Monday, February 28, 2011

Need a Writing Prompt Today? Here's one!

I'm the guest writer on Midge Raymond's Seattle PI blog and offer one of my favorite writing exercises.

You can go here to see the post and do the exercise.

If you get good results from it, let me know! (And or dedicate the poem/story to me... only kidding.)


Blog Request: Compiling a Poetry Manuscript, Part 2: Order

So last month (really, it was last month though it feels like years ago) I wrote about compiling a book manuscript here.

From that poem I offered that each poet should "Inquire Within" - ask yourself why you are choosing to do the things you are in your manuscript (know why you do everything you do in your manuscript).


Today's post is on the book's order.  And I will admit right here, ordering is probably my weakest skill as a poet.  (Great, you're thinking, Thanks for offering your horrible advice.)

But I'm a good listener, so I can share things that have worked for others as well as what has worked for me.

There are many poets who said their manuscript finally won a prize after they took this advice -- Put your best poems up front and then a few of your best poems at the end, then the rest in the middle.

I'm offering this because I know some poets have been chosen because of this--because the readers are tired and they read the first section of the manuscript then skip to the back to see how it ends.

But my poet-self, the one who really believes if you're going to do something, to do it well and craft your manuscript just as much as you craft individual poems, doesn't really have buy in on this.

For me, I look at a manuscript as a work of art.  Novel.  Poetry Collection.  Memoir.  Collection of Short Stories.  Chapbook.  To me-- this is the art you are giving to the world, create it to the best of your ability in content and in the creation of its order.

Besides "put your best work upfront," here are a few other ways you can order a manuscript--

Narrative arc
Emotional arc
By theme/subject
By emotional/theme subject
Some completely different way
A few of the ways above combined

Again, I think a lot of the answers you need will come to you when you really ask yourself, "What am I trying to do?" and "What do I want to achieve with this manuscript?" (And I'm not talking winning a prize here, but what do you want the order of the mss to achieve?)

While I write answers to your questions, I need to be upfront here-- I do not know the answers to any of these questions for *your* manuscript.  I only know the answers for mine.  Just as while I might offer you parenting advice for your child, only you know what's best in raising her.

I feel this way about poetry and creating a book.  My child has different needs than your child.  But maybe in seeing how my child, I mean manuscript, was created, it will help you with yours.  Or you will get new ideas or hear something you haven't heard before.

So for my manuscript, (now book Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room) I wanted to have a conflict in the beginning, some tough emotional poems in the middle (I intentionally placed them there because in my mind, they were "safe" between the other poems and this allowed me to feel a little less vulnerable and I worried if they were near the beginning, they were too early...), and there was to be a feeling of resolution at the end.

I didn't want the reader to read the whole book and not feel as if s/he could come away with something.  I wanted him/her to leave the book feeling as if she knew everything would be all right.

Also, if you look at the poem titles you will see they are all in alphabetical order.  That was a challenge as I wanted them in a certain order and sometimes that order wasn't working, so I had to retitle my poems.

But since the book was called LETTERS from the Emily Dickinson Room, and the book deals with ritual and a bit of OCD/anxiety, for me it was important to have the poems alphabetical--that was one thing I knew from the very beginning.  I tried to put them in different orders, but they always returned to A-Z.

So when you are ordering your poems, again, know what you are trying to achieve.  Pretend this manuscript is never going to get published and that you are a master artist creating your best work ever, you can do anything to this manuscript, what would you do?

I know for me, I view each manuscript as an artist might view her work of art.  While I might not fully understand all it is doing (I believe much of our art comes from our subconscious), I have crafted it, revised it, cared for it.  I have chosen the best frame and its title.  I have thought about every detail in that book.  

For me, my poetry collection is much to important to me personally to just "put my best poems up front."  To me, this is like trying to sell your home just from the photo--yes, it's gorgeous from the street, but I open the door and all I see is clutter!  

Be able to open the door to your manuscript and know why you chose a potted palm instead of a ficus.  Know why you have crystal doorknobs and an old fashioned blender.  View your book as someone walking into a new home, what does your manuscript show you?  Where do you get lost?  Where you open a closet and have things fall on your head?  What can you get rid of to make it cleaner?

It's a work of art, not just a note on your resume.  This is how I feel about writing.  It's not about the sale of the house, but if your heart into it, and you can see the prayer flags hanging from the back gate and know, yes, this place was loved.



