Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Constant Come Back

After a quick Southern California trip to see my grandparents, we arrived safely (puppy and all) in the home valley. It's colder than I thought it would be, but just as pretty as always. We're looking after friend's dogs in a house perched on top of a mountain while finishing up work. As the copy work dwindles for the holiday and the novel work begins again, I'm watching a German Shepherd, a Catahoula Cur, and a much-fiestier-than-she-looks pug try and play nice by sharing bones and patrolling the grounds together. The fine and difficult art of sharing time and space with other animals. Oh the complexities of building a new society. Oh the homes we make out of rocks and dust. 

Everyone is going home. Or so it seems on the interwebs. I like that. A returning. A coming back to each other. A brief pause in the middle of all our private and political disasters. I always think of one of my favorite Robert Hass poems, "Faint Music," where the ending opens up so beautifully. "I had the idea that the world's so full of pain/it must sometimes make a kind of singing./ And that the sequence helps, as much as the order./ First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing." Now, we get to sing.

I'm looking for Thanksgiving poems to share at the table on Thursday. My non-believer way of saying thank you, my little atheist prayers. 

(Some people have home teams, I have home trees. This is my most cherished tree-teacher. "Good things come in trees." I know the California state tree is the redwood, but sometimes I think it should be the oak.)

(From the top of the Corridor Ridge trail where I came with my labrador when I was little, we walked in the late afternoon. This time, with my new favorite dog by my side.)

(Who says we don't have seasons in California? This is what we call the Sonoma "color.")

I think of the coming back we do to our roots and of Kay Ryan's "A Certain Kind of Eden," with the lines: "Even the one vine that tendrils out alone/ in time turns on its own impulse,/twisting back down its upward course/ a strong and then a stronger rope,/ the greenest saddest strongest/ kind of hope." 

What needy things we are. What greedy things. How generous of the earth to put up with our endless coming home, our own weird gravity of belonging somehow, somewhere, to some part of the forgiving land, we unwittingly try and call our own.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Dead & the Lucky

In the slumping afternoon light, I went to the basement to dig up all the photos of my dead. I wanted a picture of my Grandpa Frank, my Grandma Mary, Uncle Chuck, Jess, Denver, and of course, my beloved stepmom, Cynthia who died 2 years ago in February.

The lights in the basement are touch and go. That is, they mostly don’t work. But when I went down to look for photos, all the lights came on. I looked into the space around me and said, “Thank you.”

All the photos! I was lost in love with them. So much so, that it no longer became about celebrating the dead, but also the past, all the wonderful, and painful things that make up a lovely and ridiculous life. Soon, I had photos spread out all over the washing machine and was pouring through letters that I saved. Crying. Laughing. Making absurd human sounds that must have disturbed (or delighted) the dusty corners.

I have no real point, only to say, it was all so pleasant; spending the day with my dead and my past. I kept thinking of Cynthia and missing the way she laughed when we spent complicated evenings in the kitchen making complicated things. I miss her the hardest. All the time. I miss the fact that she doesn’t know the man I love, or how drastically my life has changed in the two years she's been gone, or how she gave me much of the courage to change it. It was the best afternoon with the dead, ever. Like spending the afternoon in soft pants and homemade butter cream.

Earlier, my “Uncle Oil” or Earl LeClair, one of my stepdad’s best friends (and a wonderful poet who inspired me from my first minor inclinations toward writing) showed up with his friend Alice, and unexpectedly and took me to lunch. It was just what I needed, his big wicked grin in bluegrass.

So, it seems this El Dia de Los Muertos was a lucky one. All lights on and a glow. Come back any time, my gone ones. You are very welcome here. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaves & the Left Coast

So many things have opened up and unfolded as the mumming light of Fall fills the days and I'm all fake fireplaces and foliage. October has proven to be kind to the writing and the wow and the now and the bourbon-y how.

