Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wuv, Twoo Wuv...

Lovey cats
Originally uploaded by land mammal.
It's been a while since I posted a shot of my two boys. Cute, huh? Of course, thirty seconds later they turned into Sumo Kitties.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You think it's funny, but it's snot

Recovering, finally, from a yucky cold. It is mind-boggling how much mucus one human body can produce. And that's all I'll say about that.

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This is good.

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Need a cat? I stumbled across this gorgeous boy who is currently at Rescue Farm in south-central Indiana. He looks almost EXACTLY like my Honey Bear. I've seen cats who looked kinda like Bear before, but this guy could be his twin. He's a bit smaller, but then he's only 8 months old and probably has some growing to do. (He's already a big boy though -- look at the size of those paws!) If his personality is as much like Bear's as his appearance is, he is perfect. Sure hope he finds a really good home.

Why I look at shelter websites when I am not looking for a cat, I don't know. I like to torment myself, I guess.

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Working up a proposal for an Individual Artist Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission. I don't want to jinx it by describing what I have in mind, and it's terribly competitive (more so this year than ever before as they're giving larger, but fewer, grants). Suffice it to say that should they decide to award me a grant, I'm going to be one very busy -- but very happy -- poet between July 2007 and June 2008.

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I think I'm going to try to go back out to Provincetown for another summer workshop next year. Anyone want to join me? I'll let y'all know when I know who's teaching what, but it's a safe bet that there will be at least five workshops I would love to do....

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You know what I love? I love when y'all blog about what you do on retreats and at colonies and suchlike. Also I like reading about the putting together of manuscripts. I am fascinated by how writers go about approaching projects, I guess. I am fascinated by the writing process in general. Sometimes I like thinking about the process more than I like actually engaging in it. That's not so good, huh?

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Word that's making me giggle for no reason lately: iterative.

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Odd Things Recently Seen, Automotive Dept:
  • A Prius with Republican bumper stickers
  • A big old SUV with an environmental license plate
  • A burned-out Hummer by the side of the road. It looked like an engine fire or something; we saw the fire trucks and the tow truck and waited in traffic until we were able to pass, and we never saw any ambulance, so one assumes nobody was injured. The whole engine compartment was burned up and the front seats were pretty thoroughly torched -- very impressive!
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Quote o'the day:

"My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library."
--Peter Golkin

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A very happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Whatever it is that counts as "a feast" for you, edible or otherwise, may you have it in abundance!

Monday, November 20, 2006


1. A particularly good mail day today. Evidence as follows:
a) Radish King by Rebecca Loudon
b) Love Poem to Androgyny by Stacey Waite
Both arrived snuggled up in little manila-colored envelopes and are waiting to be read. (I keep dipping into Radish King for a line or a stanza or a page. Tantalizing!)

2. Home today with a bad cold that greeted me upon awakening Saturday morning. Not quite of Martian Death Flu proportions, just a cold, but yuck. Normally I'd be on the reference desk working the late shift this evening, which I enjoy, so I am bummed to be home. Worried now about how to get everything done that needs to get done before leaving town for Thanksgiving. Oh well.

3. Odwalla "Citrus C Monster" fruit-juice smoothies have 2000% of the minimum RDA of vitamin C in one 15.2 ounce bottle. Expensive, but yum.

And now it is time to nap again.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The days are just packed

It's been an eventful week in the Land o'Anne.

Last night my poetry group met -- well, the three of us who were able to make it, anyhow. We chatted and ate for a while, then critiqued some poems. While talking about mine, Tonia and Deborah got into this big discussion about whether it is necessary to actively, purposefully engage with the world in order to be bound to it, or whether just being alive and breathing is enough. Isn't that one of the big things theologists argue about -- whether you have to earn grace or redemption or whatever, or whether you just get it thanks to being human? Anyway, I was musing about this sort of thing myself not so long ago, about whether one has to accomplish something lasting in order for one's life to really matter, so I was kind of tickled that my poem took them in that direction.

