Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

It's been one week of leftovers and a fire in the oven since my last confession. The turkey was fine (as was my sister's kitchen!), just a little grease fire to start the holiday the way we like to-- with a good story where no one gets (got) hurt.

I'm a little under the weather, but still it's time.  To the confessional--

I confess I love the holiday season and already have my tree up and the living room decorated.  I know.  Nutty.  And yes, I've already been to The Nutcracker this year and am buying tickets for a local production of It's a Wonderful Life.

There is a part of me that wishes I bottle this feeling and keep it for the times I'm mopey and down.

But I can't.  So I live it up now and deal with other emotions when I have to.


I confess stuffing is my favorite.  And mashed potatoes.  And I like my cranberry from a can (in the shape of a can).

We also have the Russell Green Jello salad, a tradition in my family.  Mine is made special without walnuts.  Okay, without walnuts, celery, and cabbage (all things that should be in Jello).  It's a crazy salad that only could have been created in the 1960's or 1970's and every year there it is on the table.

It's also tradition to have (read: force) everyone try/taste/eat it.

Oh and don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about vintage Americans, I know you eat some similar odd "traditional" food at your Thanksgiving.

I confess I did not shop on Black Friday. I didn't leave the house.  I decorated our tree and listened to Christmas music.  I dislike shopping anyway.  Shopping in crowds just lowers my tolerance to "let's-get-out-of-here-now!"


I confess I wish I had more stuffing.

Happy Almost December!



Friday, November 25, 2011

My Favorite Things: Christmas Ideas for Readers, Book Lovers, Poets, & Writers

Since tomorrow is the first day of December, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things for this holiday season.

My Favorite Things:

Terry's Chocolate Oranges (dark or milk)  $4-5 in grocery stores
**Our yearly tradition.  Chocolate & poetry go together well.

Old School Wooden Lap Desk  $59
***Note, I also saw these on Amazon for $30, but they had some bad reviews, so I'm linking to this one as it's the one I purchased about eight years ago and love.  You can store all your notecards & pencils 
under the desktop.  Plus it helps stop my laptop from overheating when I write in bed.

DogBones Chiropractic Pillow $8.81
***I just bought one of these in a Hawaiian print and I love it.  I use it every night and I take it with me on long car rides and trips.  One of the reviews said it was "too soft" but I would lean the other way saying it could be just a tad softer and smaller, but for the price, it's been an absolute win for me. It's actually saved me a lot of neckaches.  They have better colors (than the one I've linked to), but they're a few dollars more.

The Frugal Book Promoter: Second Edition: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher  $12.88

***I just received a review copy of this book and I'm already quite impressed with it.  It gives a lot of ideas on marketing one's book and offers a lot of info for someone who is just publishing their first book.  I like how the author, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, writes in easy-to-read style.  It's a pretty big book that you can pick and choose what you need help on.

Poetry Books! Under $20
***Kristin Berkey-Abbott did this incredible list of poetry books AND included a short summary of EACH book!  Definitely a resource for you or any other readers in your life.

Smart Wool Socks $14-$16
***Just the best socks ever!  You can't write with cold feet!

On Writing: A Memoir on Craft by Stephen King
***Fantastic book.  Read it in one sitting.

SkullCandy EarBuds $9-$14
***A great way to shut out the world.  I have an orange and green pair.  I like the brighter colors as they are easier to find.  I only use these when I listen to audio books.  Comfy & perfect.

Il Postino (DVD)  $24 & up!
***This is one of my very favorite movies and perfect for poets and those who love Pablo Neruda. Absolutely beautiful and incredible music too.  I'm thrilled I own this DVD as I see they aren't available from Amazon, but from indie sellers.  You can probably rent this on Netflix-- please do if you haven't seen it.  (Oh and in case you hate reading your movies, it is subtitled.)

Il Postino Soundtrack $14.99
**I have the music on my laptop and when I listen to it, I feel as if I leave this world.

Midnight in Paris DVD (Woody Allen Movie with Owen Wilson) $17.99
***Incredible movie for the literary types.  I loved this movie and its soundtrack as well.  Best Woody Allen movie in a very long time.  Available on Dec. 20th.