I read with some awesome poets on October 5th for the World Series of Poetry in San Francisco. It was a weird and unconventional and I fell in love with their work all over again. 

Then, it was off to my home town, Sonoma where crush was in full swing and the grapes were heavy and loaded with good things you have to wait and wait and wait for.

In the weeks of moving, of unpacking, of cleaning, of writing copy, and writing art, somehow I was offered an escape to the Anderson Valley with my older brother and sister-in-law. Twelve wineries in 2 days. And this is how we spent our lunch break at Navarro Vineyards.

I chalked the whole wonderful adventure up to research and tried to put away as much Pinot Noir as possible. Now, I have quite a bit in the bluegrass kitchen. Just sitting there. In the wine rack. Silently screaming my name. They'll have to wait until we have visitors and some nice things accomplished.

Then, the day of my flight out to Lexington, I was invited to a read at the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco as part of Litquake and hosted by the talented powerhouse Robin Ekiss. The sun came out and we all oohed and ahhed together. Like poets should do. Here's a video of me reading poems and talking about things.

Now we're home in the bluegrass house where the whole of my Brooklyn apartment now resides. The old green kitchen table that the girls used to gather around is now my desk where I write. The rocking chair is in the dining room. Dolly Parton on the cover of Playboy is in the bathroom. The Ada is in Kentucky. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kansas City is Oh So Pretty

I just returned from Kansas City where I was lucky enough to read in the Park University's Ethnic Voices Poetry Series at the Public Library. I also was lucky enough to read at UCMO's Pleiades Series, introduced by my host, poet and editor, Wayne Miller. There were two radio appearances as well. (Radio makes me terrified, I stumble and plummet and um, and um, and um.) All of it was a great joy. There were good crowds full of interesting people with lots of questions about the poet's life, the novel, the New York life, the world, the how, and the now.

Wayne, his wonderful wife Jeanne, and I all had the most amazing barbecue at Oklahoma Joe's. Hands down the best barbecue I've ever had. Anthony Bourdain agrees as he's listed it as one of his "13 places to eat before you die." And now I know how to plan my other poetry readings. Checking off the other 12 places on the list.

After an interview with the great host Jabulani Leffall, on Central Standard on KCUR, I read at the Library for the Park University Ethnic Voices Poetry Series. Virginia Brackett was a wonderful host and the evening ended with another great dinner at Kansas City's West Side Local. Then, in the morning it was off to do a radio interview with New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam. They recorded at UKC, around a small table with a Mexican blanket. I told her, the humble setting made me feel quite at home. Then, I accidentally told her all my secrets. We shall see when the interview appears here soon.

Then, off to UCMO in Warrensburg, which (no doubt you know this) is FAMOUS for the place where the phrase "a dog is a man's best friend"  was coined. This is true. Not only is a dog, in fact, a man's best friend, but I saw the statue of the original dog in the center of town. So it all really happened. Statues are truth. Then, I read for a great undergraduate crowd of young writing students. I later said to Wayne, "I think the trick to reading for a busy and distractible undergraduate audience must be to read all your poems about sex." Which is also true. A dog is a man's best friend, but sex is an undergraduate writer's best friend.

On the way home, I got the chance to read Wayne's new book. Beautiful book. The City, Our City. It's harsh and stunning, with lines like, "What it was that filled me,/filled me entirely./The only space left/was inside my fists." From his remarkable poem, "Street Fight."  Also, I had the pleasure of buying Alex Battles's official album, Goodbye Almira and listening to it on the flight back home. It's an amazing album from the Country Music world of Brooklyn, NY that he helped to establish. "She's an easy girl, easier than the lid on a pickle jar/easier than using your knees to drive a car/easier than leaving her alone." Aw yeah.

So thanks, Kansas City, for the meats and the meetings. I enjoyed you. I shall return. Now, a little writing time before the next trip takes me to Pennsylvania, NYC, and SF for two big readings. Whoa, take it easy world. Keep your pants on. Fall is just getting started.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer: Puppies & Pages

"I don't ask myself what I'm looking for. I didn't come for answers to a place like this"
--Philip Levine

Two momentous things have happened since I last came here to talk: 1. I finished a rough draft of my first novel 2. We got a puppy.