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another Award, On Oscar Sunday?

Okay, Kristin Berkey-Abbott actually gave this to me last week but I'm running a bit behind this month, so here it is, and yes, I'm sure it's a real award or there wouldn't be a jumping confetti cat on it. duh.

So here's the deal --

The other requirement is that I list five facts, four of which are lies. And you have to guess which one is true.

I have never been a good liar, so let's begin.

1. I was almost trampled by a herd of sheep at a rodeo when I was 3.

2.  I *love* cheesecake, bread pudding and/or a big bag of potato chips.

3. I had a dachshund that refused to let me take it for walks.

4. I was born to hippie parents in 1969 and my mother tried to talk my dad into letting my middle name me Moonbaby.

5. My first car was a Gremlin.

Let me know if you have any guesses for which of the above statements is the true one and I will send the first person who gets it correct a surprise of some sort (just to keep it fun).

***Requirements of the award:

–link back to the blogger who awarded you.
–display the graphic from award creator.
–post 5 facts, four of which must be lies.
–pass the award on to 5 other bloggers who must follow these rules.
–link the post back, so Jillsmo can follow its trajectory.

Since I just named 5 people, it feels crazy to do it again - but here we go (Oh and if you don't want to do this or have already been tagged, no worries, at least you had your name mentioned in the spirit of lying...) 

My five bloggers?

Michael Welch

Kathleen Kirk

Maureen Doallas

Rebecca Loudon

And anyone else who'd like to join in...   How's that?!

And if you want to guess my truth from my 4 lies, please leave me a comment on this post.  First person who guesses correctly wins a prize!


By the way, if you want to guess the truth from this list of 4 lies and truth, leave me a comment.  First one right, wins a prize!

Happy Sunday blog reading!


Friday, February 25, 2011

Throw a Stick, Hit a Poet - The Seattle Poetry Scene

Martha Silano at Seattle's Open Books
So, last night was Martha Silano's  reading at Seattle's poetry only bookstore Open Books.  And it was fantastic.  Marty dazzled with displays of Newton's Laws of Physics.  Her best quote of the night, "If you don't worry about the math part, physics is not that hard." (I laughed out loud when she said that).  What a fun evening!

And here's what's so great about going to a Seattle poetry reading...the audience is made up of some of my favorite people who are also great poets. 

Jeannine Gailey, me, Martha Silano, Joannie Stangeland, Annette Spaulding-Convy

Here's the guest list of some of the people I bumped into last night--

We have the above group of hooligans:
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Martha (our queen reader)
Joannie Stangeland
Annette Spaulding-Convy (my co-editor at Crab Creek Review) - okay I didn't actually bump into her, we came together.

But also, the room continued with more poets--

Peter Pereira
Megan Snyder-Camp
Kevin Craft (editor of Poetry Northwest)
Molly Tenenbaum
Kathleen Flenniken
Erin Malone

Susan Rich & Lana Ayers were missing due to this crazy illness that's hitting the Northwest.  And Sarah Vap and Oliver de la Paz didn't make it due to snow issues, I believe.

I had to cut out so I missed the after-reading chitchat as I had to catch the 9 pm ferry (ah, the life of someone tied to boat to bring me home, both romantic and inconvenient as well).  But I am thankful to have had dinner with Martha, Molly T, Erin M, Annette & others before the reading.


If you're a poet (and one of the kind, fun ones), you need to move Seattle.

My list above isn't even every poet in the area-- this is a sampling, these are just the poets who weren't stuck in the snow or afraid to drive in the snow or weren't sick or couldn't find childcare or __________ fill in the blank.

I'm thankful everyday to live an area with such a thriving poetry scene and such amazing poets.

And a poetry-only bookstore.

This is my dreamsong, my let's-fall-in-love-near-the-blue-moon-tavern, my left-of-the-erotic-bakery, my across-the-street-from-Dave-Matthews'-house, my thank-you-for-our-rain-because-it-makes-us-stay-in-and-write community.

And we do.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Martha Silano

As I type this, Martha Silano probably sleeps dreaming of tomorrow's Book Release reading at Open Books.  Her new book  The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception: Poems (above) is out!  And she is kicking it off with a major reading at Seattle's poetry-only bookstore.

As I type this, the reading is still planned and there is just enough snow to make things pretty in Seattle, but still drivable.  I never thought I'd have to worry about missing a reading in late February because of snow.  But I've decide that God was so excited about Marty's new book She threw confetti all over our town in celebration.

