Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Starbucks and me

Happy two days before Thanksgiving (in the U.S.)! Time to share a bit of yourselves with us, and we'll promise to do the same.

First, Happy Thanksgiving one and all! It is one of my favorite holidays so I hope you are warm and safe, wherever you are.


Every other year, Thanksgiving becomes a bit of a puzzle for me. Alex and Ella go with their dad for the holiday and weekend, so I'm left figuring out where to go. Usually, I rely on the kindness of friends, not that I couldn't fly to Virginia or Atlanta to visit relatives. At one point I contemplated staying at home on Thursday, getting into a home project, and watching movies all day. Bring on the ice cream and Proscesso. I mean, it is just one day.

Well, this year I am spending Thanksgiving in Western Massachusetts with Colleen Michaels and family. It's a welcomed invite given that I really don't want to paint my daughter's bedroom. Maybe this is me re-envisioning the holiday and expanding the meaning of family. We'll be here. (But don't stalk us.)

I am thankful I won't be alone on Thanksgiving. Bring on the turkey and Proscesso!


Every Friday is Black Friday for me.


Happy Birthday Joseph O. Legaspi and Afaa Michael Weaver!


PAD poems: 21. It's day 26. Honestly, I can see myself getting to 28 poems before the end of the month. Because I've been behind from day one, the pressure's off. Rather than writing every day, I have been writing in spurts, maybe four days on and three days off. And I haven't crafted these poems into perfect little gems.

Now the downside is that nothing has been revised. In fact, I'm feeling so good about my ability to write, almost at will, that I'm afraid to stop. Seriously, you know what it's like to get into a groove, get out of it, and try to get back into it. That's hard and unpleasant. I spend too much energy griping about not being able to write. But I have to make revision a priority.


Just turned in final draft copy of my second manuscript, Misery Islands, to my publisher. The book will be out next fall, but already I am putting together a marketing plan. What will I do differently to release this book than I did for book #1? Will I have manuscript #3 in circulation before #2 is published? Hmmm ....


One word: Proscesso.  And, Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kibbles and Bits

R.I.P Wanda Coleman.


A must-read: "A Poet’s Guide to the Assassination of JFK [the Assassination of Poetry]" by Thomas Sayers Ellis.

Congrats to Adrian Matejka, a finalist for the National Book Award for his collection The Big Smoke - Interview. Congrats to all the winners.


My copy of Joseph O. Legaspi's chapbook Subways arrived in the mail this week. It's terrific.


Lastly, a little Sesame Street to brighten your day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday folks. Share a bit of yourselves with us and we promise to do the same.

Once again, I'm starting my day at the Salem Athenaeum with J.D. Scrimgeour. I like writing here. It's comfortable and always nice when there's another writer or two in the room.

The sun pours in through the library's old drafty windows, and the bare trees sway with each gust.


PAD poems written: 17. Not bad for day 19. It helps to lower my standards.


This is my long day. While I am not teaching today, I will be out of the house until 10 p.m. Wish I could take a nap at some point because I'm getting over a slight cold and haven't slept much lately. I have a few meetings, lots of grading, and my writers' workshop in the evening. Even though I have 17 drafts, none of them are ready to show. Nothing worse than reading a draft you know is not ready to be presented.


Just ordered new books from Amazon:

Double Down, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield

I am a huge fan of Heilemann and Halperin and Game Change. Andre Dubus is coming to Salem State in March (and I'm curious to see how he writes about women). But The War of Art I'm not sure if I really need to read it; still, I want to have it on my shelf. Truth is, I have more books than I can read now, but I want them around for when I'm finally ready to read them. 

And, don't get me started on poetry ...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lady Madonna

Book Selfie. This is what happens on a Saturday when the kids are playing outside and I have a few minutes of free time. 


Update: I took the book selfie photo five hours earlier. The kids' play date just ended. Actually, my son and his friends did something pretty wonderful today. They've been really into the rainbow loom bracelets. Well, a group of them (all boys) set up a stand outside of our house and sold bracelets to raise money for breast cancer research. I'm the one reminding them it's November, it's cold outside, and our street is not that busy.

They made $46 in two hours. 

I am so proud of Alex and the boys.


PAD Challenge poems: 12 (it's day 16). Would like to carve out enough time to revise. Maybe tonight. I expect the kids to fall out after dinner.


