Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I am tired, the girls and I spend the day at the Minnesota State Fair. We saw a cow give birth and I realized why my parents never really had to talk to me about birth control in adolescence. I was very much a farm girl and watched animal produce and give birth my whole life. Both my girls walked away from the experience today with the firm belief that they will never, EVER do that;)

Bella ate a hot dog that was actually 12 inches long and three people stopped to take her photo b/c when you do this with no teeth it’s really cute. We made spin art with Frisbees and all three of us recieved matching tattoos. We didn’t eat a single thing that was good for us and I thought of Loudon when I saw deep fried candy bars. Dear Lord, the things they put on a stick.

It was a good day. It was a long day. I am working on the grant tomorrow and I am promising myself I WILL finish it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

... Posted by Picasa

Why Neruda is Hot!!!

You come flying, alone, in your solitude, alone with the dead, alone in eternity, shadowless, nameless, you come flying without sweets, or a mouth, or a thicket of roses, you come flying ~Neruda

Monday, August 29, 2005

We Are Talking of Fever

Little light, little bird
let me tell you a story. Cup, by small cup
I’ll pour into you. Now open.
Now open your mouth.
Here is the way we begin
once there was a girl there’s always a girl
sometimes there’s a prince.
Now give me your throat
bend to the wolf
this is easier really
then telling the story
to open my mouth.
I want to be the wolf but I am not.
Neither am I the girl, you’re always the girl
unless you’re the fever, red flush
coming over the fields like fire.
I’m the cup. Here is the story.
A girl carries the bucket to the well
but there’s no bottom, the water
follows her like a line, a road
she must travel. The child
does not want this story.
She’s not the princess
hungry for blood, she wants more
of the wolf, more of the hunger.
Her smooth canine, her white mother,
where is the prince?
This is a story of two, the boy is not here.
The girls are adding on to each other.
One is the water.

You are a fever I am learning to live with, and everything is happening at the wrong end of a very long tunnel ~ Richard Silken Posted by Picasa

I still love

this poem!!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Today I went to the Renaissance Festival with my girls and they rode wooden horses and pushed each other off their steeds with sticks. We ate pickles out of barrels and if one more person calls me "my lady" I am going to throw a shoe at 'em;)

I have never wanted to be a knight or a princess, witch, goblin. At night, as a child when I snuck down to the beach alone, watched the moon slip over the water I only wanted to be one thing.... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Smells I'd bottle up

black dirt
grape bubble yum
rosemary mint shampoo
garden tomatoes
sleeping child

... Posted by Picasa
Yesterday was the last day of teaching for the summer. Hurray. My daughters took a stilt building/walking class. I don’t know what actually possessed me to give them the tools to make themselves six feet tall. Now Bella is refusing to be the flower girl in my brother’s wedding unless she can wear them. I’m tired of being a single parent. I told her she could pack them and then my new sister in law can deal with her. It's possible she will be on to a new thing by October like maybe the unicycle on the front porch. My girls are now trained in all areas of circus performing.

I'm on the fourth read through Richard Silken’s “Crush” so I can fairly counter Charlie’s claim that it is better than a “Clerk’s Tale.” I like them both but “Crush” feels more manipulated to me and there’s strength in Spencer’s work b/c he writes with a gentleness that Silken does not have. To quote my grandmother, it takes a hell of a lot more “presence” to walk quietly into a room and be noticed then to barge into the room and get everyone’s attention.

If you have read them both which one do you like better? Please don’t tell me both because that’s just annoying;)

Friday, August 26, 2005

just asking

It is possible that New Sincerists are really the old confessionailists, kind of like when the old Coke was the new Coke and then it was the old Coke again?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

.... Posted by Picasa

Birds and Gender

Today in the mail a sea bird from the beautiful Miss Loudon. She flew around my room and landed right here by my bed. A wonderful present.

Also in the mail “From the Bones Out” by Marisa de los Santos. I really like what she is doing in this book. Marisa has what Richard Howard calls, la condition fe’minine. in other words, she is not afraid to be a girl. A woman. So many other women artists it seems try to embrace their art by losing their gender, or believe that gender has no place in creation. I don’t understand this.

I don’t understand how you can BE a woman and not write about being a woman. For example, Richard Silken in his book “Crush” writes about being a gay man. What if he omitted that? Would his book be as powerful? Hell no. Yet it seems so many books by women try to sound like their male counterparts, as if they equate the feminine with something less desirable.