(On the preview for tonight's late news, they just said the words "flurries" and "tonight" in the same sentence. Excuse me while I cringe a bit.)

Today I left work a little early and went to the arts center downtown for a workshop about applying for Individual Artist Grants from the Indiana Arts Commission. I went to this workshop last year, but never got the application in because the due date was Feb. 1 and I had the Martian Death Flu most of January, and had absolutely no energy after working all day and stuff. They've changed the program this year: instead of giving out about 80 $1000 grants, they will be giving out about 40 $2000 grants. (Unless they can weasel some additional funding out of the state legislature, which would thrill me, but I'm not holding my breath.) I am determined to get an application in this year. I have some ideas for a project. (And a shout out to Lee, who was also there, and who I know is reading this!)

A bit later in the evening I found myself back at the arts center again for a reading by Major Jackson. The room was full of MFA students and similar sorts, and absolutely nobody I knew. For a number of years I felt really intimidated by that kind of atmosphere, like I wasn't legitimate somehow, wasn't supposed to be there. I missed a lot of good readings because I just didn't want to deal with it. It's partly because I'm older and surer of myself, and partly because I'm writing more and better now than I was then, that I don't feel that way anymore. I figure I am at least as committed to poetry as anyone else in the room, which gives me a right to be there. Or something like that anyway.

Anyway, Jackson's reading was good. He talks a lot between poems, which I enjoy when the person is engaging and funny, as he is. I wasn't terribly familiar with his work, but I liked a lot of what I heard and I'll probably get his books out of the library. I'd thought about hanging around afterwards and maybe asking him a few questions about Bennington, since he teaches there, but he was being swarmed by bright-eyed MFA students and I decided to leave. Good reading, though. I'm glad I went.

(He mentioned Cave Canem's 10th anniversary. The more I find out about that organization, the cooler I think it is -- and it has supported & encouraged a number of poets I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to read. Even though I'm obviously never going to benefit directly from it, I'm awfully grateful for the work these folks do & the community they've created. I wonder what we queer poets can learn from them about community-building?)

Tomorrow I'm going to an all-day conference thingie in Columbus, Indiana for work -- about an hour away. It should be pretty interesting, and it will be nice to be out of the library for a day.

Then Saturday I'm going to a birthday party for a friend's two-year-old twins (the next time you think you're losing your mind, contemplate that concept for a moment -- two-year-old twins -- and maybe you'll feel saner by comparison!), then meeting up with a poet friend to give her some quotes for an article she's writing about the Bloomington poetry scene.

Yep, it's a busy week around here. And now if you'll excuse me, I have a rather large cat explaining that his tummy needs to be rubbed RIGHT NOW.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Again, no cigar

"Although we have decided against using this manuscript, we were interested in it and would be glad to see more of your work."

This from a journal that's probably in the top five journals I would love to get an acceptance from. Y'all, how long should I wait before I send to them again? I'm thinking maybe as soon as the first of the year; does that sound reasonable? (Yes, that falls within their stated reading period. I could also wait longer and still be okay, reading-period-wise.)

Indiana Daily Student article on Merwin reading

The Indiana Daily Student (the student newspaper) put the Merwin reading on the front page of Tuesday's paper! Check out the article. They quoted some shady character towards the end, too.

I'm having some Blogger issues. I'm able to get to my blog via links to individual posts, or using the URL But if I try to go to the usual URL ( I get an error message. I don't know if anyone else is having trouble; I seem to be able to see everyone else's blog just fine, so maybe I broke something. Maybe nobody will ever see this post. Sigh.

[Edited later to add: Blogger issues seem to be resolved. Not sure what was up, or down as the case may be, but you know how Blogger is.]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From last night

I'll leave this up until about midnight tonight. It's very much a rough draft.

...and, it's gone. Poof!

