Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thoughts on a Saturday Morning...

Magnetic Poetry--

I found these lines on my refrigerator created by my daughter and her friend--

we swim at death

our beat in the sleep

elaborate use of produce

***The "elaborate use of produce" made me laugh.


Regular Life--

It was 80 here yesterday. I went to the Woodland Park Zoo with my daughter's class. I think every other grade school in Seattle had the same idea as the zoo was full of field trips. My favorite place at the zoo is the nocturnal house (my favorite animal being the slow loris). But I love the bats and all the night animals, though I'm not crazy about the blind cave fish (but would love to use that in a poem...)

The Statement that Wouldn't Write Itself

I'm still trying to write my artist statement for the fellowship I'm applying to. I will not fail and will complete it, but I tend to think it's going to be one of those things that happens last minute.


I've been thinking a lot about what we invite into our lives (as writers, artists, and just as people in general). There are so many ways we let things into our world--the internet, the television, friendships or relationships. Every once in a while I take a moment to consider who and what I've invited into my life and make adjustments. I am notorious for "hiding" friends on Facebook or deleting channels on my television.

While I think we should all be informed about the world around us, I think we need to filter what we bring into our lives (always remembering that the news media is a for-profit corporation--remember swine flu? What better way to get people watching your 24 hr a day news channel then by freaking them out on their own personal well-being).

As poets and writers, we may be more sensitive to the world around us and that's a plus, but it may also shut us down in different ways. Relationships may do that as well. I think it's important to be selective, to surround ourselves with others to support us and fill us in a positive way.

I try to do this in my own life. It's hard sometimes. Sometimes I have to let someone who was once a good friend go, other times I have to look at my schedule to make sure it's filled with what I want to do. I think this year, I've been doing a pretty good job of this, but as the next season approaches, I find myself pausing for a moment to make sure I'm still on the path I want to be with the people and things I like the best.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Spelling Bee Winner

I love these kids! 13 year old girls wins National Spelling Bee (from CNN)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday night Thoughts...

First, I've learned there are two Steven Schroeders that are poets and the poem on Poetry Daily today is not by the blogger poet I know. I think that's pretty interesting and something I've never considered for myself since there are only about 5 Agodons in America (and I'm related to most of them by marriage). I did one map of my last name in the US and it came up with the address of our first house. I guess I'm easy to find. - I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, though I lean towards bad.


I recently have learned that a number of my poet friends are letting their Poets & Writer subscription lapse because they find it painful to see what other awards other poet/writers are receiving. I was really surprised to hear this.

Do other people feel this way when they receive their Poets & Writers magazine?

I have heard that it's the first place some writers go to when receiving their magazine. I've had professors tell me it's the first place they go. I tend only to look at thoroughly when I'm submitting, otherwise I just browse the black and white photos.

But to feel bad to see others winning prizes. I understand this to a point, but again, it surprised that subscriptions would be cancelled because of this. But if it's helping you write by not knowing what others have won, then go for it. I guess knowing who won the last book prize doesn't affect my writing or much of anything actually.


I believe in living a simple life that is full of what you are passionate about. I just thought I'd say that.


I received a very nice rejection from Agni today. One of the better rejections (and magazines) out there. Their deadline to submit poems is the 30th if you're interested.


If you have kids or just like Obama & pretty pictures...

I just received a beautiful book called Obama: The Historic Journey: Young Reader's Edition (New York Times Book) and it's absolutely incredible in its photographs and documentation about Barack Obama and the election.

It has Obama's life growing up (including baby & school photos) and how he arrived at this place to become our president. It also includes a section on Michelle & their daughters, and sections on the election.

There aren't many times in life I want to have a book to remember something.

Growing up, my father (who was a Republican) had a beautiful book of John F. Kennedy with large photographs (I think it may have been put out by Time magazine). I remember sitting in his office with him and flipping through the pages. Kennedy was about seven or eight years before my birth, but my daughter was very much aware of this election and I wanted to have something for her to look back on. And something for me as well.

I think this would make a lovely graduation gift as well with a $50 bill tucked inside (and the NY Times also produced one that isn't for young readers as well.)

