Tuesday, March 30, 2010

READING UPDATES

Good news!

Copies of my first chapbook (titled Me & Coyote) have arrived, and I'm now able to sell some directly! Please send me a personal email with your address if you'd like an order form; I'll get that out to you as soon as possible, hopefully receive your payment, then ship a book out to you lickety-split. Or, if you must, you can order it directly from LHP right here. I've got to admit, the books are beautiful. Christine Holbert, editor at Lost Horse Press, made sure they looked stunning.

I wish I had a better picture of the book to post, but my camera is on the fritz and all I have is the shot I took to send to Tom when they first arrived in the mail. (I was giddy.) P.S. Tom says they look awesome.

Anyway, I've got more news: the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series is officially operational, and we've got our premier event scheduled for Friday, April 16th, at 7:30pm. We're still holding the festivities at the Inner Space yoga studio downtown, located at 322 N. Tejon.

The first half of the evening will be set aside for open mic (sign up at the door, limit ten), then we will have our featured reader--Deidre Schoolcraft--give us a sneak peek at her novel and/or shorter works. Deidre is a creative writing instructor at the college with me, and I'm really looking forward to hearing her read. If you'd like to follow the progress of this series (read: follow it! Now!), click on the link above, or log onto the site at http://www.cswritersreading.blogspot.com/.

Thanks for staying tuned for all this, guys! I appreciate it. (On Friday, Tom will have been in Kuwait for one month. Am I overscheduling myself yet? Did I mention I'm advertising for violin students as well? Anyone interested?)


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Monday, March 15, 2010

TRYING OUT THE NATURE POEM

I had a wonderful weekend, considering how often I remembered that Tom won't be home for another year. A good friend of ours took me out on Sunday, and we started early-- extra early, if you count Daylight Savings. We caught the morning train headed up Pike's Peak on the cog railway, something I've wanted to try since we moved here but didn't have the balls to do by myself. There were tons of tourists. A little altitude sickness. No fox sightings, unfortunately. But it was still beautiful.

We were only able to travel a short way up the peak on account of the snow we've only seen hints of in the city over the past few days. I didn't mind. (The photo above was taken at about halfway down.) The cloud cover seemed to swoop down so quickly, and it was quite an experience to stand directly beneath it when the train let us out for a quick walk. Strange to feel moisture in the air again, even if it was freezing. I felt like I was half on the ground, half in outer space. You lose your breath easily, but your mind clears. My advice? Hold still while you're thinking. Also? The Port-o-Bowls at the pitstop aren't half as bad as they could be.

We stopped to look at the 2200 year old tree that I can't believe we haven't plowed down yet (pictured). Beauty of this sort doesn't always last long, it seems. We also saw the tree that probably wouldn't have inspired a poem if not for our all-knowing, slightly strange guide. (Fortunately, my friend and I both brought our notebooks. Writers are handy like that.) I thought I'd give the nature poem a chance; after all, I did just spend the past week helping my students dig into Mary Oliver's poems. My writing voice is still not quite as peaceful as Ms Oliver's, but I consider this a nature poem all the same.


TAKING THE COG RAILROAD UP PIKE’S PEAK IN MARCH


Mel, our guide, points out glacial reservoirs, asks us
if we know how much dynamite it takes to break up

a five-foot-square block of ice. No one knows
and Mel doesn’t tell us; he carries on, says the seventeen mile

stretch of gravel road snaking alongside the tracks
is called Ron’s Driveway because it belongs to Ron,

the man who maintains the water pipes running to town.
We catch a glimpse of Ron’s small white house

yellowed by rain and cold sunlight and snow-blower exhaust.
There are rows of small cedar birdhouses hanging beneath

the windows on hooks that must be anchored behind the panes.
Ron isn’t home, but I picture him looking something like

the Brawny paper towel man until Mel tells us
Ron is only twenty-four and single, in case we’re interested.