Monday, November 13, 2006


W.S. Merwin read -- well, spoke and read -- on campus today. I think it was one of the best readings I've ever been to. There was a short interview-type chat with the faculty member who introduced him -- I say "short" but I think it was actually about 40 minutes -- with questions that were open-ended enough to let him go on in whatever direction he wanted. He talked about his anti-war politics, mortality, solitude, poetry, the environment -- you know, little superficial issues. *grin* Then he read for about another 40-45 minutes or so (I think; I was not moved at any point to look at my watch). He read poems in chronological order, from some pretty early stuff up through the body of work covered in Migration, then a good handful of new poems, including a couple of elegies that just took my breath away.

I hadn't heard him read before, and he is a fine reader; he doesn't get in the way of the poems at all, doesn't get all over-dramatic about it, but his reading definitely adds something that the poems don't have on the page. And he reads at just the right speed and tone to allow the words to sink in. I could have listened to him for hours, except it would have filled my brain up way too much, and my heart, and I would have had to implode or something.

Some of what he said before the reading part -- this is going to sound weird and maybe pretentious or something -- but, completely unexpectedly, it set my brain off spinning around with ideas about my book. You know, the one I've been claiming to be working on for the last, oh, five years or so? I suddenly understood a little bit more about my own project, and where I want to go with it (or where it was already going, just tugging at the leash and waiting for me to hurry up and come along), and a glimmer of what might be an entire new section that I'm going to have to write.

And his poems ... you know, I've always been aware of Merwin, obviously, and have read him in bits and pieces, but I've never really immersed myself in his work. I think you come to poets when you're ready for them, and I have a strong, strong feeling that it's time for me to come to Merwin. I think I have a lot to learn from him.

And this is incredibly superficial, but the man does NOT look his age, no how, no way. He was born in 1927 and I would have pegged him as mid-sixties, at most. I'm bad at guessing ages, but really, the man is positively radiant or something. I guess that's what living in Hawaii will do for you, huh?

I don't listen to poetry well. Oftentimes at readings my mind wanders, and I catch a turn of phrase or a tone that I enjoy, and that's good enough. I shouldn't admit this, but it's true. So it's really quite rare for me to find myself riveted to a reading like I was tonight, swimming in the words, literally almost forgetting to breathe now and then, on the verge of tears a couple of times not because the poems were sad so much as that I was just ... moved.

And I'm not really sure just what it was about Merwin, or about his poems, that had this effect on me. All I know is, I'm awfully glad I left work a half-hour early and walked across campus to be there. Because tonight, I remember what poetry can do. And I'm feeling deeply grateful for that.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thomas Merton Foundation 2007 contest

The Thomas Merton Foundation has announced the judge and complete guidelines for their 2007 "Poetry of the Sacred" contest. Coleman Barks is this year's judge, and you can get the guidelines here (pdf document). Deadline is Dec. 31, top prize is $500, and there is NO ENTRY FEE.

I will say that I am not altogether unbiased about this contest, as my poem "O" got one of the three honorable mention awards in the 2006 contest. It's a really good contest, though; they came through with the results right on schedule, called me on the phone to give me the news, posted the winner & honorable mentions on their website right away, sent my check very quickly, and sent me 4 contributor's copies of the print publication when it was available. It's a very professionally-run contest. And their definition of "poetry of the sacred" is very broad -- definitely not just poems about religion or God or anything like that. (I mean, my poem was about "ooh, lookit the whale, how cool!") You can read all the past winners and honorable mentions on their website. There's some excellent stuff there.

So send them a poem if you've got something that seems to fit! Good luck to one and all. :)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Two weeks to turkey

W.S. Merwin is reading here on campus Monday. Note to self: arrange to take off work early so I can get across campus by 5:00 for the reading. I'm not as familiar with his work as I should be, but I definitely want to go hear him.

Last night I went to a small concert in the local lefty-indie bookstore (the one where my poetry group read a couple months ago), by the singer-songwriter Pamela Means. Saturday night I'll be going to a concert by the singer-songwriter Ferron. I think we have a trend here.