But I have a young reader and we both thought the photos inside this book were amazing and captured an important time in our history and lifetime. Plus, she can read it herself. Anyway, if you have kids and were an Obama supporter, just thought you may want to know this existed. I had no idea until a few weeks ago and it's just something I love having in my home.


By the way, I have it linked to Amazon because it is a hardcover book and Amazon has a pretty good price on it...and well, it's my first step in forgiving them. But you can also purchase through your local independent here. (It's not letting me link it to the book- I used my fav indie Eagle Harbor Books, but just search the ISBN number: 0670012084) and it's a little more $24.95 and the non-young readers version is $40.

Clean up

I am slowly trying to clean up my blog (links and such).

If you have a blog link and want me to link you up here, let me know and I'll be happy to.

after an apocalypse

Steven Schroeder's poem after an apocalypse from TriQuarterly on Poetry Daily today!

Awesome & congrats!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Confession Tuesday

What a weekend! There's a rumor going on that we, the rainy, foggy NW had better weather than Southern California this weekend. Amazing. And what an amazing 3-day weekend (actually 4 day for our kids as they had a teacher's work day on Friday). Sun sun sun. BBQ. Beach beach beach.

I neglected ever chore I thought I'd do, though I did accidentally hang up on Jeannine while trying to prune lilac bushes and talk to her at the same time. I ended up in the lounge chair with the phone and then a book...

This week's confessions--

Even with the "economic crisis" (the most overused word of the year), I still feel very rich on a sunny day sitting outside reading a book.

Also, this weekend is a reminder to me that the cheapest, most simple things--packing a lunch and going to the beach, game night with friends, tuna salad--can be the most satisfying.

I like to lie, sleep, sit in the sun, even knowing how bad it is for me, when the first sunshine day of the season arrives, I break every rule about sun protection and become the 1980's version of myself minus the baby oil. I think I got my Vitamin D for the whole year this weekend. By summer though, I'll be done with this and return to my good sunscreen living. By August I'll be looking forward to fall.

I think I've forgiven

I was just introduced to Carvel Ice Cream Cakes-- why has this secret been kept from me for so long?

I've been trying to write poetry, but the sun has been distracting me.

I am still working on my artist statement and am thinking perhaps to word it in a limerick style. Please know I'm kidding.

I think people are too tough on the Dickman twins. They are good poets, the twin thing is just something that makes them more interesting. I would have purchased Matthew's book twin or no twin, publicity or no publicity. I haven't read much of Michael's work, so I can't comment too much on that, but I am a friend of Copper Canyon Press and tend to find much to like in a majority of their poets.

I confess I'm still looking for a fantastic new poet to fall in love with also some good summer reading. And I'm open for suggestions. P.S. I like memoirs and non-fiction a lot, but would also love a fantastic novel to read too.

I confess I've been slow to get going this last week, especially with things I should be doing. And I don't like that word "should," but it's true, we all have chores and tasks we know *should* get done, but we (I) choose not to do them. (BTW, I promise not to fail on the artist statement.) I wonder what a shouldless life would feel like?

I confess, I am thankful to have this blog and a few readers to confess to. Sometimes it's just nice to know there are others out there. Thanks for listening.


Awesome - Political News for the Day

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama has chosen federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor receives an honorary degree from New York's Pace University in 2003.

Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and third female U.S. Supreme Court justice if confirmed.

****I am really excited about having a Supreme Court and eventually a government full of the faces that represent us and not all older white men. Not that there's anything wrong with being an older white man, my dad was one--but our country is a much greater mix of people and I believe our government should represent that in its diversity.


Now back to your poetry & confessions already in progress...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

In Memory of my father & step-father--

Gale A. Russell May 14, 1926 - Sept. 15, 1992: WWII Navy
Bert Baker May 14, 1919 - July 24, 2004: WWII Air Force, POW

And yes, I do think it's odd they have the same birthday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is it just me...

or is anyone else having issues with Blogger today. My blog seems to be blank and others are giving me illegal operations.

Do other see this or is this just my own special world?

Artist Statement

I am trying to write an Artist Statement for something I'm applying to and I'm really having difficulty with it.

What they want--

An intro text that provides background for my work.

