Friday, September 30, 2011

I'll be in the graveyard for a week, doing the Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk, and I might be too tired to post here.  Sorry, and sorry also about any troubles you are encountering posting your comments here. I don't know the reason or the fix, but maybe it will fix itself?! Please keep trying.

Meanwhile, here's me, with my gigantic hat slipping off, as Martha Rice, a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War. Photo by Carlos T. Miranda, a Facebook friend I finally got to meet in person in the courtroom of the old courthouse, now the McLean County Museum of History!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Michaelmas

Happy Michaelmas! Please enjoy reading about Michaelmas here, in the Writer's Almanac, and here, in Wikipedia. It's the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, a great warrior, and here he is in Belgium with his sword and shield. I am so glad Michaelmas falls on Thor's Day in the blog!

To celebrate, we should tonight eat a stubble goose and, if we are printers, have a wayzgoose party, involving eating the goose and then covering our windows with paper pulp against the hard winter to come, especially if we don't have glass.

I forgot to pick up a stubble goose at the grocery store yesterday, so I think it's potatoes for us.

A stubble goose is not a goose that needs a shave but instead a goose prepared after the harvest. So that's why they keep flying away in great haste!

Michaelmas is one of those holidays that moves around a bit on the calendar, and Old Michaelmas Day fell around October 8 (so maybe we can celebrate again), and was the end of blackberries for the season. Putting all your blackberries into pies and cobblers is still the right thing to do for Michaelmas, whenever it falls, because you want to use them up by the day Michael the Archangel sent Lucifer down from Heaven where he fell into a blackberry bush and cursed it.

Photo credits for St. Michael in Belgium here. Lucifer falling by Gustave Dore in the public domain and Paradise Lost.  Ah, time to re-read Paradise Lost, by John Milton.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Show Up, Look Good

Show Up, Look Good is a soon-to-be-released novel by Mark Wisniewski. I read an advance copy of it that clearly states on the peach-colored cover, “Please do not quote for publication without checking against the final book,” so this is a personal response and not any kind of formal review.

Mark has said it’s OK to quote from it, as long as I don’t misrepresent the book, and his publicist has sent me cover art—looks good, doesn’t it?—and permission to use it. (Also, I found a typo for him! Maybe he had time to fix it before the book’s official release.)

You can find out more about the book here and here, and the scheduled release date is October 5, but I will be in the cemetery then, so I am writing about it on this Hump of the Week. Why?  Well, because this book starts with a bang, or, rather, a solitary act performed with a marital aid.

I also promised Mark “no spoilers,” and I don’t think that spoils anything or reveals too much. I don’t think it misrepresents anything, either, as the book starts out and continues with this kind of casual and blunt humor, and contains “sexual situations” and a bout of hilarious snarkiness on the “MFA-at-NYU.”  There’s also an early hint of some poignancy to come.

Literally, the book begins:

I know of a secret murder, and I’ve loved a speechless man, and sometimes I’d like to tell someone how death and love have changed my life, but any of three thoughts give me pause.

And then he, the author, speaking as she, the narrator (Michelle), lists the three obstacles to telling us all about it…and then proceeds to do so. And here’s where I point you to the interview that explains how the author/narrator are related, done with such charming transparency that I can forgive some things that usually annoy me:

1) thinly disguised autobiography
2) a man pretending to be a woman (to sell more books)*
3) blatant substitution of a visual art for literary art as the occupation of the narrator**

*But, hey, what a fine ironic reversal of the way it used to be, except that it did not actually solve Mark’s marketing problem (again, see interview), perhaps rightly so!

**But, hey, my husband, a visual artist, pursued me precisely because he had heard in college that poetry and painting were sister arts, so what’s my kecking problem?

***(yes, yes, I know there are no corresponding asterisks for this) Thirdly, I think Mark probably wanted me to read this because his narrator is a woman from Kankakee, Illinois who heads off to New York City and gets caught up in show biz for a time (before dabbling with visual art), and I am a woman from small-town Illinois who was caught up in show biz for a time in the big city of Chicago (before dabbling with a visual artist). So, of course, I am an expert.

