Sunday, May 31, 2015

In the event that you have been sleeping under a rock.... Or from the I case you missed this department

During this past week Kelli Russell Agodon got a lot of traction with an article she wrote that appeared in Medium. The piece was titled, Submit Like A Man: How Women Writers Can Be More Successful. If by some chance you have not read it by now I recommend it. It has sparked significant re-tweets and discussion since appearing.  Kelli discusses her experiences as an editor and a realization that often men and women writers respond differently to rejections letters that indicating the editor would like to see more of their work. Regardless of your gender, if you are timid about your approach to submitting your work to journals I suggest this article is worth reading. As is so often the case, Kelli is a very excellent steward of her writing knowledge and experiences. She embodies the best example of literary stewardship.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How We View The World...

"I was made at right angles to the world and I see it so. I can only see it so." - Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Confession Tuesday: Self-Conscious Edition

Dear Reader:

It has been two weeks since my last Confession. One week in which I fought the intermittent rains to get both front and back jungles mowed. And a second week that has been more akin to nearly non-stop rain save today. I feel a bit like I've been uprooted to Seattle or Portland.

So, I have to confess that I've been particularly self-conscious this week. I hate when I get the impression that everyone is judging me or that  everything that isn't going right is in fact going wrong on my own personal accord, and yes, everyone knows this. That further, if I feel I am being ignored, (which is likely all in my head) I am convinced it is because of something I did or did not do.

I confess that I am not as bad about this as I once was. Still, it creeps into my psyche and takes up residency. Hell, sometimes it throws a party for other self-conscious souls!

It is at times like this that I'm convinced that people are thinking about me way more than I have any reason to believe. Any little reason I can think of that I might have done something wrong or offended someone, I will manifest from this that I'm being avoided or ignored completely without any foundation of evidence to back it up. Logic plays no role whatsoever. This will likely continue a few more days until I finally kick these squatter thoughts out of my head.

On a lesser note, I confess that I am anxious to finish my current journal refill so that I can start fresh with a new clean one. I already have it on hand.

So there you have my secrets - spilled out for you this week.  Everyone be safe and enjoy your week ahead come rain or shine!

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things. ~ Ray Bradbury

Dream Big

"The armored cars of dreams, contrived to let us do so many a dangerous thing." ~Elizabeth Bishop

This week I drew Elizabeth Bishop - Queen of Quills for the Poet Tarot deck for my guidance throughout this week. Bishop is a tough person to rely on for guidance. She was such perfectionist when it came to her work. Perhaps the lesson is write lots. Rewrite lots. When submitting,  keep that standard for what is sent out  high. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Coin Operated Poems - A Review

In this latest collection of poetry, Mary Biddinger longingly delves on that shrinking view through the rear view mirror.  A Sunny Place with Adequate Water is a land we come to inhabit
within the pages of this book, and while there, Biddinger successfully shares a unique vision that while surreal, seems vaguely familiar as if we've experienced some of these things and as for the others, we only wish we had.

The nostalgia of small town America is all here. We see an old order, but an often reinvented one as well. There is a coin operated apple pie, and a coin operated engine finds its steam. A Parlor, a diary, a paramour and a half, so many things relying on coins that buy next to nothing today.

These poems are tidy. The language and the images Biddinger employs have an old shoe comfort. Yes, including magnets and their unreasonable behaviors and the homeless man with a sign that read PREMIUM.

I've come to both enjoy and respect Biddinger’s writing and she continues to amaze me. I felt she took some risks with this collection. I believe they are ones that worked.  This book is an enjoyable read. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How we observe as poets...

No one knows the burden I carry,/this being born with a Ouija Board in my chest, this ability/to read wreckage like an alphabet. You just see a car on its side/and the on the pavement. I see narration. 
                                                                             ~ Jeffrey McDaniel, The Appraiser's Dilemma

This passage from Jeffrey McDaniel's poem is so exquisite.  Reading this poem over and over I realize that I am seeing myself, and by myself, I mean all poets as the ones with this burden. If we are not seeing the narrative in sights and sounds and touch, then maybe we are not really suited to be the poet. Maybe we are only meant to be the reader. Just a thought...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Confession Tuesday - Silas Left The House Edition.

Dear Reader:

It has been one motherfucking rainy week since my last confession. Surprisingly the sky was beautiful today and no rain to be found. I think it figures back into the forecast in a day or two. <sigh>

I have a whole host of things swirling in my head and like a rotating lawn sprinkler -  let's see what we can grab one as the thoughts spray outward.

Here's one.  I confess that I don't think Television will EVER be as good as it once was. The thing that comes to my mind when I am thinking about television is a jingle that used to be an old cigarette commercial only my adaptation of it is, "Are you watching more now but enjoying it less?"  I confess, our children came on the scene when the quality of TV broadcasting went south.  Once, the three major networks provided a competitive challenge to each other. The standard for television shows were set and there was a reason to battle for market share of a third or more of the market place.  Once cable came on the scene there were tons more choices for the viewer but at some point I came to realize that we went from three stations to 186 and there was nothing really worthwhile to watch. Nobody gets close to 1/3 of the overall market anymore and they don't even try.  The advent of reality shows with cheap non-union actors what hungry little cable stations drifted towards. Costs were low, but that didn't matter because they never expected 2 digit market shares.  I confess, a good percentage of shows I watch are old reruns. I want some well-written script and a main character who is not a home who is getting a makeover.