2012 BusyBodyBook Organizer  $12.88
***This is my second year with the BusyBodyBook.  They are dated (1 page each week) & created in columns to help track your family members (i.e. column 1: dad, column 2: mom, column 3: daughter, etc.) however, I use each column to track my projects and list off what I need to do for them each day  (Column 1: Poetry, Column 2: Crab Creek Review, Column 3: Fire On Her Tongue Anthology, Column 4: Home Projects, etc.)  There are 5 columns and as a list maker, I love seeing what I need to do each day and cross it off.

Sea Salt Caramels sold in the Nordstrom Cafe $20 (sorry, couldn't find a link for these!)

Chore Chart $38 (Etsy)
**Okay, this may seem weird, but I purchased one of these for our family (& my daughter) and I realized, this might also be a great way to give yourself goals or projects as the creator of this board will make your chore magnets, whatever you like.  So where I have "wash dishes," the writer can have "submit poem" or "write 500 pages," or "do writing exercises."   

Okay, I'm a Mac gal and actually kind of anti-Kindle (I worry about how Amazon is creating its own little empire and I have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with them), but Collin Kelley recently got a Kindle Fire and did a great review of it you can watch here if you're considering buying one.

They are currently $199 and available at Amazon--

I have an iPad that I love, but for $199, I can see why these are such a hit.

Let me know what your favorite things are this year!


Plaid Friday! Shop INDIE this Season & Support your local indie merchants & artists! -->

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Keep Calm & Cranberry On...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hoping you each have many blessings and many servings of pumpkin pie in your life.

~ Kells


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

I confess I can't believe it's Tuesday again-- it's as if they pile up on each other like pairless socks.  My laptop is telling me that pairless isn't a word.  It should be.

I have a busy day planned, but for now, let's get to the what we're hear for, confessing...though I'm not sure I have anything too interesting to share.

I confess my poetry group met last night and half of us (4 poets) had poems about drowning.  Maybe it's the rain.  Maybe it's the feeling of going under, but I was surprised to see this.

It's happened before on different topics.  I sometimes wonder if certain themes or creative ideas flow through people who continually meet up.

What's cool is though, even though we each wrote about drowning, it was so different in each poem.  Connected but separate.


I confess I still like stamps and postal mail and collecting coins and rocks.  These are four  things I did as a child (I know, you're thinking, "Wow, she must have been very cool and popular as a kid").   I also collected dachshund figurines, and you know popularity begins with a good small dog collection.

But here's the thing-- as I became older, I was kind of embarrassed for my nerdy/geeky/dorkiness.   I know, stamps and postal mail *are* cool, I see that now.  But back then, well, no one was interested in my wheat pennies, oddly enough.

Middle school can rob girls (and maybe boys) of who they really are.  (Note: I'm not sure about the boys, I never was one, don't have one as a child, and never understood them in middle school, so I'll leave that open to discussion for all the boypeople of the world.)

But girls, nothing good happens in middle school for girls.  It's where everyone pretends to be a zebra (whether they are or aren't) so they aren't attacked by the tigers.  The thing is, middle school passes and there are all these zebras hanging around who aren't exactly sure where they got their stripes.

I guess what I'm saying is embrace your inner self.  And I confess, these days, I'm much more likely to talk to you about Owney the Postal Dog and with no apologies.

We cannot all be trendy and like what's cool, and luckily, there are enough people in this country to do that for us, so thankfully, there's room for you to be yourself.


I confess I would be terrible on Family Feud because my answers are never anything that the "survey says..."

For example, when they say, Name something you can't have too much of -- my first response was "slippers."

And maybe the people on Family Feud are not artist or poets because they have to say what the majority says.  And maybe the joy in life is not repeating or being like others, but knowing in your life, slippers are important.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Robert Hass, Occupy Berkeley & It's "Beat Poets" not "beat poets"

While at my MFA@PLU reunion, I had a few moments to browse blogs and saw on January O'Neil's blog  that Robert Hass, our Poet Laureate from 1995-1997 was hit with a baton by a police officer:

You can read the full article about this on the Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog here.

When I saw the video of this, it truly saddened me.  Here is a 71 year old man, a grandfather, an ex-Poet Laureate who ends up being hit basically for standing.  (I learn later his wife Brenda Hillman was knocked to the ground by police while trying to talk to them about peaceful protests.)

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any lawrespecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

If I have to follow the second amendment ("the right to bear arms") - and "bear" is a verb and not a noun, as I would agree to this without question--

Bear Arms would be great in the winter!

Then I'd like our First Amendment rights upheld.