I need to be honest, I fell head-over-heels for Martha with this book, What the Truth Tastes Like (by the way, they were so hot they are out of print and there is one left at Amazon for $15, then the next one falls under "collectible" for $100).  I bring my copy with me everywhere.  It was one of the first books I read (along with Olena Kalytiak Davis' And Her Soul Out Of Nothing) that inspired me, not just as a reader, but as a poet.

Then she comes out with Blue Positive and I'm blown away.  Her poem "Harborview" still gives me goosebumps.
Blue Positive
Oh, and that's her baby daughter at the time on the cover above, now how cool is that?

Kelli & Marty in my Writing Shed - aka The House of Sea
I am thankful for Marty for many reasons as she is much more than just a poet to me, she has become my good friend, my roomie on my last writer's retreat, the Gertrude Stein to my Emily Dickinson, the one who treks, bikes, and drives over here to write in my poetry barn (even when my husband decides that is the day he's going to clean the chainsaw).  She is the one who inspired a poem called "Envious of the Pompons" and who continues to inspire me and so many others.

Yes, we are in love with her poems and her spirit, she is kind, generous, and supportive.

And if you've never had the chance to see this incredible reader, today is the day, her day!

Yes, to all you Northwest types and Seattle fans can see her tonight at Open Books in Wallingford at 7:30 pm - a starred review in the Stranger, and a bazillion stars plus a few aliens in my book, and a reading that will not disappoint.

Congratulations, Marty!  May it always be more than your day, but your lifetime.  
Cheers to you and tonight!



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Books & People that Have My Attention this Week--

Deborah Ager, author of Midnight Voices and editor is of 32 Poems is teaching an online workshop in March limited to 12 students.

Knowing Deborah, it will be wonderful.  If you've ever wanted the chance to work with a poet who knows what happens behind the scenes at a poetry journal, here's your chance.

If you're interested, find out more info here.


This blog post called Poor Poet Mothers by Sandra Simonds (brought to my attention by Sandra Beasley).

From the blog post:

I know a young mother who is a poet who is struggling as an adjunct and she is also an online tutor. She is a brilliant poet too.  Once another (male) poet said that she “exaggerated her poverty” because she wanted people to feel sorry for her. It reminded me that once I read that Sylvia Plath “exaggerated her poverty” so that people would feel sorry for her.
Guess what? Poor mothers DO NOT exaggerate their poverty. They do not want you to feel sorry for them.
There is no such thing as “exaggerating” poverty.
Poverty cannot be “exaggerated.”


I just finished Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother memoir about raising her daughters (the "Chinese" way vs. the "American" way).  The quotes are my own because honestly, we each raise our kids the way raise our kids, which is usually (and hopefully) what we feel is the *best* way.

I learned that a lot of people were furious with Amy in Seattle. (I was surprised to hear this from my coffee-loving, laid-back, Teva-with-sock-wearing, NPR listening, bookreading, organic-to-the-max eating neighbors).  Personally, I liked Wendy Lui's response in the NW Asian Weekly, I think because she got into politics and after saying she'd only say a few words, she said a lot (I love people who do that.)

And I thought as a mom, afterwards I'd have a huge response to this book.  But I don't.

I guess what I'm realizing the older I get is -- there is no one right way to do anything.  And who am I to judge the parenting of a woman who has two daughters who are incredible musicians and while she is a different type of parent than me, I felt her daughter's were well-loved and taken care of.

There's a scene in the book where she asks her daughter to remake her birthday card for her because it only took the daughter about 3 seconds to make, and I was surprised to hear my own mother say that she couldn't believe she had her daughter do that.

Honestly?  For me, I thought it made sense, we teach people (and our children and family) how to treat us.  If she didn't feel respected or cared for, I didn't think it would hurt her daughter's self-esteem to say, "You know, mommy deserves more than a dot-dot half-circle smiley face."

I guess I feel it's not easy being a mom.  I've made my share of mistakes and things I've learned how to do differently or better.  I'm realizing when my daughter was younger and I was judging other moms it was because I was feeling insecure about what I was doing--I wanted a handbook, a manual, an instruction sheet to figure out how to parent perfectly.

But back to the book, did I enjoy it?  Yes.

Was it well-written?  Well, the poet in me wanted to revise a few things, make it more lyrical and beautiful, but when don't I want to do that.

