Thursday, February 28, 2008

Idol oddness and a draft

One "Idol" note: I cannot freaking believe Alexandréa got sent home and Amanda, having given one of the worst performances I have ever seen on that show, was safe. That's wack. I liked Alexandréa. She's adorable.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, and for some reason you'd like to know: read Collin's blog and Television Without Pity. Between the two of 'em, if there is snark to be snarked, they'll snark it. And trust me, they're both funny as hell even if you don't watch the show.)

* * * * *

Got the dead-tree edition of this year's Fine Arts Work Center summer program catalog today. Man, I wish I could make it out there this year. I'm hoping to at least sneak out for a long weekend at some point -- take in a reading or two, go whale-watching. Ah well. There will be other summers!

* * * * *

I haven't posted a draft in a while, so here's one. I'll disappear it in 24 hours.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Six Word Memoir

Bookbabie came up with it; Cati Porter tagged Diane Lockward; and Diane tagged me. Here's the scoop:
What would you say if you had to summarize your life in only six words? Bookbabie got the idea from a book written by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, Not Quite What I was Expecting: Six Word Memoirs by Famous and Obscure. It is a compilation based on the story that Hemingway once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. His words were—For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Here are the rules:
1. Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4. Tag five more blogs with links
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!
Here's mine: Girl in the middle; loves edges.

I never like the whole "tag five people" thing ... it reminds me too much of picking teams for dodgeball in gym class, and that was never a fun thing. So, if you feel so moved, please feel free to consider yourself tagged and cite me as the one who did the tagging. Cool?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Poetry and the stuff of the world

I've been thinking lately about poetry -- well, that's no surprise, really. I've been thinking lately about the process of writing, and about what it is that alerts me that what's about to come out the end of my pen is going to be a poem and not, say, a blog post or an essay or a bit of fiction. I've read a couple of things recently that have helped to illuminate my understanding.


First, Mark Doty's article about memoir in the new issue of Poets & Writers, "Bride in Beige: A Poet's Approach to Memoir." Since I am not (yet, anyway...) a memoirist, most of the article was interesting in that remote sort of way that one can be interested in something that one doesn't engage in oneself. But when he talks about the differences between how a journalist, a fiction writer, and a poet might approach memoir, my internal ears perked up. Journalists, he says, are interested in the facts of a situation, in what happened. Fiction writers view the memoir through the lens of character, specifically the character of the narrator: "who's telling this story, and what does he or she know?" And of poets, Doty says they "are used to the idea of the speaker in the poem being a somewhat unstable construct, the voice of a field of subjectivity. What they're after is a representation of how it feels to live, and almost by nature they're more concerned with what feels true than with any objectively verifiable presentation. They also tend to be people who think in terms of form. ... "

What they're after is a representation of how it feels to live. That seems to get to the heart of something about poetry, to me; it suggests reasons why poetry permits -- even needs -- nonlinearity, fragmentation, repetition, collage, juxtaposition. (Not that all poems need to, or should, contain all of these. That would be messy.) It suggests to me those moments when you are able to pry apart the surface of the world and get a quick peek at something deeper, at the mechanisms underneath. When I'm writing a poem, or about to write one, I often have this feeling that I am elbow-deep in the inner workings of something, that I'm trying to grasp something about how the world is -- I'm not explaining this well. I think musicians must have this same feeling when they are in the flow of performance or composition; I think scientists must have this same feeling when they're on the verge of proving a theory; I think physicians must have this same feeling when they're skating on the margin of a diagnosis or a cure. There is just that moment of sensing something that usually, once you've started actually putting words on the page, evaporates and you're left trying to describe the shadow that it left behind. It's not a fact about the world, it's a representation of how the world feels. And that's what sends me diving into poetry.


