Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's one of those nights...

Rain on the wind, quiet in the house. Thinking of people who aren't here.

[yes, there was a poem here... now it's gone. They do that.]

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday night in the big city

Tonight's monthly reading at the Runcible Spoon was good in a reassuring sort of way. Lately, when I pick up the local paper, I've felt like I wasn't in the right town -- there was a shooting in a park not far from me, and a couple of other gun-related incidents right smack downtown; plus that awful plane crash -- shootings and plane crashes just are not the Bloomington I know. But tonight was a very Bloomington night, and for that I am grateful.

Most of the readers/performers tonight are people I've known, one one level or another, for ages and ages. Dennis Sipe I don't know well at all, just from seeing him around at poetry stuff, but he's been around for quite a while. Shana Ritter is someone I met very soon after she first moved into town -- was it 1985 or 1986? -- she joined my writing group right after she arrived, and I've always loved her poetry. Tonight she read an old poem that we must have critiqued three or four times in that group, sometime in the eighties, and it was neat to hear it again. David Christman, who played several songs on the ukulele (yes, I said ukulele), lived in the same dorm I did when we were undergrads -- of course it was the hippie/artsy dorm, the Collins Living-Learning Center, and though he and I were never close friends we had lots of friends in common. Roger Mitchell was the other reader; I took a class from him as an undergrad & then some years later I sat in on his section of "Teaching Creative Writing" which was mostly full of first-year MFA students. You know, I don't think I appreciated any of my teachers nearly enough when I was an undergrad -- I guess people who are 19, 20 years old never really appreciate what they are learning, do they? You know everything when you're 19 and teachers just get in the way, those pesky assignments just take you away from writing the Great Art you are of course hell-bent upon committing.

Ugh. Thank goodness we all grow out of being 19, huh? And those of you who teach 19-year-olds, take heart -- some of us really do get around to appreciating our teachers eventually. I look back at my undergrad classes now, particularly with Roger Mitchell and Maura Stanton, and jeez, I was lucky to get to work with teachers like them. Those workshops were so much more important to me than I understood at the time, just for the sense of being around people who took poetry seriously -- and on occasion even took my poetry seriously.

Anyway, Roger read from two of his books (The Word for Everything and Delicate Bait), as well as work from his forthcoming book Half Mask and some other new work. He read the title poem from Delicate Bait, which I have to say is one of my very favorites of his. It's linked there. Go read it. Like many of his poems it's discursive, takes the long way round, uses a lot of commas and not-quite-parenthetical phrases, and then when you're not quite expecting it you get walloped upside the head. (I also have to admit that I love the poem partly because, although I don't know precisely where it is set, it could easily take place in my very favorite restaurant in the world on Maui, so it brings back a lovely memory of Mama's Fish House. Which has nothing to do with the poem, except that it evokes that particular atmosphere. And now I'm hungry for some macadamia-encrusted ahi, dammit.)

I signed up for the open mic and read two poems; was going to cut it to one because I felt like things were getting a little long, but what with all this napowrimo-ing I feel like I've got more new poems than I know what to do with, and I really wanted to read them both just for the sake of hearing them out loud in a room full of people, because that helps me revise. And we were allowed three minutes, and they were both short poems, so I read them both. The first one went over okay, I think; I could hear the places where it worked and some places where it lost energy a bit, but overall I think people heard it and got something from it. The second one was a funny poem, and people laughed where I wanted them to laugh, so you can't ask for more than that, huh? I think I will read that one again on Sunday at the BWWC benefit thingie.

(As a side note: I am really enjoying reading lately. I have to watch out lest I become one of those annoying spotlight hogs. It's funny though; I'm a fairly shy person, but give me a stage and a handful of poems, and I turn into a veritable Miss Piggy of a ham. It does feel good to enjoy it, though, and to feel comfortable instead of all stage-frighty and nervous like I used to be.)

Hung out and chatted with folks for a while afterwards, and you know what, it's getting a little weird with the "oh yeah, I read your blog" stuff. Hee. It's one thing when people I've never met read my blog, but when actual people I actually know are reading this thing -- it's a bit weird somehow. Makes me feel a bit self-conscious. Fellow bloggers, does that kind of thing ever feel weird to you? How do you handle it? Hey, I'm a poet; I'm not used to people actually reading what I write unless I hand it to them and say here. *grin* It's not a bad weird, it's just ... weird.