Can she carry the story and make it interesting? Yes.  I am the worst reader and if I get bored with a book, I'm done.  I have no patience for books that do not engage me.

So was I engaged?  Completely.  I read it in just a few sittings.  I know my interest has to do with being a mom and also the person who likes to look in other people's windows from the street in the evenings (you know how when it's dark and the lights are on in someone's home you can get such an intimate view of people living their lives). Okay, I sound creepy, but I mean to say that I'm interested in what goes on behind closed doors (and not bedroom doors, but front doors--).  (I'm also interested in how people decorate, but that's a whole other blog post).

So do I recommend it?  Yes.  If you're a woman. Or a mom, definitely.  Guys, I'd be interested to see what you think of it.  Honestly, I'm not sure you'd like it as much as the women.


I received an email from Luke Maguire Armstrong about his new book of poems, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About and a PDF of the book.

I don't know Luke and learned only about him through email, but I like that he took a risk and emailed me from Guatemala where he lives saying that it's difficult to promote one's book from another country.

As someone who is currently up to her shoulders (literally) with books on my nightstand I've promised to review, I've been saying no, or not now, to poets in the review category, but he asked something different-- could you tell people about it.  Luke, that I can do!

So here you go--

What surprised me about his book was that was some pretty interesting stuff you don't normally see in poetry books.
iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About

Things that interested me-- his author's note,  his visual table of contents and that he's donating part of the proceeds to the charity.

***I don't normally put books up on my blog that I haven't completely read, but I'm a sucker for charities and regular people doing good things.

Here's Luke's bio--

Luke Maguire Armstrong lives and works Antigua, Guatemala where he directs the humanitarian development organization Nuestros Ahijados (GOD’S CHILD Guatemalan Program) in a mission to "break the bitter chains of poverty through education and formation". To this end the program has schools, clinics, a homeless shelter, a malnourished infant center, and other sustainable programs benefiting 12,000 impoverished people in Guatemala. 

His book, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About, was released in 2010. He is a contributor to the travel site and co-editor of the offbeat travel book The Expeditioner’s Guide to the World. His un-published novel How One Guitar Will Save the World will soon be unleashed upon the world. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Confession Tuesday - The Humor Edition

Dear Reader,

It's that time again.  Time for me to confess my deepest secrets or weekly sins.  I feel I've mostly been good, mostly been the person I want to be, but welcome the world of imperfect beings with good intentions.  Let's begin...

To the confessional--

I confess I like my sarcastic self a lot.  I know sometimes I can have a pointed tongue in the name of humor, but I like that part of myself.  In an attempt to try to be a "better person," I realized I was holding back on some of my humor because it ultimately someone was the butt of the joke.  But I realized after a night of Happy Hour appetizers, there is a part of me that is oddly addicted to making people laugh.


I confess knowing this about myself doesn't surprise me, my final paper in grad school was a 27 page essay called: INCLUDING LAUGHTER: THE USE OF HUMOR BY CONTEMPORARY WOMEN POETS. I chose it because it was something an editor pointed out to me when I told him I didn't know what to write my paper on. He said, "Why don't you do what you're doing in your manuscript?" Of course, I said having no idea what he was referring to, "What's that?" He said, "You're using humor to deal with serious subjects." Who knew?


I confess I like a bit of humor in my poetry and for the first years when I read Elizabeth Bishop I could not quite get her voice and wasn't enjoying her work.  Susan Rich said to me, "Read her work with a sense of humor."  And that was the key to opening the door to Ms. Bishop's work-- she's funny!  I had completely missed that.  I was reading her as if she was a stuffy old poet serious about the world.


I confess I just watched the DVD Grown Ups with Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade and the guy from King of Queens.  It could have been just one of those nights where the stars aligned to put me in the perfect mood for that movie, but I thought it was hilarious.  I felt that way after watching The Proposal with Sandra Bullock, the scene with Kevin the dog and the eagle & Sandra Bullock and Betty White around the bonfire were two parts where I really thought the movie was written for my personal sense  of humor.

I also like The Birdcage & Much Ado About Nothing.


I confess my five least favorite movies ever are:  Moon over Parador, Jerry MacGuire, Eat/Pray/Love, Fargo, & Babe.  And of all of those movies, I hate Babe the most -- Baa-ram-ewe.  Urgh.

I believe at the time I found Babe to be the most depressing movie I've ever watched. (And I confess I say this knowing it freaks certain people out who don't understand my deep hatred for that movie...)