Why is this so hard? They are very open, yet I'm struggling.

Any ideas or suggestions? Any good examples?

Poetry Workshop

I never blogged about the workshop I took with Carolyn Forche and I thought I'd mention a few things.

First, if you ever have a chance to take a workshop for a few days with a favorite poet of yours, do so. Sometimes they are pricey, but what they can add to your life, soul, energy is worth it.

We stayed in Officer's Row at Fort Warden Park in Port Townsend. It's where they filmed An Officer & A Gentleman. The place is heavy with history and ghosts in the first brick building when you enter park. There is an old theatre, left over reminders of the military with cement buildings built on the bluff where canyons used to be.

I had my own room, but shared the house and bathroom with friends. We lucked out on weather and while it was hard to get there due to the floating bridge being out for 6 weeks, I arrived happy and ready to write.

Carolyn has always been a favorite writer of mine and she's rarely in the NW so I went and it was wonderful to hear her talk about the Poetry of Witness. She also talked about how when she can't write she make lists. As someone who loves lists, I really connected with this. She suggests we always carry a notebook and keep many lists--favorite words, images--and when you can write, make a list of something--bird names, types of favorite flowers.

She was one of the most kind and generous poets I have ever met. She's working on a new memoir, which I cannot wait to read. She is someone who really inspires me with how she's lived her life and how she is living her life as a poet.

Here's her most famous poem "The Colonel" (and yes, it really happened), though even if it didn't, it's still an incredible poem

Here's a poem I love from her book BLUE HOUR called Sequestered Writing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best Headline of the Day

Woman loses tooth, gets stuck in Mets toilet

A hapless Mets fan tried to make a diving catch when her gold tooth fell into a Citi Field toilet -- and got her arm stuck in the commode.


Nobody say you have nothing to write about.


God Helmet & Twitter Haiku Contest (thanks, Peter!)

Peter had two great stories on his blog today.

The God Helmet (I would volunteer for this) and the Twitter Haiku Contest in London. Visit his blog to read about them.

Wednesday Wanderings... Finding Time for Art

I just read Aimee's post from her residency and found it inspiring. I believe as writers we need to take that time away from the world, from our lives, from our family, from our paid work to go away and write.

Is it harder for moms than dads? If it's a family with a stay at home mom and a working dad, then my generalization mind says, it's probably emotionally harder for the mom to leave and probably physically harder for the dad to leave due to job vacation constraints. Vice versa if it's a stay at home dad, working mom situation. Ultimately, it's hard for anyone to take 2 weeks to a month off just for themselves (unless you're living in France, as the French take and receive long vacations, or should I say "holiday"). And with two working parents, it gets even harder.

Our country doesn't make it easy on its artists. We have to find our way, clear our own path every day of the week. It's not an easy task. Vacation is limited. Time is limited. Life is limited. But we need to make our way, cut down the blackberry vines that have tangled themselves in our way.

I don't believe art is a luxury and while I recently heard someone say, Art is a privilege, I'm not sure I buy that either. What do I think? Arts are a necessity. As important as food, water, shelter, love, friendship, health. It nurtures us. As does nature. Another necessity in my book. I could get rid of a lot extras in my life, but I was a sad soul with my books and my music. When I am feeling low, I go to museums. I read about others in the world who are living their art. Twyla Tharp, who said "Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."

For me, writing helps me make sense of everything. It has been the one constant in my life. I am thankful how little you need to write-- pencil, paper. And yes, a little time, but we can find it, steal it in between disasters, imagined or otherwise. The time is there for us, we decide how we're going to use it.

So tell me what you wrote today. Or will write today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thunderstorm Today...

After a 70 degree sunny weekend, we must remember we live in Seattle with a rainstorm. Though I thought this was one amazing photo from today's storm. And yes, it's hitting the top of the Space Needle, imagine being there and having dinner tonight. Shocking, I say.

I was in my writing shed when it happened, holy raindrops, Batman, it was stormin'!

I was doing that trick on learned from the Poltergeist movie, seeing the lightning then counting until I heard to the thunder to see how close it was. You can also tell if it's moving away if your numbers get higher from lightning strike to thunder. It's getting closer if your numbers get smaller.

