Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I must confess I am late.

I must apologize (or apologise) for the busy-ness, for the bat droppings, for the unintentionally being away.

I confess I have been revising my manuscript.

I confess I have been held captive by a jigsaw puzzle.

I confess there are two surgeries coming up in the next two week-- my husband and my mum. One major, one not.

I have been thinking a lot about poetry, how it enters our lives and flutters around. Sometimes its a cloud of bats, other time a moth at the window.

A good friend of mine was just accepted into the MFA program I attended. I'm excited for what the next three years hold for her.

I confess I've thought about returning for my Phd. I confess that I love learning, being in a class, opening books and not knowing where we will go next.

I confess it will not be soon.

I have been out in the poetry barn lately. I confess I am thankful for my electric blanket that hangs over my chair when it is below 32 degrees.

I confess I have been volunteering too much and am practicing saying no in my big-girl voice.

I confess that when I look on the calendar and do not see enough time for me to write I feel sad.

I will bring my laptop to the hospital.

I confess I sleeping better these days but the dreams happen without me. They have been circling like the bats, but when I reach for them they have left the attic and flown away.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike died today, he was 76

Read the full NY Times article here. He died of lung cancer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Said it better than I did...

From Reb Livingston's blog on the Inaugural Poem:

This grotesque pettiness goes back to poets fighting over that tiny crumb of a pie. Poets, forget the fucking pie already! I promise you, it's stale and flavorless. If you ever get a bite, you'll still be as empty as your are now.

As for all this nonsense about this being Poetry's big chance -- um, no it wasn't, it wasn't supposed to be and get over your self-centered, personal profiteering selves. Elizabeth Alexander did not go up there to be a representative of poets. She accepted an invitation, a daunting and frightening honor that I cannot conceive of having the bravery to accept. Putting oneself and one's poem out there, knowing full well the scrutiny both you and your poem will endure, most would shirk. When Alexander took the podium, momentarily paused before she read, when she looked out at that massive (departing) crowd, I wanted nothing more that to jump into my television and give her a hug.


Go to Reb's blog and read the full post. She says exactly how I've been feeling.

She also writes--

*People come to poetry, not the other way around.*

Exactly! The inauguration wasn't a day of recruitment, it was a celebration for the new president. It was not the job of Elizabeth Alexander to find us new readers, a larger audience-- that's our job.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Text of Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander -Praise Song for the Day

January sent this out with the note:
What follows is the official version of Elizabeth's poem. She just released this version (with line and stanza breaks) so that the correct version gets into circulation. She has given permission to redistribute as long as the copyright and Graywolf info is included in its entirety.

Praise Song for the Day
A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.
We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, rais ed the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need
. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. A chapbook edition of Praise Song for the Day will be published on February 6, 2009.

You can order a copy of this chapbook for $8 here.


The Inaugural Poem - Elizabeth Alexander

I've been asked quite a few times over the last two days my opinion of Elizabeth Alexander's poem and "was it good enough?" Was she good enough?

Yesterday, a poet read a poem she had written for an occasion that will never happen again. An occasion of firsts and of history. An occasion where she was to speak the words she wrote just moments after Barack Obama had been sworn in as president, after he made his first speech.

After a speech by the 82% public approval, newly-sworn-in, change-is-happening-now, we've-made-it-to-that-day, now President Barack Obama--would anything be good enough.

In the moment, listening to the poem, I was nervous. Nervous for Elizabeth Alexander (I so hate live TV as I always worry someone will mess up...). Nervous that others would like the poem and worried that a poet wouldn't be asked back. It was hard for me to enjoy it at the moment, it was hard not to wrap my heart up and carry it into the other room for safe keeping--a poet reading a poem on such an occasion--I wasn't used to this kind of spotlight, but I listened

and certain lines stood out to me--

walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.
We encounter each other in words, words...

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.

What if the mightiest word is love?

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

I went back and watched her read it again on YouTube. I read it again on Peter's blog.

