Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Year End Condition

Tuesday evening and it's time to head to the confessional for the last time this year.  Join me as I unload what I've been carrying around.

Dear Reader:

It's been two weeks since my last confession. I confess I was a slacker over the holiday.

It's funny I generally approach each year end wanting to shake the dust of the past year from my feet. Usually I can not wait to put it behind me focusing on all the bad things that are lingering in my memory. I usually figure whatever the new year brings can't be worse than the one just past.  This year I confess I can actually think of some things that have gone right for a change.

I have to say that I am thankful that we managed to get the required work done on our water meter line of font done without having to bring in outside help. This was a big savings.

I'm thankful that I have had a very successful year of Submission Saturdays. This was not something that was just good luck, but a determination on my part that has turned something I dreaded into a habit. A good one. And the results have payed off with more acceptances - getting  homes for my work. It makes writing so much more enjoyable when you know others will get to see your work.

We were able to reclaim our garage and park our car in it. This has been awesome this winter already.

I was also able to move back into my home office. I think it has been beneficial to my writing and writing related tasks.

Those are a few of the positive things but I confess there are things that have been struggles.  Sadness also seemed a be a theme this year as we lost three beloved pets. Our dog Mo and our cats Autumn, and Abby. Also, my son lost the his Mastiff named Church. I confess that I don't deal with the loss of pets well. They are family members. They also remind me of our own human frailty and mortality. Obviously I could really do without any more in 2014.

I confess that 2013 was also the year of binge TV for my wife and I. Yes, we did 8 seasons of 24 - all 196 episodes. Then we tackled Glee all past seasons and followed the current season. Then we too on Bones - watching all past seasons of it. Honestly some days we would do like a 6 episode marathon. No everyday, but I won't deny that it happened.

Now I could say that  that was a lot of time wasted. But honestly, most of that I confess to having enjoyed.

I've probably read more this year then most past as well. That can't be a bad thing.

As we get ready for the new year I've been busy assessing some things. Taking an inventory of what I would do the same this year and what I might do differently.

Besides writing I've started painting in acrylics and water colors. I'm not professing to be great at it but  it is relaxing and I'm hopeful that my skills will improve. I feel like it is just an extension of exercising the creative mind. I hope to keep up these activities in 2014.  I'm also wanting to start playing  my saxophone again. I've done a little in 2013 but  nothing consistent. So this is another creative activity I hope to infuse into my routine in the new year.

Submission Saturday was such a success it will continue.

I confess I did not get out  to read or to other readings nearly enough this year. This is something I need to be more committed to. There was a time when I was reading every month and sometime multiple times but that has been so long ago.

I need to work on some of my ties with other poets. I believe community is so very important for writers and I've not focused enough on this the past couple of years.

If this sounds very random, that's because my mind is feeling pretty random right now.  The thing is I have in my mind some things I want different, but I confess can't say that I have any defined new years resolutions.  
I suppose I have a few hours left...

Happy New Years to all of you!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Journal Bits.....

I've not done a slice of my journal post lately so I thought  I'd feature some bits since December 15...

  • 12-15-13 - New journal with clean passages for me to fill. Always a good deal of hope, anticipation and adrenaline (associated with).
  • 12-18-13 - There is the here and now with all the talk and no proximity. I am a party to this but not a part. 
  • 12-18-13 - "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Rachel Johnson from Notting Hill, Actually.
  • 12-25-13 - "Chekhov is the poet of melancholy and isolation and wishing  you were somewhere else than where you are." - Salman Rushdie
  • 12-25-13 - nigh comes we drive to the utmost extreme of the city - where the suburbs have ended and the city really isn't anymore.
  • 12-26-13 - Traditions seem to be my friend. I'm most comfortable in (the) throngs of tradition. I suspect this is a Capricorn thing. 
  • 12-27-13 - Distant train whistle/tracks rumble in my head/hot steel searing thoughts/cauterized-

Submission Saturday....

It's my last Submission Saturday of the year and I will be sending out material but also following the advise of these guys... how about you?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Publishing Poetry Need Not Be The Swimsuit Competition

It has seemed to me that I probably read more women poets then men. I thought I would explore that possibility by pulling a random sampling of poetry books from my library bookshelves. Nothing scientific about this sampling... I reached without looking and pulled. If it was a book about the craft of poetry or a critical review I sat it aside and continued until I had 10 books. I carried them to my desk and went through them to determine the gender of the author. The results were 4 men and 6 women. Actually I might have thought it would be more lopsided in favor of women but I guess I was pleasantly convinced that as a reader of the poetry arts, I'm probably  more balanced then I thought.

In case you are wondering, the titles and authors are as follows:

  1. Atlas by Katrina Vandenberg
  2. Wolf Watching by Ted Hughes
  3. On Days Like These - Dan Quisenberry
  4. Factory of Tears - Valzhyna Mort
  5. Small Knots - Kelli Russell Agodon
  6. Conamara Blues - John O'Donohue
  7. Nine Horses - Billy Collins
  8. The Seven Ages - Louise Gluck
  9. Forms of Intercession - Jane Pupek
  10. View With A Grain of Sand - Wislawa Szymbroska

Because in many instances I have multiple titles by the same author I was pleased that none of the random pickings resulted in more then one book by the same author. 

