Sunday, October 31, 2004

another san francisco shot and obviously Ive had a spelling problem in the last photo...there is no edit on hello but the boats are still pretty... Posted by Hello

finally posting on of my san fransico photos...make me want to jump back on the plane Posted by Hello

happy halloween

I am feeling better but now of course the girls both have colds. I even caught the cat sneezing today. Bella and Olivia went to a big party Friday night, while I drank red wine and read a book at home (I know poor me) and it seems Bella has the knack for door prizes. They had a basket filled with gourmet chocolate and of course my six year old was in heaven when she won…the basket weighs more than she does. That plus the loot she got tonight and we are looking at some serious dentist bills. It does seem wrong to waste godiva on a child and I am not above trading her a giant snickers for the basket. I know, bad, bad mom.
On a side note and to answer some of the emails I received, no in real life I don’t think Virginia was ugly, it just seemed that Nicole Kidman was made to look like crap. I don’t think I would have cast her in that role. Iris was one of the best writing movies I’ve ever seen so if you haven’t seen it, check it out. Kate Blanchett is in that one, I believe and I think they just made her out to look naked. Why does it seems that writers need to either be portrayed as sluts or shutins?????
I am getting the itch to write fiction. I read the short stories in the New England Review and it just seems that I have so many more stories in my head that haven’t been told by anyone. This is going to sound awful but I also think there are more talented poets out there than short story writers so the competion isnt so harsh. I would love to see a ratio. I know most journals get more poetry submissions than anything else. I know some people are poetry purists but I don’t think I am one. Poetry will always be my first love but I’ve been known to fool around a little. It seems narrow to me to say I only work in this medium. I think as artist we should continue to push ourselves to grow. Right now I am going push myself to bed….

Thursday, October 28, 2004

sicker than a dog and the gay man inside

The sniffles that the girls had turned into a full fledge cold with me. Of course b/c I am the grownup but luckily it was my day off today so I spent three hours in bed working on the manuscript with out feeling guilty. In motherhood that doesnt happen often....
How come I can edit better when I am sicker than hell? I think it is the Nyquil, either that or the high fever has made me delusional. Possibly the combination of both.
Nothing new to report. I went to IKEA and bought bookcases today before the chills set in. I am a book addict which means I would take a good book over food and I like owning them. Yes, I know there are libraries but I think I am still scarred from that 30 dollar fine when I was 11 and they banned me from the South Berwick public library for a whole month. If I own it I don’t have to bring it back.
Has anyone out there watched queer as folk? It is like a gay man’s soap opera with a bit more nudity. Yes, I know I am a middle age white woman but I think I have a gay male inside me. And he very much enjoyed the twenty hour dvd set of the first season. Of course I wish he come out during my clothing purchase b/c I never know what to wear. Seems he only to affects my tv viewing, that and theatre. I was the only woman in the first three rows to see Victor Victoria.
Julia Andrews. Simply amazing.
Anyway I am off to bed. Please send soup

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A Room Of My Own Or Maybe A Broom Closet

The movie opens with Nicole Kidman looking well, a bit ugly and she is writing at her desk. The maid brings her water, she pushes her food away. She writes better hungry. She has a room, a desk. She is Virginia Wolfe and the image of everything I’ve ever thought I’d be when I became a writer. Except of course, hopefully without the ugly.
Now here is my writing life. To save paper Bella has begun drawing her animals on all my old manuscripts, it is not uncommon to find a purple puppy on top of a cow covering an unfinished poem. I have resorted to locking myself in the bathroom with the laptop.
I write a line to a poem and I have to get somebody juice, milk, the phone rings and where the hell is Virginia’s maid?
The fact is, writing while being a mother is like trying to have tea in a mine field. Sexton said when her children were small she would wake up in the middle of night and write crap but essential crap because it got her where she needed to be.
I get the crap part. And the frustration of reading young writer blogs who teach classes and then come home to hours of time to work. I am not jealous. Okay well maybe a little but I just wish there was a first book contest for women writing in mind fields. It does seem a bit more fair.
Well that is the bad part but the good part is my children love me. My ten year old always asks me great questions like “how old do you have to be to use shit in a poem.”
I said of course it depends whether you are writing good poems or not—very few poets use shit well. I read her great poets at bedtime. She already done her first reading 0f her own work in front of people. It is amazing to pass on the love of words. With hopefully not the poets mental illness rate.
And my children continually humble me. There is not much an editor can say about my work after I spend hours picking up the living room with my poems filled with barnyard animals. I know from where I come from. My girls always remind me.My children own me. For now. And may be this is my essential crap period but I would not trade it for anything. They are amazing, horrible beasts but yes the maid could bring me some more alone time….

