Thursday, April 22, 2010

NAPOWRIMO, DAYS 21 & 22

It becomes clear that a writer is losing steam when all she can manage to write are blatant, funny knock-offs of better poems by better poets. Still.

Day 21 of Napowrimo: William Carlos Williams? Meet Mad Libs.

NOUNS


NOUN depends

upon


a red NOUN

NOUN


glazed with NOUN

NOUN


beside the white

NOUN.



Day 22: Cummings, Meet Mad Libs.


VERBS (by e.e. cummings)


(and i VERB
never VERB Joe agreeably cheerfully VERBED when
VERBED by fat stupid animals
the Jewess VERBED
the messiah VERBED successfully into the world
the animals VERBED VERBING. And I VERB she, and
heard them VERB and
in the darkness)
VERBED sharp angels with faces like Jim Europe


...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MY COUSIN'S PUBLICATION & OTHER UPDATES

Just wanted to brag in my cousin Emily's stead. She recently found out that one of her poems is being published in Cricket, a magazine you can read about here. (Hope the links work. I've tried a couple from my previous posts and they go nowhere. Figures.)

Anyway, Emily has shown an interest in writing for some time, and I have a feeling it'll play a part in her career after high school. I remember going to the bookstore with my older sister Amy, a kind of Friday night ritual -- hot tea, bookstore, ice cream -- and Emily came along when she could. She's always been good for swapping recommendations for YA genre novels. Emily's fourteen, in the ninth grade, and gets to live in the Pacific Northwest where she finds plenty of inspiration. I wanted to post the picture I have of Emily and I, from a birthday party in Vancouver a couple years ago, but I can't find it. Dang.

I wanted to post Emily's poem here, and I got her permission, but then I realized I shouldn't for copyright purposes. Maybe y'all should get a copy of Cricket and check out the writing of more young students. The poem, by the way, is clear, precise, and it harnesses some well-developed imagery. I definitely wasn't writing with such structural grace when I was fourteen. Of course, I was very busy writing angsty lyrics for my guitar-wielding boyfriends, which I keep telling myself built character.

In other news, I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, which is the premier event for my newest project, the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series. Deidre Farrington Schoolcraft, another faculty member at the college, will be reading some poems and a bit of fiction as well. We'll kick things off with an Open Mic session too and hopefully start a connection between student writers and the rest of the city. Looking forward to it, and I'm sure I'll write about it when it's over!

By the way, how's Napowrimo going for my poet friends? I'm keeping up but the past two days I've written crap. I'm off to read some Kay Ryan in hopes of getting a higher quality inspiration. Speaking of Ryan, I read a nice little quote of hers today regarding the comfort one can find in short poems. Here's the link. It's the last paragraph on the page.

Happy writing!



...

Monday, April 12, 2010

NAPOWRIMO DAY TWELVE

Wow, what a great response to my last post! It was so exciting to see the comments here, in my email inbox, and on my facebook page, that I kept saying out loud to my cats, "For serious!" ...I mean, I kept resetting my classical records, sipping my tea, and exclaiming, "Very good!"

I just had a great evening to end a rather stressful weekend; I went to Monet and Ryan's house, where we held our second meeting of Dessert Club. All was well. All was brownies with kalhua & browned butter frosting, that is. After a couple hours of discussing the various cities we've lived in, the books we're reading, (all sorts of smart things) I headed home, where I pulled into the garage and immediately took Flynn out for a late-night run. We didn't make it more than a mile before the street lights started fading and I knew by memory that the sidewalks were not smooth enough for me to navigate in the dark, and we turned back. Colorado Springs had just received a brief gust of fizzy rain, and the air was clear. It felt wonderful.

Here's what I came up with for Napowrimo Day Twelve, and just in time too! It's 11:41 PM here, and I need to get to bed, ready for tomorrow's lecture on research essays. Very good!


THE OLDER ME IS SMART


I wish I was about fifty years

older than I am now because

I’m pretty sure that version

of me could write something

simple like “we are creatures

of craving and fatigue”

and someone holding my paper

might say, “ah! It’s true!”

but, as it is, I am twenty-seven

years old and the only way

someone holding a piece

of paper I’ve written on

will see any sort of truth is if

I tell them “sometimes eating

your oatmeal is better than

complaining about it”

so they can wonder about it

for a minute, probably making

the connection that rolled oats

are good for one’s digestion,

thereby decreasing hunger,

thereby eliminating a simple desire,

but realizing all the same

that what I consider brilliant now

will not be so until I have a purse

full of hard candies to prove it.