And I say this is a book I would love to see as a movie because I think there is a core story, with the gentle wisdom of those opening lines (Mark is also a poet), that could be told efficiently, effectively, and well by a very good filmmaker. There are things Michelle must leave unsaid, so she says a lot of other things instead. Her ex-fiancé says she “thinks too much” and, in dialogue, she doesn’t talk too much, so the meandering narration may substitute for a thinking-too-much aspect of her personality, even while it obscures and delays rather than reveals the core narrative. A film could show the whimsy, edginess, and absurdity of Michelle’s life with camera angle and selection of detail, and perhaps even a bit of voiceover, while also pursuing the plot of the core story. She’s the star of her own story, as we all are, I suppose, but a bit player on the edge of this other, deeper, more complicated story, one she’s not able to tell.

****(4 unaffiliated stars, so, if you want, you can call this a “4-star review”) I’m annoyed with myself for wanting a visual narrative this time beyond the verbal narrative that is offered, and I see all the irony of this, but, on the other hand, he’ll probably make lots of money off the film rights, right?

To reiterate & continue (& think too much/talk too much):

1) I wish Mark well on the release of his book and hope to see it as a movie!
2) I hope he sees how I am the perfect whimsical, meandering reader/responder!
3) I hope he doesn't think I am some literary bully and cover me with this week's dirt (sigh...), and I pretty much think he understands because we both love Mather Schneider.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Soylent Green

OK, this morning, doing some zombie research for a bad-poetry contest (sigh...), I came across Soylent Green Crackers. People food.

Made from plankton and spinach.

You can buy some here or here, if you really need to, but I hear they are in short supply. Good snack for a Halloween party?

Wikipedia tells me this food product came out in the summer of 2011 (that's this summer), and I vaguely remember hearing about it and thinking, "Who's going to eat that?"

That's still my question! Who is going to eat that? Did anybody? How did this product fare? How does it taste? Has anybody who reads this blog ever tasted it, bought it, found it on the shelves, etc.? (I am a pop culture...zombie...coming to trends late, perhaps resurrecting them in dreadful folly.)

Of course I did see the film Soylent Green when it came out. I did not read the book it was based on, Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison, in which there were "soylent steaks," not green wafers.

Gives me second thoughts about going green. But great for a Fat Tuesday in the blog. Recipes here.

P.S. Also already this morning, I redefined Zumba as a popular Zombie-based dance fitness craze that leaves you dead on your feet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

European Day of Languages!

Bonjour! 

Je t'aime!


Te quiero mucho. Vamos a nadar!


If I keep going, I will descend into curse words and weird slang.  But, hey, Happy European Day of Languages! Cute multi-lingual animation at link.

Poste Italiane air mail stamp via Wikimedia Commons.

And here's a link to my Prick of the Spindle review of a new chapbook by Sarah J. Sloat, a poet who lives in Germany and likes poets who write in lots of languages.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Geography of Bliss

I got a couple boxes in the mail yesterday from Amazon, one containing The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner, "a self-described mope," which is our next book-group choice and does look like something we'll all enjoy.

It's subtitled One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, and I do love to be made to laugh by grumpy people! And, as Liz Lemon would say, "I want to go there."

Maybe not on a paper airplane, though. Oh, yes, indeed on a paper airplane. The book!

Anyhoo, Phyllis, your book is here. You owe me $5.46.

The other box had a fall leaf stuck to it, by way of spider silk, and a gigantic (pregnant?) spider, who ran off under my desk (to have babies?) after dropping gently to the floor on her own strand. She was too fast for me to rescue and take back outside to the mailbox. Sigh...but I'll keep an eye out for her and see if I can try again. I'm pretty sure she wants to go there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not Cleaning House

Today I am not cleaning house, and not just because it's Slattern Day.

I'm going to my daughter's all-day Intercity Volleyball tournament, and my son is coming home on the train for a  weekend visit. So there will be fun and family wamily time, and I will clean house later. (Meanwhile, toilet paper is still dripping bit by bit from the trees.)

It has not been a good week, and not just for me. So many people I met with this week, in real life and in cyberspace, had a lousy week. Sigh. Barometric pressure? Anyhoo, now that Fall has come, maybe we will all find release, like the leaves (and toilet paper) falling from the trees.

A new week starts tomorrow, which I hope will end the week of "Not..." in this blog.