Seeing the video of the students being pepper-sprayed at Berkeley on Friday, I kept thinking, "Those are people's children...those are our children."

Today, an editorial by Robert Hass was published in NY Times "Poet-Bashing Police" about what he saw.

And then the Occupy Berkeley students make me proud with this--

Yes, since they couldn't pitch tent, they put them on helium balloons and floated them above their space (I love creativity!)

But here's the thing--I'm not interested in anyone's opinion on the Occupy movement. I don't want to debate if it's working, if it's right, etc. etc.   I'm interested in how we are responding to these peaceful protests, whether you agree with the movement or not, every time force is used on an American citizen (whether you agree with their opinion or not), you lose too.

We each lose our rights to speak our opinions, to stand up for what we believe in.  Whatever that is.


By the way, I haven't been blogging much about this, but posting links on Facebook and Twitter because it's easier with articles.

So if you want to follow me for further updates--

on Twitter find me at:  kelliagodon

And on Facebook here:  www.facebook.com/agodon
And here: www.facebook.com/kellia (you don't have to "friend" me, you can follow by way of subscribing (as the kids are doing these days...) )


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Art of Procrastination -->

Recently a friend told me she loved how I got so much done and didn't procrastinate.

Um, do not assume, young grasshopper. . . as I too can actively and voluntarily participate in this activity called procrastination.

So I started to think about the things I procrastinate on and here is my list--

1)  Any activity that involves calling someone or talking on the phone.

I so dislike talking on the phone.  I have a few friends who are my exceptions, but mostly, I dread the phone.  I dislike a) making appts.  b) having to call someone to give or get information  c) answering the phone.  

I'm not sure why this is because as a teenage girl, I was a professional phone conversationalist.  Now, I hate it.  In fact, I'm writing this blog post instead of making two appts I need to make today.

2)  Submitting my work --

This is another area that I put off and put off and put off.  Once I had a "submission party" with my writer friends where we all brought our laptops and printed off copies of poems and sent them out.  There was good food and wine.  Submitting with wine give one a weird courage.

But mostly, I neglect this aspect of my life until 180 days have gone by or I feel bad that no one is accepting my work---it's kind of hard to accept work that isn't being submitted -- duh.  Still.  I put this task off all the time.

3)  Laundry-- hate it.

I believe the architects who build homes have never done laundry in their lives because if they did, the laundry room would actually be a dressing room/clothes storage room/linen closet/etc instead of having to fold the laundry then bring it various places in the house.

If you come to my house on any day there will be:
a) laundry to do
b) unfolded clean clothes

When I am Oprah-rich, I will hire someone and his/her one job will be keeping up on the laundry and putting things away.  I will pay them nicely and give them chocolate as a reward.

4)  Reviews of books

This is a funny thing because I read a ton and write a ton and in fact will mention books I've read here on my blog.  But call them a "review" or ask me to write one for Crab Creek Review twice a year, and I will put it off until the last minute.

I *know* how good I feel when I finish a review and cross it off my list, but it one area in writing I put off and put off and put off.

As I look over this list, I think why my friend believed I didn't procrastinate was because I tend not to procrastinate my writing.  In fact, I'll write before I do laundry or make the appointment or submit my work.

My passion is not laundry, or phone calls--these are things I do because I need to.

My passion is not submitting and writing reviews--I do these two things because I believe they are part of the writer's job;  sending your work out into the world and helping others get attention for their work are two things I truly believe are important and I try to do them, though not always in a timely manner.

So it made me think of this-- what do we do that gives us fulfillment?   When we're spending our time on "other things" that give us pleasure and we're passionate about, what are they and how can this become our life's work?

And I don't think this quote means that kind of "wasted" time--because honestly, if this sign is deeply true, then some of you might be thinking, "I should get a job with Facebook?"  Note: "wasted" in quotes because I don't think you can "waste time" just use it in ways your future-self might not be too pleased with.

But what is it that when you're doing it, you never feel you should be doing something else, you find yourself lost in "flow," which is that timelessness I love to fall into.

We all procrastinate in good and bad areas.  For me, a bad procrastination is not submitting (because it hurts my writer's life).  A good procrastination is laundry (because not doing that helps my writer's life).   Having a big pile of laundry doesn't make me look like homemaker of the year, but honestly, that is not really a title I'm going for.

