Saturday, June 30, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Instead of a poem, I thought I would show pictures of last night’s New & Emerging Writers Series (NEWS) event (see below). We had our largest crowd yet in attendance, which was surprising for a muggy, beautiful June evening.
This summer, or winter if you’re in Australia or New Zealand, I urge you to attend a literary reading or open mic night. Challenge yourself to do something extraordinary. I did, and I’m a better person for the experience.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. As a poet, I have to open my heart to people and experiences I would normally turn away from. Like a photographer, I am required to be unflinching behind the lens to show the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. This is what we do—the artists’ way. All of us have the opportunity to change the world in some small way by sharing a story that would otherwise not see the light of day. A public reading allows us to celebrate what makes us different while reveling in what brings us together. In art, we celebrate ourselves—flaws and all. Together we celebrate our humanity.
I hear from so many people who have never been to a reading, or never read their work in public. Your community needs you. Find a way to get involved—you’ll be glad you did.
Enjoy the photos!
Susan Weiner, freelance writer & essayist
Emmanuela Maurice, MFA graduate of Lesley University
Heather Hubbard, Boston-area author
Kara Provost, author of the poetry chapbook NESTS
Charles M. Boyer, author of the forthcoming The Mockingbird Puzzle
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
1. Looking for a quick read? Visit Very Short Novels. Each story is 299 words.
2. Also, check out this poetry anthology:
The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets
Edited by Dominic Luxford
The first McSweeney's foray into contemporary poetry brings together one hundred poems by fifty poets in ten poet-chains, and makes us wonder why we waited so long to try this. How it works: Ten poets choose a poem of their own and a poem by another poet, who then does the same, and so on unto the fifth generation. Thus DC Berman leads to Charles Simic by way of James Tate, and other chains run through Mary Karr, Denis Johnson, C.D. Wright, Michael Ondaatje, John Ashbery, Mark Doty, Dean Young, Yusef Komunyakaa, and dozens more.
3. I feel like I should have a third item, but I don't. Just enjoying the 90-degree weather in Boston today!
Join us as we present the New & Emerging Writers Series MIXED BAG:
FICTION, NONFICTION, & POETRY EVENT
When: Wednesday, June 27, at 7 p.m.
Where: The Regent Theatre, Basement screening room
7 Medford Street, Arlington
Shindig immediately following:
The Book Rack
13 Medford Street, Arlington
• Kara Provost, author of the poetry chapbook NESTS
• Charles M. Boyer, author of the forthcoming The Mockingbird Puzzle
• Emmanuela Maurice, MFA graduate of Lesley University
• Susan Weiner, freelance writer & essayist
• Heather Hubbard, local author
Be there or be absent!
Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Today, I invite you to post anonymously and share a secret.
*For this to work, I’m declaring this a safe space. No judgements. No peeking at the site meter.*
The latest issue of Poets & Writers magazine features an article by Steve Almond called, “Will Work For Free,” about how lit writers never ask to be compensated, and how they rarely get paid for their work. And he’s right. Whether you’ve published fiction or poetry, chances are you’re not making a substantial profit living the literary life.
I’ve never gotten paid more than publication copies for my poetry or essays. So when I consider how much money I’ve waited on postage, mailing materials, and so-called “reading fees,” I definitely write at a net loss. Of course, I publish to expose my writing to a larger audience. But isn’t it silly that the authors—the creators of the content—have to pay to have their work reviewed. It’s worse that participating in a lottery yet often yields the same results.
Now I’ve been on both ends. I’ve worked on my own lit mags and now I co-run a literary reading series. So I understand how organizers have to shell out the money for their startup ventures. It is too bad that we can’t pay participants more than exposure. But it’s my hope to receive a local grant to pay our readers something … anything!
If the Internet is the great equalizer, than maybe print publications have to figure out a new business model. Writers are finding new ways of getting their fiction and nonfiction to the marketplace, bypassing traditional publishing avenues. But it’s up to us—the content providers—to ask for compensation when we can. At least it will help to make up for the money we lose every time we drop a submission in the mail.
I’m curious about your thoughts. Are you getting paid for your poetry or fiction? Share your experiences.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Guess I can equate this to making it past the qualifying rounds of American Idol, or Wimbledon, only much cooler! Don't want the jinx it by mentioning the publisher's name, but it's first name starts with a "G," ends with a "f."
And I thought today's high point was going to be this morning's dentist appointment!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
This poem is one that has been festering inside me for a few days. I was struck by the recent press and interview on Princess Diana with her sons. I realized I had never written a poem about her. I usually don't write about celebrities, but I felt as if I wanted to get something down on paper.