We rock past his house, the dangling empty birdhouses,
and the crunchy road named for a lonely mountain boy

darts off suddenly into the trees like a crow and leaves
a sleepy stream in its wake. Mel directs our attention toward

a splintered stump about ten yards away from the track. That tree
was once a stout Ponderosa Pine, Mel says, with a trunk

like a cinnamon stick and arms full of glossy green needles.
It was struck by lightning about five years ago

and Mel wishes he could have shown it to us whole.
Although, he recalls, scratching his round belly,

for the entire morning after that particular storm the woods
smelled like warm butterscotch. To this day, he’s never seen

so many foxes out hunting in broad daylight.
He wishes he could have shown us that too,

ragged red foxes following the scent of dessert
around and around before going back to their empty holes.

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Thank you to those who have sent me comments via email. I appreciate them.

P.S. I'll keep you posted if the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series ever gets off the ground. Still having trouble coordinating the venue, but hopefully this idea isn't dead yet.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

WOMAN WITH MANNERS

Clearly, I'm going through another dry spell with my writing (or maybe the last one just never ended). I haven't posted anything in a couple weeks, and it's largely because I haven't really had much time to write anything creative. I've also let other aspects of my life take over my oh-so-healthy List o' Priorities. I'm running a triathlon in a couple weeks in Seattle and need to improve my mile, I have to get my classes prepped for midterms, my pets are devising new ways every week to earn emergency trips to the vet's, I have a book coming out, I still haven't gotten that reading series started downtown, and I haven't practiced my violin in two weeks. Here's what I want to do:

1. Get back into a routine of practicing creative writing for at least two hours on one of my days off. I was pretty good about this in Georgia, but I've let myself get sidetracked here in Colorado. Tom gave me a "nice" compliment today from his tent in Kuwait. "Abby, you've got to start writing more often. I really love your work when you're happy and comfortable; your poems get hilarious. I hate it when you're miserable. Your poetry gets boring." So... yeah. That was a compliment, I promise.

2. Use my running/exercise as a break from writing/teaching, simply for the sake of my poor eyeballs, which are already disadvantaged as it is. Walk longer after my jogs just to enjoy a few extra deep breaths. The weather is getting gorgeous here.

3. Start advertising for violin students again, with the added note that I won't actually be able to begin lessons until April, when my life settles down slightly. This is assuming I have several people just waiting out there, desperately wishing I would take them on.

4. Give my pets a pep rally so they'll stop hurting themselves so damn often.

5. Make a list of all the good things that happen when Tom's deployed. Less laundry, cleaner bathrooms, more mushrooms in my dinners, lots of What Not to Wear, meditation music blasting while I write, letters in the mailbox, longer writing group meetings. I've got to cheer myself up somehow.

6. Ease up on insisting this reading series start as soon as possible. I'm going to be here for a while. I can frickin relax.

All right. A plan! I feel better already. Now I can post a poem. This is the first piece I've written in the past two weeks, and I haven't had a chance to show it to anyone yet. Here she be.

(I plan on keeping everyone posted on the book's release date, as well as date/time info for the reading series. I can only kick back for so long.)


WOMAN WITH MANNERS


That’s what I like to see

a woman with manners

who leaves her car unlocked

in the grocery store parking lot

after stuffing her trunk full

of toilet paper lettuce brie bleach

leaving it under the careful watch

of four teenagers planted

like moldy beanpoles

outside the Family Dollar

this woman shoves her cart

back through the Safeway sliding doors

taking tiny strides because

she’s not paying another twenty

dollars for Mrs. Lee

to stitch up the side seam

not after that time she saw Mrs. Lee

shove one glowing white arm

up the front of her husband’s blue polo

with her husband still inside it

even though Mrs. Lee said she was

just trying to feel the rip

this woman plugs her empty cart

back into the bumpered lanes inside

without even glancing back

at her tinted windows at Family Dollar

and when she lets go the cart handle

there’s a lady shaped like a teapot

stopped behind her saying

I couldn’t help but notice you’ve got

enormous ankles just like mine

where did you get your boots

and the woman with manners

says she bought them online

and the lady like a teapot whistles and says

dang I never buy anything from the internet

then walks away leaving our heroine

standing in front of the cart tracks

like the head of a great silver centipede

wiping her hands with a sanitizing napkin

scraping quickly the underside

of each white fingernail.

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