Now, the momentous things that happen seem a little less momentous and a little more in the moment. I take care of this little beast. And, as I do I'm starting the giant rewrite of the book. It's like nothing I've ever done before. The fiction journey is entirely different than the poetry journey. It's so much more about endurance and strength as opposed to hot bursts of wild exhilaration. Oh there is a great deal of exhilaration with the novel work too, but it's prolonged and measured and meaty. A life in chapters instead of lines. The weeeeeeee of writing to the end of the page. The weeeeee of life in the long form.

I never liked pugs. Or rather, I never thought I'd have one. I liked big dogs with big personalties. But we travel a lot. And Lucas loves them. So, we brought home this little girl. That same week, my wonderful friend, Nadia sent me this awesome shirt. (It says Pugs Not Drugs. It does not say Jugs Not Drugs, though I just realized it could possibly look that way.) Now, I've gone from a New York City girl with no pets and a lot of high heels, to this strange and laughing barefoot person. Ah well, I'll embrace the change. I'll love that weird funny animal of life.

Twilight in the Bluegrass with Lily Bean Kudzu reaching out into the abyss of the now. In my best friend, Trish Harnetiaux's play, Straight On Till Morning, she has a cat named, "The Now." I always loved that, "Meow, The Now!" I suppose this pup is saying, "Wow, The Now."

Lucas in the wild flowers with the wild pug. My family has grown. We've adopted a dog baby and a novel baby. I hope I can do right by both of them. Joy sure comes with a lot of pressure to keep it.

In other news, Phil Levine, my favorite teacher, and one of my favorite poets, was just named the new Poet Laureate of the United States (The President of Poetry). He taught me a lot of what I know. And I think he's wonderful. With all the despair in the news, it's nice to get a good word from poetry.

Here's one of my favorite poems of his:

Philip Levine

The new grass rising in the hills,
the cows loitering in the morning chill,
a dozen or more old browns hidden
in the shadows of the cottonwoods
beside the streambed. I go higher
to where the road gives up and there's
only a faint path strewn with lupine
between the mountain oaks. I don't
ask myself what I'm looking for.
I didn't come for answers
to a place like this, I came to walk
on the earth, still cold, still silent.
Still ungiving, I've said to myself,
although it greets me with last year's
dead thistles and this year's
hard spines, early blooming
wild onions, the curling remains
of spider's cloth. What did I bring
to the dance? In my back pocket
a crushed letter from a woman
I've never met bearing bad news
I can do nothing about. So I wander
these woods half sightless while
a west wind picks up in the trees
clustered above. The pines make
a music like no other, rising and
falling like a distant surf at night
that calms the darkness before
first light. "Soughing" we call it, from
Old English, no less. How weightless
words are when nothing will do.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cherries & the Summer of Love

All the wheels are wheeling and the direction they go nobody knows. I've been putting my shoulder to the wheel. The bluegrass home has proven to be quite productive as the weather stays wet and warm outside and inside the words keep coming. I've stopped agonizing over leaving Sonoma Valley for the time being. I love it there, and it will be there when I return. For now, it is this lovely view and the view of the world I am creating in my brain.

Hiking by the big muddy Kentucky River, all the trees were leaning hard into the sky. Sharks in the Rivers went into its second printing and new readings were booked for the fall (click on the Readings link above). Poems have been coming far and few as most things have become about the novel. I'm starting to see how this is done. Slowly.

What it's like to build a home together. What it's like to work from home together. All this learning and the wonderful man who keeps me laughing through it all. Grilling in the backyard, so many vegetables in the garden, so many bugs in the bluegrass blue sky. I'm learning to live in the flux. Flux it.

