Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Cheers with Poet Beer!

So I love Halloween.
I love ghosts and anything spooky.

I don't love beer, but I love this bottle-- full moon, raven.  Poet.

My mind is not very literary minded today.  I'm lazy and thinking about when I need to take my shower to be ready for trick-or-treating.

Months before Halloween, I have a reoccurring dream that I've forgotten to decorate, I've forgotten to find a costume for my daughter, that I missed Halloween.

I cannot tell you how many times I've had this dream.

But I'm open to interpretations.

So let me end here wishing you a safe and happy Halloween night.

Make some hot apple cider, read some scary stories and enjoy.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

What We Risk When We Write--

Justin Evans wrote the nicest review on his blog about my book and I wanted to share it here:

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon is by far one of the most elegant books of poetry I have ever read. I know I have used that particular adjective before, but I really don't think I can over use it in this case. When my students have asked me in recent weeks what I am reading and why I love poetry so much, I tell them about Kelli's book. What's more astounding is that each poem feels completely spontaneous and natural. As you might expect, a lot of the poems in this collection are letters, but they are letters of all types, and not just the type of letter one might think a poets writes. In a strange way, I have begun to look at this book the way I would if I was carrying on an all day conversation with a friend as we went about our day together doing nothing urgent or mandatory---the kind of day you want to re-live again and again.

(Justin also reviews 2 other books, check out his blog here.)
~  ~  ~

I cannot tell you how happy, calm, thankful it makes me feel to read something like that.

I remember about a week before October 1st, the date my book was to hit the shelves, I could hardly sleep.  There was this anxiety I felt of knowing my words and poems, what I created was going out to a larger world and that deep fear of "would anyone get what I was trying to do?"

As artists and writers, this is what we always risk.  We have to risk it.

We have to risk that what we create is going to be rejected or misunderstood.  We have to risk that our work will stumble and fall, sometimes climbing the mountain, sometimes rolling down the side.

But we have to risk.  We have to put our emotions onto a raft and set them out.

Some of you may be better at this than me.  Sometimes my emotions are like the paper ghosts flying all around me Haunted House style.  They are peering out the attic window, hiding in the closet, hovering over the bed.  But they are mine.  My ghosts and when they are at their best, they help me create.

At their worst they scare the bejesus out of me.

I try not to let they control me and stay on path.  I have to risk to move forward; it's in the game rules.  And when it works, someone writes an incredible response to my work that keeps me happy for an entire season.  I know that even if someone else doesn't like my work, my book, my poems, I can look back and said, "But I connected with someone here."  And that means everything, ghosts and all...


Friday, October 29, 2010

The Simpsons Version of Poe's "The Raven"

I post this every year. It's Halloweenish, it's funny, it's literary, and it's a FANTASTIC way to introduce your kids to the words of Edgar Allan Poe (they won't even know they are learning something!)

Check out the Simpson's version of Poe's THE RAVEN:

(Video) The Simpsons Version of Poe's "The Raven"

Hi, My Name is Kelli & I'm Here To Read...

So I've been doing a lot of readings lately because of my book and I'm realizing I am still learning how to present these new poetry children to the world.

What I mean is, when I begin reading sometimes I'm not sure what I need to say to before I begin.  Sometimes I feel I'm shoving the poem into the room when I should really be holding its hand.  Sometimes I've made such a big dramatic entrance for the poem and then the poem walks in with its hands in its pocket and its head down, sulking.

I get it right occasionally, but there have been mistakes.

I am a new mom stumbling around, not sure if I've dressed my baby for the weather.  Shoot, she's without socks again!

I'm still learning with these poems.  I'm learning how to make them better for the audience, to put on their socks, but leave off their overcoat indoors.

Listening to a poem is so much different than sitting with the poems in your lap.  When you own a book, you can return to a poem again and again. I love that about books. But at a reading, we are in the air and we must find a place to begin together.  I don't just want to start off reading without helping the audience get to that grounded place.  I want them to have just enough information so the poem makes sense.

And because I feel the book is its own conversation, its own larger letter, I've found that taking out one poem on its own and reading it is like holding a peacock feather-- it's lovely, but the feather is so much a part of something and you can see even more of its beauty when you see the bird strutting its tail feathers.