Didn't want to write about the usually stuff people mention when talking about Diana. I was thinking about the hospital staff that cared for her in the final moments and what might have happened to them just after. So here's my attempt. First draft, so be kind (and I'm not happy with the title).
After Diana’s Death
After the medical staff put down their tools,
recorded the last electrical transpirations,
slid the masks down their faces in disbelief, in grief,
they knew this moment would always quake,
a tuning fork stuck flatline inside their souls,
a fault inside each surgeon. To hold this heart
in their bare hands until it died
showed them something small about faith,
and how science is always being tested by bad luck.
Who knew seeing this body dismantled—
a body not unlike others before and yet
unlike any before—could bring about
a silence beyond resuscitation.
After, some called their spouses while on break,
cried into the receivers. Some left work early,
found the dawn clouds gnarled around each other.
Some confessed all their sins to anyone who’d listen.
Then there were the others
who tried to go back to their ordinary days,
the ones trained to forget their own skin—
trained to stop life, to start it again—
they drove off in their shiny cars
going wherever they wished to go,
just one more moment in the flow.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I thought I had put it on the top of my car (my car has a roof rack). And I did, but somehow it got wedged in the corner of the rack and stayed on my car for a more than a day. Now the most incredible part is that I have driven more than 80 miles, to and from work, so we have no idea how or why my camera did not smash into a million little pieces on the highway.
So I feel a bit stupid for not really checking the car's roof, but all's well that ends well. Now that I'm out of this mopey mood (and the Red Sox are winning tonight), I'm going to write a poem.
Thanks for the words of support today, it helped--more than you know.
Nothing cheers me up like a good photo. So I'm posting this one of me and my best friend, Special K, who visited a few weeks ago from Texas. We're at Fenway Park on a warm Friday evening. Too bad the Sox lost that night, but it was still a ton o' fun!
There was a point where we heard something fall off the car. I turned to my husband and said, “Did something fall of the car?” (Note to self: if you hear a noise that sounds like something fell off the car, stop and check!) Didn’t see anything in the rearview mirror so I thought I was safe. But alas, I can’t find the damn thing, and I have no one to blame but myself.
Like so many of us bloggers, my camera has become an appendage. It’s my third eye—I almost never leave home without it. This, along with my computer going down over the weekend, has thoroughly depressed me. If you could have seen me at 5:30 a.m. posting signs in the neighborhood about my camera … heck, if I had had my camera I would have taken a picture of me posting signs! Oh the irony.
So if no one calls or turns it in, I will have to purchase a new one this weekend. It’s just too bad that my Father’s Day pictures were on the memory card. Got some great shots with Tim and the kids on Sunday.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Taking Dublin’s Bloomsday (June 16, 1904) as their example—the day in which James Joyce set his Ulysses—Blogsday takes a look into the world of blogs from a random June day. This year the date was Tuesday, June 5, 2007. Open Source asked their listeners to give them “the personal and the political, the petty, and the profound.” And that’s what they offer, a look at some of the most interesting blogs from across the globe.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
So, my 24-hour freak-out is over. Yippee! Can't wait to get my Dell laptop up and running again.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Today we celebrate you,
fathers. You know who you are:
the husbands and the single dads
you are the real deals, the MVPs,
the Hungry Jacks and Manwich men.
Whether you have a full head of hair
or are losing it strand by strand
we celebrate you,
because you value a woman’s opinion
because when the going gets tough,you stay
because you know how to leave the cave
kill something and drag it back
Thanks for changing a diaper,
doing the 4 a.m. feeding,
playing catch after a 10-hour workday.
To the fathers, the dads, the pops, and the papis,
those who raise boys to be
brothers, husbands, and fathers,
and young women born to be
sisters, wives, and mothers,
thanks for being super men
even when you feel like Clark Kent,
mild mannered as the paint on the walls.
When you think your opinion doesn’t matter,
it does. When you think we aren’t listening, we are.
For all who say, “one day you’ll thank me for this,”
My computer is not reading my adaptor and I'm almost out of battery life. Damn! The kind folks at Dell are going to fix my motherboard, so I have to send it off, which I should get back in good working order in 3 weeks (3 WEEKS?!? Lawd have mercy!).
Ironically my "antique" IBM laptop, aka Old Faithful, is giving me a few problems with my password, so I can get into it unless I can find a Windows workaround for passwords. Damn! I'm on my husband's computer now, the only working one in the house.