Current reads: Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Nin Andrews' The Book of Orgasms. Loving both books--excellent reads.


In The Beatles song "Lady Madonna," Saturday is the only day not mentioned. Why is that?

Lady Madonna, children at your feet
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Time to confess.

On day 12 of the PAD Challenge, I have written nine poems. Not sure if that's good or bad. The poems themselves are drafts, or should I say "drafts." These pieces need a lot of love, but when I take on these challenges, the crafting usually happens after.


I confess these poetry challenges leaves little time for blogging. Will try to post a few times this week.


Today I spent the morning writing at the Salem Athenaeum with the beautiful and talented J.D. Scrimgeour. Then, I went to the Peabody Essex Museum to view to prep for an upcoming visit with my first-year writing students. What a lovely way to start the day.

Tonight, I'm headed to the Grolier Poetry Book Shop to hear Don Share and George Elliott Clarke read their poetry. If you've never been to the Grolier, it's smaller as a postage stamp. Must get there early to grab a seat. I have visions of sitting outside on the stoop during the reading. *sigh*


Today, when I cracked open a new journal, I felt resentment bubbling up. I did not want to let go of the previous one. My first Moleskin. This journal got me through a magical summer and an inspired fall. This morning a few snowflakes fell; I see that my apprehension is more than just a new journal or the changing of the season. It's about letting go. As much as I like letting go, I want some things to remain the same. Here's hoping the poems will flow for Moleskin #2.

Sounds silly, doesn't it? Writers are a superstitious bunch.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday folks. Happy first Tuesday in November. And, happy Election Day in the U.S. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

It is day 5 of the November PAD challenge and already I am down by two poems. The three I have written are questionable.

You may ask, "Why do this?" I mean, a poem a day is hard in the best of months. And we all know that anything worthwhile takes time to develop. But I like the immediacy. I like setting aside an hour a day (some days 10 minutes) to write. There's a point where I surrender to the process and just write a bad poem--which sometimes turns out to be pretty good.


I don't use prompts for the challenge, but I always look in case I'm out of ideas.


Daylight Savings Time has been great for my family. Everybody goes to bed tired and wakes up refreshed, including me. Woo hoo!


Lots of community-based projects going on with Mass Poetry and the Mass Poetry Festival. None of which I can share, just know things are happening behind the scenes. It's exciting to watch the plans unfold.


To-do list

1. Get back on track with the PAD challenge
2. Send out two four publications
3. Revise two poems
4. Organize desk


Congrats to Joseph O. Legaspi for winning the inaugural David Blair Chapbook Prize for his second chapbook! Very cool.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Dust to Dust

For the last few months, I have been captivated by the demolition of Salem State University's old campus library. It's being torn down that we have our gorgeous new library in place. I pass the site every day, to and from the parking lot, and every day I can't help but watch. Sometimes I take a picture. Sometimes a few lines for a poem comes to mind. That's when I immediately stop walking, dig for my notebook, and write down the bones.

There have been days when I've breathed in dust from the site, or water from the hoses keeping the dust down has sprayed me. Construction trucks like yellow mechanical ducks peck away, story by story, at this structure. The photos I'm showing you now are from early last week. The building is all but torn down now, and by weeks' end, there will be nothing left of this 30-year-old structure but a mountain of rubble.

Because I've been writing daily observations, I've written a few drafts based on the destruction. It's just fascinating watching this building come down brick by brick. I'm in awe of where inspiration hides, and where and when it chooses to reveal itself. And it's not just me. When I pull into the parking lot, there's always someone taking photos or writing in a notebook with one eye to the excavators trying to capture the moment. I find it all terribly beautiful.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Reasons to Survive November

I love posting Tony Hoagland's poem "Reasons to Survive November" on the first day of November. But I don't feel the intensity behind it that I usually do. The kids and I had a great Halloween night. The Red Sox are World Series Champions. And, it will be 70 degrees today--a Friday. I don't have too much to complain about this November.

(Listen to the audio.)

Reasons to Survive November

November like a train wreck –
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.

The sky is a thick, cold gauze –
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.

– Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.

I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself

with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.

But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.

(Tony Hoagland, from What Narcissism Means to Me. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf, 2003.)


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