Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blown Away on Leap Day

Picking up sticks again in my parents' yard this morning, this time due to last night's thunderstorm, I was almost blown away.

Whimsical pause for hilarity: A Mighty Wind

At least the branches in my arms might have served as wings! And almost did. I might have leaped into the air on Leap Day and stayed there for a while.


I was also blown away by these poems from Michaela A. Gabriel! And this collage art by Alexis Anne Mackenzie! I was beginning to line up poetry features for March at Escape Into Life, and when I read these "The day I fell in love with..." poems by Gabriel, they seemed so perfect for Leap Day, a day when women can declare their love in "unconventional" ways, that I posted them on this special extra day of February.

There's a golden ring hanging from the split rock above, so a marriage proposal hovers, too, and butterflies are circling in the poem. Oh, this makes it a Random Coinciday in the blog, as well as a Poetry Someday and the Hump of the Week!

Happy Leap Day to all!

Whimsical pause for hilarity: 30 Rock: Leap Day

And safe travels to all who are meeting rain, snow, or...a mighty wind.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Up in Smoke

Today on the way back from driving my daughter to school, I saw a fire truck at a school and a car up in smoke on the access road. Trouble, but under control, and no ambulance. Just not a good start to that particular day...

The heart goes out in so many ways, to so many people, and I'm glad people can sometimes share their burdens, prayers, sympathies, wishes, woes, and joys by way of social media these days. Sometimes I get worn down by the political messages and self-promotional moments, and sometimes by the trivialities, but mostly I am glad to rejoice in good news and to be able to send good vibes to those who are suffering.

And grateful for the great ideas and art & lit posted via link!

I always love The Writer's Almanac, which today reminds us that it is the birthday of Michel de Montaigne, essentially the inventor of the essay--the essai or attempt to go forth in words, discursive-ly, as we say now, which can imply both rambling and reasoned discourse.

As a blogger, I take to heart, and cringe a little at his advice, "Don't discuss yourself, for you are bound to lose; if you belittle yourself, you are believed; if you praise yourself, you are disbelieved." Ack! I hope I don't belittle myself by embracing my own whimsy! And I hope I am not full of self-praise when I announce my own good news. A comfort is that other bloggers worry about this, too--The Scrapper Poet worries about the "me, me, me" slant even as she shares the good news we want to hear!--and so I hurry to her aid!

It's good to remember that Montaigne himself acknowledged, "I am myself the matter of my book" and that he frequently uttered the gentle self-deprecation "Que sais-je? (What do I know?)" (as we learn in Wikipedia)! Surely it's a matter of striking a balance.

Or perhaps a match. Hmm. Set the world on fire? Or go up in smoke? What, ultimately, will one's words do?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pick Up Sticks

Today the sky is blue for a Blue Monday in the blog, and I hope the tem-perature goes up into the 50s again, because I need to go outside and pick up sticks in my yard and my parents' yard after yesterday's wild wind!

Imaginary playlist:  "Pick Up Sticks," by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, followed by "Take Five."

It'll be a gigantic game of pick-up sticks, leading to the woodpile.

Thanks to Heurtelions for this lovely picture of Jeu de Mikado, or pick-up sticks!

Speaking of sports and games, I have a poem in the current issue of Intentional Walk, a new journal of sports poetry! What a perfect title for such a journal, eh? After a sportsy hello from editor Greg Weiss, you'll see a wonderful variety of sports poems, including my "Swimmer's Ear."

Looking forward to summer and lap swimming, yessiree!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hugo

We got to see Hugo last night at the wonderful Normal Theatre, and it was great fun. Of course it inspired me to look up the real-life story of Georges Méliès in Wikipedia. Here he is looking remarkably like Ben Kingsley!

Looking forward to the pretty dresses, silliness, movie clips, and short speeches in the Academy Awards broadcast tonight (if I can figure out how to get the tv to work...).

And I always appreciate and tear up at pix of the honored dead.

This still, from Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon), by Georges Méliès, featured in Hugo, makes me wince for the moon. Tonight's sky will hold a pointy crescent moon, with Jupiter and Venus in close proximity, but it won't put your eye out.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dublin Street Poet

I almost called this Crazy Girls at the Riveria Hotel & Casino, but I thought better of it. But when you click the link to Peter Goulding's stammering poet blog, you'll know why!

See? And see why I did not use that particular image (in addition to not knowing whether it is copyrighted)? (But I am pretty sure, because of the little poem underneath, that that is Peter Goulding's back, and Peter Goulding's hand.) How about that shiny bronzing?!