That's me, above, not cleaning house in my hot pink gloves.
It's a production photo from The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl, at Heartland Theatre. And here's the whole cast, which includes my mom and sister! Yes, family wamily!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Not Summer

On my wildflower calendar, it's the official first day of fall. Outside, it is, too!--a blue sky, breezy, coolish day. And, yes, leaves have begun to fall...

I celebrate with the fall issue of IthacaLit, a new journal with an opening theme of Journeys, and a deep identification with Odysseus, the Greek king of Ithaca and journeying hero who returned home disguised as a wandering beggar.

Editor Michele Lesko lives in Ithaca, New York, and begins her journal celebrating the fall colors of the northeast and the "art that takes you home," in this first issue being the bright-colored art of Lin Price, who teaches painting and drawing at Ithaca College.

Guest editor Sherry O'Keefe, a wonderful poet and blogger herself, has helped to gather a set of poems that take us various places and do bring us safely home.

Yes, I am in this issue, with a train journey poem, "Train Delayed by Lingering Fall," and a dog poem, "Golden Retriever."

You can find them both here, on one page, a nice layout aspect of IthacaLit!  I love how the page captures the silver and the gold in these poems! (You might have to wait a bit for the banner art at the top to upload, but it's worth the wait.)  So many fine poems, an essay, an interview--so much to enjoy in this inaugural issue of IthacaLit.

I appreciate the editors' view of art and their suggestion about how to enjoy it:

Please sit down with your favorite cup & journey to that home inside you, reached when we connect with powerful writing and strong images. The best art holds a slightly different journey with each visit. Read, stare, reread, keep staring...it's there.

I hope you'll take their advice!


Golden Retriever standing, Tucker, by Edward, thanks to Wikimedia Commons, and Golden Retriever, jumping, by ShreddingTex, via Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0, also via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not Very Long

Today I'm sending you to some poems that are very short and encouraging you to try some yourself, and then post them as blog comments at this Escape Into Life blog post--Long Swim, Short Poems--about Sarah J. Sloat's new chapbook, Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair. Yes, long book title!

I love it.

I did give my own poetry workshop this same assignment: write a very short poem with a very long title.  Here's one I wrote myself:

What doesn't make us better makes us

bitter.

It's short enough to be put in the category of poems we can also call epigrams. Who knows? Maybe this is an existing epigram, but my arrangement of it makes it a short poem. All I know is, I certainly felt that when I wrote it, and it seemed funny to me in echoing such useful but often annoying, cloying platitudes as "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Which is probably true, but, on some days, pisses me off.

Oops, I've just had to add "Cranky Doodle Day" to the labels for this post. But I wasn't cranky when I started it. I just remembered my bitterness! Ah, the power of short poems.

Anyhoo, I look forward to reading your short poems over at the EIL blog post on Sloat!

And I highly recommend her book. The blog post has samples of 3 short poems, and her own blog has links to more of her poems online!

As you can see, this blog post got so dark so fast, I had to put a bird on it. By Pamela Callahan. And then another one, for good measure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not Much to Say

And not saying it. Instead, I offer you these lovely Pears on a Pewter Plate, new from Jonathan Koch Studio, very similar to the pears sitting in a row on the kitchen windowsill of my parents' home at this moment.


Such beauty may indeed help me get over the hump of this particular week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not Dressed to Kill

This morning I drove over to the cemetery in my Civil War era costume to rehearse for the upcoming Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk, and then on into downtown Bloomington to rehearse briefly, checking acoustics, in the history museum, where we are doing a performance for the members' annual meeting on Friday.

So, yes, I angle parked and then walked across the street in a long dress with a full petticoat underneath. I did not have a parasol, like this woman in a Library of Congress photograph, posted here, at the Visit Gettysburg site, which the Civil War Era Dresses page tells us was to protect fine ladies and their skin from the sun. I was in the mercantile class, the wife of a shopkeeper.

All the characters this year lived during the Civil War, as this is the 150th anniversary of that conflict. It's a sad thing to remember but probably good to reflect on, so we don't let current divisions and political conflicts get the best of us, eh? And that Wikipedia link takes us to the controversy of such a "celebration," as well.

This stark photo shows a prisoner released from the infamous Andersonville Prison, a confederate prisoner-of-war camp where the conditions were awful, many died from hunger and disease, and many who lived never fully recovered. The prison commandant was convicted of war crimes for his ill treatment of the prisoners. This is a Union soldier who survived.