All this joy I keep eating in the form of cherries. Lips red and raw from all this joy. New poems coming out in journals, and a new interview over here. Friend and fellow vagabond, Alex Battles has released his fabulous songs here, buy them, support him. Sharon Salzberg, the woman who has undoubtably helped me calm my brain and become a less frantic depressed soul has released a new book (audio too!) and I recommend it highly. Also, Don't Kill the Birthday Girl a memoir from dear friend Sandra Beasley has just come out this week. As we like to say in my family. "Take a look, check it out!"In the meantime, all these real cherries to eat in the real summer of love.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Behold the Rising Tide

Some turning point, whether it was the June 15th big moon event, or just some switch of summer that turned the faucet to hot and hell yeah, everything's been a little better lately, a little more golden. The work on the novel is moving along, and so as a reward, I took myself and my ma to the beach. I found a note I wrote to myself in my novel notebook that said, "Stay brave & open." Ok.
This guy snuck up on us. I defeated him and then put him in my pocket.

Limantour Beach (by Point Reyes Station) was 74 degrees and poetry-worthy weather.
I like grass.

All the real green grass of the real world was real pretty.

The day made me think of Robert Hass, one of my favorite poets, and his poem, "Interrupted Meditation" that ends this way.

"Everyone their own devastation. Each on its own scale.
I don't know what the key opens. I know we die,
and don’t know what is at the end. We don’t behave well.
And there are monsters out there, and millions of others
to carry out their orders. We live half our lives
in fantasy, and words. This morning I am pretending
to be walking down the mountain in the heat.
A vault of blue sky, traildust, the sweet medicinal
scent of mountain grasses, and at trailside—
I'm a little ashamed that I want to end this poem
singing, but I want to end this poem singing—the wooly
closed-down buds of the sunflower to which, in English,
someone gave the name, sometime, of pearly everlasting."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Golden State

I returned home from Southern California where we moved my grandparents into a new apartment. It was boxes and lifting and sorting and pictures and stories and stories and stories. Stiff upper lips and long lungful sighs. After a nine hour drive with my Ma to my favorite county, I tried to return to my writing desk (a kitchen table that looks out on the oaks, with one particular finch that looks in on me). But, the brain kept swirling. And so I went for a walk in the valley. Made some big wishes for some good things. I made some wishes for you, too.
The fish looked thick and fat in Lake Sutton. And the summer boys and girls were out with their bright striped towels, fishing poles, dirt bikes, and early summer crushes on one another. They nodded sweetly as I went passed and I noticed I was no longer one of them.
The rattlesnake grass is sneaky on the hillside and you can hear its yellow tremble in the wind. There are so many things to love in this world. Oh, how to balance this living and dying we do. How to be quiet long enough to hear yourself breathe, and how to foster that long loud echo inside of you that keeps returning and returning the world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's an Animal Kingdom

Well, we went swiftly through April, the way months move and toss you around and then throw you out into the next. And May came so quickly. Cinco de Mayo, our anniversary, Derby Day, my father's birthday, and Mother's Day all came in a single five-day stretch. Now, just as we return to the business of writing, the good staring out the window kind of gig, we're off to New York for more poetry readings. In the meantime, it's Spring in Kentucky and we've been to all the races a girl could dream of. Birds are going nuts outside and the inner chirper is starting to perk up and peek out.

The wild flowers went wild in the wild.

The greens were growing greener and getting under my skin.

Then the Derby came, and we crossed our fingers until they were sore.

And had mint juleps and wore plaid.

The next morning, after the roar of the crowd had stilled, we visited the winning horses on the backstretch.

The winning horse, Animal Kingdom. Won at 20-1.

We also visited, the show horse, Mucho Macho Man (female trainer, gorgeous horse).

Driving home from the pool with groceries in the car I said to Lucas, "You know what I just realized? We live in Kentucky."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ada's for April 23:

(poem was here)

Jen's for #24

Bon voyahgee, as Bugs Bunny would say.