Anyway, then I gave my friend Tonia a ride home and came home myself, and have been sitting here listening to the cars out on the speedway -- apparently tonight is opening night. The speedway is a couple miles south of me, but I can always hear the cars. It's a small-town summer kind of sound, makes me think of getting ice cream at DQ and the way your skin feels at night when you've been out in the sun all day, so even though it's an obnoxious gas-guzzling noise, I kind of like it.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a poem to write. Three more poems and I'll have made it for the whole month. Damned if I'm gonna slack off now.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dailiness, part 2 use poetry, not as a special set of glasses which you put on for doing close work, but as a way of seeing every day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blogging and dailiness

Like many of us around these parts, I occasionally stop and wonder whether blogging contributes to my "real" writing or detracts from it. (Well, most of you probably don't wonder whether blogging contributes to MY writing... you know what I mean.) And the truth is, although I don't spend that much time actually blogging -- I don't post every day or anything like that -- I do spend time reading all y'all's blogs, time which could probably be spent reading poems or actually writing or something.

But I've decided that, for now anyway, it works out to my benefit. When I first started this blog, I told myself that this was my writing blog. I may talk about other stuff in here, but I try to keep thoughts of writing/poetry at the center of it -- I try to think of myself as a writer, as a poet, here. And believe me, when you work 40 hours a week doing something else and come home to a messy house and cats who need attention and a tv that promises wonderful things will happen if you just park your butt on the couch and watch long enough, it's easy to forget to think of yourself as a writer. (As I've said before, nobody's going to come running after me begging for poems if I don't write.) So I come here and I read about other people's writing and I think about writing, think of myself as a writer, every day. It really does help to remind me that poetry is at the center of my life. And it works (sometimes to the detriment of other things in my life, not that there are that many other things in my life). Sometimes poetry feels like the only thing that really matters. And when I'm in that frame of mind, I'm bound to get more writing done than if I fail to think about poetry at all for a day or more. It's always there, tugging at my sleeve.

And hell... if it weren't for the fact that I would feel obligated to come over here and tattle on myself if I gave up, I don't know that I would actually have made it this far with the NaPoWriMo thing. I've written far more lousy poems than good ones this month, but I knew that would be the case, and I've written some that I hope aren't lousy which I don't think I would have written had I not been making the effort to write something every day.

I read an interview with David Lehman (where did I see it? it's really true, the short-term memory is the first thing to go...) in which the interviewer asked him whether he still writes a poem every day. His answer was essentially "yes, but I miss a lot of days." It occurred to me when I read it that "I write every day although I miss a lot of days" is a very different mindset than "I don't write every day." I think if the default setting on your write-o-meter is "daily," you're a heck of a lot more likely to get more work done than if you sort of wait around till you feel like writing, or till you find the time, or whatever. Even if you don't actually write every day. (And I think it's important not to beat up on yourself if you don't. Okay, you didn't write today ... tomorrow's a new day.) And after this poem-a-day month is over, that's where I want to be: I write every day, except for some days when I don't.

So that's what this blog (and many of the blogs I read) does for me: it's like the little squeaky voice of poetry, hanging right behind me, poking me in the butt, tugging on my sleeve, saying "pssst. I'm everywhere. I'm every day. Don't forget me."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Carol Peters posted a terrific poem by Laurie Sheck today. I've been reading it over and over, trying to tease apart all the ways in which it wallops me upside the head, trying to figure out how she manages to get the poem to hold as much as it does without it becoming so dense and heavy it just plummets like the proverbial lead balloon.

A poem is like the air. Really, it'll make sense in a minute. The atmosphere can hold only so much moisture before it releases the accumulated water in rain, or fog; how much it can hold depends in part on the temperature (think about how much more humid it is in the summer than in the winter, at least in this part of the world). Similarly, how a poem is constructed -- its temperature, its movement, etc. -- influences how much it can carry: how much imagery, how much information, how much feeling, how much strangeness. Poems fail sometimes, or at least mine do sometimes, because the poet fails to construct a strong enough scaffolding to carry all that they're trying to stuff into the poem -- or, conversely, because they construct the poem in such a way that it can carry a great deal and then fail to give the poem enough to carry.

