Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Other Photos

Channelling Andy Warhol (Susan Rich & Kelli as part of The Seattle Art Museum'sWarhol Exhibit

Trying to make my best Andy Warhol face

I know this is probably not one of the best photos I've ever taken, but I *love* it.  I like my Andy Warhol face.

If you can't find me, I'm the one on the right, Andy is on the left & Susan in the middle.  

Self portrait in the Italian Room

Poets in the coffeeshop

Request - Creating the Environment to Write... Part 2

Here's the second question in response to my writing environment--

Do you need quiet [to write]? Does music help? If so what kind?   

When I am writing new poems, sometimes I turn on music if I'm trouble moving forward.

Here's my favorite background music:

1)  The Fray - How to Save a Life
  How to Save a Life
  ***I do not know what it is about this group, but when I hear their songs, I write some pretty good lines.  

This group has kind of a melancholy feel, so I would not play it if I wanted to write anything upbeat.  But they are my #1 CD to write to.

****I love this movie and love the music from it.  This is great music if I want feel as if I'm somewhere else.  Most of it's upbeat sounding.  Many less poems to slit-your-wrists-to are written way.

3)  Everything But the Girl Language of Life
Language of Life

*****This is one of my all-time favorite albums, but I can only listen to it in the fall as it has such strong memories for me at the University of Washington and driving around the U-Distict in autumn.  

But I love to use this as the opening album to my writing life, which truly begins in September.


Also, while I love music for creating new poems, I like silence when revising. I read my poems out loud and like to be deep in the poem without noise, so when I revise my work area is quiet.

Stay tuned for Monday's question and Part 3 ....


Friday, July 30, 2010

Request - Creating the Environment to Write... Part 1

Some good questions came through my email last week about writing environments.

Because I am someone who is interested in these questions and may ramble on about them, I may break it down into two or three posts....

Here are the questions I'll be responding to--

Over the years, what tricks or rituals have you tried to set the tone or mood in your mind to start writing?  What has worked and what hasn't?

Do you need quiet? Does music help? If so what kind? Away from clutter? Lose yourself in a coffee house?  You get the picture.  

I'm looking for the kinds of environments or tricks that you've found work best to write.  Oh... and pen and paper vs computer. 


Over the years, what tricks or rituals have you tried to set the tone or mood in your mind to start writing?  What has worked and what hasn't?

For a while, I would light a candle or incense on desk before writing to *inspire* me.  The problem with this is I have cats and it ended up being a bit of a hazard as they walked by. I didn't want anyone's tail aflame, so I stopped doing that.  (It really did become more of a distraction than a help.)

I would also allow myself 20 minutes to play around on email or check blogs and websites before writing.   To me this was similar to a dog circling before it settled down and I too was circling before the big-deal of writing.  This worked well until 20 minutes became 40 minutes and then sometimes 90 minutes of wasted time before beginning.  I abandoned this technique for that reason.

Now I have an easier ritual for writing.  

I write down on my daily to-do list what project I want to work on and a time limit.  

Non-fiction project:  45 minutes
Write a poem:  15 minutes

The funny thing here is that I *always* spend more time on the project than I write down, but giving myself a time limit makes me begin because I can see it as a small step I can complete.  Anyone can write for 15 minutes, you just have to sit down and write (as I've said, If you can speak, you can write.)  

Sometimes I will schedule an exact time: 9:30 am - revise poems.   
When that time comes around I make sure I start.

Much of writing is tricking yourself to begin.  If it means, a cup of coffee (something I always have when I begin) and putting a flower on your desk will make you start, then do it.  

I find that something that works and then I do it until it doesn't work and try something new.  Mostly, it's about showing up.  And staying off of email or websites that can get me lost in something unproductive.  

Email is a classic time waster.  I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love receiving emails, but I despise the feeling of "chore" they give me.  As someone who doesn't like clutter, seeing a full email box kind of overwhelms me.  So I allow myself email time write when I first wake up and have my cereal just to get it over with.  (And I find if I check email on my iPhone I can delete faster and answer faster because responses tend to be shorter because an iPhone has a tiny keypad that isn't fun to type on.)

So for me, just beginning is all I need at this point in my life.  Writing down what I'm going to do and for how long and showing up.

