Monday, April 30, 2012

Final Day of National Poetry Month & To Enter to Win Free Books

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Final Days of National Poetry Month!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just a reminder-- 2 more days left to enter to win FREE Poetry Books!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Ms. Sylvia

Dear Reader,
It's been 4 sunny days since my last confession.  I swear-- 70-something degrees in the Northwest, in April.  This is not normal.  This is the part of me that shrugs her shoulders a bit and thinks, "Well, if this is what global warming does for my part of the world, maybe it's not *that* bad..."  
What can I say, I've been under clouds and gray and coldness for the last six months.  The sun comes out and everyone is in a good mood.
But I have to confess as I'm still here and still getting ready for my writing residency--
To the confessional--
I confess I had to laugh when I read this blog post about "what to do with all my old trophies" at Small Notebook for a Simple Home.
For those of you who have been following along, you'll know I do not have a trophy...not one.  And it seems there are people with TOO MANY TROPHIES in this world. What is that like?  What do I do with all my old trophies?  is a question I'd never even think to ask.   What do I do with my old journals?  What do I do with my old books?  But trophies?  Apparently, there were many more people who were successful at sports than I was.  Sports and other things...
But honestly, I loved the answer and the answer made me happy. Here's the response:
The biggest accomplishments of my life will not be represented by gold-painted plastic trophies.
The experience you gained is valuable, not the trophy. The trophy was a token for the moment.

And it's true.  I have yet to receive my "I created a human life" trophy.  Or the "I followed my passion" trophy.  Or the "I stopped traffic on a highway to save a scared lost dog" trophy.  Or my "I try to be kind to all living things" trophy.   
I like looking at our lives and determining what's our biggest accomplishment.  Most of mine involve another living thing who counted on me or I was there for.  Myself included on that list.
Anyway, for those of you with a lot of trophies (um, I'd love to have that problem), I've uploaded some photos of other things do with them... Enjoy--

Wine stoppers-- of course!

Serve your friends cupcakes on them

Hang things from them!
I confess I am still organizing things for my writing residency and know I will pack too much.  This is the problem with driving to a residency.
Oh there was a question whether I go to the same place and if I apply for it.
I have two favorite places in the Northwest where I love to retreat to-- One is on an island and absolutely beautiful cottages and each writer gets her own office.  Plus, they call you a "scholar" when you're there, which makes my ego a happycamper. But takes me about 6-7 hours to get too, though much of that is waiting in a ferry line or riding on a boat.  
The second place, the one I'm going to now is not as new and luxurious as the island cottages, in fact it's old military housing & cabins, but only about a 50 minute drive from my house.  It's also haunted, but with hauntedness comes history and a strong energy which I love.  They also filmed "An Officer & A Gentleman" there, so sometimes I just forget writing and walk around as if I'm Debra Winger.
I had to apply to both places, but since I've been a writer in residence there before, both are very easy for me to return to--I just need to apply early enough so there is space.
If you can, it's great to establish relationships with regional organizations where you can have a writing residency.  We are lucky in the Northwest because there are many options here.  Just as you throw a stick, you hit a poet--you can throw a stick and hit a writing retreat.
I confess I had 2 literary dreams last night.
One involved getting a job to type out poems and the names of books in card catalogs for a library. I was thrilled as they still used typewriters.
The other one dream is starting to fade away because I didn't write it down quickly enough.  But I know it was there.  
I confess I always hope to dream of poets.  I used to dream of Pablo Neruda a lot.  He was always walking into my dreams.  My new dream poet over the last year has been Sylvia Plath.  
I would really love to have a heart-to-heart talk with William Carlos Williams and hang out a bit with Gertrude Stein.  Maybe she'd show me her art collection.  That would make my heart sing.  
I confess I hope when I return from the residency, I have a title for my manuscript. 
And while the weather has been incredible in every way, I hope it rains where I am. I am so much more productive in bad weather-- this is why I continue to live in the Northwest. As I've said before, if I lived in a warmer location, I'd get nothing done.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Teen Me Essay

I was asked to write an essay for Dear TeenMe, a fantastic blog and soon to be published book of writers writing to their teen self.  Basically, if we had the chance to talk to our Teen Self, what would we say.

Let me be honest, having this up and out in the world feels scarier than publishing all of my books, starting a small press, or editing a literary journal.

But because you read my blog, I want to share it with you.

So, if you'd like to see what I have to say to myself as a Teen Me and to see lovely 80's big hair photos of me, you can.  Here's a link to my essay at Dear TeenMe.

Also, if you do visit, please leave me some sort of comment.  I would truly appreciate your good words, so my essay feels less alone.

Thank you and I do hope you enjoy the essay.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

How I Prepare for a Weeklong Writing Residency...