I never felt that about my first book.  My first book felt very much like a table of appetizers, have one thing or sample a bit throughout.  It didn't matter.  Those poems didn't seem to get much power (or lose much power) whether read together or not.  I'm surprised to find that these new poems are a little bit stronger when read from front to back, in the way I ordered them and to read all together.

So when I give a reading, I'm struggling a bit with what to read and where to begin.  I am learning all over again, wearing my poems in a Baby Bjorn and heading to the podium.  They are teething.  They are crying. They are trying to walk on their own.  But I'm still not the confident mother yet, so I stick a pacifier in their mouth until I'm ready.

I'm trying, in that new mom place observing them, seeing who plays well with who.

I don't think I know yet.  But I'm learning and thankful for warm, easy audiences who allow me to trip over their toys on floor, who allow me to show the baby photo of even my most ugliest duckling as she too, may go on to be a swan.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Apple Brown Betty
The color of the leaves changing
Everything autumn
Halloween costumes
Homecoming mums


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sandra Beasley Talks about Poets & Writers

I found this interview with Sandra Beasley very inspiring and loved the very last thing she says in this interview (but you'll have to watch it to find out.)

Kristin Berkey-Abbott & The Gift of Real Mail -

Kristin Berkey-Abbott did a lovely write-up of receiving my book and the packaging of it.  You can read the whole blog post here.

She writes:

I knew that Kelli Russell Agodon was doing something special with the packaging of her latest book of poems, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room. I ordered a copy for both me and my dad (it was his birthday, and I love giving volumes of poetry as presents), and my dad's got to him first. He mentioned how unusual the package was that came in the mail. So, I couldn't wait to see what she had done. And it impressed me so much that I decided it was worthy of a blog post.

***One thing people might not know about me is I'm a huge fan of Mail Art, sometimes called Postal Art. 

I love to send letters, postcards, and create unique packaging for what I send.  I have *always* loved receiving real mail in my mailbox.  And now, in this time of email and inboxes, I love it even more.

So when I sent out my book to people, I wanted them to feel as if they were receiving a gift.  Poetry by mail needs to be celebration and honestly, I truly appreciate people who purchase my book and support my work.  

And I feel if someone takes the time to buy their book directly from me at full price ($16) and not Amazon's reduced rate, they should be rewarded.  

I set up PayPal on my website so readers could by the book directly from me as I know when I buy a book, I like to buy it from the poet first (so I can have it signed).  

I think all authors should offer this to their readers.  It is a bit more work as the author then needs to sign it and send it out, but I think it's another way to connect with readers in a more personal way and I know, when I get a book directly from the author and it comes signed, I am such a happy camper.


Kristin also writes:
Some cool approaches to book marks. I'm guessing that she made the bookmark in the shape of Emily Dickinson. I'm still researching post cards and book marks. I can't determine whether or not it's cheaper to do these things on the home computer or to pay to have them done.

****Susan Rich and I had LONG discussions and did much research on bookmarks.  We both wanted them and weren't really sure how to go about them.  

In the end, it was that came through for both of us.  We basically took a postcard and divided it horizontally down the center creating 2 unique bookmarks.  And with Vistaprint prices, they were quite cheap (we got 100 free and just paid shipping!)

The Emily Dickinson bookmarks were something I came up with because I thought it would be kind of cool to have Emily peeking out of a book.  Those I print out on my printer at home and since I own a laminator (you can get the same one very cheap on Amazon, which is where I got mine-plus laminating sheets: Scotch(TM) Thermal Laminator)  I laminate them at home and cut them out.  They are probably my favorite bookmarks ever. 


Kristin has photos of the bookmarks and packaging over at her blog if you're interested.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gig Harbor Reading Tonight at 7 pm

Hey Northwest Friends (esp. in Tacoma & Kitsap)- 

I'm reading tonight at the Gig Harbor Pierce County Library 4424 Point Fosdick Drive N.W., Gig Harbor, WA at 7 pm. 

Q&A after the reading. 

Hope to see you!