Long story short, the Fates are conspiring against me, saying, "Jan, take a wee break." Until I work out my "issues," I won't be able to post, respond, and come by your blogs as much as I would like. But I'll definitely be around. You can't get rid of me that easily.
Lawd have mercy!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I managed to send out my work to two publishers, for a total of three publishers who are fingering my manuscript as I type--at least that's the hope. Also, I entered one poetry contest and started reading Daisy Fried's My Brother Is Getting Arrested Again. No new poetry written but still a good week.
Additionally, I picked up a really good poetry meme that I encourage you to try. I was surprised by how my answers reflect how I feel about poetry.
Back to this week's poem. It is a take on a John Updike poem called "Back from Vacation."
Happy Poetry Thursday everyone!
Back from Maternity Leave
“Did anyone miss me?” the new mommy asks,
amazed to find the working world just as she left it.
Her absence not even a crack in the
glass ceiling sky. Clients failed to notice her return,
promotions were handed out like candy, and
time flowed through their hands like paper clips.
The desk jockeys think she’s moonlighting when
She describes the first toothless smile, the first giggle,
the first time her daughter holds her finger
while feeding from her swollen breasts.
Just a pile of new project files marks her return.
Her office door closes in lockdown.
The cosmic tumblers click shut.
The yoke still fits, warm as if never unbridled.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Give us at least 10 quotations pertaining to poetry—from 10 different writers and/or poets—that best coincide with your philosophy, vis-à-vis ars poetica. They can be posthumous or otherwise. The order is not important—unless it is to you.
1. “Sometimes you have to make an ass of yourself.” ~ Robert Creeley
2. “Poetry is about trying to get strangers to get interested in your perspective. Your friends will listen, but strangers?” ~ Billy Collins
3. “I feel that I have found the recipe that makes my life work.” ~ Li-Young Lee
4. “I don't think that sex has been written about a lot in poetry. And I want to be able to write about any subject.” ~Sharon Olds
5. “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself…” ~ Walt Whitman
6. “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” ~William Carols Williams
7. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” ~Virginia Woolf (I think a woman needs twice as much money if she writes poetry!)
8. “Well, don't kid yourself, I got plenty of crummy poems that I think I might use.” ~Phil Levine
9. “When my first book was published—and I like to say this so women can hear it—my children were 7,5,4,3,2, and 1.” ~ Lucille Clifton
10. “I move to keep things whole” ~ Mark Strand
I’m always fascinated by first-hand stories of the writer’s life. Here’s a short commentary from NPR by Mark Peter Hughes called: Take This Job and Shove It! I'm a Writer Now. Hughes details his first steps in leaving a full-time job to pursue writing as a career.
Also, if you have an hour, listen to poets Robert Pinsky and Abdi Ali discuss the importance of the arts in schools on Radio Open Source.
If you have any suggestions for stories or podcasts that are must-downloads, let me know!
Monday, June 11, 2007
As it turned out, Alex slept all night long, while his father tossed and turned (bad back--what was he thinking?). As for me, I checked on them at least three times. Maybe my son can teach me how not to be scared.
Anyway, here are some photos from setup to sleepover.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
After a very dismal Saturday weather-wise, today turned out to be B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. And on beautiful days, Starbucks is empty. Occasionally the front counter fills up with people making a quick stop, then off to someplace else. For me, that means snagging a larger table without guilt. I’m able to spread out my laptop, journal, and thoughts before me with very little distraction or annoying coffee-shop chatter.
Today I decided it was time to tweak my manuscript. To date, I have only sent it to one publisher and I haven’t heard anything yet since the open submission period closed at the end of March. Probably means they are reading through a huge slush pile. Or it’s really not what they’re looking for and my rejection just hasn’t come in the mail. Either way, I’m prepared for the worst, which really isn’t that bad. I’m no better off than I am right now.
What I’m not ready for is to have it accepted. What if they want it …what happens next? Lots of negotiation and revision, I suspect. No big book advance but certainly more opportunity and visibility. Honestly, the chance to promote blogging and Poetry Thursday would be reward enough for me. I wouldn’t have completed my manuscript with such enthusiasm if it wasn’t for all the wonderful people who stop by to see what I’m up to. AND, the feeling is mutual.
OK, enough of that. As you know, my mode of operation is to forge ahead with to-do lists, finding another publisher to consider my work—blah, blah, blah! But right now I just feel like reveling in the moment. When it comes to my work, I spend too much time with the what if’s instead of enjoying the act of completion.
So I’m typing this post while listening to Ray Charles’ version of Come Rain or Come Shine over the Starbucks airwaves. Coincidently, that’s the song that Tim and I danced to at our wedding. I think that’s a great sign, and a reminder to always enjoy a few moments of quiet time.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
* Your most marked characteristic?