Good storm though. I actually love to be in my shed when it's raining.


Confession Tuesday

Last week was a hard week of emotion or a heart weak of emotion, but this weekend and this week has been better, I am here and ready...

Let's step into the confessional, listen up, I'll start heavy and move into the light...

1) I like people who can keep secrets and are honest about their lives (even the bad stuff) best.

2) One of the hardest part of being a parent is having to remember how mean kids can be.

3) I'm still working on my life's balance.

4) My new favorite website is - where you can trade books with others. Love it!

5) Yesterday I wrote a poem called "Prayer."

6) Sometimes I think my dream life is more interesting than my regular life. Actually, I think that all the time, though I'm not asking for an interesting life, I think I just need to travel more.

7) I was happy Brad Paisley was featured on A Prairie Home Companion a couple weeks ago because I love his song "I'm Still a Guy." (My eyebrows aren't plucked, there's a gun in my truck...")

8) I like listening to country music when I'm at a farm or in the fall, though it's hard to get me to admit this.

9) I only listen to jazz in the evenings.

10) I've been thinking an awful lot about waffles.

11) We're out of strawberries too.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Other Ways to Earn Money...

There are some good ideas in this CNN article on how to earn extra money in this economy.

As a poet/writer, some other ways I earn money is through consulting and working with other poets and writers. The internet has been great to connect with new writers and not be limited to just your area. I'm working with one fab poet and she came up with a way for me to be a sort of Poetry Coach for her and it's something I am thinking about offering to others who want to work more in a low-res MFA way, but not spend all the $$ on getting an MFA.

A few years ago when we were really stretched for money, I would walk around the house with box and choose things to sell on eBay. I sold most of my headvase collection (I only saved a couple) to pay bills and actually, I cried a bit after that (I know, this sounds a little pathetic). So be careful what you sell, but remember it's an easy way to get some cash. Though there's an aunt whose been asking about that cameo she gave me...oops.

But I do think in tough times, it's important to have money coming in from more than one place. And as a full-time writer, I've had to do this for a long time. Some years have been harder than others. Especially when a lot of things come up at once (this spring has been Song of the Broken Cars...) I try to remember when things feel tough that we're all in this together and how little we do need to survive. I felt that way at the Carolyn Forche workshop, staying in that small room with nothing but a bed and desk. We can fill ourselves in other ways besides things--the library is free and so are all those words on the page. I also like to walk through art galleries to fill myself up.

But we do need money in this world and maybe the article will give you some ideas on other ways (some smaller, some bigger) to make it through these empty pocket months.


Monday Meditations

Today is a writing day for me. It began officially 8 minutes ago. This kind of counts as writing, but not the two other projects I am working on-- one poem, one essay/longer creative non-fiction work. But it kind of counts.


An early confession--

I realize how much I love chocolate covered espresso beans. I only tried them for the first time a month ago. (I never tried them because I couldn't imagine chewing on an espresso bean and it tasting good.


Another early confession-- (I will nothing for tomorrow)--

I am starting to forgive Amazon. And I'm not sure how I feel about this.


I'm carrying a stone in my left hand all day today because it's part of my art class. Every time I remember it's there I have to say my life's mission statement (which has been edited down to "To live authentically and with faith." I keep leaving my rock places and have to go retrieve it.


I just found a wasp in my writing shed. They love wood. I'm hoping it doesn't like my shed as much as I do. I put it in a yellow smiley face mug and brought it into the garden. Sweet wasp.


I saw 8 herons on the mudflat the other day. That was a visual poem.


I want to blown away by a new poet. No anyone amazing?


Be well, write lots.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Upgrading to 2009

I splurged and bought on iTouch after seeing a friend use one at the CF workshop.

I have never wanted an iPhone because (and this might sound odd), but I like my phone to be separate. Mostly so I can just take it on walks and I don't always like to have my email/life/world with me. Plus I drop my phone a lot.

But seeing my friend with this item seemed useful. Another friend had a iPhone, also uselful, but as I said, I don't like my phone connected to anything but my phone.