How can I take a moment like this and criticize any aspect of it? It's too new, it's too important. I'm too grateful-- a poet (a poet!) was included again and not someone that everyone knew, including everyone in the poetry world. How can I say "she should have done this..." after it's already happened?

Speaking the poem is a moment--on a freezing January day to millions of people, even more home watching it on television, on the stage with a new president in a historic moment after he had just spoken to America and the world for the first time as our new leader. I can't say anything except in gratitude for Elizabeth Alexander for stepping up to the podium and reading her poem. In gratitude to Barack Obama for once again including a poet in the ceremonies. Gratitude for poetry to stand on the world stage with musicians, politics, singers, prayer, and our new president and his family.

Do I like the poem?
We encounter each other in words, words...

Do I think she did a good job?
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

I've ordered my copy from Graywolf.
I feel honored by this day.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm so excited!

Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 beginning at 11:30 a.m. EST and 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time.

The Oath of Office is at noon, immediately followed by the Inaugural Address.

The Vice President is sworn in ten minutes earlier.


Musical Selections throughout the day
The United States Marine Band
The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Aretha Franklin
Itzhak Perlman (Violin), Yo-Yo Ma (Cello), Gabriela Montero (Piano), Anthony McGill (Clarinet)

Welcoming Remarks
Dianne Feinstein

Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

Oath of Office - Vice President-elect Jo Biden, Jr.
By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, John Paul Stevens

Oath of Office - President-elect Barack Hussein Obama
By the Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr.

Inaugural Address
Barack H. Obama

Elizabeth Alexander

The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

The National Anthem
The US Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase

Franklin High School, Seattle

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Crab Creek Review - Call for Submission

We've extended our submission deadline for poetry submissions until March 31, 2009 at Crab Creek Review, so if you have a few poems to share, please feel free to submit to us.

In case you're not familiar with Crab Creek Review is a perfect-bound print literary journal that was started in Seattle 25 years ago. We are currently reading for poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction.

Our board members Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Susan Rich, Peggy Shumaker, Nancy Pagh, and Peter Pereira and we highly admire their work. So if you want examples of what we like, read their poems. But also know, we are not looking for any particular kind of poetry and are open to all types of work including any type of free verse, formal or experimental. We choose our poems based on what we like. Just send your best, unpublished poems before March 31st as we are reading for our Spring/Summer issue right now!

If you're interested in submitting, we'd love to see your work. You can get all the details here-- Your submissions will go attention to Lana Ayers, Poetry Editor.

For more information on us, here's our Facebook page:

And here's are some sample poems from our last issue:


Where I've Been

Since my birthday, it's been a social week and a week of the big To-Do list.

Things on this To Do list included things like work with poetry student to buy new bed. Many were related to Crab Creek Review, which should be published next month. There is a ridiculous amount of details associated with editing a literary journal and 80% of them have nothing to do with editing.


For my birthday, I received Luck is Luck, Poems by Lucia Perillo from my friend Martha. When I opened the gift many in the room made the good-sound noise that people make when they see something they like. Many had read it and loved it. I thought the cover was beautiful until I realized one of the birds was dead. I'm sensitive to images like that, to the goat poem by the woman poets whose name isn't coming to me this early (Jeannine gave me this book.) I will tell you later what I think about the poems in Lucia's book. I have read her work before and enjoyed it, so I'm guessing these will also satisfy.


On Thursday, a good poet friend who is from my first writing group in 1995 (maybe 96?) came to visit. I helped her with her paperwork in applying for an MFA. I forgot all that goes into applying for an MFA. What I can say is, one of the very best things I've done for myself as a writer is return to school and get my MFA.

They are pricey little diplomas. By the time this poet is done, there will be $20K to $30K+ spent. Of course, someone once pointed out to me that it is the same price of a mid-sized Sedan. They told me to: Just consider your education is one less Camry you'll own in your lifetime. And honestly, I'd rather have had the experience of my program than a Camry, so I feel I came out ahead.


