Monday, July 29, 2013

Postcard from Neruda

~ Kells

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Behind in my Praise of Other Poets...

For the longest time, I've been meaning to mention these wonderful poets on my blog and not only has time slipped away from me, but I've slipped away from time.

So with no further hesitation, these are some poets I've been reading, some poets I want to share, and some poets I've neglected to mention because I lost my way for a few months...

I love Marjorie Manwaring.

The very first time I heard her read her poem "Rejection Letter from Gertrude Stein," I was hooked.

Rejection Letter from Gertrude Stein

Dear Poet Dear Author Dear Someone:

We are pleased very pleased
To regret sir.
Regret to inform you the list for
Talents selected not you dear.
So many many and many
Many talents not you dear.
Received many fine not you.
Thank you extremely fine thank you.
Keep us in mind please keep us.
Please keep
Your submission in mind.
Entries so fine many fine
Winners selected not you.
Not you. Not quite
What we need
At this time not quite.
Keep in mind best of luck next time.
Editors wish you this guideline.
Best of selected regret.
Not chosen you were not able.
We inform our regret.
We reject your receive.
We receive we regret. Inform you we do.
We do as we do.
Today: To do: Don’t forget.
Difficult choice we regret.
Space an issue weren’t able. Limited
Space unable.
Accept this issue.
Our complimentary
Gift to you.
Letterpressed gift in which you
Do not appear we regret you.
We regret to reject with respect
Please accept. Do
Not not accept
This reject
If you do
If you do
With respect
With respect
We reject you.

Now, Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape her full collection is out here.

She's an amazing talent.


And there's Todd Davis.

I've been enjoying his book In the Kingdom of the Ditch for a couple months now.  He's a poet I started reading a few years (or more) ago, and just find that I connect with the humanness of his work.

I thought this was a perfect description of the book:

In poetry that is at once accessible and finely crafted, Todd Davis maps the mysterious arc between birth and death, celebrating the beauty and pain of our varied entrances and exits, while taking his readers into the deep forests and waterways of the northeastern United States. With an acute sensibility for language unlike any other working poet, Davis captures the smallest nuances in the flowers, trees, and animals he encounters through a daily life spent in the field. Davis draws upon stories and myths from Christian, Transcendental, and Buddhist traditions to explore the intricacies of the spiritual and physical world we too often overlook. 

In celebrating the abundant life he finds in a ditch—replete with Queen Anne’s lace and milkweed, raspberries and blackberries, goldenrod and daisies—Davis suggests that life is consistently transformed, resurrected by what grows out of the fecundity of our dying bodies. In his fourth collection the poet, praised by The Bloomsbury Review, Arts & Letters, and many others, provides not only a taxonomy of the flora and fauna of his native Pennsylvania but also a new way of speaking about the sacred walk we make with those we love toward the ultimate mystery of death.

* * * *

If you're tired of "not understanding" poetry, read Todd's work.  He tells stories, places you in a scene, and doesn't try to lose you or be abstract just to be interesting.  The beauty of his work lies in the narrative and image. 

Oh and one of my favorite poems opens, "Bees have made honey under the ribs of the dead..."  Gorgeous.


And there's this poet, Tim J. Myers on my blog.

His new book is: Dear Beast Loveliness: Poems of the Body

I tried to copy and the paste his poem here, but it came out with a yellow background, but to read a poem by him and read the praise for his book, go here: a poem by Tim J. Myers & info on his new book.

And there's incredible poem about anorexia here.  And another amazing opening line:


I hope to share more of what I've been reading with you in September, and maybe a couple more favorite poets in August.

Read and write on...

~ Kells

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Confession Tuesday on Friday: Overwhelmed by Living and Dead Poets Edition + a Cameo by a Princess

Dear Reader,

I am three days late in confessing.   But I'm here and thankful and want to share a few things that have moved me over the week--

I confess it's been a long time since I've read a poem that has overwhelmed me, that I couldn't stop reading, that took a topic and turned it on its head, but Patricia Lockwood did it here:

Read her poem "Rape Joke" here and see if you're not changed:

Patricia is also on Twitter and you can follow her at @TriciaLockwood and her book  Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (Octopus Books, 2012) is fantastic.


I confess I've been a little emotional this week. I'm not sure why, but yesterday I actually felt so overwhelmed I took a nap in the middle of the day.

I felt weepy when I saw this photo of Kate & William compared to Princess Diana (both in polka dots, both with their new babies wrapped in the same shawl).


I confess I even had a dream about Princess Diana being set up on date for the prom.  When I asked her who was chosen for her she replied, "God.  They chose God as my date."  Then she rolled her eyes and smiled.


I confess because I've been overwhelmed (mostly with editing, poetry, and Two Sylvias Press stuff) my head feels full.  Overwhelmedness is a new emotion for me in the summer, normally this is how I feel in April during National Poetry Month.


