Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Goals

By far, this is my favorite time of the year. This is where I look back on the year to see how far I’ve come with my goals. So as I look back on the year that was, it ROCKED!!

With the acceptance of my poetry manuscript by CavanKerry Press, I blew my poetry goals out of the water! I also wrote 70 poems, surpassing my goal of 52 for the year. On the workout front, while I didn’t learn how to swim, I dropped 10 pounds—two more that I anticipated. Tim and I have gone to the gym consistently in 2007 so it’s nice that all of our hard work is paying off.

So here are my goals for 2008:

1. Get our financial house in order. Tim turns 40 this July, and it’s been our goal to pay off our mortgage by the time he’s 50. So in order to do that it’s time to get serious about paying off debt, saving money, and investing in our future.

2. Get serious about the PoBiz. Since the book comes out in late 2009, I need to devote myself to doing all those things to make it successful. That includes developing my own personal marketing plan, finding freelance opportunities, doing more local readings, applying for grants, and getting my work into journals. And blogging, of course.

3. Read more books. Sad but true, I have as many unread books as an independent bookstore. My reading list is here.

4. Learn to swim.

I never put in goals about being a better mom or wife because I think that goes without saying.

Good luck to you in the new year. I wish you much poetry and love in 2008. Be safe!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Few Random Thoughts on a Sunday Night

This is my brother-in-law yesterday at a holiday party showing that he still has the goods after all these years. Over 40 and feelin' sporty!


So I mentally checked out from the blogosphere for a few weeks. What can I say? With Christmas my mind turns to sugar plums.


My parents have returned home to Virginia. There presence, for Tim and me, gave us a break from watching the kids. And their absence is a reminder that we're getting back to our usual, chaotic routine. That makes me incredibly sad.


Much of my time lately has been spent getting information about my book to the publisher. I thought arranging the poems was difficult, but my gosh! Writing a book description is hard.


The title has changed from "The Kerning," to "Underlife." I think the change is a good one.


New Year's Eve is in my top three of holidays. Will post at length with a year-end review and goals for 2008. Woo hoo!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Where the Writers Are

Red Room is live, well … beta testing.

If you haven’t heard about this project, it’s a social and creative network for writers. Based in San Francisco, they’ve rounded up some significant literary luminaries, such as Maya Angelou, Amy Tan, James Patterson, Clive Barker, Candace Bushnell, and Khaled Hosseini, Alice Walker, and Salman Rushdie, among others. The site features blogs, videos, podcasts, and the creators promise to roll out new community features in the upcoming weeks.

While I’ve read in articles that demand for Red Room is off the charts, I’m skeptical about how vital and robust the community with be. With 16 authors listed un the poetry genre, many of the initial blog posts are quotes pulled from old magazine articles. How active will these authors be to foster community?

If you’re a featured author, however, it’s a great place to promote your work.

Since this is a new venture, I hope Red Room finds a rhythm to succeed, because it would be interesting to hear from Maya Angelou about contract negotiations, or what Ishmael Reed thinks about the current state of poetry in the U.S.—that’s the down and dirty stuff I want to know as a writer. Anyone can join, so check it out.

Friday, December 28, 2007

X-mas Pics

Usually I take more photos at Christmas, but this time around we were overwhelmed by the kids' excitement. Sheer joy! Santa came and he delivered, in style!

Despite Ella's expressions, she was a happy little girl Christmas morning.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

My son was so excited about Santa's visit that he went to bed early--his idea, not mine!

Here's wishing you a very merry Christmas and all the blessings of the season. Hope to get back to blogging in a day or so.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

You're A Mean One Mr Grinch

My son loves this video! Although, lately, I've felt like a Grinch with the holidays around the corner.

I've been caught up in the holiday sprint to Christmas. Today I'll be out at the mall looking for last-minute gifts and grocery shopping. Ugh. Why do I do this to myself every year?

Fortunately, the cavalry comes in today--my parents arrive from Virginia in about an hour. We're all looking forward to their visit (and I need the extra hands around the house).

To my I Promise blogroll participants, I hope to visit your blogs this weekend.

And now, how are you doing? AND, have you been naughty or nice lately?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Confession Tuesday

  1. I just had my photo taken for promotional materials. What a surreal experience that was! Don't know how celebrities and models do it, because I felt like a goofball in front of the camera. Of course, celebrities make lots of money to pose. Poets? Not so much.

  2. I'm also working on a book description, creating a list of potential media outlets, and updating my bio—things I should have done a month ago.

  3. And I'm halfway through my Christmas shopping. Still can't believe Christmas is a week from today. YIKES!

  4. My parents come in for a weeklong visit on Saturday. Hurray! Tim and I need extra hands around the house.

  5. Cabin fever is starting to set in. As a result, I'm going to have to make up some crafts. I am SO not crafty. I'd rather be inside a Starbucks writing a poem. So I think we'll end up painting, making Christmas tree ornaments and baking cookies—I hate that stuff. Sorry, I don't get warm and fuzzy over handmade items. As it is, I have more crayon drawings than I know what to do with.

  6. Lastly, my coworkers and I are going to a BBQ joint for lunch. Yum! This is the last day I'll be in the office until after the New Year. True confession: I miss them already.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The View from My Front Door

Sunday Scribblings: Dance

The History of Dance, as told by January Gill

Everything I learned about dance I learned from Janet Jackson. I’m referring to the Janet of What Have You Done for Me Lately—long before Nipple-gate. Back when her brother, Michael, was somewhat normal. You know, when MTV still played videos 24/7.

When my friends and I were old enough to hit the clubs, but under 21, we’d head over to a dance club called Ferrari’s—and I danced until I became a sweaty mess. Obviously, we couldn’t drink, but Friday nights (and some Saturdays) we’d be the ones in the center of the dance floor showing off our best moves until closing.

Some of my most favorite dance songs from that era:

Poison, BBD
Funky Cold Medina, Tone Loc
It Takes Two, Rob Base
It Takes Two, Cover Girls
Bust a Move, Young MC
Push It, Salt n Pepa
Kiss, Prince
Lean On Me, Club Nouveau
Need You Tonight, INXS
Anything Madonna

When I met my husband in 1997, we met at a New Orleans bar called F&M’s. It was the kind of place where they’d let you dance on the pool table and, literally, swing from the rafters. Since then, the only time we seem to go dancing is when we’re invited to weddings. *sigh* But whenever I hear these songs it takes me right back to one of the happiest times in my life. And who knows what 2008 will bring—with any luck, it brings ’80s night in Boston!

Visit Sunday Scribblings to see who else is bustin' a move!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Announcement

You probably could have guessed, but I am pleased to finally reveal that my first manuscript, The Kerning, will be published by CavanKerry Press. The publication date is set for October 2009.

I've been carrying this secret since October, but I was waiting on a little more information to trickle in before sharing the news. Can't tell you how many times I've thought, "Gosh, maybe they got me confused with someone else!"

I sincerely believe that I couldn't have done this without the support of all of you who read this blog. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I'll definitely keep you in the loop about the process from start to finish and beyond.

So let the games begin!

(Gosh, I'll be 40 when the book comes out!)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Poem

The Little Mermaid Walks Away

There’s too much water in the ocean.
Each wave an echo, an unanswered wish
calling her to the surface. The pulsing current
through coral reefs means nothing to her
when the ocean’s craggy floor
is pocked with the things
others throw away. She brushes her
cyclone of tangled hair with a fork.

How perfect does an apple taste?
A steak? A kiss? At night, she writes
her girlish notions against shafts of moonlight.
The morning hands them back.
There are no flaws in nature, so to walk
on pronged feet, to leave a footprint,
means walking out of a dream.
It means destroying a kingdom
only to build it again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Confession Tuesday

I had much more to confess last night than I do today!