The only thing the iTouch could use is a camera, but otherwise it's taking the place of my PalmPilot (yes, I still use a PalmPilot) which I upgraded from a Franklin-Covey Planner (the big paper thing) not to long ago, which took the place of years of a daytimer (also paper). I love paper planners though, but they are so bulky to carry, just ask my husband as I was always tossing mine is his backpack.

I am not a techie or like new gizmos. And maybe this isn't even new, I had no idea these existed until last weekend. But it stores my calendar in it and that's fantastic, plus all my NPR podcasts, which I can choose by title (I only have an iPod shuffle, so I had to keep hitting forward to find the show I wanted.)

Here's a fact about me, I've never downloaded a song on iTunes, only free podcasts. I really despise paying for music. Even as a child I was the one holding the tape recorder up to the AM radio. Plus, and maybe this is just me being cheap, but 99 cents seems a lot for a song. I think songs should be 25 cents. I'd purchase songs for a quarter.

But I actually like my podcasts, my Fresh Air with Terry Gross, my Vinyl Cafe, my New Letters on the Air... I enjoy listening to podcasts when I clean the house or go for a long walk.

What sold me on this is iTouch was getting a new calendar, and that you don't pay any service and you just use the free-floating wi-fi around you.

The year I went to Southern California with my family, I didn't bring my laptop and we found ourselves in the hotel wishing we had it because we were trying to find out how we could out of the area because of all the wildfires around us and the roads were closing down. California news is horrible and even worse is how they call the same highway 5 different names. Had I had this little device, I would have been set. Instead I remember the anxiety trying to determine if all of 101 was closed by Malibu or if we needed to take I-5 and what part of I-5 was closed.

The only application I've downloaded is Googlecalendar & NPR Addict (free app). I will not be putting Facebook on this or probably much else, but I did add some photos of family and friends.

I've got my calendar entered and while I still really don't have any idea what I'm doing and probably missing most of the features because I so behind in the times, I'm quite impressed with this technology and it really amazes what something that fits in the size of your hand can do. There is a part of me that feels like 007. Actually all of me does.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rejection: Give up or Show up?

It’s never fun being rejected. Unlike the acceptance that can make you scream the Sally Field Oscar speech, You like me, you really like me!, being rejected can reduce us to feelings we thought we left behind in junior high when we sat alone at the long lunchroom table. This is how it feels sometimes: All of the cool kids are wearing paisley minis and I’m in a denim prairie skirt with my rejection slip showing.

from my essay on rejection in Brevity this issue. Judith Kitchen's essay on publishing is also really wonderful, make sure you get a chance to read it.

My new favorite reality show...

The Eagles

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Confession Tuesday - Late Night Edition

Confession-- it is late and I've been away.

Confession-- I had a fantastic workshop with Carolyn Forche on the Literature of Witness. Really wonderful and I met the best group of writers there.

Confession--I did a guided meditation at my creativity class and my animal totem was-- the snake. Believe me, this was a total surprise.

Confession--I may confess more on Wednesday because I'm cutting it short tonight...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

April brings Poems, May brings Submissions....

Many journals stop reading over the summer, so it's our last month to submit poems, especially if you've been like me and have been focusing on writing poems instead of submitting.

I said I was going to submit more in May and I don't want you to let me off the hook.

I've found this handy-dandy resource for us--
Here's a list of poetry journals that take online/electronic submissions

* * *

In other news, I heard Seth Abramson on the Poetry Foundation podcast reading his poem that was just featured in Poetry. Fantastic poem! And it was a treat to hear him read it.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What Now?

Tonight I read WHAT NOW by Ann Patchett. It's an extension of the commencement address she gave at Sarah Lawrence College. It's was pretty synchronistic finding it today given that in my art class we were to ask a question and that was basically mine.

You can read the book in one sitting. What it reminds me is to embrace the times when we don't know what will happen.

Since getting my MFA, I've been a place that has felt a lot like an airport terminal and a delayed flight, a lot of waiting around. I'll be honest here, I've let myself down more than once since grad school. I've become not focused on the now, but the then. Not focused on conversation, but in who else was in the room.