Today two poets are coming out to visit me. We will write in the Poetry Barn together. We will eat cheese, rosemary crackers, and have some homemade pumpkin pie. One poet wasn't able to make my birthday celebration so wanted to visit this week, the other made my bday celebration and wanted to visit this week. I will let you know if we get any poems from this and also if we did any good writing exercises.


On the day before my 40th birthday, I started violin lessons. How I know I live in a small town is that I left the violin shop with 2 violins to try out and the only thing the violin shop owner had from me was my name and phone (both which I wrote down myself). He required no Visa number, no driver license verification, nothing. But when the citygirl I am asked, "Don't you need anything from me before I leave with these?" he handed me a small piece of paper and said, "If you'd like, you could leave me your name and number..." If I like. I left the store with $3000 worth of violin and bows and wandered to my car.

Recently my husband was having my laptop fixed and the man wouldn't go into the back room to get a part because he didn't feel comfortable leaving my husband in the front of the store alone.

I realize there are people who just trust other people and sometimes I wonder if their trust that they will do the right thing actually makes people do the right thing. I'm not sure. I tend to trust people until they show me otherwise. Though once someone has broken that trust (or even a loyalty in a friendship), it is very hard for me to get that back.


Last night for family movie night we watched Enchanted. This is probably my favorite Disney movie ever. It is hilarious because it pokes fun at Disney movies and princess who break out in song. And they include the handsome Patrick Demsey is in it for Grey's Anatomy fans and the gorgeous Susan Saradon for Rocky Horror Picture Show fans.

I normally slam Disney for their movies because they tend to kill off the mother so the adventure can begin (note: there was a missing mother in this movie, but I can overlook it) and the women have one goal, to find their prince. This movie is pretty interesting in that it puts a Disney in the center of New York city and she has to figure out what she really wants.

The movie is appropriate for the whole family too. No random swearing, violence, or naked people in beds... (Of course, you may not want to see this movie now after knowing this.)


Monday, January 12, 2009

Literary Party - Come as a Writer or Poet

40th Birthday Literary Party...

This is one of my favorite photos from the evening. It's the end of the but it was the night so there are a few hats and wigs missing, but there was such a good energy in the room. This was when I didn't want the evening to be over.

Top row: Ronda Broatch, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Ann Hursey, Lana Ayers, Holly Hughes, My mum!
Bottom row: Nancy Canyon, Jennifer Culkin, Kelli Agodon, Martha Silano, Susan Rich, Kathleen Flenniken

Our crazy self-timer group shot.

Here's the Who's Who of our group---

Back row: Mimi (my mum) as Jackie Collins, Kathleen Flenniken as Ms. Marianne Moore, Martha Silano as Gertrude Stein, Janet K nox as Homer, Lana Ayers as Chu Shu-chen, Natasha Moni as John Steinbeck, Nancy Canyon as Virginia Woolf, Susie C as me,

Middle Row: Holly Hughes as Virginia Woolf, Jenifer Lawrence as William Carlos Williams, Susan Rich as Anna Akhmatova, Ronda Broatch as Cyrano de Bergerac

Bottom Row: Kelli Agodon as Sylvia Plath, Ann Hursey as WS Merwin, Annette Spaulding-Convy as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jennifer Culkin as Dorothy Parker

Confession Tuesday....early edition

**This is what 40 looks like - And note the perfect Book of Kells gift (thanks, Susan!) **


Confession Tuesday

Where I've been--

For my birthday, I had a literary party where friends came dressed as poets and writers (I'll post a group photo soon). I dressed as a glam Sylvia Plath is a vintage 50's dress I found at a consignment shop. We had great food, wine, and conversation, and of course the evening included something that's classic to my birthday parties-- we did a craft. (We each made a frame and I'll be ordering the group print for all of us to place inside it. Mine frame is below.)


Confession: I don't mind being 40 at all. And I kind of like it. I feel it almost gives me an excuse to be ___________________ (fill in the blank.) Many words fit in there. I may be many words this decade with no apologies.