In a powerful way race, gender, sexuality matter. I mean they matter in the fact that they make our world smaller. I can read Langston Hughes and even though he is a black man I can relate to his words. Sometimes his words can be my words, with his writing I am able to fit in his skin.

Can motherhood be powerful? Can a woman in her fullest be sexy? Sharon Olds says for years she would get rejection notices that read this kind of journal does not except these kinds of poems. I am reluctant to bring up Sharon b/c you may confuse what I am trying to say with confessional poetry and gender has nothing to do with confession.

Silken is confessional in “Crush” yet he is powerful. He uses lines breaks and the page to set up fresh images and above all he is not afraid to be who he is. The last two books to really shake up the poetry world in my opinion have been “A Clerk’s Tale” and “Crush.” Why? Is it because they are gay men writing about love? Poets have writing about gay love for a very long time so I don’t think this is the answer. I think we as a society have forgotten the power of personal identity, when we tapped into that, claim it as our own we become unstoppable.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gockel Posted by Picasa


Last night I had a horrible dream and now I don’t want to sleep. I was driving in my beautiful red Jetta and I realized I was late for something. I was driving fast to this toll booth so I could cross the bridge on the other side. When I got to the toll booth the person behind the glass window told me I was going too fast and instead of letting me pay, she gave me an eighty dollar ticket. (I have no idea why I know how much the ticket was?)

I got angry and I felt a little arrogant like I could get out of it and asked to see the manger. When did they start having mangers at ticket booths? Anyway they led me down this hall into this room, a man was sitting behind a desk with thick glasses on, I didn’t like him at all and they locked me in the room.

He asked me if I was going fast and I said yes. He then told me to stick out my hands and very quickly he cut my wrists with a big cleaver so that the top of my hands were hanging as if there were on a hinge. He wrapped them in a rag, told me to keep them tied. I walked to my car. I had to untie the bandages to drive home or I was trapped.

The weird thing is, then I do that dream traveling thing and I am in a house. In the beginning part of the dream I am me, Teresa. The way I am now and in the second part of the dream when I walked into the house I am not, I am male. (Please don’t get sexual dream interpt with me) I am male and there’s a woman in the house with long blondish hair washing dishes and I can hear the kids in the other room. I walk to her. I sit at the table. I hold up my hands. I say “now I can do nothing. I can do nothing.” And my hands just hangs there. I wake up crying.

Now I don’t want to sleep.

For Lee

My horoscope today

LEO (JULY 23-AUG. 22): According to the legends of many cultures, every one of us has a doppelganger somewhere on the planet: a person who looks exactly like us. The modern sciences of genetics and statistics go further, saying that there are at least 80 people worldwide who are our spitting image. If you're ever going to meet one of these doubles, Leo, it will probably be in the coming weeks. But even if you don't, I predict that the whole world will become a giant mirror, reflecting back to you visions of yourself that you haven't been able to see before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Is anyone else applying for the Minnesota State Arts Board Grant because I am going crazy? Completely crazy. This is so much easier to do when you are writing it for children's art programming.

Monday, August 22, 2005

paul Posted by Picasa
I bought a book of Romanian Poetry today because it had my beloved Paul Celan on the cover. He looked at me and said ” Teresa don’t you love me?” and I said, “Yes Paul I do” We are very discrete about our love affair and he doesn’t mind at all that I share my bed with others.

I am writing another grant. Forget what I said about the state grant being easy, they have on their site that it will take three weeks to complete all the forms. God I hate it when you have to work your ass off for money.

Fanny Howe received this same grant for her last book which means we both lived in the same damn state and I never got to hear her read. Oh the list of writers regret grows.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

today Posted by Picasa
I was supposed to be writing but what I did was go to “Emily’s Lebanese Deli” and had beautiful food wrapped in grape leaves. I walked by mosques and listened to the chants. I watch the boats on the Mississippi and dipped pita bread into fresh humus. I am supposed to be writing but I am going to sit in the back yard and read “Crush” by Richard Silken instead. Maybe I will order some more books. Maybe I will drink the Japanese beer I bought. The girls are gone for the weekend and tonight I am riding the train down town and I am going dancing unless of course I fall asleep on the couch.

