Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Late Night

Here are a few things I am thankful for--

Supportive family and friends and people I have never met in person.

Early morning ferries and fog.

A writing date with a friend that included not just writing and poetry, but lunch, 3 consignment shops, an art supply store, organic chocolate with cranberries, white chocolate creme brulee with rosewater for two, two full hours of being productive, and a fashion show with shoes from Africa.

The universe, not just listening, but responding in a matter of 45 minutes.  Thanks, universe.

Good news that will happen October 6th on one of my favorite websites (more on this later)

A trophy for awarded for absolutely nothing and everything.

A $16 furry pink coat in the consignment shop that someone else more braver than myself is going to find and going to love.

Seeing a woman take her chihuahua into the dressing (and no, this is not a metaphor).

Late night ferries that get me home and being able to walk long distances without the fear someone is lurking (or doing worse) in the bushes.

Driving home and seeing a raccoon by the mudflats and knowing he got off the road safely and was probably eating some good fish.

The orange wedge moon last night, rising at 11:36 tonight.  Incredible


While others travel by car, here's my ride home ...

Amazing day of poetry, conversation and friendship with Susan Rich. What a great day!

Emily Dickinson - Moviestar.

Poet Emily Dickinson subject of new film -

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to be a Sensitive Poet

by Matt Groening

My favorite line, "...just remember, in the cosmic sense, everyone's a sensitive poet..."  (by the way, when I first read that, I thought it said, "comic sense.")


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Confession Tuesday - the Late Edition

Dear Reader,

I have busy, but not in the bad sense or self-important sense of the word, but in that good-feeling busy, the kind that satisfies and doesn't cause resentment.

But it's Tuesday and I must be guilty of something, so we better head into the confessional to see my week broken down sin by sin.  To the confessional--

I confess I actually like to work.  As much as I love lazy days, reading in bed, sleeping in, breakfast in bed, sitting out on our deck and staring at the sky or the moon, there is another part, a more Capricornian part that likes to be productive.

Especially when it's a productive where I'm knocking things off my To Do list one by one.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't busywork, but doing work that feels to fill my "life's work," my goals, my literary heart.

Though I confess, I don't want to overdo it.  I'm probably at my limit right now of what I can do without having a nervous breakdown.  But I'm happy.


Speaking of nervous breakdowns and happiness, I confess I've had to explain to a couple people who have read my book that I am not sad or unhappy with my life.  It's always interesting in what people read into poems, into the speaker, the "I" in the poem.  As Marvin Bell says, "I'm not the I in my poems, but I know quite a bit about him..." (or her, as the case may be).

A good friend recently emailed me and said she read my book while waiting for a ferry and that it was a "soulful, funny book."  Though I have other friends read it and cry.  I am intrigued what each reader is receiving from these poems.  If you happen to read my book, please drop me a line and tell me what you received from it.  I'm truly fascinated by the responses and learning from them.


On another topic, I'm always amazed how some people care more about being right than kind.  I've got to tell you, there's a way to be both.



People in Our Neighborhood -

In case you have been moonstuck by that incredible harvest moon hanging above our heads, here's what's been going on in our neighborhood--

January O'Neil reviews the movie HOWL about poet Allen Ginsberg.


Midge Raymond has a great post on perseverance of the writer and it's not just because she mentions my "Submit like a Man" post, though that was very nice of her!


Diane Lockward blogs about Poetry and Art and has a link to Didi Menendez's incredible magazine mixing two of my favorite people Poets and Artists (& yes, that's the name of the magazine!)   You can check it out here.

Ronda Broatch was visited by her muse, a black bear.  And got some amazing photos.  Since Ronda lives about 10 minutes away from me and this big guy has been seen all over my small town, it's even more intriguing to me.


Sandra Beasley blogs about the Best American Poetry reading and was "hidden from the audience by Gerald Stern's hat" (that could be a line from a poem!)  And she has video of the reading here at her blog.


