Saturday, July 30, 2011

Virginia Is for Lovers










Sorry, I was having too much fun to post anything substantial this week.

The kids and I have had a blast visiting my parents in Virginia. The temps have been in the 90s all week. Here's a photo from Busch Gardens. And yesterday was our beach day--it was glorious.

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I've had this incredible guilt about not posting. Silly, I know. I must have needed the break. With the exception of one afternoon, I didn't get as much time to myself as I had hoped. But we've been on the go since we arrived so I'm happy about the trade-off.

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As I step back into the po-biz, I have a new list of to-do's, upcoming readings, and writing projects with August due dates.

Admittedly, I have enjoyed reading and writing poetry this summer more than sticking to arbitrary deadlines. But I am so goal oriented that if I don't have a plan in place, I feel as if I'm in a constant freefall. With August around the corner, however, I'm looking forward to (slowly) getting my poetry groove back.

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And yes,  I did have a crab cake sandwich. It was delish!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Confession Tuesday

This is the vacation edition. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

 
We are visiting family in Virginia this week. Lots of kid time and beach time ahead of us; although, last night we were under tornado watch. Scary.

I really love being in Virginia in July. The heat, the humidity, the afternoon thundershowers—this is summer. No matter what, I will be seeking out crab cakes and hush puppies to make my homecoming complete!

 
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At some point, house projects became a priority for me like never before. Outside, I’m creating a patio area. Inside, I’m picking paint colors and looking for new (used) furniture. I’m trying to create an interior space that better reflects who we are as a family. And, I can see these changes happening in other parts of my life, too.

This requires a longer blog post. More to come.

 
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This week’s poetry to-do’s

  • Finish new poem
  • Revise section four of manuscript
  • Send out poems to two publications
  • Find an hour a day to write on vacation

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Short but sweet this week. Keep cool, my friends!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 10 Keyword Searches

Search Keywords

block island 627

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no girls allowed 4

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block island pictures 3

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poet mom blog 3

It's Thursday? Really?

Whenever I feel as if I'm not doing enough with my manuscript revisions, I look at Olie's blog. Then I tell myself to get off my *ss and get to work! Truly inspiring.

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Sam Cornish, Boston's first poet laureate, has released his latest poetry collection titled Dead Beats.

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Was talking to a friend of mine about Scriptblaster and Bookblaster. These are paid services that will shop your work out to agents and publishers for you. This is not an endorsement, but my friend has had good luck with Scriptblaster. Says it allows him to shift his focus to writing while still having pieces out there "working for him."

Would be nice if there was a cheap and reliable service to help poets with queries. *sigh*

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I know, I know--we have to do the legwork ourselves, but sending out submissions is the my least favorite part of the pobiz.

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Lastly, I booked an August reading/trip to Block Island! Woo hoo! I think Block Island is a little slice of heaven. Apparently, you do, too. This post gets more hits than any other post on my blog. Bar none.

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Current spin: "They try to make me go to rehab, but I say no, no, no!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lost

So I was having a conversation with my friend, JC, who just says the timeliest things. We were talking about our favorite artists and singers and how sometimes they go through “lost periods.”

We want our faves to grow and change—but not too much. Take, for example, U2’s POP album. Not the band’s best-received album, but without it, they may never have given us All That You Can’t Leave Behind, which was an incredible album.

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of poets who go through lost periods. Allen Ginsberg comes to mind. Anne Sexton, too. There are others (trying not to name too many names). Sometimes, a poet will have a meteoric rise with a few really fine collections, but not be able to sustain that success (success being a relative term) throughout a career. Why is that? Is it because the poet publishes the work before it is ready, or does not have a good editor who knows when to say no? Or maybe it’s time to move on to fiction.

Can a poet leave the source of what makes him/her great without leaving behind their audience?

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For the record, I love all of U2’s albums, no matter what phase they’re in.


U2 - Discotheque by Hakunamatata67

New Poem

Draft. Still working on last stanza.

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Vivarium


The Oriental fire bellies are singing.
They are splayed under a plastic tree branch
beneath a florescent sun, croaking their soft song,
a clinking bell only I can hear.

