Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Confession Tuesday

If it's Tuesday, it's time for your confessions. Share a little bit of yourself and we promise to do the same. 

I have traded the fabulous beaches of Provincetown for the rural, earthy landscape of Millay Colony in Austerlitz, NY. After a weekend at home, I packed up the car, dropped off the kids with their dad, and crossed the border in another writing retreat. 


This week, I'm here with Aimee, Sarah, Joseph, Leslie, and Joshua. Maybe I'll post a group photo in a day or so. Maybe not. We'll see what the week brings. 


Goals for the retreat: create, revise, and harness the creative spark. I feel blessed that I rekindled that spark last week at the Fine Arts Work Center. 

Part of me wonders how to fill the time. This week is unstructured. Fortunately, there's no television so I won't get sucked into reruns of Burn Notice. As Marie Howe says, "It hurts to be present." 
I sent this photo of the farmhouse, where I'm staying, to my mom. She said it looked lonely. I replied, "Not lonely but quiet."

One word: ticks. Too much nature. But, it is beautiful here. The sun rises over the ridge that borders NY and MA. Just beautiful. 

Provincetown: Redux

Monday, July 29, 2013


I am basking in the poetic glow, so to speak, from my week at the Fine Arts Work Center. What a gift! I am transformed. Spending the week with Marie Howe and the nine other talented people in our class surpassed my expectations. Seriously. I will never look at a poem or a workshopping poems the same way again.

Marie says we have all we need to write a poem at anytime, and while I know that and believe it in my bones, sometimes I need proof. To sit inside a white room with long tables and miscellaneous furniture for a few days, then to hear her say, "You have everything you need to write a poem. OK, pick three things you've observed about this room. Now go write a poem about your mother." And to actually get a few lines you can use. Wow!

We had lots of "wow" moments. By week's end, the group had written surprising poems from untapped, unconscious places. I can't explain it. We were open to whatever needed to come through us at any particular moment.

Of course, when you leave, the trick is to keep it going.

There was a point early on that I stopped blogging so I could focus on the writing. I wanted to keep the energy all to myself.

Today, I am off to Millay Colony for FUEGO! An unstructured writers' retreat with a few friends. The goal is to take everything I've worked on last week and over the last year or so and revise, revise, revise. I'll also generate new work for the Juno project.

More to come--thank goodness.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday from Provincetown!

Share. You know the deal.

Day two of my Fine Arts Work Center workshop with Marie Howe. In a word: transformative.

Since I had not written as much as I would have liked before arriving, I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to write anything new or good (“good” is a relative term here). But, I was wrong. The poems have been waiting for me all along.

In Marie’s workshop, we’ve worked really hard to be open to anything and everything in our poetry. We’ve been focusing our energies own walking around P-town, writing down what we see—emphasis on the word see. Our focus has been describing objects and people as they are: without metaphor or allusions to something else. Let the thing be the thing, which is much harder than it sounds.

We are letting the strange angels in.


Today in Ptown—a little rainy in the morning, then afternoon sun, and rain tonight. 82 degrees and breezy.

I am sitting in the back of the Stanley Kunitz room, where the nightly events are held. Marie is reading tonight with Richard McCann. On Wednesday, Victoria Redel will read her work and James Everett Stanley gives an artist talk. Thursday night, it's the students' turn.

Current tune on iTunes: "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.


What? There’s no Starbucks in P-town? What you talkin’ bout, Willis?


God save the Queen!

Monday, July 22, 2013


I am here! I am here! I am here!

I am here, in Provincetown, about to start the first full day of my workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center with Marie Howe! I am giddy beyond belief. When I think of all the things that fell into place, including my parents who are at home taking care of my kids, I get overwhelmed. Seriously. I get overwhelmed just writing about getting overwhelmed.


We had our orientation last night. Then we had our first workshop meeting. There are 10 of us, I think, at all skill levels.

Marie is luminous.

As I said last night as we went around the table, when I left my house, I didn’t feel as if I was leaving. I felt as if I was moving toward something—moving forward.


This is a week of idea and poem generation. We are working towards being open, being present with ourselves and our surroundings.

Marie’s first assignment for us was to talk around and notice things: sights, sounds, faces, places. So after our dinner, I ambled (I moseyed, I sauntered) along the bustling streets of Provincetown. At 9 p.m. the streets were packed. It was good to be a part of this thrum of this town. Just a warm feeling all around.


One other assignment Marie gave us was to swim in the waters around Provincetown in the next 24 hours. She says these waters are divine waters and that we will be changed.


It is 7 a.m. and I’m going to dip my feet into the bay. I have been changed just by being here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Improbable Places Poetry Tour at Magma Metalworks!