Ada's for April 22:

(poem was here)

Jen's for Day #23

To the Person/s Who Broke Into My House

[in a southern accent]: Ah hoo-hoo-hoo! I do
declare! To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?
I must look a fright. Well, do join me! I just so
happen to have a pie coiling, I mean cooling, but
the tequila’s all cashed out, I fear. Living alone
and all—things can get a little weird.

Jason for day 24

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jen's for #22


Jen's for #21

Bye bye!

Jason for day 23

Answers for Ada, two days later

minature, pebble. hold hands.
that hat is nice. That hat is not
as nice the previous hat. Your hands
are the same age as my hands.
We should not leave, but we should
look out there. That is neither hail,
nor a flower, and it is what you look
like, but only with Fluxus glasses on.

I am listening, and you can tell my slippers
by the monogram. You should
keep expanding, and as much as we
want to, stopping is not an option.
It is better to be bored and creative
than to be entertained and blocked.
You should explode. You’re
too brilliant not to.

jason for day 22 (untitled)

It was late, and getting later. The sky was white
and the earth was white, but such subtle shades
that the horizon was impossible to find,
and who cares about the boundary? about
the magical place where the sea meets
the shore, or the roof meets the house?
I care only about where my head meets
your shoulder, and where my hand meets
your chest, where the sheets the meet
our bodies, and our heads meet the pillows.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jen's for #20

Later, gator!

Jen's for Day #19


Jason for Day 21-- CAUGHT UP!!!

Mentoring Poets

I said, well, who are you reading
and he said, oh, I don’t read other poets
and I said, then how do you know
that what you are writing is
poetry? and he said well, it rhymes
and I said, where do you read
and he said what do you mean
and I said you know, open mics, places
you might meet other poets
and he said, I told you, I don’t
read poetry, or listen to other poets
or meet other poets and I said
why not? and he said, they might
steal my ideas, and I said usually
a poet is valued more for his style
than his ideas, and he said
do you think these poems could be
a book, and I said, I won’t read
them, and he said, why not,
and I said, because I don’t read
other people’s poems, I don’t
want to be accused of stealing.

Jason for Day 20 (with a title)

That's Your Boyfriend

We were playing “that’s your boyfriend” where you point
and say “that’s your boyfriend” except Sarah added a part
where you honk and wave as you drive past. Half the people
we played with seemed kind of glad to be recognized,
and the other half seemed mad because they knew
they didn’t know us. I didn’t start wearing my glasses
every day until a guy said hello to me on the street
and I screamed “Carlos!” and ran up to hug him
only to find out that he wasn’t Carlos up close. I knew one girl
who played “that’s your boyfriend,” but she called it
“up your ass” and it just seemed a little gross to me,
and well, kind of juvenile. Also, she never played it
with strangers, she played it mostly with architecture,
and I only like playing games that you can play with
people who don’t know they’re playing them. Sarah
lives in Chicago, and we never play the game even
when we drive around Chicago. I love Chicago.

Jason for Day 19 (also untitled)

There are stories: not for telling; the stories are slaves:
the pacing is everything: the speed: you must remain:
you must go: the audience is not for telling: the audience
is enslaved: the audience is enraptured: you must
not remain: you may vote now: the story of which:
you would like to hear: the story of which: I can tell:
at the pace: at the pace of light: at the pace of sound:
the beat: the story: the beat: the story: the definite article:
asserts itself: like a frat boy: the definite articles says:
bee-atch: the definite article is the whole story:
the frat boy is paced like the slave: the slave is paced
like the everything: the article is the stories: the:
the: the: the: the: the: the:

Jason for Day 18

I’m further behind than Jen Knox, and I always will be

After all, what do you say when the girl next to you
in grad school has already been in Best American Poetry?
What do you say to the girl who remembers to keep
her chin tucked when she rolls out of a moving car,
who knows thirty ways to mix a martini with olives,
who gives you the recipe to lemon cardomom ice cream
and even gives you the lemons? When she says
I’m behind, I say, I’m behind-er. When she says who’s got
my back, I say, I’m right here, as always, right behind you.