But if there's a ritual that helps you write, do it!  I might start one in the fall when I return daily to my writing shed.  I'll let you know if I do.

But mostly, I just show up.


Because You Asked...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Foggy Procrastination...

We have had the oddest weather here in the Northwest, but it's been a bonus for me as I tend to write when it's foggy or cloudy, so this summer I've had the summer to write before it clears up at about 1-2 pm and the day turns warm and blue.

I'm procrastinating right now.  Yes, right now at the very second.  I am in the middle of proofing my manuscript, the third proof, and well, it looks perfect!  It looks as if every error has been fixed and well, that's a little scary/exciting/incredible as it moves it even closer to publication.

So in procrastinating I decided to look at my blog and had to laugh when I saw my Facebook badge on the left side of this blog because it says my name and then says:  Hometown:  none.  

It's kind of poetic.  Someone with no hometown.

And my overthinking brain tells me that since I have no hometown that it must also mean that I have every hometown, which is a nice though.

I think I want to change my hometown to "earth" as that's accurate too.

Anyway, this is me procrastinating in real time.  But I know I need to get back to my final proof.  I cannot wait until I hold the book in my hands.  

When it's printed and I find the box on my porch, you will be the first to know.

Thank you for reading and for all of your support.


Reminder for SUMMER GIVEAWAY...

If you haven't entered the drawing for the most delicious low-cal chocolate ice cream treat (aka Breyers new ice cream treats - smooth and dreamy bars), you can do so here.

I will be giving away five (5!) coupons for a free box of them, so you're chances are pretty good to win!


The Beauty of Poetry Salons - Susan Rich reads in Port Townsend

Last Wednesday, I was invited to a Poetry Salon with Susan Rich. 

If you don't know what a poetry salon is, it's the new in-thing for poets.


Because poetry salons don't just offer poetry, but all the other things good things in life--good food, people who are interested in the arts, wine, a warm cozy environment (usually someone's home) and to me what feels like an up-close-and-personal evening with not just poems, but the poet as well.

What I like about poetry salons is that they invite a whole new group of people who wouldn't necessarily attend a poetry reading in a bookstore, but mixed with wine and food and a comfy place to sit, they are non-threatening to people who do not read poetry.

What I like about them is--

1)  The poet is around to talk with before and after the reading.

**** Susan chatted with guests before the reading for about an hour then read at 7:30 pm for about 30-35 minutes.

2)  They feel more intimate than a reading at a bookstore because it's in a home.

****I sat with friends on the sofa and snacked on Trader Joe's sesame-covered almonds.  That alone is worth having a reading outside a bookstore!

3)  They expand of the audience for poetry

****The host of the poetry salon invites his/her friends to this gathering.  It is a wonderful way to introduce poetry to people who aren't in the poetry community or who never buy books of poems.

4)  You can arrive with friends, but meet new people.

5)  The food, drink, and atmosphere.

****Really, poetry on this level, having it read to you while you are in someone's home makes it feel as if it's part of your essence and your life on another level.  It's sort of like hearing live music at a party, it brings you to a more inspired place.

Susan's reading was one of the best I heard.  People who have never heard poetry were responding to her poems--a huge compliment--and those of us who do read poetry recognized that this was one of those evenings that we could keep with us for a while.  This would be an evening we could return to when the washing machine broke, when we were stuck in traffic, when we felt disconnected from the artistic life, we could still say-- Remember that night, the vase of hydrangeas, the ginger cookies, and the poems filling the room?

Ah yes, we do.

It takes us back to a moment and ultimately, I believe that is what poetry is supposed to do.  The salons just get us in the mood a little more quickly and allow us to see poetry for the joy it is--not the job, career, work--but the joy of the spoken word and a group of strangers who gathered to listen.

Thank you Susan for a lovely evening.


Breaking (Poetry) News--

Two news items to share from two of my very good friends-- 

1)  MARTHA SILANO  has won the Saturnalia Book Prize (along with a large cabbage) judged by Campbell McGrath for her book From the Office of the Immaculate Conception.   

This is wonderful wonderful news!  If you haven't read Marty's work, you should.  She is an absolutely incredible poet.  Her last book was Blue Positive
Blue Positive

And that's her daughter on the cover.  I cannot wait to read what this next book brings.  Congratulations to Martha!  Well deserved!

