Monday, January 30, 2006

How to start the week off with a bang

I wanted to say "it was the loudest sound I ever heard." But really, I was in a tornado once, and that must have been much louder. Not that I remember it.

But the sound of the front end of a Ford Explorer running a stop sign and whacking into the back end of a Toyota Corolla driven by a middle-aged poet-blogger-kittymom is, well, it's loud. Sure as heck woke me up on my way to work this morning.

I'm fine, absolutely fine (with the disclaimer that of course I may wake up stiff and sore and end up filing a medical claim or whatever, but for now, I feel just fine). My poor little blue '91 Corolla is, well, not so fine. Not fine at all. Fortunately the stop-sign-runner had insurance, and I've already spoken with them.

We shall see what happens, though I'm very afraid this will end up meaning I need to go car shopping, an unplanned expense which would severely jeopardize my P-town trip in June. But I can cancel that as late as sometime in May and still get my deposit back, so I am trying to hold off on that particular panic for now.

On the bright side, I'd never been in an accident before, so I guess now I have a new (if maybe a bit trite) image I can use in poems. :-P

(The good news is that she didn't hit me two or three feet farther forward, because that would have bashed in the driver's side door instead, which of course is in very close proximity to the driver herself, namely me. And I don't really like to get that close to the front end of a large, rapidly moving vehicle if I can help it.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006


The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown has finally posted their workshop schedule & descriptions for this summer. Go check it out. There are some amazing workshops coming up.

I have already, as I've mentioned, signed up for D.A. Powell's workshop on "Writing the Body." Here's the description:
Writing poetry is a physical act, located within the lungs, skin, heart and eyes of the poet. Words, when they’re working best, transmit the breath, rhythm and sensory experience of being in the world. In this workshop, we’ll explore the physicality of writing the poem, paying particular attention to issues of the body. How do wellness and disease change the patterns of a poem? How does language give shape to erotic desire? What are the parallels between giving birth and creating the poem? These are but a few of the questions that will guide us through the physical labor of writing. Participants should bring 11 copies of 3 draft poems, as well as their writing notebooks.
Now doesn't that sound entertaining? If I had unlimited time and money (or at least a little less limited), I would also take Thomas Sayers Ellis' "A Risk In Every Room":
A workshop for students interested in writing off-subject, forcing visual and sound connections, and creating surprising narrative and non-narrative progression(s) all within free and fixed stanza forms in their work.
Or possibly Major Jackson's "Doorways":
Entrances into and exits out of works of art are as varied as they are essential. Every artist must tackle the questions "Where do I begin?" and "How shall I end?" In this workshop, we will examine poems (and possibly other art forms) by celebrated as well as emergent American poets to discover how poems find their way into and out of their lyric and narrative worlds. Our observations will focus on strategies and how such openings & closings, arrivals & departures establish tone, movement, and emotional engagement. We will spend a good portion of our time critiquing each other’s poems with our eyes peeled close to our own entryways. Students should come to class with eleven copies of three poems-in-progress.
Here's Martha Rhodes on "Revising and Generating New Work":
In this workshop, we'll examine the choices you’ve made for your poems in terms of imagery, vocabulary, line breaks, and overall structure. We’ll note how these choices, these CRAFT decisions, impact your work and how you can move forward with your poems and also generate new work from the poems you've brought in to discuss. To help us with the discussion of your own poems, we'll look at other poets' work at the beginning of each session to see how their choices brought about layered, multi-dimensional poems of psychological complication. Handouts will be provided, along with several optional overnight "assignments," and, if time permits, opportunity for in-class writing. This is a good workshop for those who really want to work on revision, and generate new work during the week.
And finally, Tom Sleigh's two-day weekend workshop, which is just setting off all kinds of sparks in my head -- if I could possibly swing an August weekend in addition to my week in June I would so sign up for this one:
What is and isn't your material? What kind of poem will you allow yourself to write and what kinds of language does that give you access to? Frost’s notion that a poem is a kind of chain reaction—you start with an emotion, the emotion finds a thought, and the thought finds a word—is one way of thinking about it, but we’ll also talk about less linear ways of organizing that may help you push the limits of your material and your language. This is a workshop for poets who want to go beyond the boundaries of what they can already do. Please bring two of your own poems for us to discuss, though we can also talk about some of the new work you produce during the weekend.
"What is and isn't your material? What kind of poem will you allow yourself to write and what kinds of language does that give you access to?" Oh man ... these are exactly questions I need to be asking of myself and my work right now. Actually, just reading that workshop description may set off some fruitful work for me. I'm going to spend some time thinking about this one.