I confess the celebrities who continually make me laugh are Conan O'Brien, David Sedaris, Sandra Bullock, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld (still), Chelsea Handler, Ellen Degeneres, Janeane Garofalo, Sandra Bernhardt, Paula Poundstone, & Kathy Griffin. (Oh and in a really odd note, I find Tori Spelling pretty funny, which is weird because I never liked her during 90210).


The poets who I think use humor best in their work?  Nin Andrews. Denise Duhamel. Dorothy Barresi. Martha Silano. Barbara Hamby. David Kirby. Albert Goldbarth.

This is the next book on my TO READ list:
  Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything ElseSeriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything Else

Quite a few of the poets I mentioned above are included in it.


I confess one thing that gives me the most humor in the day is my iPhone autocorrect which to me should really be called: "Wrong Word Chooser."  If you have an iPhone or most Mac products, you might know that when you type something, it tries to guess the word you are typing and help you out.

Well, sometimes it's wrong, VERY VERY wrong.

For example, my husband texted me to ask where I was and when I went to type, "Aurora Avenue."  It assumed "Aurora" was a mistake and chose the word, "Autistic," so yes, I was on Autistic Avenue.  It also has chosen "orgy!" when I typed "urgh!"  (I think my husband was quite excited when he received that text, then to find out I was actually just annoyed because I had forgotten something at home.)

I am not the only one who finds the humor in these bizarre messages we end up sending the people we love, there's a whole website devoted to it called Damn You AutoCorrect!  Watch out though, word lovers, you could spend a whole afternoon there...


I confess my family (both the French-Catholic & Irish/English side) has always used humor to get through hard times.  For me, humor is both a defensive-mechanism and an optimistic belief that if we can laugh at troubles and struggles, they can't get us.  If we can find the humor in the worst parts of our lives, then we win.  Or we die laughing.  Either way, at least we were smiling...



Monday, February 21, 2011

Book of Style

Of course, this was before she saw the photo of me Eduardo and my sleepyhair look.
But nonetheless, I was chosen.
Here are the rules:
The Stylish Blogger Award Rules
- Make this a post & link back to the person who gave you the award
- Share seven things about yourself
- Award five great bloggers
- Contact the bloggers to tell them they've won!
Seven Things
So I have to share 7 things about me, hmm, what comes to mind--

1)  I love receiving mail & I so hate that holidays = 2 days of no mail.
2)  Because of my sweet tooth, I usually give up chocolate for Lent every year. (BTW, for the Catholics out there, Lent comes very late this year, so you have not missed it, nor Mardi Gras!)
3)  I love animals and birds, but can be a little oversensitive to our animal kingdom.  I had to give up watching Meercat Manor because I was stressing out over Shakespeare.  Anything with fur, feather and good instincts I tend to love.  I think the hardest animals to love are humans because I speak their language.
4)  I feel strangely connected with birds and have believed they come as "signs" at times in my life.  When my daughter was an infant, I had to drive her to the hospital each day to follow up on some things that happened during her birth, each day I drove her there, I saw a heron.  I knew when I saw that heron, everything will be okay.  Since then we have always said that my daughter's totem animal is a heron.  Mine is a kingfisher.  My husband's is a bald eagle.  No starlings for this family.

5)  I love Sunday mornings, sitting on the couch with my family, cats and with golden retriever on the floor below us .  The fire is going, I'm drinking fresh coffee and everyone is reading.   If I could bottle this feeling and sell it to everyone, it would be the most expensive product ever and there would be lines in all the stores for that kind of quiet, calmness, and feeling of a perfect morning.
6)  During a German test when I was an undergrad at the UW, the only word I could remember was "durchfall," which means "diarrhea" in Deutsch.  So I basically wrote ever sentence with that word in it (andit was travel-themed too) so my sentences included lovely lines like "Ich habe durchfall in das auto" (I have diarrhea in the car), "Ich habe durchfall an der Grenze" (I had diarrhea at the border).  I can only imagine what my professor was thinking when he read my test.  Oh and I ended up getting a D.
7)  I love the words:  lollygagging, hipsway (not a real word but to me), discombobulated, razzle-dazzle, beefsteak (a kind of tomato), planchette, flip-flops, swoon, nebula, madrona, foxglove and chaos.
My least favorite words are: filibuster, panties, meniscus, coccyx, mucus, really (like when someone does or says something and someone just responds, "Really.")  I'm forgetting some, but my friend Joanna knows all my dislikes in words (and can use them all in a sentence.)  I think she hates the word "cubby" if I'm remembering correctly.   