Friday, August 19, 2005


we are already lost  Posted by Picasa
I just finished reading “Kite Runner” by Khaled Hossen. It was a wonderful story. What I mean is the writing was good but it did not blow my socks off. The story however took risks, it challenged me. The characters are still in my head. I am wondering right now if they are alive or dead. If they exist somewhere in the pile of rubble we once called Afghanistan, a place my country blew to bits b/c people were killed. One death always equals more death, the equation never balances out.

I am not political. I was raised by a Senator. I ate with a president once. I am wondering about the risks my poetry takes. If I cut the words to the bone they’d say I lived in a country for a short time where people died, because they were not American. The people were Haitian and they’d watch The Price Is Right in a store window, they’d say, Your country is bright, your country is shiny. And it was all those things and it was not.

If I write everything down I’d say they killed your brother, murdered your mother and snuck you over the mountain in a wooden box. Because you were born in the North and not the South, now you cry out in your sleep, you wake with your body curled in a ball, a ball small enough to fix in a box.

You are the most difficult one to love. To tolerate some days. The people in the book are easy. I take them to bed and they do not speak. Even the people I watched die are easier because eventually the dead have nothing to say.

The living expect us to know the answers. To add the equation. Two parts equal the whole unless of course they do not. If we begin the problem with fractions we are already lost.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

... Posted by Picasa
The above photo is from Sylvia Plachy’s Transylvanian Woods study. I love this photo, makes you wonder why they only saw werewolves.

It has been a strange poetry week. Yesterday I found out I didn’t get an award I was sure I’d win and then heard through the grape vine, it was b/c I didn’t have an MFA in creative writing. I always have this naïve idea the work matters the most in the end. I still believe it does, there are just some days where I don’t play the politics very well.

Today I got news I’d never thought I get and now I am trying not to think about it. I’m wondering what I will do with two months of free writing time. The girls at school. The bills paid with this grant. What if I fail? What if the only excuse “time” in not producing the book I see in my head is not really the reason it doesn’t happen?

I was talking to a friend tonight about how three years ago I had no doubts about myself as a poet and yet it seems like the closer I get, the more readings I do, the more I published I am, the less I feel like a poet. Doubts come rushing in and try to take up residence.

Here is the double sided sword: Collins says we create ourselves as writers, this persona yet I believe to write well you are your deepest self uncensored. I am most me and least me at the same exact spot.
I think MATTHEA HARVEY is brilliant.

Holding My Breath

I am happy to announce that Teresa Ballard is a finalist for 2005 SASE/Jerome Award of $4,000 for her manuscript “What a Strange Machine”

What does this mean? Well in September I am facing a panel of seven people to be interviewed about my manuscript and if they view me worthy they give me money and I get to hire my nanny named Lola and do nothing but write for a bit. Praise be to the poetry gods.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

moon Posted by Picasa
There's a full moon and my daughters and I ran in the rain.

I had a building class with ten girls today and I drilled a table to the work bench
but the little girl did not cry, we put the drill in reverse
we undid the holes. I need a reverse.

At the grocery store I looked for gummies that resembled internal
organs to put in our Canopic Jars. I am going to eat
a liver for breakfast. I love my job.

Moon. Rain.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

last days of summer Posted by Picasa
It is hard to believe these are the last weeks of summer. Tomorrow I am teaching an Egyptian class and we are mummifying Barbies, shaving their heads, writing hieroglyphics on their plastic skin. I spent all evening looking for shoe boxes for tombs. It’s amazing what I consider valuable at the moment; an empty cardboard box is gold.

My day was spent with relatives. I moved to Minnesota for one reason only. I am not related to anyone in the state. In Maine, there's a lot of inter breeding, you walk into a store and someone knows who you are without actually ever meeting you. And so they start to tell you stories about your life while your standing there wondering who the hell are you and are you standing in front of the beer?

Today I played tour guide. Today I stood by trees, statues and giant cherries. I went place I never go and I was asked questions I didn’t know the answer to. What is that called? Where are we? Okay so basic direction was never my strong point.

I am eating the last days of summer. I wish I could have June back and begin again. I feel like the explanation of a Tesseract in Madeline L’ Engle’s book A Wrinke In Time. I am the two points pulled together by a string. I am a fold on the skin. I'm moving too fast.
T.E. Ballard Public Service Announcement

Florescent Lighting and Malls Kills Poetry. Avoid AT All Costs!!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

When you move from a small town to a big city (they combined three high schools for my graduating class ) it seems you become the airport pick up for anyone who ever travels out of the state.