So yes, I do procrastinate very much.  And some days I'm right on tasking and go down my to-do list like my Capricorn self appreciates, but other days, I'm quite happy reading a book with the fire going and well, that's okay too.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Editor's Life: 6 Suggestions When Submitting Your Work for Publication

And apparently, are also boys with spiky orange hair.

I have been living much more as an editor recently than as a writer.

This is okay because I realize life is never perfectly balanced--there are times when you are heavy on one thing, light on another.  I try to look at my life's balance over a year and not a month.

This month has been all about Crab Creek Review & the upcoming Fire On Her Tongue anthology.  Both publications had deadlines on Monday, it was nutty.  Now there's a little rest period while others proof and do corrections. Ahhh...

Before becoming an editor, I thought there was a lot of mystery behind literary journals.  There's not.  There's a lot of work, (unpaid work), loose ends, reading, following up, decision making, and dealing with finances.

Here are some things I've learned and might help you as you submit--

1)  Professional over quirky is better.  

I know we're writers/artists, but I prefer a cover letter that is easy to read and to the point, not anything on purple-scented paper or with weird images embedded in the email submissions.

I am more likely to take a writer seriously if they can take themselves seriously.

Personal Faux-Pas as Young Writer (part 1)-- Handwriting a giant "Enjoy these poems!" and making a unique drawing on a cover letter to the Paris Review (age 23).

2) Read the journal or learn about the journal before you submit.  If you're awesome, subscribe or buy a sample copy.

This little thing will save you time and money in the long run and may introduce you to a new poet or writer, or a journal you'll want to receive at your house.

Personal Faux-Pas as Young Writer (part 2)-- Submitted poems to Parnassus: Poetry in Review without *getting* that it publishes REVIEWS and critical writing, not poems.  Duh.

3)  Read the submissions guidelines and follow them.

While it might feel like jumping through hoops, all the guidelines were put into place for a reason. I know ours were and they help us when we read your work.

Personal Faux-Pas as a Young Writer (part 3): Too many mistakes to name.  I've sent too many poems, sent them to the wrong address, sent them the wrong time of the year, yadda, yadda, yadda.

4)  Try not to take things personally.

If they don't get back to you on a timely basis, most likely they are overworked, stressing out and behind.  They most likely aren't inconsiderate, just busy and overwhelmed.  I would guess the majority of literary journals the editors are unpaid (or paid little) and that they have another job, commitment, or are raising a family.

The editors at Crab Creek Review have full-time jobs, part-time jobs, little kids at home, big kids at home or in college, are authors/writers themselves, other commitments, AND are all working to publish this journal on a volunteer basis.

Realizing how much there is to do at a literary journal has allowed me to submit without being annoyed at how long it took to hear from a journal, etc. because I realize how much there is to do AND read.

Personal Faux-Pas as Young Editor (part 1): Thinking I would never get behind in reading submissions, then did.  More than once.

5)  In you simultaneously submit, let journals know asap if your poem or story is accepted elsewhere.

This was my surprise as an editor.  Not knowing I'd fall in love with poems and stories, then when accepting them, learn they are not available.  I hadn't realized how attached I'd get to someone's work, how disappointed I'd feel when we couldn't publish it.

When this happens, I don't hold a grudge against the writer. I know we're doing the best we can and sometimes we forgot, make mistakes, and cannot be perfectly organized.  I have sim-subbed and haven't meant to, but it just came down to bad record keeping on my part (Personal Faux-Pas part 4), so I tend to be easy on writers.  Other editors may not be so easy, just be aware of that.

6)  If the journal takes 4 poems, submit 3 poems you think they'd publish and one poem you think they wouldn't. 

This sounds like bizarre advice, but my friend (and poet/editor/publisher) Lana Ayers gave me this and it's made a huge difference.  Oddly, it seems the one poem I think a journal won't like, is the one they take.

I'm not sure why this is?  Maybe we read a journal and see lots of poems on herons and think, "Oh, they'd love my heron poem" and the editor is in her office saying, "Geez, enough with the heron poems, people!"  So the 4th poems, which has nothing do with herons or anything else the magazine has published recently, is accepted.

I'm not sure.  Just it's a good mentality as a writer, it's not your job to try to read the editor's mind, it's your job to do good work and submit the best of it.

Good luck!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

I confess I've been away.  I confess I've been away and so busy I forgot to blog.  I forgot to blog and people thought I was kidnapped.  Or falling apart.