I confess I've been dreaming of dead poets, and even poets who are alive giving me advice.

Frank O'Hara was in my dream a few days ago telling me I just needed to follow his plan, which was just "Get it done, do it now."

Another poet (who is alive, so I will spare her name as I'm friends with her) told me that I couldn't just hide away in my house and I needed to help others.  She said, "If you hide away in your house, the two axes will burn and no one will be able to save you."

I think this has to do with staying connected with others.  I'm not sure, but the poets were all chatty and all had advice for me.


After reading Patricia Lockwood's poem, I think my advice to other poets is write the poem you're afraid to write.  Step up.  Don't fear.

My advice to myself is take on less.  And spend a little more time outside.  Not to be the woman holding the towel.


~ Kells

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Confession Tuesday: The "You Are What You Focus On" Edition (Make Your Own World: Rip Up Your "Reminder" Note Cards)

Dear Reader,

I confess sometimes I worry that world becomes what I chose to focus on.
Wait, I don't worry about this, but believe it's true.

I've been on Facebook a lot these last two weeks--asking for help in with author photos, getting book recommendations, and basically wasting time between a few projects and I'm doing (and procrastinating on).

I've started to notice things about people's posts--

When people make a judgment on something, whether it's republicans, democrats, mothers, artists, writers, rejections, famous poets, weather, you name it, and when they do, it's as if many times a small index card is created in their brain and they begin to see these things in the world.
Right now, it's what they are focusing on, and call it a self-fulfilling prophecy or choosing to wear whatever colored glasses we desire (rose-colored or blue), but I'm noticing how we create the world we live in.

Okay, right now, some of you are saying, "We do not create the world we live in, we merely live in a world and things are happening that I have no control over and this is just how the world is."

No, the world is how you perceive it.

We have more in common than we think.

My world is different than your world, even though we live on the same planet.

It doesn't mean my world is better or worse.  It doesn't mean your world is true or mine isn't (or vice versa), it only means we see the world through our own filters.  What I see as a black and white portrait is your colorful landscape through your eyes.  You're looking at bright green treetops above you, and I'm staring at the grey stone at my feet. It all depends what you're looking at.

I confess sometimes when I walk into my yard I only see blackberry bushes and weeds.

Does that mean there is not a beautiful rose bush blooming on the walkway?  Does that mean that my rocking and amazing huge kale plants (full of nourishment & well, a superfood!) doesn't exist?
No, what it means is that I'm seeing what's wrong with my backyard.  The beauty is still there.

Who's to say what's a weed and what's a wildflower?


Here's a beautiful news story I read this week:

Teens on Bike Chase Kidnapping Suspect, Save 5 Year Old Girl

One person's threat is another person's hero.


If I read another article about how this next generation of kids are lazy, entitled, and hooked their iPhones, I might just start believing it, or I might be sick, or I might just acknowledge that yes, sometimes kids are lazy and sometimes they are awesome.

As part as Generation X (aka the "Slacker" generation), I think my generation is doing pretty well, despite all the articles written about us twenty years ago (many using the terms: apathetic, hopeless, lazy...)

I choose to believe our next generations of kids are going to be amazing.
I choose to focus on the good that is happening in the world.

This is not say I don't see and acknowledge the "bad stuff" in the world. And this not to say that some days I don't wake up and think this world is a just a big cluster and maybe I should just go back to bed or scream my head off.

But most days, I choose to believe that most people are good and try my best to see that.


If the media were made of buttons...

I confess sometimes I don't even realize I've created an index card in my head:
"Reminder: Corporations are bad."  "Reminder: Republicans hate women."  "Reminder: __________ (fill in the blank...)  Wait, what? 

Sometimes it shakes me up to realize I have completely stereotyped an entire group of people or made such a huge judgment.  And guess what, I'll see this in my life.  I'll see the world (whether true, false, or something in between) reflected back at me.

It's that paragraph in Artist Way about yellow jeeps.  You never see yellow jeeps until someone points them out to you, then you see them everywhere.  Yellow jeeps are taking over the world! Everyone is buying a yellow jeep!  No, you are just tuned into them now.

I recently tuned into Mercedes SUVs, since all cars look alike to me, my husband pointed out the Mercedes SUV.  Now I see them everywhere.  I'm always behind a Mercedes SUV.  Did my community all upgrade to Mercedes SUVs?  No.  It's just what I'm tuned into.  

I guess what I'm saying is we're going to be tuned into something, so make sure you're on the right channel.

Make sure you've tuned yourself into art or poetry, love or beauty.  Make sure your channel is on the kindness station, where you see people doing small acts of kindness for each other and you do too.  Maybe you need some miracles or inspiration, tune into that channel; it's currently on 24/7 outside your front door.

I confess I'm writing about this because it's something I'm always trying to work on.

