Saturday, July 30, 2005

Poet's Market

I had a "30% off any paperback" coupon from Borders, so (silly silly me) I wandered in there today. Lo and behold, the 2006 Poet's Market was on the shelf, so I used the coupon on that. If anyone would like the 2005 edition, I will either trade it for another book if you've got something I might want, or else I will send it for the cost of postage and a padded envelope (not sure how much that would be, maybe 4 bucks or so? it is a fairly large book). For that matter, I still have the 2004 edition, if anyone could use that -- same deal. Both are somewhat dog-eared and lightly annotated. I will also consider trading for recent issues of journals I haven't already read -- esp. if you have the Martin Espada-edited issue of Ploughshares.

I have been reading Lucia Perillo's new book, Luck Is Luck -- wonderful stuff. I took a workshop with her in 2002 at the Indiana U. Writers' Conference and enjoyed it quite a bit.

I keep wanting to make popcorn and then remembering I have a big hole in my mouth where my tooth used to be, and popcorn would probably be a Spectacularly Bad Idea. Fooey. I really love popcorn.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Happy Birthday, Stanley Kunitz

In honor of the 100th birthday of Stanley Kunitz today, NPR's "All Things Considered" had a very nice story, featuring Kunitz reading his poem "The Long Boat." You can listen to the audio on NPR's website (and there's some additional material there as well). According to the story, he is spending the day with friends & family at his home in Provincetown. I hope he has a wonderful birthday. It is a beautiful day in Provincetown, 75 and sunny with a light breeze.

Also see this nifty graphic from the New York Times: "You have to fight for your poems."

And this article from the Boston Globe: "One hundred years of plenitude."

I was fortunate enough to hear Kunitz read at the Fine Arts Work Center in August of 2003, when he was only 98 (only!) -- a reading that was special enough even the New Yorker covered it (towards the end of this long and very interesting article). I was deeply moved by his presence, his spirit, and his commitment that night -- which was also my first experience with FAWC, where I had such an amazing, life-changing week this summer. Kunitz was instrumental in the founding & development of FAWC, so I (like so many others) owe him a debt of gratitude even beyond what we all owe him for his poetry. As if poems like "The Wellfleet Whale" and "The Layers" and "Touch Me" weren't enough.

And when I feel like a late bloomer, at the ripe old age of 44 and haven't published a book yet, I think about how much of his best work happened in his eighties, and I feel hopeful again.

Happy, happy birthday, Stanley Kunitz. The world's a better place for poetry because of you.

And happy birthday, too, to bloggers Rebecca Loudon and Teresa Ballard. Note to mothers anticipating elective C-sections in July: Avoid the 29th unless you want the kid to grow up and write poetry, apparently. And what mama in her right mind would ever wish for that? *grin*

Note To Self

Words to use in a poem:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On facing fear

When half my tooth crumbled and fell out of my mouth last night, my first thought (well, after the incoherent "what the fu......?" one) was: I wonder when and how this image will show up in a poem?

Most people would think me weird for that. Not that I care. :)

We all have silly things that frighten us, some more than others. Some people are terrified to fly. Others are terrified of snakes, bridges, poverty, the dark. Me, I'm deathly afraid of dentists. I remember once the late great Warren Zevon was interviewed, after he'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he said that he'd always been afraid of doctors and that ended up not working out so well for him. With dentists, it's not even so much the fear of pain (though that's there) as the fact that it freaks me out to have someone all up in my face like that, and having my face pushed around, and having someone's hands all in my mouth.

Happily, the new dentist I went to today has very small hands.

So tonight I have one tooth less, and one bottle of vicodin more, than I did before. And eventually, the experience of forcing myself to stay in that chair will turn up in a poem.

I hope it's a funny one. The world needs more funny dental poems.

For the record: when a tooth falls apart and a big piece falls out of your mouth? It feels just like it does in those dreams where your teeth crumble.

On a happier note, I fired up NASA TV online at work today to watch the shuttle launch. It made me really happy. There was one shot from the camera mounted on the fuel tank, looking back at the earth, where first you could see the coastline of Florida and then later the blue curve of the planet.

Years and years and years ago, the very first book of poetry I fell in love with was The Space Child's Mother Goose. I was a child of the Space Age, through and through.

It all connects up somehow, or would if it weren't for this Vicodin.

Things fall apart, just a little, things crumble when we're not expecting them to. But we dope ourselves up and we carry on. And that's what life is all about.

