Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Tears for a Fire

Dear Reader:                                                                                                                                               
It's been one lost pound, one poetry book read, one haircut, numerous new poetry drafts & rewrite,  two yoga sessions, one massive 800-year-old Cathedral burned down and one week passed since my last confession.  Please, to the confessional we go.

Reader, yesterday, I watched like so many around the world as raging fire destroyed the bulk of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I've never been there. I have two daughters who were fortunate enough to experience it. The Cathedral has been perhaps the world's most famous. Besides the center of Paris, it is a significant landmark for Catholicism and contained many artistic treasures. Fortunately, many of those pieces of art, as well as church icons, were removed and saved. But Notre Dame was a cultural icon as well. It has been featured in untold pieces of literature and appeared in countless movies. Additionally, it was an architectural expression of the gothic style and a tourist magnet.

But those are all nuts and bolts talk. I found myself wondering why was I genuinely not only sad but deeply emotional at seeing the flames of a structure I had never been to?  The church had been there for such a long time, I think my feeling is rooted in part to humanity that it represents, on one hand, and man's acknowledgment of a God on the other.  How many people toiled over how many years building this structure? On one hand, a structure grand in size to reach and pay homage to a higher power and on the other - a temple, a holy building that people over centuries have come to worship in. Human lives at work, at worship, a tribute to man's resourcefulness by the had of God.

I may not be expressing myself well, but I think my emotions are rooted in the alchemy of man and God. That is what I see when I see Notre Dame.  That is why I feel a sense of loss.

But reader, I have other things I must confess.  As hard as it may be to accept, I have never watched  Game of Thrones.

I confess to reading Tasty Other by Katie Manning. Poems of pregnancy, and birth, along with swollen ankles,  lactation, weird dreams, and urges.  You might think it would be a book that maybe guys might not quite get the full benefit of.  Maybe being a father of four (albeit grown) kids, who has been in the delivery room for each, or that is it well-written poetry, or more likely both, but I liked it, a lot.

I confess that I am reading several other books, yes at the same time.

It's National Poetry Month and I confess I did not write one poem this past week. (Insert bad poet award here)  I did revise and work on several drafts. (insert special dispensation from the higher poet here).

I did two yoga sessions this past week. I can do better.

I lost a pound. If you've seen it, I don't want to know.

That's all I've got this week.

Till next time--

Be joyful & be safe.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Confession Tuesday - So Many Books To Read

Dear Reader:

It's been 2,259 frequent flyer miles, one published poem, a ton of new books and literary reviews to read, one reading in Portland, an introduction to yoga and one month since my last confession.

It's National Poetry Month. Take a poetry pill for your anxiety. It's good for you and will do you no harm.

It's been a busy month since my last confession with AWP at the end of March,. I confess that seeing Portland for the first time was interesting. The scenery and topography were surprising to me. I must confess I  had visited Oregon numerous times in the past on the Oregon trail, but I don't think Portland as such existed back then. I was usually running low on supplies and had lost other people in my party to dysteria.  That's what I remember most about it.

I did not get a lot of sightseeing done. What I did see was from the apartment complex where we were staying and the view was hilly and rustic in the distance. Also, riding the Max into the city took me mostly through what seemed like older portions of the city. I could tell the city itself was pretty densely populated.

One of the nice aspects of the conference was seeing IRL some people that  I have been acquainted with from social media. Some for quite a few years but in all instances, it was exciting to meet them just the same.

Kelli Russell Agodon had been over the years one of my very favorite poets. I confess that after meeting her I worried that I had babbled on, but oh well.  Jennine Hall Gailey was another first time to meet. Michael Schmeltzer, a first. I have books by all three of these people.

Marianne Mersereau AKA Wild Honey from Seattle was there Friday and Saturday. We hung out together at an off-site reading Friday Night. We have corresponded for a number of years and I have one of her poetry books as well. We had a great time - it was an awesome reading. On Saturday, she came and supported me at my reading, on-site, for which I was very appreciative.