Here's a favorite part from Ann P's book, WHAT NOW that resonated with me tonight:

"The secret is finding the balance between going out to get what you want and being open to the thing that actually winds up coming your way. What now is not just a panic-stricken question tossed out into a dark unknown. What now can also be our joy. It is a declaration of possibility, of promise of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may well do more than anyone expects of us, that at every point in our development we are still striving to grow. There's a time in our lives when we all crave the answers. It seems terrifying not to know what's coming next. But there is another time, a better time, when we see our lives as a series of choices, and What now represents our excitement and our future, the very vitality of life. It's up to you to choose a life that will keep expanding. It takes discipline to remain curious; it takes work to be open to the world--but oh my friends, what noble and glorious work it is. Maybe this is the moment you shift from seeing What now as one more thing to check off your list and start to see it as two words worth living by."

* * *

It's hard work for me to live in the moment, in the What now and not in the future world. It's hard work for me to crave the answers, but I will work on this, in living in this strange unknown moment where the past is set, the future is open and what I can do is continue writing, enjoy the people who are here with me right now, and try my very best to trust it will all work out.


Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Confession Tuesday

I thought this week I'd confess a little bit about what worries me or maybe worries in general as it's something in my personality I've struggled with all my life.

To the confessional--

In 6th grade, I won the Worrywart Funny Trophy in my drill team-- 6th grade. Even back then, I could imagine the worst situations and how much I carried around on my shoulders.

So I'm forty now and 29 years have passed since I "won" that trophy. I'm getting better with my worries, but there are still a few that come up.

For example, I have not been on a plane since 1999. I have always hated flying. Wait, I like flying, I don't like being on a plane.

I have flown many times (the longest plane ride being Paris and across the Pacific a few times to Hawaii), but I always dread it. And not the actually plane ride, I'm fine during the flight and usually sleep (without drugs or alcohol needed), but up until the flight, I am a nervous wreck despite knowing that my odds of dying in a car accident on the way to the airport is greater than on the flight. Still....

Because it's been so long since I've flown I've needed to find a reason to, so when a friend asked me if I'd be on their panel at AWP in Colorado next year, I said yes. And if it's accepted, I will board a plane, wearing my St. Christopher medal, but I will fly to Denver.

I think I am getting better in not worrying because as I've gotten older I've realized I cannot guess the next tragedy or what will happen next. My mum (also a worrier) has told me when I've told her my worries, "And if that happens, then you'll deal with it then" and it's something I return to.

I think women worry more than men. And I think one parent worries more than the other and even more than others because there is this separate individual being you are responsible and now, there is so much pressure on parents to be not just the parent, but the policeman, the dietician, the doctor, the educator, etc. etc.

Growing up in my family, I was considered a success for staying in high school, not becoming pregnant and not dying. After 5 girls, the standards were pretty low when they got to me. But I think today, parents are judged on much higher scale.

I recently saw on Facebook a friend had written on her status "My daughter said she has never had a PopTart, does that make me a good mom or a bad mom?" (Many responded GOOD!) In what crazy world does giving your child a PopTart make someone a bad mom? I spent my teenager years having PopTarts, Choco-bliss and Coca-cola for lunch and no one ever thought my mum was doing a bad job (not that she was feeding this to me, I was a regular at the school store.)

But it worries me more than I'd like to admit about being a parent and "how well" I'm doing. I worry that I'm screwing up or forgetting something terribly important (OMG, she never learned the alphabet!) I guess in the end we can only try our best and when we know better do that. And also keep our fingers crossed.

I guess this is life, isn't it. Try our best and keep our fingers crossed. Kids or no kids. We just need to take it day by day and see what happens, fingered crossed.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bob Hicok on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

I really appreciate these "normal" TV shows that find a way to feature poets...


It's Not Who You Are, It's What You Do...

Fascinating Op-Ed at the New York Times today:

The latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.

Read the full editorial here.

* * *

I have always believed talent is only a small piece of any genius pie. What you need more of is -- dedication, focus, conviction, practice, and perseverance. A little luck helps too.


NaPoWriMo - Summary and So What...

So many of us have finished NaWriMoPo, so what. Was it worth it? What did it prove? Is posting our poems on our blogs just an act in narcissism, ego, or is there value in this project?