Monday, October 25, 2004

Poets in the Modern World

All these book competitions will make you crazy…okay, maybe it’s just me. I do realize that most of mid America does NOT even read poetry, never mind the work and craziness trying to figure out how to publish a book. I have conversations at work all the time about “why don’t you write something useful” And the fact that I specialize in girl self esteem and the art classes as I do, article writing is not a bad way to go, that is if I were SANE. I am not…obliviously…
Okay so time for a secret. Not the lace underwear in the closet kind of thing but my grandfather was a poet. Published three books of poetry. Self published….but that combined with the fact he was senator, in our little town in Maine, made that man famous. I would go to book signings, touch his books on the shelf and I think it is pretty safe to say my mind has been twisted about writing for a very long time.
I am writer. And I can’t explain it but to say when I give a reading or I am in my room and a poem has just flown out of me, it is the truest form of who I am. It is Teresa pure. Stripped down. I know at that moment there is nothing else I want beside this. No one else.
But I fight continually with the fact that I am a lazy ass. Like now, I should be working on the book but I rather be here. Because this is instant gratification and my character is always drawn to that.
I read somewhere about how this person wanted to be a writer but was not willing to do the work of a writer. Wow did that hit home. Am I willing to do the work of a writer? To be disciplined in my art. I wasn’t in painting. I was a damn good painter and my professors pulled their hair out because I had no passion. I do for this but do I have discipline.
When does poetry become work? Should it be work? Or does it have the need to be more mystical? I know people who fight over such topics. I tend to go more to the work side. I mean some of its basic odd. If you are going to spend 14 years working on a manuscript and sending it out chances are someone is going to publish you. I mean the odds are high. Does that make you talented. Well talent is another question. And the other question is, who will be tomorrow great poets. Will it be Gluck, Collins or will it be some unknown person. Who knows…..and at the rate society is processing, will there always be poetry?God, I hope so….

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Up Hill and I might be rolling down any minute

I have missed two readings I wanted to hear this month. Spencer Reese and Fanny Howe, I have both their books and am really mad at myself for not being committed to the time. Both readings fell on days I had the children and I’ve become more and more reclusive as I work on submissions & the manuscript. I go out to eat sushi and work.
I don’t believe being in the house writing is always a good thing but it is the way my body is naturally working at the moment. I just applied for the Palm Beach Poetry Contest and I sent off my third submission to Beloit Poetry Journal . The first letter asked for more work, the second asked me to rework a poem they liked (which I did) and now I have sent three more poems and reworked the one they liked.
I hope I get in. I am a little obsessive about it at the moment. Anne Sexton was first published in this journal, Langston Hughes. I think it is the oldest poetry journal in New England and is based in Maine where I grew up. Did I mention I am a little obsessive about it?
I am filled with the feeling of not being good enough. I wonder if there is a writer out there who loves sending things off. If so please feel free to take over this area in my life.
I am very big on encouraging people to send work out, ask poor Laurel. But I don’t think it ever becomes natural. I do think that the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the less you think about it. Of course till you are again forced to think about it because it is a place you really, really want to get into.
Like everything else when I am unaware of self I do better. It is a long list. I write better when I don’t think. I do readings better. I make love better. When I am not aware of steps I do not limited myself.
Oh well today I am very aware and there has to be some worth in that. Anyone who knows what it is please email me. I love the stanza of the poem below. Laux emailed it to me this morning and I have no idea what poem it is from and google has not helped me. Did you ever have on of those day when you know you are moving but it mostly up hill?

a stanza for morning

"We had moves we didn't know we had
our bodies spun on swivels of bone and faith,
through a lyric slipknot of joy
and we knew we were beautiful
and dangerous."- Yusef Komunyakaa

Friday, October 22, 2004


I truly believe in the statement “if you ask the universe a question it will answer back” I’ve been struggling this week with all the things I have to get done. I’ve been struggling with questions inside myself.
The short story is one of my daughter’s best friends comes from a fairly well to do family and the mother has a studio where she paints full time. I was faced with the possibility this month of being able to write full time and then it fell through. The income that would support both me and the girls for a year so I could write did not happen. This causes so many voices in my head to do battle.
I like being a working writer. I feel like I get nothing done. When I have something in my head I am forever putting in on the back burner because, my real job, or the girls need me and the time to write falls away. I don’t feel organized. When I have time I have no inspiration.
Anyway I was feeling very jealous of this woman and then reminding myself we each have or own struggles and I would not want to trade place with her anyway. But it is hard to do when I think of all the time she has to work and somehow this creates a picture of her in my head with Bach playing, paint flying and birds singing. It is rather lovely.
Well of course as the universe goes, we ended up having a long talk today and she said she doesn’t feel validated or worth anything b/c her partner brings home all the income while she paints. So much for the flying birds.
I find that so sad that we have to put a monetary value on our art. What is value? We give value in our society to all sorts of things, is the unpublished writer more valued then the published one? How do we value ourselves? Are our successes worth more then mistakes?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