Our day care provider needed to complete some home repairs in December (it's a home day care), so we've had the kids most of the month, and it's been extremely stressful. The kids are out of their routines, Tim and I are juggling schedules, and since it's so cold we can't get them out of the house as much as we'd like. Fortunately, I think they can go back next week, and then my parents arrive the following week for Christmas. Extra hands make light work.


Still waiting on an important piece of mail before I can share my good news. I've been waiting since October so I'm a little frustrated. I mean, this is a huge secret and I can't share it—not even on Confession Tuesday.


I've spent the last two days reading blogs for inspiration—there are a lot of wonderful musings happening in the space of a blog post. I feel like blogging is this wonderful gift that only a small number of us knows or cares about. I'd like to keep it that way.


With the holidays around the corner, I've found it difficult to focus on writing. I would like to write 3 more poems before the end of the year. So I'll hunker down and post something soon.


I'm thinking about investing in a Poet's Market book for 2008. I haven't owned one since the early '90s, and with submission information so readily available online, I haven't needed one. Now I'm also applying for grants, but I haven't found one great source of grants and submission info targeted to writers. Does anyone have a recent edition or have any suggestions here?


I could go for a big bowl of chocolate ice cream right now.




Sunday, December 09, 2007

2008 Book List

I’m embarrassed that every year I make a book list yet never complete it. *sigh* But I do enjoy making the list! Unfortnately, I think I’ve carried over the same books for more than two years. *big sigh*

Next year’s list will contain only 12 books, comprised of books currently collecting dust on my bookshelf—at least I have a reasonable chance of reading one a month. Notice there are no poetry books here. That list is really more fluid for me. For instance, in late January, I’ll attend the AWP conference and pick up a few titles while I’m there, not to mention new journals and anthologies, too.

Note: I’d like to read a John Edgar Wideman book but he has so many I don’t know where to start. He’s coming to speak at my college in February. Any suggestions?

2008 Book List

1. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe (int’l fiction)
2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (classic fiction)
3. Brevity and Echo anthology (short stories and prose poems)
4. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (classic fiction)
5. Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clarke (history)
6. A Personal History, Katherine Graham (autobiography)
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (classic fiction)
8. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde ("biomythography")
9. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris (nonfiction)
10. Vinegar Hill, A Nanette Ansay (fiction)
11. White Teeth, Zadie Smith (fiction, a re-read for me)
12. John Edgar Wideman (Need a suggestion)

So, what's on your book list for 2008?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Go Elf Yourself!

Me like you've never seen me before. Click here.

(In real life, I'm a much better dancer!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Poem

First Snow

December, like a torrid romance,
rolls in and takes over with its granular
white beauty, making the ordinary extraordinary,
only to harden overnight and become dirty slush
by dawn’s early light.

Look how it demands respect,
makes a city groan and grimace
at the mere mention, only to send weathermen
and school kids into unfettered delirium

how it dredges up images of Frost and Dickens,
holiday memories on 34th Street,
when, in fact, it turns vehicles into bumper cars
and roads into beds of salt.

A torrent of snowball fights follows—
those complex lumps of packed snow
hiding ice hard as doorknobs,
hurled from the arm of a gangly teen.

What it is about the first snow
that makes our own dreams edible
as we hold out our cold, red tongues
against a gray sky?

How easy it is to believe in God,
or miracles, when nothing else adequately explains
the wonder of it all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Few Random Thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

As I type this, I forgot that yesterday was Confession Tuesday. Oh well, I’m still a little NaBloPoMo-ed out so I’m taking it easy on the blogging and getting ready for the holidays. I guess this post will make up for yesterday’s non-post.


Today, I’m off from work—woo hoo! I rarely take days off, so as a result, I have built up more time than I can use in a year. In fact, I have three more days to use before we’re out for the rest of the year on December 21. If my calculations are correct, I have a mere nine days left to work this calendar year—just one more reason why I love where I work.


So the kids and I are going Christmas shopping. Need to get a present for Tim; although, I think once we pick it out my son will tell his dad what we bought. *sigh*


I have been sending out poems to journals like a mad fool. I have about eight submissions out there working for me, both print and online—that’s a record. I hate the submission process but I look at it as a necessary evil.


Currently, I’m working on a new poem. Hope to post it sometime today.


Also working on two articles for here and here. Hope to wrap them up sooner rather than later.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Put the "Mom" in Poet Mom!

When I'm not blogging or poeting, I do a little of this...

... and a little of that!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy End of NaBloPoMo

Whew! Thank goodness we're at the end of NaBloPoMo. While posting every day is not that hard, it does wear a bit thin--especially on those days where I don't have anything interesting to say.

Congrats to those participating in this and in NaMoWriMo. Writing a poem a day is hard enough so writing lots of words a day is incredible. And while I stopped at 11 poems, that 11's more than I wrote in the previous two months.

So like my fellow participants, I'll definitely pull back in December. But I'm not going far. You'll see me all month and into the new year. I'm just happy I can return to a normal sleep pattern instead of posting late in the evenings.

Goodbye NaBloPoMo. Hello last 30 day of 2007.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

NaBloPo Mo 11

At the Movies

I remember my mother sneaking candy and sodas
in her purse past the Circle 6 box office,
me handing the tickets to the usher
and entering the dark cave
with its silvered glyphs on screen,
but that doesn’t matter.
I’d study the movie listings
like the betting line for the race track.
What will it be this week, E.T?
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?
Poltergeist? While other girls
collected Barbie dolls I collected
ticket stubs. On Sunday afternoons
you’d find us slumped in our
orange and yellow cinema seats
hiding our eyes in our hands—as if that ever worked.

Now, I ignore the actors with their
overhyped breakups and televised makeups,
the massive salaries and big studio budgets,
which translates into $10 tickets and $20 popcorn
for you and me. What matters is the end
when the credits role, the moments before
the house lights shine us back to life,
that moment when I can’t remember
who I am and what I stand for.
It is the drama and the theater of it all.
It is me and my son, just like me and my mom,
watching the world end and begin again,
our hands greasy from hot buttered popcorn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Split This Rock

Looking to add your poetic voice to the political dialogue? Check out Split This Rock. This event has been in the works for more than a year. I'm *hoping* to go, but we'll see. At the very least, I hope the organizers add podcasting and a video component to the event.

Split This Rock Poetry Festival:
Poems of Provocation & Witness
Washington, D.C.
March 20-23, 2008

Split This Rock Poetry Festival calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national network of activist poets. Building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from our home in the nation's capital, we celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination.

Featuring readings, workshops, panels, contests, walking tours, film, parties, and activism! See the website for the incredible line-up of poets, including Mark Doty, Sonia Sanchez, Martín Espada, Naomi Shihab Nye, and many more. Split This Rock is cosponsored by DC Poets Against the War, Sol & Soul, Busboys and Poets, and the Institute for Policy Studies.

Also of interest: Poetry Contest--January 15 Deadline: The contest benefits Split This Rock Poetry Festival. $1,000 awarded for poems of provocation & witness; Kyle G. Dargan will judge. $500 for 1st, $300 for 2nd, and $200 for 3rd place. 1st place winner will read the winning poem at the festival. The poem will also be published on the festival Web site. All winners receive free festival admission. The $20 entry contest fee benefits the festival. Postmark Deadline: January 15, 2008. Visit the site for guidelines.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Confession Tuesday

This photo is one I took a few weeks ago when I took the kids to the New England Aquarium. I spent more money on parking in Boston than on admission. *sigh* Kids loved the jellyfish exhibits.


I’m shocked that we’re now full force into the holiday season. I mean, Thanksgiving was less than a week ago and already I’m singing Christmas tunes in my head. I must be getting older because I find myself muttering, “Gosh, where has the year gone?”