If you are at all considering a summer workshop this year, I wholeheartedly recommend FAWC. Anyone who was reading my blog last summer knows what an amazing time I had there in June/July. The only drawback is that it is not cheap ... but the folks at FAWC really know how to throw a party. I mean, a workshop. :) I can almost taste the salty harbor fog now...

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In other news, the deadline for the Indiana Arts Commission's Individual Artist Grant applications is fast approaching. Because it's a "must be on our desk" deadline rather than a postmark deadline, I would have to have my application in the mail tomorrow. At this point, I think it is just not happening. Thanks to having been so debilitated by my recent bout with the Martian Death Flu (I'm still coughing a bit), I just couldn't gather enough energy to get to it.

And yes, maybe I am using the Martian Death Flu as an excuse for my own laziness, or fear of failure, or fear of success, or whatever. But as I think about it, I'm not entirely sure the online mentorship thing is exactly what I need right now. I feel like I know what I need to do in order to improve my writing; I'm staring down what I am relatively sure is the right path, even though I'm not quite on it. I just need to muster the discipline and tenacity I'll need to get from here to there, and that's not going to come from any mentor, or workshop, or MFA program -- it can only come from within myself. The upshot is that I just have to decide (every day, for the rest of my life) whether I want it badly enough to do what I have to do to get there. Like a tennis player who's up a set, down a break, and beginning to cramp, the question I have to face now is how much does it matter to me, really.

And I think the answer is that it matters quite a lot, though I couldn't tell you why. But I can say that and say that and say that, and if I don't sit down at my desk and face the blank or half-ass-drafted page, it doesn't matter what I say, now does it?

So if you'll excuse me, I have a pen to pick up.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

like Christmas

Just extricated from the two boxes that appeared on my doorstep yesterday:
The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Emma Donoghue (short stories) (paper)
Aftershocks, Jess Wells (fiction) (paper)
Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000, Marvin Bell (paper)
Bending Home: Selected & New Poems 1967-1998, Susan Griffin (paper)
Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960-2000, Carolyn Kizer (paper)
Rock Harbor, Carl Phillips (cloth)
Digressons on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara: A Memoir, Joe LeSueur (cloth)
The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions, Rick Moody (cloth)
The Flashboat: Poems Collected and Reclaimed, Jane Cooper (cloth)
Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedos Soares, Carmen L. Oliveira (cloth)
In the Next Galaxy, Ruth Stone (cloth)

...All brand new, mint condition, for less than fifty bucks including shipping. I *heart* Daedalus Books. I have mixed feelings about remainders as a general rule -- as someone who would like to have a book published someday I find it all a bit depressing, but -- cheap books! (Hint: to find the poetry section, you need to select the Books tab, then go to Literature, where you'll find Poetry as a subcategory.)

For his part, the kitten is having a blast playing with the boxes and packing paper.

I may as well start writing my own obituary now, as at this point I think it's probably inevitable that I will end up crushed by an avalanche of books.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

by way of an "I'm still alive" post

Boy, am I behind on email.

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Awaiting my attention: the Born to Run 30th anniversary box set, the Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, the new issue of Diner, et cetera. Oh yeah, and some blank pages that would be most pleased to have poems plopped onto them. Sigh.