Barry Napier is having a giveaway for his new book of poems, A Mouth for Picket Fences and you can read more about his book and his writing in an interview here.


And that's just a few of the many happenings in our poetry community this week!


Monday, September 27, 2010

I Read Banned Books...

Banned Book Week is coming up September 25th-October 2nd.

I'm currently reading a banned book (and so is my daughter).  Yes, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  I have also read her another banned book, Alice in Wonderland (I kid you not, it was banned.  And my favorite reason for banning of the book:  Alice in Wonderland was banned in 1931 in Hunan, China, because "animals should not use human language.")

But we've come so far, haven't we.  I'm so thankful we don't ban books anymore.  What?  Wait...we do?

Hello Missouri--

Stockton -- The Stockton school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to uphold its April decision to ban a book from the school curriculum.


And here is the thing, the people who are banning these books think they are making the best decision for me, for us.  They want to keep us safe from foul language, from scenes that involve alcohol, racism, or violence.  I do believe their intent is to "save the teenagers" in this case, but I'd like to open up a second idea-- conversation.

I would like us to read the book and discuss these parts that make some feel uncomfortable and ask why.

When I read Tom Sawyer to her, I explain to my daughter why certain words aren't used anymore and share with her a time where African-Americans were forced to be slaves.  No, it's not my favorite topic or something I wish was a part of our American history, but it is and we can learn from it.

So what's the real problem with banning books (or banning art for that matter?)  The problem is it takes away the choice from others, from me, from you.

When an art installment is taken down because it offends one person or a book is taken off the shelf because it is felt "inappropriate," our choice to decide for ourselves if that book or artwork is right for us, is taken away.

We lose the choice to decide.

And if the censors who ban them are telling us that they are so terrible and will cause so much harm if we read them, then those same censors who ban them must be horrible, perverted, socially-unacceptable, racist people who are violent, swear often, and do terrible crimes--because they've read all those books they want to save us from.  If they had to ban them because these books are so destructive to the human spirit, then their personalities must have suffered the consequences from all that reading.  These censors  must be most disturbed people on earth.

But wait, they aren't?  They read the book and were fine?  They didn't start drinking or swearing, hitting people or acting in a racist manner?  They were able to discern that what was happening on the page was a story, a work of fiction.

Interesting.  Then I'd like that choice too. And I'd like you to have that choice too.

If you're interested in reading an excerpt from Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, you can go to here to NPR and read a short section for yourself.

Or better, check it out from the library decide for yourself if it's appropriate for you and your family.  If you think it's not, I respect that.  Just don't take my choice away.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room Giveaway at GoodReads!

I'm having a giveaway at GoodReads if you're interested.

If you've already purchased the book, I'd be happy to send it as a gift to anyone you like or donate a copy to your local library.  Just let me know what you'd prefer.  Good luck~!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room (White Pine Press Poetry P... by Kelli Russell Agodon

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room

by Kelli Russell Agodon

Giveaway ends October 16, 2010.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Word Association Day

  1. Return :: Videos Here
  2. Alarms ::Noisy
  3. State :: of Confusion
  4. Picture frame :: family
  5. Wreath ::Christmas
  6. Arrest :: Jail
  7. Sincere :: est apologies
  8. Nathan :: Lane
  9. Bag :: Lady
  10. Arched :: Back

If you've never done this, you can get the words each week at Unconscious Mutterings.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Did someone say there would be cake?

Life has really changed since my last book... Now there's Facebook, Goodreads, & now  Susan Rich is hosting a virtual book release party for me.  (My first virtual party ever.)  

Please join us!

I answer some questions about the book, share a few of my favorite things about being a poet and will be answering any other questions you may have.  If you have a question, please feel free to leave me a comment on Susan's blog post and I'll be responding all week.


What Places Should New Poet & Writers Submit To?

A new reader asked me this question and I thought posting my answer to everyone might be helpful to some of you.

Here was the question:

Perhaps, if you have a moment or two, might you offer a few suggestions as to where I could begin to get my words out there? Maybe they are not worthy of being read ... I am open to your thoughts ...

