Monday, June 30, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! The Confessional is open. Feel free to confess here or on your blog—and let us know if you do!

Last day of June. I wrote no poems this month, a continuation of the no-poems trend of May. It’s a side effect of NaPoWriMo. But I have high hopes for July—I’ve started a few things that I hope to revisit soon. What a slacker I’ve become!


I have three poems in the latest edition at Babel Fruit. And I’m in good company with Jim Brock and Amy King.


Last week, I joined two listservs. In addition to the two I already subscribe to, my inbox is overflowing with news and conversation (read: it’s overwhelming). Still, I don’t know how much I would read if I sorted the mail with filters. I’m not complaining, tho—this is a good problem to have.

Here’s one for the books: Sunday night, my handy husband was putting in a new glass range top (aka stove or cook top). All was going well until I stared talking.


I distracted him and the glass range top slipped out of his hands, which chipped the corner and sent a diagonal crack across the surface. Needless to say, Tim was upset at himself (not at me, which he could have been but was not. Love you!). So after we fed the kids leftovers and ordered sushi for ourselves as “comfort food,” we devised a plan to return it to the store. Cross your fingers that they buy our excuse and replace it with no questions asked. Doh!

My husband turns 40 on July 4. No present purchased yet, but hoping to plan a few surprises for the weekend. He doesn’t want a party, which is too bad because I want to do something big.


We are holiday babies. His birthday is on Independence Day, while mine lands on Valentine’s Day.


I’ll be 40 on my next birthday.

Signs of Life

There's not much going on with my book since it won't be published next year. But this piece of mail made me smile.

This is the back of CavanKerry Press' most recent newsletter. There I am, listed in the "In the Wings" section--click on the image for a larger view. It's just cool to see my name on CKP to-come list.

It's coming. It's all happening. Yea!

(Yes, my name is misspelled--happens all the time.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

On Becoming a Bard

I love poetry-filled weekends!

Friday night, I went to a well-attended reading at Monet's Garden in Beverly, MA. It's a great little cafe that I've had the privilege of reading at not too long ago. But this night was a wonderful mix of poetry, fiction, and music. It was so good, in fact, that it's given me ideas for the New and Emerging Writers Series (NEWS), the series I co-host, starting up again in the fall.

And today I became a Bagel Bard! On a dismal Saturday morning, I drove into Somerville to have tea with a group of poets and writers from the Boston/Cambridge area. Eclectic doesn't cover this group of poets and writers, and the pictures I took are terrible and do not do them justice.

Boston's Poetry Laureate Sam Cornish speaking with Bagel Bards cofounder Doug Holder (in hat).

The Bagel Bards has been gathering on Saturday mornings around the greater Boston area for more than three years. From 9 a.m. to noon, people drift in and out, chit-chatting, catching up with friends, and hearing what fellow poets are doing locally. Also, they have produced three anthologies, which emphasizes the power of the collective voice. Bards come and go, but the core comes out every week to keep the momentum going! I was pleasantly surprised and grateful for their generosity of spirit.

You just can't tell me that poetry is not popular because I've been to two events within 14 hours of each other that prove otherwise.

Do you have events like these going on in your community? If so, tell me about it. If not, start one in your area!

What's on tap for Sunday? Writing a poem. Maybe two. I have to write something before month's end!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Diva Space

Heard the phrase on a morning talk show from Madonna as she described how she felt about sharing the stage with younger, talented superstars. I hope to look that good and be that FABULOUS at age 49.

So I have usurped the phrase for myself! I’m not giving up my Diva Space this weekend. Repeat: I am not giving up my Diva Space! Not for the kids, or Tim, or work, or anyone. I’m being selfish this weekend, which is not to say that I won’t spend time with my family. But once their needs are met, I then will make my own the priority.

What does that mean for a Poet Mom? Finding time to write, attending a reading/open mike, getting out and widening my poetry circle, and staying in those moments longer than I do. After all, what poet is not a diva at some time in their lives? As always, I will report my diva activities here.

