Sunday, January 30, 2005

silence Posted by Hello


Identity is an odd little beast. I have been reading a lot on other blogs about how people identify themselves. I’ve been thinking about growing up in my very “white” town in Maine and how in every society there tends to be a need to classify people. I was 12 when I was told not to date the “French” boys.

I also think about this a lot as a parent. Both my daughters go to an international peace school and I can honestly say that none of their friends come close to looking alike. We live on a street made up of a lot of same sex partners (most have children) and it is openly discussed at the dinner table the different ways to think, love and live.

When I read other people’s blog about the racism they have encountered I realize I live in a bubble. Well in some ways.

What’s interesting to me is that in writing I have felt this same boxed in feeling. I have been told more times than not, what a poet is suppose to be and what a poet with two children is supposed to look like. When I received one of my first poetry awards, with a poem I had written about living in Haiti, I was told they would rather I did not “read” the poem out loud because I turned out to be white yet I could to keep the $100.00 check.

And I wonder if what ever feels the most freeing to a person (gender, sexuality, love) are the things that society at large tries to control because there is nothing more frightening than freedom.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

i miss florida Posted by Hello


My love is driving cross county to visit family so I have more free time and a much colder bed. My goals for week are:

find the lost copy of the Orchard hiding somewhere in my house
buy those cool poem slip covers Patty Smith had for her book
do all the work I made notes for at the conference
secretly order more books
write my next book review
send the manuscript to three more places
get the poems in order for the two readings in February
submit to the anthology that B.C wanted me to submit to

Yes my friends I am a busy girl. It is hard to believe that a week ago at this exact moment I was sitting across the table from Billy Collins and Thomas Lux sipping a martini.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

the view from my window Posted by Hello


One of Billy’s assignments was to write down twenty “I” statements of what you did during a day. Here are mine from the conference

I laughed
I never apologized
I missed my children once
I lied about missing my children once
I opened my hands
I told myself I was a door, then a jar
I wondered about the right way
I stopped trying to be funny
I was funny
I drank beautiful things
I fingered a lime
I talked about high heels
I saw my daughter in the face of an old woman
I felt the need to protect
I walked away
I tucked grass in my pocket
I slept with my eyes open
I got lost
I was late
I found my way
First Book

To go along with what I posted before, I actually went back to my notes from the conference. You must understand I was staying up till 3am with certain people who were speaking so my whole mind could be warped. It is easier to listen to people you don’t know well but here are some of my notes on the first book manuscript workshop…

-you need urgency of subject matter
-fresh language
-original poems and subject matter
-submit to journals
-build a mailing list, most editors won’t invest in a book without readership
-give yourself a good 20 to 30 rejections per poem (I am so bad at this)
-submit to publishers whose books you admire
-look for favorite authors w/the same publishers
-attend conferences like AWP, Breadloaf, etc.


I was impressed a great deal with Sharon Olds. She talked about writing hundreds of poems that she doesn’t show to anybody, she said she is continually writing. She was totally different in person than who I expected her to be. The media portrays her as this over the top woman who continually talks about her abuse and that is not all how she is in real life.

Sharon is very calm, kind, and you can tell she would be doing exactly what she is doing even if she had no recognition. She would be the woman writing, creating poems in her basement, going to schools and teaching children about literature.

Poetry is her first love. I am drawn to poets like that. I know it sounds incredibly corny but words do feel like this god we all serve and there are people who serve it for different reasons. I was impressed by her love for poetry. She is a very interesting human….

and here is billy...sadly all the photos I have of patty smith and tom are of us in a bar and I am not posting them Posted by Hello

palm beach Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Spencer Reesce Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

One of the best workshops at the conference was the first book workshop where Nickole from Sarabande went through exactly what their editors look for in a first book manuscript…that my friend was worth the price of admission.

*put your strongest poems first, by the third poem they know which pile it goes in.
* build your readership, they look for writers who have a strong following
*worry less about the flow and more about the strength in the first half
*a top heavy book can be fixed before it goes to print
*develop an email list of ppl who would buy your book
* and if you have a friend who has published a book that did well have him/or her show your manuscript to their publisher/editor and get it out of the contest circle.

Okay that last one was given to me when we were at the bar so I don’t know if that was more personal advice. I use to be believed to be a successful poet I had to win some big title. I don’t think that anymore. I have more possibilities for my book than before. Did I mention it was a great conference?

Honey I'm Home....

Well I went from 75 to 25 degrees in only three hours. It is so sad to live in Minnesota. The conference went extremely well, better than I could have imagine in fact I don’t believe I could of thought up some of things that happened. It is good to be home and I will try to post some photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I love holy murals Posted by Hello
News Flash: you make more money doing workshops than going to them. It seems I will not be able to attend Breadloaf at all because I’ve been asked to teach two workshops in August, the exact same time Breadloaf is. I struggled with it for a few days and then realized that one week teaching pays for my mortgage. The struggle was short lived.