My best advice to the young, new writer starting out in trying to get their work published is to look around your community for what local journals there are.

Many community colleges have literary journals that are published once a year (the deadline is usually around January or February).  These are great places to start submitting because many times they also have release parties and may invite you to read your poem.  This is a plus as not only do you get to celebrate the experience of being published (and have good punch), but you also get the experience in reading to an audience.

There may also be other literary journals in your area you can submit to as well.  Go to your local indie bookstore and browse what journals they have in.   Buy them and read them cover to cover to decide if your work will fit in.

Do not start with the best and biggest journals (read: The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, etc.)

I told a story a few months ago how as a youngish poet beginning to write after a few years of doing nothing important I sent the Paris Review a lovely cover letter stating that I was getting back into writing and I "want to start with the best."  I'm sure there was also a large penned, "Enjoy!"  Or something equally dorky and unprofessional.

Larger journals want you to work your way up to their journals.  And while I'm sure there is a small majority of poets writing incredible poems as they just begin, I'm going to suggest that most of the newer poets aren't.  This is not to say anything bad about you, I too was a new poet and when I look back at the poems I was writing as a new poet they are not as wonderful as I thought.  In fact, some are painfully bad.  Painfully. Bad.

But you have to write these poems (some being not-so-good) to become better and get to the next level.  What does Malcolm Gladwell say in the book Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes 10,000 hours to become great at something.  This is just as true with writing.

So start with the smaller print journals, first in your community, then look around (I suggest New Pages) to learn about what journals your work might fit in.

Also, notice I said "print journals."  I'm going to be honest here, if you are a newish poet and you publish your first poems on an online journal, you may not be happy about this 5 years later because you might look back and feel there are not your best work.  The good news is that as you publish more, some of these links just disappear and it's harder and harder to find your not-so-great poems.  But just think about that.  Your name will be associated with your poem indefinitely on the internet, just make sure you are okay with that.  (And yes, I do have a couple poems I published online that I'm not super proud of, here's one - Though I loved having my poem in a bubblegum machine.)

Really, the choice is yours, but I've found it best to start with your local regional journals and move out from there.  Susan Rich plays a version of the license plate game with her poems, getting them into journals in all the 50 states by submitting to journals in states she hasn't been published in.  I like the creativity with that; it keeps submitting fun.

So choose what works best for you and what feels right.  Read many different varieties of literary journals when starting out to find where your work fits best and also to hear the many different voices publishing these days.

Also, do not fret rejections.  They happen.  Do not think because you receive a rejection on your first submission you are a bad writer.  We all get them.  And if someone says they don't, they are lying.  No writer gets everything.  So just consider those rejections as your paper evidence that you are a real writer and following (hopefully!) your desire to write.

Good luck to all of you!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Confession Tuesday - Book Edition

The first photo I took after I opened the box...

What my box of books looks like now

Ah, the glamorous life as a poet - (What did Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "I get no respect."  

Dear Reader, 

It's been one wild week since my last confession. One wild week and one large box of books I found on my doorstep.  

           Hello Letters!  

10 days before its pub date, my copies of Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room rest on the bench near our front door.  

It's ridiculously exhilarating to come home to a box of books then to open this book of books, which I did, with my car keys in a moment of "Must-Open-Box!" excitement that immediately set in.

Heavy Books Where Thoughts Once Were:

I confess these 11 months since learning I won the White Pine Prize until yesterday went by much faster than I imagined.  Life does that.  Books do that.

I confess this book has taken me 6 full years from start to finish.  From the first poem to now.   Actually I just went into my files and found a first draft of a poem that goes back to 2003.  I think that might be the earliest (it's the 5th poems from the last poem in the book and is called "Yakima Ferry at Sunset").

Amazing.  7 years.  That is one long pregnancy!