Confession: I have been reading More magazine (the magazine for women over 40) for at least 3 or 4 years now. I picked up in the supermarket because I thought it was a magazine for curvy women. I read a few issues before I realized it was something else...but still, I liked it.


Confession: I'm thankful I finally have someone to brag about sharing a birthday with-- Dave Matthews. For many years, my top birthday mates were Richard Nixon, Gilligan, and Crystal Gayle.


I found out today I was another finalist (1 of 30) in another poetry contest (New Issues) and instead of celebrating I growled. Is it better to lose the race by 2 seconds or not even to place? Sometimes, it's these close "almosts" that are the most heartbreaking.


More than I'd like to admit, the sentence "And you want to be my latex salesman" goes through my head when dealing with annoying people.


I don't know what others think, but when I see my photo, I still don't think I look 40.


Lately, some of my best snacks include rosemary crackers, brie, and goat cheese.


My favorite people tend to be people off on their own path and not following the rest of the crowd. They like vintage, tarot, solstice, and books. Most of them tend to live in private rural settings with trees and chickens or unique neighborhoods in Seattle. What I like about them is how much they are themselves. Uniquely unique.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Check this out!

Featurning some fantastic poets you may recognize- Deborah Ager, Nin Andrews, Robert Lee Brewer, Edward Byrne, Rachel Dacus, J.P. Dancing Bear, Erika Meitner, Brent Fisk Alison Pelegrin, Greg Rappleye, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Karen J. Weyant, Brian R. Young...and more. (Sorry if I missed anyone)

See the full list of contributors by going to the link above.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Today's a writing day for me, so let's get right to the confessing this morning...

Focus: Things that Amaze

1) This is the last week I have in my 30's as this Friday, I will somehow manage to become 40 (seriously, I don't know how this happened, well, I do. But I don't.) My twenties were all about figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. My 30's were about having a child and figuring how to balance being a mother and a writer. My 40's? I hope they are not about figuring anything out, but just being.

A friend of mine turned 40 last year and I asked her what she thought of it. She said she was looking forward to it because she would no longer be in her *late* thirties, but in her *early* forties. She said it kind of felt as if she was going to be the young one in the group again. She has a very positive outlook in the world

2) Sometimes what is supposed to be bad news turns out to be good news, and sometimes I'm always amazed how things fall into place. Of course, things can also be a disaster and I'm completely amazed at that too.

3) Twitter. I don't understand what Twitter is. Why does one Twitter? I don't think I get it. What's it for? Is it a mini blog or sentences about your day? Should I continue to be Twitterless? (That almost sounds nasty to me.) Anyone want to share?

4) I'm always amazed when I'm completely unaware of something then to find out it exists and there's this whole other world that others know about and I am hanging out my laundry and washing my dishes by hand. Twitter is that. Facebook was that. For the longest time people kept talking about Tivo and I thought the Jackson 5 were getting back together.

5) The night sky. The red sunrises over the Cascades. Seeing the same heron near the mudflats and the kingfisher on the powerline. That I can turn a knob and get hot water. How houses are built or bigger, bridges. Someone's path from point A to point B. That the voting booths *weren't* rigged. That at anytime in your life, if you really want to, you can call a "do-over."


Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday Meditations


Last night I had a dream that I signed up for adult drama camp. I just remember realizing we might be making a musical and saying, "I can't sing. I can't sing." And someone saying, "There are no small parts, just small chickens."


I made the cat faint by playing Boogie Superstar on the Wii. And no, this wasn't a dream. It was my karaoke abilities that seized the cat.


Chocolate chip cookies are my fav.


I have already learned two of my birthday gifts. One was unintentionally, one not.


I don't trust moms who make their family seem too perfect. It makes me wonder what they are hiding.


The "done brewing" beep on our coffee pot is too loud and it seems there is no way to turn it off.


We're on a 2-hour delay for school, so we all got to sleep in and relax our way back to a normal schedule. And I'm not complaining about this. At all.