2)  And if you haven't heard, JEANNINE HALL GAILEY's 2nd book (She Returns to the Floating World) has been selected for publication too by Kitsune Books & is scheduled for late 2011!  And Jeannine has moved on and chosen her cover art, which is gorgeous and perfect for her collection.  You can see it here. 

Jeannine's first book is:  Becoming the Villainess
Becoming the Villainess

Congratulations to both of these wonderful poets!  I am so happy for your both!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thank you for all the kind comments and emails after my last confession.  I am feeling better.

If you've ever suffered from anxiety, you know it can appear out of nowhere and can also quickly turn your world upside.  Sometimes I can just pressure through it.  Sometimes I just try to disappear, retreat into my home, my life, my garden.

I guess this would be a good time to tell you that my soon-to-be published book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, explores some of the anxiety I was feeling between 2004 to 2009.  It explores trying to calmness in a chaotic world.  In a certain way, I feel a vulnerability publishing this book, but I also feel that it's important to feel that, otherwise, I'd be leaving something out.

What's odd about the anxiety I write about in the book is that I can tell you the exact date this anxiety came on, July 3rd, 2004.  I was just about to take a bite of something and it occurred to me, that I was not hungry, in fact not only was I not hungry, but my stomach was in such a knot that it felt uncomfortable to eat.

Three weeks later, my step-father died of a massive stroke, two weeks after that I began my MFA program.

Strangely, I do not remember much of that time except having a bad haircut and sleeping at Harborview hospital.  I remember my daughter was just about to turn 4 and I remember my step-father being in a coma, but mouthing the words to me, "I love you."

I wasn't sure if I should start an MFA program so quickly after his death, but I knew he would want me to.

I tell myself that normally I don't experience anxiety in the summer, but maybe, I do. (Um, obviously I do.)

I think it's interesting that I have certain beliefs about where my anxiety comes from, but I really do not think I know what I am talking about.

That said, thank you again for your good thoughts, kind wishes and emails.  I'm not perfect, but better, feeling better and moving forward.

with much thanks,
~ Kells


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My New Glasses...

Confession Tuesday

Forgive me, it's been one week until my last confession.

I confess that anxiety has gotten the better of me lately.  Maybe it's the moon, maybe it's skipping my vitamins, I do not know, but since Friday I have not felt like myself.  Well, I've felt like myself but myself with tasmanian devil mind, spinning, spinning.

I have felt unsettled.

A few people have asked me about it.

When I tell them that part of it might have been from proofing my book, they don't understand.  A friend today said, "But you finished your last proof, why would that cause you anxiety?"

I wish I could say.

I hate feeling anxious when I'm not sure what it's tied to.

I hate feeling as if my thoughts and reality are not shaking hands, but running in separate directions.

I confess a part of me wonders if I'm feeling anxious because I haven't been writing.  Not writing can make my cranky and crazy.

Today I was thinking of the word, "Inspired" which means, "in spirit."  When I do not write, I feel as if that part of me is disconnected.

Moonstruck:  lunatic: insane and believed to be affected by the phases of the moon

I think the moon is telling me to let go a little bit.

I think my mind is telling me to hang up the collect-call to my self.

I think nature is saying through the mourning doves, it will be okay.

July's full moon occurs with the moon in the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat. 

This Sea Goat girl is wondering if that's why I'm all eclipsed out.  Moonstruck.  And hoping this will pass soon.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Giveaway! - Breyers Smooth & Dreamy Bars and/or Sandwiches!

Because I like dessert so much as well as giving things away, I am part of a blog tour for these new Breyers Smooth & Dream (low-cal!) ice cream treats.

They sent me 6 coupons for free Breyers ice cream treats - 1 coupon so I could try it myself and 5 to give away (yeah!)

 I tried the Triple Chocolate Bars (first photo) and yowza, I have found something that has replaced my Skinny Cow treats!  These are the best!  And my family loves them too.

They are absolutely deliciously, I think because they have what tastes like a real chocolate coating and dark chocolate chips in the ice cream bar itself.  And only 130 calories.