Poems in Diode...

I have 3 poems in this issue of diode!

There are also 6 new poems by Bob Hicok!  Also great poems from Justin Evans, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, JP Dancing Bear, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Amanda Auchter and many others!

Enjoy some poems today!


Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

I am on time this week.

I confess, I have been late too often on my confessions.  I decided to be on time.  Much of life is deciding to do something then doing it, isn't it.  Funny how that works.

It's been a weird week with me dressed as a man to the inside of a hospital, I better let you know what's up.  To the confessional--

I confess on Friday night during a full moon my family insisted I go to the ER because one of my pupils was noticeable larger than the other.  Noticeable.  I looked as if I had wonko eye, as if I was Bill the Cat.

Given my history with optic neuritis (where I lost the vision in each of my eyes--first the right then the left--during a six week period a couple years ago) and recent minor head injury from my mountain biking, they felt I should just go in to check things out.

Dear Insurance Bill... You are the reason I did not want to go in.  -- But alas, I was talked into it because people were freaking out over my new look.

Dear Cat Scan, I love you for your quietness, you are not the techno sound of the MRI, you are a soft whisper of wind.

After everything from my eye being numbed then dilated (I felt as if I was a character in Clockwork Orange), it seems I am okay, just a funky freak of nature (though I still have an upcoming eye exam pending to give me the full A-OK), but mostly okay. I feel okay and I can still see.  My pupils look normal.  And I now have a wealth of material for new poems all revolving around the interesting ER details and things I overheard (I confess I almost went running for the doors when I heard "bacterial meningitis!"  Sheesh!)

Dear Doctors -- You impress me to no end.


And the man thing, well, that came the next night.  A Halloween party, which I was not going to miss despite the eye issue the previous night.

I confess I love to dress up like a man.  I'm not sure I realized this until this current Halloween costume, but I can definitely understand why cross-dressing is so much fun.  That said, if you looked at my normal everyday clothes of blue jeans & plain t-shirts, I am pretty much a cross-dresser year round, minus the fake facial hair and side burns.

So here are a couple photos of me dressed like rocker Bret Michaels for my friend's yearly Halloween party.

And yes, I stayed in character all night.

I love this photo because it looks as if I came with this guy, but no, he just happened to be wearing a Poison t-shirt and became my instant back-up band.  I also love how my hand looks superimposed on that photo.

This was my "no paparazzi" photo.

By the way, up until a day ago, I had never seen the Rock of Love - ( eek, what a show, I couldn't even watch the whole thing, I felt as if my eyes were burning.) But learned about Bret Michaels when I was watching Donald Trump's show, The Apprentice because Cyndi Lauper was on it (and I love her).  And three things I noticed about him -- he was a hard worker, had good manners and was kind.  Three things I so like in people.

I confess though, it's mostly kindness that determines my like for people.

So that's me this week - Rockstar and hospital patient.  Let the good times roll...



Monday, October 25, 2010

Twitter #PoetParty - What I Know Now --

So it was my first poetry party on Twitter and let's be clear here, it was my first time really I wasn't just writing randomness and tweeting my blog posts.  An actual set-up event with a start time 9 pm (ET) and an end time 10 pm (ET).

Deborah Ager organized the party for us.  She invited D.A. Powell, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Susan Rich, January O'Neill, Collin Kelley, Oliver de la Paz, and me.  It was a party even if no one showed up, which I liked.

But I'll be honest-- I was nervous.  I really wasn't sure what was going to happen.  Would I be the girl in the corner?  Would have to change my Twitter name to: wallflower?  Would I be able to keep up, understand, follow the conversation?

The answer was yes to most of those questions.

But here are a few things I learned, a couple things I did wrong, and some thoughts I had about the whole event--

1)  What I did wrong:  Post a tweet and forget the hashtag (#poetparty).

The minute you forget to do this, you leave the conversation.  It's like making your grand statement about whatever topic in the hallway to the potted palm.  Without the #poetparty hashtag, no one can hear you.

It has made me understand the answer to this profound question:
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 

Answer:  Not if it doesn't have a hashtag attached to it.