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Funky web searches that have led to my blog recently:

"43-year-old spinster" (I beg your pardon, I'm forty-FOUR!)
land mammal close to whale (not lately, but maybe in June when I hit P-town...)
perpetually single unhappy (from the Dept. of Health and Human Services, which makes this incredibly funny for some reason)
roger federer shoes kansas (well, I assume he probably wears shoes no matter what state he's in...)
silly poems drafty houses (hey, that just about sums up my life)
fact or fiction frozen unhappy cat (well, cat, if you'd stop sitting in front of the drafty windows, you might not be frozen and unhappy!)
stinky chair equilibrium chair (huh?)
posture is important for musicians (I won't argue that one)
beluga whales bubble rings (hey, someone else went to the Georgia Aquarium!)
logistically what does it mean in grants writing (logistically, you probably want to make more sense than that if you are writing a grant...)
ariel view of sharks (gee, I don't know if Ms. Plath ever hung out with sharks or not)
what are starfish feel like when there in land (huh???)
buttermilk pig fart poem (HUH?????)

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Substance soon, I swear.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pits and bieces

It was, of course, inevitable that at some point I would receive a postage-due notice and have to stand in line at the post office counter in order to pay my two cents and retrieve my rejection slip. I'm just amused by the fact that it happened on Friday the 13th. All was not lost, however, as I bought some new 39-cent stamps while I was at it, and they have a WONDERFUL new set of stamps that are animal illustrations from children's books. These are the best stamps ever. Even when I get rejection slips I will smile because they will have Wilbur or Curious George on them. I just hope the Very Hungry Caterpillar doesn't eat all my manuscripts.

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My little baby kitten weighs NINE pounds now. I guess I only think of him as a little bitty kitten still because I always see him next to the Wooly Mammoth Bear, who has actually lost a little over a pound and is now down to 17 pounds 13 ounces. (At least a pound of that is fluff.)

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Why does this make me think of C. Dale?

(Found at

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Back (in an actual-factual-substantial-post type fashion) soon. Cough, cough.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cough, cough, Rattle, cough

Still sick. Maybe it really is the flu, and not just me being overly dramatic about a cold. I don't think I ever had a super high fever, but I don't remember ever being this fatigued for this long from a cold before. Phhhhbbbbbbttttt. Toi Derricotte is reading on campus this week, so hopefully I'll be able to stop making disgusting snot and coughing-up-a-lung noises before then so I can attend. And I hope to resume less-whiny blogging soon.

Meanwhile, this announcement from the folks at Rattle (you'll see ads in P&W and elsewhere before long).

(Click on the image to see it larger so you can read the rules. It's worth checking out -- looks like a decent contest, with a nice fat prize!)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Sorry I've been a bit MIA for the past few days -- the Martian Death Flu has more or less melted my brain. I've been crashed-out on the couch, drinking lots of orange juice, and watching lots of football. Football. That's how you can tell I'm really not myself.

Better soon, I'm sure.

For those who commented on the new profile pic -- it was taken by Laine at the Five Women Poets reading last October. I believe I was reading "Hold," one of my Provincetown poems, and I was being a big nerd and waving my arms around as I read the line about cormorants' wings.

Really, I just want to be a rockstar. They can get away with waving their arms around and all kinds of other grand gestures that poets mostly can't manage without looking pretty silly. On a scale of one to Bono, I mostly just stand there boringly while I read.

My poem "The Swarm" is now posted on Rattle's website, for the curious or bored amongst you. Ignore the superfluous last name a few lines from the end -- I think that's where the page break was. Oopsie. :)

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to my couch and my football and my Martian Death Flu. Get your flu shots, people. You don't want to feel like this. (Okay, it's probably just a cold and I'm just being dramatic. The flu is probably worse. But what kind of a poet would I be if I didn't exaggerate for effect now and then?)