Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Book Reviews...

Above are the books I'll be writing about this summer...

The first 5 on the list:

Intimacy, Catherine Imbriglio (Winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry)
First line: "I have no one to talk to about my behavior."

These long-lined poems, all with "intimacy" in the title, are written in a conversational style, but also full of complexity. Each line is like a small poem within the poem.


To That Mythic Country Called Closure, by M.
First line: "Yes, we the young widows/take Ambien to sleep, Ativan for anxiety..."

Powerful poems about being a young widow. This was the manuscript I chose for the Concrete Wolf poetry chapbook series. It explores grief, loss, and the journey through it.


A Dress Walked By With a Girl, by Michael Hickey
First line: "Know this:"

Not a review copy, but a book given to me by Mike himself.  The poems are packed full of images, humor, wit, and surprise.


Lost Animals by David Cazden
First line: "I watch vultures trace ellipses"

These are poems deliberate in their story and interlaced with images and each poem is a nod to the time we're here on this robust earth and the animals who live there.


St. Peter's B-List: Contemporary Poems Inspired By the Saints, by Mary Ann B. Miller
First line: "I believe in the dish in the sink" Martha Silano

Spoiler alert: I have 2 poems in this collection, as does Martha Silano, Franz Wright, C. Dale Young, Jim Daniels, Dana Gioia, and Annette Spaulding-Convy.

The book is organized by topic, (Faith & Worship, Sickness & Death, etc.).  The poem range from humorous to poignant and a mix of both and everything in between.  Lovely for anyone interested in the saints, Catholicism, ex-Catholics, those who grew up in a Catholic household, or are just interested in religion or spirituality.

~ Kells
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slow Waltz Where Your New Life Meets Your Old Habits (poem)

Because of a busy (but fun) summer, I forgot to share this from VerseWrights (thank you, Carl!)

Slow Waltz Where Your New Life Meets Your Old Habits

We lived or loved, or didn’t
mow the lawn. We waited
for dusk, for satellites, for the opening

of a book or a door. We felt the only
words were escape or escapade,
yet we couldn't decide which

to choose. We drank hot brandy
on cold ridiculous nights
and said how when pleasure...

Read the full poem here:

~ Kells
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Postcard Poem from Mary Oliver "The Uses of Sorrow"

(Um, I wish I had dreams like this...) 

~ Kells
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Fight Club Fans: Okay, So We're All Breaking Rule 1 & Talking About Fight Club, But There's A Good Reason:


Author Chuck Palahniuk is working a sequel that will be published in May 2015 as a 10-issue comic book series for Dark Horse Comics

Way way way back in 1995 or 1994, I went to a reading at Seattle's University Books attended by 5 people, me, my husband, a man in a hat, and two friends of the author.  

The author went on to say that "he heard, Fight Club, was going to be made into a movie, and he heard that maybe Brad Pitt would be in it."

I remember thinking, "No one's here."  But he read and talked about his book, and spoke as if there were 50 of us in the room.

That was one of the first readings Chuck Palahniuk did for his book, Fight Club, when no one had any idea who he was.  I read the book and was hooked.

Now I've learned, it's going to be comic book series. Can I tell you how much this makes my heart beat? Quite a bit.

How it happened? 

From the article:

"I messed up and said I was doing the sequel in front of 1,500 geeks with telephones," Palahniuk said. "Suddenly, there was this big scramble to honor my word."

Read more: 

~ Kells
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recipe from Elizabeth Bishop: Brownies! (from her papers at Vassar College)

“Since Brazilians are mad about anything chocolate … I have been requested to bring along 4 dozen brownies (something I’ve introduced to Brazil) and a large chocolate cake,” she writes to Lowell in the fall of 1957. “You see how innocent our lives are here—just making money and eating sweets.”

