Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Relax" by Ellen Bass (I adore this poem!) & a short review...

This is from Ellen's book Like a Beggar from Copper Canyon Press.

The entire book is fantastic. Here's a short review I did for Crab Creek Review:

I read Ellen Bass’s  Like a Beggar from start to finish moving easily between topics from anxiety, French chocolates, nakedness, and peaches. The book is beautiful in its thoughtfulness of life and explores the complexities mixing sorrow with humor, pain with praise. Well-crafted and conversational, Bass’ poems feel as they are not only speaking to you, but also putting their hand on your shoulder like a friend would do. These poems remind me how much I appreciate a strong narrative poem and a poet’s ability to return to the natural world as Bass does with lines and images such as “the orchard with its bony branches” and “the wind rubs its hands through the trees.” Truly an inspiring collection that I highly recommend.

~ Kells

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"The Bones She Keeps" - Poem of the Day

I found lines to a poem from my first book on Pinterest. 

Someone had matched it up with this incredible photo.
I was pretty amazed to find it and that someone took the time to create visual with the words. That's the miracle of the internet -- you find out people have read your book, your very first book.

Here's the full poem here.  It was dedicated to my friend Nancy Canyon who would collect bones she found on the beach.

When we look at the teeth
we guess coyote, not dog. 

And this?
The shoulder blade of a seal,
or perhaps, a river otter. 

There is a bone on every windowsill.

What about this?  A cat?  A skunk?
I see part of a jawbone in the white
curve she holds in her palm,
the spine of a raccoon.

And when we line them up,
this white alphabet of what is left,
a new species is born across the table.

I mention the cow skull I found
on a Mexican highway,
how I brought it back
to my apartment, dropped it
in a bucket of bleach,

only to watch black legs emerge,
the widow exiting an eye socket. 

Even now, I can't think of bone
without remembering the spider,
how the living always make room
in the spaces the dead leave behind.

~ Kelli Russell Agodon
  from Small Knots (Cherry Grove, 2004)

~ Kells

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Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize:

Don't forget this is going on!


Winner receives $300 
Chapbook published as print book and eBook

20 Author copies

An amethyst depression glass trophy (circa 1930)

You can enter here:

And here are two examples of our chapbooks (they are gorgeous!):

EARTH by Cecilia Woloch

landscape/heartbreak by Michelle Penaloza

~ Kells

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

How To Have a Love Affair With Poetry: A Short Guide To A Long-Term Relationship

How To Have a Love Affair With Poetry: 

     A Short Guide To A Long Term Relationship

It’s one thing to hold a newly-written poem in your hand and it’s another thing to have a long-term relationship with poetry.  Sometimes you may be confused with what poetry wants from you or maybe you’re not sure what you want from poetry.  The following guide will offer you some ideas to keep strengthening your relationship with poetry so she will stay in your life for a long time.

1)  Pay attention to poetry.  The easiest way to lose poetry is to forget about her.  If you find yourself getting caught up in work, chores, kids, or anything that takes away your “together time,” you may look up one day to find that poetry has left the building. Poetry doesn’t want to be forgotten.  She wants to be noticed and cared for.  She wants you to realize all she adds to your world.  To keep your relationship strong, always make sure to keep poetry a priority in your life.  

2)  Be spontaneous.  Poetry may become bored with another night of take-out Chinese and reruns of Big Bang Theory.  Poetry needs out of house.  Take poetry somewhere new.  She will get weary if you keep bringing her to the same old places and the variety will give you new memories and conversations together.  Poetry loves to dress up and go somewhere different, so don’t allow your relationship to become cliché. Surprise poetry with an unexpected rendezvous and see what happens.

3)  Treat her well.  Poetry loves it when you treat her well and you aren’t screwing around with improper grammar or incorrect punctuation.  She wants to know you have your act together and you understand what she needs.  Appreciate her form.  Poetry wants to know you respect her.

4)  Make her laugh or if you’re more of a comedian, show her your serious side.  Poetry wants to know you are complex.  She appreciates your seriousness, but wants to know you can let loose and see the humor in situations. However, if you’re always making jokes, maybe allow her to see more of your intellectual or contemplative side.