The best way to follow a Twitter party is to create a saved search of the hashtag you are following (in our case #poetparty), then all the tweets just magically show up on your screen.

2) Learned:   Q1 = question 1  A1 = answer 1.  

This way you can go back and read specific answers to specific questions.

3)  Learned:  I'm kind of chatty for 140 characters.

I realized when someone asks me a question about ordering a collection of poems, my answer could not be kept in one tweet.

Instead that answer spanned 3 or 4 comments for me-- and that included major editing on my part.

4)  Learned:  It can seem that everyone is talking at once, but it's kind of like living in a parallel universe where conversations are taking place at the same time, but are really happening separate to each other (and yet, somehow together).

Twitter is very much the chaos theory - where there looks to be no pattern, look closer and you will see how it untangles.

5)  Some thoughts-- Poets are generous people & I like the instant community showing up online.

I was appreciative of what the poets offered into the mix--answers to the questions, community, ideas--all the stuff you'd expect from friends.  It was pretty cool how all of a sudden the room was filled.  The idea of connecting at a certain time and people showing up.

I have never really done a chatroom, so I imagine this might be a similar thing except the whole thing in public.  And I think that adds to people feeling invited and included as well as keeps people on their best behavior (which personally I liked!)  

If you're interested in the whole conversation, you can a transcript read it here.

D.A. Powell wrote a poem throughout the event based on ideas, suggestions from Twitter guests at the party.  

Here it is here:

October Variations/October Surprise

I come here often but nobody knows.
I'm virtually late, with late-season tomatoes
I've retrieved from the market like a faithful retriever. 
I might have brought popcorn,
there's nothing out of bounds,
here on the verge of autumn .

You know that moment when the empty train tracks hum
& you think "how does this work, this sound?"

Put your ear against my veins,
against the small bones of my hands.
I want back the taste of October.

Bluejeans, flannel, the birds as they leave.
Time alone knows how beautiful it is.


With contributions by “Orphan,” @tracy_seeley, @kelliagodon, @CollinKelley, @EvelynNAlfred, @susanrichpoet, @stickpoet, @januaryoneil, @RomulusDubb, @katelinkelly, A. Mincey, Orion, A. Ottaway & Samuels

****I love the idea of this and would love to do a Twitter party just focused completely on creating.   Maybe something where every Twitter post was a line to a poem either a collaborative one or an individual one.  Still thinking about that.

Anyway, I will do a poetparty again.  I had no idea how much fun virtual parties could be. 


Friday, October 22, 2010

We're Flying Over to Twitter on Sunday Eve!

Here the 7 of us are in our Twitter form

I copied this from Deb Ager's Facebook Status, but I wanted to share the news in case anyone wanted to join us (9 pm EST, 6 pm PST)--

 If you're on Twitter, join Deborah AgerKelli Russell AgodonJanuary Gill O'Neil, D.A. PowellCollin Kelley, Susan Rich, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil for a Twitter poet party. Follow the #poetparty hashtag. Ask questions. "Listen" to poems. Sunday, October 24 @ 9 pm ET.


Some notes:  I have never been part of a Twitter party, nor a Twitter Poetry Party, nor tried to party with so many poets online in any way.

But I'm kind of excited to see what happens.  Or to see what I screw up.  

I cannot tell you how long it took me to get a *basic* understanding of Twitter.  Maybe I was invited because they thought I'd be the poet with the lampshade on her head by the end of the night.

Watch me miss a letter in our hashtag of #poetparty and be hanging with Tell-Tale Heart fans all night--  The PoeParty.  Or miss two letters, and I've gone sci-fi with ETparty.

Either way, I'll be there.  #poetparty

If you want to follow me on Twitter my handle (seriously, I cannot think of a better name to call it--  and I know this is so B.J. & the Bear -(I've linked that to Wikipedia if you have no idea what I am talking about)) it is "kelliagodon" - Yes, very unique and creative, I know.

Hope to see you Sunday night.



Life Imitating Art or Vice Versa...

My husband noticed a coincidence on my desk yesterday.  He said (of a small broken vintage ceramic figure), "That woman looks like your book cover."  

And I realized she did.