I encourage everyone this weekend to live in the moment, and capture it on the page or in photos on your blog. Be a little selfish. Do something you were on the fence about. Then write about it.
Life is too short to pass up Diva Space.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Last Word

Poetry reading: The Last Word

Friday, June 27
8 p.m.
Monet’s Garden Café, at the Red Brick Art Studios on Rantoul Street
Beverly, MA

Come celebrate our one-year anniversary with a lineup that includes poets Michael Hoerman, Sarah Getty, and Jennifer Jean, as well as AWP winner Rod Kessler and local singer songwriter Rachel McCartney.

Open mike to follow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bagels with the Bards

For poets in the greater Boston/Cambridge area, check out the Bagel Bards.

From their blog:

The Bagel Bards is a group of poets and writers who meet at the Au Bon Pain Cafe in Davis Square, Somerville, from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday. During the late fall and winter The Bards meet at both the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square, Somerville, and the Au Bon Pain in Central Square, Cambridge.
From this informal gathering comes an anthology, Bagels with the Bards #3, available at Lulu.

FYI, I hope to attend my first bards meeting this Saturday.

Kibbles and Bits

Just a few things of note before I get the day started.

  1. I joined the Womem's Poetry Listserv, or WOMPO, last night. Looking forward to lively discussions with a very diverse group of poets. Here's a description from the WOMPO Web site:

    Wompo is an international listserv devoted to the discussion of Women's Poetry. Membership is open to all individuals who are interested in discussing poetry written by women. The discussion covers women poets of all periods, aesthetics, countries, and ethnicities.

  2. I received the nicest rejection letter from Maggie Dietz at Slate! She wrote me a wonderful note—completely unnecessary but greatly appreciated. I am encouraged to submit again when their reading period begins in September.

  3. Happy to see the folks at Read Write Poem on Facebook. As I said in my Confession Tuesday post: poets love Facebook.

  4. Nice to see Paul Guest receive a mention in the New Yorker. Well, the write-up is really about the blurbs for his new book. If there's any truth to the notion that readers judge a book by the blurber, then Paul has nothing to worry about. And as someone who just went to the trouble of hunting down poets for blurbs, I found this short piece quite funny.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Confession Tuesday

While the Red Sox are losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks (damn that interleague play), seems like a good time to confess this week’s confessions. If you’re participating, leave a post so we can come by to help clear your conscious. And check The Confessional for a list of participants.

I am just sick to death about the Gloucester Girls story that is now a national news item. For those who don’t know, 17 girls at Gloucester High School have become pregnant during the past year (the average number of pregnancies is four). Allegedly, the majority were part of some pregnancy pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. And the fathers were random donors, for lack of a better word. One of which has been reported as a 24-year-old homeless man.

The town itself is a dichotomy. Big $2 million homes next to people who fish for a living. (I live 20 miles away.) Whether the pact is true or not, it’s just sad that these girls thought that getting pregnant and raising their babies together would satisfy some need in them. It’s just very sad.

Changing subjects.

All is well on the poetry front. I’m submitting work to two places that take previously published poetry (read: poetry published on my blog). I’ve also revised and organized some of my poems for manuscript #2. So while I haven’t been writing, or reading in public, I feel as if I’m making progress on my very large poetry to-do list.

Got an e-mail from a fellow poet asking me to write a poem about trash for a documentary he’s filming. Trash—I love the challenge of making trash poetic. Woo hoo!


I've said it before and I'll say it again: poets love Facebook.


Both Cave Canem and Kundiman are having their retreats this week. Yea!


In between innings, my husband and I are switching between the Red Sox game and the movie Beverly Hills Cop. Still holds up over time. Just watched the-banana-in-the-tailpipe scene. Remember how good Eddie Murphy was in this movie and 48 Hours, Coming to America, and Trading Places? So how did he end up at Meet the Klumps? And yes, Dreamgirls was a great movie, which Murphy promptly followed up with Norbit. Hope his luck picking films improves.


