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Showing posts from 2018

Mother of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Other Awards I'm Not Earning

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I solidified my Mother of the Year status by forgetting I'd volunteered to help at the Holiday Cookie Decorating Party in Little Miss Talkalot II's kindergarten class Friday morning. BECAUSE I'M A GENIUS AND A GOOD PERSON.
She wasn't traumatized. I think that by now, at the wise age of 5, she recognizes that everyone else's mothers are far superior, better and more capable of this parent-y stuff, than her own mama.
The missed cookie appointment put an appropriate cap on a very very very tiring week, as I attempted to manage my own anxieties about the end of the semester and also talk my students off of various metaphorical ledges. 
One of the more mystifying aspects of this semester is finding out how many of my students just didn't bother to submit major papers. Like, finally going through the grades and seeing the holes, and then going back to those students (who are usually "good" students in the sense that they keep up with reading and participat…

Germs and Grades and Emails, Oh My!

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This week featured only one day of teaching, thanks to a fantastic virus that struck Little Miss Talkalot II. I guess her body was already kind of run down from having that 24-hour stomach virus the week before, because she came down with a fever on Monday and it didn't leave until yesterday. 72 hours of fever is a little extreme in the kid-world.
As a result, I've worked a little bit on my play (reformatting, mostly, into an old-fashioned standard script form -- which is really, really counter-intuitive and highly fucking annoying, but necessary if I'm going to start submitting the thing) and very little on poems. The rest of my time has been divided between running between the kitchen and the living room for Little Miss Talkalot II, who -- despite being feverish and congested and generally miserable -- still had an immense appetite, and sending and answering emails in an effort to keep the last weeks of the semester from turning into a complete tire fire.
Also, some gra…

Writing Practices, Processes, and Productivity

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Kristy Bowen, founder, editor, and publisher of dancing girl press, wrote this blog post about her writing habits since earning her MFA, and even though Bowen and I lead very different lives in terms of particulars, I found this passage resonated with me especially: Other related things were happening during this time--girl show, my thesis mss, which was rendered adrift when Ghost Road went under in 2010, was picked up by Black Lawrence and slated for publication.  Noctuary solicited shared properties... and released it in 2013.  The JF poems were a huge success when Sundress published them as an e-chap.  All of which drew me out of the funk I'd been in for awhile and made me less likely to doubt my commitment to sparkle motion. I felt more like a poet again--so I guess I started to act more like it.

But even still that pace, since around 2013, has been much slower and less productive than this year all by itself, and I feel like it's for a very simple and rather unc…

Blergh and More Blergh: Notes from the Week

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11.13.18: Just logging this here, as one does when one keeps a blog that tracks one's writing process: I've reached a weird, uncomfortable place with the poetry manuscript. Here's a list of my ridiculous fears/problems: I fear I've jinxed myself by calling this collection of poems a manuscript.I've written myself into a weird space with the narrative arc. I don't know where to go next.I'm not having as much fun writing the poems, which tells me they probably aren't good.Part of this is because my mind feels pretty divided. Feeling like I should be grading instead of writing really squashes creativity.Blergh. 11.15.18: Feeling better. Did some whining in the above notes, got that out of my system, and then managed to write another two poems I kinda like. So. In one of my "I-don't-know-what-to-write-lemme-look-over-what-I-already-have" moods, I noticed that since September, I wrote about 9 poems in one two week period, then 6 in the next two …

Voting, Writing, Grading, & the End of Soccer Season

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Welp. This week I voted -- not that it did a damn bit of good on a -- baffling -- dominantly Republican Long Island, but it happened. I'm thrilled with the bulk of the changes that took place across the U.S. but wish that locally the Democrats had made more of a dent, even if I'm not wholly in love with the Democratic party. Our current House Representative for our district engages in a kind of conservatism that attracts the racist and the anti-feminist, which I find utterly demoralizing (it's so difficult to have neighbors that find that shit acceptable), and his campaign was rife with typical Trump-era fear-mongering, but I SUPPOSE I should find some encouragement that he won by a 4% margin, which is a clear win but by no means a landslide.

I try not to wax on about politics in this blog because that's NOT its primary purpose but it's difficult to ignore the state of this country sometimes. The latest with Jim Acosta has me so angry -- but nope. Not gonna do it.…

** Ridiculous Extra Mid-Week Blog Post **

We interrupt this regular week of drowning in grading (but still writing poems in the morning, because stubborn) to make the following announcement: ALITALIA FOUND MY LOST LUGGAGE, YA'LL. IN PALERMO. SUPPOSEDLY IMMA GET IT BACK.
I mean, we'll see it when we believe it, ammaright? Or some such nonsense. I may be giddy from lack of sleep, or the adrenaline rush that occurs when one receives a call from Sicily. Anyway, that's all for now. I'll post pictures if/when the prodigal son of suitcases makes its return to New York.