I’ve been at my current job 6 years, 9 months, and 11 days.


I had to cancel on the workshop I had hoped to attend tonight. Babysitting issues.


A Cave Canem member sent this out on our listserv. This sums up exactly how I feel for not being paid as a writer.


Speaking of writing, I hope the writers’ strike going on in Hollywood and other major cities in the U.S. gets resolved quickly. I’m a fan of the TV shows Heroes and Law and Order: SVU and I have to tell you, I’m disappointed in what I’m seeing. Now I know the studios are pushing product to air the shows already finished. But I’d rather they shelve the remaining episodes than put out a bad product.

Last night’s Heroes episode was so disjointed I got the feeling it was slapped together from leftovers on the cutting room floor. As for tonight’s new L&O, this is the third episode in a row, I believe, in which the main characters get hurt. I mean, in nine seasons Benson and Stabler are super cops. Now, they’re getting stabbed, smashed, and injured by everyone. What’s up with that?

Which is sadder, that I know so much about the shows or that I think of the characters as real people?


Today’s theme song: “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” by The Beatles. “Sunday’s on the phone to Monday. Tuesday’s on the phone to me. Oh yeah!”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Poetry To-Do List

I finally completed my grant application for a state artist grant. This is the third time I have submitted my work—and I fully expect to be rejected yet again—but there’s a part of me that hopes to beat the odds. Tomorrow, I’ll drop my submission in the mail and won’t have to think about it until June ’08.

Also this month, I sent my poems out to six publications and so far, I’ve been rejected by Slate and Diagram. OK, admittedly Slate was pie in the sky. It just seems so arbitrary how poems are selected by journals and reviews. Conventional wisdom says that I should send to places I feel reasonably sure I’ll get in. And while I think that’s true, it’s good to “swing for the rafters” now and then.

So for this week, I hope to:

  1. Write two new poems.
  2. Check out a new writer’s group—if I’m not too tired tomorrow after work.
  3. Send poems to two journals.
  4. Start organizing my poems from this year. (YIKES!)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NaBloPoMo 10

Feedback appreciated.

The Tea Grows Cold

While I tend to my son’s scraped knee.
The steam rises and rolls without me
as the teabag steeps darker and stronger
before my first sip.
Never again will he be so open.
I wash the grit from his glistening cut,
exchange his sobs for apple wedges
as we bite into the afternoon.
How this boy can overwhelm me with love for him
over and over and over again.

The world can go on now
a bit changed, like the cells of the skin
of which we both share. When the moment passes
I pull my spoon across the brown water like an oar
rowing myself back to shore.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Misspent Youth

Sorry, I think my youth was well spent.

I was a good girl growing up. Kind of boring, really. The only child of a Marine/police officer and a nurse, I walked the straight and narrow until my mid-20s when I moved from home. I never stayed out late, never drank (not really), never missed worked (had a job at 16)—didn’t even kiss a boy until college. Still, they worried about me even when they didn’t need to, but that’s what parents do, as I am surely finding out firsthand.

When I was younger, I wanted to own a nightclub (*smile*)! I remember there being no place really safe for young people to hang out except the mall, so I thought having a club where 16-year olds could dance but not drink would be fun. Then I took an 8 a.m. economics course which cured me of that! Dropping it allowed me to focus on subjects that I loved, such as English lit. I took a creative writing course and knew liberal arts, specifically poetry, was something I wanted to pursue.

My biggest complaint with the college and university system is that they don’t prepare English majors for the real world. I remember my father saying that with a degree in English I could go into almost any field. But what I needed was personal finance and career guidance on what to do with this major. I still hold out hope that one day I will be U.S. Poet Laureate … it can happen!

I think my younger self would be surprised yet pleased at how my life has turned out. My dad always thought I would be famous for something—being a lawyer or a newscaster. But he has no complaints about how things turned out: married with a beautiful husband and kids. Healthy and happy with a job I enjoy. Life is good.

Again, I’m available for the laureateship at anytime.

Visit Sunday Scribblings for more youthful stories.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

Hope everyone had a great holiday. It was by far the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had! Unfortuanetly, I was too busy eating to take photos of the actual meal .

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Promise Blogroll

So this is something cool I've been doing on Thursdays. From the Poets Who Blog blog, I've signed up as an I Promise blogger.

I Promise Blogroll:

We have agreed to stop by each other's sites every Thursday and leave a comment.

Here are the rules:

1. You do not have to gush over their work, if you don't truthfully feel that way. But kindness and respect is required.

2. You do not have to post new work each Thursday. If you get to a site and don't see a new poem, search through the archives and find one to comment on.

3. If you want to be removed from the list please let me know.

4. If you disappear for over a month you will be deleted from this blogroll.

I've been lucky because there are no slackers (well, maybe me!). The talent in this group is amazing.

If you're interested, visit Poets Who Blog.

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you all have a wonderful turkey day today. I'm looking to sharing my holdiday with you in pictures and words later tonight.

Be well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NaBloPoMo 9

Very new draft--still needs work but feedback appreciated.

Poem About Fonts

First, you must know your place in the family
Do you bring them close or push them away?
Whatever. You must learn to love the differences.
You must wish, albeit briefly, that this is
where you want to be. Next, you must address the
anatomy of text. You are, after all, the ninth letter.
You were chosen for a reason. Recognize the reason
but keep it to yourself. You can talk to old
photos, but those conversations are sure to be one sided.
Be kind to the books on the shelf, but not too kind--
save that story for another day. What keeps this family together?
Surely there is L O V E, because the lack of it creates a yearning.
Watch the L as it listens intently to the O’s rounded mouth
every modulation harkens a celebration
of bloom and gloom, and the origami of the V,
whose seductive valley makes her limbs rise
despite the obvious digression, in spite of
the E always looking away.
Your family defines you—every inclination,
every ascension and decension,
is in your character. It’s in the words
you carry with you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Confession Tuesday

Again, taking a page out of Carolee’s book, here are a few confessions for Tuesday.

1. I was trying to write a sonnet but the words aren't coming. In November, I wanted to try more formal verse, but no such luck yet. Truth is, I have no gift for rhyme, but I’m not giving up. Hope to devote more time to the sonnet after turkey day.

2. Heard a great podcast with Robert Hass from the Poetry Foundation's Web site, and I was encouraged by his poem "Sonnet."

3. Will write a new poem tomorrow, damn it.

4. I’m off from my job for the rest of the week—Woo Hoo!

5. I’m waiting for a letter that hasn’t arrived yet, literally and figuratively. And this letter carries good news. I’m not trying to be coy—I’ve hinted about it for weeks. I just don’t have any solid info to share.

6. On my nightstand are two books I'm reading simultaneously by Olie and Afaa. I love switching between the two. Olie, I’ve so much about the Aubade through your beautiful poems.

7. Can I tell you how much I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving on Thursday? I’ll have to wear the stretchy pants for all the food I will eat. Although my parents are in Virginia, I'm thrilled to be spending time with Tim's very large family. Must remember to take some leftovers.

8. Is it wrong to go to the gym on Thanksgiving morning?

9. If there was a Law & Order cable channel, I would watch it 24/7.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From NPR: Black Women Shine in This Year's Poetry Prizes

Black Women Shine in This Year's Poetry Prizes

From All Things Considered, Nov. 18:

"Four of the most prestigious poetry prizes went to African American women this year. Some say the accolades are well overdue. Fueling this trend are a growing number of literary organizations that nurture the work specifically of black writers."

Much deserved praise to Lucille Clifton, Natasha Trethewey, Tracy K. Smith, and Elizabeth Alexander—and to Cave Canem! It's nice to see the larger awards reflect what's going on in poetry—that poetry is thriving. And the voices once thought as underrepresented are now receiving the attention they so richly deserve. It gives me hope for the next generation of writers to find venues and audiences for their works.

Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Few Things ...

Just a quick post to say I'm still working on a sonnet. It's not as easy as it looks. I don't have a natural ability for rhyme, so I'm struggling. But I've had this desire to write one as well as attempt more formal verse. Hope to finish it up tomorrow.


So I'm officially not writing a poem a day anymore. Just can't keep up; although, I'm happy I was productive enough to write eight poems, and am looking to write a few more poems this month.


I am still participating in NaBloPoMo.


Hope to take some photos this week to post on the blog.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Franz Wright

Saturday afternoon, I attended a poetry reading featuring Franz Wright. I have seen him read a few times over the years, the most memorable was at the 2004 Dodge Poetry Festival. If memory serves, he was on a panel and the conversation turned to MFA programs, and how he felt they were ruining poetry. He was boisterous and animated and unforgettable. Maybe he was having a bad day.

Since that event, in the times I’ve seen him read, he’s been generous in sharing his work as well as his writing process with the audience. Here are a few observations from the reading.

1. Franz Wright and his father James Wright are the only father and son to win the Pulitzer Prize.

2. I found Franz to be soft spoken, reading from all of his collections, but focusing on Earlier Poems and his latest title, God’s Silence. He didn’t speak very much between poems, and didn’t leave a lot of time between reading the title and the poem's first line. Also, he was monotone in his delivery.

3. Doesn’t matter if you are an emerging poet or an established poet, audiences really don’t respond during poems. While I believe the audience of about 30 people enjoyed the reading, they just listened. Very few giggles or groans of appreciation. Personality, as a reader, I find the silence unnerving.

4. Of the many poems he offered, I particularly liked Wheeling Motel.

5. In his Q&A session, Franz talked about how poets must deal with more than despair as their subject matter. Franz thinks of some of his poems as quite witty. He says that recently he’s let more of his personality come through in his work. He considers himself a distinctly “minor” poet, and that he loves the minor poets. In fact, he thinks post WWII American poetry is some of the best poetry every written--there's certainly enough choices out there.

6. The poet was very open when questions were asked about his father, James Wright. He writes a lot of father poems but he considers it a way of continuing the conversation with his dad. Franz was 25 when his father died. He loved and admired his father but now that he’s gotten some perspective, he realizes that his father “was a terrible parent.”

7. And on writing, Franz doesn’t sit down regularly to write. He keeps lots of notebooks and jots down phrases and ideas during the day. A few weeks later, those fragments somehow come together into a pattern once the conscious intellect takes over.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: "I Carry"

When I saw the prompt, the first thing I thought of was this poem by e.e. cummings. It’s one of the first poems I remember reading by him—I think I was about 18. With its awkward phrasing and use of repetition, it moves me every time.

As I look at the first line, with no space between the word “me” and beginning parens, I notice there’s no space around any punctuation mark. It’s pleasantly odd because the parentheses sets off a digression of thought, but really that’s the meat of the poem. It represents a sort-of symbiotic relationship, or dependency, between what is inside and what is outside, as well these two people—albeit, one sided. We really don’t know if the love is requited. We just have a sense that this passion flows like blood from one romantic soul to another.

(I can't get blogger to tab correctly, so "i fear" in the first stanza should be right justified.)

Did I mention that this poem is a sonnet?

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

~ e.e. cummings

Visit Sunday Scribblings.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NEWS photos

We had terrific turnout for the last NEWS reading of 2007. It was a wonderful afternoon full of Young Adult fiction. Also, it was a celebration for our sponsor, The Book Rack, that marked its 32 anniversary on Sunday.

Lauren Barnholdt reading from her novel, The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney.

Erin Dionne

Phoebe Sinclair

Congratulations on a successful reading! Looking forward to hosting more NEWS readings in 2008.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There's No "I" in Poetry

I was listening to a recent podcast at the Poetry Foundation’s Web site on the “I” in poetry. The critic asserted that since the Confessional Poets (Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, for example) of the 1960s, “I” is the most overused word in poetry. This has lead to an abundance of “me” poetry: me to a lover, me to my parents, me to my children, something bad has happened to me. And it all wraps up in a nice little bow—my relationship to the rest of the world.

So I wonder: is the “I” overused? Have poets lost the ability to write detached, objective poetry? Have we lost our ability to write about the universal? Can we write a poem about things and situations but not have it relate to ourselves directly?

As one who writes in the confessional vein, I welcome the thoughts of writers but especially readers. What kinds of poetry to you gravitate to, more personal poetry (first person) or that which talks about the broader spectrum of the human condition (third person)?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NaBloPoMo 8

(This was a postcard poem I decided to revise.)

Poem for My Since-Born Son

The heart knows who’s in charge
That overworked muscle
Shifting from side to side
A beat inside a beat
A belly inside a belly
This is your water song
Your song of yourself.
You are more than a bag of words,
And bigger the than the imagination can hold.

Confession Tuesday

Taking a page out of Carolee’s book, I’m sharing a few confessions with you on this Tuesday evening.

1. Day 13 and I am NaBloPoMo-ed out! Well, I’m not keeping up with the poem a day thing. I knew once I got a day behind it would be hard to catch up. There’s a part of me who wants to get back on pace, but often I stay up writing until 1 a.m., only to get up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. The upside is that I'm writing poems again.

2. That being said, catch-up poems #8 and #9 (coming soon) are lame. I know. I get it.

3. Last night, Tim got a black eye playing basketball. Poor baby. When you look at him straight on, his eye is so purple he looks like he’s wearing eye shadow.

My son and I have a hard time not laughing at his new look. Poor baby.

4. Also, I’m late on putting up NEWS poetry series photos. Will do that tomorrow.

5. I have been sending poems to journals, six online and print journals in the last two weeks. This time around I’m swinging for the rafters, meaning that I’m sending to some big deal journals to see what happens. Why the heck not? Might be fun to get rejected by the New Yorker. *smile*

6. OK. Truth be told, I’ve been distracted with some extremely good news … one I’m hoping to reveal next week!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Next to You

What can I say? Seeing The Police was a chance of a lifetime! They've still got that spark. Hard to believe their stuff was alternative and edgy 25 years ago. I mean, they started a punk band, but managed to grow and be successful in video age, and now the band is legendary.

They played all of their hits, including "Next to You" (the title of this blog post). Regretfully, they did not play "Roxanne" or "Demolition Man." Now I understand Roxanne--I've heard Sting play it every which way possible. But "Demolition Man?" Come on! That's the one song I wanted to hear.

I'd love to hear Sting, Stewart, and Andy record new material, but I wonder what it would be like? Would it be edgy or contemporary (read: boring) middle-of-the-road music? I have hope for the former because it was just the three of them performing on stage: no back-up singers or musicians filling in. It was raw. No elaborate sets or lights or props. Just three mates at the top of their game--and all of us looking on in awe.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Police

Tonight, Tim and I are seeing The Police play in Boston. We're been looking forward to the concert for a long time. So I'm off to the last NEWS reading for 2007, and then Sting, Stewart, and Andy!

Needless to say, I doubt I'll post a poem for Sunday. Have a good afternoon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NaBloPoMo 7

The Blue Eye Trick

It wasn’t the glass eye
my history teacher removed
from its socket
as easily as a contact lens,
or that he would slam it on his desk
and warn us that we’d end up like this
if we didn’t settle down,
but how afterward,
in the wake of our astonishment,
he’d pop his blue eye back in
take one, long panoramic view of the class,
and turn back to the blackboard
to continue his lecture on the Middle Ages,
as if nothing ever happened.