Anyway, I have 5 coupons that will get you a box of these to try yourself.
If you want to be in the drawing, just leave me a comment with your email by July 31 and I'll randomly draw 5 names on August 1st and send the winners a coupon to get your own box.  You need your own box because these are so good I'm not sharing mine.  ;-)

P.S.  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Breyers and received products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Happy Giveaway!  Leave me comment by July 31, 2010 and you're in!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Request: How often do you write?

Request: How often do you write?

More in the fall, winter and early spring than in the summer.

I used to try to write every day, but now it's probably every other day during the fall/wtr/spring  and once a week (or less or more) during the summer.

I don't really keep track of how many days I write because I always tend to be writing or creating.  If I find myself cranky and annoyed, then I know I haven't written in a while.

I can usually tell when something in my world is out of balance and try to respond to that with my actions.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Confession Tuesday - Beach Bubblegum Edition

Dear Reader,

I confessed about pie a couple weeks ago and how I love dessert, I decided to focus on my bubblegum sins.  (Yes, I chew a lot of gum, but that's not what I mean.)  Bubblegum for the brain.

I remember a friend once referred to Billy Collins' poems as this, but I'm going even more bubblegum, out of the poetry world and into mass market paperbacks or as I call it- beach reading.

Forgive me, Reader, I have committed many literary sins in my life time from reading Rosie O'Donnell's book Celebrity Detox: (The Fame Game) to Andre Agassi's book Open: An Autobiography (which was ridiculously long, but yes, I finished it...)

So what pack of bubblegum have I opened this summer?  Oh, you might be surprised what you learn here--

I confess I just finished reading Valerie Bertinelli's book, Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time and honestly, I was lost in it and read it in 2 days.  It was a fascinating beach read to me.  I'd recommend it if you're a woman who likes a little pop-culture biography and who has struggled (physically or in her mind) with weight.

Here's some things you may not know about me that might explain why I enjoyed this book so much--

1)  I loved the band Van Halen as a teenager.  

And not just in that, "Van-Halen-they-are-cool" way, but in a deeply obsessive way to the point where I wore a ridiculous amount of Van Halen pins (now called "flair") I purchased from Tower Records at Northgate Mall on my jean jacket and you could not see the walls of my room because I had so many posters of Eddie Van Halen & David Lee Roth.  

At one point, a girlfriend and I planned an Ocean Shores Rock Concert one summer at her beach cabin and we spent all summer designing rock posters for it convinced it would happen.  

I also corrected people when they referred to Eddie Van Halen just as "Van Halen" pointing out that his name was Eddie and that he had a brother Alex who was the drummer and that they should each be called by their first names so no one gets left out.

My favorite album by them is Women & Children First.  I attended the Van Halen concert in Seattle in 1984/1985 and the David Lee Roth concert a year or two later.  I still like listening to classic Van Halen.

2)  The women in my family have a weird thing about weight that has taken me years to get over.

Though I'm wondering if many of us who grew up in the 70's with mothers constantly on diets have these same body issues/weight concerns.  My nana, who is 98, still comments about having dessert before she has it-- Nana, you're 98 years old, you DESERVE dessert!

I recently read an article in More magazine on Kyra Sedwick (Kevin Bacon's wife) where she said something like, "I threw out the scale and don't weigh myself anymore because I'm never the right number."  When I read that, I thought-- omg, that is exactly right.

I was not a cute, petite girl growing up.  I was the awkward tomboy who was more chunk than lean.  Looking back now at photos, I see I was of normal size, but then, I always felt larger than most.

My older sister was known as the pretty one and I was known as the smart one, roles we would both constantly want switched-- she did everything she could to be seen as smart and I tossed every ounce of tomboyness to be seen as pretty.  It didn't work, labels stick.  We each developed an odd sense of who we were (either smart OR pretty - never both) andI still carry a bit of an insecurity about what I believed I wasn't (pretty).

And while I am thankful to never have gone the route of bulimia and anorexia (though there's a joke in our family that none of us could ever be anorexic since we all love food so much), I know even now at 41 I feel better when the scale says 135 instead of 140.