Dear Muse: Please excuse Anne from getting anything done tonight, as she is doped to the gills following her extraction. Sincerely, [illegible scrawl]

Sunday, July 24, 2005

At the risk of unoriginality...'s Too. Darn. Hot.

I probably wouldn't even have left the air-conditioned house today had I not had to dash next door and feed the neighbor's parakeets while she was out of town. It was even too hot to get in the car and take myself out for ice cream, and believe me, anything that keeps me from ice cream is extreme.

I did get some writing done today, though -- managed to take some disquieting dreams I've had lately and stuff them into a poem, which feels like a bit of a relief. (If something's going to nag at me like that, I may as well get some use out of it!)

Two fun library-related links for you:

Library Career Romances - From the 40s through the 60s, a popular trend in young adult fiction was the "career romance" in which young women pursued various professional careers and also (it's a shocker, I know) managed to find True Love. This page features library-related career romances, with titles like "Kitsy Babcock, Library Assistant," "Nancy Runs the Bookmobile," and "Books and Beaux." I am quite amused.

Banned Books Bracelets - These bracelets have links that are designed to look like the covers of various frequently-banned books, like Go Ask Alice and Annie on my Mind and Howl. Proceeds go to the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. They come in both adult and kid sizes (featuring adult and kid books respectively). I think I'm going to have to order one of these, especially since I've actually read all the books featured on the adult one. (I know, I'm such a show-off. *grin*)

Stay cool, y'all.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

Feeling less than sharp, less than fully verbal the past couple of days. I think it's partly the weather -- we've had Excessive Heat Warnings from the weather service, dewpoints as high as eighty (they say most people start feeling uncomfortable when the dewpoint hits 65), temperatures into the nineties with typical Hoosier humidity. I keep the a/c running in the house, even though every time it cycles on I can hear the pennies (and quarters, and nice shiny Susan B. Anthony dollars...) draining from my poor bank account. Ice cream, I think, is on today's agenda. And I'm very glad I decided against going up to Indianapolis to watch the RCA Tennis Championships in person -- for one thing Andre Agassi pulled out due to injury and he's the one I most wanted to see -- and for another, sitting outside for several hours sounds entirely less than pleasant today. (I am rooting for Taylor Dent, though; I saw him practicing before a tournament several years ago, and had no idea who he was at the time but was highly impressed by this kid who was whacking the ball just incredibly hard. It's been nice to see him get his act together & start to make something of himself.)

I've managed to be pretty productive the past couple of weekends -- drafting two things-that-might-turn-out-to-be-poems each weekend -- I'm satisfied with my level of productivity anytime I'm writing at least one "keeper" a week, so this is good. Hopefully I can keep it up this weekend despite the weather.

In honor of the weather and because I've little else to say, an old poem:


The summer wears on
becomes overripe and malodorous.
You try not to move too much
but always something calls you,
the phone, a kid selling candy,
the water for your dinner boiling over.
Every action feels like an uprooting,
limp pale tendrils pulled through dust
and clods of dry earth.
You want it to rain.

But what you planted grows relentlessly
despite the weather,
tomatoes swell and split and fall,
zinnias grow too tall for bouquets.
In back, early windfall apples
hit the ground at odd moments,
plock, and you gather them in paper bags
but it's too hot to can or bake pies.
Every night you check
the asparagus, cut the stalks
when they're still tender,
finger high. What you miss
keeps growing, ferny and defiant.
No matter how much you harvest
some escapes you, falls free,
goes to seed.

-A.H. 1987
published in Calapooya Collage, 1988

Thursday, July 21, 2005

your laugh for the day

Go read The Dan Brown Code, written and produced by Spatch. Even if you haven't read the best seller in question (as I haven't), this is a rather hysterically funny sendup. (And if you like this, there's much more amusement to be found on his site.)

Oh, and last night's Enormous Burp? That had nothing to do with the Large Fruity Drink, which only made me slightly smilier than usual (though I do admit to being a lightweight when it comes to alcohol-containing concoctions). No, that Enormous Burp was the sound of a cheeseburger attempting to, uh, get itself evicted from paradise. Let's just say the food at that place leaves something to be desired.