Friday, November 09, 2007

NaBloPoMo 6

Skunk’s Song

It’s the coat, really,
True black and prized
like a smart black cat
with a bright white racing stripe
down its back, a coat so black
it contains night, the moon,
even me. I understand this urge
to rise up and take the dark.
My tight-fisted dreams are all animal.
And that slow pungent scent
wafting through the chilled November air
is a declaration of war
for all who cross our dream path.

Mark Doty

It's been a while since I've been excited about hearing a poet read his or her work. But I was strangely giddy about hearing Mark Doty speak at Babson College.

Normally, I don't talk about where I work, but Babson is a top-ranked business school. And while we're not known for liberal arts, the College embraces the arts and tries to incorporate creativity into everything it does. Mark's appearance coincided with an ongoing project by our Arts and Humanities division on the concept of dwellings, homes, and residences in literature. He read a mix of poetry and prose in front of about 100 students and few faculty members (and me).

So here are a few random thoughts about Mark's presentation:

  1. Since Mark is a teacher, his presentation was appropriate for the student audience. What I mean by that is that most college students, by nature, would rather be texting, or on Facebook, or on a Playstation somewhere rather than hearing poetry. So rather than a typical reading where it's poem after poem, he tone was extremely conversational, even sparked a few laughs from the crowd.

  2. If you've never heard Mark read before (I've heard him many times, in large and small venues), he's deliberate and measured with his words. And his facial expressions help to lift the lines right off the page.

  3. Even though I have one of his poetry books, Sweet Machine, I had forgotten how rich his poems are. They sometimes go on for two or three pages—his poems need room to breathe. Mark takes a subject and examines it from every angle. I'd say his work is almost three dimensional, if that makes sense.

  4. After telling the audience he was going to read one more poem and one more essay, he said, " It's always good to know how much is coming so you can adjust your attention." Perfect for a room full of students on a Thursday night.

  5. Keeping with the theme of home and homelessness he queried: who are we if we are no longer familiar with home? And what happens if the people, animals, and things in this world were no longer a part of it, how does that change the concept? He read from his book Dog Years, and spoke openly about grief and loss—everything from pets to relatives to past loves.

  6. As someone who cringes at the though of having to explain poems to an audience, I was so impressed by how open Mark was about his life and lifestyle. He spoke of, but didn't read, his poem "Chanteuse," which is his remembrance of Boston in the 80s and being in love. Again, Mark spoke openly about the 80s AIDS epidemic and how the process of change was rapidly accelerated then. This is partly why he sees himself as a carrier of stories; much like a chanteuse singing these stories which otherwise might go untold.

  7. When one of the students asked how he writes about the subjects he chooses, Mark said that he doesn't make things up. "I examine things that happen to me, and then I start to make things up." The details can move—the sequence of things, objects, and dates—for the greater good of the poem (or prose). And while there are some writers who have to make up details to tell stories (fiction writers, for instance), he has no problem digging in his own life.

  8. In his closing, Mark put in a plug for the teachers and their writing assignments. He commented that it may be difficult to try something new,"… But if you don't do anything good, you won't do anything better. Stretch yourself. Use the conflict in your writing assignments to energize your work."

  9. Lastly, we spoke briefly after his reading. I told him about my writing life, and he was very gracious and offered some advice.

  10. So today, I am content and reflective. It was so good to feed my poetry soul.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

NaBloPoMo Week One: A Few Thoughts

Writing a blog post or posting a photo every day for a month is easy. But writing a poem each day is hard work! I’m not going to complain about it, I’ll just hunker down and see what happens.


That being said, I’ve already written more poems this month than I have in the past two. Woo Hoo!


Last night I went to a local writers’ workshop, which was fun. But I’m psyched about tonight because poet Mark Doty is reading at the campus where I work. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell there’s no advertising being done by the marketing department—and I should know because I’m in the department! Oh well, I hope we get a good turnout.


I do like the forums developing at Ning with NaBloPoMo. Very cool.


Must start posting pictures soon. I haven’t taken any pictures lately, and I like finding visual representations of art and poetry in my community. Will try to do that this weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Boston: NEWS Reading This Sunday!

Come celebrate with us at the final N•E•W•S Reading for 2007!

Join us as we present the New & Emerging Writers Series


Sunday, November 11 at 4 p.m.

Where: The Regent Theatre
Basement screening room
7 Medford Street, Arlington

And help us say Happy Birthday to The Book Rack—32 years young!

Shindig immediately following:
The Book Rack
13 Medford Street, Arlington
Visit for a listing of store events.


• Lauren Barnholdt—author of YA novels Reality Chick and Two-Way Street, both from Simon Pulse, and The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney, for middle-grade readers from Simon & Schuster’s MIX series.

• Erin Dionne—2006 PEN/New England Children’s Book Caucus Discovery Night honoree, author of Beauty Binge, forthcoming from Penguin’s Dial Books for Young Readers, spring 2009.

• Phoebe Sinclair—YA novelist and National Novel Writing Month participant.

Hope to see you there!

(Medford St is off Mass Ave in Arlington • Parking is available on-street or in lots off Medford Street • for directions.)

Contact for more information.

* * * *NEWS is coordinated by

Erin Dionne and January G. O'Neil

and sponsored by The Book Rack and the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NaBloPoMo 5


As the afternoon converses
with the day’s dying light
at the beach near our house
my son and husband find a few mussels,
opened and empty,
shimmering along the shore.
They put some in their pockets
to add to his collection of big kid things:
feathers, uneaten acorns, rocks from the driveway—
currency for a toddler crossing into boyhood.
Meanwhile, my husband knocks on the door
of middle age, rubs his back that aches from bending.
His patience grows weary
from small talk with a small child.
They walk back to the house
in the summer heat
without speaking.

In this place they call silence,
away from my constant preening
and his sister’s machinations,
he takes his little sandy hand
across another country,
reaches for his father’s with all the strength
his four-year-old hand can muster.
Neither is willing to let go.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaBloPoMo 4


Thank goodness for those who travel in this world sideways.
You know who they are—the ones who’d rather push than pull.
Fate will never shove a bookmark between the pages of their lives,
their covers sketched out in beautiful landscapes, never portraits.

Consider yourself lucky that this is not your folly. You take
what you get and call it a day, under your breath muttering
please may I have some more? The evening news with its
tainted toothpaste and recalled toys is your torture debate.

You break your heart and sew it back together the very
next day. While they see roses on their morning commutes
you see trees waiting to burn. While you look up to heaven
they hear the occasional beating of wings.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NaBloPoMo #3

Yep, I'm a day behind my poetry posts. And, I'm sleepy--not a good combination.

Today's poem comes from Starbucks. I liberally picked phrases from this blurb that was on the back of my grande hot chocolate. Here's the quote and then the poem.

The Way I See It #282

Childhood is a strange country. It’s a place you come from or go to – at least in your mind. For me it has an endless, spellbound something in it that feels remote. It’s like a little sealed-vault country of cake breath and grass stains where what you do instead of work is spin until you’re dizzy.

-- Lyall Bush, Executive director of Richard Hugo House, center for writers and readers.

(Also, there's a Ntozake Shange reference in the poem.)


Childhood Elegy

Childhood’s a strange country,
one in which I now need a passport;

it is my lost and found, my place in between
when the rainbow isn’t enough.

Back when my nickname was Trouble,
I was all cake breath and grass stains.

What did I want to be when I grew up?
A superhero, of course. In June’s humid evenings

I’d tear the blossoms out of honeysuckles
to suck the sweet nectar from its center.

That’s what it was like, one big
hide and seek—and I was always “it.”

I’d draw pictures for hours
ntil blisters formed under my skin

while the colors blended black
into a ruined sky.

Oh, my little other, my dark one:
hold onto your teddy bear

and never let go.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Money

Next to poetry and family, money is my favorite topic.

