Thursday, May 31, 2007

And the winner is...

Just got word of this year's Lambda Literary Award winners. In poetry, the awards went to Lemon Hound by Sina Queyras and A History of My Tattoo by Jim Elledge.

Also of note, Alison Bechdel's terrific Fun Home got the award for Lesbian Memoir/Biography. Bechdel's book, a "graphic memoir" (for lack of a better label), really stretches a lot of boundaries; it's brilliantly drawn, and brilliantly written to boot. I read it almost a year ago and it's still lodged inside my brain. The book has won tons of awards, and it definitely deserves 'em.

I haven't read either of the poetry winners (yet) though. I'd love to hear from anyone who has! Are they worth picking up?

Monday, May 28, 2007


At my mom's for the long weekend, in the town where I went to high school. This town is, I think, permanently stalled somewhere in the late seventies -- and that's not just because that was when I moved away. Swear to god, I opened up the newspaper and saw that one of the big upcoming concerts is the Doobie Brothers, and Styx just played here last week.

Funny, the things that manage not to change.

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"I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future" -- Patti Smith

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Verticle Oracle card Gemini (May 21-June 20)
To best take advantage of the fresh and innocent cosmic forces that are offering themselves up to you, try experiments like the following: eat food you've never tried; listen to new music; climb a hill that has always been in the distance; have a down-to-earth conversation with a person who up till now hasn't been quite real to you; try erotic experiences you've wondered about; scrawl graffiti on a wall that has never been written upon; and push yourself to feel positive emotions that you may sometimes be too lazy or cynical to seek out, like playful reverence, intense curiosity, voracious gratitude, and surprised delight.

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With the Sun sextile Saturn in your Solar Return chart, work you have done begins to pay off this year. You may be recognized or rewarded in some way for the efforts you put forth. Because you project a more responsible and credible “you”, people in authority tend to be more inclined to appreciate you and recognize your work. This is a year when you put your life in order in some significant manner.

...Well, all righty then.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Which came first...?

Thanks to a member of my poetry group -- actually, thanks to a student of hers, who raises chickens & found herself overwhelmed with eggs -- I have a dozen super-fresh, non-industrially raised, gorgeous brown eggs in my refrigerator. Actually, I only have ten of them now. I just made myself a couple of scrambled egg "burritos": two scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, and some fresh green pepper for zest & crunch, all wrapped up in hippie-looking whole-wheat tortillas. Delicious, very satisfying, and reasonably good for me.

I'm trying hard to increase my repertoire of reasonably healthy meals. The goal is not to keel over from a heart attack in my (rapidly approaching) fifties. I think that's a decent goal.

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Did you know the National Park Service has an extensive artist-in-residence program? The terms of residency vary among the various parks, some as little as one week and some as long as eleven months -- most are around two to four weeks. Most, though not all, are open to writers. There are some pretty darn cool places you can go.

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After the holiday weekend, I want to do some serious work on revision. I also need to get some poems sent out. What are your favorite journals that read during the summer?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dog people, listen up!

If you have a dog, you need to read this -- Xylitol, a sweetener used in sugarless gum and other things, is extremely toxic to dogs. As little as a few sticks of Xylitol-sweetened gum can easily kill a dog. Scary! I had no idea.

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Funny thing about getting poems published -- sometimes people read them. Even people you don't actually know (scroll down a bit). And they even study them and think about them. For some reason, this blows me away a little bit. (Like -- you mean people read this stuff even if I don't personally shove it in their face? Whoa...)

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Anyone have interesting Memorial Day plans? I'm going up to my mom's so she can feed me birthday cake...