* * *

I'm realizing some of these meditations fall under "confessions," so consider this a preview I guess...


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Another Movie Recommendation: Annie Leibovitz

Thanks to my best friend Netflix, I watched another great documentary-- Annie Leibovitz: Through the Lens. It detailed photographer Annie Leibovitz's life at Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, as well as her personal and family life as well.

I find nothing can help improve my thinking than watching or reading about other artists. Maybe it's because it's so inspiring to watch how they came to be or to learn how they work. I took a break in the middle of this movie to walk my dog Buddy, and I found myself thinking about Crab Creek Review and some new ideas I had. Next, I was thinking about a poem that has just never quite reached the point I've wanted it to and by the time I returned home, I had revised the poem in my head and just needed to do fix it on paper.

There is no straight line from watching Annie's life to revising my poem, but there you have it. I found myself seeing the world a little differently after learning how a photographer sees it. I found myself thinking about the every day details around us and focusing in on them. My mind was still full of the documentary and the people she photographed--some of my favorites included John & Yoko, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Martin--and somehow, I felt it opened a new place in my brain.

The documentary had many of celebrities she has photographed talking about her as well as a look into her current life with small children to newer photoshoots and how they are handled. Of course, the old footage of her and others with Rolling Stone magazine was fantastic...and deeply sad in how she was with John Lennon that morning before he was murdered, photographing him (the famous now iconic image of a naked John curled up next to a fully clothed Yoko).

If you like documentaries about other artists, you'll like this. And if you're a fan of Annie L., you'll probably become more of a fan and see more of her humanness and not just a great artist. She has a work ethic we can all learn from.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

CRiPeS! 771 unread messages...


This is the untold story about a poet who doesn't like submitting so much that she decides to not read her emails on places to submit for almost a year and finds herself with 771 unread emails, hilarity ensues.

I think last year was my worst year for submitting poems. Yes, I submitted my work, but haphazardly, occasionally, whenever it caught my whim. But mostly, I ignored all Creative Writing Opportunities and literally, my CRWROPPS email folder had 771 UNREAD messages. 771. That's 771 opportunities I ignored.

(By the way, for those of you who don't know, CRWOPPS is listserv run by Allison Joseph that posts call for submissions-and now even academic jobs-for writers and poets. You can sign up on Yahoo by going here-- -- the first list had issues, so it's the CRWROPPS-B list to sign up for... It's a great service to writers, but only when you actually READ the emails - imagine.)

But now back to my story of 771 unread messages...

I'll tell you how it began (as all bad habits do), I became busy and didn't read my CRWOPPS folder and inside were 25 or so unread messages. I told myself I'd find some time to do that, but didn't. A few days later, there 29 then 36 then 43, then the task of reading these emails seemed too big, as it seemed I needed a good chunk of time to read them. But I never took that chunk of time, or any chunk of time and the emails grew and the person who stores one pizza box in the corner, than another and another, I was my own type of packrat never getting to my now Creative Writing Opportunities mess that was stacking up.

With the fear of not wanting to miss any opportunity, I didn't delete them thinking I'd get to them. I didn't. And the number of unread emails grew -100, 240... By then it had just become a lesson in ignoring, I knew I wasn't going to get to it, but instead of jumping back and just catching up on a little like all good procrastinators, I said no, I'll find time.

Now here we are 8 months later. Yes, I didn't read CRWOPPS from April through December 2008. WTF? I know exactly what I was thinking--I'll get to it. But it never became a priority and because I could still get by without it (submitting to journals only and not anthologies, not submitting to "theme" issues, submitting to places my poet-friends emailed me with notes saying, "I saw this and thought of you..." -thank you, btw). And I did. The path of least resistance.

But looking back as I go through and delete/clean up these unread emails, I see I missed a lot of good opportunities for issues and anthologies I have poems for. Am I bummed? Yes, but I'm not going to kick myself over it (well, maybe a little), what I'm going to start fresh for 2009. I now have 0 unread messages in my CRWOPPS inbox and will not let the dishes stack up in the sink or the pizza boxes pile to the ceiling this year.