Oh well. If anyone knows of a good conference in June, let me know. I am tired of talking about Florida so I won’t bore you. It seems the reading I am doing in February is for twenty minutes and they are sending me postcards to send to all my friends, twenty of them. Do I have that many friends? Should I feel bad, if I don't?

I also have to answer this question What poetry book published in the last twenty years do you keep returning to? Well hell, I return to a lot of books but for different reasons, it is really hard to pick just one. Any suggestions…

Sunday, January 16, 2005

my body LIES over ocean, now bring back my body to me.... Posted by Hello

ohhhh this is pretty

2 out of 3

Okay I am posting two of the three for billy, I am still looking for the other one. Let me know what you think though I may delete this post in a few days.

While Watching Russian Films

Silos are waking in the sun
and the mother is pouring wine to the boys
watering it down with rainwater and you’ll never know
what is in the blue box drowning
with the father, waves first covering his fingers
then his wrists and it would be wonderful to die
like this, slowly. Children running on a beach
calling papa, papa and everything is more
than beautiful, it is lonely--
a boy’s cut lip, black hair slipping
deeper and deeper. The body grows
at the bottom of a river. Camera goes black
then to the mother
pouring wine and now you know
everything. It is simple to die.
To show dying. Do it slowly
like filling a cup.

Women are beautiful
or ugly and even the houses are sad
flooding the screen then disappearing to white.
And you want to be cold, to have love
even though your tongue would be blue
but truth does not matter, it’s obsolete
and here’s a quality you admire.

Generally there is no sex
but violins mate as if underwater
and these hums are lullabies for the fish
in plastic bags, breathing in, out.

Yet you always return to the silos.



Deer wandered in my father’s store
on the backs of men; their tongues hanging
as hunters held their dripping heads
counted horns, unless it was a doe
then they’d stop, spread her legs, talk of tender meat
rest a tired hand on the inside of her thigh.

The first time I touched the fur of my body,
my fingers slipped easily into the folds.
I remembered the men, their dark coats, how a knife

removed the last bit of skin, sharp bend of bone.
Soon I would be hunted, the sweet smell
on my hands tracked and I would lie
like the doe, my eyes open

beautiful, almost life-like.
Hard, Unmovable Body

When you are away
I move the bed closer to the wall
so your absence does not wake me.

I check, recheck
doors, children’s breathing, gather
the piles of our day
leave them on the floor.

In translation
Ana is lonely and Celan dying
but it does not matter,
books fall from the bed.

You will never return
unless of course you do, as promised.
Fear moves in my body

creeps to my bones like cold
and this knowledge of need,
the very need of you

straightens my back
against the wall till I sleep.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Oh crap this is my horoscope...

LEO (July 23–Aug. 22): Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby is the best Hollywood movie of 2004, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. But Salon's Charles Taylor panned the film, calling it leaden and boring, "a compendium of every cliché from every bad boxing melodrama ever made." I suspect that you will get equally contradictory reviews for your life and work in the coming week, Leo. For instance, some people may regard you as a magician who has transformed rot into splendor, while others may think of you as a dabbler with too much self-esteem. Both are wrong. More importantly, their opinions, whether good or bad, shouldn't concern you. Be your own judge.

little voices

I like my little Billy, now if I could only get him to talk and tell me what poems to bring to the conference. Of course I am bringing my laptop which has everything I’ve ever written on it. I wonder if they will let me read by computer light.

Everybody keeps telling me to bring my “best” and I really wish I knew how to qualify that. Does that mean the poems I’ve placed or the ones I love, which may or may not be my most accomplished poems. But the poems say what I want them to say, they are well behaved poems. Oh btw, I don’t know which ones are my accomplished poems either.

And I wonder if I am the only one who has no fricken clue about her own writing? Am I the only one out there who has no idea what is her best? What makes strong work? Will it be strong enough?

I have never doubted myself as being a writer, it always has seemed the one thing I just was, but the closer I come to it, the more that little voice in side rises up and says maybe it isn’t so. Maybe, I will be sitting in a room and a women's voice will speak, her words will be sweet like Anne Sexton when she reads and that voice won’t be mine.

thanks jenni Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Little Billy Collins

Seven days to Florida!!! Personally I think I should have a little Billy Collins head on the side bar counting down the days till the conference. Oh the things I would do if I was brilliant.

Today the State Of Minnesota called a wind chill advisory because (and I am not lying) it is suppose to get 40 below zero by morning. Seven days, seven days….They’re also said they might cancel school but of course no one is canceling my work. I think my children will be just as warm in a classroom verses driving me absolutely nuts. Okay there is probably more heat expelled driving me crazy but it is a close call.