My Writing Space in my Room - Frida, fingerless gloves, sweetpeas...

I am getting ready to spend eight days writing.

I have a writing residency coming up where I'll be focusing on my third poetry manuscript.  I am so excited to go and oddly, I hope the weather turns ugly, so I can sit inside and write without feeling guilty for not getting my sunshine.

For me, getting ready means this--

1) Print out manuscript and all poems I want to include in it

2)  Pack a bag of poetry books that inspire me

3)  Research info I may want to have on hand when I'm revising my collection

4)  Do something outside --walk, hike, kayak, garden-- where I can consider my manuscript as a whole:

   a.  What shape does this manuscript want?
   b.  What are the themes of this manuscript?
   c.  If I were to have a sentence about this manuscript what would it be?  And do I really want to be able to say my manuscript in a sentence?
   d.  What did I leave out and what was I afraid to share or write about?
   e.  Where did I repeat myself?
   f.  What poems do I still have to write?
   g.  What title would bring this mss to another level?

My manuscript is also untitled right now, so I'm thinking a lot about that.

Also, we will be in a different apartment, so I'm hoping that works out.  My hope is that the new space will inspire new thoughts and new poems.

Here are some photos from my last writing residency--

Food & Drink for the week... Thank you Trader Joe's

Always good to know.

View from our Writing Studio


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Confession Thursday??

10 pm at VooDoo Donuts...

Dear Reader,

I am late late late on confessing this week. I was traveling all day Tuesday with Susan Rich to Portlandia for a workshop and reading, then didn't return to yesterday afternoon.  Just catching up on email was a task.

But I'm back and I have a few thoughts on things, so let's get to the confessional--

I confess since coming back home, the one thought I've had in my head is "garbage in, garbage out."

I realize that when I am out traveling, I am reading less of the garbage on the internet and instead of living through my head, I live through my body and senses.

I confess one bad habit I have is reading MSN and the Huffington Post in the morning.

MSN & HuffPost are two places that highlight garbage news stories that I click to read.  Today the Huffington Post had a "story" (and I use that word loosely here) about Jennifer Love Hewitt without makeup.  She tweeted a photo of herself and it was in the top 5 most popular stories.

MSN had something about the what's the poorest county in each state, big cats look in mirror and get scared, men catch 20 foot shark, and a study that soccer is like sex.

I read this:  Garbage in.
I go to write or talk to someone: Garbage out.

I'm not helping the situation.

I had given up these two websites then returned to them as if their stories would offer me interesting, inspiration, intellect.  But sadly, I feel as if I'm just sucking myself into trash compactor when I read what's in front of me.

So I'm cutting them out of my life again.  And CNN.  And local news.

NPR does a good job of keeping me informed. I do not need to read all the crud the news media calls news to get higher ratings. I do not need to see another celebrity with or without makeup, pregnant or not pregnant, nor do I need to read the freakshow stuff I've been seeing lately that just makes me sad.

If I could change one thing in America, it would be that news shows would not get ratings like regular tv shows.  I think we'd all live better lives just by that one change.


I confess in Portland, it was hard to tell the homeless people from the hipster-dufuses.  Everyone looks the same.


I confess that last comment is not a slam against Portland, I love it there, every Portlandia aspect of it.  If I was going to slam Portland it would be for the number of bridges I was lost on.  Of course, Seattle has its own set of traffic/road issues, so we're not any better example of how to do roads right.


I confess I went to VooDoo Donuts because it's been the most talked about place by my friends who went to Oregon.  I did visit quickly and left with a dozen donuts.  The maplebar faces with a creme filling were my favorite.  My husband liked Maple Bar with Bacon.  My daughter-- the voodoo doll and Captain Crunch.

Most of all I loved the pink box.  It made me happy.


I confess cake boxes make me happy.  Very happy.  Especially pink cake boxes.


I confess we read at In Other Words, which is the feminist bookstore (Women & Women First) featured on the show "Portlandia."  Everyone was wonderful and as I taught the poetry workshop with Susan, I pretended I was on my own personal episode.

Sometimes being a poet feels as if you're in your own comedy.

That's okay.


The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland...



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Online Poetry Journal: PLUME!

I just learned about this online poetry journal: Plume. 

It has a poem by one of my favorite poets, David Kirby!  But also has poems up by Billy Collins and Jorie Graham.

They also have a great archive you can browse through.
And if you're interested in submitting, check here.