Carry on. :)

Oh! Also: there is a lovely article on Stanley Kunitz in this week's Provincetown Banner. What I'd give to be in Provincetown tomorrow night... sigh.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


It has come to our attention that this blog has had altogether too much thinking and cogitating and generally pointless rumination going on lately. Consequently, the remainder of this post will be devoted to the aftermath of my first (and, one rather hopes, my last) trip to "Cheeseburger In Paradise," which just opened up in the building where Chi-Chi's (late lamented home of half-price after-work margaritas and at least one known case of hepatitis) used to be.


Ahhhhhhhhh. Much better.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Mgmt.

(The pina colada wasn't bad. Too sweet by half, but nice and fruity, and nice and big. We like nice big fruity things here at Land Mammal, yes indeedy do.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

to chew on...

The moment of change is the only poem. [Adrienne Rich]

The thing that is broken has particular authority over the act of change. [Louise Gluck]

I trust language maybe a little too much. But it seems safer than some other things I've trusted in my life.

I was going to say "it all ties together somehow" but I think the point these days is that it doesn't. Or doesn't have to.

Simultaneously longing for & resisting closure in my work. That's the point of it right now, I think, or the goal.

Headache. Goodnight.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

the hiss of interstellar static

Just as the universe of space-time is made up of mostly nothing, vacuum scattered with brief luminous intensities, so being human is made up of mostly distance, unbridgable, which we must somehow forgive.

We can never be quite whole, but we can be quite holy.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What's messing with my head:

For the past, oh, couple of weeks or so (ever since the you-know-what in you-know-where-town that everyone is probably sick of hearing about by now) I've been in the weirdest place, mentally: at the same time as self-confident and as filled with self-doubt as I have ever been in my life.

Which leads to such odd juxtapositions as being head-over-heels in love with my own newest poems, and at the exact same moment wondering whether I have enough talent that I should even dare set pen to paper, much less toy with the idea of going into an mfa program or god forbid trying to get a (sssshhhhhhh) book published someday.

I have no idea what this is about.

(Although it seems to be a place from which I can get some work done, so I shouldn't complain.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

So we should have poetry karaoke, yes?

An odd thing, the last couple of nights: though I've sat down at my desk and scribbled a little bit, spent a little time reading, most of my writing time has turned into "sitting there reading poems aloud to the empty room" time. I've been reading my own poems aloud a bit, the newer ones, and I've been reading a bunch of poems from Cocktails out loud and realizing how much better I get them when I do that (and so appreciating the precision and the ring of them as I read -- he does some nifty stuff with rhyme I almost overlooked on the page), and I've read a few others aloud as well. But this is part of writing practice, yes? I think it is. I think it counts.

I've got to figure out routines that work. I'm not doing so well at sitting down at my desk from 7 till 10 every evening, which is what I'd like to do; I've gotten a late start the last couple evenings but have still made myself sit down and do a little work just to stay in touch with it. Weekday evenings, after a full day of work, just aren't the best time for me to do a lot of actual writing as a general rule, and if I sit down in hopes of feeling really productive and draft-y I usually get disappointed. (And I am SOOOOO not a morning person.) So I think I will try to spend evenings journaling and reading and doing exercises -- writing imitations, trying forms, stuff like that. Fiddling, tuning the instrument. Also reading aloud for a few minutes every evening, because that feels useful and necessary right now. Then, weekends, I will be revved up and ready to do some serious writing.

My poetry group meets tomorrow night, and I've promised that instead of bringing a poem to be workshopped, I'm going to take the time we'd normally spend on one of my poems & tell them all about Provincetown. I'm going to read them a few D.A. Powell poems (I think I'll read them the "dogs do love trash" one even though they will be scandalized *grin*) and then I'm going to pick out a few things from my notes to talk about and then I'm going to read them two of the new poems I wrote, talking about how I drafted & revised them. I'm really pleased with how I handled the revision process on "Fog, Provincetown" and "Hold" & talking about that will give them some of what I learned during the week.

Thinking of my friend S. who is in Provincetown this week, in Martin Espada's workshop. I envy her. When she gets back we're going to get together and compare notes.

Got a really nice second-hand compliment today on my poem in the current Rattle. It's little things like that sometimes that keep you going. I'm happy just to know someone actually reads my crap; to get a compliment from a stranger is, as they say, gravy. I write for myself, yes, for that feeling I had walking down Pearl Street with my arms open whispering yes ... that's why I do it. But to be listened to, to be read, to be heard, to have someone whose work I respect come up to me the morning after a reading and tell me I inhabited my poem as I read it, to know by the response someone else gives me that my words are ringing true -- that's sweet, sweet, sweet. (Reading a poem to someone is like sex: sometimes you know when you're doing it right just by listening to how their breathing changes.)