Happy Happy Joy Joy plus a pinch of:

I confess that along with the happiness and excitement of the book comes fear and nervousness (happiness & excitement's evil second cousins who love to show up to the party and spill their red wine on the beige rug.)  It's both the anticipation of the finished project as well as a melancholy of completeness.  

But thankfully, there is always much more celebration.

So this is the A.B. (after book) day, the soaking-it-in day, the did-this-really-happen day, the there's-a-book-where-there-was-none day; it appeared and so did the realization that off into the world my words will go. 

I confess one of the weird part of having a book is knowing is that it's going to go out and live a life without me and it's completely out of my control-- who will buy it, how will people respond to it, all of it...

And actually, it goes even further back than that, once your manuscript is accepted it moves into the hands of others who we hope and believe will take care of our words.  We hope they see our vision and work carefully.  

Books are funny that way, what starts as, for me, a very private act, becomes a soft whisper moving into someone's ear.  Sometimes a friend.  Sometimes a stranger.  


Off Into the World, but First, Let Me Mess Up This Link One More Time:

I confess I'm currently having a love/hate relationship with PayPal.  

No, we haven't been dating for long and it hasn't been my intent to be difficult, to make it difficult to buy a book, but with my own special grace, I have somehow done that.  Let's just say I send Apologies from the Emily Dickinson Room for those of you who have tried to buy a book via PayPal & found you're on a link to nowhere.  

And I confess I fear I am inadvertently becoming the shameless self-promoter as I keep reposting the same broken link and other ways--Checkwriters of the World Unite--to buy the book, but in my attempt to be helpful, I have become bookgirl, salesgirl, PayPalGal, the hostess without the mostess.

And then still, the link doesn't work.  

So Dear Reader I confess before I have a nervous breakdown with PayPal, I will give you ONE MORE LINK, for the last time, that if in fact you do want to buy a book, a signed copy of my book (and I so don't blame you if you don't as I have sent many of you on a lame poetry egg hunt this week), 

my books can be purchased via PayPal here:  

And I will never attempt to link them up again!  Promise.


Linkless in Seattle
But Bookhappy at Home


Friday, September 17, 2010

Still loving Tom Sawyer 30 years later...

I am rereading Tom Sawyer with my daughter this month. I had forgotten how much I loved this book.

As a girl, I always wanted to be on an adventure and I remember reading about Tom Sawyer getting on his raft at midnight with Joe Harper and Huck Finn and the whole event felt magical.

Even rereading it as an adult am I taken away to this old world. There is a romantic sense I carry that has a lot to with a log raft and more stars than we'd ever see now.

After tonight's chapter, I googled Jackson's Island (the island Tom, Joe, & Huck land on) and learned it is still uninhabited and well, that made me happy as if it was not too late for someone's adventure to begin...

If you've ever been to Hannibal, Missouri, tell me what you thought and what you saw. I found this article about the area, but I'd love to hear more from anyone who has visited.

Twain's hometown marks centenary of his death -

Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces by David Biespiel

Every Writer Has a Thousand FacesEvery Writer Has a Thousand Faces by David Biespiel (Kelson Books, July 2010)

This book just arrive in my mailbox to review and I am so looking forward to reading it!  Whatever is currently on my nightstand, this book will knock it off.  I'll let you know how I like it.

Here's the description on Amazon--

Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces cracks open the creative process and invites readers to take a fresh look at the mysterious pathways of the imagination. "Failure is the engine of creativity" writes poet and critic David Biespiel in this provocative book based on his 2009 lecture at the Rainier Writers' Workshop. Biespiel candidly tracks his own development as a writer and challenges traditional assumptions about writing that can stifle creativity. The liberating message: Working past the brink of failure -being free to try and discard and try again-is what allows the creative process to playfully flourish, keeping the spirit open to unexpected discoveries. Both beginning and experienced writers-as well as artists, musicians, dancers, and anyone else on a creative path-will benefit from this elegant, surprising, and fresh perspective based on methods developed exclusively at the Attic, the unique literary studio Biespiel founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1999. Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces will revolutionize the way readers look at their own creative process. It is a rich and rewarding book, a captivating glimpse into the inner life of some gifted writers and painters-and above all, a guide to a lifetime of discovery.