My thoughts on all of this--

1) New beginnings do not have to start just in January...I could have easily cleaned out my CRWOPPS box for fall or the beginning of any month. Summary-- You can always start over. Every day is a chance for a new beginning.

2) It's better to do a little (even if it feels like it's nothing) than to do nothing. A little of anything will get you farther any day than a lot of nothing.

3) Figure out why you are avoiding a task. (Or don't figure out, assume you are avoiding a task because it's easier not to do it, seriously, it's that really the reason we avoid tasks? Then do the task anyway.) For me, the convenience and ease of ignoring was worth more to me than the time of having to sort through hundreds of unread emails and the uncomfortableness I knew I'd feel when I saw all the opportunities I missed.

4) Forgive yourself and move on. We all muck up. If we didn't, we wouldn't be interesting people. There are worse crimes in the world than _____________________ (fill in the blank) in my case - "ignoring CRWOPPS for 8 months"). We are imperfect lovable annoying people. We do things that are bad for us even when we know we shouldn't. That's life. It's short, forgive, move on, don't do it again.

My plan so this doesn't happen again? I've added it to my PalmPilot to do list and I have a group of writer/poet friends who will keep me accountable each week to do at least one submission. Most things are easier if you do them in small tasks, so my goal- one submission a week. And if I get more than 25 unread emails, I have one day to read them or delete them, no ignoring them, but I *hope* not to get to that point. Sheesh.

So that's the story of the poet who didn't read her emails.


You may now return to your lives already in progress


Friday, January 02, 2009

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

Great documentary I just watched about Teri Horton, a trucker-grandmother who is also a dumpster-diver and thrift-store connoisseur who buys what she describes as this "ugly painting" for $5 to cheer up a friend. Both women find the painting hideous (and almost throw darts at it), but Teri puts in it in her garage sale and an art teacher happens to see it and let's her know she may have a Jackson Pollack painting on her hands. And so begins her journey to prove that this is a real Pollack painting.

All I can say is that the art experts come off as art snobs who deal mostly with their instinct and feeling rather than facts. Teri hires a forensic specialists who finds a fingerprint on the back of Teri's painting then goes to Jackson Pollack's studio searching for a match...

I won't tell you anything more, but you may end up rolling your eyes at the "educated" art world in this movie and find yourself cheering for the little guy, or little gal in this case as there is something annoying about know-it-alls no matter what field they are in with heads so large they can't have an open mind because their satellite-sized heads are filling up the room.

Anyway, a very enjoyable 80 minute movie (and just my size too!) I would recommend to watch in the new year. (I'll thank Netflix for putting this on one of my recommended movies list...)

This was another resolution of mine I forgot to more movies.


It's January 2nd, do you know where your poems are?


While cleaning my desk yesterday I found poems. Yes, poems I had started then got behind on, then they slipped out of my mind and I went on to something else. I also found a folder with poems and notes on revising them from my workshop group.

It's both annoying and exciting to find these new/old poems. Part of me thinks, Be a little more organized, will ya? The other part says, Yeah! A poem to revise!

I have started keeping a small notebook on my desk with the titles of the poems I am working on. This year it's the Women Artists Datebook 2009 published by Syracuse Cultural Workers and what I like about this is that I can keep track of dates when poems were born.

In my computer, I keep two folders-- In Process (where I save poems I just wrote or am revising or that I feel just aren't good enough yet) and Completed Poems (which is as you guessed, poems that are finished and ready to send out to the world).

Normally, on a writing day I open my In Process folder and sort it by date. I choose maybe 5-7 poems to open into new documents at once. I flip through these poems until I find something that interests me then begin revising. When I get tired or stuck on that poem, I flip to another. Some have asked how I can concentrate on more than one poem at once and for me, what this does is take the importance off of each of the poems. There is nothing that can stop me more than having only one poem to work on at a time. It makes that poem see too important (pronounced "im-POOOOR-tant" - with an accent).