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about this week's election results, although it concerns me that so many of the Democrats who won are actually quite conservative, especially on social issues. And of course it bothers me that so many anti-gay-marriage amendments passed. Not that I'm likely to get married anytime soon (or ever), and not that the institution of government-sanctioned marriage isn't problematic to begin with, but it still really rankles. But still ... I'm not gonna miss Donald Rumsfeld one little bit, and "Madame Speaker" has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

The student newspaper on campus ran a nice article today on the "new" Plath poem. Too bad they didn't actually provide a link to Blackbird or anything, you know, helpful like that.

Word today that Hunter O'Hanian, executive director of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, is leaving to take a position with an arts center near Aspen, Colorado. I don't know enough to know whether this is a disaster or no big deal or what, but I do hope they are still on track to get their low-res MFA writing program underway. I'm getting itchy to start sending out applications. (Edited to add a link to the story on FAWC's website.)

Several airlines have some particularly excellent fare sales to Hawaii right now. I've been to Maui twice (2002 and 2004) and I sure hope I get to go again someday, either back to Maui or to one of the other islands. I spotted a fare as low as $406 from Indianapolis to Honolulu on Delta. Sigh! Too bad I don't have $406 to spare.

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving, already. Can you believe it? Yeah, me neither. Eek! Anyone out there have any exciting plans for the holiday?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Linky bits

Nice article on Marge Piercy (who has just put out a new book of poetry) in this week's Provincetown Banner. I've felt that her last few volumes would have benefited from a heavier editing hand, but Piercy was a huge influence on me once upon a time so I continue to watch what she does with interest. Plus, she's a cat person.

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Sounds like William Styron lived much as I think I would like to, if I didn't have to have a job and stuff. From the New York Times' lengthy obituary:
... it was an unconventional routine he stuck to: sleep until noon; read and think in bed for another hour or so; lunch with Rose around 1:30; run errands, deal with the mail, listen to music, daydream and generally ease into work until 4. Then up to the workroom to write for four hours, perfecting each paragraph until 200 or 300 words are completed; have cocktails and dinner with the family and friends at 8 or 9; and stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, drinking and reading and smoking and listening to music.
Honestly? That sounds perfect to me. Except for the smoking part. Doesn't mesh so well with the part where I have to work from 8 to 5 most days, but even if you're never going to get to live that way, I think it's always a good exercise to imagine your ideal life. I can imagine a lot of ideal lives, actually -- none of them perfect. But they all have writing at their center. And none of them involve being a morning person. Funny, that.

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Boutiques and other non-book retailers are now displaying and selling books as lifestyle accessories. I find this about equally funny, frightening, and oddly appealing.

Hell, if putting a margarita-and-sangria-colored cover on my book (er, if I had a book, that is) would get it into the hands of a few people who might not otherwise buy it, and if some of those people would actually read the thing -- I'm all in favor. Perhaps poetry publishers need to get on this trend, hm?

When I started a writing group many years ago, I put up flyers in bookstores, in the library, in laundromats. Which flyer brought me the most calls? Yep, the one from the laundromat. And the people who called me turned out to be good writers, too. Because even good writers do laundry sometimes. And even good readers go shopping in places other than bookstores, so why not sneak in a few books?

What do y'all think? Ignoring for the moment the fact that these venues would be more likely to stock "lowest common denominator" titles (kind of like what Starbucks has started selling, I guess) --if someone bought your book in a gas station or a trendy clothing store, would you feel weird about it?

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I put a search box over on the right-hand side of this here bloggity blog. You can use it to look up books and see if they're available at a library near you. Of course, you can also use it to plug in an author or a title and get bibliographic details: publisher, ISBN, sometimes the table of contents. I don't know how useful it will be for anyone, but what the heck -- I'm a library geek so I oughta act like one.

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Still toying with the idea of going to AWP. If I do, who's gonna buy me a drink? *grin*