I confess I am working on seeing more miracles.


~ Kells

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Postcard to Fear:

It's okay to have fear; just make sure it doesn't have you. “We must travel in the direction of our fear.” 
~ John Berryman

~ Kells

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Confession Tuesday: The Working Summer Check-In Edition

Dear Reader,

I'm writing this from my deck.

It's July 9th and while most summers I'm on hiatus from writing and editing, this year my writing life has stretched itself into the blue sky of July.  Since we had an incredible hot sunny spring, I'm okay with this, but I feel as if that "letdown" I normally have in the summer hasn't happened.

This is not to say I'm complaining--  I'm actually excited for all the things I'm working on this summer.  This is one of the reasons I chose not to apply for a teaching job or writer-in-residence job for the upcoming year.  I have a lot of indie projects in the works that fulfill me in crazyhappy ways, anytime I can create, step outside the box, I feel a little better.

I confess I actually love to work.  To write.  To read.  To edit.

I love to organize tasks and have something I'm working on.  The only time I feel sad or resentful is if my poems get pushed so far on the backburner, that they fall off onto the linoleum.  Mostly, I'm just thankful for all these opportunities.

And while I am a Capricorn with a strong work ethic, I confess I also love to lollygag and woolgather.  I love to nap and sit on our deck with a glass of wine and watch the birds fly by.

I love to hang out at the beach and read magazines.  Sleep in the sun.

I confess normally in the summer, I'm pretty active.  But this summer, not so much. Well, I do have a HUGE bump and bruise on my leg for a mountain biking crash I was in last week, so I have done a few things this summer.  And Sunday I went out SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding), which I love.  But more than usual, many of my days have been on my laptop working.

I've done a lot of proofing on my book and trying to catch up on a few things that have stretched into summer.

I confess two of my blurbs came in (from Nin Andrews & Wyn Cooper, two of my all-time favorite poets) and I was completely in poet-heaven with what they wrote.

I mentioned in a past post here how asking for blurbs is SO uncomfortable for me.  But these two wonderful poets made it easy and enjoyable.  And I never put those two words (easy & enjoyable) together with blurbs!  

But I have some projects I'm excited about--

1)   Hourglass Museum:  My 3rd full collection will come out in February (right before Seattle AWP) by White Pine Press.

I'm excited and nervous about this collection.  I do some new things. I have a whole section without capital letters (though I do capitalize "I") and no punctuation.  The whole book is put together to be a paper museum with each section as a different exhibit.  But I'm sure if the poems will connect and engage.  And some leave me feeling vulnerable.

With a new book there are things you need to do--get blurbs, proof, proof again, proof again, proof the cover, get an author photo, write a bio, set up readings.  So I sit at the beach and instead of reading More magazine, Oprah, or Poets & Writers, I proof my manuscript.

2)  The Daily Poet:  I haven't talked much about this, but Martha Silano and I have put together a book that should come in fall called The Daily Poet: A Day-by-Day Guide to Creativity (currently title, the subtitle may change). 

The book will give you 366 poetry writing exercises, one for each day of the year (including Leap Year).  We've been working on it for a while, revising it, and tomorrow it moves into production and formatting.  Anyway, I'm excited to get that out into the world.

3)  Crab Creek Review's 30th Anniversary Issue:  Yes, the literary journal I edit will turn thirty this year, right in time for Seattle's AWP, so we're having a special issue of just Northwest Poets. And Annette Spaulding-Convy & I are putting it together ourselves.  I'm really excited about this issue.  Annette & I have been editing Crab Creek Review for 5 years and really wanted to do something special for our 5 year anniversary and CCR's 30 year anniversary.

So that's me this summer.  Doing some graphic art on the side, some photography, and little laziness too.

I hope you're finding some time this summer for your art and your heart, as well as time to sleep in the sun.


~ Kells

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Friday, July 05, 2013

Thankful Friday: Poet Friends

I get by with a little (a lot) of help from me friends.

This is just a shoutout to all the amazing Northwest poet friends I have (the list is huge) and the poet friends I've connected with because of the internet.

I swear, I complain about Facebook, but really, I've met a huge amount of my tribe there.

So I'm thankful for all of you who think of me when opportunities arise, who support when I'm in my best place and when I'm overwhelmed with my head under a pillow.

Thank you friends, summer, fall, winter, and spring.

I appreciate the poets, writers, and artists in my life.
~ Kells

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Confession Tuesday: The Quirkiness Edition (The Cheese is Out of the Drawer & Pass Me Your Spoon)

Dear Reader,

I confess I've been thinking a lot about quirkiness lately.

We each have them, weird things about ourselves that others either adore or can't stand, things that make us unique, who we are.

I have been described as a cross between Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.  If you ever have lunch with me, you will completely get this.