But no, it's not that interesting...  Just very away and very busy.

To the confessional--

I confess I spent the weekend at a reunion for my MFA program (PLU's Rainier Writers Workshop).  It was pretty wonderful being around others who love to write and talk about writing and the writing life and projects and books and nerdy stuff.  Not once did I hear about Kim Kardashian or her wedding.  No one talked gossiped about anyone else.  No one tried to put anyone down or their ideas.  It's pretty much my utopia being around these types of people.


I confess I realize the lesson I'm still working on learning is that life is too short to spend time with people you don't really like.  It's also too short to fold fitted sheets properly, but that's another topic.


I confess I've spent many hours this last week working on Fire On Her Tongue anthology (almost ready!) and the new issue of Crab Creek Review (also almost ready).  Two deadlines smacking me in the face at once.  Or not that painful.  Let's try again-- Two deadlines forcing me to eat cake... okay, that's more like it.  I'm busy, but it's good work.


I confess my overwork caused me to flip out in the car tonight because my second least favorite song of all time came on the radio-- Cat's in the Cradle.  (Um, my family thinks this type of flip-out is hilarious.)

But I so hate that song.  When I hear it I scream and start pressing buttons (yes, I am a twelve year old girl.)  The only song I think is worse that Cat's in the Cradle is Mr. Bo Jangles; a song which is so bad is can almost make me cry I hate it so much.  (I am typing this at night and am in my overly-dramatic mood, obviously.)


I confess since I said I hate that song--here are some I love:  Beast of Burden (Rolling Stones-- though I've been told some people don't like this song), Boys of Summer (Don Henley), & most anything by the Beatles or John Lennon.

Recently (um, tonight) you could have seen me dancing above the waist in the car when "Moves Like Jagger" came on the radio.  (It's by Maroon 5.)  Actually, you can pretty much see me doing this whenever I hear the song.

I confess if you saw me dancing in my car, you would probably drive by fast and try not to make eye contact.

And speaking of music, my daughter introduced me to this clever song-- Canadian, Please (Song & video produced by Julia Bentley & Andrew Gunadie)  which I send out with love to my Canadian friends, or anyone who wants to be Canadian (apparently there are three rules, 1) get rid of your gun 2) buy a canoe  3) live multi-culturally -- Anyway, we've been enjoying it.  But we're odd like that.

And we've got the moves like Jagger.



Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Fire On Her Tongue Anthology... Almost ready & already amazing -->

I'm proofing the last proof of Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry (Two Sylvias Press).

And I'm not just proofing it on paper, but I'm proofing it as a eBook on my iPad.

Yes, I just downloaded the VERY FIRST copy!

Here's the bookshelf on my iPad and here's FIRE ON HER TONGUE!  It looks absolutely amazing.  The final product should be available for download in coming weeks.  Holy Electronic Publication, are we getting close, Batman!  Er, Batwoman!

Our cover (collage image by poet Nance Van Winckel)--


Confession Tuesday - The DIY Writing Retreat Day Edition (and why you need to keep good friends in your life)

Top row: Ronda Broatch as Cyrano de Bergerac, Annette Spaulding-Convy as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ann Hursey as W.S. Merwin, Lana Ayers as Chu Shu-chen , Holly Hughes as Virginia Woolf, My Mum as Jackie Collins
Bottom row: Nancy Canyon also as Virginia Woolf, Jennifer Culkin as Dorothy Parker, Kelli Agodon as Sylvia Plath, Martha Silano as Gertrude Stein, Susan Rich as Anna Akhmatova, Kathleen Flenniken without her cape as Marianne Moore

Dear Reader,

It's been a poem-a-day since I last confessed.  I've been incredible busy these days but in all good ways, so let's get going.

To the confessional--

I confess I spent 5 1/2 straight hours yesterday writing poetry.

I got together with two other poets in my neighborhood (I live in a town of less than 3000 people and 4 of us are published poets and editors-- it's kind of wild to have my neighbors also be fantastic poets)  and we wrote from 1 pm until 6:30 pm, then we had our poetry group from 7 - 9 pm.

From that writing stretch, I got the beginnings of at least 7 or 8 new poems.

We call this our "Do-it-Yourself Writing Retreat."  Basically, we show up in comfortable clothes, lots of snacks, our laptops and some writing exercises and we create.

Because we have done this together more than once, once we begin, we just go.