What's interesting is that a couple years ago, either my cat, my daughter, or myself knocked down this ceramic item breaking the head off.  (For awhile we used to keep her head in the small ceramic tray in front of her...until that broke off too.)

Here's a photo of the woman from the back and then a photo of my cover image.  There is a resemblance--

By the way, this is the back of the figure, the front says, "Where is the Friend?"


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recipe for Emily Dickinson's gingerbread cake - The Boston Globe

Here's a link to Emily D's gingerbread cake. My husband recently made this, but said it was too thick for the mixer and hand-mixed it. He said he wouldn't recommend it because of that, but I would as I thought it added to the charm of it. Of course, he did all the work.

Here's the original recipe..

Recipe for Emily Dickinson's gingerbread cake - The Boston Globe

Confession Tuesday on Wednesday...

Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style

I confess when I sent that quick email of my nightstand last night, I knew it wasn't enough, it was half-arsed confession Tuesday, but I confess, I was so tired I needed to sleep.

I confess like an 96 year old woman, I've been going to bed earlier and earlier these days.  And actually, I'm sure a 96 year old woman could outlast me at a party.

Some things I've noticed by getting more sleep--

1)  I'm nicer
2)  I'm not as anxious
3)  I'm happier
4)  I feel better
5)  I have a stronger immune system

Now, I'm sure most of you are aware of these benefits, but it's taken me X number of years to figure them out.  The less-anxious part is truly shocking to me.  I feel like a different person when I have a full-night's sleep.  Imagine!

So this is my second confession Tuesday because I confess taking a photo of my nightstand (and you didn't even see the stack of Oprah magazines I'm behind on!) wasn't really as good as you deserve, more of a lazy confession, which is exactly where I was last night.

So I'll confess more.  I'll confess how I just spent $20 on a "hotel pillow" and I've never spent that much on a pillow and now, my perfect pillow isn't so perfect.  Its perfection lasted about a week and now it's as if I've rested my head on a lump of playdoh.

If you have the perfect pillow, please let me know what it is and where I can get it.  I've been searching for it for years!  (And yes, I've even tried going pillowless...not for me).

Also, in the shopping department of the confessional, I confess I just spent more on clothes last Thursday than I have in 5 years.  (Okay, you'd probably think this would be a ton of money, but since I shop at consignment shops, it's really not that much.  I'm almost embarrassed to say because I know that some of you might have spent this much on one dress or coat or _______________ - fill in the blank).  For me, and my $ is my pocket is > than new clothes, it was kind of hard to do.

I'll be honest, I hate shopping and I have set prices in my head for how much I should pay for something.  

I have become someone much different than the 20-something I was who would spend $140 on a Benetton sweater without blinking an eye.  My Ralph Lauren sweatshirt for $85.  My Coach purse for $320 including the leather kit to care for said Coach purse.

Maybe it comes with having a child or realizing that I'd rather spend my money on experiences than things.  (Of course, I want to look good, so I do appreciate picking up a few key wardrobe elements every so often.  I'm thrifty-- thrifty and vain, I'd say.)

Maybe this wanting to spend less on clothes is also because I don't have the full-time corporate job and money (like it did in my 20's) doesn't arrive weekly in check form in an envelope with my name on it.  It's an interesting place where I am--waiting to look good, wanting quality clothes, but not wanting to pay retail prices.  I still have not read  The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life (by Cecile Andrews - my live simply Bible) this year as I do every fall.  Had I read it, I bet I would have only bought 1 sweater instead of 3, 1 pair of pants instead of 4.  But alas, I guess the good news is I have options now and well, 3 of the pants still have tags on them, so I can always take them back.

One last confession-- I confess I've been not-so-good at responding to your comments, but know, I read every one and appreciate seeing them.  Thank you and amen.


Monday, October 18, 2010

My Favorite Photos from the Poetry Reading, Oct. 17th 2010 at Open Books in Seattle

Here are three of my favorite photos (2 taken by Susan Rich & one by my husband) from my Open Books reading in Seattle yesterday.  Susan also took another incredible photo of my daughter and me that I just treasure.