So the point of all this? I read Kelli Agodon's blog post today - Support Women Poets: No More Measuring Bathing Suits.   Kelli's piece centers around thoughts on discussions that have transpired as a result of  this article from the New York Daily News. Two comments made by men are as follows... "Does one write better with fewer clothes on?" To which another replies, "That's the first thing I thought of..."

I saw nothing wrong with the attire any of these women were wearing. Even so, they were photo shoots. Nothing suggests any of these women look like these photos pulling a late night witting session amid papers strewn about an a half full cup of now cold coffee. I could only hope no one would judge me on what I might look like at 1:00 a.m. working at my laptop. If Larry and Mitch ( presuming these are their real names) were the subjects of a news article would they show up disheveled? Would the photo journalist have gone with such pictures?  

It's pretty obvious that in the publishing world there are many hurtles that women writers have to overcome to get taken seriously.Any number of publication statistics will  on an increasing basis bear this out.

Larry and Mitch may have just been trying to be cute, I have no way of knowing. Still their words underscore a very real issue for women in many areas not just writing. That issue is being taken seriously. 

I've read many women writers who bring incredible power and voice to their work in poetry.  We are not a gender blind society any more then we are color blind. Sadly, there are avenues that greatly ignore many women poets. I think the same can be true of many older poets. Sure there are the Ashbery and Merwins, but there were not always older. I'm talking about older writers there are newer to writing but already past their prime. Ashbery and Merwin made names for themselves while they were still quite young. It's hard for a fifty or sixty year old poet that has only been writing a few years to maneuver the publishing landscape as well. 

But Agodon makes a valid point that some critics of women writers will find whatever avenue to discredit them that  they can. Too slutty, not attractive. If you don't like their work talk about  where you find it falls short. People, it's about the writing! I can't imagine many men who could stand to undergo the scrutiny many women go through over their appearance.  

I suppose over the years I've become a bit of a male feminist. I have 3 daughters, I wonder how that happened? But feminism isn't  radical. Not really. It's about sensibility. 

I love poetry. Well written poetry. Poetry that makes me thinks. That moves my inner core. I like it  regardless of the gender of the poet. I know many people don't like lists. But maybe I should do another  post on some of the poets that caught my fancy during 2013. I promise it would include men and women. 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oxford Dictionary will provide you with a word that came into the being the year of your birth

Your OED birthday word is: 
frenemy, n.
Meaning: A person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry; a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy.
See the entry in the OED to see a quotation of its first-known usage

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lowering my expectations for the night

  Sinus issues really suck. I've taken taken my Claritan D.
Going to take a book and go read. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Overdue Books Edition

Well, it's been one Holiday Luncheon, 7 more days without Diet Coke, and a new journal refill since my last confession. It's off to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

This week seems strange for some reason and I confess I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the goofy weather changes from one day to the next. Perhaps it's the holiday season craziness. Or the full moon. Perhaps it's none of these and I just haven't paid enough attention to realize what it is, but things seem different. I know every day is a new day but I am used to sort of patterns that cycle throughout the year. This just feels different and I can't say why for certain.

We had our office holiday luncheon today. I did good. I had a Caesar salad and Lasagna. I cut the Lasagna in half and brought half home. I passed on dessert in spite of the fact they had a something with maple, butter cream and some kind of crunchy topping. I confess that I'm wild about maple. I mean when you have maple how can you go wrong? Same with bacon. And it you happen to have maple and bacon together, OMG!

No word this week on any of my many submissions floating around out there. No good news, no bad news. Some have been out long enough it's starting to bug me. Do any of you get wacky crazy over waiting  for word on submissions?

I confess I have overdue library books but don't tell the librarian. I think they are 4 days overdue.
I kind of remember when I was in high school (yeah my long term memory is still pretty well intact) I think it was actually considered some kind of badge of honor to have overdue library books. It may have secretely been a control issue. I have these and if someone else wants these they have to wait until I'm ready for them to have them.  I know several librarians and at least one of you is going to scold me for this or maybe put out a contract on me.

That's about all I got this week.  If we were playing poker it would be such a lousy hand I'd have to bluff.
Hope you all have a happy and safe week. - See you next Tuesday!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Stress...

The page is blank... what are you waiting for? 

Are You Writing Today?

A vacation day from my 8 to 5 job and yes, I will be in my home office writing today. Hey, it's my 6 to whatever job...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Confession Tuesday Cold Turkey Edition

Another Tuesday has come and is quickly vaporizing before me. Won't you follow me to the confessional?

Dear Reader:

It's been three more submissions, one more completed poem, a partially painted canvass and no Diet Coke since my last confession.

That's right, I stopped Diet Coke cold turkey the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If you own shares in Coca-Cola I apologize. No doubt their profits have taken a dive. So tomorrow will make it two weeks. Don't get me wrong, I'm not professing that I have given up Diet Coke forever, but for now, I'm off it. This past weekend was hard - especially Sunday I could easily have caved in and stopped for a 54 oz. at Quick Trip and I confess I thought seriously about it, but I didn't give in.  I confess that so far I've only been a little cranky.