There's no chitchat, no bad energy, no attitude, no selfishness, just-- here's the exercise, see what happens.  We make decisions for our day based on what's good for the group, not one person.

If you're interested in doing one of these with your writer friends, here's an old post I've linked up to before with more on DIY Writing Retreats 

If you want photos of food, our beach walk, and me in a funny hat & pink socks, here's one more link.  (apparently, I dress as if I'm colorblind when we do our retreats because on both retreats, I had on my red clown shoes (okay, they aren't really clown shoes, but they look like it) AND a pink shirt/scarf.)  Nice.

I confess the secret to the success of these longer DIY writing retreats is who is involved.  

You have to do them with writers you trust, who would never hurt you, who are open and ready to try anything new, who will bring themselves to the day and commit fully (that means, no cellphones, no "I need to check email," etc etc.)

And you can do them with only one person and they work out great too.

I meet with Susan Rich about every 6 weeks and we write in her writing studio, House of Sky (here's a link to a writing day I had with Susan Rich.) 

And here are some photos from one of my favorite writing dates with her when we went to the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum.

This is a correspondence Susan and I wrote about our friendship.  It talks about writing dates.
Kelli & Marty with her horns of light...

I also meet to write with Martha Silano.  Next week, I'm taking the ferry to meet Marty at a coffeeshop where we will write for 4 hours.

Here's us from a past writing day in a coffee shop. 

Here's when she took the ferry to me and we wrote in my writing shed (aka House of Sea) -- this link has my favorite ridiculous photos of us...  And our most recent one where she bought me this cool hat for winning the Foreword Book of the Year Prize.


I confess I had a great time yesterday writing and laughing and eating.


I confess, just in general, I've been slowly ridding myself of the people I don't trust from my life.  It's a matter of life is too short to hang out with people who bring me down.

And it's not that these people are bad people, they just aren't right for my life.  I'm sure they make a perfectly good friend to someone else.  But for me, something just doesn't click.  Or it clicks at first, then more you get to know them, you realize that click, was actually a clunk.

I think it's something that happens the older you get.

As a teenager, I thought, "Yes, some of my friends are jerks, but they are my friends..."

In my twenties, I thought, "Hey, I don't need to be friends with jerks.  You are new and fun, I like you, let's spend hours upon hours together being fun and having fun and yes, let's stay out late and have more fun."  Then I got job, then moved from my hometown, then had a child.

My early thirties were "I only have time for my family, sorry friends..."

My mid-thirties were "Sorry I've been away. I'll be friends with anyone."
My late thirties were, "Well, that didn't work out so well..." and I dropped a few people from my life.

My forties?  I guess my motto is, "I only have time for my favorite quality people."

And really, that's how it should be.

We each know people who want the best for us.  These are the folks you should surround yourself with.

I confess, about once every two-years, I have to check in with myself because I've made some bad choices.  I like friendships that are positive and easy--

 I confess, I didn't plan on this to be about friendship, but there we are.  Call this my Confession Tuesday / Early Thankful Thursday post.

Amen and Thanks.


Monday, November 07, 2011

Book Trailer for Kathleen Flenniken's Next Book of Poems: PLUME

My friend, Kathleen Flenniken's second book poems entitled PLUME will be published by the University of Washington Press this spring. I read many of the poems when we were in grad school together and they are truly incredible.

The collection is based on her history growing up in Hanford and working at the Hanford Nuclear Site.

Those in the Northwest are quite familiar with Hanford and she has done her research to produce a book of poems that well-written, well-crafted, and as Martha Collins says, "PLUME raises the bar for documentary poetry."

Kathleen's son made this book trailer for her. What I love about it is that they drove to Hanford to get the video to use. I love seeing Kathleen read in front of smoke rising into the air, and I love how this book trailers tells us what we will be getting in her book as well as gives us a sample of Kathleen's work.

If you haven't read Kathleen's first book, FAMOUS, I highly recommend it.  It won the Prairie Schooner prize a few years ago and is an incredible read.

Here's the book trailer for PLUME... I think it's a wonderful job and I love that her son did for her, a great experience to have together--

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Letter from Novelist Harper Lee:

From ArtDaily:

LOS ANGELES, CA.- A 1960 typed letter signed by Harper Lee elaborates about the fictional Maycomb County in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and includes a hand-drawn map of the state of Alabama with the words “Maycomb County.” 