Now for the bloggers I chose to share 7 things about themselves and the bloggers I think are stylish-


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beautiful Things that Help Others...

I just received this email from a friend/poet I know.  Her daughter has Juvenile Myositis and this month, with every purchase of a Glassybaby (the coolest votives ever) 10% of sales will go to the Cure JM Foundation.  

These votives have been in Martha Stewart and are in many of my favorite restaurants in Seattle.  Anyway, if you want to do something nice for yourself and this cause, here's an excuse to buy one.  Just use the promo code when you purchase one of on the Glassybaby website  curejm    

Or if you're feeling generous, you can just go to the Cure JM site and donate directly.

By the way, another cool thing about these is that they began in the Seattle by a mother of three who was fighting a rare form of lung cancer.  You can read her story here.

Here was the email I received--

For the WHOLE MONTH of February, if you purchase a glassybaby either in the store or online, and you tell them at check-out that you are supporting Cure JM, then 10% of sales will go to the Cure JM Foundation to help fund research, education and awareness of this rare, autoimmune disease.  Glassybabys make terrific gifts for anyone and can be used as votives for candles or drinking glasses.

Cure JM is staffed exclusively by volunteers.  We are either parents of kids with JM or relatives or friends to kids with JM.  All of our money goes to research for a cure or to fund educational events and awareness for doctors, patients and families.

Glassybaby is all about supporting people and organizations related to cancer or other healthcare issues. 

You can also donate directly to Cure JM either on the website or through the mail.

Thank you so much for your consideration and time.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Love in the Age of Blogging (or where my mind is at 7 am)

So it's Friday morning and I'm off to Seattle for a lovely day of friendship and poetry, but I wanted to check in with you here because I've been feeling a bit off-kilter, not just behind the eight-ball, but the eightball spinning in circles.

I have been quite behind since returning from DC.  And since I see quite a few of you show up here to read what is hopefully an interesting blog on living & writing creatively, I just want to share my plans so you know what to expect in the upcoming months and seasons.

1)  Blog requests - #1 on my list!  I have quite a few-- some on contest & open submissions, one on putting a manuscript together, one on FB vs. Twitter & the social networking aspect of the writer's life, one on retreats and what to take, "genre poetry" and a couple other things.

Please know, I haven't forgotten about any of your requests, but realized that my January (and not February) ended up a bit busier than I expected and I didn't get to as many as I hoped (thought) I would.

A lot of my busyness was not related to poetry.  And no worries, it's all good things, mostly mom/volunteer/editor/person-in-the-world stuff, just things that have pulled me from my blogging AND writing time.  So I'm working to reestablish some time for myself.

But because I'm a Capricorn and someone who tries her best to stay on schedule, I wanted to send my apologies for being the slow responder, the snailmailer in the time of internet, but as you know, life steps in occasionally and does the bugaloo on time, the watusi on my calendar.  But, I'm a list maker, so as the song says, "there's always something there to remind me."  And the other song says, "All you need is love..."

2)  Confession Tuesday - Yes, a fav, I've learned. ;-)  I will promise that even if I'm behind in my other blogging goals, I will be here on Tuesday with bells (or St. Cecilia) on.  I enjoy it too and it's a nice way to make sure I'm here once a week and sharing interesting stuff.

3)  Thankful Thursday:  A time to promote another person, website or thing that I have fallen head-over-heels with.  Yes, there is so much in this world to love, I expect this to continue to be a GO as well.

So there you are.  During these days of time hula-dancing while I'm eating poi distracted by the palm trees and new scenery, I will try my best to make this place, this blog of Book of Kells, interesting.

Anyway, I just wanted to share what is in my brain (coffee, homemade granola, chocolate) with you in case you were curious.  Jane's getting curious.

Thank you as always for reading, for stopping by and for the comments (I'm behind on responding to them as well), but they come right to my email box so I love seeing your names pop up.

And to the new people I met at the OWOH (One World, One HeArt) event for artists, hello! Such inspiring artists in this world.

So off again into the world. Thank you all for reading.  And sending love, love, love...

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.

All you need is love (everybody!)...


Thankful Thursday: Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler author, read at the Seattle Arts and Lecture series and I left, so inspired.