Reginald Shepherd, in his blog, quotes a presentation by poet Brian Teare that includes this passage from Thom Gunn's notebook; it made me sit up straighter in my seat and suck in my breath for a second:
"Why is my impulse to write poetry so closely connected— so much a part of—my sexual impulse? When I feel one, I feel something very similar to the other. I don’t like this too much—I mean I like it somewhat, but I feel it necessary sometimes to steer my energy into nonsexual subjects almost by an act of will, since I don’t believe all the important parts of life are sexual. And when I succeed in doing so, I’m quite often successful. Yet it does, even then, derive from an energy that is sexual energy—it’s quite the same kind of concentrated excitement that lights up everything in a limited area (as a flashlight lights up everything in the circle it makes)."
I've often had this same feeling, that poetry has an essential eros even when it's not overtly about anything sexual. The way it feels when I know I'm about to write a poem, when I'm reaching for the first phrase or reaching for the pen, has a lot in common with sexual arousal. Part of it, I suspect, is just the hyper-awareness of the physical world and the attention given to the senses; poems don't usually work very well unless they're grounded somehow in the experience of the physical, which is why poetry is not philosophy (or why philosophy is not poetry). (Yes, I know there are exceptions to this rule.)

But more than that -- and this may be more true for me, as a poet with a stronger tendency towards the lyric, than for a poet whose natural tendency is towards the narrative -- it is that sense of everything zeroing in around one small moment, a detail, a phrase, a sound, an image, a moment of recognition of something. When you think about sex -- specifically, when you think about orgasm -- it is all about the sensation experienced by a very small part of one's body (enhanced and magnified, of course, by the sensations experienced by the rest of one's body, but centered in a place that is, not coincidentally, very near the body's center of gravity). It is also, oftentimes, about the way one's partner's body becomes one's entire world at that moment. A sense of magnification, of concentrated, focused light. A sense that everything that matters is contained right here.

Coming to a poem is like that. I'll stare at a tree and for that moment, everything about the way the world works is somehow contained in that tree, or in the texture of the bark on that tree. Or a word or a phrase or a set of vowel sounds comes into my mind and that snippet of meaning somehow glows with intensity, contains a myriad of other meanings. So much does depend, as it turns out, on that red wheelbarrow -- or on whatever happens to be caught in the intensity of that poetic focus. And what it takes to spark that process can be as varied and unpredictable as, well, the range of wacky stuff that people find sexually arousing.

Although I will admit that I have never personally met anyone with a sexual fetish for red wheelbarrows. But that doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm sure you could google it.


Finally, this is just something I've noticed about how I am writing recently, say the last year or so. And maybe this is just the Gemini in me taking over. But I'm finding myself interested almost exclusively in the juxtaposition of unrelated images, or of an image being used to lead into an unrelated story. For example, a poem I wrote recently which began with the image of an animal in my attic, then went directly (with very little explication) into the narrator walking through an airport and feeling a heightened awareness of all the people around her and how each of them feels that their own life is the most important story in the world. I couldn't tell you what the attic animal had to do with the faces in the airport, but the place where those two things intersect felt to me like one of those little momentary windows onto the way the world works.

Again, I don't think I am explaining this well. "There's a raccoon up there and you know what, it's kind of like life." I think I heard a Miss America contestant give a speech kind of like that once.

Let me approach it this way. For most of my writing life (and I've been writing poems longer than some of you have been alive, which kind of scares me to realize), I've most often been a poet of chronology -- I won't go so far as to call myself a narrative poet, but I've found it difficult to allow my poems to be fragmented, to include gaps, to make unexpected leaps. My impulse has always been to build the bridge that leads from Point A to Point B, to lay out every span and trestle of it, rather than to just present Point A and present Point B and trust the reader to understand that, on some possibly non-verbalizable level, those points are inextricably connected. Now, I'm finally figuring out how to put two seemingly unrelated things in the same poem and let the connection between them arise from the things themselves, not from my (the poet's) description of that connection. Does that make any sense at all? It's my new toy, and I'm playing with it. (Are we back to that sexual metaphor again, perchance?)