From an emotional level, the reading was magical. I was ridiculously stressed before it began, way more than normal, but the positive is that much of that nervousness allowed me to work to create a reading I felt the audience would enjoy.  I came prepared and I was glad about that.

I did have a few things for the audience--a vintage key attached to a small section of a poem with ribbon, chocolate, and the recipe for Emily D's Black Forest Cake.

Looking back, the only thing I'd do differently is to tell the audience that after the reading I'd be by the podium signing books as I know a number of people I didn't know bought books, but left without getting it signed. I think I could have made sure people knew I was available and happy to do that.  I know readers/poets/writers can be shy about such things, and if you were in the back, it was quite a crowded narrow path to get to me.

But if that's the only thing I'd change, then I guess I feel the reading went well, which is good to say because Open Books is my all-time favorite bookstore and is owned by two of the most wonderful people and poetry-lovers around.

As I've said, Susan Rich has a great rundown on her blog about the reading if you're interested.  I'm just going to enjoy the feeling I have right now of finishing it and just enjoying the space I'm in.  Ahhhhh.  Poetry.


It's 2 a.m. - Do you know what your manuscript is doing?

It's currently 2:04 am and I'm awake from a mixture of too much chocolate mousse, too much excitement from my reading and just enough poetry.  But since I am awake, I want to tell you one of the most important things I learned while preparing for my reading that I think might help you if you're working on a larger manuscript -- the paragraph of explanation.

P.O.E.  (Paragraph of Explanation):  A paragraph that explains the main ideas, topics, concepts, and or subject(s) of your manuscript.

Now while I did this for my poetry manuscript, I'm thinking this would also be useful in preparing a memoir manuscript as well.  Maybe a novel, but it's too early in the morning to think about that...

Because I was so nervous for this reading, I did something I do not normally do in such detail while preparing -- I sat down at my laptop and wrote out every word, thought, idea that planned to say at this event.   The interesting thing that happened is that while I wanted to explain how my collection came about, what all the poems meant as a whole, what my underlining idea or concept was in putting together this manuscript and what was I trying to achieve, I learned a few things about this process and about my manuscript.

And in doing this, I realized how helpful this would have been to me to do at about year two of my manuscript.  (BTW, this is really something to do when you find your manuscript is at a place where it feels "solid" to you and that you feel have a good manuscript-- I don't recommend doing this at the beginning stages when the work is just being created.)

Around that time (at about year two), I could see a manuscript coming together.  I could see how I wanted the poems ordered--  what I didn't understand is what I was trying to do in the manuscript.

Writing everything out--from why my sections are sectioned the way they are to why the order of the poems-- helped me in a deeper understanding of my manuscript I could have used early on in the revising-part of manuscript process.

I realized things I already knew, but in much a much greater view-- like how much Alice in Wonderland, Emily Dickinson, and certain images or ideas appear in my work.  I see it now (and did see it --though not as strongly--as I was putting the manuscript together) but when my manuscript was young, these connections were not as obvious, nor was the bigger picture of what I was trying to share or explore in my manuscript.

Sometimes if you apply for a grant, you have to deal with this early on.  Usually when you apply for a grant they want to know exactly what will you use the money for and what is your manuscript about.  It makes you stop and think and to really pinpoint your main ideas.  While I don't feel a manuscript needs to be a small pinpoint in a night of stars, but I do think writing out your thoughts as you move deeper into writing and revising your manuscript can be helpful.

Here are some things you might want to ask yourself--

1)  If someone were to ask me, what my manuscript is about, do I know?  How many sentences does it take to answer:  What is your manuscript about?   If it is only a collection of your favorite poems you've ever written, know that.  If it about the idea of loss based on an experience you had, know that.   It doesn't matter what the answer is here, you just need to understand for yourself, why you have chosen the poems you have chosen.

2)  Why have I ordered my manuscript the way I did?

Ideas for ordering a manuscript:
Narrative arc
Emotional arc
By theme/subject
By emotional/theme subject
Some completely different way
A few of the ways above combined

3)  Why do I have the sections that I have?

4)  Why did I choose my title?

5)  What do I want to reader to take away from this collection?