(Sourced from The Elizabeth Bishop Papers at Vassar College, courtesy of Vassar Special Collections and Sarah Stone)
4 squares bitter chocolate (or about a cup of cocoa)
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped nuts
Melt the chocolate and butter together – or, if you use cocoa, melt along with half the sugar and a little water. Cool slightly and beat in eggs and rest of sugar.
Sift in flour, add vanilla and nuts and beat. The batter is fairly stiff – doesn’t run much. Spread about <——————> this thick in square pan.
Bake in a slow oven – about 45 minutes to an hr., depending on pan, thickness, etc. They should be dry on top, just pulling away from edges, but still rather damp in the middle. Cut in squares in pan and remove with spatula.
This makes chewy brownies – for a harder kind, use brown sugar and an extra egg – or half brown sugar – Can be made thicker and used hot with whipped cream on top for a desert [sic] –

NOTE: I learned about this recipe from Paper & Salt blog by Nicole Villeneuve (Also-- go there to see her helpful hints when she made the brownies herself!)

You can follow her on Twitter here:

~ Kells
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Recommended Reading: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by @DaniShapiro

I love getting an inside look at a writer's life and Dani Shapiro's Still Writing does that.

The book is physically beautiful (I have the hardback copy) and the pages are not flush, but slightly staggered giving readers the pleasure of owning a nice looking book.

Here's an excerpt from it:

Riding the Wave
Here’s a short list of what not to do when you sit down to write. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t look at email. Don’t go on the internet for any reason, including checking spelling of some obscure word, or what you might think of as research, but is really a fancy form of procrastination. Do you need to know the exact make and year of the car your character is driving? Do you need to know which exit on the Interstate has a rest stop? Can it wait? It can almost always wait. On the list of other, less fancy procrastinations, especially when the urge to leap up from your desk, accompanied by a wild surge of energy, comes just at the moment when you might actually begin writing: laundry, baking, marketing, filling out insurance claims, writing thank you notes, cleaning closets, sorting files, weeding, scrubbing, polishing, arranging, removing stains, bathing the dog.

Sit down. Stay there. It’s hard––believe me, I know just how hard it is, and I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t get easier. Ever. Get used to the discomfort. Make some kind of peace with it. Several years ago, I decided to learn how to meditate, though I thought, as many do, that I’d be bad at it: I can't stop thinking for more than two seconds. I don't have the patience. I'm too Type A. I can't sit still. But I needed something that would get me away from my desk and, at the same time, bring me peace and clarity. All of my writer friends have a version of this: my friend Jenny runs. John cooks barbecue. Mary swims. Ann knits. These are meditative acts––ones which allow the mind to roam, and ultimately to rest. When I sit down to meditate, I feel much the same way as I do when I sit down to write: resistant, fidgety, anxious, eager, cranky, despairing, hopeful, my mind jammed so full of ideas, my heart so full of feelings that it seems impossible to contain them. And yet…if I do just sit there without checking the clock, without answering the ringing phone, without jumping up to make a note of an all-important task, then slowly the random thoughts pinging around my mind begin to settle. If I allow myself, I begin to see what’s really going on. Like a snow globe, that flurry of white floats down. 

During the time devoted to your writing, think of the surges of energy coursing through your body as waves. They will come, they will crash over you, and then they will go. You’ll still be sitting there. Nothing terrible will have happened. Try not to run from the wave. If, at one moment, you are sitting quietly at your desk, and then––fugue state alert!––you are suddenly on your knees planting tulips, or perusing your favorite online shopping website, and you don’t know how you got there, then the wave has won. We don’t want the wave to win. We want to recognize it, to accept the wave’s power and perhaps even learn to ride it. We want to learn to tolerate those wild feelings, because everything we need to know, everything valuable, is contained within them. 


The entire book is written in this easy to read, conversational voice.

She talks about doubt, inner censors, and so many of the things we know and have to deal with as writers.

It's a good reminder we're not alone.

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

~ Kells
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Postcard from Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

"Write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwords in a recasting. it will come if it is there and if you will let it come."

♥ gertrude stein

And an article from 2007 from the DailyMail UK: Odd Couple's Great Escape

~ Kells
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reading tonight with Musician Reid Jamieson in Vaughn, WA

All the details can be found here.  Follow this link...

Watermark Writers Series
Address:  5106 Madrona Beach Lane KP N
Vaughn 98394
7 pm 

~ Kells
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Review: All the Odes (Bilingual Edition), Pablo Neruda edited by Ilan Stavans

All the Odes (Bilingual Edition), Pablo Neruda edited by Ilan Stavans
First line: Pablo Neruda wrote 225 odes.

Since today is Pablo Neruda's birthday, I thought I'd recommend this beautiful book.