Prince (as in Prince Rogers Nelson), Michael Jackson, and Madonna turn 50 this year. Oh my, where has the time gone? I feel old.

Song: "Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home Alone

Today Tim took the kids to a family reunion by a lake. I wasn’t in the mood to go, so I stayed home and had a day full of me time!

The town of Beverly had its annual arts festival. Here are a few photos.

After milling around for a bit, I did all the things I wanted to do on my list: go shopping, write at Starbucks, and watch the Red Sox (lousy game!). And after doing all the things I wanted to do …

I’m lonely.

Who knew I would miss my family this much. You’d think they went across country. Still, I think it’s best that they went without me. I end up spending a lot of energy making sure they’re behaving, to the point where I don’t enjoy conversations with adults. Tim is more easy-going than I am. Besides, I don’t swim. So being by a lake—surrounded by bugs—is so not for me!

I’ve been productive editing and organizing poems for, dare I say, a second manuscript. After Tim and the kids go to bed, I can work on one of the three poems I’m working on. All in all, it’s been a good day. It’s just a little too quiet around here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Few More Minutes, Please!

I love this photo! Not sure how mom will feel about it since this is a picture of her running through the kids' sprinkler. But summer makes us all do crazy things, especially if we have some free time on our hands.

I find myself saying that more and more these days, to my kids, to my family, to myself: "A few more minutes, please." I’m pretty good at making a space for me, like getting a sitter for this morning to get a few hours of me time. Or jotting down a few lines while waiting for my car a Jiffy Lube. If opportunities arise, I take them. But to read a book or clean the basement—if I have a few moments, which is really the best use of time?

Today, I got an acceptance from Babel Fruit (thanks Ren), which sent me down the path of what else should I be doing. Sad to say, I’ve been neglecting the blog. I’m finding that when I don’t post something regularly it hard to get back into it. And writing poems—well, I’m happy to say that I’m working on three poems that are not ready to be posted. Yet sometimes it's fun to veg, do something mindless and unexpected.

So, how about you? When you get a few moments, do you take time for yourself? Do you read a few chapters of your summer novel or clean the house? Or, if you’re like my mom, do you run through the backyard sprinkler? (Hee! Hee! Hee!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Boston Celtics: 2008 NBA World Champions

Sorry L.A. This was not your year. You were a worthy opponent, but in the end, you couldn't handle "The Truth!"

Congratulations to the 2008 Boston Celtics, NBA World Champions for the 17th time. Winning never gets old.

(photo from The Boston Globe)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Confession Tuesday

If it's Tuesday, it must be Confession Tuesday! This is a place for saints and sinners. Share a bit about yourself that you wouldn't normally share. Maybe you can use it creatively. Maybe you need to unburden yourself. Whatever the reason, we are all ears … eh … eyes! If you're joining in, drop me a note so we can read about your transgressions.

**********************Go Celts!*********************

It's June, and my brain has turned to mush. Or sun block. Like most of us experiencing summer in the U.S., I won't be blogging or reading posts as regularly because I must take advantage of the warm weather while it's here. This is New England, so summer lasts about two months and then straight to winter. (OK, that's an exaggeration but not too far from the truth!)


Had a great time visiting my folks in Virginia last week. We came back on Wednesday, relaxed for a few days, and then on Sunday had the best, unexpected gift ever. My best friend, Kristi (aka Goodnight Mom), and her family stopped in for an overnight visit. They were in western Massachusetts from Texas for a high school reunion but came by and stayed with us.

Our kids are about the same ages so there was lots of joyful noise, shall we say, in the House of O'Neil. Needless to say, they wore us out! I wish we lived closer to each other, because our kids would definitely grow up together. But I'm thankful we had the chance to spend 24 hours together. Not sure when we'll get to Dallas with airfares at an all-time high. I had to work on Monday, so my visit was cut short. But the kids spent the morning together, which wore them out for the rest if the day!