These are the main questions I think of at 2 am and of course, the main one--  What is my manuscript doing?

If you don't know, I'm not sure your reader will know.


So those are my 2 am thoughts after a wonderful reading tonight (er, yesterday).  I think I will pretend my creative non-fiction/memoir based book I'm working on is already published and pretend I'm giving a reading on it and try to explain what I am doing.

I will definitely do this for my next poetry manuscript, probably once I think I have a strong enough manuscript and have made it through the *creation* part (a part where I'm not sure too much knowledge is good), but during the revising part when sometimes writing our thoughts out can help us connect things in a stronger way.


My big book release reading was yesterday at Open Books.  I will confess (even though that it's not Tuesday) that I was really nervous.  Open Books is only one of two poetry-only bookstores in the country (and I'm not 100% sure if the other poetry-only bookstore is still in business).  For a poet (and especially a poet in the Northwest), it's a big deal to read here.

For the best photos & documentation of the event, check out Susan Rich's blog.

I'll post more emotional, detailed thoughts on this later, but just wanted to share the news that I feel my book is officially launched!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Where I am Right Now- Lost on a Cornmaze

This is the local cornmaze that everyone loves. We probably spent three hours there flinging pumpkins, lost in the maze, or sitting around the fire. So country. So small town. So autumn. So perfect. It's one of my favorite things about where I live. It's 5 minutes from my house and absolutely one of the reasons I moved to small town.

Of course, with all that country and small-townedness, I did take the photo with my iPhone in the maze and at one point thought I could you use my Mt. Biking app to "map my ride." But I didn't.

Interview & Opportunity to Win a Copy of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room

Drew Myron did an interview with me called Fast Five (5 Questions) here at her blog.

Here's a bit from the interview--

What is your favorite poem in this collection? Why?
. . .if I have to narrow it down to one, I’d say, Questions at Heaven’s Gate is probably my favorite because it was an underdog poem that I stood up for. . .

And if you leave a comment on that blog post by October 22, you will be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of my book, Letters from the Emily D. Room.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Check in

I have been feeling as if I've been in many places, but mostly, I've been in my head.

My big book release reading is this Sunday, October 17th at Open Books in Seattle (at 3 pm if you'd like to join me).  And I've been spending time preparing for that.

Open Books even wrote up this lovely review for their website:

Charming, self-effacing, fearlessly honest about troubled days, the voice in Kelli Russell Agodon's Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room ($16 White Pine) is both touching and endearingly brassy -- "Trust me, it's not bitterness I carry / in my blood, but the pulse and flow / of ordinary, the white picket fence / I like to call my ribcage." She has dedicated her book to "those who write letters to the world," and her own letters -- these poems -- are written as wife, mother, daughter, poet, woman who has struggled in this world and cannot help but embrace it. "But where is my life?," she asks, "I wander through it in new leather boots, / crushing the ladyslippers in my path. // When I come to a bear munching / on blackberries to fatten up for winter, I pause. // We see each other / like two shoppers at the same sale rack, / each rummaging through, trying to find / what we think we need to fill us up."

I'm not normally nervous for readings, but with this new book, I have been.  I'm reading a lot of poems that I don't have a lot of practice in reading to an audience.  I told myself that I would not read poems from this book until it was published because I didn't want to be bored of reading it before it was even in print.  The good news is that all these poems can be *mostly* new to those who come, the concern is I'm not necessarily sure how these poems will go over, how they will be received.

In the big scheme of things, I realize this book, this reading is one leaf out of many.

X number of people will see this leaf and either love it, like it or be disinterested. (Maybe some will hate it, but who hates a leaf?)  Maybe people will want to bring a similar leaf home to keep on their bookshelf or to study the leaf's lines.  Maybe some will ask me to sign the leaf and I will realize, this is a just a leaf.  Still, it's my leaf and I want it to be perfect.  But we're not talking leaves here, though I think for me, it's easier that way, to see myself, my reading as a leaf.  

One endearing brassy leaf.