The letter will be auctioned at Nate D. Sanders’ Tuesday November 8, 2011 auction. 

The famed novelist wrote the letter just two months after the publication of her landmark Civil Rights book. The letter reads in part, “You ask me where Maycomb County is, where the Landing is—the only answer I can give you is that Maycomb County is in my heart and the Landing is in my imagination. If, in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I persuaded you that those places are real, that means I have succeeded in my profession, which is writing fiction. 

Lee inscribes at the bottom of the letter, “Here is your map:” and scribbles an outline of the state of Alabama with the words ‘Maycomb County’ labeled in the northern/central part of the state. 

You can read the whole article at ArtDaily (which is a fantastic website to visit daily, btw)


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Best Complaint Letter Ever! Debra Jarvis takes on a Cookie Company--

My friend (and author of It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer -- an incredible memoir by the way) Debra Jarvis did not appreciate her Paterson Arran cookies were not exactly what the wrapper said they would be.

Now here's a way to write a complaint letter!   By the way, Debra *loves* chocolate, so you can imagine her disappointment when the cookie was not exactly satisfying...

Here's what she wrote:

Note: You will need to know that on the wrapper it reads, "Contains no palm oil, pork or alcohol."

Dear Paterson-Arran,

Just ate your Bronte doubly choc chip biscuits which you describe as “bursting with choc chips.” Let’s discuss your definition of “bursting.” 

Mine: Dolly Parton in a 34B bikini top, Barack Obama on knowing Osama Bin Laden was dead, but having to keep quiet for a while; King Henry VIII (RIP) in thong underwear. 

Yours as evidenced by your “doubly choc chip biscuit:” rocks scattered on a concrete driveway; fingernail clippings on the bathroom floor; hair pins on the floor of a car after a heavy make-out session. 

In other words I’m afraid you use “bursting” when you really mean “scattered.” After a meal of chicken w/risotto, half cup salad, dinner roll, butter, Jacob’s cracker, cheese, every one of which seemed to live up to it’s hype—meaning none—we have your final biscuit as dessert and it was such a let down. 

Perhaps it was the eight hour flight from Entebbe to Amsterdam. Perhaps it is the false hope I carry for abundance on the flight from Amsterdam to Seattle that makes your biscuit such a crushing disappointment to me. 

It is crispy. It is crunchy. “Bursting” it is not. 

My suggestion: add more chocolate chips! A biscuit such as yours should be nothing but a vehicle for chocolate chips. And I’m sure you can do this without bringing in any palm oil, pork or alcohol. 

If this suggestion is not agreeable to you, perhaps you would consider a name change that is a bit more straight forward and to the point: Super Crunchy Crispy Chocolately Biscuit! Just the facts, ma’am. 

Thank you for your time and attention. 

Best regards, 

Debra Jarvis 
KLM/Delta flight #233

Dear Debra,

You are right. Thank you so much for taking the time to write so thoughtfully and wittily. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm so sorry our biscuits disappointed you so, reading your email would have been more of a joy.
After a little reflection I see your point exactly and we'll address this immediately. For this particular product line I can't heap more choc chips in I'm afraid, but the text on the pack will change as you suggest - maybe not in time for your next flight on Delta #233 but it will change. 
We do offer a wide range of other products and, by way of thank you, I'd be happy to send you some if you wish - just let me have a postal address. Maybe you could let me know if I've got some other stuff wrong!
Thanks once more.
Kind Regards,
Allan Miller
Sales and Marketing Director


I love that Allan Miller of their sales department wrote back with such a nice (and not form-letter email).  Personally, I think Debra should work in someone's marketing department as the wrappers of cookies would be MUCH more interesting!

Check out Debra Jarvis's blog here.  She's a fantastic woman and a fantastic writer, as you can see!


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thankful Thursday- Cerise Press

From the person who hasn't been submitting poems this fall (okay, one submission), here's the reward of a spring submission--

Cerise Press

The issue just came out and I'm crazyhappy to have my poem included with poets such as Thomas Lux, Floyd Skoot, Lia Purpura, Larissa Szporluk, Ed Skoog, and Franz Wright (to name a few!)

My poem is an ekphrastic poem inspired by this image--

"The Botanists" by Gabriel von Max

It's an amazing issue.  And it's free.  Just stop by their Cerise Press website to view the online journal.