Jason for Day 17, untitled

I cannot love process.

Oh, I’ve tried.

I know: you think:

What a curmudgeon.

What a moron.

He loves not the walk,

only the view.

He loves not the sex,

only the orgasm.

But listen:

That’s not what I meant.

I love the walk.

I love the kiss,

the touch,

the knot.

It’s that I hate rehearsal.

It’s that I hate

the times before

you got it right.

I want the journey,

but perfect.

Ada's for April 20:

(poem was here)

Ada's for April 19:

(poem was here)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jen's for Day #18


Jen's for Day #17. I'm Really Behind!!!


Jason for Day 16

After Psalm 23

God holds my hand.
I have enough.
We lie in the grass,
we walk by the pond.

He calms me.

We have gone together
to the valley where
death’s shadow fell across me,
but I fear nothing.
God holds my hand.

I know God makes
my life good, that his
mercy is given me
every day that I shall
live. I live in his house.

I will live in God’s
house forever.

Jason for Day 15


Not that it has to be the opposite of reason,
since one can reason one’s way to the outside
of reason, and not that it has to be god,
or God, or G-d, but that it has to be there.

You can have faith in anything you want.
Your mother’s love, your wife’s devotion,
medicine, Bob Fosse’s genius, video art,
zines, Claratin, whatever. But you have to believe

in something. You have to have faith
that neuroscience has answers you need,
or that it’s totally worth it to fast on Ramadan.
You have to find someone or something

to believe in. Faith is a lot like sanity.
Have you ever met a crazy person? They
have no faith in the world. They are compelled
by voices, or drives, or urges, or hallucinations,

and that’s the opposite of faith. That’s
immediacy. That’s response as pure
and simple as Pavlov’s dogs salivating
in tubes. But faith. That’s a lot like love.

It’s a lot like grace.

Ada's for April 18:

(poem was here)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Behind This Door

Just a brief note of interruption. Jennifer L. Knox, Jason Schneiderman, and I are still writing a poem a day for the month of April. We're among almost 500 writers doing it, probably more, but here's a larger list over at Maureen's blog. This year's NaPoWriMo has been a tough one for me, though I'm enjoying it. I've been writing a great deal of prose lately, the novel, the posts over on Harriet, the posts on Guernica, and other bits and pieces here and there. I wonder if the prose is getting in the way of the poems? Though it's been difficult, it's also been a real joy to return to the small, magical world of the poem. And this month offers us the chance to really play, allows us to not worry about the perfect product, but to just examine our tricks, our problems, our messes. I'm on poem 17. (And it's not really a poem, it's a catch up play!). Oh, and also, a lovely thing happened today, my blog got listed as one of the "50 Best Blogs to Follow For National Poetry Month", so that's real nice. Thanks to those of you that continue to read our drafts, and to those of you that are writing 30 poems in 30, phew, we're halfway there!

Ada's for April 17:

(poem was here)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jason for Day 14

Marc Almond is my Doppelganger

No, seriously, do a google image search.

It's true.

Jason for day 13

Self Help

I'm taking a 30 day Journey to Kicking
the Procrastination Habit. I have learned
that many people procrastinate out of a belief
that their action is in conflict with their
value system. I do not have this problem.
I take great pleasure in every prompt
that is for the people who procrastinate
for reasons that I do not. My own problem
has to do with... I'm not sure. Yes, I overload.
Fear of Failure, true. Avoidance of confrontation
in the hope that conflict will dissipate,
also my problem-- and yet, that last one,
well, I'm sticking to it. I don't believe
in conflict. And the person who "confronted"
me, back in 2003, "to clear the air,"
was certainly not a procrastinator. But it
didn't clear the air. I carry a private grudge
I have only revealed when drunk,
which is often. So it's not so private.
Perhaps I should call her. I should say
remember in 2003, when you wanted to "clear
the air"? Well, all you did was steam it up,
and eight years later, I just wanted to let you know
that I've carried eight years of grudge
against you. Or I could put it off. I think
I can help myself, and put it off.