I got to meet Katie Manning for the first time. I already had her latest book but was able to pick up an earlier one titled "Tasty Other" which she signed.

The more you go to AWP, the more you realize just how impossible it is to meet everyone you want to. I confess that  I disappointed to miss Carolyn Forche last year in Tampa, but was able to pick up her new memoir that I am currently reading and get her to sign it.

There are always disappointments. I had hoped to meet Francesca Bell. I did get her new book but  I rushed as fast as I could from my reading Saturday to her table and evidently just missed her.

It was nice to see Martha Silano again. Always enjoy seeing Mary Biddinger. She always has book recommendations and her record for picking out books I end up liking is like about 95% - but then Akron Press always publishes really good poets.

I missed seeing  Shaindel Beers, Rachel Mennies (who was not at the event) and Jessica Smith (who did not attend also), Kaveh Akbar and Maggie Smith. So you can see, many time we are all like ships passing in the night.

Overall, Portland was a great conference. I Confess that  I loved the presence that Writer-To-Writer had.  We were all over the place. Our Director Diane Zina Pettyjohn worked very hard with her staff to get W2W the exposure it so deserves.

That's it for now. I'm sure I left out people,  This is a confession. Hopefully, I will be forgiven.

Now if you will excuse me, I have so many new books to read.

Be safe~

Saturday, April 06, 2019

A Carryover from AWP19

I have decided to try making yoga a part of my daily routine. The Yoga session I attended and the panel on yoga and writing have together allowed me to see a clarity of focus that seems on the surface to provide both benefits to the body and writing s well.  

I got a mat on Tuesday and I started with a video session today.  Anyone that has a particular video or YouTube that they really like for Yoga, I'm open to suggestions. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

AWP 19 - Post Script

I've arrived home from Portland. AWP19 is history. It always seems like we run on pure adrenalin. It's like moving forward simply on the inertia that has been building and then, it all comes crashing down after it is over. I think this year was more emotional as it closed out than normal. I had a lot more commitments dictating my schedule and yet I feel it was one of the best.

There was a very big emphasis on the Writer to Writer program this year. We had the normal alumni reception. I spent time volunteering at the booth. We also did an on sight reading of published work by mentee alumni. Several of us talked about planning for future readings at upcoming conferences.  Then there was the Braver Together Gala - a fundraiser for W2W. I was later to it due to volunteer commitment, but it was just one more way the AWP mentorship program was putting itself out there.

One of the fun things about the conference is always the swag.  Who will have the best each year?

Always buttons. One of the most often commented on was the campaign like button for the OXFORD COMMA - 2020!  Actually, this button has been brought out in other years with only the year modified but  I got more comments about it.  Various tens, note pads, notebooks, funky sunglasses, a coffee measuring cup, Temporary Tattoos galore.

I added quite a few books to my library this year.

PR for Poets by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Elegy in the Passive Voice by Allen Braden

Twice Told by Caryl Pagel

Blood Sisters by  Jenifer DeBellis

A Year of Silence by Polly Buckingham

Gravity Assist by Martha Silano

Bright Stain by Francesca Bell

Body of Starlight by Melissa Carroll

Summer Jobs by John Stupp   --  Hawk Parable by Tyler Mills  --  Timbrel by Marianne Mersereau

What You Have Heard is True - Carolyn Forche  --  The House of My Father by Hiwot Adilow

Tasty Other by Katie Manning and a whole host of Literary Reviews & Journals.


With Kelli Russell Agodon
So this year I had a chance to meet some people IRL that  I've interacted with but never met face to face.  I learned that Kelli Russell Agodon is not just an enigma.

I also met Annette Covey and Michael Schmeltzer.

I met Katie Manning for the first time and got to hear her read at an off-site reading. Martha Silano was reading there as well, though I had already met her IRL.

Marianne Mersereau  AKA Wild Honey and I met for the first time and we attended the off-site reading mentioned above.