I am looking at them and they look at me.
A threat, I guess. One clearly arching his back,
rising up with his slimy fat body pressed flat
against the glass, all unkin reflex,

showing me his toxic orange belly and his
“come-hither-and-I’ll-kill-you” bullshit stance.
That’s cold blooded, my friend.
You will never attract a female like that,

but I hear what you’re saying.
The night is long and slippery.
We have no words to speak of
so let’s not talk of dying,

or finding perfect happiness,
not tonight. We’re all in this together.
Show me your true colors
and I’ll show you mine.

Let’s heed the call and rise
out of the trance of ourselves,
secrete our souls into the world,
this place of life, hiding behind the light.

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The line “The night is long and slippery.” is from a Lynn Emanuel’s poem “Homage to George Herriman from her book Noose and Hook.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Time to share and share alike. C’mon, fess up! Tell us what’s going on with you and we promise to do the same.

Here are Alex and Ella at their lemonade stand hanging out with some friends. (Thanks for the pic, Suzie.)















The garage sale took a lot out of me. I underestimated how much energy it takes to do this and my body is letting me know it. Ugh. Still, there was no better sight Monday morning than having the Vietnam Veterans of America come and take everything away. I’m happy our stuff will go to families in need.

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To quote the Rolling Stones, "What a drag it is getting old."

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I’m working on a new poem, which I think I’ll post on Wednesday. I miss posting drafts on the blog but I’m just not writing as much as I’d like. Also, I want to get a few pieces into publications that do not accept previous published work.

I hate being beholden to publishers who pay almost nothing for the “privilege” of getting published. It sucks. Don’t get me started …

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I’m now on Google+, still learning the ins and outs. I mean, I need another social network like I need a hole in the head. But I’m curious so I’ll give it a whirl. Facebook and Twitter are so embedded in the culture now it’s hard to see how Google+ will compete. Companies, employers, and even nonprofits have finally figured out how to effectively use this technology thanks, in large part, to the ”like” button.

In order for Google+ to catch on, it has to satisfy some societal need that the others platforms can’t address—but what is that need? In other words, why should I use Google+ when Facebook and Twitter serve my needs just fine? A culture shift has to happen. It would take a lot for me to close out my Facebook account with 1,000+ friends, most of whom I don’t know but appreciate anyway, and migrate them onto Google+.

Anyhoo, if you’re on Google +, come find me and we’ll figure it out together.

QR Poetry



Thumb through the latest issue of Real Simple or O magazine, and you’ve probably come across a unique graphic such as this one at the bottom of an advertisement. This is a QR code.

A quick response (QR) code is a bar code that can be scanned with a QR code-reading app, or it can be photographed and emailed from a smart phone to a company’s website. Most are black and white but I’ve seen them in color. By scanning the code, your web browser is redirected to a unique url that promotes a company’s product, giveaway, or contest. They seem to be everywhere these days.

I’m always interested in the new next, so how can poets and poetry organizations use this latest technology? What if, by scanning a poetry QR code, a reader of a poetry publication could unlock poems available to subscribers only? Or, what if poets used QRs as a way of promoting their upcoming titles by releasing a few poems as a teaser? You can go to any free QR site and generate your own unique code. And there are apps that can do it on the fly. This generation of poetry lovers seems to appreciate the integration of hi-tech wizardry with poetry's low-tech aesthetic.

What other possibilities are available for QR codes and the lit world? If you have any ideas, or have seen these codes used by publishers, journals/zines, or writers, let me know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love for Sale















The last few days have been consumed by this garage sale. I have been pulling things out, dusting things off, saying, "What the heck is this?" We've been in the house for eight years and it's just amazing how much stuff we've accumulated. I'm more of a consumer than I thought, yet the evidence is all around me.

This sale I ran with my good friend Heather, with contributions and help from many, many friends and neighbors. If I had to do this with just my kids, it would have never happened. But we did it, sold a lot of junk, and what didn't get sold will be picked up on Monday for donation.















In this picture, you can see the kids' lemonade stand. That may have been the most fun part of the day, watching four kids manage an entrepreneurial venture from start to finish. They made $38--very cool for four hours of work. 

I only scratched the surface on all the junk I could have sold--just didn't have the time to go through every room in the house. But I'm thrilled that the unused wedding gifts; baby strollers; car seats; old clothes, CDs, and books will not be coming back into my house.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From The RidicuList



Which is more disturbing? Snooki having a second book deal, or Anderson Cooper describing Snooki as a modern-day Jane Austin.