sunday love

I love Sundays, my perfect day, all is quiet and peaceful. I have a perfect time to 11:11—I just like it when all the numbers fill up the clock a certain way, of course you need a digital clock. I am going to post some of our photos from San Francisco later today. The City Lights books store was amazing even though it was 95 in there, and the die hard poets were all up in the attic. It was like a writers hall of fame held in the depths of hell.
And how sad is this—I got a black & white photo of Edwidge Danticat to keep in my writing journal. She is an amazing writer and my age, five books under her belt. I cant look at the photo very long or I get depressed at my lack of publication.
Last night Bella was talking in her sleep “sssshhhh, the trees are dancing” God I want to have her dreams. I been dreaming about the convention I am teaching on Thursday & Friday and my images are so much more stressful.
I am reading Margot Schillip right now. I posted my favorite poem below. God I love that a poem. I really should shower and brush my teeth, it is almost noon. Did I mention I love Sundays????

Saturday, October 16, 2004

an amazing poem


I know that dying is how we escape
the rest of our lives. I think that trees
send us a message: do not believe

you are lucky. The skins of apples
and the peeler will marry; it's simply
a question of when. Believe

in mourning and carrion birds.
Look how their fleshy treasures
dissolve in the sun before their very eyes.

To love something
you must have considered what it means
to do without. You must have thought

about it—the coefficient of the body
is another body—but do not forget
that there are people who are willing

to staple your palm to your chest.
Know there are places it isn't wise to go.
Begin again if you must: there are ways

to make up for what you have been before,
the dust in the corners that collects you.
Sympathy is overrated.

Rethink how lack
becomes everyone's master, drives us
into town and spends our money.

Quiet: the trees are napping.
Water meets itself again.
We reach for the days that precede us

and the world keeps us from knowing
too much. The body loves music,
the abandoned road of it;

each day a peel
lengthens in the shadow of blossoms,
fabric weaves itself into light.

Pay attention to the patterns.
They repeat—terraces erode,
groves lie fallow—order is cognate of joy.

Copyright © 2003 Margot Schilpp All rights reserved

Dorriane Laux and John C at the reading...which was also my birthday. We had lots and lots of fun... Posted by Hello

Joseph Millar, Steve Mueske, John C and friends at the workshop Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Drive and does anyone know when we will get there???

Laurel talked about drive in the post below and that is a good question, does a poet need drive to succeed? First of all I think it’s hard to have drive if you are not being published. I mean when I am rejected from a journal I feel bummed out but then I remember what it feels like to get in so I send my work off again. Every step feels like I get closer to the goal…and that goal continually changes.
I remember two years ago when I wanted to enter Ploughshares Emerging Writers Issue and I needed someone to sponsor me so I wrote to different people and none of the writers I knew met Ploughshares qualifications so I just off the top of my hat decided to write to Kim Addoznia and asked her to sponsor me. Of course, she already had a student she was entering but she gave me great advice about taking small steps as a poet, of paying my dues. It was then I think I began to work.
Honestly I am a lazy ass poet. I don’t think I’ve even yet truly begun to work. Brigit Pegeen Kelly sometimes spends a year on one poem. I want to have that kind of drive. I’ve never done that and in truth I don’t think the manuscript is done…I don’t think I’ve even begun to work. My lack of drive is something I fight with every day so dear Laurel I think you should get another hero or at least give yourself credit for getting up every day and writing---its damn hard to do that some days.
I think I sent things off so I can live with myself. I know I have to enter Yale this year not because the manuscript is great but because it is a step and a hurtle I need to get over. I am 37 years old. I have three more years to enter this damn thing and then low and behold I’m an old poet:) But I also know it would be so much easier to let it slide till I’m 40 and close the door on myself with the safety net of well maybe….and that does feel like a greater crime.
I got really mad at Carolyn when she said that some poets go 15 years of working non stop to get a manuscript published and it takes that long. She has a good friend who that happened to...I was like, why are you telling me this???? I feel like such a child with her sometimes. Drive...that is a question I ask myself every day. Would I go the 15 years? Honestly, I have no idea...