* The quality you most like in a man?
* The quality you most like in a woman?
* What do you most value in your friends?
A good sense of humor
* What is your principle defect?
The fear of failure
* What is your favorite occupation?
It’s not my current occupation, but I’ve always wanted to be a torch singer.
* What is your dream of happiness?
To know that my family and friends are healthy and happy. To publish books of poetry and that somehow bring people back to poetry. I’d also like to maintain a debt-free lifestyle and have a comfortable lifestyle.
* What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Having no money
* What would you like to be?
I’d like to publish several successful books of poetry.
* In what country would you like to live?
There’s nowhere else I’d rather live than the USA
* What is your favorite color?
* What is your favorite flower?
* What is your favorite bird?
Really? Don’t have one.
* Who are your favorite prose writers?
Toni Morrison, David Sedaris
* Who are your favorite poets?
Phil Levine, Sharon Olds, Stephen Dunn, Kim Adonizio, Ann Sexton
* Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye
* Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Celie from The Color Purple
* Who are your favorite composers?
Don’t have one.
* Who are your favorite painters?
Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper
* Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents, my husband, and my aunt
* Who are your favorite heroines of history?
Harriet Quimby, Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran
* What are your favorite names?
Alex, Ella, Jessica, Benjamin
* What is it you most dislike?
People who choose not to use common sense
* What historical figures do you most despise?
I think you’d have to go with the real bad guys here: Hitler, Mussolini, etc.
* What event in military history do you most admire?
The March on Washington DC in the 1960s was a watershed moment in history.
* What reform do you most admire?
The Equal Rights Amendment comes to mind. .
* What natural gift would you most like to possess?
The ability to love unconditionally.
* How would you like to die?
* What is your present state of mind?
Happy, and thankful that the kids are sleepin
* To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Food and laziness … I never seem to get enough of them
* What is your motto?
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friday, June 08, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Still feel like I'm in a writing funk, but the best thing I can do is write my way thought it. I did have some ideas for a few new poems, which is a good sign.
Looking forward to reading as many poems as I can today.
Hair of the Dog
That bit you, last night,
a blueberry mohito,
sweetness barrels down
your throat on a sugar train
express. Everyone speaks in tongues,
sings their busted syllables
in the language of the smashed.
The bottom of a glass feels
too much like love, like courage,
where that mangy dog sleeps.
He wraps his mouth around you
and drags you through the morning
past the vapor of faces and flicker.
Are you the hair or are you the dog?
Drifting over night. Drowning in shade.
You wonder if this can really fix
what ails you.
Monday, June 11th • 7 p.m.
Brookline Adult Education, 115 Greenough Street, Brookline MA, $5.
Call 617-730-2700, or online at www.brooklineadulted.org
Fran Quinn has been called "one of the greatest poetry teachers in the country" by Robert Bly. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and has won the Hopewell Prize. He has published four books of poetry, Milk of the Lioness, At the Edge of the Worlds (with Janice R.
Forberg), The Goblet Crying For Wine, and most recently A Horse of Blue Ink.
Kevin Young is one of the leading poets of his generation. Young finds inspiration in the bittersweet history of Black America and in African American music, particularly the blues. His book, Black Maria: Poems Produced and Directed by Kevin Young is a "film noir in verse," a playful homage to the language and imagery of Hollywood detective films. He was a
1993 National Poetry Series winner for Most Way Home, a volume of meditations on racism, slavery, poverty, and the meaning of "home" in the collective memory of African Americans. Other collections include To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor, a poetic tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award; and Jelly Roll: A Blues, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles times Book Award. His newest collection is For the Confederate Dead.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
2. Special K is one of the few people in my life who knows my past, present, and can predict my future. I think we all have good friends in our lives who we share histories. If she tells a story about us, I’m not really sure sometimes who’s story it is because we know each other so well.
3. While I’m sure the ladies of Poetry Thursday need a break, I’m sad the site won’t be more active over the summer. I mean, it makes sense to take a break. I hope we as a community can keep things going until they’re ready to return.
4. Father’s Day is coming up and I need to buy gifts for my husband and my dad. On top of that I have to buy/make gifts for my husband from my kids. Not that I mind, but I’m having a hard enough time coming up with something to give from me.
5. Red Sox have lost the last five out of six games. I’m not worried—it’s hard to continue to play .700 ball all season. So the Sox will cool off a bit, but I expect them to maintain their dominance over the NY Yankees and the AL east, if not all of MLB. As me again how I feel about them after the All-Star break.