Sheck wants to say a great deal in this poem: "the dark like a god // and our small bodies like errors / the god wants to take back again"? Daaamn. And there are so many lines in this poem with that level of weight, of freightedness. And yet it doesn't feel crowded, crammed-together. The poem is at its optimum humidity, carrying just as much as it is constructed to comfortably carry. Part of that, I think, is the underlying iambic meter. It's certainly not a regular meter by any stretch of the imagination, but it's there as an undercurrent, and it gives the reader something to hold on to.

I think the use of questions creates a certain space in the poem, too, a space that keeps the intensity of the imagery from dragging it down too much. I love it when poets ask questions in poems. Love it. I certainly like it better than when they try to give me lofty answers (something I catch myself trying to do too often, ugh).

And of course, there is specificity of image, the intensely visual and aural ("The drawers of the cash registers clack open again and again / like solved equations" or "how he rubs his palms into his eyes // then slides his bony shoulders and thin face toward the light / of the narrow doorway"). This kind of imagery gives the poem a solid structure on which the poet can hang all kinds of more abstract stuff.

I'm finding that I crave density and weight in poems, that it's something I aspire to and (in my opinion) rarely achieve. I either don't push the poem to do enough, or I try to stick too much stuff in there and it falls apart. I want to spend more time with poems like Sheck's and try to figure out how they do what they do. I think this poem is doing a lot that I haven't put my finger on yet.

And now for something completely different... :)

This poem is definitely not dense, at least not in the sense I've been talking about. It will go away in a day or so. I think I may read it at Sunday's benefit reading, though. Just for grins.

[the poem went *poof*! for my next trick, I'll pull a rabbit out of ... ok, no, I won't. ]

Friday, April 21, 2006

I think this is mostly about community.

A lot going on locally this weekend. It is Little 500 weekend -- every college town has its major party-weekend event, and this is IU's. (If you've seen the movie "Breaking Away," you know something about it -- or at least about the race itself, which sometimes seems like just an excuse for a lot of partying.) So campus and downtown are relatively crazy. In one of those unholy juxtapositions that always seems to happen, last night a small plane carrying five IU students, all graduate students in the music school, crashed in dense fog near the airport killing all aboard. (One of them worked part-time as an announcer on the local NPR station, so I knew his name and his voice pretty well.) All of the students were highly talented, promising young musicians and composers pursuing advanced degrees at one of the best music schools in the country -- a music school that is a vibrant and relatively close-knit community. It's terribly sad.

Tonight there was a poetry reading at the local Barnes & Noble, celebrating Nat-Po-Month, and the "Celebrating Seventy" anthology that came out a couple years ago (and of which many copies are still sitting around waiting to be sold), and the ending of the daily poetry show Jenny Kander had on our community radio station, WFHB. There were 17 poets on the slate, and we each read our two poems from the anthology; the reading went a bit over an hour, which felt about right. It was a nice mix of voices, many of whom don't have any particular ambition towards being widely published or anything like that but are just regular people who read a poem now and then, write a poem now and then -- people who would probably define themselves as parents, teachers, whatever long before they'd define themselves as poets, and it felt really good to listen to those voices especially. There were plenty of good poems read, but what struck me almost more than the poems themselves was the sense, however momentary, of community & collegiality. A nice evening.

A week from tonight at the monthly Runcible Spoon reading series, my friend Shana Ritter (a fine poet who was in my first writers' group; I've known her since 1985 or '86) will be reading, as will my former teacher Roger Mitchell. (Hey! He has a blog -- I had no idea. Jeez, everybody's doing it, huh?) Should be a good one. I may pull something out for the open-mic part at the end, even though I just read at the Spoon last month, mainly because I would enjoy sharing a new poem (or maybe two short ones) with both Shana & Roger, both of whom have been important parts of my writing life.

To end on a happy note: got word yesterday that Boxcar Poetry Review will be taking two of my poems, "Sugar Hits the Highway" and "Deuce." I have been writing a series of poems about a character named Sugar, and these are the first from that series to be accepted. So, yay.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Making the commitment

Thanks to those who commented on my previous post -- you have helped me to focus my thoughts on this.

It's not just about publication. In fact I think it's only about 1% about publication. Do I want to have a book published? Hell yeah. I want to see my book on the library shelf, I want my very own ISBN, I want a beat-up copy of the thing that I carry around to readings and read from. Sure. I love books more than anything, and having one with my name on it would be a huge kick.

But what's much, much more important to me is the process of it. Writing the poems, rewriting them, putting them together and listening to how they talk to one another, looking through the individual poems and hopefully seeing past them to some larger vision. It's that larger vision I am after, and have so far found myself shying away from.