They also have sections on fiction, essays, translations and my favorite-- interviews!

So thank you, Cerise Press, for choosing my work and for having such an amazing online journal. I'm highly impressed!


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Day 2 of November's Poem-A-Day Challenge: Some thoughts to help you through...

I have decided to try writing a poem-a-day for November.  I figure why not?  I have nothing to lose in doing this and everything to gain as far as new poems go.

William Stafford didn't believe in writer's block, he would say, "if you get stuck, lower your standards and keep going."

Here are a few of my thoughts on how to make writing a poem a day a feel-good event and not a month of annoyance--

1)  Start with a prompt, but no worries if you don't like it.  Each day, I'll check Robert Lee Brewer's Daily Prompts here, but if I find I'm having a hard time starting, I just pick up a book of poems, read a poem and see where it takes me.

2)  Write the poem, don't follow the rules.  If I start the prompt given, but find myself completely ignoring the rules of the prompt, I don't worry about it-- the goal is to write a poem, not to follow directions.

3)  Set a timer.  If I'm having trouble, I set a timer for 8 minutes and I have to write in the form of a poem until the time runs out.  Usually, I'm working on a poem by the time the alarm sounds, so I just keep working on it.

4)  Low expectations.  I'm not looking to be a superpoet here.  I'm looking to get some ideas, lines, or starts for poem, not write "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."  My goal is to get something on the page that resembles a poem.

5)  No sleep until poem is done.  This is always a favorite technique of mine because I love sleeping.  I tell myself I can't go to bed until I finish my poem.  You can make your own restrictions-- no dessert/chocolate/wine until poem is done.

6)  Make it a game.  Do something different each day.  Tell yourself you will only use nouns at the end of the line that begin with the letter H.  Or you will write a poem using things you overheard your spouse, child, neighbor, friend saying.

7)  Reward yourself.  Tell yourself at the end of the month, you will get _________ if you wrote 30 poems in November.  We are each motivated by gain or loss (for me, losing sleep works better than buying a new book as a reward bc I know I'll buy the book whether I complete the task or not, but creating a restriction for me works better-- of course, you can do both!)


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Photo from AstroBob blog:  http://astrobob.areavoices.com/

Dear Reader,

It's the day after Halloween and I am on a sugar-low.  Actually, I've been just on a regular low the past few days.  I'm not sure where it came from.  I haven't been taking my vitamins or getting enough sun/outdoor time.  In the Northwest, we are known to be deficient in Vitamin D.

But it's that time again, so I need to pep up to start the confessions.

To the confessional--

I confess I had not planned to do the poem-a-day for November, but only because I had completely forgotten about it.  I think I'll try, though will probably not post poems here and if I do, they will be up for a day then down.

If you're interested in writing a poem-a-day for November, here's the first prompt.


I confess going out trick-or-treating with my daughter for Halloween last night made me feel a little better.

We normally go to a big celebration in a neighborhood, which is more like a street party (read: kids running everywhere, extreme decorations and adults wandering the street with alcoholic beverages).  This year my daughter was invited by a friend to a different neighbor.

I confess I wasn't sure this was going to be a good idea.

However, as I walked the street with another mother, I enjoyed it.  There were enough kids for it to be fun and for me to see all the cute costumes, but not enough to be overwhelming and chaotic.

There was an incredible crescent moon and a fog on the hillside of yellow and red leaves. I tried to photograph it then realize some memories we just have to work hard to keep in our minds.  This will be one I will remember.


I confess that I *constantly* need to remind myself that I do not enjoy larger groups of people where I am required to be social.  (See Halloween-Past).  It amazes me how often I need to check in and realize many times to remember this.

It's sort of like that Talking Heads song, "Once in a Lifetime" except instead of finding myself with beautiful car and a beautiful wife, my song is more like-- You will find yourself standing in a large chaotic group of people and you will ask yourself, 'My God, how did I get here?'"


I confess after Trick-or-Treating, I came home and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my daughter because we had missed it before Halloween.  This movie always kicks off the holiday season for me.  And as I was watching it, I was wishing I would have spent a few more days before Halloween roaming a pumpkin patch or just experiencing autumn more (my favorite time of year).

Of course, Autumn doesn't end on November 1st.  But this is my emotional state--longing for something I already have.  It's confusing that way.


I confess I long for more visible moons in the sky.


For the Poets-- Poem-A-Day Challenge! --->

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