If I haven't written in awhile and try to write a new poem, it may feel hard. However, if I allow myself to write the bad stuff along with the good, writing becomes easier because I am allowing myself to play without judgment or by putting too much importance on a piece. I do write a lot, but the majority of my "poems" never go on to become poems. They spend their life in the In Process file hoping for a good revision. And if they don't get one, they are happy there as there's a lot of first drafts with good personalities to keep them entertained.

So while I tend not to make the resolution "I will not lose poems" because honestly, I know a poem is never lost, this year, I'm interested in documenting the beginnings of poems and essays in my desk calendar. And still keeping that little index card on my desk with the titles of poems I'm working on. Sometimes I think I'm just having my own love affair/environment disaster with paper as it seems to always be surrounding me. (Side note: once in my twenties I went to a psychic who said, "I'm not sure what you will be doing in your thirties, but I see you completely surrounded by paper." ) This could be any day of my life in my 30's!

Anyway, I have mentioned my poetry process before, but someone asked, so there you go. Plus the new detail of the desk calendar, I'll tell you how this works as well as I'll end this post with a writing exercise--

* * *

Writing Exercise--

New Year's Poem

***Make a list of at least 10 specific items or images that you saw, touched, tasted, or heard on Dec 31st or January 1st. Now write down 4 things that you did either on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

Now write a poem that includes two of the things you did on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day as well as 6 of the items/images from your list.

Happy 2009!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Day -2009

Music by Franz Schubert


Happy first morning of 2009! 2009. Doesn't that seem odd to say? How did we almost slip into double-digits in the new millennium? 09. We're coming to the end of our first decade and while there is a part of me that wants to say what a mess we've made of things, there's another part that thinks, Hold on - things will get better.

So far in my hour of being awake this 2009, I haven't broken any resolutions. Not bad. Once I broke a resolution 2 minutes after midnight. Oops. I'm less critical of myself though than I was 10 years ago, a little more forgiving. But I do find I have pretty high standards, though I tend not to keep regret with me as I did when I was younger. It occurred to me after my daughter was born that every single decision I had ever made in my life was correct because it ultimately led to her birth and her coming into the world. Now whenever I feel regretful, I look around me and if my family is safe, then I think, So far so good.

I wanted to post a new year's photo today, but I didn't have any. I found this image I kept of Franz Shubert's "Cats" sheet music he created and thought this would be appropriate for today as I think the new year calls for creating new work and different work. Not just thinking out of the box, but living out of the box and seeing what happens.

When Barack Obama beat John McCain I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said, "Hope kicked fear's ass" and I thought that finally as a country, we get it. Fear controls. Hope moves us forward. I'm not sure what 2009-2013 holds, but I'm not afraid of it. What I hope it holds? More peace. More compassion. More tolerance. More understanding. More acceptance. More joy. More love. More trust. More faith. More art. More poems. More gratitude. More hope.

If there is one thing I could delete from the world's thoughts it would be less judgment towards others and replace that with compassion. It's something I try to work on. It's hard, it's easier to call someone a jerk for cutting me off in traffic, than to wonder if maybe he's feeling stressed because he needs to be somewhere or to consider his circumstances.

I can't promise you or me anything more than I'll try my best this year and I'll see what happens. I know there will be more poems and words around my desk. I can't promise my desk will be clean, but it will loved. I know there will be more music in my life and while I can't promise it will be always be in tune, it will be there. I hope the world will be more peaceful and that the words of John & Yoko will circle--the war is over, if you want it--because most of us are here just trying our best.

So with this first post of the new year, of 2009, I wish you hope and music, poetry and peace. I hope there is time for you every day to sit back and enjoy what's around you without feeling you need to be some place else. I hope you always have good friends, a warm room, and always enough of what you need. Cheers!


(And hopefully you're reading this without a raging hangover, but if you are to remember, this to shall pass...)
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