Anyhoo, it seemed perfect for Slattern Day in the blog, a day on which I will not be blogging much longer and, instead, defying Slattern Day with a heck of a lot of housecleaning.

But what I really wanted you to see, and so I am sending you back, is the wonderful entry (scroll down past the "bums") on Pat Ingoldsby, Dublin poet, who sells his many books on the street. Goulding tells us that Ingoldsby used to be in children's television, and now he writes poetry. I admire his gumption and sense of humor. An Internet friend in Dublin alerted me to all this after buying one of Ingoldsby's books! I am glad all around this lovely, sunny, blue-sky Slattern Day in the USA.

Speaking of "birds" (British slang for females), you can acquire this painting by Pamela Callahan in the benefit auction coming up April 20 at Woman Made Gallery's 20th Anniversary Gala!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Impatiens Impatience

My indoor impatiens (brought in from outdoors) bloomed this week, making me impatient for spring, followed by summer.

Meanwhile, snow flurries by right now, with a light dusting already on the ground. But the radio says 51 on Saturday! So the earth is impatient for impatiens, too, perhaps...alas, re: global warming.

And this is Pescadero, California by Jonathan Koch, so that's a light dusting of sea, not snow, making me impatient for water and a shore. But not in the Midwest, and not as a result of 1) California breaking off into the ocean and/or 2) the melting of glaciers and icebergs. Sigh....

I love getting my news on NPR. The sad news is hard, but it's real, and we must face it. The economic news is hard, real, and annoying, but there are marvelous aural moments, like "keeping Greece afloat," which sends one global economy message via the ears and a strangely delightful rainbow of grease on a pool of rainwater in an alley by a dumpster to the inner eyes...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

You Say Ekphrasis, I Say Ekphrasis

Good news: Two copies of my chapbook Nocturnes arrived by overnight mail today, in time for the ekphrasis poetry reading tonight at the McLean County Arts Center! And a linocut of the cover art, Awake Before Dawn, by Nashay Antoinette Jones, aka "Nyela," as she has signed it, that I can hold up as an example of "reverse ekphrasis." She created the image based on an image in one of the poems! Usually ekphrasis goes the other way.

Bad news: The Bloomington Post Office processing facility is scheduled to close by midsummer....  Sigh.

How do you say ekphrasis? A recent newspaper article on another ekphrasis event this week told us to pronounce it ECK-fray-sis. But I usually hear it pronounced ek-FRAS- iss in the poetry community, partly because another word, possibly made up, "ekphrastic," is pronounced ek-FRAS-tick. Like fantastic.

If you try to say the long "a" in ECK-fray-sis, the accent on the first syllable sort of forces it back into the short "a." The online dictionary audible pronunciation is more like EK-fruh-sis, the middle syllable being like the schwa "upside-down e" sound.

Don't worry. If I attempt to address this issue in tonight's reading, I will just sing it.

Anyhoo, many thanks to Hyacinth Girl Press, Margaret Bashaar (editor), Sarah Reck (internal layout), Hudson Rio (graphic design), and the beautiful Nyela, aka Nashay Antoinette Jones (cover artist), for their work on Nocturnes. I'll be getting the rest of my copies at the AWP Conference next week, and the press will ship book orders after that event, too.

Tonight I look forward to hearing the poems of Jannett Highfill, guest poet, reading her art-related poems from Light Blessings Drifting Together, still forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

And the new "ekphrastic" work of Candace Armstrong and Janice Witherspoon Neuleib! They took the 6-week ekphrasis class at the MCAC and wrote a wonderful bunch of poems based on pastel drawings by John Cassidy, still up in the smaller gallery, where we will be reading, and black and white photographs by Rhondal McKinney and Jin Lee, recently up but just taken down from the large gallery. They also responded to paintings from art history. Come join us at 7:30!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Women on Ash Wednesday

I've been listening to (reading) some strong women's voices this morning, so I thought I'd share a few of them with you on this Ash Wednesday, also the Hump of the Week in the blog, as we sometimes need a little push over that hump of the week to make it through, and it's always good to ponder what is meant by "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," and so on.

So here's a mini-review of Karen J. Weyant's new chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, sometimes a dusty place, just posted at Escape Into Life, with art (there and here) by Casey Weldon.

Here are two poems and a brief meditation on Ash Wednesday by Kristin Berkey-Abbott.

Here are a couple of reviews (by women, one of them me) of chapbooks by women, To the Husband I Have Not Met Yet, by Mary Kathryn Jablonski, reviewed by Mary Ellen Geer, and Saint Monica, by Mary Biddinger (short review in right-hand column), over at Fiddler Crab Review. Wait! Isn't that three Marys?!