It is, for me, right now, precisely that gap between two things -- that gap of intrinsic connection, and the willingness to leave that connection unbridged -- that is the place of intense focus and arousal, the place where the poem happens. The willingness to accept paradox as truth without needing to force the paradox to some kind of resolution. That moment when I recognize a connection, a tiny little window into how the world is, is something I can represent (or try to represent) only in poetry, with its leaps and its gaps and its ability to embrace the non-linear. And for just that tiny little moment, whatever detail or fragment has set me off is brightly lit, illuminated, becomes all that matters in the world.


Also, it's easier than having to write lines that go all the way over to the other side of the page.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday night notes

Judging from the number of "lawrence king" searches I've received (and I assume other sites are getting even more), information about his murder is getting out there -- despite the fact that it isn't getting as much press as, say, the latest happenings on American Idol. Or the Indiana basketball scandal (though that's probably only usurping the front pages here in Indiana). Here's my earlier post about him. It's important for people to hear about this.

In other news, thanks to Jilly at Poetry Hut Blog for this link: Detained Burmese poet Saw Wai has been permitted a visit from his wife. (And here, again, is the "Power Crazy Senior General Than Shwe" chapbook published by Anti-).

Less important: We had a cute little ice storm here on Thursday afternoon/evening. The temperature reached 30 today, with lots of brilliant sunshine, and some of the ice started melting -- but it was still so pretty, the way all the trees were glazed and glittery. (Although still treacherous underfoot in places.) As I left the Runcible Spoon this afternoon, after a delicious brunch, I saw a couple of college kids lifting big sheets of ice off their front lawn and flinging them at each other. This caused me to draft a poem, which (for now) is titled "How Ice Becomes the Past Tense of Longing." Later, after I bought more crap than I'd intended to at Target (that's a synonym for "set foot in Target"), I heard a news story on NPR about how some scientists now believe the origins of life on Earth were not in warm water but in ice. Fascinating. That may end up in the poem, too.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lawrence King

Lawrence King, a 15-year-old kid, was shot and killed at school last week for being queer.

I never know what to say about these things. I doubt that anyone who reads my blog would disagree that this is a terrible, horrible, awful thing. I also doubt that anyone who reads my blog knows the magic words that we could say to make this kind of hate disappear from the world.

I do think it's important to talk about it, because if you don't see this kind of hate staring you in the face every day, it's possible to look the other way and forget that it still exists. Things are better than they were even two decades ago, it's true. But when Time Magazine can publish an article claiming that homophobia isn't that much of a problem in schools anymore, even while something like this happens, things are a long long way from good. Pretending everything is OK doesn't do anyone any good.

Kate Evans says it much better than I can. And Christopher Hennessy posted a devastating poem about it. You should go read their posts, if you haven't already.

[Edited 2/24 to add: Here is a good New York Times story about him.]

Here is a memorial website posted by Larry's family. And here is a memorial website posted by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network). GLSEN's site has a list of memorials and vigils being conducted around the country, and a place where you can submit information about one you're organizing. If there's one near you, consider attending.

And my thanks to everyone who's posted about this horrible thing and brought my attention to it.

"Your silence will not protect you" -- Audre Lorde

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More summer fun options

I posted a little while ago about the fantastic summer workshops offered by the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. Another program I've attended more than once, and have enjoyed a great deal, is the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in the infamous Iowa City. Unlike the MFA program at the U. of Iowa, the workshops at the Summer Writing Festival are not competitive to get in -- they're open to anyone. They don't have the rockstar big-name faculty that Provincetown does, but the teachers I've worked with there -- Meredith Stricker, Michael Carey, Kathleen Peirce -- have all been very good. They offer a number of workshops suitable for beginning to intermediate writers (as well as some more advanced possibilities), and in addition to the usual week-long workshop they have a bunch of weekend ones, which are fun. Plus, you can visit Prairie Lights, one of my favorite bookstores!