I just got an email from my cousin who I am picking up from the airport tomorrow with my aunt and some perfect stranger. Then I am taking them to Mall of America (my idea of hell) and then out to eat which means either the Rainforest Café or some place like Hooters. I kid you not!!!

And so far I have answered emails like:

Where do you go to church on Sunday?
We feed the children beer and sleep in.
Is 7 am too early to get up and go site seeing?
Fuck yes

Okay so those weren’t my actual answers b/c I do like my aunt. She's a very cool mid wife but if it had been my other aunt who printed out my poems from my first really big interview and showed my grandfather I used the word “penis” in a public place, hell I’d be driving around the airport waving at ‘em.

In Maine penis in print is a scandal.

Maybe that should be my new book title. Penis In Print by T.E. Ballard. It IS kind of catchy.

painting Posted by Picasa
Well it does seem like I’ve lost people’s comments from all the computer crap unless of course I can figure out how to make them come back. All matter exists somewhere. What is the weight of the soul? Forche has that line in Blue Hour. I am very jealous of that line.

I have read three books in the last two days. Both Fanny Howe’s Gone and On The Ground. Carolyn wanted me to study her use of rhythm and line. I tend to fuck with syntax. Not in the good way like Davis, where you want to watch but in the bad way that makes you go what in the hell is that woman doing?

C.D. Young has this wonderful post about editing and “Little Emerson” and the process of picking poetry. It got my ass in gear and actually made me read submissions this morning. It is amazing how much we write about the same subjects over and over again. I think sometimes, half the battle of having a poem accepted is actually writing an original poem. Find the one thing no one is writing about.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I AM Back

In what we will now refer to as computer hell everything was lost but as with most things, it does seem you just need to know where to look.

Monday, August 08, 2005

... Posted by Picasa
my woes for the day

This new babysitter is soooo fired. I came home after work, to Bella closed-door in my room, making Barbie boats out of my manuscript. I made that sound only dogs can hear.

On the upside, digging all the shoes out from under my bed to make a fort, led to the discovery of three books I was missing. There really ought to be a special section for mother writers at the bookstore. Screw women’s fiction. And no darling, it’s not the same thing.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

trees  Posted by Picasa
Okay so the only problem with Lee Roripaugh being back in town (god I missed her blog) is that now every time I go to her site I need sushi. And for those people who know me, you realize this is a problem. I am on a first name basis w/ my sushi chef; he saves me treats like a cat. We go bowling together. I set him up on his last date. All this because, well the man is in charge of my sushi consumption I need to treat him well.

Today I went to an art fair (no I did not go with him) and while I try to avoid these things like the plague. It is really necessary to shellac toast? I found a beautiful photo to add to my collection. I have a wall of women from all over the world. It started in Haiti when I took a photos of the voodoo women there. The poem I wrote about that is in the next Mid-American Review. Writing about Haiti is the most difficult subject matter for me. There is no easy way to do it. It is not my culture and I am always the white girl looking in. Coming from a multicultural family I am always aware of being her, this girl. Pale and polite, in reality I am neither but I always think that is how I am perceived.

I would like a whole book about Haiti; unfortunately I have only two decent poems. Maybe the August gods will give me another.

There is an art to the fine line, the flat land.
Stone in the palm so unlike fruit or seed. There's an art
to letting go, hydro planning across waves.

For a moment the rock forgets its nature
rides in the clear blue until
remembering its own weight

sinks like a stone.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 06, 2005

the long walk Posted by Picasa
Tonight I made Pesto, put basil and oil behind each ear. I finished Rebecca’s book which was wonderful. I am always paranoid about reading someone’s book I know, especially if I like them but this did not disappoint. Tarantella was so Rebecca, in all the wonderful ways Loudon is Loudon.

I have been thinking about Suzanne’s post on her blog, how poetry is so much work, and commitment and yet few understand it is an art form or discipline. What do I mean by that? Well I can spend three weeks on a painting and tell someone that, and they may be slightly impressed, spend three weeks on a poem and the general population thinks you are nuts.

I found these words by Rukeyser tonight b/c I am still trying to get through everything the women has ever written.