Take your pick.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Inner Wild Child

If you haven't already, answer Tuesday's poll question. Looks like Facebook is pulling ahead as the most effective method in reaching literary audiences.

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Three poetry books recently given to me:

Insides She Swallowed, Sasha Pimentel Chacon
Noose and Hook, Lynn Emanuel
We Used to Be Wives: Divorce Unveiled Through Poetry, edited by Jane Butkin Roth (anthology)

Thanks Jo Jo and Jennifer. Cool.

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My friends have encouraged me to tap into my inner wild child by recommending I listen to Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. (Notice I said inner wild child, not "bitch." Some words are just not worth reclaiming.)

Anyhoo, how did I miss this album? Maybe I was listening to Alanis Morissette or Hole at the time. But, as you know, this is a great album. I love how artists tap into that emotional core and turn life into art. Here's hoping I can draw on it throughout my manuscript revision.

Thanks JC and Jo Jo (again) for the suggestion.

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I have lots of poetry angels looking out for me.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Poetry Survey


Feel free to leave a more detailed answer in the comments.

Confession Tuesday

It’s Tuesday. You know what that means. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

This Saturday I’m having a yard sale. I’m enlisting the kids’ help—all hands on deck! I was worried I wouldn’t have enough stuff to sell or be ready in time. As I started pulling things out, however, I realized that I have more than enough stuff to sell without searching every nook and cranny of my house. Whew!

I told the kids that if they let go of their old toys, we’d put the money earned toward something that the whole family could enjoy. What we don’t sell will go to charity.

Honestly, it just feels good to get rid of all this junk. Letting go of the past always does.

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I would have gotten much farther on the yard sale prep but somehow I got involved in creating a patio in my backyard. Turns out laying out a new outdoor space with paving bricks a little more involved than I thought it would be. The bricks look great, but I need more. And I’ve decided to create a small garden area to accompany the new patio.

This is hard to visualize without pictures. Will post some after the project is finished (after the garage sale).

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Working on the manuscript has been an up and down process. Even when I have the time to work on it, I want to write something new. I find it draining to go back into the subject matter. The current plan is to devote time to revising one poem a day, and keep up with my free writing at night. My problem? I give myself deadlines and then I don't keep them. Ugh.

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My three priorities this week, in order:
  • Sleeping
  • Yard Sale
  • Revise Manuscript

The patio is not on my priority list; I''ll tackle that project next week.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Starbucking

After a long morning of yard work, I feel I have earned an afternoon at Starbucks. It's a warm and sunny day outside, so not crowded at all. I have a great table by the window. I may take over a second spot to really spread out. Or not.

"The Girl From Ipanema" is playing over my head. I think it's the Diana Krall version.

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I'm tweaking a recently written poem so I can send it out in a batch for publication. Also, I'm revising manuscript #2. The work continues.

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Books/publications I have brought with me for inspiration:

  • Claudia Emerson, Late Wife
  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Lucky Fish
  • Erika Meitner, Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls
  • Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split
  • And the most recent issues of APR, Poetry, and P&W
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If you haven't picked up the latest issue of Poetry, check out the photography and words of Thomas Sayers Ellis. Brilliant.

Admittedly, I don't read Poetry often but I was surprised to see a piece by Nikki Giovanni. Very cool.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: Pool



Here's video of one the earliest Improbable Places Poetry Tour locations: The Cabot Street Y swimming pool in Beverly, MA.

Have I mentioned how much Colleen Michaels rocks?

Our kids are splashing about in the pool. What is missing is Dawn Paul actually diving into the pool in a wet suit. She was fabulous--you should have been there.

The tour starts up again in the fall.

Poetry Bombing With Agustina Woodgate for O, MIAMI




Miami artist Agustina Woodgate illustrates the art of “poetry bombing,” sewing snippets of poems into thrift store clothes.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bits and Pieces

The kids are at Babson summer camp this week, which has been great because we're now on the same schedule. So I've been able to spend more time with them, and they get to see where I work. I love watching them go off to camp, and come back red-cheeked and exhausted.

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I've been exhausted myself. I must be getting old.