Marge Piercy was the first poet I really enjoyed reading aloud, and then Plath, of course: "Stasis in darkness..." I still get out Hopkins sometimes for the sheer pleasure of his words on my tongue. I'm not a "performance poet" by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes I know when I've gotten it right by how it rings in an empty room -- or a room that isn't empty. I know by listening to how the poem's breathing changes. In Powell's workshop we talked about reading your poems in the bathroom for the acoustics. So now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go talk to myself for a while like the crazy woman I know I am.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hello, Dennis

It started raining several hours ago & is supposed to rain for the rest of the week. Thanks, Hurricane Dennis!

I still feel a bit cut loose from routine, even though I've been back home for over a week. I'm trying to take this as an opportunity to reshape said routine. I would like to spend every evening from 7 to 10 in my study, reading and writing. Tonight I went in there about 7:20 and emerged about 9:40, although I did take a couple of breaks. Not too bad. Finished reading Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely. Interesting stuff, and gave me some ideas for working with longer forms.

This summer sometime I want to tackle a major revision of my longish poem "Interstellar Static" (which a few of you have seen). We talked about it in Provincetown and the suggestion that most made the hair rise up on the back of my neck was to write it in a much more fragmented form. I might write fragments from different time periods, or write formally different pieces, or even use different voices entirely. I might make it a bit of a mosaic. Maybe it will be something you have to stand a little distance from in order to see the clear picture.

The thrum at the seabed of my feelings today alternates between excitement and fear. I woke this morning with a sinus headache (again: thanks, Dennis!) and wicked cramps and a rather deep-seated sense of dread, so I stayed home from work. It's easy for me to say "yes, I'm thinking about doing a low-residency MFA and the thought of trying to tackle a two-year program that costs about what I make in one year, when I have no savings and am driving a 14-year-old car that will need to be replaced soon, is scary as heck and makes me want to throw up" but. When I say that I'm excited and scared about what comes next, I think I really mean the poetry.

There is the joy of falling in love with something at the very moment you also realize it is going to be taken away from you. And no I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that.

Although on Friday of the workshop, sitting in the Adams Pharmacy drinking a bottled Frappuccino and watching it rain, watching a dog walk by with his stuffed toy held in his mouth like an Oscar statuette, the sense of "I don't want this to ever, ever end" was almost overwhelming.

It was a fabulous workshop but over and above that there was the fact that I came there needing to be in that space. I knew what I needed to feel and I went to a place where it was possible to feel that.

Walking down Pearl Street in the newly minted dark, after the student reading, I spread my arms wide and laughed. And then I went back to my room and I wrote.

That's the happy ending of it: And then I went back to my room and I wrote.

I know what I need to feel and I need to make my own home into a place where it is possible to feel that.

Tonight's forecast says "Humid with thundery rains."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Nesting Instinct

Like a woman about to go into labor, I suddenly find myself nesting -- clearing space -- I've just cleared an entire (smallish) bookcase and am going to move it to the other side of my tiny study, next to the poetry bookcase which is overflowing -- am generally reorganizing bookcases this week. Target has some 8-shelf cheapo bookcases on sale for $36 and I think I will buy two to replace the nasty block-and-board shelves in my dining room -- these will be taller so will hold more books. I am making space for something and I don't think it's just more books. (Although, speaking of which, it is entirely shameful -- and "shame" is a word I do not use lightly -- how many books I have bought and not yet read. During the several years when I was not writing, I was reading very little -- and have unearthed an entire stash of literary journals from 1995-97 that never got read. I could retire now and never move my ass from my sofa and still not run out of stuff to read before I died.) I am also thinking about doing some serious weeding, selling some books I probably won't read again -- I would give them away or trade them, but if what comes next is what I think it is, I'm going to need cash money.

A fairly productive weekend. Yesterday I drafted two new poems, wrote in my journal for a while, and revised two of my Provincetown poems to the point where I feel they may be finished. (And I'm damn happy with them too.) Today I have been reading Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely (a D.A. Powell recommendation) and have written in my journal somewhat productively though I haven't really touched any poetry.