Blogging, Poems, Podcasts, & Homecoming

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I've noticed -- maybe you've noticed, if you pay attention to when these posts come out -- that I'm on more of a biweekly schedule with the blog of late. It's not a bad thing, really. I am often negligent in posting to the blog because on Friday mornings, when I would usually write a blog post, I'm busy still working on the poem, and when 9:30 rolls around I switch to the Long Form Friday mode, and work on, well, long-form projects.
The poems are turning into a kind of long form project themselves, developing into what is undoubtedly a manuscript -- but I'm nervous about assigning anything formal to what I'm working on. Lately, I've slowed down in the poem-generation, compared to my pace in August and September. Part of this is because I see a kind of narrative emerging, and that narrative dictates certain kinds of poems that must be written; and this is kind of unfortunate, because I don't want anything to dictate any direction at this point. I li…

Long Form Friday Report

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Spent three and a half hours writing just over 1500 words of Accountability Partners today (my non-verse play). And in the morning, before the kids woke up, I wrote another poem for the new manuscript. That makes over 60 poems written since the end of June! 
Sorry for the blog brag, but I had to share my good news with the universe. I'm on some kind of unprecedented tear here, and thoroughly enjoying it. I mean, not all of those 1500 words are golden, and I sincerely doubt all of the poems are publishable (certainly not right now -- most need the benefit of time and careful revision) . . . but I'm so, so happy and grateful for the generation. And, yes, relieved. Because at this time last year, I was already having serious doubts about my abilities and future as a writer (even before the bad news/sabbatical debacle). After all -- while it goes a long way toward helping with validation, publication is not necessarily the thing that makes one feel like the genuine article. It…

Bread Loaf Sicily 2018 Recap

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This post comes to you from the ultra-glamorous lobby of my local Long Island garage, where the Honda is having its oil changed, so rest assured: Sicily was an aberration in the life of this gal, and things are back to normal: the suburban soccer mom gig is alive and well, my friends.
But I shall spend this post mostly in photographs, documenting the best parts of Sicily (although our running joke was about how absolutely none of these do justice to the beautiful views from Erice). 
Before we get to the vacation slides, though (I'm channeling every 1950s father here . . .), I'll share that Bread Loaf Sicily was a really wonderful program. Far less formal and intense, I believe, than the regular program in Vermont, but no less useful for this particular writer. In fact, I'd venture to say -- even though I've never attended the regular program -- that it was probably far more useful than the regular program ever could have been. 
I learned much from observing C. Dale Yo…

A Quick Post from the Sabbatical I Stole (Kind Of) By Running Away to Sicily

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A. and I spent two really quick days (really more like one) in Venice, Italy and then spent most of today traveling to the medieval city of Erice, which is in Sicily.

So far: Italian food is just as amazing as everyone believes, in Europe a glass of water is still more difficult to come by than alcohol, Alitalia DID lose my luggage and I've yet to hear what happened to it, AND I've written two poems on two different flights (and they might be crap poems, but at least I was writing).

Also, the view from the hotel is fucking amazing. And no, my photos don't really do it justice.

Also also, I'm running on very little sleep.

The Bread Loaf Sicily Writers Conference seems great so far -- everyone who is a part of its inner workings is friendly and helpful and down to earth. Tonight the entire program convenes together for a big dinner, and then tomorrow craft talks and workshops begin.

I wanted to get *something* written here because I missed posting last week, but mostly…

The Self-Granted Residency and My Year of Being Bad: First Week

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Things are looking up for this old bird. 
The first week of classes has come and gone and they were pleasantly uneventful, blissfully routine. I continued my morning writing ritual and wrote three new poems. And today I begin the first of what will be, with luck and perseverance and a little bit of selfishness thrown in, the first of what I'm calling Long Form Fridays. (Because, you know, like the true dork I am, I love to give everything alliterative titles . . .)
Long Form Fridays are going to entail taking my butt to the Starbucks where I wrote while the kids were in camp and parking myself at a table to write for three hours. It seems like as good a place as any -- far enough away from my house and its chaos, definitely far enough from the campus and ITS noise and chaos -- where I can begin work again on my long-form projects: first, my Accountability Partners play, and after that, the verse play that's officially in Title Limbo (one of the reasons I need to sit and work …

Summer Stats and Cautious Optimism for the New Semester

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This is the last weekend of freedom before the new school year begins. I went into the office yesterday to clean it out -- there was so much junk stashed everywhere from last year's drop-and-run. I would come into the office with one pile of folders and books, place them on a desk or a table, and then pick up another pile of folders and books, and run off again. When I did work in the office it was often between columns of stacked files and assignments and general clutter. 
I don't really want to do that again, if I can avoid it -- so I had a "purge day" wherein I went through all of the stacks and sorted through what needed to be filed and what needed to be recycled. When I left yesterday I had three or four boxes/bags of material to be recycled (which I'm doing at home because I don't trust that the school genuinely recycles -- I've watched our janitorial staff combine trash and recycling in the same cart and that's just suspicious  . . . I mean, a…