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Starting to make my Provincetown travel plans. Usually I fly into Boston and take the ferry over to P-town, but this time I'm thinking about flying into Providence, RI and renting a car. The Cape Cod traffic in July may make me regret doing it, but I think it might be fun -- plus then I'd have a car in P-town, which I never have before, and could pop out to Race Point at night if I wanted to. If I fly into PVD, I will probably tack an extra day onto the beginning and end of the trip, try to see a few sights in the vicinity. If anyone has cheap motel recommendations in the Providence area, I'm all ears. Seekonk or Fall River look like good possibilities as well. (I just like saying Seekonk.)

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DirecTV is picking up the Tennis Channel. My ass may never leave the couch again.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fifteen / Forty-five

So I recorded this "DirecTV Exclusive" concert thingie, featuring Heart performing their 1976 album Dreamboat Annie in its entirety -- all of us thirty years older now, of course. Oh my, my, my. As it turns out, I still do have pretty much every note of this album memorized. This music was magic for me when it first came out, when I was fifteen... I don't know what it was about it. There was something about the blend of acoustic and electric guitars, the delicate plucked melodies pushing up against the muscular, driving bass and drums -- and of course the voices of two women singing in harmony, something you didn't hear a whole lot of on the radio back then. For that matter, you didn't hear a whole lot of women singing rock back then, either -- there were folkies, and there were disco divas, but women really rocking? That was something new and awfully exciting. It took me exactly where I wanted to go. Where I needed to go. In a way, I think it helped me figure out how to write, gave me permission to find the power in my own voice.

I loved all of Heart's albums from the mid-seventies through the early eighties: Little Queen, Magazine, Dog & Butterfly, Bebe Le Strange. But Dreamboat Annie was always home for me, in a way. It sounds kind of funny now; I think the music that we love when we're fifteen or sixteen, I think we love it in a different way than the way we love music as adults. There's more at stake, somehow. I don't know.

There were other albums I loved in those years. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (as well as the duo album Stevie Nicks & Lindsay Buckingham made before they joined Fleetwood Mac, called Buckingham Nicks). Patti Smith's Easter. Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town. Jackson Browne's The Pretender. Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles. I'd hole up in my room all evening burning incense and listening to records (you know, vinyl...) and writing poems. I wrote so many bad poems inspired by all that music! Well, some things never change, heh. :)

It's funny. Listening to this music now, the girl I was then seems so far away from who I am now -- and yet not so far away at all. How I live now, who I am, isn't so very different from who I wanted to be and who I kind of expected to be, whether I admitted it to myself or not. Working in a library, living alone in a little old house with two overly affectionate cats and far too many books, writing poems, making little pilgrimages to the ocean whenever I can? Yeah, fifteen-year-old Anne would have been just fine with that.

Forty-five-year-old Anne is fine with that, too.

What have you revisited? An album, a book, a poem, an old friend? Tell me about it. I'd love to hear.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Personal and local

Personal #1: One of my cats, Honey Bear, is spending the night at the vet's tonight. (He has some occasional, er, digestive issues ... let's just say the poor dear is getting himself roto-rooted.) He should be home tomorrow and back to his old self fairly quickly, but the house is too quiet tonight with only one cat. I am very lucky that my cats go to a vet practice where there are several doctors I trust. I don't know where I'd be without an excellent vet! Send a little "get well soon" thought to my Bear if you have one to spare, hm?

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Local: The Indiana University Writers' Conference is coming up. I won't be doing the conference this year, but I do plan to attend some of the evening readings. Here's the schedule, for anyone who might be local enough to make it here and might be inclined to do so. All readings take place at 8:00 pm, in Whittenberger Auditorium (in the Indiana Memorial Union). If you see someone here that I absolutely should not miss, give me a holler!

Sunday, June 10th: Khaled Mattawa & Matthew Klam
Monday, June 11th: Catherine Bowman & Nicholas Dawidoff
Tuesday, June 12th: Crystal Wilkinson & Adam Langer
Wednesday, June 13th: Conference Participant Reading
Thursday, June 14th: Heather McHugh & Lee Martin

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Personal #2: Apparently I do, too, have some iota of self-discipline: I am rapidly closing in on a 25-pound weight loss. I still have a ways to go before I get to where I want to be (which is a weight that won't make me dead before my time -- I have no particular desire to be skinny, just want to be healthier), but perhaps I need to remember this when I try to tell myself I'm not sure I have enough self-discipline to do other things. Like, put together a book manuscript. Or get myself into, and through, a low-residency MFA program. Ahem.