***It only has 114 pages, so I should finish it quickly.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Checkwriters of the World Unite -

Since I wrote my post my link to buy my book via PayPal (a link which I believe ended up having some issues- this link should work now - it's my main webpage and the link seems to work there.), a few of you emailed me to ask if you could send me a check instead.

Yes, of course!  (I'm a checkwriter too.)

If you'd like to buy my book (Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room) with a check for $16, please feel free to mail it to me at the address below.

And I wanted to let you know, I'm working on creating a special Emily Dickinson bookmark for any orders I receive.  I can't say too much in what it will look like as there are good friends who read this blog that I want to surprise with this gift, so keep that to yourself.

But I'll post what these Emily bookmarks look like after October 2nd.

Thanks again!


*Thursday Thankfulness* or is it *Thankful Thursday*

Gratitude Journal--

All the kind people/readers who sent me a email, FB message, or ordered my book yesterday.

Hippie, new-agey, tree-hugging Port Townsend, Washington where their motto is:  
We're here, because we're not all there.


Chickens (I'm currently caring for a friend's chickens while she travels & love arriving each day and seeing them, plus getting a blue egg)

My editor Dennis for sending me a "Newsflash" yesterday that my book is currently being shipped to my house.  Arrival time:  Monday!

Anne Sexton

Poet and writer friends because they just *get it.*

Anne, I love you for your honesty alone...

I am in love with money, so don't be mistakenBut first I want to write good poems.

  ~ Anne Sexton


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Door is Opening -or- What I Hope To Find on my Porch Soon:

Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes.

As I type this, I cannot get the Bon Jovi song out of my head, "Oh, we're halfway there, oh, oh, living on a prayer..."  Along with the song, "Mrs. Robinson," though I'm not sure why.

It's September 15th, do you know your poetry book is?  

Before I use anymore pop-culture references--Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me--let me tell you what we're halfway to, we're halfway through September, which means 15 more days until my book is officially available.

Amazing.   Remember when I was just announcing that I won?  And now, where there was nothing, there will be something.

And if you're interested in your own something, your own copy of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, you can buy it from your favorite indie bookseller, or Amazon, or if you want a signed copy, I've just started taking orders here with PayPal.

And I'm happy to inscribe these books to you, as a gift for someone or to your favorite pet-- And these orders will come with a matching bookmark, a couple postcards and a big thank you from me.

So, that's where we are, halfway to almost.  Close to nearly done.  On the steps of somewhat printed, of I-can-see-the-book-in-my-dreams, I-can-feel-it-under-my-pillow, I-can-touch-it-on-my-nightstand...almost.

Mrs. Robinson, if you don't mind my saying so, this conversation is getting a little strange. . .



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Blogger is Seeing Other People...

Okay, just a little on the side and only when they ask...

Here's a sneak peek--

I just wanted to let you know, I have a blog post up at Her Circle Ezine called 
The Difference 20 Minutes Can Make.

And it has a giant photo of me, almost as big as the blog post. Anyway, it was scheduled for tomorrow, but I got the link tonight so I thought I'd share it.

Here's the opening:

As a writer, undisturbed blocks of time can be crucial for our success. But what if you have kids, a day job, or other commitments that stop you from sitting down for a long block of time to write your bestselling literary novel or award-winning article? Answer: You find ways to do more in less time.

They were kind enough to ask me to write a blog for them, but if you're interested and want to write for The Writer's Life Blog- Drop them an email at:

It's a really wonderful e-zine, check it out and leave me a comment there if you feel so inclined!  



Confession Tuesday - How to Jazz Up Your Mailbox

How to Deal with Rejection Letters Passive Aggressively

Confession - This is my neighbor's mailbox and she is not a writer, but her sons are quite creative in their antics.  The pull-handle of their mailbox was designed by them in an attempt to be done with either the Ken Doll or the Lee Majors as the Six-Million Dollar Man.  But as my poet's heart passed by this new artwork on my street, I could not help but think, "What a wonderful way to deal with rejections and what comes in the mail that you don't want." And also, we should all have a jazzy mailbox like this.