5)  Go deeper.  The longest relationships with poetry don’t just skim the surface. Poetry wants you to take your relationship to another level. She wants to know what your fears are, what your passionate about.  She wants you to be sincere and honest and not just say what you think she wants to her. Poetry knows that for your relationship to last you have to give part of yourself to her.  Yes, it can be difficult in an already busy world, but if you give her everything you have and trust her enough to share the most intimate parts of you, she will reward you and be there for you.  Poetry wants to know you’re dedicated.  Show her your devotion and she will never leave.

~ Kells

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Friday, February 20, 2015

I think every writer & artist should watch this #TEDTalk: How to practice emotional hygiene | ~ ~

"Our minds and our feelings, they are not really the trustworthy friends we thought they were. They are more like a really moody friend, who can be totally supportive one minute and really unpleasant the next." - Guy Winch 


An insightful talk on our minds, our thoughts, rejection and how we talk or think about ourselves. Our emotional health matters.

~ Kells

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Confession Tuesday: The Where Have I Been? Edition

Dear Reader,

I write to you from my sweet leather couch holding my laptop and my cat, Midnight In Paris.

It's been months since I've written. Six weeks since I've blogged.

You see, I let commitments, events, projects, busyness, get the best of me. And by best of me, I mean all of me. And with those go-go-go moments, Mach 10 with my hair on fire, I knew I would eventually crash. And I did, literally.

To the confessional--

Hi.  I'm Kelli's van. 

I confess this is my van, which I totaled last Thursday. I rear-ended a huge metal truck because I took my eyes off the road for two seconds. That's it. 

I was distracted and I looked down and accelerated into a huge truck that was stopped. It was like driving into a brick wall. Airbags deployed. Medic, police, and the fire dept. arrived and I was whisked away in an ambulance to the ER wearing a C-collar and completely woozy and struggling to breathe normally.  Good times.

I confess it scares me how quickly a life can change.

And I confess, I had heard about Bruce Jenner's car accident and had said, "I bet he was texting! I bet he was googling himself!" -- Karma.

I was not texting or talking on the phone or putting on lipstick. I looked down for two seconds and slammed into truck. 

What I have noticed about myself is in the last six weeks is that I have been doing too much. I've been saying yes to things, squeezing other things in, running in second gear. I have been a sidetracked, multitasking, too-much-on-my-plate, overwhelmed American woman/mother/poet/editor/writer. 

I've been saying, "It's got to slow down soon."

And I knew I was going to crash, but I didn't think in this way. (I was thinking a little more metaphorically.)

When my nurse was giving me pain medication, she said to me, "Consider this your assigned vacation." 

Since last Thursday I have been on the couch or in my bed. One day I tried to go out for a ride, to look at a beach house, I took my pain medicine and off I went--the next day, I felt terrible and slept for 18 hours.  Too much.

For some reason, I seem to think I'm invincible. I push myself a lot. I ride my mountain bike like I'm a fifteen year old, sometimes like a female Evil Kneivel trying to ride across logs, fly over jumps as if I'm unbreakable. Sometimes I paddle out in Puget Sound without my life jacket. Though I do not consider myself a risk-taker, I usually know how far my body can go, but I think I need to take a few moments to consider my body and my life and how far I can push them both.

The thing is, when your mind is not engaged in the moment, you are screwed.

No matter what you're doing--talking with a friend, driving a car, riding a bike, doing a task. I realize for the last couple months, I haven't been in the moment, in fact, I've been wanting the moment over, wanting to be done with being so busy. I keep looking ahead--oh, I won't be busy *then* - in a few weeks, I'll have an open calendar. Then it fills up. I kept wanting to do less.

And now, ironically, I am. I am sitting on the couch taking naps. I am watching Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Midnight in Paris, and The Avengers for the umpteenth time. I am resting.

I am taking long baths with books of poetry.

I am seeing friends I haven't seen in while because they've arrived with treats for me and dinners.

I am doing what I should have been doing all along except I wasn't.

It's funny when the universe gives you a cosmic stage direction-- Kelli, you weren't supposed be over there, but over HERE.  Living mindfully and deliberately. Enjoying a simple life. Writing. Having downtime and friendships. Enjoying your family and your life.

I am still healing. My head is a little funky, my shoulderblades, a little achy, and still a few tweaks in me, but I feel myself getting better. It could have been a lot worse. Much worse, and I know that. Deeply.

So my guardian angels were working overtime that day and I thank them. 
And Universe, your message was received loud and clear as well. I'm listening.

Slowing down, friends. Slowing down.


~ Kells

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