Blood Dazzler

There are some poets who when you hear them or read them, make you want to become a better poet.  Patricia did this for me.  She is not just incredible with words, but with delivery.

I left wanting to be a better reader when I recite my poems.

She created connection with the audience the moment she walked on the stage.  It was not us watching Patricia read, but we were part of the reading.  She let us in on so many levels.

It's hard to explain. I know part of it is energy.  I know part of it is what she says and how she interacts.  She never wanted us to feel "left out" in anyway.  Think about going to a reading where you think something like, "This reader could just be reading to a brick wall (and might as well be)," because it makes NO difference whether we are in the room or not, he's going to read his poem, he's going to assume you care because your butt is in a chair.  But you don't care, you're thinking about your shopping list and when this reading will end and he's thinking about "should I have come out tonight because there's only a handful of people" and "I wonder if Wallace Stevens wore boxers" and "Maybe I'll steak tonight" and "I have all these papers to grade" and "I wonder if that woman who I bought the latte from looks like naked."

Patricia was nothing like the dull, dry, uncaring poet that has/might be/is the stereotype of what is wrong with poetry readings.  She is the comet when you were expecting a clear night and no rain.  She is the unexpected hug when you were expecting a handshake.

And I found out, not only did she could to our city, but was here a couple days teaching a workshop at Richard Hugo House (which I'm bummed I missed), going into our high schools and teaching poetry to the kids, and reading to us Tuesday night.  This is the kind of generous poet I love.  Her passion for poetry and words is in every breath.

If you get a chance to see her, do.  You won't be disappointed.  The evening/reading flew by.

Here's Patricia's website and a poem if you want to learn more about her.

Hip-Hop Ghazal

Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.

As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.

Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping 'tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.

Engines grinding, rotating, smokin', gotta pull back some.
Natural minds are lost at the mere sight of ringing true hips.

Gotta love us girls, just struttin' down Manhattan streets
killing the menfolk with a dose of that stinging view. Hips.

Crying 'bout getting old—Patricia, you need to get up off
what God gave you. Say a prayer and start slinging. Cue hips.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elizabeth Bishop Interviewed in the Paris Review

If you have not read this interview with Elizabeth Bishop in the Paris Review, you must.

She comes across funny, smart, and well, adorable.

Here's a few favorite parts--

In your letter to me, you sounded rather wary of interviewers. Do you feel you’ve been misrepresented in interviews? For example, that your refusal to appear in all-women poetry anthologies has been misunderstood as a kind of disapproval of the feminist movement.

I’ve always considered myself a strong feminist. Recently I was interviewed by a reporter from the Chicago Tribune. After I talked to the girl for a few minutes, I realized that she wanted to play me off as an “old fashioned” against Erica Jong, and Adrienne [Rich], whom I like, and other violently feminist people. Which isn’t true at all. I finally asked her if she’d ever read any of my poems. Well, it seemed she’d read one poem. I didn’t see how she could interview me if she didn’t know anything about me at all, and I told her so. She was nice enough to print a separate piece in the Chicago Tribune apart from the longer article on the others. I had said that I didn’t believe in propaganda in poetry. That it rarely worked. What she had me saying was “Miss Bishop does not believe that poetry should convey the poet’s personal philosophy.” Which made me sound like a complete dumbbell! Where she got that, I don’t know. This is why one gets nervous about interviews.


  So I kept a notebook of my dreams and thought if you ate a lot of awful cheese at bedtime you’d have interesting dreams. I went to Vassar with a pot about this big—it did have a cover!—of Roquefort cheese that I kept in the bottom of my bookcase . . . I think everyone’s given to eccentricities at that age. I’ve heard that at Oxford Auden slept with a revolver under his pillow.


I must say, I've always liked Elizabeth Bishop, but after reading this, I find I adore her.  There are so many more quotable parts in this in interview.  Enjoy it.  It's wonderful to hear her voice so close to her 100 year birthday (last week).  


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

It's been a week of jetlag and napping since my last confession.  I confess my mind is young, but my body tells a different story.  Dear pillow.  Dear one-more-hour of sleep.

But I am in good spirits and celebrated Valentine's day by going to dinner with my mum and family and by receiving a box of Frangos.  Yes, those were once Fredrick & Nelson treats, now their name belongs to Macy's.

But now, it's time to confess.  SO much on my mind, but what will I confess to?  I guess we'll find out...