So reading Valerie B's book was interesting to me to see how many other women have these bizarre beliefs about their bodies.  She thought as a teenager she had "child-bearing hips" but looking back she was very thin.  I remember covering up my stomach with a beach towel when I was 16 and in a bikini when someone took a photo.  Looking back now, I see that I too was insane.  I was 5'7" and a 130 lbs. Why on earth would I have thought that was fat?

I've learned to love my curves, muscles, and hips.  I've learned to feel grateful for my body, to see it as this incredible machine that produced another life and that gets me from one place to another.  But yes, some days I still like the chunky monkey I was (or thought I was) growing up.

3) I love biographies and learning how people's lives played out for them, how they arrived where they arrived.

If you look carefully, you will see there many layers of confessions in this post.  And while they are confessions, they are definitely not sins.  Just struggles.  Just parts of who I am.  Just someone who can sit on the beach and read, but make sure to look deep into my beach bag, it's not just poetry, it's not just a Poets & Writers magazine,  Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds or Practical Gods by Carl Dennis.  There's always some cotton candy, some Bazooka bubblegum.  I like sweet and easy sometimes and especially when the weather is blue skies and a cool breeze.



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Request: You seem to have a lot of projects, yet mention "living simply." How does this work? How do you find balance?

You seem to have a lot of projects, yet mention "living simply."  
How does this work? How do you find balance?

This is a great question!

I do have a lot of projects going on at once, but I am also someone who has no problem having a"do nothing" day.  I look for any reason to go to the beach to read magazines or a book.  I like to sit on my deck and stare off to the north, to the mountain with the cloud halo.

If I find myself feeling overwhelmed and not having time for my family or myself, I cut back on things.  I am always learning to say no to things that sound great, but really, I don't want to do.

I find my schedule will have a busy week, then nothing.  I like nothing weeks a lot.

For me, projects are not work, but are fueled by my passion for writing and living creatively.  I find them things that give me energy.  Yes, if there are too many things going on, I do feel overwhelmed, but since I do a lot of my own freelance work and consulting, I just work with less writers and less freelance projects.

Since I take summer off, I feel as if I get a break from things.

I think it's important to mountain bike, go camping and just hang out.  To me, my time is more important than money.

Of course, because I try to value my time before money, I have to make sacrifices and try to live frugally.  (Note: this is not the same as self-deprivation, but it's about making choices.)  I choose carefully what I spend my money on.

I am not a "shopper," but will splurge on things I really want (read: the iPad). I do not believe it's good to spend just to spend.  I do not carry a balance on my credit cards. I do not believe in disposable incomes  or buying something to get a rush.  I cannot remember the last time I paid more than $20 for a pair of pants, jeans, or shirt.  I'm a little cheap/frugal when it comes to things like that.  Basically, what it comes down to--If I cannot afford it, I do not buy it.

I like to use my money for experiences. 

Or things that add to my creative/writing life (the iPad fits here, I bought it b/c I didn't want to travel with my laptop, which felt way too risky for me.)

To me, living simply means not feeling as if I need certain items in my life to keep a certain status. 

One positive here is that I live in a small town and the kids/parents are not into labels.  I have heard kids at the elementary school exclaim when someone asks where their t-shirt is from, "Wal-Mart" or "Target" without a hint of embarrassment, irony, or feeling as if they should be saying, "Abercrombie and Fitch" or "Nordstrom." 

Our nearest mall is 30-some minutes away.  There aren't places to "shop" where I live.  When you don't go into stores, you tend not to spend anything (funny how that works).

A favorite hobbies for most folks here are running, birding, going to the beach, swimming, and mountain biking.  All free activities.

We do lots of picnics and camping.  We have family game night and family movie night (all cheaper than going out to eat or to the movie theater.)

My writing life (with the occasional iPad) is low-cost.  My words are free.

In the summer, I abandon much of my income-making activities.  I abandon my worklife. But keep some projects going.

For me, living simply and working hard are not opposites, but a way of life that can go hand in hand.  My work keeps my life simple.  And my simple life helps make time for my writing.  

I'm realizing I have said a lot of things and not sure I answered the question.

I think because for me living simply can be in regards to a simple schedule or spending less.

I guess the final answer is that I don't find balance, but rebalance my life, my spending, my time, my work, when something gets out of whack.  