Ada's for April 14:

(poem was here)

Ada's for April 13:

(poem was here)

Jen's for the 15th


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jen's for #14

Au revoir

jen's for the 13th


Ada's for April 11:

(poem was here)

Jason for Day 12

Rappers and Their Use of Apostrophes

Because an apostrophe shows omission, as in the missing
“o” of “don’t” or the missing “ha” of “could’ve,”
I think it ought in fact to be “Li’l’ Kim” rather than
“Lil’ Kim” or “Li’l’ Bow Wow” instead of “Lil’
Bow Wow.” Other rappers dispense with the apostrophe
altogether, as in “Lil Wayne,” while no one places
the apostrophe between the “I” and the “l” to form
“Li’l,” despite Wikipedia’s insistence that this is
a frequent spelling. I personally, am on the li’l’
side, at only five foot six, but have never considered
going by the appellation “Lil’ Jason” or “Lil Jason,”
though I have considered “Li’l’ Schneiderman,”
“Li’l Schneidy,” and “Lil Schneids” as rap names.
My debut album will feature guest appearances
only by muscians who play fast and loose with
punctuation, like “Will.I.Am,” “?uestlove,”
and the symbol formerly naming Prince. My debut
alb’m will be named by my twitter feed and the songs
will all be found poems based on nineteenth
century grammar textbooks and flarf poems.
It will sell fewer copies than I have hits on youtube,
and that will be s’d. It will make me cr’.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jason for day 11

On First Looking into Ashbery's Self-Portrait

That one might speak of the soul
as if it appeared as plainly as the nose
on one's face, or the color of one's eyes;
malleable to be sure, but at great
cost, at great pain, but still, visible,
seen, always right there for anyone
at hand. Who can speak of the soul
in this day when Plato seems as flimsy
as Soviet propaganda. We have found
the mirror neurons that make us feel
empathy. We have found the chemicals
of joy and pleasure, studied even
the body's knowledge of love,
how it lasts most intensely for a year,
how it fades and then fades and then
fades. We don't even argue for a soul,
since the soul is the province of faith
now, nothing the rationalist even
wants to contemplate. And yet
the plain secret is not that the soul
is too far away, but rather that it
is close. The truth is that the soul
may be spoken about and may be
understood. The soul must stay
where it is. I must stay where
my soul is.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Ada's April 6:

(poem was here)

Jen's for day #6

Take care of thyself, gentle Yahoo.

Ada's for April 5:

(poem was here)

Day 5 from Jason, before too little sleep


After 2 hours trying to figure out how update my website, I come in for day 4 (Jason)

Actors, and Who Should Be One

Pretty boys should be actors, should read
other people’s words, should never tempt
the fates by asking for too much, to be
beautiful should be enough, and to write
beautifully is asking too much. Tonight,
the man who reads my poems is taller
than I am, has the sort of features that
make you look a second time, even if,
just for today, I’m the one on television,
where the world can see just how sharp
my nose is, and just how high my voice
is, and just how I swallow my words
in moments when I am nervous. The man
reading my poem is not my avatar,
but rather a partner in beauty. What
my face lacks, his offers in spades.
Even his shirt is selected to make you
wish he would take it off, which is why
he doesn’t, and why he shouldn’t.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Jen's for Day #1

Get along, doggies.

It comes but once a year.

NAPOWRIMO—where we rub out one a day. Heeeeere we go!
Love, Jen

Ada's #1

(poem was here)

April First: Oh, Dear Lord!

Today marks April 1st. April Fools Day. The second day of the Living By Poetry Symposium in Texas. Billy Collins hangover day. AND the first day of National Poetry Month.