Full disclosure: I haven't been to the Summer Writing Festival, or to Iowa City at all, in quite a few years. I think the last time I went was around 1992 or 1993. But I'm guessing that it is still a worthwhile program.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tech talk

So, I finally got onto Facebook. It's pretty much eaten up my weekend, though I don't think it will be that high-maintenance on an ongoing basis (let's hope not anyway). If you're on there and I haven't spammed you sent you a friend request yet, look me up! I've already tracked down a couple of people I'd more or less lost touch with.

Anyway it wouldn't be so terribly time-consuming, except I added the "Catbook" application and now both of my cats have their own friends, which they are somehow too lazy to maintain themselves so I find myself acting as their amanuensis. Plus I have to go through and pet all my cats' friends, and the Catbook application is all buggy so it gives me error messages and I wind up petting one cat four times instead of petting four cats once each.

Yes, it is a strange new world.

Also, I got a new cellphone, and it has a camera and everything (my old one didn't), and it's bright pink! It took me like an hour to get all of my contacts typed into it. I think people in their teens and twenties must have different muscles in their thumbs than I have in mine, because it was really awkward doing all that. Hi, I'm old.

Also this weekend, I scheduled a recording session (doesn't that just make me sound like a little rockstar, ha!) at the local NPR station, where I'll be featured on two upcoming episodes of the weekly five-minute poetry show. Yes, I'll let you all know when it's scheduled to air. They stream online and you can also grab it as a podcast, so if you're interested in hearing it, you should be able to do so. Technology rocks, sometimes.

My low-tech pleasure this weekend was diving into the first issue of Barn Owl Review. I won't go so far as to say that every single poem blew me away, but there are more I loved than didn't love, which is not something I say very often about literary journals. Plenty of good stuff. If you haven't bought a copy yet, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bishop on PBS NewsHour tonight!

From my email:

* An E-mail Service of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
* and the Online NewsHour


February 14, 2008

Elizabeth Bishop was known to take years or even decades
to complete a poem. She published only about 90 of them
in all in a handful of volumes, including North and South,
Questions of Travel, and Geography III. But each poem
and each volume further cemented her renown among her
peers, and since her death in 1979, her reputation in the
wider public has only grown.

Now, the Library of America is publishing a collection
of her poems, prose, and letters. Only nine poets have
been so honored, and Bishop is the first woman.

Tonight, Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown discusses
Bishop's life with Lloyd Schwartz, co-editor of the
Library of America series and Pulitzer Prize-winning
music critic for The Boston Phoenix. Also, former
student and fellow poet Jane Shore reads one of
Bishop's most famous poems, One Art.

For online coverage of the Poetry Series, visit the
Online NewsHour at

EDITOR'S NOTE: Segments highlighted on NewsHour Poetry
Series Alert are scheduled to air but subject to change.
NewsHour Poetry Series Alert subscribers receive an e-mail
notice every time a poetry piece is scheduled to appear
on the NewsHour.

The NewsHour Poetry Series is funded by The Poetry

To subscribe to NewsHour Poetry Series Alert, please
send an e-mail to from the e-mail
address you want to subscribe, with the following in
the message body: subscribe newshour-poetry-l

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two good things

  1. Got my contributor's copies of the premier issue of Barn Owl Review today. Yay! It seems like it's been a long time since I had something come out in print. It's always fun to have something to hold in my hand & page through. I love the immediacy of online publication, and I love how easy it is to share it with others. But I like paper, too. Anyway, I am looking forward to having a little time to sit down with this; there are lots of familiar names here, and I'm betting there's a lot of good poetry! Thanks to Mary, Sara, and the rest of the BOR gang.

  2. Muddy Prints, Water Shine -- the first chapbook by fine poet Carol Peters -- is now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. (Go to their new releases page and scroll down a ways; the titles are in alpha order by last name.) Order it before March 28th and get free shipping. --I first met Carol a couple of years ago in Provincetown, in D.A. Powell's workshop; the poems she was writing that week were attentive and ambitious, full of intellect and observation. I'm definitely looking forward to reading her chapbook!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Five word review of Joshua Bell's recital this afternoon: The word virtuoso seems insufficient. (There were some moments when I thought he might go flying up off the stage. Seriously.)

