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For unpublished poets who are still plugging away at their first manuscripts every day—before work, once the kids have gone to bed, or on the weekends—it is not a comforting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

Crazy

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

SPOOOKY To-Do List

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

Submissions

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

NaBloPoMo

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!

****

N•E•W•S READING SERIES

New & Emerging Writers Series
POETRY EVENT
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

Readers:
*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, canwehaveourballback.com, 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.



Strenghts

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 poets.com, 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.


Weaknesses

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

Roses



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.

Thanks.

Contact news_readings@yahoo.com for more information or visit our web site at newsreadings.wordpress.com

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
DRESS 4 LESS, VIZIONS, and KOOL SHADES.
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.



Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Alex!

Baby boy, you're not a baby anymore! You're 4 years old!! And guess what? You'll be 4 tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after ...
No longer will you have to be 3.

As I slowly come down from my Chuck-e-Cheese high, I'm posting this photo because this weekend my little man is in a wedding. And he's dying to wear a hat like this one. Hate to break the news to him that this is a hat-free wedding.

So we're driving to Philly tomorrow on our first road trip. I'm so excited for the trip, the wedding, and seeing my dearest friends. But most of all, I can't wait to see my Alex in a tuxedo.

See you next week!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blogging Without Obligation

It's funny how stressed out I get about not blogging. Sometimes I have to remind myself why I do this--to help me become a better poet. I blog for me first, and the fact that anyone reads my work is a happy accident. (A big "DATING GAME" kiss for all those who read regularly.)




I blog without obligation ...






  • Because I shouldn't have to look at my blog as if it were a treadmill.




  • Because it's OK to just say what I have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.




  • Because its OK to not always be enthralled with the sound of my own typing.




  • Because sometimes less is more.




  • Because only blogging when I feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of my blog.




  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe my stat, link, and comment numbers on my tombstone.




  • Because for most of us, blogging is just a hobby: a way to express yourself and connect with others. I should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. I should just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be "bloggable."




  • Because if I blog without obligation, naturally I will keep my blog around longer, because it won't be a chore. Plus, I am doing my part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time ...




I originally got the idea from Bug, and took liberties on the copy from here. In the spirit in which the copy was originally posted, feel free to use this content in any way you see fit.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sox-tober

If the temperature’s dropping, then the Red Sox must be in the playoffs!

With October come those rich autumnal colors. Hot apple cider. Pumpkin pie. Digging sweaters out of the closet. Raking leaves. All hallows eve. All of these things, AND my baby boy turns 4 years old this week.

This month is front-loaded with events. The first few days bring a birthday and a wedding. It brings together old friends—with a trip to Sesame Street Place thrown into the mix. There’s a gala event that I’m on tap to attend. But October also brings my most productive, creative time as a poet. I think I’m more focused on my writing during the fall and winter months. All of this activity keeps me from being seasonally affected, and distracts me from the sometimes harsh New England winters.

Born out of a conversation last night at the NEWS Reading, I am attempting something different. I’m not a consistent writer, at least not an everyday writer, but for the month of October I’m taking 15 minutes a day for the sole purpose of writing a poem. I’ve seen other blogging poets write first drafts in 8 minutes, but I’m not that fast. My hope is to stay limber and open to whatever enters my brain. From the changing of the leaves to world events—nothing is off limits.

Fifteen minutes doesn’t sound that daunting. Some days I’ll spend more time writing than others. And I’ll post most of what I write. There’s just too much going on this month to commit to a poem a day. Besides, that’s something I save for April and NaPoWriMo.

NEWS Photos

If you have ever wanted to start a writers’ group, participate in an open mic, or begin a creative project that’s larger than yourself—do it. Because then will you be treated to a night like I had last night with the NEWS Reading Series. Once again, I am reminded that the most creative, innovative, talented people can be as local as your next door neighbor, or in the next town over, or online.

What can I say? Erin and I were delighted with the work presented by Lisa Cohen, Kevin Carey, and Catherine Hathaway. Below are photos from the event.

Lisa Cohen



Kevin Carey



Catherine Hathaway











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