I'm keeping him in mind as I go about my own peaceful, healthy, happy life. This is happening now, too. All over, for various reasons. "History" is happening now. I need to stop complaining about anything stupid or petty. And be glad of each morsel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not at All Blue

It's Blue Monday in the blog, but I'm not at all blue, and neither is the sky. One of those whitish gray days, dimly raining, while more shreds of wet toilet paper fall out of the trees, and I go out with my trusty smiley-face Chinese restaurant takeout bag and scrape it up off the street and sidewalk. Toilet paper was very fun and lovely hanging there, a bit ickier squeezed out in the hand. Homecoming's over, the semester continues.

Entering a busy time, when my head must accommodate two sets of lines: 1) a monologue by Martha Rice, who lived in our town and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery 2) Rose Adelle Abrams, Penelope-like faithful wife of Odysseus-like songwriter hubby Sam, in Sirens, upcoming at Heartland Theatre. Brain might explode. That would be a Blue (Gray) Monday.

For now, I will let these bird paintings by Pamela Callahan watch over me, as they have before.

And I'll also send you to The Bloggess, whose faith in birdkind has been restored, in case you need a totebag.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Animal Prints Day

It was Animal Prints Day at the Paul Mitchell School when we went to get my daughter's haircut & style for the Homecoming Dance. I saw plenty of zebra, leopard, and cheetah prints, and numerous tattoos, which must be human animal prints.

This zebra portrait is by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, with full credits here and a chance to nominate this picture for special consideration at Wikimedia Commons! (Don't re-use it without crediting the photographer!)

I also saw plenty of incredible boots, mostly softy-looking ankle high boots, and this leopard walking (by Profberger, also thanks to shared images at Wikipedia) shows the feel of these boots and why people must want to wear them--to feel like a wild feline!

And in full Random Coinciday mode, the receptionist (with whom I scheduled the appointment and the one who greeted us at the front desk) is one of my neighbors and she used to live in our house; we bought it from her, and they moved down the street!

On top of that, my current next-door neighbor is just now starting to take classes at the Paul Mitchell School. Wild, huh?

Cheetah by James Temple. Thanks again, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons!

And thanks again to the Friday night TP-ers! I got most of it down, and the rain will bring down the rest, and/or the squirrels might already have tucked some softy-white toilet paper into their winter nests.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Homecoming

We got TP'd! Yes, we woke up this morning to find the three huge trees in the front yard dripping with toilet paper. It's spectacular. I'm tickled and of course want to leave it up for a while, or at least take pictures, but nobody else in the house seems as excited as I am, and one is calmly eating her scrambled eggs and arranging for a haircut and a boutonnière.

This is Tom Ford in a boutonnière, by Nicolas Genin (via Flickr and Wikimedia), not her date, but her date is a cutie, too.

This is also perfect for Slattern Day in the blog, being visibly untidy, but I suspect we will have to clean it up, and soon, as white streamers are hanging down into the street, and neighbors and drivers might get annoyed. I don't think it constitutes a driving hazard, however.

This is me and a friend and some Quilted Northern toilet paper ladies in a past Race for the Cure.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mother of All Poems

Oh, wouldn't I like to write that? Today, I point you to the Featured Poets Page of Adanna Journal, where the theme is motherhood.  Many poems, variety of topics and stances! Wonderful range of wonderful poets.

I do have a poem there, "Solipsism and a Schoolbus," that shows I am seldom sentimental about motherly things, often edgy and cranky, but, I hope, levelheaded with a sense of humor, too.

Yes, I'd have to admit that one of the things about motherhood is there's another parent. If we're lucky s/he's a good guy/gal! And there. Most of the time. And listening. At least some of the time.

Another great place for motherhood poems is Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, and I probably directed you to my poem there, "After the Playground," when it appeared in August. It has acquired some comments since, one added today by me, incorporating a typo, I see, after I came back to re-do, having failed originally to type in the "code words" that allow me to post by proving I am not spam.

Sigh...evidently, I was spam.

I tried not to be too cranky in responding to a comment by "Chris," who did not leave his/her last name. Is that my sister Chris? I don't think so, as I think the tone of the comment is accusing me of some dishonesty and calling me "clueless," but maybe I am too sensitive to slight.