I am making space for something. I am hungry, hungry, hungry for whatever comes next.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Radio Reminder

This coming Sunday (July 10) I'll be reading three of my poems on our local NPR radio station's poetry show, The Poets Weave. You can listen online using either RealPlayer (.ram) or Windows Media Player (.wma) format, but you have to tune in on time because they don't archive it anywhere -- and it's only a five minute program, so if you blink, you'll miss it...

Here's the details:

Sunday, July 10, 2005
11:45-11:50 AM Eastern Standard Time
(that's 12:45-12:50 PM Eastern Daylight/New York time, 11:45 Central Daylight/Chicago time, et cetera.)
To listen online:

(Of course, if you're within radio-signal distance of Bloomington, Indianapolis, or Kokomo, Indiana, you can pick it up on an actual radio. The URL above lists the various frequencies on which you might find the station, depending on where you are.)

I can never really stand the sound of my own voice on the radio, but I guess most people feel that way. About their own voices, I mean, not about mine. Although maybe people can't stand the sound of my voice, but if so, they've never told me! Actually I had an ex who used to say I had a phone-sex voice. I could never quite hear that myself, but hey, whatever works. :)

From notes I took in class last week

"the more influences you have, the better"

poem arises from act of living -- liminal moment -- not separate from, not expository or at some remove -- writing from the very crisis

Assignment: Find a line in your poems that feels like it has that ring of finality to it -- start from that line & write forward.

"whenever you find yourself playing with lines instead of writing, you're probably in a bad spot"

on line breaks: a real line can't be broken -- has a sense of autonomy, is a miniature poem in itself

"Revise towards strangeness" --Rachel Zucker

"so much of being a poet is like being a mollusk"

stanza = "room" in Italian. Think of poem architecturally -- how you move from one to another -- the feng shui of the poem.

"you never want to introduce anything into a poem that feels like an argument, or a judgement ... the reader will decide against you."

the spider-plant poem (little poems sprout & drop off of it)

punctuation as musical notation -- tension between "stop" mark & continuation of line
colon as aperture
fulcrum -- change in rhythm

"the title is the priest of the poem -- it stands there & tells you how to behave. I don't believe in titles -- I believe I can step into the poem & talk directly to god."

Creeley: space between lines is a silence in which the heart can break

(after a discussion of the eroticism of doorknobs, bald heads, being caught): "face it, there's something erotic about just being alive ... it's all erotic until you can't do it anymore."

"Poems are written by bodies, they're not written by minds."

Hass: "a good poem contains its opposite"

Sometimes it's good to write more than you need so you have lots of bits and variations from which you pick and choose -- then go thru & maybe highlight the ones you like, the lines that are tonic, have a kind of entity about them -- pull them out & as necessary build bridges between them. "Be willing to honor the plasticity of language."

Try writing a sentence & endlessly subordinate & interrupt & do everything you can to keep from reaching the period.

a poet is a deity with the power of creation -- each created poem is a world -- the poet is then at the beck & call of the world that has been created -- that power & that responsibility to one's own creation -- take care that the worlds are sustainable

compress -- put pressure on -- every part of the poem

"The poem must resist the intelligence almost successfully." --Stevens

the poet is a rat who builds his own maze & then has to find his way out

try using altavista babelfish to generate revision (!)

there's a faith in pushing past the edges -- in saying that things go on

Friday, July 08, 2005

recovering we cleave and sunder, cleave and sunder--

Today I was in the throes of post-workshop blues, and missing people I haven't seen in years, and missing people I barely know, and feeling generally disconnected. I went out (by myself) to Third Street Park for Carrie Newcomer's annual free concert in the park -- always fun, with kids and dogs and picnics and hot air balloons drifting overhead and fireflies rising up out of the grass, and good music. I met a six-month-old black Lab pup who made me smell like puppy kisses.

So I was sitting in the park, listening to Carrie play. I looked around at people I know, and people who probably know people I know, and people I'll probably know someday, and people I don't know at all. And all of a sudden I thought, the sweetest connections are the ones you don't necessarily have to call on -- it's enough to know they're there, on the other side of the park or the other side of the planet, listening to the same music, under the same sky. It's enough to know they're there. And my heart filled right back up again.

And then the fireflies started rising up out of the grass, and I waited for a star to come out so I could wish on it, and it did, so I did.

"...wrapped in hope and good intentions, bare to the bone."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I did expect this

Hello, post-workshop blues. I've been expecting you.

Don't get too comfortable. I don't intend for you to stick around long.

Meanwhile, I'll just be over here with my head underneath the covers for a while.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Killer legs!