Here's a list of recent contributors:
Alicia Ostriker, Amy Gerstler, Stuart Dybek, Carl Dennis, Denise Duhamel, Terese Svoboda, G.C. Waldrep, Thomas Lux, Nin Andrews, Kimberly Johnson, Charles Bernstein, Christopher Kennedy, Jean-Michel Maulpoix, Rae Armantrout, Maureen McLane,  Stephen Dunn, Elaine Equi, Linda Pastan, Lawrence Raab, Donald Revell, Keith Waldrop,  Peter Cooley, Jay Parini,  Peter Meinke, and Mary Sarishvili, Angie Estes, Diane Wakoski, Tess Gallagher, Dennis Nurkse, Susan Elizabeth Howe, Cornelius Eady, J.T. Barbarese, Kimiko Hahn, Maxine Chernoff, David Rivard, James Bertolino, Maura Stanton, R.T. Smith, Georges Perros, Daniel Tobin, Cole Swenson, Clair Malroux/Diane Hacker, Ron Smith, Ralph Angel, Christina Davis, Mark Wunderlich, Carol Muske-Dukes, Daniel Bosch, Kevin Prufer, Lidija Dimskova, Hank Lazar, Kuno Raeber, Laird Hunt, Sylva Fischerova, Mark Irwin, David Huddle, Michael Collier, Mary Szybist, Ron Slate, Lydia Davis, Paul Muldoon, Eduardo Chirinos,  Jeffrey Skinner, John Kinsella, Bob Hicok, Timothy Liu, Mary Jo Salter, and Dorianne Laux.  Jorie Graham, Norman Dubie, Mary Jo Salter, Ruth Padel, Dick Allen, Eliza Griswold, Stephen Dobyns, Billy Collins, David Shapiro, David Kirby, Martin Galvin, Tia Pafdrup, Barbara Hamby and others are upcoming. Issues 7-12 will feature cover art by Laurie Simmons.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Win Free Poetry Books! Full list of Participants! -->

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tracy K. Smith just won the Pulitzer for #Poetry with Life On Mars!

Life of Mars by Tracy K. Smith just won the Pulitzer Prize today (and it's her birthday, she turned 40)!

Talk about a good way to enter your forties!

I don't have this book yet, but just ordered it.

I do have Duende (which Susan Rich recommended) that I love.


Nin Andrews learns about Two Sylvias Press on the Best American Poetry Blog--

Annette Spaulding-Convy & I were interviewed by one of my very favorite poets-- Nin Andrews for the Best American Poetry blog.

We talked about starting Two Sylvias Press.  So if you want to know what it's like to start a small press, edit an anthology, or find the poems and cover art for Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry,

check out the entire interview here.

One of my favorite answers is by Annette.  Here's Nin's question and Annette's answer on our partnership.

NA: How does your partnership work?  Have you worked on other projects together?
ASC: Kelli and I have been friends for over ten years. We have co-edited Crab Creek Review for four years and have worked as co-founders of Two Sylvias Press for nearly two years, and we’re still friends! I think the success of our partnership is best illustrated by cupcakes and hard-boiled eggs: Kelli likes the frosting and I like the cake. Kelli likes the white and I like the yolk. As we began to co-edit Crab Creek Review, we soon realized that the very task one of us despised turned out to be the task that the other one enjoyed doing.
Another aspect that makes for our successful partnership is that we share a common vision in terms of the importance of poetry and art in society, a common drive to give women artists a voice, and a similar philosophy of how important it is to balance our personal lives when it comes to family, writing, editing, and alone time. We also make our work meetings fun by discussing Crab Creek Review and Two Sylvias Press over coffee at a funky cafĂ© or a plastic cup of wine in the ferry galley. And, importantly, we’re both willing to take creative risks and we both have a sense of humor about everything.


To Write or Not To Write: A Mother's Question (Interview) for Women Writers

I was interviewed for Barely South by Wendi White on how I balance my writing life.

Here's a little of what I talked about:

It is very challenging in already busy lives to create balance and find time to write. Sometimes when women take time off to go on a writing residency, they can be labeled as “selfish” or “that they don’t have their priorities right.” I’ve made a point of making sure not to call my writing residencies “writing retreats” because people think I’m off on a girl’s weekend with pedicures, wine & a little journaling. They have no idea I’m in a room by myself devoting 12 hours (or more) to my writing.
Sometimes the barrier for women is self-imposed, such as “I can’t take time to write until my children are older” or “My family needs to always come first.”
This doesn’t surprise me as so many of the most famous role models of successful women poets didn’t have children—Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore—and the ones who did (Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton) committed suicide. Those are not great odds in the motherpoet department.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Photobombed by Emily Dickinson!

Aimee Nezhukumatathil was in charge of the Tumbler blog and wanted to see what new books we were reading.

Here's me being photobombed by Ms. Dickinson.

See the full Tumblr account here!  


Portland Poets-- Join Susan Rich and Me for a Workshop & Reading, April 17th

The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland!

Susan Rich and I are coming to Portland!