**pause to clarify: 1) I am too sensitive to slight 2) but I have a sense of humor and get over myself almost immediately now, after many years of practice, and just laugh 3) especially if I can vent a little in my personal blog, where I reveal everything: weakness, strength, flaws, typos, outright mistakes, human frailty, silliness, and sometimes a flash of thigh**

It was time to get a little cranky, too, as Cranky Doodle Day has been sorely under-served in this blog.

Anyhoo, I hope you will go read some motherhood poems at Adanna and Literary Mama.

And note that Adanna has a call for submissions for the Featured Poets Page up now for poems on the theme of "body image."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Forties

And I don't mean shoulder pads. Wait! I do mean shoulder pads! There's a homecoming football game on Friday, and I hope it's not still in the 40s for that. Brrrr in the bleachers.

Thanks, Lauren Bacall, for looking over your shoulder pads at us from the 1940s, and thanks to the "U.S. army soldier or employee" who took this photo "during the course of the person's official duties," first published in Yank, the Army Weekly (mmhm) and now in the public domain. And thanks, as always, to Wikimedia!

It's cold! Providing the sudden random theme of this Thor's Day in the blog. I am drained, from the harvesting of 20--now 20, yes, count them, 20!--enough for a chapbook!--poems written as the Harvest Moon swelled into fullness and the corn got chopped down to dangerous stalks on which to be impaled if you're not careful. (Anyone who lives in corn country knows this!)

Speaking of vertical lines, am I crazy or does Leonard Bernstein somehow make this jacket look good!? Thanks to the Library of Congress for its New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection for this photo, and again to Wikimedia Commons, where full credits/permission are listed here. And I hope it's not in the 40s for the band members and other participants in the Homecoming Parade, but at least the sun might be out for that!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Biodiversity of My Own Back Yard

Ultimately, yes, this might be a blog post about crab grass.  But, in another way, to celebrate the hump of the week, it is also a hodge podge of a frequent sort found in this blog!

First, please visit the poetry feature by Patricia Clark, up now at Escape Into Life, with art by Jovan Todorovic.  I read and admired Clark's book She Walks Into the Sea, and have asked her some questions about the current state of "nature poetry," so look for that mini-interview to be posted in the Escape Into Life blog in October.

Second, I'm still reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, but will offer it to a friend, tomorrow, who needs to read it for her book group.  Since I'm reading plenty of poetry and an advance copy of Mark Wisniewski's novel Show Up, Look Good, I can resume reading about cows munching grass later.

In the meantime, I am indeed pleased to report that my own back yard might please cows as well as rabbits, especially if we mowed even less than we do now. And since it's the back yard, we might not get a letter from the city! The front yard is pretty scraggly--two huge trees (roots, shade), extended dry spell. But if it gets over 8 inches tall, in an effort to encourage new growth and deepen the roots, you can bet the town will send a gentle reminder to mow. Nobody complains about the back yard.

So the back yard has: red and white clover, wild strawberries, crab grass, various bluegrasses, leftover lawn grasses, plantain, black cohosh, corn, violets (state flower), nettles, dandelions, spearmint, lemon balm, the various perennials and wildflowers I have planted in beds at the edges and corners, asters, raspberries, a bit of bedstraw, and scattered delicious as yet unidentifed prairie plants.

And a trailing, still-blossoming cantaloupe vine. I was warned that this would happen in this zone: lush growth and blossoms, death before fruition. (My life in a cantaloupe rind.)

Third, thanks again to Jonathan Koch for his wonderful art. Bartlett Pear from the Garden is new, and you've seen some of the others here before!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harvest Moon

I drove straight east into this last night, the full Harvest Moon!  I can show it to you thanks to Wikimedia, and you can read more about the Harvest Moon here, in Wikipedia, or here, in the Christian Science Monitor, which also has links to other fabulous pix, and encourages you to send in your own!

The corn harvest is in progress, and I've been having an amazing harvest of poems--18 in the last 6 days, which is a little scary. I confess this does happen to me: I get on a cycle like the moon, with a big burst of creativity as the moon reaches its full.

Now the urge to compose may wane, replaced by the ability to re-see, revise, rearrange, etc. Sometimes a poem falls out whole. Sometimes it needs to be slivered up!