A Downton Abbey-esque meditation on maids and ladies, lovely things and sturdy things, at synch-ro-ni-zing.

And a silent message, on listening...from Molly Spencer, on her "wordless Wednesday."

I'll be thinking about all this, and reading Marilynne Robinson's Absence of Mind, over at my mom's house, drying the laundry, as, of course, our dryer broke to celebrate the Hump of the Week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

It's Fat Tuesday in the blog and in the churchy calendar. As it happened, we saved yester-day's birthday cake till today, and, were we devout, I suppose we would have to eat it all today, but then we might explode or do bad things to our cholesterol count. This particular cake came from the Jewel bakery and was called something like Decadent 3-Chocolate Tiger-Striped Cake and I am adding Mercifully Small to this moniker. OMG.

OK, yes. We can call it the OMG Mercifully-Small Decadent 3-Chocolate Tiger-Striped Cake. I would show you a picture of it, but I can't find one, or take one. So I am showing you luscious fruits by Jonathan Koch, as usual, plus the turnip we can eat tomorrow.

It's been a busy couple of months, and this is a busy week, with two poetry events in it, both involving ekphrasis. Tonight, at Illinois Wesleyan University, in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall, at 8:00 p.m., people can attend the New Music Cafe, for free (!), and hear new vocal music, as well as Mackinaw Ekphrasis, new music composed by David Vayo in response to photographs by Ken Kashian, with Mario J. Pelusi conducting.

Earlier, several central Illinois poets responded to these central Illinois photographs with poems, and some of the poets will be reading those poems before the music is heard. I've heard a rehearsal of the music, and it's gorgeous! I hear water, I hear weather--thunder, lighting, the wind--and somehow maybe I hear corn growing! The poems and photographs can also be found in Kashian's book Along the Mackinaw River. You can also find the photos here, at Ken's photosharing website.

Then Thursday (7:30 at the McLean County Arts Center) is the Ekphrasis Class poetry reading, with Candace Armstrong and Jan Neuleib reading new work, and guest poet Jannett Highfill reading art-related poems from her new book Light Blessings Drifting Together. I am reading two new poems based on the MCAC exhibits, and ekphrastic poems from Nocturnes, hot off the Hyacinth Girl press.

We timed and rehearsed our part of the program today at the MCAC at our last official class meeting, and it was fun! We hope to see you there.

In the meantime, eat up!

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's My Birthday, Too, Yeah!

The doorbell rang, and I answered in my jammies. It was Ginny, one of my poetry students, with blueberry turnovers for my birthday! My mom called! And a jillion people are saying "Happy Birthday!" on Facebook. I love birthdays, even though it means I am getting older. I would like to think I am getting wiser, but I think a weird other osmosis thing is going on: I am taking it all in and being affected by it all. And even as my metaphorical skin gets thicker, it gets thinner, and there is very little barrier now.

Another way of saying this, as I said to my mom on the phone, is, "I guess I'm 55. But sometimes I feel like 5."

"Sometimes you act like 5." And there, in that nutshell (with an emphasis on nut), is our relationship, both of us laughing.

Imaginary soundtrack: The White Album, specifically "Birthday," by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

It's also Presidents Day, so take the day off! And the birthday of photographer Ansel Adams, whose pix I cannot show you, unless you click the official website, here, but this picture of him is in the public domain!

Also, it's sort of the birthday of the United States Post Office, and I am pretty sure they are taking the day off, too! According to the Writer's Almanac, George Washington established the Post Office Department today in 1792. And John Glenn orbited the moon in 1962, when I actually was 5, not just 5 in my mind and on my red-high-topped feet. This may account for my enduring fascination with the moon and outer space. Or it's a random coincidence.

And Margaret Bashaar of Hyacinth Girl Press says she is going to print my chapbook, Nocturnes, today, because it's my birthday. Yay. It has stars in it, the moon, black holes, and the large hadron collider. Songs at night, some about art, Whistler's nocturnes...

Thanks to Nashay Antoinette Jones for this cover art and Hudson Rio for the graphic design. Thanks to Sarah Reck for the interior design and book layout. Thanks to Margaret Bashaar of Hyacinth Girl Press for loving the poems and making the book!