To the confessional--

I confess I was pretty excited to receive a call and an email from two (2!) separate publishers at AWP.  I thought, "Wow, I must have really made an impression on them!  How exciting, what good news do they want to tell me?"  -  Answer- It seems the Visa card I was using at AWP was my old card and so the expiration date was a year off which caused it be rejected again and again.  Nice, Kelli.

So I had to call back and email them with the new expiration date and it went through just fine.  So, I *did* make an impression, just not the one I would have liked.

I confess sometimes my ego lives in a world of its own.

I confess my imagination also lives in a world of its own where people call me up to give me money and prizes.

I confess it's not a bad place to live.

~ ~ ~

I confess I learned an important health lesson and want to share this with you in case any of you do this.   Two nights ago I took my vitamins *before* bed and they cause me to have a small case of esophagitis.  Basically, the vitamin(s) must not have quite went down and I laid down to sleep and they caused an irritation.

When I woke up the next morning (Valentine's day) it felt as if someone was wrapping a red bow around my heart quite tightly.  A pretty simile, but not a pretty way to feel. It hurt to swallow and felt as if there was something stuck in my throat.  Anyway, it's HUGELY uncomfortable, so if you are in the habit of taking pills, vitamins, etc. before bed. Stop!  It's not a good idea.  And I've been told not to do it again.


I confess I've been SO excited about the success some of my favorite poets have been having in the poetry world.

I'm going to throw something out there and you can feel welcome to agree or disagree -- but all the recent successes and there's been QUITE a few (expect a list upcoming--some are still in the works with friends of mine and are still secret), but all the successes I know about are happening to incredibly nice, generous, and kind people.

I'm not exaggerating.  These people are some of my best friends and/or the some of the nicest people around.


I confess, I do believe in karma.  I do believe much of what we receive, is what we give out.

This is not to say we all need to be perfect and never feel jealous (a favorite quote of mine is by Justin Cronin who said, "Every time a friend of mine is published, a part of myself dies.")  :-)  But to realize, life is energy in action, we get what we give.

So, there you go. I'm seeing good things happen to good people these days and I'm personally drawing connections.  And I confess, maybe it's because it's what I want/need to believe.  Maybe there is no such thing as synchronicities, but I'm not sure I'd want to live in a life without magic.

I confess I like my woo-woo world, my karma connections, my we're-all-connected mentality.  I do believe if you're cruel to your fellow human or animal, you're cruel to yourself.

Maybe because yesterday was Valentine's day, I'm all love and karma today. Maybe because I ate chocolate for breakfast.  Maybe because for me, it's a better life to have faith and trust and all those five letter words that move us to a better place.


I confess I spent quite a long time living in fear (I have a book about it!)  It's not the best apartment for anyone.  It's dark and small and lacks lighting.  I've moved into the world again (baby steps into the elevator).  I still struggle with it sometimes.  I still pull the blinds and sleep late.  But I'm better. Better than I was.

And to come back to my happiness, it's turned to high when I hear good news for these poets I so respect and admire for not just their writing, but how they live their lives.  And I hope to celebrate them in the couple weeks when all their successes are official and on the record.


I confess the older I get, the more I realize life is less of what happens to you and more of how you react to it.  (I can react like an idiot sometimes, but you know, I've admitted to having a young soul.)


I confess on days when I don't know what I'll confess, I always seem to ramble.  I hope you stayed with me.  And I hope your life is filled with all good things and good karma.



Monday, February 14, 2011

How You Can Support Individual Artists and Projects #kickstarter

 I learned about Kickstarter today.  A cool way to help all kinds of artists support their dreams, goals and visions.

A friend of mind was looking for support for a project he's doing (see above).  What's cool is you can support this project with any amount of money, yes, even $1.  I think that's fantastic.

Anyway, I am a "backer" of the project and have browsed through kickstarter to see what other projects are going on.  In a time when we are watching the arts being cut, I find myself wanting to support other artists (call it a volunteer tax) and this may be a way to do it.

Happy Valentine's Day, Baby...

My poem, Love Letter with Language Barrier is up at Escape into Life for Valentine's day.  Here's the beginning of it:   

Dear Beloved,
My mouth is empty for you.

To read the rest and to read Nin Andrew's poem "Your Last Orgasm" (a favorite of mine) go here and be sure to have a happy Valentine's day.  Love and kisses and all that.

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