On this blog, Jennifer L. Knox, Jason Schneiderman, and me will attempt to write one draft of a poem a day for the month of April. This attempt is referred to as NaPoWriMo. Or, if you will: self-imposed torture.

Happy National Poetry Month, come see us implode!

Monday, March 07, 2011

March Forth

There's been some blue on the horizon. Not the blues, but the sky is blue-ing, brightening. On February 21, it was one year since C died. Hard to believe. Feels simultaneously like five years, and five minutes. But, like she knew (more than we did), the sun keeps coming up and up and up.

I'm on Chapter 15 and the words come quickly when they want to, and not at all when they want to. I went to New York and loved it, I came back and loved it.

I go around this lake almost every day. On this day, it was March 1st I believe, the clouds made noise when they moved.

It's been raining. Sad songs and soup. And walks in the trouble puddle. In the rain there came reviews and interviews and news!

Interview with Me

Review of Sharks

Another Review of Sharks in the Brooklyn Rail

Another Review of Sharks

I read at San Francisco University and had a marvelous time.
i read at the Bowery Poetry Club and wow.
Spoke at San Francisco State University and my oh my.

The green on green action. The living things. I have gone into the place where green resides and blooming things. I am grateful and I am, also grateful. (Yes, those are the same words.)

"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." Frank Lloyd Wright

Thursday, February 03, 2011

PAWP: Personal AWP

All the wonderful writers I know are in DC for AWP. I am not. So I am having my own Personal Associated Writers Program Conference.

Like this, in the sun:

Also, the wonderful women of ModCloth came to visit a couple weeks back and here's their interview!

Best Job Ever: Writer

Also, here's a fun "behind the scenes" shot from Laura Vrcek at ModCloth. They were wonderfully kind and nice and made me feel comfortable, even though I am often not comfortable.

Here's to making art, may it carry us through.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shadows & Yellow: The Work of Being Alone

(There are days when the tunnel is the work. And the light at the end is very very far away. There are also days when the tunnel closes in and days when it expands. I am learning to live in it. To make a home out of its long crushing silence.)

(Sometimes I get lost and feel as if everything feels like this sign posting. I worry about the future, my people, my work, my world, and get the blues. Then I have to keep going. Nod to the sign, acknowledge the sign, and keep going.)

(Then, some days, it's all so sun colored and yellow that I can hardly bear the beauty. I always think of my stepmom Cynthia, gone almost a year now, who said, "may I suggest yellow?" in the days before she left. Yellow, yes. So much yellow it grows right out of my skin.)

(I suppose we are all shadow and light. How the world moves inside of us. How we move inside of it. These small orbital selves we call our own. My shadow is much longer than me, it goes on without me too. Sometimes my shadow thinks I am its reflection.)

It's been almost four months since I moved out to the Valley of the Moon for the year to write. So much has changed, unraveled, and opened.

Here's a list of things that are different:

1. I no longer feel bad about not going out on the weekends, it's actually lovely to be in my PJ's directly after the sun goes down.
2. I go for a long walk or hike almost everyday. And now I am learning the names of things. The understory of the valley is rich and lively and the birds are funny and make funny sounds.
3. I am alone more than I am with people. The voice in my head is getting stronger, sometimes weirder, but stronger.
4. I'm a better driver and I can check my fluids and park on hills.
5. The story I am writing is changing, it's going strong, but changing. And I am learning to follow it, not force it.
6. I find myself rushing places to make sure I'm there for the sunset, as if it's a train that's leaving.
7. Being alone in the woods can be scary. My brain is full of dark things, even at peace.
8. I travel a lot. But I love the long stretches on the mountain, especially if my man is here with me.
9. People have been very generous and supportive, it makes me want to burst out of my skin.
10. Poems and stories come from different places. Poems rush in and howl like a coyote, stories are like being stalked by a mountain lion (or you're stalking the mountain lion. You're never sure which).