RIP poetry and baseball. Have you heard these? I confess that this is getting old. I've read pieces this week about both. I've heard commentators and essayists trying to sell these two arguments for so long they should have both become fossilized by now, and yet they haven't. These are tired and silly arguments that tell me that these writers are really lacking in the creativity department.

Tattoos. Yes, I've thought about a tattoo this week. I am not one that likes to see lots of tattoos on a person, but I could maybe see me with one. Would I do a Giants logo, or something writing related? I have a temporary one presently to help decide how I feel about it.

Dreams this week... only one that I recall. A poet visited me in a dream. This is not a frequent occurrence but I wish it were. I always like to think I will be visited in a dream by a poet and something profound will be revealed to me. Not so this time. It was a pretty typical strange dream.

Thoughts too about Facebook and Twitter this week. I confess that  I have been thinking about how I have these two social media outlets on my mind too much. I do believe they have valuable roles to play for a writer or any artist for that matter, but I am trying to devise some balance as to how often I am on either during the day. I confess making such a change is not going to be easy.

Silas Goes To The Vet:

I have dreaded for a couple of weeks loading Silas into the car and heading off to the Vet. But Silas has been on a low (puppy dosage of Paxil for some time and his Rx had no refills left. I could not just stop him cold turkey. Besides, given his anxiety issues I felt it was important to talk with the vet about the best course to follow.  Silas usually in is a kennel when in the car. My daughter Shannon agreed to go with us. She stayed with him in the back seat.  I must confess that Silas' trip was far less traumatic that I had anticipated. He was very well behaved at the vet's and only showed a little anxiety. He weighed in at 42.8 LBS.  The return trip he was even better. I have to thank Shannon for the help.

That's it for this week. Sweet Dreams!   Maybe, Neruda, Plath or Yeats will visit you.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Confession Tuesday - The Glory of Books Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been a week since my last confession.

As we get older weeks come and go. It's a fact. Well, it always has been but I do think they seem to zip by these days.  So I get done with one confession and I'm back again and saying to myself, "How did this happen so quickly."

Sunday I mowed my daughters back yard. It's enormous. We jokingly call it the back 40.  The mower she had was self-propelled. In theory, it would make the job easier. The pull on the thing is so strong that it is a lot of physical work just to hold back on it and control it.  After finishing it, I came home and mowed our front lawn with our own power mower. It's not self-propelled. I confess that yesterday when I woke up, my back and shoulders hurt like never before. Tonight I'm still feeling the pain. Moral of the story, be weary of mechanical things that should make life easier.

My book wish list is shrinking at the fastest rate ever. AWP has had a lot to do with that. On the other have, the list of books to read that I now have is also at an all-time high.  I confess there are worse problems I could have. Of course, this means I now am balancing more reading against more writing.

Last week I mentioned that I thought there was a lot of "nice" karma going on. Strangers going out of their way to be nice and share a smile. I mentioned too that drivers seem to be more courteous than normal. Well, today the good karma was hard to find on the streets. And to the man behind me that honked within the same second the light turned green, May your horn mysteriously find itself where that sun doesn't shine." See, now even I'm grouchy.

Are you writing more now by enjoying it less? I confess yes.

Am I not enjoying writing? No

It's what I'm getting on the page that I'm not liking as much.  It happens. I deal with it.

I confess I got a rejection letter.  I confess, It's cool! You have to get so many of those for each acceptance. I know I'm getting closer.

That's it for this week... If it rains, my advice is run for cover.

And The Winners Are....

April has come and gone. Hopefully, you were nourished by a daily supply of poetry.  But poetry is not just for April.

I've drawn names from entries in my Poetry Month Drawing, using a random number generator and I am happy to announce that two persons will each be receiving a poetry book so the poetry can continue.

The winners are - Allyson Whipple and Brian Wong.  Congratulations to both of you. I will be emailing you for your snail mail address.

  • Allyson receives a copy of Alter Ego of the Universe by Amy Leigh Davis
  • Brian Won will receive  a copy of The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forche

Thank you all to everyone who participated in the drawing and thanks to Kelli Russell Agodon for once again spearheading this annual event among a number of other bloggers. 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Friday Mail Bag

What is more fun than getting a bill in the mail? Well, a new poetry book for one thing...

At AWP I attended a reading by Sandra Beasley, a poet from the Washington, D.C. area that I was not totally unfamiliar with, and having checked in on her blog over the past few years I became interested with some of her work and this was one of the main factor I chose her reading over other panels that I could have attended during the conference.  While I did not pick up one of her books at the conference, there was  a short list of books I came home without that I wanted and I have subsequently ordered all but two of them they will be ordered in due time. (For the sake of an entirely differently conversation to be had on some other day, let me point out that is is one of many examples of poetry book purchases that have been blog driven).

Beasley's reading was to me like what I envision when creation explodes wide open before us. It is that atomic event that occurs when language and imagination are mixed. The two elements are unstable when properly mixed and something magical occurs. Beasley knows the right combinations.

And so back the mail, from which this conversation began. I ordered a copy of her collection of poems titled Theories on Falling and it arrived yesterday.  This book was the winner of the 2007 New Issue Poetry Prize. The judge selecting this work was Marie Howe, another poet I adore. I have her work, The Kingdon of Ordinary Time.   
Sandra Beasley On the Right at AWP with Eduardo C. Corral

I'll review the book when I have finished. (I have so many books to read since AWP)