Thankful Thursday on Friday

This is what one of the trees in small town looks like on Oct 15th.   
Photo taken at about 8:15 am 

Gratitude Journal, Version F--

1)  Friends who check in.
2)  Faith over fear
3)  Fridays
4)  Free coffee
5)  Family
6)  Familiar places
7)  Falling leaves
8)  Fhocolate.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Deep Thoughts - Okay, Not Really...

Nightstand Memoir--

I picked up Paul Guest's memoir One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir at Powell's books and it's incredible.  I can hardly put it down.

The weird thing is, I somehow managed to buy an *uncorrected proof* review copy.  I had wondered why it said it said, "Quote page TO COME/AUTHOR: PLEASE SUPPLY/ --Quote credit TO COME."  I thought Paul had gotten all artsy on me.


Literary Journal Happenings--

I did an interview for Crab Creek Review for the Richard Hugo House website.  If you want to learn a little more about Crab Creek Review and our goals, etc. you can check it out here.

And speaking of Crab Creek Review, there will be 2 incredible interviews in the first issue of 2011 of poets Mark Doty & Todd Davis.  So excited about that!

But before I get too far ahead of myself, this next issue will feature poems by David Wagoner, Joannie Stangeland, Alice Derry, Peter Pereira, Martha Silano, Erin Malone, Michael Schmeltzer, Kevin Miller (these last 5 will be our readers at Elliott Bay Books, November 20th, so if you're in Seattle, mark your calendars) and many other incredible poets and writers.

And this next issue (Issue 2: 2010) has an incredible ekphrastic portfolio guest edited by Susan Rich (our very first guest editor!)


For the Love of Psychic Energy --

I don't know about you (or how much you believe in this), but there's a lot of interesting energy happening lately.  It feels as if everyone is quite connected.

Weird ghosty things and many synchronicities-- I've been hearing this from people.  And I've had so much on my mind.  Deep thoughts... Stewart Smalley stuff.

I've been paying more attention to my dreams lately because of this.

Of course, last night I ended up dreaming of Pinto station wagons, the old neighborhood where I grew up and the All in the Family theme song.  I remember thinking in my dream, "I need to work this song into a poem."  Seriously?  Oh, who I am kidding, I may just try it.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Confession Tuesday

The Image on our Hip Hotel Room Wall

Dear Reader, 

It's been one week since I've last confessed, but a roadtrip makes me feel as if it's been ages, maybe it has been.  Maybe I've been in Portland for 3 weeks instead of 3 days.  As a homebody, traveling makes me feel that way.

But I'm back and it's Tuesday, 2 reasons I better start telling you my sins.  I guess I'll begin here... to the confessional--

I confess these may or may not have been the books that Powell's selected for their New & Favorite Poetry.

I confess when I go into bookstores and see my friends' poetry books, I face them out or move them so they get better recognition.  I may have done this to your book too.  And if I read your blog or ended up on a blog that has been helpful to me and you have ads you are getting revenue from, I may have followed a few links to say thank you.


I confess I tend not to get annoyed when traveling when things don't work out because I figure it's all material for later use.  I think that is why people see me as an easygoing person.  I tend not to freak out over little things and in fact, tend to deal with things with humor.  (Note: this might not be fun for you if you like to freak out and/or get worked up about little things as I'll be making a joke of something.)

I confess I do freak out though, but it usually has to do with something from someone I love that just rips my torso open.  Or if I'm ridiculously hungry and no one will allow me to get something to eat (Note:  this never happened on our trip - we were all on the same happy level when it came to snacks.)

I confess usually as long as I have snacks I am happy.

(Backstory: When I was a girl of the 70's, my mum used to pack me a brown paperbag of snacks to take with me on roadtrips, which is why I think I still do the same thing minus brown paperbag- it's now an eco bag.

I remember sitting in the back of our Pinto station wagon having my own personal picnic as we raced down the highway...  Um, this was before carseats, seatbelt use, and obviously any sort of safety measures for kids.  I was the Pinto darling of the 70's, unrestrained and well-fed.)

Susan Rich & Annette Spaulding-Convy, Portland 2010

I confess I was hoping to find a Kells' bar, but we did find a Rich's Cigar Store & Magazines for Susan.  And no, we did not go in.


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