Persona Poems, Rejections, Decluttering, and Trash Pandas

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Since abandoning Effbook and InstaTimeSuck, I've been waaaaay out of the poetry-world drama loop. This has been a very good thing. Of course, sometimes I have twinges of Fear of Missing Out, but they are really, and somewhat surprisingly, few and far between. Also somewhat surprisingly, I've discovered that I like minding my own business.
I did catch wind, however, of "that poem" published in The Nation in late July from fellow poetry bloggers, who have been more or less my one way of staying connected, however loosely, to the poetry world at-large (which is, ya know, still fairly small). I'm not going to rehash all of that here, but I thought that Kristy Bowen wrote a good meditation on crafting persona poems as a result, and so I'm sharing it here.
August has begun its now-typical delivery of multiple rejections, as most of the awards and contests to which I submitted my manuscript earlier in the year (and one proposal to a conference-of-which-we-won't…

Plans, New Projects, and Ignoring Henry Miller

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In the wake of Micro-Sabbatical Summer 2018, I've kept writing and done some small fine-tooth-comb type edits to poems that I've written this summer -- which happen to number FOURTEEN, if you're curious. 
I know, I know, I'm just as shocked as you are. 
I know that for other writers this isn't really a big deal, but I know also that there are some of you who understand this feeling -- this feeling of having been treading water for a really, really, really long time and then finally venturing toward some distant shore. The shore may be really far off in the fucking distance, but you're finally able to swim toward it. Maybe that's a lame and expected metaphor.  But I warned you -- I'm still rusty.
Yesterday I met with M.S. and we shared with each other the work we've been attempting to eke out this summer, something especially challenging for her, because she's been teaching art at a camp for the past month and a half. We talked also about our Re…

Micro-Sabbatical Summer 2018

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Monday: Wrote just over 1400 words of "Accountability Partners," a play I began writing in the summer of 2016 as part of the Stony Brook Southampton Script Development lab. BOOM! I now have three complete scenes. If I accomplish nothing else this week, I will have had these three hours in the Starbucks off the service road of the Sunrise Highway. Living the dream, people.
Tuesday: Ermagherd, peeps. Just over 1000 words today. Not that 1000 words really means anything significant. I'm not exactly aiming for word length with this play. But I'm thinking of word length in terms of commitment. Another three hours of concentrated work on the play today. And another three hours of sitting in a Starbucks. I'm cold and full of coffee and my teeth are on edge between the air-conditioning and the caffeine in my system. But I wrote! And I have another scene! Maybe I'll actually keep it! Who knows! So many exclamation points!!
Wednesday: Okay. Around 700 words on the play t…

Setting Small Fires (My Week of Mood Swings, Poem Writing, and Demolition)

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This week was a strange one, where I've vacillated between periods of extreme productivity and good humor and lower moments of stasis and frustration. To be honest, it feels a little like mania and depression, which is startling, but I'm going to stop just before the point of self-diagnosis and chalk it up instead to a weird mood swing, or bullshit like the full moon and maybe something fun and ridiculous like Mercury in retrograde. (Is Mercury in retrograde? What does that even mean?)
I have been in hiding from so many of my favorite people for weeks, mostly because I'm afraid of spreading my weird bad mood, which honestly has persisted since this spring and seems to be dissipating but then rears its ugly head again. If you're one of those favorite people, please be patient with me. 
Anyway, let's focus on the positive, shall we? Some of my little wins this week have been poem-related. Something happened Monday morning and I woke up with ideas for poems and …

Podcasts, Poetry, and Post-post-post Modern Memoir (and Wild Turkeys and Bathroom Demo)

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Time off in Virginia meant time off the blog, and some time off from writing, too. The car rides down and up the East Coast were long, but Miss New Teen, The Boy, and I listened to the S-Town podcast during the drive. It's just as good as people claim -- and probably just as ethically murky, too, but more like real journalism than anything I've read or watched or listened to in a decade.
It was full of profanity but nothing my kids haven't heard spill out of their sweet, innocent mother's mouth before (*eyeroll*), so after I gave them the "remember, don't repeat these words" lecture (and they inwardly rolled their eyes at me), we listened and they asked questions and learned more about the world's ugliness but also about its beauty -- specifically, the beauty we find in love (McLemore's for Tyler Goodson, for example) and intelligence and curiosity (McLemore's -- his was a mad, brilliant mind.) We all learned more than we'd ever thought …