I have felt myself, many times in the past, come close to a place of risked commitment with my writing. I have allowed myself to steer clear of difficult material and difficult form. I have dropped a poem before it's sufficiently revised, too lazy to do the work of pushing on it as hard as it needs to be pushed on. It is no coincidence that my several-year writing hiatus began shortly after I started getting some publications in particularly nice journals and a few finalist nods in chapbook contests, no coincidence that I went (within about six months) from seriously contemplating selling my house and moving to wherever I could get accepted in a good MFA program to spending my evenings farting around online or watching tv.

The truth is, if I spend my evenings farting around online or watching tv, nobody's going to care. I'm not suffering under the delusion that if I don't publish a book I will somehow have deprived the world of the opportunity to appreciate my great and powerful vision. *snork*

Just as two people can have a perfectly wonderful and committed and fulfilling relationship without ever getting married, so can a poet devote herself to writing, and write (yes) great and powerful poetry, without ever publishing a lick of it or giving a shit about publishing. But me, I want to make that public statement. I want to say, yes, here is what I am, what I do. Here it is, world, it's not just mine, it's yours. And so far I've gotten cold feet every time I've come near that point. I've left off revising the poem because it got too hard. I've shied away from writing the difficult poem, instead choosing to whine into my journal or take a nap or, yes, blog. I've written individual poems, but have not made myself step back and take the long view of them, made myself ask what my larger vision is -- and for me, putting together a book will, I think, be one way to make myself do that. I've been at this for over twenty-five years and I feel like I'm still just farting around with it, and it's about time I took it to another level.

I should say here that this is just me, my own process, where I want to go. Just because I want to make that public statement of commitment doesn't mean I don't respect those who "don't need a piece of paper from the City Hall, keeping us tied and true" (thanks, Joni Mitchell) -- I admire and even envy those who do write purely for themselves, who will push their work as hard as it needs to be pushed and take the difficult risks without caring whether the poems ever go out into the world. But for me, imagining my work in that more public format, envisioning a book, helps me to write towards a vision that's beyond my little self -- because I find it all too easy to get bogged down in my own little self, and I want to write towards something larger. I want to say to the world, this isn't just mine, this is yours, this is a part of the Big Something. Boy, that sounds self-aggrandizing and high-falutin', and I don't mean it that way. Sigh.

I don't know if this babble will make sense to anyone but me, and I've already screwed up the post and blown away half of it once so maybe it would have made more sense if I hadn't done that. (Grr!) It's just that I've been thinking about why I write, and it's not just for the fun of pushing words around; it's something that feels larger than a hobby or an amusement or even a craft. Letting it be that large feels like a risk (and certainly the risk of sounding like a self-important hoohah is a big part of that). The risk is to push my work beyond the place where I am personally comfortable and let it be about the poetry, not about me. The risk is to try making a book out of it, something that can go out into the world all by itself without me. The risk is to look at a whole bunch of my work from the past several years and ask myself what the point of it is. What I have to trust in order to do this is that there is a point to it -- and that's difficult. But I've been at this for twenty-five years, and it's about time I stepped back and looked at my body of work instead of just looking at one poem at a time, and asked about the larger vision. Because I doubt I have another twenty-five years, and if I'm going to take this stuff to the next level, I think it's about time for me to start looking at it differently -- and I think that thinking in terms of a book rather than thinking in terms of poems will help me to do that.

(I've read interviews with poets who've published their first book late in life, and they usually have a reason for it -- circumstances, illness, child-raising, or just plain didn't even start writing until later. Me, I've been writing since I was a little kid, have been serious about it since I was an undergrad, 25+ years. I have no excuse. I just haven't tried. I've been lazy, is what it boils down to. )

So, all of that may or may not make sense. But I did want to clarify that it's not just about wanting to have a book out, wanting to see my name in lights (ha!) or whatever. It's about wanting to see beyond my little self, making the self subservient to Poetry (and I don't mean the journal of the same name). I don't just want to express my little self. I want to be in service to something larger. And for me, that begins with trying to understand what I do as a body of work. And so far, that's a risk I've mostly let myself get away without taking.