Monday, October 11, 2004

Yale and Bread

I am feeling better about the book. I don’t want to jinx myself and say it out loud but I don’t think a blog counts. I of course have been reading everything Gl├╝ck has selected in a contest forum before the book goes off to Yale. I don’t think there is a chance in hell…she loves those strong male voices and I don’t mean that as an insult but it is true. She picks men and my book is very much me, and maybe there is a male bone in there somewhere but I can’t find it.
The reason I am feeling better is that I think I have finally figure out what Laux was talking about during the workshop this summer that we must write the poetry only we can write. There is something about claiming those words…like cowslip for me which is a part of my own childhood in Maine. I have a language only I know and the trick is to get it out on the page….oh hell, I sure hope I’m not jinxing myself. It has been nice to spend the last few days really writing and not feeling so stuck.
Oh and I decided to try for Breadloaf this year as Carolyn Forche suggested. Now time to stop playing and get to work….

Sunday, October 10, 2004

big head

Okay so my big head was the first step of technology, anyone who knows how to put the links on the side to other people’s blog, please email me (and talk to me like Im three. )
I have been reading for twenty minutes and still cannot figure it out. It is always those simple things which confuse me but at least I figured out how to post photos…one small step for man….

te ballard Posted by Hello

Sarah Jewett

The Author Visits Sarah Jewett

Riding down route 4, it was possible
not to touch the handlebars until the edge
of the flower garden bloomed
over the front wheel of my bike.
I’d hide behinda kitchen door, listening to a man,
almost always a man, saying words like literature,
scholar, then I’d sneak past the tour guide to a child’s bed,
blue herons on a wall, curved heads,
reflections of eyes in windows searching down
to my brother’s shirt pulled tight across my chest.
Miss Davis cleaned the house daily, her brother, a pedophile
collected girls on his back porch like bottles, blue,
brown, red; their long necks kissing air
calling to me as I rode by. I knew nothing of poetry
only that the darkest maple bled
sweet syrup and long ago, on this road,
a writer found a bird and people came
from all around to view the white-blue house.
In her room I imagined Sarah, the two of us
joined together, covered by the shell of an egg,
yellow light streaming down, lace patterns
falling over our skin. I knew she’d be able
to identify cowslips growing
by the backdoor near the pine. Sarah
was the kind of girl who'd ride her bike
fast through a broken yard, call to her friends,
save them one by one like feathers
tucked in the pockets of her jeans.

*side notes

Jewett was most likely a lesbain, married once
but rumored to have "serious" relationship with certain young girls

she was rich, very rich and could write
without any eating

if you google miss davis's name it gives you her telelphne number
which makes me think I should change it before it goes to print

I grew up in that libary...which is no bigger than my bedroom now
in the center of that house...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Happy Birthday Merwin

this poem really stuck with me today


I will tell you what he told me
in the years just after the war
as we then called
the second world war

don't lose your arrogance yet he said
you can do that when you're older
lose it too soon and you may
merely replace it with vanity

just one time he suggested
changing the usual order
of the same words in a line of verse

why point out a thing twice
he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally

it was in the days before the beard
and the drink but he was deep
in tides of his own through which he sailed
chin sideways and head tilted like a tacking sloop

he was far older than the dates allowed for
much older than I was he was in his thirties
he snapped down his nose with an accent
I think he had affected in England

as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry
he said the great presence

that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention
I had hardly begun to read

I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't
you can't you can never be sure

you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write

i'm stapeling that last stanza to my head

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Unidentified Tree Grows Fruit

The Unidentified Tree Grows Fruit

Peeking through the last branch
I see it by mere chance,
glancing up to check the clouds.

Two days later
I call it plum or plume, lick the cool skin
with my tongue, there is something erotic
about wanting yet leaving it there to grow,
to fall to the ground.

At night I say to my lover,
do you remember the cherries in Paris,
the rain falling through the window near the day bed
and the ripe, red world?

My lover has never been to Paris.
Once we took the children to an island
off the coast of Lake Superior,
when the children believed us friends,
who held hands secretly,
who made love quietly

while the birds slept,
and the girls grew round.

The tree is old,
nothing is expected,
the leaves fall, then return.

Somewhere there is a country
where the streets are always wet with rain.

Friday, October 01, 2004


O happy Friday...I have been thinking about Victoria's question on her blog about jealousy and I still don’t see it as a bad thing. It depends how you define it, I suppose. I read Dancing In Oddessa and I thought, what an amazing book, I wish I had written it. And yes, it DOES make me sad that someone else wrote this amazing book and it wasn’t me but does that make me less of a poet?

I do think there is a sort of arrogance needed in writing, that if writers didn’t posses this thought that what they were saying was important, they would not do what they do because it pays no money, its damn hard, and you never know if anyone will even read it when your done.

Carolyn said that the publication of my book will not define me, neither will my poetry
but I do believe what I write is part of my definition and if I believe that, why am I having such a hard time finishing the book? Am I afraid to finish it?

Maybe because I am waiting for something. Something that will make it the best book I can write and I have no idea what that might be, just like I am always waiting for the perfect poem. Maybe I am just thinking too much---that of course is always possible.