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I just signed on to teach a workshop during the Cambridge Center for Adult Education’s Fall Writers’ Conference in October. The topic will be poetry and music, with an audience of poets and nonpoets in attendance. Any suggestions for writing prompts?

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I miss posting poems on my blog. Admittely, I haven't written very many this year worth posting, but will post a few in the next day or so.

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I've updated my "Ladies First?" post to include more women poets. These are the ones to watch for in the next few months and years. Feel free to add who you think will be the next breakthrough women poets.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Confession Tuesday















Happy 5th of July, and welcome to Confession Tuesday! Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.


Photo of fish in a pond was taken during our family weekend getaway. It was nice to spend a little time with friends and do absolutely nothing but hang out and relax. Thanks, Heather! 

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Now that Independence Day has come and gone, I feel as if summer is almost over. This happens to me whenever I start looking too far ahead on the calendar. I think New England is only allotted two months of warm weather. The rest of the year is winter in disguise.

That was a bit negative, but I really love summer. It boggles my mind that I am living in a state that has a short summer season (and a ridiculously harsh winter).

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Someday, I’ll move back to the South.


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It is really hard these days to put writing first. As with last week’s confessions, I decided to make writing and finishing my manuscript a priority. For me, putting my writing first equals putting myself first; this is not easy with two small kids running around. Most days, I feel like I’m trying to put on the oxygen mask first before the kids’ masks—AND build the airplane AND land it at the same time.

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I love a good em dash—but it drives me crazy when people use it incorrectly or excessively.

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On tap this week:

  1. Revise a poem I wrote last week. Still not gelling for me.
  2. Finish a poem started over the weekend
  3. Send poems to two publications
  4. Clean desk
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Thanks for suggestions of women poets to watch. Keep 'em coming!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Ladies First?

I love male poets. My bookshelves are stocked with new and established writers of the male persuasion. Yet, I never seem to hear any buzz or swirl or momentum when it comes to new titles written by women. Why is that?

If women are at least half of the book-buying public, why aren’t we routinely topping any best sellers lists (Mary Oliver excluded)? I’m strictly speaking of women poets with three books or less. Are men more frequently signed by bigger-named publishers with better marketing machines, or are they just better at self-promotion? Are men even buying books by women? Or, as it was put to me on Twitter, are women buying books by women? (Forgive the sweeping generalization. I know there are men who buy collections written by women. But the lists speak for themselves.)

So, tell me about the up and coming women poets we should watch.

The short list that follows, sparked by this post, are women poets we should watch for. It is by no means all-inclusive, and certainly not as diverse as it should be. But it’s a start. Feel free to suggest names and I’ll update the list regularly. (updated 7/7/11)


LL Barkat
Kristy Bowen
Traci Brimhall
CM Burroughs
Jehanne Dubrow
Katharine Flenniken
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Cynthia Marie Hoffman
Karen Kovacik
Keetje Kuipers
Rebecca Loudon
Karyna McGlynn
Erika Meitner
Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Susan Rich
Tracy K. Smith
Annette Spaulding-Convy
Martha Silano
Alexandra Teague
Molly Tenenbaum
Maureen Thorson
Rhett Iseman Trull
Kary Wayson
Katharine Whitcomb

For the record, I buy books by men and women. And over the next few months, I will purchase a collection by every person on this list, because I believe in walking the walk.

And after we’ve created this great list, what then? How do we support these women on their journeys to reach a wider readership?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Start Your Engines





When I woke up yesterday morning, I had not envisioned being a part of pit crew. But that's what happened as my department participated in a daylong retreat at F1 Boston. As a teambuilding exercise, we competed against other department members to see who could change the tires, wash windows, gas up, and ready the car for "the big race." It was definitely different (read: that's why I have AAA).


Still, it was a fun day out of the office. Later the team raced go cars. I did not race because I had to beat the traffic on my way home. Ugh.

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I'm planning a kidtastic weekend leading into July 4. Will also find time to read and revise over the next few days. Woo hoo! I need this weekend like plasma.

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Nikky Finney recommended that I read Claudia Emerson's Late Wife, as a way of seeing how someone else handles the difficult subject matter of divorce. So that is my current read. The structure is completely different from my manuscript, but it's given me a few ideas if and when I reorder the book.

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