and practice at writing, the better I am. I learn that the more I sit down dedicatedly (my word) to write a poem, the easier they come and the better prepared I am for the moment. Just as a baseball player practices and doesn't just show up on the field expecting a homerun, I've noticed that writing each day can produce a similar effect--there are more home runs and less strike outs when I show up. Of course, some of this comes back to quantity, if I write more, the more I have to choose from when I revise.

6) I've learned sometimes when I think there isn't a poem anywhere near me, there is. I've learned that poems sometimes come from thin air. Like The Midnight Disease, as I look back on that poem, I have no idea where it came from. Where was I pulling these images from? How did I move from line to line? I have no idea. It was written from the place of "flow," that timeless place where you're writing and clocks stop.

7) Of all the poems I've written (all 6), I like The Midnight Disease best.

8) I appreciate your notes and good words on my poems when I post them. It keeps me going. So thank you for the energy to write another one and keep posting.

NaPoWriMo #6

Goodbye Strange Poem...

When I said


Saturday, April 05, 2008

NaPoWriMo #5

April has left the building.

Inside the Lake Quinault Lodge

This is the area where you can find guests reading, playing chess, doing jigsaw puzzles, or choosing a game from the game cabinet. There's a great fireplace here and a happy woodsman as well.

Lake Quinault at sunset

Rain Gauge at Lake Quinault Lodge

Record is 15 feet of rain in one year.

Us? It rained the day we left. Hooray!

Where I've Been...

I spent spring break in the rainforest of Washington state in the cozy Lake Quinault Lodge. It's become our annual tradition to stay here each spring. It reminds of going back into time, the sort of vacation that might happen in the 1950's, like that resort in Dirty Dancing, minus the sleezy dance instructors.

This year, I was surprised to see they've added wi-fi (a complete no-no for years in the lodge) and a few of the Fireplace rooms now have TV. We stay in the boathouse which is just to the left in the photo and closest to the lake, because it's dog friendly. Also, this year, we were shocked to find our cellphones worked. Again, for years, I've used the payphone if I've needed to get in touch with the rest of the world.

(Note: Rebecca Wells wrote The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood here, I'm sure the no phone, TV, internet, was a reason she was able to concentrate.)

I felt a little sad that my lodge without any sort of connections to the outside world was no connected a little more. And maybe this is what people want, they don't want to leave everything behind on vacation anymore. Maybe they can't. I'm not sure.

But the trip was wonderful. We hiked the rainforest--though a huge number of the trails we've hiked before were closed because of that terrible November storm. There was an incredible amount of downed trees!

Our weather was perfection and in the General Store there was a map where you mark where you are from with pins, so while we dined on pizza we added "The State of Confusion" with a red pin.

If you ever get a chance to visit the Northwest and can take some time to disappear, I highly recommend the Lake Quinault Lodge in Washington State's Olympic National Forest.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Amazon Bullying Raises Monopoly and Business Concerns

By now, I'm guessing you've all heard about bigboy Amazon saying BookSurge or Bust, saying we are a greedy company who wants you to have fewer choices. Jeff Bezos, if that is not what you are saying, then speak clearly and make sure all POD presses are represented on your website because this is what I hear when I hear you try to control the marketplace and the publishing world with your "This is better for the customer speech."

It's disappointing as I have always been fan of Amazon given that it's a local business, but I'm truly disappointed.

So, poets, authors, readers, and anyone who doesn't like a bully, here are a few things you can do--

1) Buy from independent bookstores and by your books from www.booksense.com

2) Complain directly to Amazon.
Phone numbers and addresses for Amazon.com


US-- 1-866-216-1072.
International customers can reach us at 1-206-266-2992.

Snail mail to customer service
Amazon.com, Inc.
Customer Service
PO Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226

Amazon.com Headquarters
Address: 1200 12th Ave., Ste. 1200
Seattle, WA 98144
Phone: (206) 266-1000
Fax: (206) 622-2405
CEO: Jeff Bezos

3) Call, write, or email the FTC to complain--

a.. Phone: (202) 326-3300
b.. Mail: Write to:
Office of Policy and Coordination
Room 383
Bureau of Competition
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
c.. Email: antitrust@ftc.gov (Note: Email is not secure. Mark confidential information "Confidential" and send it via postal mail.)/04/02/amazon-bullying-raises-monopoly-and-business-concerns/">

4) Boycott Amazon and shop elsewhere.

Vote with your wallet.

NaPoWriMo #3

Little Fly

Mosquitoes buzz ... bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz bye!

NaPoWriMo #2


I'm searching for you...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

True Confession Tuesday

Dear reader, it's been 7 hours since I last confessed and since I have a little time, I thought I'd give you real truth reader and not the gag reel version of confession. Though honestly, the gag reel version of my life is probably more interesting and a little more angry.

Since it is April's Fools day, I'll confess to the foolish things I do, think, say, and of course, laughter, which I can never have enough of.