Here's video from a recent Improbable Places Poetry Tour stop, at Magma Metalworks. I mean, this is really what poetry in the community is all about.

There's notice the fire eaters in the video.

Thanks to the Improbable Colleen Michaels and videographer extraordinaire Jack Moffitt for documenting the event.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Sharing is caring. Tell us a little of yourself and we promise do the same.


I am so unmotivated to blog. Feels like putting on a sweater in 90-degree weather. This is the first summer where I have been full time with the kids. We've been on the go most days, finding relatively cheap ways to entertain ourselves. Between day excursions, play dates, and Alex’s all-star baseball, we are in overdrive.

I love it!

But everything else has taken a back seat, even the poetry (and especially the blog, poor thing).


Next week, however, I am taking a class at the Fine Arts Work Center with Marie Howe in Provincetown! I am over-the-moon excited for the time away to work on my craft. The stars have aligned for me to be able to attend: no teaching commitments, my parents coming to the rescue to watch the kids, the partial scholarship. Thanks again to the FAWC for making this experience possible!

Then, I'm spending the following week with six other poets and writers at Millay Colony! Woo hoo! This is an opportunity to write new poems, revise drafts, and put together m'script #3--maybe. No pressure here. But I'm excited to see where I will be with my work at the beginning of August. Details about Millay to come.

I see it as a time to rededicate myself to this work that I love doing. I need time and perspective. The fall semester is just around the corner (*gasp!*).


I will be blogging more regularly during the two weeks. Won't be able to contain my happiness.


Thanks for staying with me, dear reader. How's your summer going (or winter, if you're in New Zealand)?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Confession Tuesday

It's Tuesday. You know the drill.

Hope you had a nice 4th of July. Since the kids were with their dad, I decided to keep the day simple. 

For many years I have gone to big, public fireworks displays carrying lots of stuff (blankets, snacks, umbrellas), keeping my eyes on the kids in the crowd, praying it doesn't rain. This year I stayed in, had lobster for dinner, and watched lots of bad TV. 

And that is how I celebrated my independence.


This summer has been a search for new habits to replace the old ones. The things I used to do, such as writing every day, do not work for my lifestyle--at least right now. Summer is a blank page the kids and I are trying to fill. The hardest part is letting of the idea of an old habit. I have to stop saying things like, "I used to write every day--I was happier then." Was I? Because I'm sure I was neglecting something that needed my attention. 

I'm getting comfortable with the fact that there are days and times I will be able to write. I must protect that time and not let the hours slip away.


Now is one of those times.


Poetry To-do List 

1. Write 8 poems for my Juno series before July 21 
2. Read three manuscripts
3. Write one book cover blurb
4. Write one article for Mass Poetry
5. Create marketing plan for next book
6. Record audio of poems for upcoming publication 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

In the Room with Marie Howe + Krista Tippett

Two week from today, I will be taking a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, with Marie Howe. I am over-the-moon excited for many reasons: it's my first time in P-town; my first weeklong workshop in more than 10 years; and my first vacation away from the kids. Fortunately, the stars have aligned so I can take the time to do this for myself and my art.

Here's a recent video of Marie from On Being with Krista Tippett.

(Two more weeks!)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy first Tuesday in July. If you're in New England, it's been a wet start to the month.

Share a little of yourself today and we promise to do the same.


This morning I'm at Starbucks. It's a respite between baseball practice and tae kwondo lessons. Last night I finally cleaned my office. Will take a picture later when I clear the last stack of papers off my desk. For now, I'll have a venti hot chocolate, please.


While cleaning, I discovered manuscript edits from my first two books, so I read through Underlife edits from 2007 and Misery Islands from 2009. I'm amazed at what both manuscripts looked like in the early stages.

Underlife started out with 59 poems but was whittled down to 49, While Misery started out at 57 poems but will go into print with 50. Underlife went through a radical overhaul to make the first section stronger. In fact, the original title was called "The Kerning" but the publisher didn't like it. They were right. Can't imagine anything other than Underlife.

Originally, Misery Islands was called "Conversion Theory," lame and not compelling. It's too early to tell how well Misery will do. I'm afraid I have picked a title that critics will love ("Misery Islands is certainly living up to its name--misery."). Ugh, I can see it now. Trying hard not to go there. We'll see next year if it will fly or flop. Ugh.


Anyhoo, the nice part about cleaning my office is that I found a treasure trove of poems that deserves a second look. It's like discovering fossils from an extinct animal buried on your desk. I pulled abandoned poems from both manuscripts, and a few drafts from NaPoWriMo. Some just can't and shouldn't be resuscitated. But some will be revived. Others, I will pillage for usable lines.


Getting organized is a big step to getting my writing back on track. Can't use a messy desk as an excuse anymore.


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