It’s not about being rich, but feeling secure. It’s about being responsible financial citizens, and passing that knowledge along to the next generation of financial citizens. Funny that we live in a society that feels more comfortable talking about sex on TV, yet ask your neighbor how much he owes on his credit cards and he’ll punch you in the face.

I believe I make more money now that my mother or father ever did at their jobs, and they both worked for the government. Of course it was a different time, but they did their best to pass along to me a sense of worth. In other words, they taught me to only spend money on the things that will last. Since I’m an only child, the message that resonated loudest in my teens and twenties was that I should not have to depend on a man for my security. Save. Invest. Prepare for the future.

I wish there message had been a little more direct: Don’t get a credit card. Like many college students, I got a card—an American Express—and took my friends out to lunch often. Then when I graduated in the early 90s, I couldn’t find work in my field right away. So I floundered, having just enough money to cover my expenses and debts. Fortunately, the hole I dug was not that deep, so I shoveled my way out over a period of years, never missing a student loan or credit card payment.

When I met my husband, we felt that having financial stability was key to building a relationship. Again, it’s more than money—it’s about communication. So during our courtship, marriage, and the first few years after, we paid off two cars, probably $15K in combined debt, $35K in my student loans, and put a good down payment on our house.

This year has been difficult because my husband has his own business that he’s trying to grow without racking up debt—not an easy thing to do. So it means the business expands at a snail’s pace. But he’s positioned himself for growth next year. And I have a few irons in the fire that should also get us on track. With any luck, we’ll be back on pace to do the near impossible: pay of the house in the next 10 years.

Why do I say all of this to you? Because so many people are struggling with debt. Imagine not having to send your money every month to a credit card company. Imagine having a paid-off house. What cool stuff could you do for yourself, your family, and your community? I believe money is meant to be enjoyed. We’ve gotten so used to credit cards that we can now use them at fast food restaurants. How crazy is that? But we have to use it responsibly. Like fire, it must be handled with great care.

Today, we try to live a debt-free life. We live by simple tenets: don’t buy things we can’t afford, don’t spend more than we earn, don’t carry credit cards, use a budget, and save for the future.

My greatest wish is for everyone is to cut up the credit cards, live on less than you make, and save for the wonderfully rich future that you deserve.

(image: Andy Warhol Dollar Sign, 1982© The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

NaBloPoMo 2

A few notes about this poem.

  • This is a protest poem for the Jena 6 incident and its ramifications. I am not one to write overtly political poems, but I've wanted to write this for a long time.
  • It was much easier to write than last night's poem.
  • I feel a great sense of relief that this poem is in the world. The piece is meant to start dialogue, so feedback is appreciate about the poem itself or the issues it raises, as long as the comments are given in the spirit of sharing and healing.
  • I don't claim to have any answers.
  • The lines are not breaking correctly in Blogger.
And now, a comment about the epigraph: I'm having a hard time finding the exact quote from J. Reed Walters. I've heard and seen it written a few different ways, so I'm going with this one for now. And the line "Because of the stroke your pen, we are here" is a quote from a protest sign from the Jena, Louisiana, protest this past September. I heard it in an NPR story and now I can't find it.

Whew! Sorry for the long explanation.



“I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If the protests at the school do not stop, with the stroke of my pen I can make your lives disappear.”

~ Jena, Louisiana District Attorney J. Reed Walters as he addressed Jena High School students in an assembly last fall.

Because of the stroke your pen, we are here:
the people you sought to abort from history
with a thick white rope.

My friend, we’d like a word with you.

Every day the past tightens around our necks
and its low, constant hum is a new Jena tree
taking root somewhere else.

This is more than a prank. A beating.
It is the geometry of hate, the tip of a scale,
a reminder that inalienable rights are, indeed, alienable,
and that equality, justice, respect, and opportunity
are still not available to all under the law.

We may have come on different ships
but we’re all in the same boat.
My friend, the boat is sinking.

Because of the stroke your pen, we are here
to bring you the bodies
that swung and hung exclamation points
against a terrible wind.

So this is a poem for those who think it’s funny to drop a noose from a branch.
This is for those who claim they have our best interest at heart but don’t,
and this is for those who do.
This is for those who thought the unmaking of flesh would be our undoing.

This is for those who were flimflammed, swindled, railroaded, bamboozled, duped, set-up, double crossed, hoodwinked, and flat out lied-to.
This is for the 40 acres. The mule.
For the women we never looked at and the girls we never raped.
For those in the wrong place at the wrong time,
which was always. Which was never.
For the nameless, homeless, stranded souls who cannot be identified by DNA testing.
For the more than 4,700 people lynched in America.
We ask how many more lives will be thrown away because nothing was done?

And for those who say we should just forget the whole thing,
we say NO. Hell no. Not this time.

May memory grant you mercy
because we won’t give you anything—
not our dignity or our shame
not even the last word,
because by the stroke your pen, we are here.

The Demise of Poetry

If there was any doubt about the decline of poetry's readership in the U.S., here are two stories to support the argument.

Last week, the Lehrer News Hour profiled Copper Canyon Press and other Seattle publishers on the state of poetry presses. No new revelations, but still an interesting look inside the world of print publishing. The story is titled "Seattle Poetry Publisher Finds Method to Adapt to Changing Cultural Times." You can read the transcript, watch streaming video, or download the podcast. They also have an extensive list of poets in their poetry series—nice to see poetry represented somewhere in the media today.

Also, poet Rigoberto Gonzalez wrote an article/blog post for the Poetry Foundation called "In Praise of Online Journals."

Don't get me wrong, while poetry seems to be flourishing online and in local communities, I can't help but wonder in a few years if we will even publish poetry books or journals in print anymore.




Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaBloPoMo 1

OK, I'm sneaking this one under the wire, but I've been working on it for days. I'm still counting it as my first NaBloPoMo entry.

This is the first new poem in two months, still very raw, still needs a good scrubbing.


On the drive to the grocery store,
I listen to my father enunciate each letter,
add stress to every syllable of his favorite word.
He said if I learned a word-a-day,
I can do anything I want to do in life—
a simple solution for all of life’s hurts.
This from a man who spent his working life
in law enforcement. But at 8 years old,
all I wanted to do was be 9, keep my head down
and make it to 10. No reason
why a word related to personal effects
would affect him enough to translate
the language of what couldn’t be said.

My father, who never made it past grade 10,
learned early how to disguise misfortune for blessing.
So he proceeded to tap out the word on my knuckles
with his free hand, the other gripping tight to the steering wheel.
Is it too much to imagine he knew it was derived
from the word dowry, how this word is now my
personal property, now the bell in my head
that never ceases to ring? I never guessed
my father carried something so massive as to pass it to me.
Yet this is the only word he ever taught me, this legacy
I now claim as the wind in my throat.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

All Hallow's Eve

October. Happy to let go of this month. While it certainly was a time of great joy—from attending a wedding to going to Sesame Place amusement park with the kids—this is the second unproductive month in a row with my writing. My head knows that it’s been a busy time with family and work, but poetry is my center and I hate when I move away from my center.

With the onset of the many November National (insert-your-own-writing-event) Month tomorrow, I’m throwing my hat back in the ring. I don’t have it in me for a novel, so I’m locked into National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. So as it the air gets colder, I will find a little solace here, here, and here, but always coming home to this blog.

Kid pics to come (and boy are they cute, cute cute!).
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Poetry of Beginning

Each year, Poets&Writers profiles 12 up-and-coming poets and their first books. It gives you a glimpse into what the process was like, and unlike, for a dozen blossoming writers.