...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NAPOWRIMO DAY ELEVEN, POST-AWP

This year was my first at the AWP Conference, and I have to admit, I attended mostly because it was held in Denver and I would only have to commute an hour there and back each day. Not bad, considering I wouldn't have to pay for a hotel room and flight like many of the other writers.

There were some great bits about the conference. The best part? I got to catch up with lots of writing buddies I don't often get to see. Lish McBride, author of the forthcoming YA novel Hold Me Closer Necromancer, is a good friend of mine from my time at Seattle University, and she was helping out with the University of New Orleans booth at the book fair (she got her MFA from UNO). She introduced me to some really sweet writers, sweet in personality and talent. I liked that.

Second best? The Lost Horse Press table sold out of its copies of New Poets / Short Books, which means my poetry (along with Jesse's and Karen's) is out in readerspace being viewed! Second Best Part, Part A: I sold out of the copies I brought with me as well. Yay! I wish I'd brought more, seeing how I still have eighty copies hanging out in my dining room right now.

Third best? I budgeted myself and only bought three new books, all of which were pretty affordable. I got a copy of Gregory Orr's Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved, a book of critical analyses of Imagist poems, and a book called Lovely, Raspberry by Aaron Belz--a funny poet who doesn't mind discussing the finer points of good scotch in the middle of a business transaction. Ooh! I also got the book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (but I bought that at a bookstore, so I don't count that as an AWP indulgence). It's great so far, more because of the young female protagonist and less because it's a goofy mystery novel, and I can't wait to buy the sequel.

Fourth Best Part: the Robert Hass reading was terrific. What a natural presence, a comfortable reader! I felt like I was curled up at a storytime session even though I was rows back in an enormous ballroom. His book Time and Materials really captures a strangely unique perspective on the length and depth of one's life. His awesome sense of humor helps too.

Much goodness ensued at the conference, let it be known. There was too much talent to take it all in within the week. I'll quickly say, however, that much frustration occurred as well, in that I saw and overheard many writers (not all!) putting each other down, struggling for attention, presenting lectures that lacked depth or insightful calls to action, and promoting the unfortunate stereotype most writers (poets in particular) have been cursed with. I'm going to suggest to the board of directors a new panel idea: The Mindful Writer: How Compassionate People Can Promote Themselves Successfully. Honestly, we--as writers--seem to take little account of others unless they are evoking our pity or inspiring a story.

During a panel discussion that branched into Question/Answer format (which inspired fewer questions than testimonials) I remembered that I was still supposed to keep up with my Napowrimo pledge, and what better time to jot down ideas than in a room full of writers? I assumed, a little selfishly I know, that I wouldn't miss much. I mentally flipped back to the last TV show I'd watched, which happened to be a documentary on avocados. (Yes, really.) And I got the beginnings of a poem jotted down. Thanks for reading!


THE HISTORY OF THE AVOCADO

tells us that this fruit was, to the Aztecs, a strange

testicle of the earth, bulbous seed weighing down

flesh that ripened only when the human hand

loosened it from its branch; that Cortez, ironically,

had difficult pronouncing its name but loved to eat it

sliced in thick chunks or spread over roast dog.

He thought it might be rich enough to neutralize poison

and although his men soon realized it was not

they discovered it tasted wonderful too with apples

or with bowls of cold water, or with nothing at all.

A Puritan once accused the avocado of being God’s

unborn son, the wrinkled, ugly egg that even angels

pray will never hatch on account of its unsightliness;

thus, avocados must be peeled with great care.

Do not be deceived by statistics, which indicate

that less than half of all American households

consume avocados. The fruit is quietly popular

with scientists, teachers, and parents, who have

admitted to showing children how to insert toothpicks

into the seed like spokes of light around a sun,

balance the seed over a glass of water, half submerged,

nurturing the growth of a new tree and all its implications,

a fatty fruit, its possible relationship with God,

the name that fails to fall over the lips of explorers.



...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NAPOWRIMO DAY SIX - THE SHED

Today was a particularly lonely day.


SHED WITHOUT A ROOF


The border between

Iraq and Iran

where there is a shed

with a jagged gutter

and no roof

like some god took

a can opener to it

and nobody knows

who’s more prepared

men

or the dogs

looking down

from the hillside

into the shed

my husband touches

the pistol strapped

over his heart

and thinks

about breakfast



...

Monday, April 5, 2010

NAPOWRIMO DAY FIVE

Well, it's Day Five of Napowrimo, and I'm still going strong. Of course, by the time the days turn into double-digits, my ego will need deflation. I get pretty satisfied with myself when I actually accomplish what I said I would.