Thanks to Peter for pointing this out ... do check out a great interview with Eduardo C. Corral, and a chapbook of his work, over at Web del Sol. There's some tough and gorgeous work here. Bravo!

Monday, July 04, 2005

waking up

I took a nap this afternoon (snuggled up with one of the cats -- they are so so happy to have me home) and dreamed I was in a workshop. I don't know who the teacher was, I don't think he was anyone I know, but as the dream began (or as the part of it I remember began) I had just read a poem and the teacher said "Don't you all agree she needs to freshen all of her language?" and everyone was nodding and mm-hmming. I thought, but didn't say out loud, "But people like the language that they know!"

I'm even getting workshopped in my DREAMS now. How funny is that?

I do not remember any dreams that I may have had while in Provincetown. Maybe this is because I didn't sleep that well in my noisy B&B (there was sewer work on the house next door, so the construction vehicles started up every morning around 7:30 and the diggy-thing that shook the entire house started around 8, but that was OK since I wanted to get up no later than that anyway -- plus the parking lot, right outside my front window, was gravel and anytime a person walked through it to get to their car or to the door of the main house it went crunch crunch crunch, and traffic, and on the last night the boys in the room next door were apparently having a *ahem* very good time). Or maybe it's because the creative, associative part of my brain was getting such a workout all day and it was too tired to come up with images for dreams. Really, I'd write/revise for a good couple hours every morning, class for three hours in the afternoon, readings in the evening, and most evenings I did a little writing too. And even when I ate lunch or dinner, if I was eating alone & if I wasn't writing, I was reading poetry. I've never had a workshop that asked quite that much immersion of me. That's probably one reason it was so productive. It was kind of odd not to dream though.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The big catchup

Okay, rather than expecting everyone to scroll back through all my P-town posts to find responses to your comments, I'm just going to put them here in a big pile -- shuffle through them till you find yours. :) If I miss any, pester me here or in email....

Peter, re: It sounds wonderful. Tell DA Powell I *heart* him.
You can thank Carol, who was also in the workshop & noticed your comment, for this:
on the whiteboard in our meeting room
(He said it was sweet. *grin*)

Lorna Dee, re: Anne, check your email. I sent you some "drafty" type reframings of what I think are two good poems here.
I thanked you in email, but here too! I've already started reworking them (I'm pretty sure I've worked on both at this point), but I'm intrigued by your ideas too, & pleased that my drafts inspired you to play. You know, I've never loved revision, but this week, I couldn't wait to launch into it. It's like a connection finally happened in my brain about it.

Ginger, re: It's made me think about this whole blogging thing, and how I sometimes feel for bloggers the way I do for characters in a good novel.
LOL! Yes, I feel the same way, except that with characters in a novel I think "I wish I really could meet so-and-so" and with bloggers there's always some chance I may actually meet them at some point. (Case in point -- sitting around chatting with fellow workshoppers on the first day and mentioning blogging, only to have Carol say "wait! I know you!" That was startling at first, but turned out to add a neat extra layer to our interaction.) And yes, I did go out on a second whale watch -- Monday after class -- and we saw 3 humongous basking sharks (thirty feet long!) and got a nice close look at a finback whale. I normally see more than that when I go out, but I think it was just Somebody's way of reminding me that I wasn't there to see whales, I was there to write poems!

Sarah, re: it's so funny that you saw John Waters! living in baltimore, we saw him once at a bar in baltimore that he allegedly frequents. a kind of seedy, really dimly lit, always-packed-on-the-weekends, bar with a really fabulous jukebox. kind of a perfect place for him, i think.
Hee! Provincetown is a perfect place for him, too. I didn't see him to say hello or anything, just saw him going by on the street. And, glad you enjoyed reading the posts. It's kind of weird to have people who know me in "real life" reading these posts (though I submit that last week was the reality and the 8-to-5 job is the fictional construction...), but kind of nice too. :)

Rebecca, re: I'm enjoying reading about your conference. I only went to one, (twice) and even that was difficult for me. All I wanted to do was ride around on my bicycle, and, come to think of it, that's pretty much all I did. The poems didn't come until a year later.
I usually figure I've had a really good summer workshop if I get one decent poem out of it -- but always, always what I've learned comes back months or a year later and the poems come then. I'm amazed at how productive I was able to be this week -- and I bet there will be more as everything I learned filters down to deeper levels. This workshop was difficult for me -- in the sense that it stretched me & pushed me on both intellectual & emotional levels -- but it was a good difficulty.