Boy, am I full of hot air tonight. *grin*

Bits & pieces

Bill Maher, on the Internet: " 'It's like a library,' my friends told me. Yeah, a really rude library. Have you ever been in a library where someone comes running up to you screaming, 'YOU WANT VIAGRA?' "

* * * * *

Still keeping up with napowrimo. Of the 18 poems I've drafted so far, my guess at the moment is that maybe 5 or 6 are worth revising and working with. Not too shabby, for someone who normally considers one poem a week to be a pretty steady pace.
The titles:
Intercepting the Supercell
Why I Wait Till Late
The Last Storm
[untitled: "Again, I find myself dreaming"]
Daylight Saving
Things You Should Not Write About
Making Sense of Entropy
Storm Haiku
Sugar Takes Shelter
Sugar Ignores the Morning Paper

* * * * *

The process of closing my branch library continues. May 26th will be our last day of operation as a library; after that it is turned over to the academic department, which will operate it as an information commons type space. There are an overwhelming number of details to contend with throughout this process. The good news is that as I transition into my new position over the summer, I will be working a few hours per week on the reference desk in the Information Commons/Undergraduate Library Services. It's a fairly busy ref desk, and I've never provided reference services to undergrads (other than the occasional one who wanders into my branch library) so it will be a bit intimidating at first, but I am assured (and I do believe) that the "deer in headlights" feeling goes away after the first couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to it, actually. When I first started library school I was quite certain I had no interest in doing reference work. Then I took the introductory reference class and absolutely loved it. Go figure. Also, I really like all the librarians & staff I will be working with over in the IC/UGLS; they're all very friendly and knowledgeable and for the most part they seem to enjoy their jobs. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from them.

* * * * *

Next month I turn forty-five. No two ways about it: I am middle-aged. Turning forty was good; I made my first solo trip to Provincetown when I had just turned forty, and it was a happy, relaxing, exhilarating week. I ate some fabulous meals, spent significant chunks of time just relaxing on the beach, saw my first humpback whales, and wrote a couple of my first tentative poems after a long hiatus. Forty-five feels, from here, like it might be a bit challenging. Lots of transition. Job transitions, and the sense that I need to decide what role this poetry thing really is going to play in my life from here on out. Am I going to make the effort of putting together a book manuscript and trying to get it out there? (Which presupposes, of course, deciding that I think my work is good enough.) Am I going to finally do what I've been yapping about for years and apply to low-residency MFA programs? Am I just going to keep plodding away writing my little poems and sending them off to journals now and then? How can I make sure I push myself hard enough with this stuff -- and how do I know whether it's worth the effort? If I stopped, nobody would call me up begging me to start writing again -- it didn't happen when I stopped before, and it wouldn't happen if I stopped now. The momentum has to come from me; I'm the only one who really gives a shit whether I write or not. I've been at this, in my interrupted way, for over twenty-five years now. It is very likely that I don't have another twenty-five years left to work on it. So I had better either get busy, or make peace with the fact that I didn't.

* * * * *

Fear the Poet!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fear the Poet update

Apparently, ever since I blogged the link to the "Fear the Poet" t-shirt (I posted it both here and on livejournal), they have sold more shirts than they normally sell in a month, and they're back-ordered! The bookstore manager tracked down the sudden flurry of activity to me and called me to find out how in the heck I heard about them, and to let me know they were placing double their usual order to restock. Okay, it's a small bookstore that doesn't normally do that much business -- the "more than we normally sell in a month" magic number was actually only six -- but still, I am highly amused.

He said "the only top ten list Whittier College ever makes is 'top ten silliest mascots'" (yes, their athletic teams are actually the Whittier Poets) and "Fear the Poet" seemed to make a better slogan than "run away from the crazy person." Hee. He seemed quite pleased with the extra business. I originally got the link from a friend who just got hired for a faculty position at Whittier; I think she gets credit for doing some fundraising before she even arrives on campus!

Anyway, if you ordered a shirt and it's back-ordered, rest assured they truly are ordering more.

Friday, April 14, 2006

NaPoWriMo, day 14: Tornado Alley

Batting 1000 so far on NaPoDoMoHoHoHo, though I've stretched the boundaries of "poem a day" to mean "before I go to bed at night" rather than "by midnight" -- and yesterday's poem was a pathetic three-liner, sort of a lousy faux-haiku.
It's been a terribly stormy spring. I went to bed last night having watched the first few hours' reporting of the tornadoes in Iowa City, was awakened at 4 am by the kitten tugging at my hair because he was frightened by the storm that was blowing in just then. Tonight there are bad storms just north and west of Indianapolis, hail reported up to softball size, tornadoes, et cetera. It all rather gives me flashbacks of the F5 tornado (wind speeds of 261-318 mph) on June 8, 1966 that damaged our house in Topeka, Kansas when I was five years old -- this June it will have been forty years ago. I'm watching the continuous severe-weather coverage on the Indianapolis tv stations right now, just amazed by the radar & other technology -- in 1966 we had only a few minutes' warning and considered ourselves pretty lucky to get that.