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Personal #3: I'll be moving to a new space at work within the next couple of weeks. I started in a new position about a year ago, and my new department didn't have space for me, so another department graciously let me use a cubicle in their office suite; but my "real" department is moving to a new floor this month, so I'll be moving in with them. I saw the new space last week. It's very, very, very beige. Should be nice once it gets people, and plants and stuff, in it though. It is pretty funny that a dialup-using semi-Luddite like me is actually a part of the Library Information Technology department, isn't it? Hee!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Edging back to normal

...whatever "normal" is! *grin*

Now that my mom has been home from the hospital for a few days, and I'm home from taking care of her, it's time for me to rest up a bit and then get back to business. I have two months till my workshop in Provincetown, and especially now that FAWC has given me the Ali scholarship, I feel like I have a responsibility to show up ultra-prepared, with poems to work hard on and a good sense of what I want to learn from the week. I do think I get more from a summer workshop if I prepare for it, plan for it, identify what I'm there for -- though it's also essential to be open to surprise, to learn something you didn't expect to learn.

Speaking of which, did you see this nice article in the New York Times about summer writing workshops? Of the ones they mention, FAWC is the only one I've been to, but they all sound like fun.

Also, I need to get stuff sent out -- I have hardly anything out right now, and hello, you don't get anything published if you don't send anything out. I spent April focusing on drafting new work, so it's time for a little breather to take care of some of the older stuff for a while, kick it out of the house and see if it can fend for itself yet.

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Pleased to see that Lucille Clifton got this year's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

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The Indiana Arts Commission has made audio files of this year's Individual Artist Grant panels available for download. You can listen to people talking about me behind my back! Except it wasn't really behind my back, since I was there. Anyway, they're humongous files, so don't try it over dial-up. (Am I the only blogger in the world still using dial-up? What can I say, I get it for free, and on my budget, free is always good....)

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It's May. How did it get to be May already? The university had its commencement exercises on Saturday, and although more students enroll in summer sessions than back in my undergrad days, campus is still much much quieter than it is during the year. It's lovely.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Really happy news

I just got word that I am this year's winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Scholarship in Poetry at the Fine Arts Work Center! This covers the tuition for the workshop I am taking there in July. I'm absolutely thrilled, and so grateful to get such strong encouragement for my work from an organization I think the world of. (Okay, that's not grammatical, but it's late and I've had what we in the poetry business call "an extremely long-ass day.")

When I read the email, I kind of shrieked and scared the cats. I am still bouncing in my chair and giggling a little bit.

Y'all have no idea how badly I needed some good news -- this is just incredibly well-timed. I don't think I could be any happier if I'd won American Idol. :)

Hospital days

Just a quick check-in to say that my mom came through Tuesday's hip replacement surgery nicely. She's had a few glitches along the way (blood pressure going way too low for a while, the usual assortment of what doctors call "discomfort" and everyone else calls "terrible pain," some minor visual hallucinations -- you know, the kind some people take narcotics on purpose to enjoy --, stuff like that). But she's mostly doing well and expects to come home tomorrow. I'll be here a few more days helping out.

Not much poetry -- I thought I'd get some reading done, but have been too wiped out by the end of the day to do much of anything but collapse on the couch and watch American Idol. I have some thoughts & images about the experience of being the family member in the waiting room, which may or may not turn into poem(s); we'll see.

Pretty tired, and before I can sleep, I still need to do a few things around the house to prepare for tomorrow. Things should get easier from here on, though.

Hope everyone out there is well.