We'll be at In Other Words Bookstore, Tuesday, April 17th, reading at 7 p.m.

We're also offering a workshop at 3 p.m.

Workshop Details:  Two Sides to the Poet’s Life: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Submitting to a Literary Journal & Writing Ekphrastic Poems:  Award winning poets Kelli Russell Agodon & Susan Rich come together for an inspiring class on both submitting and writing poems.  As editors, co-directors of the Poets on the Coast Retreat, and poets themselves Susan and Kelli will share a behind-the-scenes look at submitting to a literary journals and tips to help you get your work accepted.  They will also work with participants to generate new ekphrastic poems–new work inspired by art.  This is a rare opportunity to see explore both sides of the creative life–submissions & inspiration.  All levels of poets welcome–from beginning to published.  There will be something to be gained by all.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Great Stuff Here! --> Salvador Dali on What's My Line? * Love this!

If you're friends with me on Facebook or following my statuses, you know I posted this yesterday, but it is just too good not to share here.

I just loved his responses...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writer's Thought for the Day:

This has been on my mind this morning.

As a writer and person in the world, I do not want to fall into the ATNA Club (all talk, no action).

In life, I say what's important to me and what my priorities are.  This little quote makes me accountable.  Do my actions express my priorities?  If they don't, I need to get them in line.

So as I go for a walk with my golden retriever this morning, this will be the quote that will hover in my mind.  I am a work in progress...


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Is it wrong my favorite time on this clock is "adult beverage" ??

Dear Reader,

Happy 2 days after Easter and eating as much chocolate as I like again.  We've also had ridiculously nice weather the past few days, which turns me into crazy-garden woman/sloth.

Let's just get to the details...  To the confessional--

I confess I waited 6 weeks to eat chocolate and when I took my first bite it wasn't as good as I remembered.

Isn't this always the case with most everything in life?  What I think will be satisfying rarely makes it to "okay."  I think it's about expectations.  Or maybe comfort--when I was eating a lot of chocolate I think I thought it was better than it was.

I'm not sure, but now that I can eat as much chocolate as I want, I'm not even craving it.  And my house is chocolate filled from Lindt to Godiva to Hershey's to Dove to Swiss.

It could also have to do with deprivation.  When we deprive ourselves of something, it tends to be what we want.  Thankfully, I'm not much into self-sacrifice except during Lent.  Though next year, I think I'm going to do something that helps others more.


I confess I do not know how people who live in warm climates get anything done, especially writing.

We had 3-4 beautiful days and I basically refused to go into the house.  I went from extreme to extreme-- from gardening like a madwoman and using my new favorite chainsaw to sitting on the deck for hours watching birds and the ferry come and go.  I'm was my own breed of animal, a worker-sloth.

I ended up googling "Key West" after a glass of wine completely convinced it's where I should be living.

I do understand why there are so many writers, artists, and musicians in the Northwest-- because we're stuck indoors.

If it were sunnier here, I don't think I'd have 2 books, a chapbook and an anthology.  I think my life would have a lot to do with sitting in the sun, reading, watching birds, and napping.  I would probably be happier, though with even less money.

I hadn't realized that I really could be a beach bum. I could fall into the parrothead lifestyle a little too easy.


However, because our weather is not always fantastic as it has been, I confess I did get some work on my third manuscript done earlier in the week when my family was away.

I printed it out, made edits and will work on revising it again on the writing residency I have planned.

It's not done as there are definitely more poems I need to write, but it's feeling closer.  Less like a bunch of poems and more like a shape of something bigger.  I can see it coming together and that excites me.


I confess poetry has been on my mind.  I just ordered this book (and I think it will arriving today):  Looking for the Gulf Motel by Richard Blanco (Pitt Poetry Series). He's a poet I love and I truly love the Pitt Poetry Series.

Then magically on my Paperback Swap Wish List, this book Erasable Walls by Lance Larsen came up.  So I am getting this as well!

And in my Poetry Month wildness, I may have ordered this: Jerry Williams' book Admission.  I write "may" because honestly, I don't remember or if I told myself I'd wait until I read Richard Blanco's book.

Sometimes I feel this almost desperate need to feed up on poetry and when I feel this way, I kind of lose my mind.



Monday, April 09, 2012

Bloggers-- 2 More Days To Be Part of the Big Poetry Giveaway!

Here's the updated list of bloggers and poets giving away their books and their favorite books for National Poetry Month.

If you'd like to participate, leave me a comment with your name, your blog name and a link to your giveaway by tomorrow (April 10th) at midnight and I'll add you to the list.

If you want to try to win some new poetry books, click on the links below to enter into about 30 separate giveaways (that's at least 60 free poetry books!)  Good luck--


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