Diane, re: How it takes you out of yourself and brings you back to your core, how it shakes all your dead leaves from your tree.
Yes, yes!!! Although in this case it felt like it didn't take me out of myself so much as bringing me to my best self. And yes, it will stay with me. I won't be that best self every day, but knowing that core is there will probably sustain me.

Emily, re: Anne, I LOVE this, LOVE this. It is making me cry. I think we have the same taste in women. [sad grin]
Awwwww, thanks. So you like the slightly salty ones too, eh? *grin* You know, I like that draft myself, though I think I wrote two this week that were better. But I'm definitely going to work with the Race Point one, and not just because I want to say big ass mola mola. :) Here is one of the things I learned as I wrote that draft, though: when I'm in a truly joyful and peaceful place, when I'm in the middle of falling in love with myself again, that's when I feel safe enough to access the sense of longing that I think peeks its little head out in that poem. I think that's why the week was risky (in a good way) for me -- and I think learning how to handle material that feels risky is one of the things D.A. Powell teaches best, even if he doesn't say it in so many words.

Suzanne, re: This is a keeper. This one you keep and redraft, Anne. I have some suggestions for you, but I'll wait until it has time to dry--it's still wet. I'm so happy this weekend is getting under your skin. :-)
Thanks!! Sure, send along your suggestions -- though I've already done some mucking around with it and suspect a major rewrite is already going to happen. I feel like I learned so much about revision this week & understand the process so much better -- I'm not nearly so afraid of it anymore. In a way that has freed me to write stuff I probably wouldn't have tried to touch otherwise. And yes, the week got under my skin -- waaaaaay down in there! It really was almost a physical sensation. Odd, that. But so good.

Carol, re: I didn't make it to the good-byes, Anne, but I can't bear good-byes, and why should we? It's hello.
Yes, exactly. That whole group bonded so tightly in just a few days -- I do suspect we've all entered each other's lives on a long-term basis, even if it just means each of us has the happiness of knowing the others are alive on this planet somewhere. Okay, that sounded REALLY sappy. Oh so what. :)

Jenni, re: He sounds wonderful. If I ever have the oppertunity, I'll definately take a class with him.
You should! I think you'd enjoy him a great deal. He would certainly have no trouble with your more "risky" material, and he'd probably give you a lot of good poets to read as well. (I swear the man has read everything!)

Jilly, re: glad it was productive and you got to meet my friend Carol. :)
Yes!! Meeting Carol was fabulous. Definitely get her to show you some of the new material she started working on there, too. Burning temples and so on. Amazing stuff.

Eduardo, re: Thanks for posting about your time in P.Town. I think I'm the only queen who hasn't visited the town yet. Sigh.
Oh honey. You must. You would be in hog heaven. (Okay, maybe I spent a bit too much time drinking at the Squealing Pig.) Provincetown isn't what it used to be -- it's way too expensive and too much new construction and too gentrified -- but it is still one of the Great Good Places in the world. And the Fine Arts Work Center does wonderful things. What I love about FAWC -- well, one of the many things to love -- is that, being a part of such a queer community, it is a completely safe and queer-friendly place without having to make a big deal out of it. It just is. I think that's part of why it is such a good place to write -- that level of honesty is pervasive & contagious. I haven't found that atmosphere at other summer workshops; I've never felt unsafe about coming out in other workshops, but at FAWC (and in P-town), it's like "coming out" isn't even an issue. Everyone just is whoever the hell they are -- whether that's a grizzled old Portuguese fisherman or a sparkly drag queen on rollerblades. Hell, it was even okay to be a librarian from Indiana there. :)

Gina, re:
hope the transition isn't too jarring.
Yeah. *sigh* Going back to work is going to be hard. I fully expect a big emotional meltdown within the next ten days. In that workshop I felt simultaneously so totally vulnerable and so totally empowered -- and neither of those is necessarily a safe place to be on a day-to-day basis. It was worth it, though.

For everyone else who just posted good wishes and agreement -- thank you -- it felt good to share such a mind-blowingly good experience, and I thank you all for being there so I had someone to share it with. I like the idea of all that amazing energy somehow filtering out into the world! I do feel changed by the week. This happened to me once before with a summer workshop (at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, over ten years ago, with the poet Michael Carey) but this feels even deeper, stronger. I guess I must have really needed it.

