Thursday, August 30, 2007

One more day...

One more day of doing art then a ten day vacation!

I spent the morning with ten elementary students designing our perfect world, each student was given a blank map and was asked to create their own countries, oceans, continents and then we had to make a government, decide in what ways we wanted our country to grow, what things we exported, how we lived.

Three boys got in a yelling match over the Atlantic Ocean.

We talked about why countries go to war, why Switzerland has so much money in their banks and why weapons aren’t the best export to have if you down own any fuel.

It was an amazing class. I taught half way through my lunch break.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 27, 2007

Okay it should be noted here that I read this long after I named my blog.
From Mariana Marin’s Paper Children---I am on my third time through the book.

The Early Hours of the Morning

They had been given just enough power
to understand they would never have any
(but that was much later.)
They had been bought cheap:
Clusters of briars around their neck
and the road sprinkled with rice.
Upon their return
(but that too was later, much too late)
Some had their eyes put out
while other wore stones shackled to their ankles.

“This world in which we repeat ourselves stuttering”
“This world in which we repeat….”

They had been given just a long enough a chain
to wish for a real guillotine.
In the morning,
the early hours of morning.
Posted by Picasa

What would you create if you could make a city out of cardboard?

I am at last count on my 64th straight day of making art with kids. I have four more to go.
It has been an amazing summer and I have 122 mosaic mirrors under my belt, 15 mummies, 30 metal cities, 22 deranged toys, a mess of cardboard, a 20 foot mural, three public art sculptures, 18 girls with power tools and a lot of other things I am not counting.

I know I am above all teachers most bless….

But I am tired, down to the marrow tired!!!!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 19, 2007

part of a new poem by ballard

I’ve come to claim everything
is beautiful and if you wake to this
in the morning, as if someone has turned
the knob or allowed your retina to receive
more light, just a small millimeter
so that all the world is brighter somehow,
it seems, this could be the definition
of joy. Nothing has changed;
paint falls away from the yellow door,
weeds grow between the uneven slabs
of concrete and it breaks open
the place which once believed
in goodness or the clean face of god.
Posted by Picasa

Four Poems by Vera Pavlova

I think it will be winter when he comes.
From the unbearable whiteness of the road
a dot will emerge, so black that eyes will blur,
and it will be approaching for a long, long time,
making his absence commensurate with his coming,
and for a long, long time it will remain a dot.
A speck of dust? A burning in the eye? And snow,
there will be nothing else but snow,
and for a long, long while there will be nothing,
and he will pull away the snowy curtain,
he will acquire size and three dimensions,
he will keep coming closer, closer . . .
This is the limit, he cannot get closer. But he keeps approaching,
now too vast to measure . . .


If there is something to desire,
there will be something to regret.
If there is something to regret,
there will be something to recall.
If there is something to recall,
there was nothing to regret.
If there was nothing to regret,
there was nothing to desire.


Let us touch each other
while we still have hands,
palms, forearms, elbows . . .
Let us love each other for misery,
torture each other, torment,
disfigure, maim,
to remember better,
to part with less pain.


We are rich: we have nothing to lose.
We are old: we have nowhere to rush.
We shall fluff the pillows of the past,
poke the embers of the days to come,
talk about what means the most,
as the indolent daylight fades.
We shall lay to rest our undying dead:
I shall bury you, you will bury me.
(Translated, from the Russian, by Steven Seymour.)
Okay so in less than 48 hours amy bloom's
new book will be in my hot little hands.
Who says money can't buy you love?
Posted by Picasa

Carolyn Forche and myself.....yes I know she is cuter;)

When I look at this photo, it feels so very long ago even though it has only been a few weeks. It was an amazing thing to have 15 strangers read your book from front to back. Yes, people have read my manuscript before and I am sure even a few judges set their coffee mugs on it but this was like getting naked and having a group of people look up and rest their eyes on you.

I learned so much. I did good things in the book I didn’t even know I did. I told lies I didn’t mean to tell and now I trust it more. I understand it more. I feel more ready as a writer to have it go off into the world, yes now I have to get into some serious work but it has never felt right before. Now it feels right. I don’t know if this will last but this is what I wanted, not just to produce work or even be widely published but to know without a doubt it was the best the art at the time I could create.
Posted by Picasa
Beautiful reading in The Sun this month and I really respect Sy Safransky, the editor—everything flows smoothly, yet diverse enough to still be interesting. He wrote me a note once when I first started writing and all I sent him was crap, he didn’t like it but he was very kind. He was human.

I love the idea of this journal, little bits of everything and I read it front to back and now I am reading it again. My favorite by Harriet Brown:

At 43

Awake in the dark, again,
I want each looming thing—

night table, dresser, chair—
to set its demons free,

settle for being ordinary.
Beside me, my husband

grinds his teeth,
damned like the rest of us

with the curse of breathing.
What I didn’t understand

On the other side of 40:
Despair, too, is something

to hold on to. I’ve got
my dead: a ribbon’s worth

of rabbit-soft gray fur
from the cat who was

my best friend through my 20’s
her name the first word

both my daughters said.
We buried her last winter,

Boiling pot after pot of water
from the frozen ground,

trying to dig deep enough.
We did.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I am deeply in need of water tonight. An evening when you hear waves calling from your kitchen window and you wipe your hands on the towel by the sink and go down by the lake. No one knows you are gone and everything seems clear or unclear-- it really doesn’t matter because it is night and you’re alone and peace is following you.

I grew up in a place like that.

I grew up in place where the night was never frightening, where you baited your hook before you slept and believed that everything which was beautiful came alive with the moon.