Today was a full day. I ate sushi. I went to the dentist. I picked up my new reading glasses for the conference and my lover said I looked like a CAT, and cat is not said here in a positive tone. There was also a debate at lunch with our sushi chef about whether I now look part Chinese or not. I am not kidding you!!!!!!

Anyway it is pretty safe to say nobody is getting lucky in our house tonight and I don’t care how bloody cold it is. I like my new glasses….

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Today was another day back at work. I taught a young Picasso class this morning and had preschoolers crawling under the tables (our ceiling) to paint like Michael Angelo, next week we are painting giant flowers on the wall. I love teaching this unit by the time we get to Van Gogh chopping his ear off, they're eating out of my hand.

I received another email about the reading series today. (It is the only good poetry news I’ve had in a month so I’m going to milk it.) It seems they are putting a chapbook together to sell at the event so I guess I have one now. lmao Ivy’s link is still very useful though—thanks Ivy.

I am in a Jane Kenyon kind of mood today, it is snowing outside and I've spent the evening looking up green places to escape to and write. I found this wonderful house in Mexico right on the beach. Oh for the day when poems count for cash.

I am off to read Miss Jane…sleep well everyone

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

one of my favorite poems of all time

Manifesto by Margot Schilpp

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.

Half Baked

Well I actually have poetry news today. I was just asked to read on the 26th of February as part of the Loose Leaf Poetry Reading Series in Minneapolis. The funny thing about it is, they want to bill me as “almost famous” which is kinda like half baked, don’t you think? Not that I am about to kick any horse in the mouth but Bible verses of being luke warm and being spat from the mouth of God keep coming to my head.

Luckily I just ordered new poetry reading glasses, really funky ones and I can test them out and see if the half baked theory holds true. The things so far you have gained by reading my blog that you would of never guessed about me

I’m almost famous
I’m vain
I post way too many photos
I wax my legs
I whine
I whimper
and I don’t have a chapbook

Monday, January 10, 2005

the butterfly effect was an amazing movie...I just rented it tonight.  Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 09, 2005

and finally the women knows how to posts links...

sunday morning photo Posted by Hello


I am reading Amy Bloom’s, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You which is a fricken wonderful title. The working title I had for my manuscript turned out to be another poetry book published this year so by the time my book actually sees the light of day all good titles will be gone.

Anyway, I am reading all of Bloom’s work from start to finish and I’m almost done. I’m like this when I find an author I love. I read no one else for a week and consume everything they have ever written. I am a horribly fast reader. I read a full book a day which in some ways feels unfair because most writers spend years writing what takes me such a short time to digest. Sometimes I feel guilty about it then I move on to the next book.

I received a letter from Belo__ yesterday and they are holding the new batch of poems but they will not be next issue. I am little sad about it but the editor said they talked about “Watching” for a long time and could not come to an agreement about the line that says, nineteen bones sleep in the foot. Oh, well…it is the sleeping they had a problem with but I think it works so it stays.

In some things I am oddly unmovable. I do care about getting published but there are certain lines I write that I know are absolutely right for the poem, granted is hardly ever the whole poem.

Carolyn gave me five journals she wanted to see me submit to this year and I am almost done with the list. I have gotten in one and two letters so that is not bad.

I hope today will be a writing day. My kids left this morning on their first road trip with their aunt by themselves. They are happy to be missing school for two days. I restrained myself from telling her what to do if the van caught fire or to hand her a pamphlet on basic first aid. I will be a nervous wreck all day. Yes, I know I’m pitiful.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


I blubber on and on about things but in truth I do think I know my own voice, this is just the way I process. I have always been this way. I turn things over and over in my mind discovering every possible route and maybe I use this blogging forum too openly to jot down all my fears. I don’t know.

The truth is I have never changed any poem unless I believed it was better for the poem. I told Carolyn when we began our mentorship together that though I respected her opinions I needed to see it for myself. I don’t think any other way will ever work. No matter what happens in the end you write only for yourself, no matter how much you may want your thoughts and ideas to be heard, it is your voice speaking.

I think I will bring three unpublished poem for the workshop, though published poems feel safer (I might use them at the reading) I need ten unpublished poems for the Breadloaf application and I think this would be the best use of my time. No matter what happens I will be in sun and by the ocean and that is a good thing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

book or not to book

Okay so my question for the day is, if you had a choice of any poet (living) to read your manuscript in process who would it be? Or do you think it is a good thing to have anyone read your manuscript? Does it take away from your own voice to have another finger in the pie.

Carolyn still has my manuscript and I am more concerned what she thinks of it than Yale. I would like to make her incredibly proud of me someday. Does that sound childish?
Oh and deleted my post last night. Sorry Ivy, I still love your voice. I just sounded like a bit like a sap. I need more sleep, less tea. I cannot believe in three days my vacation is totally over.

