Friday, October 17, 2014

Taylor Mali: Typography

I have been showing this poem to my classes all day. It makes me happy. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Time for your confessions. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

Here we are at the Topsfield Fair. It's been a while since I'm taken a photo with the kids in the background. They're getting so big. "Time keeps on slipping into the future," as the song says.


I'm reading at the Blacksmith Poetry House on October 20, and if all goes well, copies of Misery Islands will be there! The scheduled release date is November 4, but the bookstore is having copies shipped from the printer.


I am trying not to be too hard on myself for not writing a poem. It’s been a series of fits and starts lately. The harder I try to hold onto a routine, the more disappointed I am in myself. Makes me wonder how grounded I am in the practice of writing.

That being said, I crave the oomph that comes from staying open. Sometimes writing is like turning on an old faucet—it takes a little time for the waters to run clear. And clear waters—or good writing— require patience and grit. Really, that means focusing on me more. Nothing beats that sense of achievement when I get a draft down. I know this. I know this. I know this.

Yeah, I’ve been missing that feeling. Hoping to grit it out over the next few days.


When I stay open, all is possible.


Sometimes these blog posts are my own personal pep talks.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Moving Poems

How much do I love Moving Poems?

This is a perfect example of what happens when you put a poem into the world, and you're pleasantly surprised when it comes back to you.

Dave Bonta has taken my poem, "Prayer," and "The Ethics of Mothers" by Rachel Barenblat and combined them into one video. The images are striking, and I love the cosmic treatment at the end. Never envisioned my work in this way, which is both humbling and cool.

Also thanks to The Poetry Storehouse for giving my poems life after life.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. You know the drill.

This week, Oct 6-10, I’m guest blogging for Best American Poetry! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share a few thoughts with a larger audience.

My first post: Welcome to the Poet Party


That being said, I’m doing a ton o' writing this week. I don’t think I can focus on poetry until the weekend. Between the blog post, a book chapter I'm writing (I’m a contributor), and grading, I’m spending a lot of energy—not as efficiently as I would like. I’m OK with that. In fact, it’s been challenging in a good way. Maybe I needed this surge in output to keep me motivated.


The time map is still in effect, but I’m a little off track. Again, if I can get all of my grading done, I should be fine. Much of my day is spent quelling the feeling that I have an overwhelming amount of stuff on my plate. The time map helps me keep it in perspective.

What's the first thing to fall off the list? Exercise, then poetry. *sigh* Hoping to get lots of writing time in this weekend. I'm still sleeping, that's the most important thing,


My baby boy became a pre-teen this past weekend, 11 years old. When the first nurse put his little body in my arms, I thought, “Who is this stranger?” Now, he’s a young man. I spend all this time getting to know him, an in a few years I have to let him go.


Short but sweet today. Have a great week!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Staying Open

My thanks to Nina Romano and Bridle Path Press for posting my article "Staying Open," as part of their From the Masters series. Here's an excerpt:

What this practice has taught me is to stay open, to not put so much pressure on myself. When I experience poetry—meaning when I read it, write it, share it or speak it—I connect myself to the world. It’s Whitman’s barbaric yawp from rooftops and hearing someone answer back. Poetry yawps back, says, “I get it. I understand you.”

Read more at Bridle Path Press. Their From the Masters series is terrific.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

This is the view of the waters off of Provincetown, MA, also known as Ptown or P-town.

Here's pic of two poets throwing shade. 

Joseph Legaspi and me. Photo by his husband, David. (that Captain America shirt is my favorite T-shirt. I'd wear it all the time if I could.)

I was in town less than 24 hours, but it was just what I needed to fill my soul.

Last week was a weird week. Not good or bad, just weird, and Wednesday was the culmination of all the weirdness. My favorite bracelet broke. I was being evaluated in one of my classes, which went fine but bring brings its own energy to the day. Then I locked my keys in a coworkers office, and to top it all off, my car wouldn't start. Just a strange, strange day. 

I first went to Provincetown to study with Marie Howe last July at the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC). I thought it was more hype than anything else. I mean, I live near a beach so going to the Cape didn't seem like a big deal. But being in Ptown with it's relaxed vibe and good energy did wonders for my writing. It did wonders for my soul. Marie says the waters around Ptown are restorative, and she's right. That good feeling I had last summer at FAWC lasted until March of this year, and then it was gone. I've been seeking it ever since. 

Fast forward to Saturday, when I left the weirdness behind and went to see my friends for a brief visit. As soon as I put my feet in the water, a part of me was home. In fact, the place Joseph and David rented was a stone's throw from FAWC. Thankfully, the words have come back. That part of me that wants to remain open and in communion with everything wants to write. There's a difference between wanting to write and making yourself write. So far, I've written three poems and three articles in the past 48 hours. 

I am not one to miss signs--I believe they are everywhere--and the whole of my being had been urging me to get back to Provincetown. I just didn't know it until I was there. 

With gratitude, I thank Joseph and David for my time with them, and for helping me restore my soul. What a gift! What a gift. 

My Time Map

Click to Enlarge

This is a time map. I'm in my fourth week of using it and I have to say it's helped me immensely.

A time map works in the same way a budget works to see where money is spent. I use a weekly grid to see how I can use my time more wisely. This is not a new idea. In fact, those more savvy in Excel can use colors and tabs and whatnot. I like the simple grid lines of Word.

At the start of the school year, I was feeling the potential for being overwhelmed by student appointments. And with a new book coming out, it's easy to see how writing time gets swallowed up. Writing is always the first thing to go. Why is that?

I've done time maps years before when the kids were much younger, but I was inspired by poet Jennifer Jean as she was looking for ways to make sure things weren't slipping through the cracks. I like this approach because it forces me to be a little more present in my schedule. I've also found out a lot about my habits. I wasn't sleeping enough, and writing was jammed between kid appointments and grading.

I'm four weeks into this and I know that I'm not reading or exercising enough. But my sleep has improved, and I'm more on top of things at work. Mass Poetry is gearing up, so I've plotted out time to get things done. The time map is flexible. I check it daily and shift items when something pressing comes along. Again, this is just a simple grid (I'm showing last week's time map), but it only works if I'm willing to abide by it.

Today, for instance, I'm working on blog posts instead of poetry. That's OK. I can find time later today or Thursday. Big picture? I'm taking care of my needs without completely ignoring all the other to-do's in my life.

Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.


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