Showing posts from 2013

Goodbye, Stuart. And, Thank You.

Stuart Downs, one of my undergraduate instructors at James Madison University, died on Saturday. It was unexpected (at the age of 63) but he died of natural causes. I'm sure this doesn't comfort his family much. I'm not sure it comforts me. I miss Stuart. I did miss Stuart, while he was alive and we were in different parts of the country, but I kind of thought I'd see him again on one of my trips back south. Our communication over th e years since I left JMU was brief and sporadic but it meant a lot to me. He was an incredibly generous and gracious instructor, mentor and friend. He treated his students with respect, while he challenged us, and he was unfailingly supportive of our endeavors. Above all, he was kind. I adored his Open Studio class. It changed the way I looked at art and writing and collaboration. He treated me as a peer. He treated us all as peers. From Stuart, I learned what it means to be an artist – it means you have to acknowledge the a

Gabrielle Calvocoressi on the Best American Poetry Blog

The view from my office. I have an ungodly (I just typed undogly, har har har) amount of work to do and so I really shouldn't be trolling around the internet, but I just read this and I love that last paragraph and crap I wish I could spend this whole lovely, cool rainy morning just reading and writing and thinking. Instead, I'm going to spend the morning grading really godawful drafts of things and completing obligatory committee work. I feel like my soul is shrinking.

Recommended Reading & Good News

As you may have guessed from the stunning lack of posts on this blog over the past few months, I haven't had a lot of time for outside reading. I did, however, have a few minutes in the middle of the night (while feeding Vampire Baby) to catch up on some of my blog reading, and I stumbled on this lovely and sad piece of flash fiction by Jen Knox. Also, one of my former colleagues (now happily retired and writing full time), interviewed me about Fabulous Beast: The Sow over at The Best American Poetry Blog, and the post went live this week. I babbled on for way too long and L.E. probably should have edited my answers, but it was fun to talk about the poems and be forced to think about the process of writing them, and why I made certain aesthetic choices. (I should note, too, that it took me over a month to answer six simple, direct, good questions from L.E., who has endless patience with me. He's a good friend.) Anyway, onward and upward  . . . or sideways and backwa

Pics from Last Weekend's Readings

Margaret Bashaar and Adam Penna before the reading begins Action shot! Yup, photos of readings are PRETTY exciting. (These are from the reading at Great Falls Public Library in Great Falls, Virginia.)

My First Review! Ever!

I won't do this every time someone writes something nice and thoughtful (or not nice and thoughtful) about my book. But this is the first time anyone's written anything about it . . . so, you know. Thanks, Jake Hainey. Also, it's kinda nice to know that the Goodreads Giveaway wasn't too bad of an idea. I'm going to remember this when I'm struggling to get everything done and I wonder why o why did I spend time on that Goodreads thing when I could have been grading . . . Actually, I'll probably NEVER wonder why I spent time doing something other than grading. I hate grading. (I have to go back to grading. Blerg!)

Epistolary Poetry//Sigh of Relief

I was talking with my friend L.E. today about the Best American Poetry Blog, which I do read occasionally but haven't read in a while, and when I returned home today and fed the baby, I looked up the blog and found this . Guest blogger Amanda Smeltz's post makes me laugh because of its tone, and I admire that she's honest about what she likes and particularly about what she doesn't like. And while I'm not really crazy about the sample epistolary poem she gives us, Matt Hart's, I sure as hell like Richard Hugo's. That's about all for now. It's that point in the semester where I'm amazed every time I get to the end of a week -- amazed that I've survived, that I haven't been fired for incompetence, or that my children are actually well-fed, relatively clean, cared for.

Winners of the "Fabulous Beast: The Sow" Giveaway

So this was fun. And weird. People sure like free stuff -- 1349 people (you read that right) signed up over Goodreads to win a free copy of my chapbook. I am not a well-known writer, nor am I under any delusion that there are 1349 feminist scholars out there, or even 1349 ordinary everyday readers, who think the idea of a sequence of poems about a pig who shifts shape is a really GOOD idea and wow, wouldn't I like to own a book like that?  No, people just like winning free stuff. And I am O-K with that. At the very least, I'm hoping that the 10 people who DID win DO actually wish to read the poems inside the free book they're about to receive in the mail. And by the way, Goodreads uses some kind of complex algorithm to figure out which lucky 10 readers are allowed to win books in the giveaway, so please don't blame ME if you didn't win a copy. You can, however, email me if you'd like one. Here are the lucky 10:  (I think it's so cool to ima

Good News, Grading, and the Gradual Decline of My Mind

Well, somehow I made it to the end of the week without completely losing my mind or my dignity. I say completely, because I'm fairly sure I lost a little of both. And that's pretty standard. I'm losing brain cells and pride the way a beach loses sand . . . a little bit at a time, imperceptibly, until one day, people'll be like, "Wow, she's nuts!" the way we go to the beach and say, "Wow, the water's right up to the dunes now." Or something like that. The beach losing sand is more impressive, really. I have a gajillion papers to finish grading this weekend. And myriad errands to run with the kiddos, who need clothes, diapers, birthday presents for friends . . . so I don't have high hopes for the grading. I do have good news to share, though. Verse Wisconsin Online published two of my poems (with audio -- a first for me!) and the issue was just released today. So that's happy-making. Even if I look like a sleep-deprived h