Today's been a long day of writing and reading other people's writing, so I'm off to enjoy the outdoors for an hour with my dog. I finally got a new camera (r.i.p. old camera) and will be able to supplement my posts with Colorado scenery once again!


Thanks for all your comments, everyone. I love the day after posting, when my email inbox has at least five messages, none of them advertisements from expedia or amazon. Yahoo!


Enjoy the week!


HAM WITH SLICED PEARS


The old man ordering coffee

ahead of me catches my eye,

the jeans-with-jean-jacket combo

beneath a crisp red trucker’s hat.

He asks the barista how

her Easter holiday was. Nice,

she says, I mean, pretty quiet.

And he says he ate ham

the same way he’s eaten it

all his life, every Easter,

roasted in a pan half filled

with sliced pears, except

he says pears like he means

pearls, or diamonds, a ham

baked with sapphires pinned

to its sides in lieu of cloves.

The barista smiles like a good

vegetarian, lets him recount

all seven bites he took

before getting up for seconds;

he doesn’t actually eat the pears

but leaves them on the side

of his plate, it’s the juice

that matters, and the ham

soaks all of that right up.

Fruit pulp makes him think

he’s eating wet dirt and he

doesn’t like that. The barista

is picturing all this: the man

cutting into his ham with fork

and butterknife, his napkined lap,

the priceless pears scraped

into the trash bag after dinner.

The wet dirt of the world

snaking up tree trunks months

before a holiday dinner is prepared.

She hands him his cup,

paper with no lid, the whipped

cream spiraling up from

his hot cocoa—cocoa—

like a painted cathedral spire.



...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NAPOWRIMO!

It's April, and it's time for Napowrimo! (That's short for NAtional POetry WRIting MOnth, I think, but I'm not sure. Whatever, it's the right concept.) I've never actually attempted this challenge before, but, because Tom's not here to distract me, I feel like I should. I thought the people who did NaNOwrimo a while ago were totally nuts, but that's because it involved novel-writing, something that I look at in the same way I look at extreme rock climbing. I like to read about it. I like to see other people do it. But I'll laugh in your face if you ask me to do it.

Anyway, poems are more my type of challenge. I look at those more like skydiving, which I would totally do. More than once, if it wasn't so expensive.

The idea is to write a poem a day for one month. What I find most attractive about this idea is that it doesn't have to be a good poem, or even a whole poem. Just a poem. Something that may or may not be something worth coming back to in your notebook.

So I'm trying. I'm not going to post the poems every day, because, like I said, they won't necessarily be in good shape or even complete. But I'll post one every couple days (hopefully), just for the illusion of accountability. Here's what I wrote out tonight. (Post Script? I have no idea why or how I came up with this idea. I wasn't thinking of anyone in particular. Well, kind of. But I wasn't really thinking very clearly at all.)

Happy Napowrimo! To anyone else participating, send me the link to where I can read your stuff. (I'm not using the poets.org site. Too chaotic and crammed.)


MORTAL WOMEN

Eventually we all make love in public,

someplace legendary like a dorm room

or a hotel lobby or behind the Christmas tree

and, most likely, our lovers do not

read us poetry afterward, instead

they ask us sleepily to read to them

because we do it so well, and we do,

and we assume it is because our lovers

enjoy poetry, that they produce romance

in the soft middles of their bones,

and what they need most after orgasm

is for us to compare ourselves

to birds or a couple of pumpkins growing

on the same vine, never a nap,

and no one sees us doing these things

other than our companions and God,

who also happens to think we are beautiful

even in the silliest positions and locations

no matter what we are saying or reading,

and Venus, patron saint of beauty,

fantasy’s image, can see us too and leans

forward in her cherry blossom throne

to look over God’s shoulder and say

That girl ought to be put down, but God says

No, let her be, see how she lets him rub her feet,

those enormous boats of hers, like she’s

letting him in on some secret, it’s divine,

God says, I can’t get enough of them,

look how she reads poetry like she’s

running out of air, like she’s sitting underwater!

And the heavens carry on and the night

does not come naturally after our public work,

but only after a strange pulse of a comet

behind Venus, behind God, behind the rows

of thrones says they’ve seen enough, stand back,

someone loosen the stars from their sockets

so they might rest their almighty eyes.

And no one even reaches for the lights before

they’re out, and everyone listens to the sound

of someone else shifting excitedly in the dark.


...