Like a knucklehead I didn't get any pictures with Kristi. Drat!


Since Tim's Father's Day consisted of housecleaning and visiting with houseguests, I told him he could have a Father's Day do-over!


And now, a true admission. I mailed my dad's Father's Day gift on Monday and sent it two-day express. So not only did I visit him for a week prior and not give him his gift, I mailed it late and was too cheap to pay for next-day delivery. Yeah, I'm going to Hell someday. *Sigh.*

Sorry Dad.


And in poetry news: Last night, it was my great privilege to hear poetry students from across the state read their work through a program run by Salem State College called The Salem Poetry Seminar. Also, program coordinator and poet J.D. Scrimgeour and musician/composer Phil Swanson performed poetry set to music. J.D. read one of his long narrative poems with Phil's musical accompaniment. It was fantastic!

Because I live in a cave, it has never occurred to me to collaborate with another artist in another medium. And what they did was take two separate art forms to create something new. The experience sparked that creative energy I've been lacking over the past few weeks—you know, as my brain has been turning to sun block.

Just one more example of how important it is for writers to take advantage of the resources within the local community.


What I'm reading: Philip Schultz's Failure, this year's co-winner for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.

(Thanks Jo Jo!)

The Salem Poetry Seminar

(I should have posted this yesterday. Monday's reading was terrific, so I hope you can come out to support this week's events!)

Sponsored by Salem State College, The Salem Poetry Seminar honors 12 student poets from public colleges and universities in Massachusetts by bringing them to Salem for a week, housing and feeding them, and giving them the opportunity to take classes in poetry writing. They also will share a little of their work at public readings. The readings will feature one faculty poet and have brief readings by some of the student poets.

The reading schedule:

Monday, June 16
Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex St., Salem
7:30: Evening reading featuring J.D. Scrimgeour and musician/composer Phil Swanson performing a blend of poetry and music and student poets, including SSC student Danielle Van Ness

Tuesday June, 17
Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex St., Salem
7:30: Evening Reading featuring Jean Monahan, Poetry Seminar Alumnus Enzo Surin, and student poets, including SSC students Caitlin Cronk and Kayleigh Merritt

Wednesday, June 18
7:30: Open Mic Reading at Gulu-Gulu Café in Salem featuring Salem Poetry Seminar Alumni (including SSC alum and students) Brandon Ward, Priscilla Herrington, Beth Rheume, Jeremy Lakasczyck, and others.
Bring a poem or two and be part of the event.

Thursday, June 19
Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex St., Salem 7:30: Evening Reading featuring Martha Collins and student poets including SSC student James Connatser.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day

For the third year in a row, I am posting my Father’s Day poem in honor of my husband, my father, and all the men who understand what it means to be a parent. Happy Father's Day!

Father's Day

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
every day.
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 girls 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,”
thank you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Home Again

After a wonderful time with the ’rents, we are home from our trip to Virginia. All is well in the house of O’Neil. And I’m on vacation from work the rest of the week so I’m looking to enjoy the beautiful weather with my family, while finding time to write and shop. (Mommy needs a new pair of strappy sandals!)

I was surprised to find my local gas station up to $4.09 (gas was $3.83 in the Tidewater area on Wednesday). Last week, the price was $3.95. Tomatoes are now off the grocery shelves, and corn is just not worth buying when everything else is so expensive.

But I was thrilled to see that our vegetable garden is thriving. With any luck, we’ll have a few homegrown items on our dinner table at the end of the month.

I’m just rambling here. It’s a beautiful day so I hope to take advantage of the time and resist the urge to sleep the day away. And, of course, there will be poetry.


In other exciting news, check out this article and pictures of poet Colleen Michaels and her wonder art/poetry installation at Crane Beach ... Yea Colleen!