Oh, That's Not Dog Hair . . . Our Carpet Color is "Labrador Blonde" (IT'S DOG HAIR)

At the moment I'm forgoing vacuuming; the washing, drying, and folding of laundry; decluttering; dishes; grading; typing up committee meeting notes; working on the creative writing festival; and probably an additional five items I can't remember at the moment because my brain is fried . . . in order to write a blog post.  But it needed to happen, I suspect. Lest you all think I'd died. Also, I'm PROBABLY a lot healthier when I write regularly, even if the writing is not exactly diary-like and consists of simply sharing poems and articles I find on the internet. I looked here the other day and realized I hadn't written since the first day of school. And that, my friends, seems like a lifetime ago. (And yet strangely, I can't believe that September has passed and that we're almost halfway through the fall semester.) Despite A.P.'s assertions that I look like a deer in headlights most Mondays, I think I'm doing all right with the three-kid sys

First Day of the New Semester on the New (to me) Campus

Hahahahahaha. Just kidding. It wasn't bad.

Panic and Poetry

Hello. I have been a frenetic ball of stress this week, bouncing between my computer and my children in an attempt to keep the my course outlines clothed and fed and the children ready for my first day back at school next week.  Wait, that doesn't sound right. Between little sleep and little time to prep for classes I've been marvelously bitchy. It's poems like this one , which arrived in my email inbox this morning, that help me laugh a little and take a deep breath and realize I might be able to pull this thing off. This thing being, you know, adulthood. (Consequently, I like Jordan Davis' little note that accompanies his poem as well.) It's also a good reminder that I need to interact with my kids more, instead of trying to distract them with TV while I get shit done. I am one massive parenting #fail this month. Little Miss Talkalot and I are going to be writing our August Poetry Postcard Projects into September. But we'll finish the task! I

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Twenty-One

A windmill This poem might be my favorite.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Twenty

That says "Niko" in the heart. Awww.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Nineteen

A devil, and the subject of today's poem Today's poem/flash fiction was a long one! Well, long for Little Miss Talkalot.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Eighteen

And now I'm fucking Hallmark. Well, I'm not FUCKING Hallmark, I'm WRITING Hallmark-like ver. . . you get the picture.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Seventeen

More drafts like Mama's. Love, love her drawings. Improved penmanship.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Sixteen

I'm really digging her artwork lately. Her penmanship, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. School will take care of that, I think. (I'm too lazy to really go all Tiger Mom on her.) "Mom, look -- I did what you do when you write poems." Ohmygodsocute.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Fifteen


Poetry Postcard Project: Day Fourteen

She asked for a topic; I gave her "the beach"; she decided on "seasons"

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Thirteen

A stamp of a bird on a branch, but it's kinda difficult to tell. The Boy provided the artwork for my postcard. Just in case you couldn't tell.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Twelve

  "Tree of Life" by Mark Ryden

What I Read When I'm Exhausted and Worn Out from Child-Wrangling

This poem . And then I feel better. (Not less tired, but better.)

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Eleven

"California Brown Bear" by Mark Ryden

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Ten

Little Miss Talkalot and I are now about 6 days behind schedule. We're moving slowly, but at least we're moving. And speaking of moving, I'm in the process of moving all of my stuff from my office on the central campus of Stuffolk to the eastern campus . . . as well as taking care of various responsibilities for our union's New Member program and the Creative Writing Festival. On the home front, we've been moving The Boy into his older sister's room, and turning it into a livable space for both little people. There are a LOT of toys and pieces of furniture to contend with. So my attention's a little divided these days. Also, I feel really ambivalent about my move to the new campus. Maybe it's because I've got so much going on that it's difficult for the realization to sink in  . . . but I think it's because I was really very happy working with everyone in my old department, and I'm finding it difficult to imagine NOT being a par

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Nine, Posted Five Days Late

Why is it that the minute life slowed down (The Leadership Torture Camp Conference ended) things fell apart? And by "things fell apart," I mean that I caught a nasty cold -- WTF August? -- and our Poetry Postcard Project was derailed. We're still writing, but the post cards have to be sent. Here's what went in the mail over the weekend, that I didn't have time to put up on the blog until today: Mark Ryden's "Logging Truck" Little Miss Talkalot and Nana forgot to take a photo of her poem & postcard before they mailed it on Friday, while I was in the clutches of the last hours of Leadershipness. I tried finding the draft in her journal but there are also lyrics for pop songs in there, a la the Disney Radio machine, and it's tough to say what's intended for a poem and what's intended for a song. So I'm just going to let this one go and post my stuff.

Poetry Postcard Project: Day Eight

Fun with stamps from, yet again, the fabulous Ms. L.M. (She really is the best gift-giver.) Don't let her fool you. She's really just excited about her back-to-school clothes. Also, let's work on her spelling of August, shall we? The Apology by Mark Ryden I'm not sure I have enough "wisdom" in me to keep up this conceit for all of August.