If you love Pablo Neruda or his odes (or both), you need this giant book on your bookshelf.

What I love about it? The English translation is on the SAME PAGE as the original Spanish ode. It's perfect.

n his late 40's, Pablo Neruda began writing an ode a week. Every ode is now included in this collection.  If you haven't read his odes, they are short-lined, and deal with so many topics from seagulls to couples to sun to a train in China to the atom to typography to... (you get the idea).

I think this book is a great resource for poets in that it includes so many diverse topics.

All the poems are in alphabetical order, so it's easy to find an ode as needed. And if you haven't read his odes, they are accessible, so this is a lovely book to give as a gift to anyone who is a reader.

I also love how it allows you into these years of Pablo's life, where he is writing and appreciating and not appreciating and yes, bringing the romance into some of these (as in Ode to Her Scent).

But gems throughout. This book will be thoroughly underlined.

~ Kells
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Happy Birthday, Susan Rich! & a poem "Cloud Pharmacy"

From a party at Susan's a several years ago.

From our Poets in Pajamas reading at the Alexis Hotel

My good friend (and talented poet!!) is having a birthday today, so in honor of her birth, I will share a poem from her and her book, Cloud Pharmacy!  (Yes, it's the title poem!)

(Oh and a special treat, her book CLOUD PHARMACY is only $6.99 in the Kindle store - and $2.99 if you bought her book from Amazon...take the cloud with you!)

Cloud Pharmacy
How many apothecary drawers
could I fill with these deliberations?
The pharmacist’s paper cone
parsing out a quarter cup
of love’s resistant drug,
spoons measuring new prescriptions
for my uncertainty, hipsway, gesture.
Give me cobalt bottles
leftover from aunt iska’s cures,
albastrons of ointments, resins to resolve
the double-helix of desire inside of me.
Where is the votive, the vessel,
the slide rule calculation—
to know how much good love
alchemically speaking is
good enough?
I want spindrift nights on swimmer’s
thighs. I want an Egyptian
elevator inlaid in camphorwood and ivory;
a West African drumbeat, an eggnog, a god.
I want waves and summer all year long.
I want you. And I want more.
First published in City Arts

~ Kells
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Monday, July 07, 2014

Postcard from Wallace Stevens

“Throw away the light, the definitions, and say what you see in the dark.” Wallace Stevens

~ Kells
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Join Me in Vaughn, Washington with Reid Jamieson! Words & Music (and art!) July 12th at 7 pm Watermark Music & Art Series

Watermark Music & Reading Series in Vaughn, Washington

July 12, 2014 at 7 pm 
Vaughn, WA

Okay, even if you're not a fan of poetry, how can you not be a fan of this guy. What a talent!

I said yes to reading here just to hear him perform!

If you can join us, here's the info, but do RSVP with Jerry before (253-778-6559) or email jerry.libstaff (at)

Our address is 5106 Madrona Beach Lane KP N, Vaughn 98394.

Hope to see you there!

~ Kells
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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Recommended Summer Reading: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Great book for writers, poets, artists, musicians, and all in the creative arts.

The book is full of daily vignettes of creative people and their schedules.  

What I've noticed-- there's an awful lot of writers & creatives who have servants or maids to serve them food or wake them up precisely at 5 am.

A lot of creatives use both uppers and downers, drink a lot or use alcohol to write.

Many have very specific schedules and many either write in the morning or very late at night. Habits seem important and definitely sticking to their self-created schedule.

I was surprised to learn Joseph Cornell lived with his mother and Proust (I think!) had 1 or 2 croissants and strong coffee every morning and not much else (he also had someone bring them to him when he rang a bell).

Funniest routine is Gertrude Stein going into the country with Alice B. Toklas to watch a cow.  If the cow did not inspired Stein, Toklas would get up hit the cow with a stick until it moved and bring in a second cow for Stein to be inspired by.

The book has SO many artists, writers, poets, musicians, etc. in this book from Plath to Kafka, Gershwin to Picasso.  

Read the full summary on Amazon here.  I'm listening to the audiobook version and loving it.

~ Kells

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Postcard with Roman Candle from Jack Kerouac

"...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

from On the Road, Jack Kerouac

~ Kells
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