Dear Reader,

Here we are again.  In the shower, when I do my best thinking, I was wondering what I would write today.  Clearly, there are no sins on the tip of my tongue.  But we are (I am) not perfect.  So thankfully, there is always something to say.  So let's begin.

To the confessional--

I confess sometimes for no reason I sing out, "Don't cry for me, Argentina."  I have also annoyed my family to know end by saying, "You better check yourself, before you wreck yourself..."


I confess I have set some goals with another writers and we check-in with each other every Monday.

I had set the goal to work on my non-fiction work (a creative non-fiction piece about the difficulties of leaving, being on, and returning from a writing retreat and the exploration of how we can get that in our daily lives) for 10 hours a week.

What I learned was, I cannot work on my non-fiction/memoir for more than 1 hour at a time because it is too hard on me emotionally (even though not ever section has an emotional bite to it.)

My writer friend wrote to me yesterday and said, "non-fiction is difficult emotionally because it brings the past into the present in a very real way."  Having only written shorter essays and not something so long (I'm currently at 33,000 words), I hadn't realized that the editing of this work would be so tough.

Because of this, I've lowered my goal to 5 hours a week (1 hour a day for 5 days) and that feels better to me.  


I confess I am still loving Google Priority Mailbox.


I confess I am planning on writing 30 poems in 30 days with 5 other poets beginning tomorrow.  We will be sharing our work by email, but every so often, I might post a poem here.  But it will be one of those *poof* poems that will only be up for a short time then disappear into the world of what didn't happen.


I confess there are certain things that just bring me incredible happiness--

1)  The moon.  Did you see it last night?  Crescent, large and yellow-orange, and perfect.  I could have stood outside for hours just watching it.

2)  Showers.  I am so thankful every day that I can turn a knob and have hot water come out.  This is going to sound crazy (so I will phrase it as a confession), I confess I love my showers so much that I've recently added a waterproof radio as well as Aqua Notes (a waterproof notepad & pencil that sticks to the wall) because as I've said, it's where I get my best ideas.

3)  Morning Coffee by Timer - It's truly magical to wake up and find that my coffeepot has new hot coffee for me that it made at whatever time I asked it to.  Forget computers, iPhones, iPads-- this timer is technology at its best.


I confess I probably should have waited to share those things for Thankful Thursday, but I'm feeling grateful today.  For the small things.  For the details.


P.S.  If any of you jazz up your mailbox, send me a photo of it and I'll include it on my blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

FYI - Fiction Writers!

Call for Submissions (Fiction Writers)--

We encourage both emerging and established fiction writers to submit to our 2010 Fiction Contest. We look forward to reading your work!

Crab Creek Review's Annual Fiction Contest: Sept. 15th - Nov. 30th, 2010


•Original, previously unpublished fiction up to 3,000 words, double spaced.
•Name and contact info must NOT appear on any pages of the fiction piece.
•Please include a cover letter with your name, address, telephone number, email address, and the title of your story with a brief bio.
•Please include a $10 entry fee (check made payable to Crab Creek Review) and a SASE.
•Postmark deadline is Nov. 30th, 2010.
•Mail submissions to:
Crab Creek Review Fiction Contest
c/o 7315 34th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98117
•Winner will receive $150 and publication in Crab Creek Review.
•All contest submissions will be considered for publication.
•Simultaneous submissions are permitted as long as Crab Creek Review is notified immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
•Contest Judge: TBA


Poetry News

Here are a few things you might be interested in--

Susan Rich had a poem on Verse Daily.  (Congrats Susan!)

Joannie Stangeland is publishing a collection of poems.  (Congrats Joannie!)