I think it would be impossible for me to live a balanced life as life doesn't seem to work like that.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with one thing, then it's something else.  The best I can do is to revise my life when needed and make sure one thing isn't top-heavy and ready to tip over my boat.  

I listen to my body.  When I need to sleep, I sleep.  When I need to work hard, I work hard.  It's finding a path that works best for me in that time period while always remembering my core values-- live simply, act compassionately, dream big.

Hope that helps and answers your question.



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Does anyone know what this says?

This is in the cement at the base of my porch.  We have guessed it says "Home Sweet Home" as the first and third characters are the same, but we do not know what it says or what language it's in.

Does anyone know?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Request: What are your pet peeves as an editor?

This might sound crazy, but I don't have any.

Really, I am a writer myself and have probably made every mistake possible in my life as a poet.

I once submitted to the Paris Review in my twenties telling them that I was fulfilling my dream of being a writer and they were lucky enough to be receiving my second submission ever because I wanted to start with the best.

Gee, thanks young poet for sending us your cr*p.  

They did not say this, but looking back, I'm sure this is what they thought.

I am a pretty laid back person.  And more of a live-and-let-live girl.  As an editor, I tend to operate the same way.

While I like people to use semi-colons correctly, I will not reject a poem or story because the writer got it completely wrong.   We will accept the poem/story and write to the writer to let him/her know we have some punctuation issues we need to fix, but would still like to publish his/her work.

I do not get upset when people forget SASEs or submit when they shouldn't.  I do not get upset with weird cover letters or people calling me Emily (an editor of the journal from about seven years ago).

I do not get upset when someone contacts us every 2 weeks and asks if we've made a decision yet.  And I do not blackball them for being annoying.

Really, I just like to get good work and can overlook your mistakes if you overlook mine. Try your best and I'll try my best.

I understand what it's like to be a writer submitting to a journal and maybe that's why I will not list your sins to you.  Your sins are my sins.  Sometimes there are errors in my own poems I send off to journals.  Sometimes I misspell "accidentally."  I add an extra "i."  You might misspell "cemetery."  We do our best and learn from our mistakes.

I will not hold your mistakes against you.  And I would never keep peeves as pets.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Request: What have you learned as an editor of a literary journal?

Anne McDuffie, Madeline DeFrees, with some of the editors of Crab Creek Review (Nancy Canyon, Carol Levin, Lana Ayers, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Jennifer Culkin, Kelli Agodon, Ronda Broatch)

I've had a couple requests for blog topics asking to discuss the behind-the-scenes aspects of being an editor of a print literary journal.  Crab Creek Review (Seattle's 28 year old print literary journal)

As a poet understanding what happens behind the scenes of a journal makes me understand rejections and acceptances much better.  It also makes me have a compassion for the editors and staff who are keeping our print literary journals alive as well as the editors of independent presses.

So for this next week or so, I'll be blogging about being an editor and trying my best to answer the questions you asked.

Here is today's question--

What have you learned as an editor of a literary journal?

Of course, I choose the big question to begin with, but what a question to explore. 

There is a part of me that wants to say, "What haven't I learned?" 
as that would be a shorter list. But by being an editor, I have learned quite a bit 
that I didn't quite realize as a poet.

Maybe I'll make a list to share what I've learned.

1.)  I now understand why it takes SO LONG from submitting your poem to getting a rejection or an acceptance.

The fine folks who run literary journals are usually volunteers, unpaid volunteers, who do this because it's a labor of love.  Many times they are not in the same city.  Most have other jobs, families, incomes, their own writing projects, teaching, etc. to also do.

At some point we have to find a date that works for all of us to meet up and choose your work.  Sometimes we have to schedule these dates 6 weeks out.  Sometimes those dates get rescheduled.

In another post I'll explain what happens to your submission when you send it in and you can see why we aren't always the fastest in getting back to you.

But realizing all the steps and processes that come into play on choosing and rejecting poems makes me understand why when I submit I may not hear back for 3 or 4 months.  I am amazed how quickly 3 or 4 months passes.  We try to be prompt in getting in touch with you, but to be honest, it's hard work!

2)  How many incredible poets are writing today.

I am amazed at the quality of work we get sometimes.  And many times, it's from poets we have never heard of.  They are writing in fresh ways that take language to another level.  I love finding a new poet or beginning a relationship with a poet we love to read.