And I completely get this.  I have certain routines I always do.  Like have Total Raisin Bran for breakfast and muesli with yogurt for a mid-morning snack.

My spontaneity is usually planned (something I'm working on...)

For a long time, I was embarrassed about my quirks--

For example, if there is a stack of plates, I will choose orange (even if it's on the bottom) or if orange is not available, I will choose the color that I most connect with at that moment.  Many people just take the top plate.  I cannot do this.

I also do this at our frozen yogurt shop.  If my husband and daughter get the green and yellow cup, I will take pink so they are all used.  I also collect all the recycled spoons after the frozen yogurt has been eaten and store them in my purse.  Last week, after my entire family went to Menchies, I had twelve spoons that looked like this in my purse:

And here's what I loved about the experience-- I didn't even have to ask.  When my family finished eating, they just passed me their spoon.  Even my sweetest, youngest nephew at age three, passed me his spoon, it was just how things are.

I confess I love spoons.

But I know my quirkiness can be strange to others--

If I sit somewhere in a group setting, I always want to sit in the same place if we meet again.  (Yes, like Sheldon, I have my "spot.")

I cannot stand to see the microwave with minutes left on it and have to hit the cancel button when I walk by it.

We have a "cheese drawer" - yes, a place in our fridge that is just for cheese and when I see cheese on a shelf and not in the drawer, it makes me anxious until I put it back in.  Maybe I'm afraid it's trying to escape, I'm not sure, but it gives me a knot in my stomach if the cheese is not in its drawer.

I refer to the remote control to our TV as the "fast-forward" and say things like "Can you pass me the fast-forward?"  For some reason, this annoys my family as if I'm plucking the wings off butterflies.

I am easily distracted in the middle of telling a story.  Usually by birds or something in nature.

I can be a crazy perfectionist on certain things and an absolute slacker on others-- it depends how I care.

But I love things in order and keep my poetry books alphabetized.

(By the way, if you are a perfectionist, this is a great help:

Work on being more flexible by practicing the “80% rule”  When I’m working on a task or project, instead of obsessing about making it perfect, I’ll ask myself, “Is this 80% good?” If so, I let myself be happy about what I’ve done and move on to the next thing.

Here's the full post by Elana Miller.)

I'm no longer embarrassed about my quirks, but instead just see them as a part of me.  And sometimes I like them because it keeps my life interesting.

Occasionally I will reel them in a bit when out with people.  Well, except for ordering food, but I will speak quietly to the waiter so I don't seem like a complete nut to the rest of the table.

I must give my husband credit for staying with me as long as he has--though I never mention "the cheese is out of the drawer" because it's just as easy for me to put it back in.

I think poets, writers, and artists are quirky people and that's why I like so many of them.  And it's great to be around others who just accept you for your weirdness.  And even love you for it.


~ Kells

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Monday, July 01, 2013

Postcard from the First Day of July

How I feel in the summer...

As many of you know, when summer comes to the Northwest, I drop everything and go running (er, paddling) into the sun.

Here's the thing-- summer started in April this year (seriously), we had 70 and 80 degree weather and well, all the things I'm hyperventilating to do--go mountain biking, go hiking, go paddleboarding, plant my garden, work in the yard, sit on my deck and watch the world go by--well, I've already done them.  No kidding.  I'm that girl.

Because of this, I feel less of the need to abandon all things creative.

And honestly, this summer, I really can't as I have two major projects--

1)  Hourglass Museum:  My manuscript needs to be proofed and sent back to White Pine Press as my pub date is Feb 2014.

2)  The Daily Poet:  I haven't mentioned this much because when projects are in their young stage,  I don't share as much, but I have a book coming out with Two Sylvias Press written by Martha Silano and me that is a book of writing exercises.

As far as I know, it will be the first eBook of writing exercises, but because we know poets love paper, it will also be available in print.

I have this deadline as well for the summer months, not finishing (the book is done), but editing.

Still, this is the point in the post where I say, I won't be around here as much in the summer, but promise to send postcards (like today) and check in on Confession Tuesday.

Consider anything else a bonus.

When you live under a cloud all year in a wet world, you must explore the land around you during the summer.  You must eat huge amounts of frozen yogurt with chocolate sprinkles and too-expensive gourmet ice cream.  You must spend hours on your deck looking at nothing in particular and hours talking to blackberry bushes and morning glory, tell them to slow down.

All of it is part of the rule of being a Northwest person.  You can't ignore the summer because if you do, you will have low vitamin D and be locking yourself in your house due to unexplained anxiety.  This is what we do here.

Except in the summer when we are normal, and happy, and kind of shiny from sunblock and maybe a little tan.

Let the green patina go, we've got a sunny few months ahead of us and we can't miss out.

Will be in touch, but less, or more with photos/postcards.

See you in September when the boys of summer have gone...

~ Kells

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