I just got an email from Billy Collins asking me to bring three poems to read for class time. Three poems. Shit. Should I bring three poems I think are done (are poems ever really done) or three I think need a lot of work. Uggggg, now I wont sleep....

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I Am Thinking Of My First Deer

A doe, her legs spread open
in the back of my father’s truck. Her body
a white map next to the blue sky and when
my father turns her over she is the color of dirt.
My small hand went into the cave of her death.
She was warm and my fingers smelt of sage
and blood. I pieced her together in my mind
as my brothers removed her skin. I gave her back
her body, the same way I was promised
Jesus would return to us on earth. I am thinking
of my first deer because you are sleeping
still and underneath your lids, your eyes are open.
My fingers smell slightly of things broken
and I realize you are always frightened
of the way I open myself and how I must
swallow up every sadness. I wonder if somehow
I have always known you. If you have returned
and risen in another form, as the angels promised
and somehow left behind the wild fur of death.
I see your eyes even though you are sleeping.
I need to know this sadness will not swallow me up
that somehow we will leave this animal.

can you find the deer? Posted by Hello

hey somebody get me a pen... Posted by Hello


Most of my notebook is in my head. I tried to work on those pretty little black leather ones that seem so “poetry” but I always loose the damn things and so far my head has not fallen off. I find though, as I get older less things stick in my head so I might have to Velcro a notebook to my body somewhere.

Once my best friend told me to tell her everything I was thinking about while we walked down the street, kind of like a mental tickertape, which by the way I always thought would be the best invention. After three minutes she said, “Okay, stop I am tired.”

So in response to posting a page of my notebook, someone would have to crawl into my ear with a digital camera, which I really don’t think would be a good idea.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Maxine Kumin

Male Privilege

to the younger poets, to be cleansed of envy

Wash from your hearts
all dark thoughts of me,
rinse free all memories
of my young worshippers,
sweet things eager to be bedded,
who would afterward raise up
on one elbow asking
at Bread Loaf or Sewanee,
at Aspen or Park City,
now tell me, what do you
really think of my poetry?

Soon I will fall silent,
my mind will wander,
I will read the same poem
twice in one reading
and fail to notice. I will
consume more martinis
than the fabled number
downed by Nemerov, I will grow
drunker than Berryman,
cruder than Dickey, I will become
my own myth, they will remember
me for my outrageous behavior
and a few immortal poems.

Monday, January 03, 2005

get out of my head Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Girlie Girl

I took down the tree today and put it in the back yard for the sparrows. When it is warmer or I need a fire I will burn it in the pit. I walked around all day like a bird in her cage. I had so much to do and all I wanted to do was read and write which I should have done but felt too guilty to stick to anything more than five minutes.

All day I’ve been looking for my copy of The Orchard and I can not find it in my house. I will be upset with myself if I lost it. I am always taking poetry books places so I can catch five minutes of freedom when the opportunity presents itself.

Already I am thinking about what to wear to Florida, “sexy poet”, “earthy poet,” “the I can’t believe I didn’t rent a car and had walk to the hotel poet”. This week I will get my legs waxed so at least I won’t be the “dear god, is that a bear poet.” Yes, I am that girlie. I am not even going into the other things I am doing;)

I am off to take a bath with my new lavender soap and read the poetry books I can find. Did I mention I was a girlie girl?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

heart Posted by Hello
At first she believed in the phantom heart
something that beat outside of herself
slowly, the way one watched birds from a window
feeling the air but there was no breeze inside
her room and suddenly it was there, a heart's thump
and her only desire was to open it. A lid
to a box, look inside follow the right ventricle
to the aorta bring it to her mouth, a red wafer
so she would be forgiven. For what
she did not know, but she must beforgiven.
All her life, calling the slow tick
then the tock. It was not a lost leg
or a arm she morned nor absent flesh
but this loss was more of a hum, constant buzz
of never reaching far enough into herself,
finding one place where a heart could live.

mayday Posted by Hello


Well I’ve gotten a lot of email about the oranges, some think they are sexy and others sad. Light is an amazing thing. Ordinary is beautiful. These are things I know. Sometimes I write about questions on this blog that already know the answers for.

I know I am okay where I am, content most of the time with myself as a writer. It seems at times I have to work out the demons here. And I always struggle between distance and revealing myself.

Today was a quiet day. There were ice storms outside, the rain hitting the window. Thunder in January. Sometimes with all that is going on it is hard to believe the world is not ending. But I suppose it has been ending for a very long time.

Dorriane read her new poem about the moon moving away from the earth. It was beautiful. Word moves me. Today I sent out two submissions: The Seneca Review and Hunger Mountain. No mail today which means stalking the mail man has not paid off.

I am quiet with myself, not happy, not sad. I am just enjoying my time as an orange.