And I am so happy when they submit again.  I understand why certain journals publish many of the same poets again and again, because they are in love with their poems.

3)  The absolute challenges of publishing a literary journal.

From a shoestring budget to long lines in poems that don't fit on our pages.  From making sure there are no errors to making sure nothing gets left out.  From Russian translations to ordering the book (Thanks, Lana!)  From proofing the same page 10 times and STILL missing something.  From making sure a poet's stanza breaks, indents and spaces are correct to the alphabetized bios.  There is so much to remember and consider.

I will tell you honestly, we have not yet made one of our internal deadlines because it seems: everything takes longer than we think.  (See #1)

However, we have always produced our book before our "drop-dead deadline."  Nice term as that's how I felt after this last issue. ;-)

4) How many writers do not understand how to use a semi-colon properly.

Let me give you this quick lesson and change your life--  You should only use a semi-colon if what you are separating are two complete thoughts.  

If both parts of the sentence can be two separate & complete sentences, then you can use a semi-colon.  If the first or second part cannot be a sentence on its own, then you should not use a semi-colon there.

That's it.  That's the easy lesson.

Correct use of a semi-colon--

My cat is a war with the local birds; the waxwings create a plan that involves cherries.

(see how both parts of those sentences can exist on their own as their own separate sentence.

My cat is a war with the local birds.
The waxwings create a plan that involves cherries.

INCORRECT use of a semi-colon--

My cat is in a war with the local birds; waxwings and cherries.
My cat, the general; waxwings pick cherries to use as bombs.

5) The amount of time and work it takes to run a literary journal.

Truly, I completely underestimated this.

I promised myself I would not allow myself to be an editor first and a writer second.  But there has been times where I have felt that way. I have to constantly make sure I am keeping my own projects in front.

It is amazing how much time it takes to run a journal and all the things that need to get done-- taxes, taxes, taxes, business licenses, non-profit licenses, choosing work, rejecting work, keeping a database of subscribers and submissions, balancing the checkbook, making sure we have money, mail, blogs, correspondence, orders, promotion, publicity, selling books in bookstores, oh baby the list goes on...

BUT... there is something incredibly satisfying by being able to publish a writer or a poet and share their work with a larger audience.

There is something amazing about creating something from nothing.

There is something beyond wonderful about publishing someone for the very very first time.

There is something so positive about keeping a print journal alive and getting poems and stories into the world that makes it all worth while.

I am so not ready to leave my life as an editor.  I keep learning and get better at balancing.  (okay, not always).  But to be able to create a beautiful journal that brings others words into the world, that makes me forget all the craziness, the chaos, the deadline-after-deadline-after-deadline and yes, makes it all worthwhile.

There is something fantastic working with editors, writers, and people who care so much. I am not the only one running this show (I am probably just the most vocal).  If it was just me, I would in a convertible heading for the nearest cliff.  

In fact, these folks are what keep it running so well and so incredibly.

Here's our team--

Our Editorial Staff:
Kelli Russell Agodon & Annette Spaulding-Convy - Editors
Lana Hechtman Ayers - Poetry Editor
Star Rockers - Non-Fiction Editor, Graphic Design/Production
Jen Betterley & Nancy Canyon - Fiction Editors
Carol Levin - Editorial Assistant
Ronda Broatch - Assistant Editor
Jeannine Hall Gailey - Editorial Consultant

We also have Susan Rich (who is on our editorial board) doing her own special portfolio for our next issue on Ekphrastic poetry (which looks pretty dang incredible!)

Also, here's the rest of our Literary Advisory Board:
Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Nancy Pagh
Peter Pereira
Peggy Shumaker

It is amazing working with such a team of people.  It is so not just me. I am just the face of the clock and this clock wouldn't work without all the gears and parts behind it that you may not see.  

So as I answer these questions, please remember, I am not a one-woman team, just one in a group of many.  One who could not do this by herself.  And is so thankful, she doesn't have to!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Confession Tuesday

I confess it's Tuesday again and I can hardly believe it.  Summer is spinning by and while yesterday I was woken up by a foghorn (it seems the clouds had fallen from the sky and stolen the sun), I have hope the summer weather will return soon.