Well first, I think the act of writing a poem a day took a lot out of me, however, it is a good reminder that we all can create something where there was nothing. I think that what keeps coming back to me, there are some poems that I wrote in April, that I liked and will continue to work on and these poems would not have been written had I not pushed myself to write a poem a day.

It makes me ask, what else can we do if we push ourselves? Write a chapbook? Finish a collection? Write a novel? A memoir? There is something to be said about that extra kick in the bum when it comes to the creative life. Yes, the muse and inspiration is all lovely, lovey-dovey woo-woo, but it's not always convenient. You are a busy person and have 30 minutes to write a day, if you're muse is out picking wildflowers, you're screwed.

In certain ways, this experiment of writing 30 poems in 30 days is a sort of be-your-own-muse (like be your own best friend) belief. I showed up to write, muse or not, I had to write a poem a day. There were days I was channelling William Stafford with his thoughts on if you can't write a poem "lower your standards." I did. And some days I was happy with what came out of on the page.

As for posting these poems on my blogs, some people may think it's a lesson in ego and self-love (ah, my beautiful poems!), but for me, someone who revises and revises and revises before I submit my work, it was a lesson in humility and vulnerability. In showing you what I look like when I wake up in the morning, not the profile pic where I am lipsticked and mascaraful.

I remember when I read some of Elizabeth Bishop's unrevised poems. Horrible. Terrible. And how I LOVED that about them. Her first drafts were not publishable. They were awful stinky poems and it shows her expertise as a poet by how she was able to revise them. I think reading the NaPoWriMo of others and my own poems reminds me that sometimes we write the good, the bad, and the ugly and that's okay. It's a great reminder to me that the greats are necessarily great but persistent and focused on revision. So every not-so-good poem has hope depending on the time and energy I want to spend with it.

Was it worth it? For me, yes. As I said, there are poems I wrote this month that I wouldn't have written. That immediately makes it worth it.

January had these questions on her blog and I'm going to attempt to answer them--

1. Number of poems written in April.
30 (at least)

2. Number of poems you’ll keep and revise.
5? maybe more if I can revise them to a better place.

3. List the titles of your top-three NaPoWriMo poems.
Magnetic Forces and All You Want - I'm not sure of a third.

4. List your three least-favorite NaPoWriMo poems.
I know some of you liked this one, but my least favorite is Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza as I was just stuck that day. Also, my haiku and Before Leaving Home, which never really went anywhere.

5. Favorite line from one of your NaPoWriMo poems.
a poet dialing 1-800-SESTINA or freshwater espadrilles floating across the puddles of cul-de-sacs/contemplating DJ Jazzy Jeff,

6. Notice any patterns?
Towards the end, my poems had a sadness in them and I was in a little bit of a funk, but when you focus on an emotion sometimes it comes out larger. A friend emailed me to ask if I was okay, which I thought was very sweet.

The only other pattern was that I think my poems were stronger at the beginning of the month than the end, which tends to be true for me both in writing practice and violin practice. As I get more and more tired, everything goes downhill.

7. What surprised you most about writing a poem a day?
That poems were written. Seriously. That I could pull a poem out of my hat like a rabbit, though sometimes it was a scary, disheveled rabbit with bad teeth, but still recognizable as a rabbit.

8. Now that you have momentum, what’s next?
Take the summer off!

Actually, my second mss is complete and I'm sending out much more seriously now. It's hard for me to work on anything else while that is out in the world. Though I have another mss on the back burner and a couple of these poems may go there.

I think the best thing for me to do is to submit my work more. I'm a dedicated writer, but when it comes to sending out my work, whether is be my mss, poems, or essays, I only get about a C to a D+. It's something about myself I would like to work on (and was from January to March), but it needs to be a focus for me a little.

And it's not that I mind rejections, I don't. Submitting is not my favorite thing to do. If I have extra time, I'd rather write, walk Buddy Holly (my dog), garden, or read. I would even rather clean the house before submitting. It's just not a favorite thing to do, but definitely part of the job and I'll work on it.

Maybe in May, I can post some places we all can submit to and make it a group exercise, in case others hate submitting as much as I do.

Welcome May and again, thanks for reading.

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