Saturday, Marianne was kind enough to come and support me as I read with  other  Writer to Writer alumni at the
Convention site.

With Katie Manning

With Marianne Mersereau
With Martha Silano
There were some very well done panels.  I found Cheating on Poetry to be very informative. One of the presenters was Beth Ann Fennelly, whose writing I absolutely adore.

I had my first taste of yoga with Melissa Carroll. I am not especially bendy but I was able to hang in there. It felt good, after first being a bit painful. Something that  I believe I will benefit from. Both physically and in terms of meditating and freeing myself for better writing.

The most asked question from the conference, came the day I wore the shirt with the octopus riding the bike and holding an umbrella. And no, I have no idea what the significance the octopus has to Portland.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Good Morning!

It's Wednesday morning and I will be headed into the convention center later this morning. 
I crashed so hard last night that I forgot to take my insulin. It's no big deal because I woke up with a blood sugar of 85 this morning.

The flight was smooth - just a tiny amount of turbulence. Full plane and my wife and I could not sit together. She directed me to an open aisle seat and said she'd go back further. I guess you could say she picked out the seat for me and she did a good job.

There was a young woman in the middle seat with a small child on her lap and a carrier in the window seat for the said child.  A few pleasantries. And settled in. Somewhere over flyover country
I asked if she was from Portland. She indicated no, she was going to a conference. AWP? Yes!  That's where I am headed. (I mean as big as AWP is - where would they put another conference in the city at the same time.  I inquired as to her genre and she said poetry. This was the best random seating pick ever!  Her son was adorable and quite well behaved for his 6 months old and cutting first teeth.  After we landed I gave her my card and said, "I'm Michael." She said her name and we wished each a great conference. I 've mad a new contract in my own genre and haven't even landed in Portland. 

Above you will see a small assemblage of swag  I picked up at either Washington D.C.  or Tampa conference. Swag is one of the fun parts of the conference - to see who brings what. Today, I'm wondering, "who's got the swag? This will be the subject of a future post.

Time to go shower and dress. I will be heading up to midday. I have several hours of volunteer work and them tonight I will go to the  Braver Together Gayla with Cheryl Strayed. 

Thursday is when everyone gets crazy. 

Monday, March 25, 2019



There is writer's anxiety in the air.  AWP Portland is starting Wednesday. So this is the time where I try and get all my shit together.

Fortunately, I have a checklist from the incomparable Paulette Perhach who was offering services on curbing your AWP anxiety.

Okay, I'm not following it 100% - but it helps and even reminds me of some other things. One very important item not mentioned here was taking luggage with room for books on the return trip.  I have a big leather bag that I will sometimes collapse and pack into the suitcase with my clothing. Then I magically arrive with the means to make it home with my stash of books. I mean, who goes and doesn't buy books?


 Paulette also had a list of things to do beforehand.  Some of this I have already done. I have most of my schedule outlined along with a few options.

As for the list of 5 people to meet... I've got  3 times that many. That is not counting on new people.

Three people, who are doing what I'm doing?  By that you mean last minute stressing?  Right!


Everyone loves a game, right?  I've seen AWP bingo cards. Not this time but I am still looking.  Here is a little ditty that Paulette gave us
for further stimulation or perhaps frustration.

These are some of the items that were designed to make our AWP experience both beneficial and fun. She stressed the importance of not trying to be too hyped up to try and do everything. You can't. She suggests a balance between getting something out of the experience but allowing yourself to have fun too.

If you are getting too tired, cut back on a panel.  Maybe go off sight and get something to eat or drink. Maybe ask a friend to join you. Or just hit one of the Dickenson Quiet rooms for 30 minuter or an hour.
Call a friend and see if you can go grab a cup of coffee together.

All right, I still have a few things yet to do including moving  laundry to the dryer,

I will be posting on her daily during the conference.  At least that is my plan. From sitting out a conference a while back I can tell you that you start looking for people to live the experience vicariously through.

Meanwhile, I am going to leave you with this thought ~ Who ill have the best SAWG?