Anyway, this weather has certainly found itself reflected in my napowrimo efforts. Last week I wrote a little narrative thingie about a storm chaser; last night I wrote a (bad) radar haiku; and tonight a recurrent character named Sugar has popped into a poem to tell me about some storms she's seen. (Someday I may have a whole chapbook worth of Sugar poems. Maybe. It would be nice.)

[poem fall down go boom. you know the drill.]

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Scared yet?

Yeah, I totally ordered myself one of these today. You can get 'em from the Whittier College bookstore.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Blah blah blah, but at least it's spring

For the first time in over thirty years, Indiana is observing Daylight Saving Time. I haven't had to make this time-zone transition since I was what, ten years old? Before digital clocks existed, that's how long ago it was. And it is weird. Suddenly it's darker in the mornings, which feels like a rip-off after gritting my teeth and plowing through the long winter and enjoying the relief of "finally the sun is up when the alarm goes off" -- that's been taken away all of a sudden and it's just plain disconcerting. And in the evenings, I keep thinking it's earlier than it is and then I look at the clock and feel rushed. I don't understand the light, all of a sudden. It's speaking a different language.

* * * * *

I've hit the wall with this poem-a-day thing. I keep putting it off till the end of the evening then dashing something off resentfully. I feel bored with the sound of my own voice. I know that's part of it, part of the exercise, hitting that point where you think you're through and continuing to push and getting to a place you might never have reached otherwise. It feels like stink right now, though. What I need to do is to remember that this is a practice, not a chore. A practice. Like the practice of meditation, or medicine, or kindness. It's something one does day to day, moment by moment, act by act, but always with the long haul & the big picture in one's mind.

* * * * *

It's fully spring, Bradford pears starting to bloom in earnest, daffodils everywhere, grass and trees green enough that you finally know you're not imagining it. Work is fairly nuts right now as we prepare to close down the branch library I've been coordinating for the past three years (we're closing at the end of May -- yes, I will still have a job, guaranteed; I'll even get to do some writing in the new job, instructional stuff, which is pretty cool). I'm taking lots of solace in the explosion of energy that is a Bloomington spring.

(And the explosion of pollen. Achoo!)

* * * * *

Two readings coming up. One will be an omnibus extravaganza type of thing, partly to celebrate National Poetry Month (about which I am feeling grumpy at the moment, see above), partly to honor a daily radio show on our local community radio station which will be leaving the air at the end of the month (er, the show is leaving the air; the station's gonna be around), partly to promote a local anthology that hasn't been selling as well as it should and maybe sell off some of the copies that are still sitting around. So I'll be reading two poems (the two that were included in said anthology, Celebrating Seventy). Barnes & Noble here in Bloomington, 7:30 pm on Friday the 21st.

The other will be a benefit reading/concert for the Bloomington Women's Writing Center. I haven't been involved with this organization so far, but have been watching from a distance and appreciating what they're doing. I think this is also about a two-poem deal. Sunday, April 30th from 5 to 8 pm at the Players Pub here in Bloomington, ten bucks in advance (purchase at the BWWC website) or $15 at the door.

* * * * *

Watching American Idol. Jenni, I blame you!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Anyone need a NYC sublet?

Storms here today; not as bad as they've had in Tennessee, but we did have some two-inch-diameter hail this afternoon, which is the largest hail I've seen in many years. It's something else to see these smooth chunks of ice, the size of golf balls or small chicken eggs, just plummeting out of the sky.

Passing this along at the request of a friend (& fellow poet) -- if you need, or know anyone who might need, a summer sublet in NYC, his contact info is below. I know nothing about NYC to know whether this is a decent neighborhood or an okay price, so I'm just passing on what I've got. If you know anyone who can help him out, that would be great! Michael's been picking up some sweet acceptances lately, so there may be some good poetic karma to be found in his apartment. :)


Just wanted to spread the word in case anyone's looking:
I'll be subletting my studio apartment this summer and traveling.