* * * * *

Check out the Power Crazy Senior General Than Shwe chapbook, with thanks to Anti-! Poems by Kelli Russell Agodon, Ivone Alexandre, John Davis, Anne Haines, R. Joyce Heon, Luisa A. Igloria, A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz, Woody Loverude, Nathan McClain, Carolyn Moore, Pamela Johnson Parker, Heidi Sulzdorf, and Saw Wai (translated by Dr. David Law).

* * * * *

Also check out Best of the Net 2007, with thanks to Sundress Publications (and thanks again to Valparaiso Poetry Review for the nomination).

* * * * *

More crazy weather and a cold, cold night. Enough already!

A Bloomington evening with Carrie Newcomer

So tonight I went to Carrie Newcomer's CD release concert for The Geography of Light. It was good; maybe one of the best concerts of hers I've seen. If you have a chance to see her on this tour (dates and cities here), you are in for a treat! The new songs are lovely (which I already knew -- I think I'd heard most of them already, if not all of them); her voice is, if anything, even better and more resonant than ever; and as always she is a gracious presence on the stage.

If you're not familiar with Carrie, she's an acoustic singer/songwriter/guitarist; if you like literate songwriters like Shawn Colvin or Mary-Chapin Carpenter, you'd probably like her. She's got a gorgeous rich alto, and her songs often touch on spiritual themes. If I had to sum up the overall trajectory and project of her work, I would say that she's interested in the celebration of holiness in the everyday.

I got downtown a little early and, miracle of miracles, there was a vacant table at the Blu Boy Chocolate Cafe & Cakery, right next door to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater where the concert was. So I treated myself to a brownie (theirs are wonderful -- no nuts or icing or anything extraneous, just pure rich brownie) and some very good coffee, and wrote in my journal for a little bit. I wasn't going to go over to the theater until 7:30ish, but at about ten after seven I peeked over and saw that the lobby was packed with people waiting to get in. Since I'd finished my brownie and two cups of coffee, I decided to head on over. They opened the doors to the theater about ten seconds after I walked in the lobby door, so my timing was perfect. I bought a copy of the new CD on my way in -- it's not officially released until Tuesday, but we're special here in Bloomington -- and found a seat. Since I'd come alone, I settled in to read Eloise Klein Healy's newest book until the show began.

It was an absolutely packed house, definitely sold out -- nice to see such a good turnout for our hometown girl! And it was such a Bloomington crowd, full of familiar faces and just the kind of people who make me love this town. There was an opening act, the Stellanovas -- Chris Wagoner & Mary Gaines, who perform on the new album as well. They were fun, sort of acoustic folky cafe-jazz stuff. Mary Gaines has a truly gorgeous voice which at one point reminded me very much of none other than k.d. lang.

A short intermission, then Carrie took the stage to thunderous applause. She was performing with longtime accompanist Gary Walters on piano as well as Chris Wagoner on guitar, slide guitar, ukulele, violin, & probably some other stringed things and Mary Gaines on cello & vocals. Keith Skooglund, guitarist extraordinaire, came out to play with her on one song and singer/songwriter Krista Detor joined her with harmony vocals on a couple of songs. She did nearly everything off the new album as well as lots of older stuff. I think "Lazarus" is my favorite of the new songs. Her fellow musicians absolutely rocked the house on "Bowling Baby" which is always such a fun song.

Carrie talked about having gone to some kind of a peace-and-justice workshop in Kentucky recently -- as she was walking up to the place where she was going to play a concert in conjunction with that, she noticed that there were protesters. "They were protesting peace! Yes, protesting peace. You can't make this stuff up." And then one of them saw her walking up with her guitars in hand and pointed at her and hollered out, "YOU! WHORE OF BABYLON!" (which is especially hysterically funny if you know Carrie, who is your basic nice sweet Midwestern Quaker peacenik.) She cracked up talking about it."And here I thought I was just an obscure folksinger! I'm moving up in the world!"