To the confessional--

1) I laugh at inappropriate times. I am your worst guest at a funeral or church service, and don't get me started at weddings. I am the woman who first chuckles before I ask "Are you okay?" after you've fallen off a curb. It's been passed down generations. Even my 74 year old mother laughs when my 96 year old nana stumbles and even Nana can't resist saying "Hello Grace" when a relative trips into the room. I still laugh about the time at Easter Service when my mum sang two notes in front of everyone else, and we stood there in the service shaking because both of us could hardly keep our laughter contained.

And I'm passing on this trait to my daughter. I've seen her laugh hysterically when the boy in her preschool held the mop over her teacher's head during circle time. Or when another little boy knocked over the bookcase. I always wonder "Did I teach this?" or is just part of the evil French girl in us? The one who looks over her shoulder and smiles when the nun swears, the child drops her ice cream, or we are told to be quiet, very quiet. It is at these moments, we cannot stop laughing.

2) I no longer feel (as) guilty for laughing. In grad school, I did my critical paper on the use of humor in women's poetry and I read this feminist essay that said that people in power sometimes use laughter to control other people. For example, if a male boss says something stupid in a board meeting and a woman laughs, he might say, "That's not funny," to shame her and put her in her place. (A parent may do the same thing.) However, what many people were never told as kids is *it is funny and that is why you are laughing.* Now if anyone ever says that to you ("That's not funny"), you have a response, "Of course it is or I wouldn't be laughing."

3) I enjoy finding humor in my own inadequacies and faults. I also love it when I've criticized something (in my past or recently) only find myself doing it. For example, when I was in high school I used to call one of my friend's mom "the witch doctor" (in the most loving and respectful way) because she would dump out a purseload of vitamin supplements onto the table to start her day.

There were vitamins of all shapes and sizes. Horse pills and little ones. She was a walking medicine cabinet. Now at age 39, I have become the witch doctor (what I take? B-12, magnesium, ginkgo, fish oil, and vit d in the winter.) I even have a pill holder. I am my friend's mother except with a blue weekly pill holder. I'm the freaky mom in the natural store buying "Good Mood Tonic." Or lavender oil.

4) April Fool's Day in our home is almost as celebrated as 4th of July or Thanksgiving. Last year, I scotch-taped a giant spiderweb outside my daughter's bedroom door so when she opened her door she was trapped inside (um, she was 6 --she loved it though). Today, I've already had to make it down stairs through plastic snakes, frogs and spiders while she was served Cheerios with two drops of blue food dye. When she took her first bite, the milk, the cheerios all turned this wild blue. She's also had an icepack in her bed and numerous minor heart attacks from me jumping out from behind things.

This joke-fest will last the whole day. We already have pranks set up for my husband when he returns from work as well as for my mum (who is the easiest to trick). While I play the adult in real life, there is a part of me that still lives back as the eleven year old girl in 1980 who enjoyed putting saran wrap over toilet seat and pulling the breaker so our house was without lights.

5) And while I want to be the happy mom who lets everything roll off her back, sometimes I'm the mom that hears herself saying, "I just made that bed." And I want to cringe at that part of myself. I do cringe at that part of myself.

I try not to take myself so seriously, but sometimes I do. And I guess sometimes you have to.

But not today. No, today is a day of answering our phone, "Pizza Factory." Of kick me signs and strange things in strange places. And if I find myself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I'll just kick up my magnesium, maybe take a little good mood tonic, because I'm freaky witch doctor mom who wears a crochet beret and doesn't consider it "her special hat" as my husband calls it. I've become every strange thing I saw in other moms-- scatterbrained, weird, frazzled, vitamin-happy, uncool, boring-- but I'm trying and happy, especially when people fall off chairs or lose control of their umbrellas in high winds. Just remember, I'm not laughing at you, but with you. Unless you're the president, then I'm laughing at you (or crying sadly in the corner), one or the other.

Happy April Fool's Day, poetrypeople.

NaPoWriMo #1

I have to tell you, it's sort of painful to post these so new. This is right out of the box and was written in a 20 minute spurt. But it counts as poem 1.

I won't be putting all my poems up for PoMo, but the occasional one will make its way in (then probably disappear later.)

Poem to Open National Poetry Month

This poem is bellbottoms and acid-wash denim.
.... turn out the lights.

30 Writing Prompts for National Poetry Month

If you love poetry exercises, you may want to check this out--

Poetry writing prompts for EVERY day of the year (including Leap Year), check out
The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano.

388 pages, 366 poetry prompts.

The Daily Poet is available in both PRINT

Or in eBook format.

Also, you can support this blog here:  

30 writing prompts for National Poetry Month.  Enjoy!!


I listed these last year, they were from the Wompo Listserv but they are good prompts, so I thought I'd include them again this year.


1. Write a really ugly poem.

2. Quickly pick out 12 words from the titles of books on a nearby bookshelf. Use them in a poem.

3. Write a poem with an invented biography for yourself.

4. Take a 1-2 page poem from a book and re-type it backwards—from the very last word in the poem all the way to the very first, keeping the lines the same lengths as they are in the book. Use this as the starting point of a poem, picking out the word formations that are particularly interesting to you.