From The Salem News: Poem on the boardwalks makes a new kind of beach read

Suggested Blog Topic: What is your process for putting together a manuscript, and how has your process changed the second time around?

I read Kelli’s thoughtful answer, and felt … well … this is too good a topic to pass up. That usually happens with her topics.

In my case, my first book, Underlife, will be published in October 2009 by CavanKerry Press. I’m working on a second manuscript because, frankly, I needed a creative outlet to distract me from the fact that my book won’t be out for more than a year. I know a few other poets in the same situation—seems like a long gestation period is more the norm than I thought in the poetry publishing world.

Because I’ve participated in NaPoWriMo for the past two years, I had poems sitting on my hard drive waiting to be revised. So this past May I put the bulk of them together, but I’m careful not to call it a collection. What I have is a bunch of poems without any sort of theme or narrative arc. In Underlife, it took me 12 years to put each piece in its present order, so I find it hard to let these poems go, especially since they’ve not been tested—either by being published or though serious critiquing.

One thing I did do was send the first manuscript to a wide group of people, poets and trusted friends. I found that the edits I received were tremendous. I didn't take all of them but it the different perspectives helped to shape my work.

In this new book, I hope to write a series of 8-12 poems based on a central theme. Don’t want to speak about it in case I get into it and decide to go in another direction. My hope is to write the poems over the summer and revise in the fall. With any luck, I’ll have a manuscript ready by the end of the year.

(An aside: I wonder if poets put too much emphasis on a narrative arc. I mean, I think putting books in sections is the norm today, but feels like a more recent convention. What’s’ wrong with putting together a collection of poems that just live in the same house without talking to each other? And, for readers, do you read a book from start to finish, or do you pay attention to the story being told?)

As for process, it’s hard to say what it is since I’m in the middle of things.

Now, I’m conflicted about holding onto this second attempt for a while or sending it out in the world to take its lumps. Should I send it out for submission or live with the poems for a longer stretch? Again, the poems in this collection are no more than two years old. Should they “marinate” longer or be put on the fire. On the one hand, I feel there’s no better time to market a second collection that right on the heels of a first book—even before the first is published. But I don’t want to put out something that’s not ready.

Ultimately, I want to be faithful to the work. But overall, being in the position to create a second manuscript is a dream come true—a position I never thought I would get to when I was creating my first.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Be sure to post a message and let me know if you're confessing this week. I will be slow to respond while I'm out of town, but I will read all your secrets on Tuesday.

By the time you read this, I will be sipping a cool beverage with my husband, miles away from the kids. We decided to take a vacation inside of a vacation, if you will. So while we have built-in babysitters, we're staying overnight at a hotel at the Virginia Beach oceanfront sans kids!


Feels weird to be in my hometown and act like a tourist. I guess it's a little like that every time I visit. But to stay in a hotel 20 miles from when I grew up feels odd.

Oh well. I'll adapt! *smile*


I try to visit the Tidewater area annually. On most trips I see no one I know other than family friends. But on two separate occasions, I've run into two people that I haven't see in 20 years. Freaky.


This trip has been especially fun for the kids (see yesterday's photos). From traveling on an airplane, to making new friends, and being in their swimsuits all day--the kids are having a fabulous time. While Tim and I are away, they will be spoiled rotten by their grandparents. As it should be.


Yesterday I had had too much "family togetherness," so I escaped to my oasis in the desert: Starbucks! Just goes to show that wherever you go, there you are.

Jotted down a few ideas for poems. To paraphrase Robert Pinsky, he said that it's easier to write poems about your hometown when you move away from it. I'm hoping that this trip will open me up to areas I haven't explored in a very long time.


Go Celts!!!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Beating the Heat

It's 100 degrees here in Norfolk, VA--my kind of weather. Why? Because in mid-February, when I think we can't get much more snow--and we do, I DREAM of weather like this. So when folks inevitibly ask, "Is it hot enough for you?" I say, "No! Make it hotter!"