I see Carrie every summer at her free concert in the park. That's always a loose, kind of raucous good time, with kids playing & dancing and dogs and picnics and everything. In a way it's kind of funny to see her in a dark theater, with everyone sitting quietly and listening. It does give her the opportunity to play the quieter more contemplative songs, and the setlist pretty much focused on those, though there were a few toe-tappers like the aforementioned "Bowling Baby," "One Woman and a Shovel" off the new album, and her ode to email disasters, "Don't Push Send." She played "The Fisher King" which is one of my very favorites of hers and one she doesn't always play, so that was a particular treat.

Before the encore, her husband Robert Meitus (who used to be in a band called the Dorkestra, which some of us long-time Bloomingtonians remember with fondness; he's now an intellectual-property attorney but Carrie says he's still her favorite Dork) came onstage and said how proud he is of her and how great the new album is and how in the 18 years they've been together he thought this was his favorite concert ever. He said that Carrie was about to start on a huge tour, really scary -- "not Dick Cheney evil scary! Good scary!" Then he said he'd been so busy being her lawyer and her manager and her husband that he'd neglected to buy her any flowers tonight, so in honor of the upcoming humongous tour, he presented her with a roll of duct tape and a big orange extension cord. Carrie was totally cracking up by this point. "Now THAT'S musician love!" It was really quite adorable. And then (with just her acoustic guitar and Gary Walters on piano), she played maybe the best version of "Bare to the Bone" I've ever heard her play -- and I've heard that song a lot, but it just really soared tonight. Then the Stellanovas returned and they all finished up with "I'll Go Too" -- a good song, don't get me wrong, but not my favorite of hers, and didn't feel to me like the right song to end the show on for some reason. No matter -- it was still, overall, a terrific show.

I thought about hanging around to get my CD signed, but decided I didn't feel like fighting the crowd, so I came home. You know, I really am lucky to live in a town with so many incredibly talented people in it, people like Carrie Newcomer (and Joshua Bell, who I get to see tomorrow -- okay, so he doesn't live here fulltime, but he's still a Bloomington hometown boy). It's cool seeing someone on stage singing her heart out, especially when it's someone I also occasionally see around town, in the food co-op looking tired and hungry, or whatever; I can't claim that I actually know her, though I think we have some friends in common, but she's very much a part of this community, and her concerts always feel like such a quintessentially Bloomington thing -- even though she performs all over the country and has fans everywhere. She's our hometown girl, and I think she likes it that way. And from the enthusiasm of the sold-out crowd tonight, I think a lot of Bloomington likes it that way too.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I see dead people's books...

So the good folks at LibraryThing have been recreating the libraries of various famous dead people, which just leads to all kinds of interesting things. It started with Thomas Jefferson's library, and then when Karen Schneider asked why there weren't more women included (go Karen!), an effort was made to add the libraries of several notable women. My favorite, and the reason I'm blogging it now, is Sylvia Plath's library -- some of which I've seen and touched with my own hands, since one of the major Plath repositories is the Lilly Library right here on the IU campus. I worked there for one summer as an undergrad, and sneaked a peek at some of the volumes from Plath's library when I was supposed to be shelving other books -- looking at her own marginal annotations and comparing them to the English-major notes I found myself making in my own books.

If you have a LibraryThing account, you can easily compare your library with Plath's and see how many books you have in common (I have ten). Also, the good people who added Plath's books to LibraryThing have included notes from the catalogs of the libraries that own the books, some of which are really fascinating -- like the following notes regarding her copy of The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm:
Copy is heavily underlined and marked by Sylvia Plath; bookseller's label: Foyles, London; autograph: Sylvia Plath, Court Green, November 9, 1962.

p. 19, 30, 37, 97 (Sept. '63)"- note in Assia Wevill's hand below Plath's autograph.
Or this, regarding her copy of The Collected Poetry of W.H. Auden:
Inscribed on fly-leaf: “I found my god in W.H. Auden”. With bookplate. Underlining and annotation, very heavy in the last sections.
I *heart* LibraryThing!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I can quit anytime I want.