How's that for a Fat Tuesday in the blog?!

Care for a slice of Moon Pie?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chasing Amy

I'm not talking about this film, Chasing Amy, but I did enjoy it when it came out.

I'm talking about Amy Monticello, whose work I always admire.  Here at her blog, ten square miles, you can read a great essay, "In Defense of Humanities Adjuncts," fully engaged with the complexities of being an adjunct English instructor at a college or university these days.

So it's a Blue Monday sort of blog post here, on the first day of the week for teachers and students...

Amy isn't blue, though--she's passionate in her support of adjuncts, so, if you are suffering and needing some moral support, go there!

If you are having a nervous breakdown, go here, The Nervous Breakdown, where Amy is also a writer.

And if you love reading excellent writing...and ever experienced marriage trouble where there's still love...you might be interested in her chapbook, Close Quarters, forthcoming from Sweet Publications.

She can also be found in Prick of the Spindle, which might be where I first found her...?

Or did Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, point me in Amy's direction?

Anyhoo, I guess I'm not just a cheerleader for poetry anymore.  I'm a cheerleader for prose, too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Misty Morning

Background music: "Chelsea Morning," Joni Mitchell

I woke up to white mist all around the neighborhood this morning, but it's already floated away on this gently cloudy day, everything still wet from the long rain.

I stepped outside into a crow conference, and a squirrel on the tip of the roof over the bed of balsam, daisy, and mum, spoke to me in the rhythm of "Why are you here? Why are you here?"

Good question.

Of course, he might have been talking to the crows or the howling dogs.

Speaking of which, I sent off some poems with animals in them to YB Poetry, deadline November 20 for the Animals issue, and you might want to, too! If so, go here for guidelines.

And here is their current donkey or mule.

Why be poetry, indeed? Because, evidently, I can't be anything else. Likewise, why be here. Take that, you insistent squirrel on the roof!

Even as I write, the sun's returning. The sweet autumn clematis tumbles all over the fence, where I can leave it in peace, only tearing away what strangles the lilac or approaches the electrical wires.

Later-blooming daisies in various pastels have patiently opened after the showier gloriosa daisies.

Sweet William persists, and touch-me-not.

And tomorrow we remember.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sweet

I have a poem in the new issue of Sweet, an online magazine with a wonderful section at the end called Fan Mail!

Here's the table of contents. You can click around!

My poem is called "Winter Starlings," which reminds me that fall is coming, and then, yes, winter, too. Snow.

The harvest has begun. We saw combines out in the fields yesterday, a sunny blue sky day, and even a finished field.

Maybe not today, as it's still raining, a rain that began at suppertime (or volleyball time) last night. One of those gentle rains that reminds you of mercy and Shakespeare...

"Sweet" reminds me of Shakespeare, too: Sweets to the sweet...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

100 Rejections

I've received a zillion rejections, but today I want to direct you to the Angry Grammarian and her 1 Year, 100 Rejections project, also recounted here in Specter Magazine. I love this project and have started keeping track, myself, as of September 1, 2011, in the spirit of Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, blogger/poet. You've got to love someone who calls herself the Angry Grammarian, right?!

Also, in honor of Brett, I am making it a Cranky Doodle Day on Thor's Day in the blog. Partly because I was so disappointed to start reading a literary journal received recently--looking forward to poems by poets I admire--and having to set it aside after finding three significant typos by page 18.  (And, you know, there's front matter, so the poems didn't even start till page 5.)

I'm OK with typos and even grammatical errors in blogs.  (Forgive me, Brett, if you ever come here, as you are likely to find some!) Blogs are quickly posted and often informal.

But a literary magazine has an editor!

One always hopes the poet has a chance to proofread her/his/hir poem, but that's not always the case. One hopes there's a chance to send the poem electronically, so there won't be errors introduced in re-typing or corrected from scanning. Again, not always the case.

It's true, I picked up the magazine later, to give it another chance, and this time just skipped around in it, seeking out poems by some whose names I recognized. Immediately, an error of "lie" and "lay" confusion, evidently the fault of the poet. Again, there's an editor! If the editor does not know the difference or make the change, then what?

I do sound cranky, don't I? I must hasten to confess that I have introduced errors into the editing or proofreading process of my own work, often stymied by technology or stupefied by lack of caffeine, sometimes just plain wrong. So I know it happens, and I accept and forgive all concerned.