It's located at 15th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.
That's Gram. Park/East Village, just a street from Union Square.
So it's a pleasant neighborhood on a quiet street beside a park.
And it is centrally located to all transportation (subways and buses).

I have a queen-sized bed and a full-sized futon,
a flat screen tv/dvd/vcr,
ac, small kitchen with fridge, oven and microwave
and bathroom has shower/tub.

Also, building has laundry room and elevator.
The apt is on the top floor (sixth) so there's no noise overhead.

and most (if not all) of June too.

I'm asking 1500 (ish) a month, which covers rent and bills.

Please forward to anyone interested.


(917) 817-7171

today's napowrimo

This one -- like most of 'em this week -- is not necessarily a keeper, but I'm posting it just to show I'm still hanging in there. There may be phrases in here I can cannibalize, but really, the point is just to get something on the page. I sort of cheated here and wrote about my own procrastination, since I fell asleep on the couch all evening (thus missing the Indiana Review reading that featured Diana Marie Delgado, darn it) and didn't get diddly done till almost midnight.

Again, this will disappear shortly.

and, poof, gone. Like the last one, if you missed it & want to see it, backchannel & I'll send it on.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

NaPoWriMo update

So, five days, five poems. One is probably a keeper, and four pretty much suck (but at least a couple of them have words or phrases I may be able to cannibalize for something else later). I suspect it's no coincidence that the probable keeper was written when I was relaxed and comfortable, on a weekend day, having consumed sufficient caffeine and spent a half-hour or so reading poetry -- and a couple of the sucky ones have been "oh crap, I'd better write a poem before I go to bed, damn it" poems. Go figure, huh?

How's everyone else doing?

Beyond that: When you've written a first draft, do you generally have a strong sense of whether or not it's a keeper? I always think I know immediately, and then I'll go through a pile of drafts that are six months or a year old and suddenly some of them look promising enough to work on. "Gee, when the heck did I write that? That's not bad."

And of course, sometimes I get all excited about a first draft, and then I either can't figure out how to revise it to completion, or realize I was just infatuated with the thrill of having written something new but it actually sucks after all. I think writing a new draft every day may help me get away from that, since having written something new won't actually be a big deal.

So what about it: do you know? And if so, when? (I'd ask "how" as well, but I suspect that's kind of like "how do you know the milk is bad" ... you just smell it and you know.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More linky goodness

Michael Montlack, who I met in D.A. Powell's workshop last summer, has a good short story in the new issue of Blithe House Quarterly.

I really like it when people I know get published. :)

Also, I found out that the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and the Portuguese Princess Whale Watch have an all day whale-watching trip planned for the day after my workshop in June! They plan to go all the way out to Jeffreys Ledge and/or the Great South Channel in hopes of seeing some North Atlantic right whales, an extremely endangered species (about 300 individuals remaining). I have been wishing for a way to see a right whale or two someday -- seriously, I love watching humpbacks and finbacks and minke whales, but if I saw a right whale I would be pee-my-pants excited. So I am scheming about schedules and money in hopes of making this happen. A week of poetry, then a full day out on the water peering into the distance for any sign of flukes? Sounds like heaven.

"You knew I was a poet when you hired me."

Extremely funny, but too big to post on the blog, cartoon here.

Seriously, go look. I'm still giggling.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

napowrimo #1

This won't stay up for long.

---and the poem goes *poof* like a tripped-over shadow. (if you missed it and wanna see it, backchannel me...)

po on rye

So there's a growing NaPoWriMo movement afoot (for example, here and also here) -- the plan being to write a poem every day throughout the month of April, aka National Poetry Month. (NaPoWriMo being a takeoff on NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.) A lot of people plan to post their daily poems on their blogs. I won't be doing that, but I do have every intention of writing a poem every day for the next thirty days.

Note that they don't have to be good poems, or long poems, or finished poems. *grin* I usually write about four poems a month, and maybe two of them are keepers; figure my percentage will be lower if I write a poem every day, but surely I'll end up with more than two that are worth working on some more. Too, I think it's good to remind oneself, now and then, that you are in control of your own writing -- not some "Muse" that you have to wait around for.

If you want to write, write. That's the main thing.

And by the way, if you don't care to write poems but want to take part, reading a poem every day would also be a fine way to celebrate.

Happy Poetry Month, all!