I will be taking a vacation day tomorrow. I pretty much have to or I will get truncated vacation this pay period. I confess this is a relatively common problem for me as I am usually close to my maximum allowable accumulation and I earn another 7.something  each pay period so when it gets like this I almost have to take a day weekly or I get back to the max in no time. This is a problem I know many would like to have but honestly, when I take a week or more off - it almost isn't worth the break when I come back to a desk fill of work.

It's funny the little things one comes to appreciate. When my daughter moved out into her own home it freed up space in the garage for me to park. It's crazy how much I have enjoyed having the car in the garage when I leave of a morning. I confess that sometimes the simplest things become meaningful.

Another dilemma (besides vacation days) is that I am reading a bunch of books all at once and I want to focus on one and finish but I can't decide which one to plow ahead into.  Most of the time I don't mind being between several books but for some reason I'm wanting to wrap up another one quickly. I think it has to do with finishing another one before the year is out. If I would just pick one and stick to it  I might have time to finish two. I tend to go in spurts. Sometimes I will read only about 30 minutes a day.  When I'm reading poetry books it's another story. If it's poetry that I'm really into I will sometimes finish it  in one day or two. I will often read them multiple times.

I painted some this week and I may paint some more tomorrow. I confess that I like it better then it likes me. I'm hopeful that with time I will improve. I think many different arts complement each other and lend to our overall creative quotient. Sometimes thinking about a picture or certain music seems to open up my writing possibilities.

I confess that I'm confessed out and I'm off to read.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Mag 197: Aerial

From The Guardian, Eyewitness


Copious triumph overhead
the conquest of sky by sea gulls

who blend into the blue gray skies
and abruptly are everywhere.

A sneak attack on the beach head.
A monumental event – bombarding

the shoreline with an ugly grace.
Only God could engineer aerodynamics

on such a gangling bird. Feathered wings
on a lunchbox.

Michael Allyn Wells

The Mag 197

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Book Loving Fool Edition

Dear Reader:

Tuesday has come and that means it's confession time. So if you'll join me, I'm off to the confessional.

It's been one week, a four day holiday, one smoked turkey, and three new poetry books since my last confession.

It's been a strange week because I was out of the office between Thursday and Monday  so when I returned to the office today it was really like a Monday to me. A super Monday at that. Monday I scheduled off to take my mother for outpatient eye surgery and the preceding Thursday - Sunday were Thanksgiving  holiday extended weekend. I confess being out that long makes it hard to want to go back, but being off all those days adds anxiety as I am constantly thinking about work rolling in and piling up on my desk. As hard as it was to put all that anxiety out of my mind, I was pretty good at finding some level of relaxation.

I confess I stayed from the fray of black Friday shopping withe the exception of going to Half Price Book Store 30 minutes before there 7AM opening. Stood in like with other book loving fools to get a $5 gift card, a tote bag and a chance to win a $100 gift card. Needless to say, I did not get the $100 card, but I did get some good deals on poetry books and of course the $5 card.

I confess that my wife and I love going to book stores. Call us weird but we sometimes plan a bookstore trip as a

I confessed I saw what I thought would be a really good movie to watch on Net Flicks and recommended it it my wife not realizing it was French with subtitles. The movie The Intouchables turns out to be about a rather stuffy well-to do invalid in France who finds his life enriched by a black man from the Paris ghettos. Surprisingly after it started and we realized it was subtitled she agreed to stick with it and it turned out to be a very enjoyable movie. Of late, there has been a bit of a joke about my movie choices for movie night.  I think my movie choice privileges have been perilously closed to revocation.

On thanksgiving I scored both turkey wings this year. I don't know if I no one else really wanted them or if they were afraid to grab them for fear of my wrath. Let it be known I did not smack down two wings on Thanksgiving. No, I had one as a leftover on the weekend. I totally believe the wings are the best part of a turkey or chicken for that matter. If someone were to ask me to describe my idea of the best hybrid turkey of chicken it look like two big wings on legs with a beak.

Well, I'm about confessed out. Wishing you all a safe week ahead and all the happiness you can handle.



Monday, December 02, 2013

Lines That Caught My Eye

These are a few lines that I came in contact with this week that could have come from poems or interviews, articles, etc. - but in each case they caught my attention for one reason or another.  It may be because the lines are particularly profound in my own eyes, or because they are lines (we all have them) that we wish we had written, or because they particularly speak to me about writing and poetry.

1.  I want to move figuratively, as waves caress the thoughtless shore - John Ashberry 

2  Our job as poets is to make new what may be old and unoriginal. - Deborah Ager

3. I'm in the mood for a bust-up at the farmer's market, Rachel Maddow is so over me, and you too Pacific Northwest, admit it. - Melissa Broder 

4. A thing too perfect to be remembered: stone beautiful only when wet. - Jane Hirshfield 

5. I am a part of all that I have met. To you, all, whether or not you know, having wandered into the tissue of my life, and out again, you have left a momentary part of you which I will work into something. -Sylvia Plath - Journals