5. Write from the number six.

6. Write to your pain: "Dear Pad of My Thumb, Will you kindly stop hurting? It is very hard for me to stir a pot or write a poem when you hurt like this..."

7. Let your pain write back to you: "Dear Liesl, if you would lay off the text messaging and playing minesweeper it would help me a lot, then you can write your poem or stir pot...".

8. Write to your hurting country, city or community, as a variation on the theme. Take the dialogue as far as it goes, then distill the essence. See if you can arrive at a fresh insight about what ails you and yours.

9. Wow! You've been at this over a week straight! Let your hand draw an abstract shape. Write about it.

10. Speaking as a fortune teller, tell a fortune. The first line is: You will take a strange journey ...... Finish the prediction/forecast by describing the journey and giving instructions or advice or even warnings for the journey.

11. Write a poem of at least 40 lines that is a single sentence.

12. Take fairy tale and rewrite it from the viewpoint of another character. For example, use the wolf to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

13. Write about a family secret.

14. Write an apostrophe to some abstraction (e.g., "To the End of the World" or "To My Birth").

15. Write about someone waiting for something.

16. Write about a color without naming the color—or its kin, e.g., no fair using "crimson" "scarlet" or "ruddy" instead of red.

17. Take any object out of your bag or pocket or purse. Speaking in first person AS THE OBJECT, answer the following questions (in any order): What is your favorite thing?

What are you scared of? What is your secret? What is your wish for the future?

18. Take someone else's poem and select one word per line, writing them out in a list.
Then write your own poem using these words in the same sequence, one per line.

19. Write 100 words (any kind of words) about your kitchen table.

20. Write a poem in which the form contradicts the content.

21. Write a piece at least 50 words long using only one-syllable words.

22. Take a common object, such as a flowerpot, boot or paperclip, and write about it as if you've never seen such a thing before (e.g., you're from the future and have just excavated it, or are from another planet).

23. Take the name of a favorite poet and anagram it. Use this to begin a poem.

24. Pick a word from today's headlines and write a definition poem for it.

25. Write the poem you cannot write.

26. What Work is For You: Write about a job you have had, whether you loathed it or loved it. Write from your own experience but go beyond the literal! Keep the poem in the present tense, and BE SURE THERE IS A PHYSICAL ACTION INVOLVED such as scrubbing floors, dissecting chickens, helping someone use the toilet. Keep your poem in couplets, tercets, quatrains, or sestets—your choice.

27. Write a poem in a received form in such a way that the form is concealed.

28. Imagine a drink or food dish that would bring you fully alive. Write the recipe.

29. Begin with, "This is not the last poem I will write…"

30. Elide (strike out) the Junk: Take a piece of junk mail and black out most of the words so that what remains is a poem. 


~ Kells

Kelli Russell Agodon 


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Confession Tuesday - April Fool's Style

Dear reader, I have no idea how long it's been since my last confession but I've got a lot of sin to share so let's go, I've got a job to get to.

1) I really dislike poetry. Really. Sometimes I go nutso with all the images and that odd spacing. It's like trying to read a roadsign while I'm driving, I get some of it, but mostly, I'm just speeding along trying to get my destination. I find the whole process of "digesting" a poem irritating. And rather rude. Poems should not be eaten. It's just wrong.

2) I confess I slept through another poetry reading. Honestly, how can one not? The shuffling of papers, the hemming and hawing, it's worse than watching paint dry because paint is pretty and doesn't talk in that weird poetry voice. Why the poetry voice?

And at the end of a poem there's that audience sigh, I think it's a courtesy breath to show they are still alive and awake. I apologize for my snoring, for the way I twitched and fell off my chair. Poet, I was dreaming someone was feeding you a dictionary of better words, I swear it.

3) I confess I only go to poetry events to meet hot poet boys. You know the ones, with their black turtlenecks, with their unshowered bods. I love how they say "like" when they introduce their poems-- "Like, I wrote this after I fell in the shower and like I was really thinking about how like the blood from my forehead really sort of looked like one of those like really creepy scenes in a movie where the blood actually runs over the camera lens, but like, this time, it was really my eyeball. I like to call this poem "Father, May I Die."

4) I confess when a poet asks "Do you want me to read two more poems?" my usual response is "No, I want a snack." If you have to ask, then the answer is no. Either read two more without our permission or stop reading. I'm not your mom or your personal secretary here to organize your poems. If you want to read two more, read two more. But don't ask me, I'm mostly likely asleep anyway and your words disrupt my dream about poets in black turtlenecks falling in the shower.

Two poems is a commitment anyway. You'd be better asking "Do you want me to read two short poems?" I mean, what if poem #1 was The Waste Land?

5) Speaking of the Waste Land, I only memorized it so I would have something interesting to say at parties, my friends would think I'm smarter than them, and my parents wouldn't feel entirely robbed that I became an English major instead of majoring in Finance.

6) And if you have to know, my favorite poet is Homer (Simpson). Doh!
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