Since it's confession time, let's just get to it.  I have had a lot on my mind, though we'll see what I remember.

To the confessional...

I confess I have been feeling incredibly creative lately.  It's that really powerful creative feeling where I feel as if I can do anything.

I never know when or how this feeling arrives, but when it does, I try to hold onto it as long as I can.

Right now, I'm in the middle of it.  I'm not sure what brought it on (it definitely wasn't watching The Proposal with Sandra Bullock for the 3rd time, but maybe it was watching the documentary Stolen, or reading Neruda).  Whatever it is, it's there.  A magical "beginner's mind" feeling when everything feels new and exciting and inspiring.

If I could bottle this feeling, I would.   I'd call it Inspire or Muse.  There is a part of me that wonders if my Neruda dreams will return.  I will let you know if they do.


I confess I'm on the second proof of my manuscript and really impressed with White Pine Press!

It looks beautiful on the page and the details they've added to the book are wonderful.  It is wild for me to think that my book is getting ready to be published and that fall will arrive with leaves and this book.  It still amazes me.


Also, yesterday after a long and crazy day of whoknowswhat, I confess I sat down at my computer as I had written "work on my non-fiction work for 45 minutes" on my To-Do list and lost myself in it for 2 hours.

I do not know how I started a memoir type book, but I did.  While it is still too young for me to name it or even explain what it's about (I'm still learning that myself), I'll tell you I share a lot in this book about internal struggles I have as a writer, a mother, and a wife.

I'm beyond 30,000 words and no, I don't have an agent or publisher yet, but this is something I just feel I need to write and I'm not sure why.  But it needs to come out even though I'm not sure of the life this manuscript will lead.

On my walk tonight I wondered if it would be Gwyneth Paltrow or Uma Thurman who would play me in the movie version of it.  I decided it would be Uma since she also thought she looked like one of the big-eyed girls on those creepy 70's painting that were everywhere when I was growing up.  I had that same thought too.

I confess it's ridiculously optimistic or ridiculously naive to imagine who will play me in my currently unfinished and unpublished memoirish book, but this is how my happy creative mind operates.  Nothing is too big or off limits.


I confess the poem I'm working on is about a monkey painting.  That sounds weird to write, but it's true.

I confess I'm naming my poetry shed (aka poetry barn).  I never really gave my writing studio a real name and it deserves one.  I want it to be Neruda inspired.  This I know.

I will let you know if I come up with anything.


I confess I spent the last week doing house chores and painting our deck.  Painting is hard work and  I somehow managed to sunburn my ears.  I am obviously the whitest person on earth as who does that kind of thing?  Call me Powder (remember that movie?)


While walking my dog and listening to an audio book I got spooked by a sprinkler.  I thought it was a deer jumping at me.

As I said, I've had a very nutty imagination lately.  I am thankful I am a writer when it comes around, though being afraid of sprinklers seems a bit extreme.

But there you are.  I've been in my head this last week, imagining future books made into movies, seeing water as wildlife, and wondering what to do next.

I'll name my writing studio, work on a couple projects, be grateful the creativity is here (and even in a summer month!) and hope it stays.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Emily Dickinson Book Recommendations -

My Emily Dickinson (New Directions Paperbook)My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily DickinsonEmily Dickinson: A Biography
The Belle of Amherst

After my last post on Emily's new biography, Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds, Jessie asked what biography I recommended to start with Dickinson.

Here are my favorite Dickinson books--

My Emily Dickinson ($10.17) by Susan Howe - While this deals more with Emily's work, it has some intriguing insights to her work as both feminist & rebellious.

Emily Dickinson: A Biography by Connie Ann Kirk ($35, hardcover).  This book was written to teach the life of Emily Dickinson and not create controversy or be a bestseller.  A good understanding to Emily's life for anyone interested in learning it.

Leslie recommended this Emily biography,My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson.  I haven't read it, but will definitely check it out!

Also, I watched this quite a few years back and enjoyed it-- The Belle of Amherst with Julie Harris, (a one-woman play on Emily's life) on PBS and remember it being pretty good.  I just read the Amazon reviews on this and it sounds like others liked it as well and recommended it to introducing Emily to students.  I also think this is available on Netflix's Watch Instantly movies.

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