This is how the kids beat the heat.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

At the risk of telling all criminals that I am going out of town, I am going out of town!

The fam and I are headed south to Norfolk, Virginia, to visit my parents. This is our annual trip, and I need to get away like you wouldn't believe. The Tidewater area certainly has changed since I lived there--better restaurants, new places to shop, and improved beaches.

One thing I haven't done is looked into the Norfolk-Virginia Beach poetry scene. Someday I'd like to read my work in my hometown, so I hope to check out an open mike while I'm away. And, as always, I'll post while I'm away.

Have a nice weekend, y'all! Except for the criminals. I hope they have terrible weekends.

Article at RWP

The kind souls at Read Write Poem have posted my latest article. Check it out!


This morning a second header appeared on the blog. I deleted the wrong one and now it looks funky. Grrrrr! A whole year with Blogger problems and now this. Ugh, I'll fix it tonight.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

To-Do List … and Then Some

I just watched Hillary Clinton’s speech in NYC—she is the energizer bunny! Even though she will most likely not get the nomination no matter what backroom scenario she proposes, I admire her tenacity and her grit.

This afternoon, I found out that I did not receive the state grant that I applied for. I really thought I had a good chance. The work I submitted was stronger than in years past (this was my third attempt in six years). While the financial award to that comes with the grant is nice, it has become a point of pride for me. Eventually, I could go one to win larger, more prestigious awards, I will always see this state grant as the one that got away.

So I am thinking about options. I’m putting on a brave face even though this is not the outcome I had hoped for. And soon, like Hillary, I will enjoy a few days of rest with my family—in our case, we are going to see my parents in Virginia at the end of the week.

Here’s my June’s to-do list.

1. Write 8-12 poems (new poetry project)
2. Revise older poems
3. Organize desk once and for all!
4. Send out poems to seven journals/Web zines—I should send out two a week.
5. Update contacts list—this is my local media/mailing list for when Underlife is published in '09.
6. Schedule NEWS Reading event dates for the fall.
7. Read a book!

Believe it or not, this is me pulling back. After my latest Read Write Poem article is published next week, I’m taking a break from writing articles to enjoy the summer. Not that I write many articles, but I really want to put my energies into this to-do list and into my family.

Good luck, Hillary!

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Carolee will be taking a break from confessions after this week, so I will take the lead and keep a participants list. It's time to fess up! Tell us what's on your mind today.

(FYI, Go visit Carolee's latest post at Read Write Poem!)


It's just one of those days. Had to get that out of the way.


Today I wished I was independently wealthy. If money wasn't an issue for me or my family, I would be a professional student. I'd study poetry with the upper-echelon poets I've always admired: Lucille Clifton, Mark Strand, and Billy Collins (assuming they still teach). Yep, I had that thought as I imagined myself shouting "… my barbaric YALP over the roofs of the world."


Last night I was of two minds. While watching the Red Sox game, I was thinking how lucky I am to have the family I have—and how difficult it is to be a parent. I often wonder what lessons we teach our kids indirectly. They watch us so closely I hope we're not making too many mistakes. If we raise our voices or say certain words, do these words become the ones they carry with them all their lives?

Raising kids is such a gift, but parenthood is a lifetime job. There's no home place to cross. It's the only work I know where no one evaluates your progress. In the end, I can only hope for well-adjusted kids who make it through to raise their own children. I guess I'll know the answers when they start their own families—many, many, many years from now!


Tomorrow the kids go to our former day care provider who has a pool. Nothing makes the work week more satisfying than knowing what I do means that the kids get to do fun things like this.


It's been a while since I've posted a to-do list—I'll post it tonight. It's geared toward making time for revision and sending out poems for publication. No new acceptances but no rejections, which means my poems are out there working for me!


Other than The Practical Writer and poetry books, I have not read any fiction/nonfiction books in 2008. Ugh.


Note to self: start posting confessions on Monday nights again!


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