First, check out the article "The Poetry of Beginning:Twelve Debut Poets Who Got Things Going in 2007" by Kevin Larimer. I think his article is right on target with his insights on the po biz in general. Here's an excerpt:

For unpublished poets who are still plugging away at their first manuscripts every day—before work, once the kids have gone to bed, or on the weekends—it is not a comforting point: The reward for finally getting the debut book published isn't absolute. But just as the process of finishing the first collection can never be scripted, the process of moving on to the second is an uncertain one.

Then, read about these remarkable poets and their debuts. In particular, see Joseph Legaspi's profile for his book Imago. (Woo hoo!)

Never Gets Old

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox,

2007 World Series Champions!!!

(Um Wendy ... GO SOX!!!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Ok, this is random. Why is it that so many songs are called crazy? Yes, love makes you crazy. But generally, crazy refers to a state of insanity. Oh well. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.
So from Wikipedia, a selection of popular songs with crazy in the title.

  • "Crazy" (Willie Nelson song) (1961), by Willie Nelson, popularized by Patsy Cline
  • Crazy (1987), by Australian band Icehouse
  • "Crazy" (Seal song) (1991), by soul artist Seal
  • "Crazy" (Julio Iglesias album) (1994), by Julio Iglesias (cover songs & duets)
  • "Crazy" (Aerosmith song) (1994), by American hard rock band Aerosmith
  • "(You Drive Me) Crazy" (1999), by American pop singer Britney Spears
  • "Crazy" (Leah Haywood song) (2000), by Australian singer Leah Haywood
  • "Crazy" (calypsonian), a singer from Trinidad and Tobago
  • "Crazy" (Dream song) (2003), the last single by girl group Dream
  • "Crazy" (Simple Plan song) (2004), by French Canadian pop punk band Simple Plan
  • "Crazy" (Kevin Federline song) (2006), by Kevin Federline featuring Britney Spears*
  • "Crazy" (Gnarls Barkey song) (2006), by Gnarls Barkley
  • "Crazy," a song of Snoop Dogg's album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment

    *The craziest song of all!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I planned a whole host of writing activities but I’ve fretted the day away. Spent an hour on the phone with a good friend discussing the ends and outs of the po biz. And in the end, all I want to do is blog—and watch the Red Sox. Ever have one of those day when you know exactly what you have to do, but do a complete 180 and go in the opposite direction?

OK. So here’s this week’s to-do list.

  • Submit poems to 10 journals/Web zines. Yep, I’m aiming high. Write article for new online mag—more on that later.
  • Start picking poems to submit for a state grant. I think I’ve done it 3 years running without success. This year, I feel lucky.
  • Write two poems.
  • Work on promoting the last NEWS reading for the year.

    All doable, right?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Admittedly, it's hard to concentrate on writing poetry this week during the World Series. So I thought it would be a good time to send out some poems and articles for publication. I’m making my list and checking it twice.

Let me ask you a few questions, and feel free to comment on any or all the following.

  1. Are you submitting your work? If so, do you have some recent publications you’d like to mention?
  2. Do you have better luck with print or online journals?
  3. Where would you like to see your work published? (Name the publications)
  4. Any publishing or rejection stories you'd like to share?

Monday, October 22, 2007

NEWS photos

I say it every time we have one of these readings--I am so lucky to be in the presence of such wonderful, talented writers. Once again, another enthusiastic crowd for the NEWS Reading Series.

Amanda L. Wilding

Betsy Retallack
Jarita Davis

Don't Call It a Comeback ...!

Congrats to the Boston Red Sox, the 2007 American League Champion Series winners. We're going back to the World Series ... "Can you believe it?"

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Did you know that National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo, is coming up, as well as NaNoWriMo?

I'm into NaBlo, but my heart is truly into NaPoWriMo, and fewer acronyms in my life.

Good luck!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: My First Act as Queen

My First Act as Queen is so obvious … it would be to in the War in Iraq. But then it gets interesting:

1. Bush, Cheney, Rove, and most of the current administration would be sentenced for war crimes. They would be transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention camp to a term no less than the number of days we have been at war. And it still wouldn’t be the pound of flesh needed to make up for the lives lost on both sides. Not even close.

2. Install Al Gore as President. Hillary as Secretary of State. Actually, it doesn’t matter. I’m happy with either choice.

3. End poverty.

4. Install Bill Clinton as Ambassador to the World. And Oprah as Secretary of Hope.

5. Sign the Kyoto Treaty and make Global Warming a serious initiative. Also, I’d make health care universal in this country without raising taxes, raise the minimum wage, and get rid of all of the tax cuts that only seem to benefit the rich.

6. Create the position of Literary Czar to work with the Poet Laureate to get people excited about poetry and literature. While the Poet Laureate position is bestowed upon poets who are well-known best sellers, the Literary Czar would be given to a teacher or an administrator. We need someone who can not only champion literature, but also help school systems adopt modern literature into the curriculum.

7. I’d make siestas mandatory during the work day.

8. Add more national holidays, especially to the months that don’t have a holiday. For instance, Jan Day would be June 2.

9. Find a way to raise the salaries of teachers and lower the paychecks of big-name actors and athletes.

10. Make the Chick-fil-a sandwich the official sandwich of the United States.

And a bonus:

11. Install Dave Ramsey as Secretary of Finance, a position where he would re-educate America about debt and help us break our national dependency on credit cards. Dave is definitely the right man for the job.

I could go on, but I'm sleepy. And the Red Sox just won Game 6. I'm liking their chances in Game 7. Go Dice-K. GO RED SOX!!!

For Scribblings by, for, and of the people, visit Sunday Scribblings.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BOSTON: NEWS Reading This Sunday

I'm reading this Sunday, along with two fabulous poets. Hope to see you there!



New & Emerging Writers Series
Sunday, October 21
4 p.m.

Where: The Regent Theatre basement screening room
7 Medford Street, Arlington

Shindig immediately following: The Book Rack
13 Medford Street, Arlington

*Amanda L. Wilding--editor-in-chief of the BlackWillow Review (debuts spring 2008), her work has recently appeared in apt: an online journal and fish:the magazine.

*Jarita Davis--her work has appeared in Southwestern Review, Historic Nantucket, and Cave Canem; recently writer-in-residence at the Nantucket Historical Association.

*January G. O'Neil--A Cave Canem fellow, her poetryand essays have appeared in Literary Mama, Field,Callaloo, Seattle Review, Stuff Magazine,, Cave Canem anthologies IIand IV, and Poetry Thursday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dodge 2008

Woo hoo! From the Dodge Festival organizers:

The 12th Biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival will be held at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey from Thursday, September 25 through Sunday, September 28, 2008.

We invite you to join Chris Abani, Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Martín Espada, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Simic, Franz Wright and dozens of other poets, musicians and storytellers for four days of poetry and music beside the Musconetcong River and among the Village’s lawns, trees, and historic buildings.

Writers' Meme

Jilly tagged me for a meme to name my five greatest strengths as a writer. I am also to mention other writers who I like and to tag them--I don’t believe in tagging others so if you want to tag yourself, consider yourself tagged.

My twist on this is the meme—seems only right to talk about what I feel are weaknesses. And while I don’t want to dwell on my literary deficits, it’s good to bring them to light every once in a while.


Dedication: To be a good writer, I have to make time for it in my life no matter what. My work life and home life will always have some stresses, so writing has to rank up there before laundry and cleaning the grout from the bathtub.

Persistence: Not only do I have to keep self-motivating myself (read: not waiting for the Muse), I revise until the poem is the best it can be --usually. And since part of the poetry process includes submitting works for publication, I keep sending my work out despite the many crappy rejections that come my way.

Focus: In addition to self-motivating myself, I have to shut out all distractions and get to that zone where the words start to flow. Not easy to do with young kids around. One of the things I do is attempt to write in all sorts of situations, not just the quiet moments, so a subway station or lobby is as good a place as any to write.