6. Gotta love Matt Damon wearing a Red Sox jersey in NYC on Dave Letterman’s show. Just another reason to love MD!
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The 2006 edition looked really nice, but what I appreciated most was the transparency of their selection process. Best New Poets 2007 is run by Meridian magazine from the University of Virginia.
There are less than two weeks left in the Open Competition for Best New Poets 2007: The final deadline for all entries is June 15, 2007. See www.bestnewpoets.org for full details. Open Competition entries require a reading fee of $8 and all entries (and fees) must arrive through our Web site. In the meantime, we continue reading the 2007 entries some of you have already sent, and you can always monitor the status of your submission at www.bestnewpoets.org/status.html.
As always, we try to keep things at Best New Poets as transparent as we reasonably can and plan to announce final results by the first week of August. Our blog is active and a good way to monitor where we are in the selection process. In addition, we just shipped the last of our Best New Poets 2006 anthologies out to book distributors, which likely means an even larger print run for 2007. Check out our order page if you want one of the 2006 editions before they're gone.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Sure, you can find lots of Shakespeare on the big screen, but what about Jane Kenyon or Pablo Neruda? So in no particular order, here’s a sampling of movies I like that feature poetry. (I’m staying away from obvious movie choices such as Shakespeare in Love and Poetic Justice.)
The Anniversary Party, 2001
Auden, W. H.
Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994
In Your Shoes, 2005
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Citizen Kane, 1941
cummings, e. e.
"i carry your heart with me"
In Your Shoes, 2005
"somewhere i have never travelled gladly beyond"
Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986
"Because I could not stop for Death"
Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989
"'Hope' is the thing with feathers"
Quiz Show, 1994
"We never know how high we are"
Eliot, T. S.
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
Apocalypse Now, 1979
"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
The Outsiders, 1983
"When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be"
Brief Encounter, 1945
The Track of the Cat, 1954
"Let Evening Come"
In Her Shoes, 2005
"The Dead Woman"
Truly Madly Deeply, 1991
Il Postino, 1994
Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 1 ["To be or not to be"]
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, 1991
Henry IV, Part 1
My Own Private Idaho, 1991
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2 ["The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars"]
Intolerable Cruelty, 2003
Good Night and Good Luck, 2005
Sonnet #116 ["Let me not to the marriage of true minds"]
Sense and Sensibility, 1995
"Venus and Adonis" ["Dismiss your vows, your feigned tears"]
Intolerable Cruelty, 2003
"Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"
Back to School, 1986
Dangerous Minds, 1995
"I Sing the Body Electric"
Bull Durham, 1988
What can I say, the clichés are true: DC has always been a town of interns. When I lived there it was full of Gen-Xers—I called the city home in my early 20s. It was the first place I lived after moving away from my hometown of Norfolk, VA. At the time, the city boasted the highest salaries in the nation paid to women; although I was never a beneficiary. But it was great time to start an entry level position, and to learn how to work in the work force.
Late at night, my friends and I used to walk around Capitol Hill and the monuments on the Mall for exercise, because we wanted to, not because we had to. And the museums? They were (are) free, as it should be. Art by, for, and of the people. I loved going into the Smithsonian Museum on my lunch break just to change my perspective for a few minutes.
My friends and I would go to Eastern Market, an outdoor marketplace, for breakfast most Sundays. We would either eat there at restaurants who bought their produce directly from the farmers, or bought food and fresh-baked bread for the week. Unfortunately, the market experienced a fire recently and is in the process of rebuilding.
And then there’s Addams Morgan, U Street, and DuPont Circle—three great neighborhoods with a wide variety of restaurants, clubs, bookstores, and shops. Those havens also are ethnically diverse, so the international population gave the straight-laced city such a flavor. (Here’s my post of my favorite hangout, Kramerbooks and Afterwords.) Throw in an incredibly strong arts community and lots of history, and really—what’s not to like about our nation’s capital?
Ironically, DC still does not have statehood. I know it was created to be neutral government territory, but the city is so much more than it should be its own state, with all the rights and privileges granted to all states. I was there in DC when Bill Clinton took office, even went to one of the many inaugural galas. The hope that engulfed the country was magnified tenfold in the city. Even though the city has had its ups and downs, it is still one of the best places to live.
I'm curious about your perspective. If you've ever visited or lived in DC, what do you think about the city?
Visit Sunday Scribblings for more cities by land and by sea.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Hats off to the moms and dads with more than two kids. Don't know how you do it.
Anyway, I'll post sometime on Sunday. Hope everyone is having a great weekend.