32 Poems in on NPR! 

Sandra Beasley has a lot of cool things going on at her blog and in her life. She's going to be working with VIDA (formally WILLA - Women in the Literary Arts) on their blog, Her Kind (coming in October).  There's a lot of great info on VIDA on Sandra's blog, so check it out.

and last,

Garrison Keillor to judge the May Swenson Poetry Prize


And now you know what's going on (mostly). . .


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Firefighter's Wife

What you may not know about me is that I am married to a firefighter.

Mostly, I hope that his day at work will be safe and while there may be fires or medical emergencies, that he will come home.

Today, I just want to take a moment from talking about poetry, my small life, books, and all the other things that you might read on this blog to pay recognition to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives 9 years ago on September 11th.

If you want to see them all and their names, the NY Times honors the rescuers here.

Thank you to all the everyday heroes who go to work not knowing what they might see, who they might help, or if they may come home.


Thank you.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Check-In

Here's my henna tattoo for the curious.  It will be here a couple more weeks then slowly fade away.  I look a little sleepy in my photo.  I was.


January O'Neil & I have an interview (and a poem or two) in the current issue of Ouroboros Review.  You can check that here if you're interested.


I'm going to write a poem a day starting September 15th with several other poet friends.  We will keep track of what we do by email.  I'm looking forward to it.


Speaking of writing poems, I just learned Joannie Stangeland will be teaching a class on writing poems in a series at Seattle's Richard Hugo House.  I'd love to take this with her.  Here are the details for the locals--

Writing Poems in a Series

How do you follow that great idea—that fabulous first poem—for an entire book? Do you ever get an intriguing idea and then wonder how you''ll keep it going? In this class, we''ll discuss different ways to explore a theme and its variations through images, narrative and voice. We’ll read examples of how other poets—including Louise Gluck, Carolyn Forche and Oliver de la Paz—extend themes and weave multiple themes, and we''ll write through some exercises to help unearth those extensions, to explore and expand our basic idea while maintaining a connecting thread through each of the poems.

Meets: Saturday, November 13, 2010 - Saturday, November 13, 2010
Saturday, 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

* * * By the way, Joannie just had her manuscript accepted for publication!  Congrats, J!


On Wednesday, Susan Rich came to visit me for a writing date and we had some incredible writing time.  We also had a good lunch and talk as well.

Susan, whose writing studio is House of Sky, helped me name my writing shed/studio -- House of Sea, which is perfect because of where I live and you can see a corner of sea from my writing desk.   I like that our studios are connected by name.  If you have a writing studio, may I suggest--

House of Sun
House of Fog
House of Stars
House of Wind

I came really close to calling my writing shed: Sea Wings Studio - but something never felt right about that.  I like House of Sea because it can also be House of See - yes, being out here writing makes me see things a little clearer.  


It's been 102 days since I've submitted my work anywhere.  Yikes.  Thank you Google Homepage "Days Since" Calendar for letting me know.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

30 Years Later - Preppies Return...

I'm a huge Chip Kidd fan, so I was intrigued when I saw he co-authored True Prep with Lisa Birnbach, author of the 80's The Official Preppy Handbook.

As someone who once wore a blue Izod shirt under a pink Izod shirt, let's just say I *may* have read or browsed the Preppy Handbook. So there is definitely an inner-preppy part of me that is interested in this new book.

Anyhoo, here's a couple videos for you.

The first is Chip Kidd talking briefly about True Prep and how the Official Preppy Handbook changed his life, but mostly, he talks about comic book heroes and graphic art.  The second is a book trailer for True Prep.

Oh and by the way, if you do have an original copy of The Official Preppy Handbook, they are going for quite a bit of money online right now.

Thankful Thursday

Drew mentioned this idea of Thankful Thursday to me in a recent comment and I love the idea of it.  Please feel free to do this on your own blog as well.

