Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy



This is our family's theme song, thanks to Ella. You should watch us dance. We look like a set of Weebles.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Confession Tuesday



Happy Tuesday, folks. You know the drill.

This afternoon I was at my afternoon perch at Starbucks. The staff knows me by name, is that a good thing?

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A shout out to all of my friends in the Southeast staying home from school or work because of the deep freeze. I'm thinking of my parents in Norfolk, VA. The Tidewater area will see 8-12 inches of snow. Yikes. Won't be long before all of North America looks like New England. 

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Have you ever had that feeling of being on the verge of a cold? Well, I feel I'm on the verge of a rut. Not sure how it snuck up on me. Up until last week, I had been revising poems but not writing, working out, and kid focused. But just as the polar vortex swept in, my workload went to another level.  My inbox should be condemned.  

At some point I started to put everything else in front of writing. When that happens, my shoulders begin to stiffen. I can physically feel myself getting tense. I'm hoping I can shake the feeling in the next day or so. If I had a cough, I'd load up on OJ and hot tea with lemon. Here's hoping a few good nights of sleep and early morning writing sessions do the trick.

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I'm reading Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, edited by Jocelyn Glei. It's a collection of articles on creativity and productivity by the folks at 99U. I like the no-nonsense approach that seems to be the theme throughout. Already I can see things I had been doing unconsciously that I stopped doing about a week ago:

  • Block out time to write and stick to it
  • Stop answering emails/log off social media while working
  • Work during your peak time (for me that's before noon)
  • Exercise
  • Do something every day to honor your craft
When I was doing them most of the time I was happier. Now, my shoulders ache. 

I'm not complaining. I just trying to motivate myself to get back into the flow.

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Stay warm, folks.   


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Confession Tuesday


Happy Confession Tuesday, folks. Share a little of yourself and we promise to do the same.

This is me ... rather, my skate. Yesterday the kids and I went roller skating at our local rink. I love it. It's the closest I get to dancing these days. 

Decided it was much cheerier to post this picture than one of my boot standing in fresh snow. I'm saving that one for tomorrow.

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Yes, we are in the midst of the follow up to the polar vortex. We're supposed to get 6-10 inches pf snow, which feels like standard issue for New England. The kids will be out of school tomorrow, so I'm hoping SSU will be out of school, too. Otherwise, the kids will be attending my classes.  

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I bet my neighbors are in their hot tub right now. *sigh*

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I am a bit overrun with books now. Finally finished Wild, which I loved. I'm ready to start Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III, but a slew of other titles need my attention. 

I'm on the committee to read the first chapters of eight books for our first year reading experience next fall. Two of the books I'm looking at are The Happiness Project and Ten Poems to Change Your Life, among others (Too tired to link to titles. Sorry.). We've also have a graphic novel as well as a a few other nontraditional titles. 

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Also on the nightstand: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

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Tonight, Amazon.com delivered our book order in the snow! The timing couldn't have been better. Ella is a a voracious reader. She's in the 3rd grade and reads at a 7th grade level, and has gone through her books several times. At least she has a new title for tomorrow. Happy to say that my son is following in her footsteps.

As for me, I ordered Ancestor's Song by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. 

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I'm not reading a lot of poetry. Guess I'm waiting to see what I pick up at AWP.

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Watching the J.D. Salinger documentary on PBS in the background. Fascinating.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Verse



This past Sunday, Apple released this commercial during the Golden Globes. In it, Robin Williams reprises his Dead Poets Society role as a voice over reciting Walt Whitman.

The more I see this ad, the angrier I get. I hate when companies trivialize poetry to sell a product or an idea. Poetry is more than that. Much more. It is hard work writing a poem, life affirming to read one. To compare any other task to poetry--or the spirit of poetry--is misguided.

Think I'm going overboard? Tell me where in this iPad lovefest is anyone actually writing or reading a poem.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Time for your confessions. Share a little bit of yourself while we promise to do the same.

This Pollock-esque original is by Ella, thanks to the Pollock app (yep, there's an app for that). 

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Classes at Salem State begin this Thursday, and my classes begin Friday. I'm always psyched for the upcoming semester, but a big part of me wishes my winter break would last a little longer. I'm not complaining (well, maybe a tad). 

I wish I had gotten more done over the break. Sounds funny to say--wish I had done more housework. Wish I had cleaned my desk or taken the time to get organized. I get anxious when things are left undone. Piles of stuff drive me crazy. The truth is, I have plenty of time to do all of these tasks, some of which are downright boring. My expectations are too high. I spend a lot of time saying to myself, "I am enough, and this is enough for right now."

Somehow, it all manages to get done.

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The flip side is that I've spent an enormous amount of time with the kids And, I've been revising regularly. Much of my energy has shifted to editing, which is a good thing. Also, I started a workout routine. Yay!

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I've been thinking a lot about this blog, and what I want to say here this year. Y'know what I miss most? I miss posting poem drafts. Publications are stricter than ever about publishing original content. For a while, it was not an issue for me. I could always find a journal, print or online, that would take something posted on the blog because the poem was still in the draft stage. But more publishers are checking, and I want my work to reach the widest audience possible.  

So the blog remains a place where I share my thoughts or details on upcoming events, minus my unpublished poetry. Part of the spark for me was getting fresh feedback from you. Oh well. Let's see what 2014 has to offer. Maybe there's an upside here that I'm not seeing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Amiri Baraka


Mr. Baraka and me at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2010


"What do we do when the poets die?" asked Maya Angelou during an AP phone interview on the death of her friend Amiri Baraka. 

What do we do? We remember them. 

I did not know Mr. Baraka well. I'd spoken with him on a few occasions and have heard him read over the years. I was there at the 2002 Dodge Poetry Fest when he read his now infamous poem "Someone Blew Up America." And I was there in 2010 when he was asked back to Dodge--and read the same controversial poem. Talk about bold. Unlike the first time, however, the audience gave him a standing ovation. I was never sure if adulation was for the poem, the in-your-face attitude in reading that particular poem, or for his 76th birthday. I would like to think it was for all of those things.

Mr. Baraka was smart, funny, complicated, prolific, ground-breaking, thought-provoking, riveting--far from perfect. Impossible to ignore. 

Rest in Power.  

Hear Amiri Baraka in his own words in this NPR interview with Terri Gross in 1986.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Confession Tuesday





Happy 2014!

This is a photo from last Thursday, the day before the blizzard of 2014, as I like to call it. By Friday, we had 15 inches of snow on the ground. On Saturday, the temperature had dropped to -6. Yesterday, it was 55 degrees and rainy, which melted most of the snow.

Currently, it's 15 degrees but feels much colder.

What is the universe trying to tell us with this wacky weather? I'm ready for summer, aren't you?

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The kids are back and school, which means I've jumped right back into the day to day. Many things to do surrounding the Mass Poetry Festival. And, I'll go back to teaching next Friday, so there's much prep work to be done. At least for the next few days, I can work on revising drafts and submitting poems for publication.

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No poems written for this year yet. Sigh.

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A short post today. Sometimes my blog posts equal a method of procrastination. Today is such a day. Time to work.

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