Weird things happen when you grow old. People tell you about your body changing, that you may marry, have children, even the possibly that you may grow fat or unsatisfied but people never mention the size of the world, how it shrinks with age. All the colors fade, their intensity grows mute.

I find my self less and less looking at blades of grass or actually even really seeing anyone’s eyes when they are speaking. I am like the little prince who can no longer find the boa constrictor in a box.

My grandmother once said the most painful thing about being an old woman was that there was no one alive who remembered her as a child. How her hair looked in the sun or how she ran when she was ten and I never believed I would grow old, even as a child, even as a mother, I felt somehow immune to this shrinking world.

But the world does grows small and it does not need you to notice; things seem unimportant, like all the books you wanted to write or the places you wanted to see and all that matters is the people you have loved and loved well and even then you realize it is such a small thing---your love. It is such a small imperfect thing indeed.

I do not know what you do now.

It is possible you find god. Or maybe you go to the place in your childhood where you wiped your hand on the yellow dish towel and walked out the door.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sorry I've been away but I've been building mosaic benches
around the city with children.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 10, 2007

Writing News

Hey a grant for Minnesota the world, drink beer, take your beautiful girl to Costa Rica (that was a hint for Em)


Oh and doesnt this look like a beautiful place to stay?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's A New Day

It's A New Dawn

It is time to begin again....
As most of you know I have been working with Carolyn for 4 years and two weeks ago I was able to take a class with her at the University of Minnesota. It was amazing. She is amazing. I am posting below some of her tips for revision b/c I know so many people who are working on books right now and reading this blog, or slightly skimming it and seeing if I will ever say anything interesting;) and then going back to writing their wonderful manuscripts.

Key points: please remember that syntax is god and there’s no right way to do anything. Also submit to judges you respect and presses you adore…..

Revision suggestions: ( all credit below goes to Carolyn Forche who you should buy a glass of wine if you ever meet her in person b/c she is a wonderful teacher and brilliant being)

1. Read each line of the poem separately, to be sure that it is interesting by itself. Cut words from the end of the line or add words from the beginning of the next line if you think it would improve the inherent meaning of the line.

2. Look at each word in the poem, and see if you can substitute a more interesting, specific word. Tree might become sycamore. River might become the Shenandoah. Bird might become gull, cardinal, finch, vulture.

3. Eliminate unnecessary commentary and description. If you have the word “snow,” then you already imply (and can eliminate sometimes) “winter,” “cold,” “icy” etc.

4. Be careful not to eliminate important articles (a, the, an) or conjunctions (and, but).Or you your poem will read like a newspaper headline.

5. Check to see if the opening lines and closing lines are necessary. Sometimes the true poem begins most interestingly with the third line, and ends with the third from the last.

6. Check to see if all the stanzas or strophes are necessary. Sometimes you can cut the whole stanza, and strengthen the poem.

7. If the poem is in stanzas, sections, or parts, cut them into individual pieces and play with their arrangement. Sometimes the poem is better if arranged a different way (while keeping all the sections). Sometimes this is how you discover whether any can be cut.

8. Subject all adverbs to intense scrutiny (as to whether they are necessary) “ran quickly” might be better expressed as “hurried.”

9. Subject all adjectives to strong scrutiny (as to whether they are necessary) “white snow” is redundant. “Snow” would suffice all by itself. (“Black wind” , however, is interesting, because unusual, unexpected...)

10. Read the poem aloud several times, and mark with a highlighter pen those places which were more difficult to read (tongue-twisters). Examine them and see if you can improve them.

11. If you are not certain whether your poem is in proper syntax and is grammatical, type the poem out as prose and check the sentences for completion and proper usage, then re-line.

12. Check to see that the sentences within the poem (which might go on for several lines), are, in fact, complete sentences (or have a good reason why not).

13. Try writing the poem in a different “person”— switch from “he” to “I” or vice versa.

14. Check the verb tenses to see whether they are consistent and/or correct.

15. See if compound verbs can become simple verbs (for compression) “I would run” might be able to become “I ran”, etc.

16. Check for spelling errors.

17. Check for consistency in spacing between lines.

18. Check to see whether the poem is well placed on the page.

19. In sending poems out to be published, always send clean, correct versions.

20. Break any of the above rules except #19 if you think it is necessary to the poem.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My body is fine and E and the girls are safe. I am having a hard time figuring out what to write. This bridge is less than a mile from my house. I crossed it seven times yesterday. I am taking a manuscript class at the U with Carolyn Forche’ this week so I even traveled it more than usual.

I hate the bridge. It is almost like we have had this long standing disagreement for years and now the bridge won. I always saw myself falling when I crossed it and I couldn’t shut it out of my head. But when you have to get somewhere every day and that’s the main route, and you’re kind of an odd person anyway, you shut it out.

Now the sound is screaming in my head.

I didn’t go to class with Carolyn today and a huge part of me just wants to hide in the bed and pretend I don’t know anything, feel anything, or have the possibility to loose anyone. I want to stop people on the street, wrap my arms around them and thank them for not dying in front of me.

I know I am going to know someone else. You can’t do the work I do in this city and not know someone who has died. Who the bridge didnt let go. Yesterday when they were showing the kids on the bus, which fell ninety feet, I recognized faces. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to be the person I am, who see the possibility of everything and I don’t want the noise.

And I want to be happy. I am happy, the girls and Emily are safe. My family, close friends, the first string of those I love but someone is not and I hear that. I hear the seven other times I crossed the bridge yesterday and how it just let me pretend.