Did you know Sharon Olds studied with her?

I thought about saying I would give up my left tit to study with her but in truth, I would give up my left tit to study with her, Celan and Akhmatova. I like my left tit. It is worth more than one poet.

Why Teresa Ballard writes poetry (in case anyone gives a damn) :

To enter that rhythm where the self is lost,
where breathing : heartbeat: and the subtle music
of their relation make our dance, and hasten
us to the moment when all things become
magic, another possibility.
The blind moment, midnight, when all night
begins, and the dance itself is all our breath,
and we ourselves the moment of life and death.
Blinded: but given now another saving,
the self a vision, at all time perceiving,
all arts all senses being languages,
delivered of will, being transformed in truth
for life’s sake surrendering moment and images,
writing the poem: in love making, bringing to birth.

The Life of Poetry…Muriel Rukeyser pg.41

Now I would give up my left tit to write like that. Or maybe both.

all the rocks in my pockets are yours

Today I went to my little Columbian restaurant
for Cachapas Venezolanas and a stranger sang me love
Ballads in Spanish. I bought a huge bouquet of basil,
chili peppers, purple onions. Everything was in a different
language and ached with sound.

The morning was alive
now every part of my body has felt it,
surrendered to it.

I have owned the day
and she has brought me home.

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 05, 2005

jump Posted by Picasa
To an Ant Fallen in the Salt Shaker

I too have mistaken it
for sugar: the bright blizzards

are similarly blinding, inviting,
and once you have

an ache for nectar
turning back is hard.

But there's one rule to follow:
if a dozen easy portals seem

to lead to pure confection,
if the way in

to sweetness seems direct
and seamless, beware. The lair

of sugar is heavy-lidded, is protected.
You must rely on someone

other than yourself
to unlock that fort.

At least this is what I have found.
Which is not to say that had

you ended in the bowl
and not the shaker you would

not otherwise have drowned.
You would have.

But the aftertaste is long
and might have been less stinging.

—Andrea Cohen

All the photos for the next few weeks will be Ballard photos.
I am painting again.
I am planting clematis in the front garden.
For awhile I was blaming everyone and now I see there is no one
here but me. The books is beginning
its next round
it is holding its breath.

Carolyn says it is ready, now it is ready to jump.  Posted by Picasa

for Robert Posted by Picasa

Section of A’ Rebours by Robert Mazzocco

My dreams are cubbyholes, lost in shadows,
and yet stuffed with the works of art I’ll call my poems,
scraps of paper on which I’ll scribble down,

far away from the home, the saga
of the late voyage, or a journey, maybe, afoot at noon,
in search of gold, or snatches of the one true cross,

or pieces of the hangman’s rope—anything at all, you’ll see,
to end the waste at dawn, as I’ll drift apart
from all I never found, or all that could never find me…

Thursday, August 04, 2005

my favorite photo from the trip: Bella near the fire. Posted by Picasa
I have been working on submissions all day. It seems the drugs make me feel like I can write. I am asking for refills. I have been invited to do several workshops in the next few months. I really need to win some grants so I don’t have to sell the children. The medication makes me bitter. I think I might have been slightly bitter before but I am too idealistic to except my bitterness.

I miss the water. On my trip I saw a 600 pound bear, at first I thought it was a black cow on the side of the road then it stood on its hind legs. What a cool cow My friend who has lived in a city her whole life, who thank god was not driving, turned to me and said do we have any food to feed it?

My father used to guide hunting trips in the deep woods of Maine, sometimes he would take me along. I remember once, when I was seven, he had just finished cleaning up the mess of someone who actually thought a cow was a deer and he said in his deep, dad voice remember Teresa, the stupid always get eaten.

I have no idea if that is profound. I found a two year old can of French onion soup in the cupboard. I am happy.

my bedroom Posted by Picasa

Honey I'm Home

It does seem like I am the poster girl for “why one does not go off into the woods with a sore throat.” Two trips to the emergency room later and I proud owner of walking pneumonia (btw one does not walk with this—it is more a roll over and gag kind of thing.) However the trip was brilliant. I was right on the water’s edge for four days. We made fire out of driftwood every night and swam till our arms ached during the day.

I have a great many stories but not the energy to write. What foods do you crave when you are sick? Because right now I want an angel to bring me French onion soup and hard bread. I will also take any cold liquid and a straw.