Except...there's an editor! Isn't there? Sigh....

Anyhoo, I was tempted to cheat on the 1 Year, 100 Rejections project I started for myself on September 1. If only I had started on August 30! I would have an immediate acceptance, one of those rare, wonderful things, on August 31!

But, no, as of September 1, instead I have an immediate rejection of something I sent for a special project; true, two of those poems were already published, so does it even count? And does it count as one rejection, or three, since I sent 3 poems? I can tell that math challenge might get the better of me here.

As of September 1, I have sent out 5 separate packets, a total of 18 poems, and, have had one rejection. Mostly, I'm waiting 4-8 weeks or 3-6 months to hear on these, as on the many others still out there in the world.

Also since September 1, the summer Sow's Ear Poetry Review has arrived, with me in it, along with Traci Brimhall, Ellen Bass, and many other wonderful writers and artists, and I have proofread (I hope correctly) the electronic version of a poem for Confrontation. Where there are meticulous editors!

I am no longer even a weensy bit cranky, and I am just as grateful and enthusiastic as I was at the start about The Angry Grammarian!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wish in One Hand

On Monday, Labor Day, I celebrated and moaned a bit about My Ideal Job being already created and filled by The Bloggess and suggested that you visit Labors of Love at Escape Into Life.

Today, I refer you to Art as a Labor of Love, by me, with art by Aurelio Madrid, also at EIL, where, of course, I work for free. 

Please let us know what wonderful ways the arts community is giving back to you.

Lest you think all I do is moan and groan and visualize ideal jobs emerging from slightly erotic seedpods, I want to assure you that I am actively looking for real jobs and actually applied for four fine jobs this summer for which I was well-qualified, except maybe by strict online keyword standards if your application is being graded by a machine.

Clearly, I did not get them. I had a fabulous interview for one, but it went to an internal candidate, as so many ideal jobs do. I had even asked about that possibility during the interview, so I had a heads-up. It would have been “ideal” in being part-time and allowing me to pursue my artsy fartsy interests on the side and on the job, but less than ideal if internals wanted it to go to someone else. Which is often true, as is the fact that many jobs are merely posted for legal reasons but will go to previously determined very, very likely candidates.

This is the current job market, and it stinks. But I am still somehow “furiously happy,” as The Bloggess puts it!

For one thing, I still have my excellent job as Poetry Cheerleader, which does not require me to do the tiger jump.

The right job will come my way, and I wish it would come my way the way it does in books. In the book I am currently reading, which shall remain nameless to avoid spoilers, all three sisters have been offered ideal jobs in passing during random conversations.

Would you like to be a barista? Yes! How about a tenure-track teaching position where you always wanted to teach? You betcha! Oh, by the way, I’m taking a leave of absence. Even though you don’t have any experience or a degree in this, would you like my job as head librarian?

OK, some of this is going to work out, and some of this is going to get complicated for all three characters, because that’s what happens in novels. But why don’t I ever get offered a job in passing during a random conversation?

Oh. Yes. That’s how I got my last ideal job. Which I really did love and was grateful for. But which ended up as the stuff in the hand that fills up faster.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fresh Figs

Before this weekend I had never eaten fresh figs.

Yes, I was a fresh fig virgin.

Sure, I'd had my share of Fig Newtons and dried figs, not to be mistaken for human ears, as in "The Colonel," by Carolyn Forche. And at this very moment I have a jar of fig preserves in the fridge, to spread on toast.

But I had never eaten fresh figs. I had only seen pictures, as in the painting above, by Jonathan Koch. Fresh fig on table top, right of strawberry.

Oh. My. God.

You can see why people get upset with Jesus for smiting the fig tree, and you can see why Jesus got upset with the fig tree for not having any fresh figs on it!

Pausing to breathe in. Breathe out. And to say: Edna St. Vincent Millay. A Few Figs from Thistles.

OK. Many thanks to Jan, who brought fresh figs from Fresh Market to the poetry workshop this weekend. I will remember you forever.

Many thanks to Jonathan Koch, who lets me use his paintings in my blog. Many thanks to Wikimedia for the public domain/free use fig images. This fabulous fig cutaway is by Rainer Zenz, who says we can have it!  Oh. My. God.
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