Poets you come back to

One of the (many, many, many) things I learned in Provincetown was that I really need to go back to Wallace Stevens. I mean, I've read him -- of course I've read him; I did take poetry classes as an undergrad, after all! -- but I haven't read that much of him since I got my head screwed on (closer to) straight about poetry & about who I am as a poet. I've just ordered his book of essays, The Necessary Angel, and his Collected Poems. Stevens and Stein were the two most-referred-to poets in our workshop, I believe (no, I wasn't keeping track); I don't feel particularly drawn to go back to Stein right at this moment, but I suspect I should spend some real time with Stevens.

Are there poets (or other writers) you read early on in your writing life and then went back to much later? Who were they and what was that experience like? Or are there poets/writers you want to go back to now?

home again, home again...

As the plane descended into Indianapolis I saw all these flashes of light. I thought maybe there was a big fire or accident or something with lots of emergency vehicles, and then I realized it was fireworks -- a couple of larger displays, I think, and a ton of just individual people shooting off fireworks in their yard. It was so cool to see that from the air. Little flashes everywhere, all kinds of colors, bigger and bigger as we descended.

So I'm home, and my checked bag made it too, and the cats are just fine. I have a ton of blog comments, some of which I do want to respond to, but ... not tonight. I'm zonked. If you left me a comment in the last week and want a response and don't get one in the next day or two, please feel free to email me (ahaines at gmail dot com).

Very tired. Good night!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

blogging while intoximacated (a little)

okay, I'm not that intoximacated but two beers is definitely enough to loosen me up a bit. whoops. :) Just got back to my b&b after saying goodbyes to my workshop people. I think the only time I've found it quite this hard to say goodbye after a workshop was Michael Carey's workshop at Iowa, whatever summer it was that I did that ... but no ... I think this one was actually harder. This group just really jelled for some reason -- six students and one teacher -- and I'm not just saying this because I gave out my blog address to everyone: every one of them is someone I feel privileged to have gotten to know. Every one of them is just ridiculously talented as a poet, and worked their butts off. Every one of them amazed me at some point with something they wrote or revised this week. And as for D.A. Powell, what can I say ... if you ever have a chance to take a workshop with the man, do it (especially if it's on revision *grin*). I think the best word for him as a teacher is generous. (Though "funny as shit" should work in there somewhere too.) I know that so much of it is happening to stumble across the right teacher in the right setting at the right time, and some of it is the student being open to learning, but above & beyond all that, he's just a fabulous teacher, and f'ing brilliant to boot.

Enough gushing, I suppose. I could go on all night, and I can't because I have to *sigh* pack my stuff so I can *sniffle* leave tomorrow. I may cry as the ferry pulls out of the harbor. I really may. All my feelings are just so heightened right now. It is probably a good thing there was no one of the appropriate gender/persuasion combo in the workshop, because I could have gotten myself in big trouble, letting myself be so heightened & vulnerable and in such a, yes this is the word for it, a loving space.

Oh! Sam Witt zipped out to P-town for the weekend, so he stopped by our last class as a Special Guest and read us the long poem of which we'd seen drafts -- it's really an amazing piece, and it was neat to hear him read it. He's a sweetheart too (he joined us for drinks tonight). Carl Phillips also showed up for tonight's reading, though I didn't get to meet him. Tonight's reading was much, much fun -- Doug Powell & Sonia Sanchez. She is quite an amazing performer/reader, and though she went over the usual allotted time you gotta admit she's earned it at this point in her life; and D. read really well too, with just the right amount of intro, and humor, and moments when the audience was just completely silent -- especially during his Poseidon Adventure poem ("[morning broke on my cabin inverted. tempest in my forehead]") -- god, that poem just wrecks me. His work makes me want to take more risks with my own. A lot of this week was about taking risks. That's the part I didn't expect to get from this, but got (and needed).

We did decide that there should be a poetry-workshop reality show -- somewhere in between American Idol and The Real World -- & it was decided that Jorie Graham would definitely have to be one of the poets. Maybe you had to be there. I know some of you are gonna find your way to this blog and read it, so feel free to chime in. *grin*

Okay, I'm going to start getting all maudlin and "don't want it to be over" and "I love youse guys" and all if I don't shut up and start packing my suitcase. So.

(I must remember to be very, very kind to myself for the next couple of weeks as I go through re-entry. A high as high as this week has been will almost inevitably have a crash to follow.)