Discovery: There comes a point where I think I've written on all the topics I'll ever write. But a poet has to go deep within the imagination to tap into the untapped self. I call it "the underlife." We have to push the limits of imagination with our words. Language and style are tools writers use to say the things that everyday conversation lacks.

Reinvention: I have to “go there.” I know I'm there when I start to get headaches. And once I get there, I have to stay there until I can’t go any more. In an article on, Li-Young Lee looks at it this way:

“Beyond species-specific, beyond gender-specific, beyond culture-specific, what kind of poems are your cells writing? What kinds of poems come out of the space that is our bodies?”

Our cells—our selves—constantly write and break down our stories. Are we listening?

And now for the faults, which again I see value in naming but not dwelling on them.


Taking the easy way out: going for clichés, falling back on old tricks instead of challenging myself.

Talking a good game: all writers need to vent. But spending time complaining about writing instead of actually writing is lame.

Not enjoying the journey: Sometimes I think I focus too much on getting published and furthering my career, which causes me to miss out on enjoying the process

Not revising: Rarely is a poem written that doesn’t need a revision. I hate revision.

Living in a bubble: Not reading the works of others, or not communicating with other writers, is a missed opportunity for growth. Case closed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I got a great piece of news yesterday afternoon—the kind of news that writers like to hear. More to come about that in the next few weeks. For now, let’s just say that in a year full of highs and lows, seems like right now, at this very moment, everything’s coming up roses.

For the last 16 hours I have been carrying around these roses. Deep, rich, red roses. All I can see is roses. Roses on my husband’s lips. Roses through the telephone. Roses in my kids hugs. Rose petals left behind on my dinner plate. Rose leaves blanketing our bodies as we sleep.

This morning, I worked out at the gym at the crack of dawn, then kissed my family and went to work. I looked for roses on the highway—nothing. Noticed every single autumnal color in the trees but no roses. Looked around at my fellow drivers, looked to see who was singing on their way to work (just me), who was on the telephone, and who was stressed out (everyone!). Drivers with their blank stares on a highway with no roses. My roses sat next to me on the passenger’s seat. Went into the office, tucked the fresh buds under my jacket. Crammed them in the pocket over my heart. The stems poke me in the chest, reminding me I am alive, and that I am still here. That I matter.

So for you today, I wish you amazingly, overwhelmingly, fantastically beautiful roses.

Monday, October 15, 2007

BOSTON: Readers Wanted: NEWS Reading Series

We have two open slots for poetry readers this Sunday, October 21.

Additionally, we’ve decided to go with a children’s and YA theme for our November 11 reading.

Readings start at 4 p.m. at The Regent Theatre’s basement screening room7 Medford Street, Arlington

Please contact us if you’re interested in reading for either date.


Contact for more information or visit our web site at

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: First Job, Worst Job, Dream Job

My first job was my favorite job—working at a movie theater at a mall in my hometown. A high school friend’s older brother was a manager and hired me on the spot. Despite the many hours of standing around, and coming home smelling like burnt popcorn, my infatuation with movies developed into a lifelong passion. This was the time of Purple Rain, Field of Dreams, and Fatal Attraction, after all.

At 16, I was kind of a shy, awkward girl, but I met so many people that it’s hard not to be outgoing. While lots of other kids my age were out drinking or out “experimenting,” my
friends and I were earning money for college. These are the same friends I saw recently
at a wedding—I connected with them as if it were old times.

What follows is a revised poem I wrote a while back describing my time at the theater. Although it may come off a bit negative, I wouldn’t t trade the experience for anything.

I should also mention that when I retire, I would love to own a one-screen movie theater, or just work at one tearing tickets—if they still have tickets in 2033.

First Job

At 16, I worked the concession stand at Circle 6 Theatres,
offering butter flavoring on big tubs of popcorn
and upsizing large drinks to the size of vats.
I envied the folks going to the movies,
entering a dark room to come out the other side changed.
The shopping mall where the theater was located was a Petri dish
of human interaction—young Navy boys on shore leave
trying to pick up high school girls looking to cement their
jailbait status with all of their jailbait friends.
After the late-night movies ended,
I’d walk down the house aisles
to find everything from used condoms to drink cups
filled with chaw. Eventually, I hated it all,
the front lobby hookups and breakups,
the unflushed toilets and syrup-covered floors.
I came home from my evening shift
crusted in burnt popcorn smell while my feet ached
from a burn deeper than flesh or muscle.
Wasn’t until later when I moved away from home
that I did all those things the lobby kids did in darkened theaters.
Now, Circle 6 is closed. The mall once filled with destinations
is home to stores with cool yet misspelled names like
Rarely do I smell popcorn and not think about
the hard work of making people happy,
But, oh, to disappear in the dark for few hours
and come away as someone else—I long for it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rare Film Clips Of The Poet Anne Sexton

Yet again, I am amazed at what I can find on YouTube.

Part of my time has been spent getting into the mind of poet Anne Sexton for a project I'm working on. I am fascinated by her, and can relate to her situation: a housewife and mother of two who turns to poetry for salvation. While my situation (and mental state) is much different that hers, the poetry she wrote in the 60s and 70s I consider revolutionary.

If you want to get a glimpse of her, this presentation gives an overview of her life and her work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How you doin'?

I was just at Once in a Blue Muse, and Lisa asked the question, "How's things with you all out there in writer-land?"

Had to think about it for a minute. If I look back at the last two months, my writing has been all over the place. Honestly, I haven't been writing much poetry since the end of August. But I'm trying to pull myself out of my funk through writing exercises and making contact with other local writers. What also helps is reaching out to you to see how you're doing.

So writers, bloggers--how you doin'? Is your Muse on strike? Are the words flowing or are they stuck in the mud? Does the change of season have anything to do with it. And if you're stuck, what are you doing to get out of it?

Poetry off the Shelf: Terrance Hayes

On my drive home from work yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to hear CC alum Terrance Hayes on the most recent Poetry Foundation podcast. The link is in the middle of the page.

Terrance reads two poems and talks of how his poetry explores the relationships among men.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Few Random Thoughts After the Weddding

I have a good looking family! Alex looked amazing in his tux. Ella, who doesn’t wear many dresses, looked positively adorable in her cream-colored dress. And Tim looked handsome as we spent a great weekend in Philly to celebrate Big Al’s wedding. Lots of proud mama moments for me this weekend, especially because both kids were extremely well behaved all weekend!

It was great to see so many of my best friends at this wedding.

On Sunday, we went to Sesame Place in Philly. It was the first time we’ve taken the kids to an amusement park. But everything was kid sized, so it was perfect. After a long day doing wedding-related activities, we needed this day so we could all be kids again.

Poetry. Poetry. Poetry. Poetry. Poetry. It is the white noise humming inside my brain.

Got a rejection letter from Graywolf Press. I know it was a long shot, but I was encouraged by the length of time it took to review my manuscript. *sigh* Constantly putting myself out there only to be rejected is depressing.

I missed a workshop opportunity tonight with local writers. I really wanted to attend but I’m exhausted, haven’t written anything I’ve liked this month, and Tim came home late tonight from work so I was without a babysitter. Excuses. Excuses. I’ll definitely be there next month.

I’m in love with Facebook. It is my new obsession. I’m thrilled that so many bloggers are on the social networking site. Next I have to check out Linkedin.

Had the chance to start rereading Anne Sexton’s biography by Diane Middlebrook. It’s a gritty, unflinching look at the poet and housewife who left an indelible mark on poetry. Think about all the female poets who “go there,” to those dark yet truthful places we can only read about. Yeah, she started that.

I haven’t participated in Writers Island or the Traveling Poetry Show so I hope to do so this week.

Ending on a positive note, here’s a picture of Ella, Alex and me at Sesame Place.


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