Gratitude List -

September and the hint of fall
Fog and writing time
Henna tattoos
Sleeping cats
Morning cereal and coffee
Men who wear black-framed glasses
Women with super-short hair
Seattle's Bumbershoot
Someone saying, "Just trust."
Being able to create something where there wasn't anything before.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Mates of State - Music to Inspire

I've talked about music that inspires my writing.  I've mentioned The Fray and Everything But the Girl, but also wanted to mention this group.  A husband/wife combo.   They aren't too well-known, in fact I have never heard them on a Seattle radio except NPR and a local college station.

They are the third band I like to have in the background when I write poetry.

Anyway, see what you think--


Phantom Tollbooth Fans: A New Book by Norton Juster arrives

The Phantom TollboothThe Phantom Tollbooth

I loved this book as a child.  I even have an autographed version I got when Norton Juster visited Seattle.

I remember being in 4th or 5th grade and going into my school's library.  I know exactly what shelf this was on seeing it between all the thin books-- The Phantom Tollbooth--the fattest book on that shelf.  

I remember deciding that I must read this book.

I did and it has been one of my favorite books since then.

I just learned a couple days ago on NPR that, Norton Juster has reconnected with his illustrator and now have a new book out!

Here's the details and a link to the story--

Fans of a boy named Milo, a watchdog called Tock and a pompous Humbug had reason to rejoice on Wednesday -- the day that a picture book called The Odious Ogre was released. Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, the book marks the first time that Juster and Feiffer have collaborated since creating The Phantom Tollboothtogether in the early 1960s.

The Odious OgreThe Odious Ogre


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What is Sleeping Under my Writing Desk...

Confession Tuesday - The Back-To-School Edition

Dear Reader, it's been a week of back-to-school, fall beginning, and my writing life since I've last written.  I've been both lazy (Saturday, choosing to stay in bed all morning and read) as well as productive (much time devoted to my writing).

But now it's time to confess all my sins (there are always many), so let's begin.  To the confessional--

I confess I love routine.

I love waking up and knowing where everyone is going and what I'll be doing.  I love the extra hours of writing that a child at school brings.  I love seeing the leaves beginning to change color and feeling that crispness in the air.  Even on sunny days, you can tell summer is waving goodbye and honestly, I've been ready for the last 3 weeks for its stay to be over.  Summer, I am breaking up with you.

I confess the thing I like least about back to school night is the other parents.  Wait, more specifically, other moms.  The dads always seem pretty nice and mostly to be doing their own thing, but some of the moms are so, um, what's the word?  Judgmental.  Or maybe that's what I am and I'm projecting it on to them.  Either way, it's there.

And it's not all the moms, but just enough that I so dislike these social events.  Or the pick-up after school.

Sometimes I think, "I am only friends with these people because we had unprotected sex around the same time."  Yes, we are only friends because we have kids the same age.  (Though I am thankful that I am good friends with the moms of my daughter's best friends and these would be people I would hang out with if we didn't have kids the same age.)  But there is a large cast of characters of people I wouldn't necessarily be friends with, but now interact with during the school year because of our kids.

I confess much of my dislike comes from insecurity.  If I were to label what I felt the most confident in, "raising a child" would come somewhere after writing, gardening,  mountain biking, swing dancing, and sea-kayaking but before cooking.

If I have ever felt unskilled in anything, it's raising a child.  There is no handbook, no degree and I've learned by screwing up.

I remember before we had a child, but were thinking about it, I would tell my husband, R. (who has even *less* experience with babies than I did) at family events--"Go practice on that one."  Within minutes I'd have a crying nephew or niece, Uncle Rosy was always way too scary to little kids.

The positive of this, is my daughter is rarely freaked out since much of her childhood revolved around a dad trying to scare her.  She also knew how to make pancakes at age 3 because her dad taught her since I didn't know how to cook.  (Um, yes, even pancakes, though I confess I can make them now).  

And I guess these are the things that give me hope, that our flaws as parents can actually improve our children.

But I guess mostly I just try my best, try not to compare myself to others, keep a lot of books, art & creativity in her life, cross my fingers and hope that everything works out.  Probably not what's in the child-raising books, but so far, we're okay.



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