There are certain dangers to working in a large, well-stocked research library. Today on my lunch break I went up to the tenth floor of the Research Collections and back into the PS's, in search of Rachel Zucker's new book. I found it, but by the time I made it back to the elevator I had seven other books in my arms as well. I currently have, um, 59 books checked out -- a handful of which I have finished and just haven't gotten around to returning yet.

Really, there is no excuse for me to do anything in my non-working waking hours but read. Right?

* * * * *

I ordered a pair of strappy, casual, black sandals (which I have been needing for like two years) and they arrived today. That means summer is just around the corner. Right?

* * * * *

I am so going to AWP next year. Despite the fact that I live only a couple hundred miles away, I really don't know Chicago at all -- but I know enough people who are familiar with the city that hopefully I can get tips on where to stay that will be cheaper than the Hilton but close enough to walk back and forth safely. I may even try to tack on an extra day for museum-going; it's been years since I've been to the Chicago museums and I remember really loving both the Field and the Museum of Science & Industry. Oh, and Shedd Aquarium! And the Adler Planetarium! I may have to pick one or two, if I'm only going to give myself one extra day. Anyway, you heard it here first: I'm going somehow, some way. And I'll see all y'all there. Right?


Long Shot

Hi there. If anyone reading this blog is in Somerville, Mass., specifically near the Davis Square area, please keep an eye out for a very large, fluffy, black-and-white tuxedo cat named Abbie (a male cat, don't let the name fool you). He is much loved and has gone missing -- details can be found on his blog; also, pictures and other details here. If you see him, please drop a note to

I've never met the cat, or his guy, but have known them in the virtual sense for years. Abbie's guy loves him as much as I love my cats, which is saying a lot, so the thought of him being gone is pretty heartbreaking. This lost cat needs to become a found cat, and soon.

UPDATE, Tuesday, February 12: Abbie is home!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

FAWC summer workshops

The Fine Arts Work Center will be posting this year's schedule of summer workshops (and the registration form) this coming Tuesday.

If you're looking for a summer workshop, I highly recommend this program. They have a terrific faculty, and they attract a startlingly high level of students -- the three workshops I've taken there have included people with MFA's, Cave Canem fellows, people with books forthcoming, and most importantly, darn good poets. And you can't beat Provincetown for a lovely place to spend a week. (Beaches! Clam chowder! Lobster! Whale-watching! Funky little shops! Glitzy drag shows! Rainbow flags everywhere! Miraculously enough, in spite of all the distractions, I always find myself writing like crazy when I'm there.)

It's not the cheapest program around, largely because housing in Provincetown is exorbitant. But if you can swing it -- which I can't this year -- it's fabulous.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Draftus Domesticus

1. Thanks to everyone who's been reporting in from AWP! I am envious, but I'm much happier to be spending all my money on my heating bill this month rather than on a hotel bill. Well, if not happier, then at least warmer. :) I'll see you in Chicago next year, by hook or by crook. (um... I am not a crook...)

2. I spent a couple of pleasant hours today at the Bakehouse, where you can get a good cup of coffee with unlimited refills for two bucks (take that, Starbucks), tweaking poems. Here's one I've been poking at lately. I'll take it down in a day or so.

[~gone ... tweaking it even as we speak. if you want to see it, drop me an email~]

Friday, February 01, 2008

Saw Wai news

Thanks to Jilly at Poetry Hut Blog for this link: Detained poet denied visits and parcels

In some countries, poets fly to NYC to drink, talk shop, and buy stuff. In some countries, they get thrown in jail if they insult the government.

Which is not to say that it couldn't happen here ... at the moment we do have a government that is particularly un-fond of being insulted, and certainly US citizens have been detained for saying things the government didn't like. But it's really bad in Burma.

Some days I feel helpless about the world and I wish I could just wave a magic wand and fix everything. That's not particularly useful, is it?