I'll be reading a couple of these poems this week at the McLean County Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., along with ekphrasis class poetry students Candace Armstrong and Janice Witherspoon Neuleib, plus guest poet Jannett Highfill, who often includes art in her poems. I'd be happy to see any of you locals there! (Must remember to wear red high-tops.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Irrelevance

Ever feel irrelevant? And cranky about that? Well, try being a middle-aged blogger and checking the search terms people have used that sent them to your blog. (I am actually not at all cranky, though quite a bit middle-aged. I am just feeling guilty again about 1) not having very many Cranky Doodle Days in my "eight days a week" blog project and 2) being a super slattern [in the sense of lazy and untidy] for not having posted on Slattern Day in the blog.)

Hence, a list of said search terms:

cabbage
ducks
bead trees new orleans
empty grocery store shelves
mother bug lice pictures
primrose
zebra
1940s short jacket
brain criminal
cradle
dove soap
snickers
iodine gas
little red hen
frigate bird
circus
oklahoma fault lines
thor

&, of course,

hedgehog

Friday, February 17, 2012

Genius Next Door

This morning, on the drive to school, my daughter had her music in random shuffle mode, and Regina Spektor came up with "Genius Next Door." I knew it was a Random Coinciday in the blog.

This song has a verse important to American busboys:

The genius next door was bussing tables
Wiping clean the ketchup bottle labels
Getting high and mumbling German fables
Didn't care as long as he was able

To strip his clothes off by the dumpsters
At night while everyone was sleeping....

And so on. It's ultimately a sad, sad story, and you can see/hear numerous versions of it on youtube. And you can get hold of it, and the album Far, and all the rest of Regina Spektor's music, plus news and her performance schedule, here, at her website.

Anyhoo, of course, I heard a former busboy read from his book American Busboy last night. Not only that, but I woke this morning from a nightmare set in a restaurant. I'll spare you the details, except it involved eating red meat. All You Can Eat Steak Night or something. Sigh...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

American Busboy

I love living in a double-university smallish city-town. Interesting people come to it, and it's easy to get to where they are speaking and usually easy to park! Tonight I went to the Hansen Student Center at Illinois Wesleyan to hear Matt Guenette read from American Busboy and Mimi Smartypants read from her blog that became a book, The World According to Mimi Smartypants.

I had met poet Matt Guenette when he lived here in town and have enjoyed following his career. He now lives and teaches in Madison, but once he worked in a gigantic seafood restaurant in the east, was, in fact, a busboy. He said he "wanted to write a book about a busboy who gets to kick the restaurant in the crotch."

As he writes in "General Attributes,"

I thought
if you were a busboy
your future was ominous
as a motel at dusk.
Then I read the legend
where food service workers
battle the economy's
giant squid to a draw.

*

Then I became a busboy.

*

& married a waitress.
Just like in the opera.

Somehow this seems perfect for Thor's Day in the blog. Ms Smartypants works as a medical editor and blogs about public transportation and her kid.

"Ms Smartypants," I called after her as she walked across the room after the reading, "where did you ride the el? From where to where?"  She used to get on at Loyola, and I used to get on one stop south of there, at Granville, but sometimes I'd get off at Loyola, and take the long way home...

Anyway, my point is, it was fun to be able to call someone Ms Smartypants!

The IWU students did a great job organizing and announcing the reading. They enjoyed themselves at the event--also well attended by people from Illinois State University and other area educational institutions, too. Nice to see!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ragged End of Love

It's the day after Valentine's Day, so I send you to the belated Valentine feature at Escape Into Life, The Ragged End of Love, with two love poems, one by Jessy Randall and one by Robert McDonald, a P.S. that sends you to "Love Story" by Jeannine Hall Gailey, and fabulous art by Anka Zhuravleva.

What you see here, fittingly, is Venus.

And it's Galileo's birthday, so I encourage you to listen to this lovely science/love song performed by Eddi Reader and RTE Concert Orchestra, "Galileo (Someone Like You)" at youtube.

Have a good hump of the week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All You Need is Love

Happy Valentine's Day.

Imaginary playlist:

"All You Need is Love," by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, as sung by Ewan McGregor in the film Moulin Rouge.  With a bit of "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney thrown in, as sung by Nicole Kidman. Plus, "I Will Always Love You," by Dolly Parton (which might, in the soundtrack of your head, be sung by Whitney Houston).

But if you need something quirkier, you can go here or here for a wild array of love poems. Or here for a clever use of subtitle.

My husband and I will be celebrating with junior high volleyball. We love it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Busy, Proud, Glad

As I recall, tomorrow is Valentine's Day! I will be baking cookies...after teaching...and then watching volleyball. I am so proud of my husband and his 7th graders, who won the Intercity volleyball tournament this weekend!

More invitational play tomorrow. Tonight they played one of the local teams they'd defeated in the weekend tournament, winning again. The 8th graders also won, defeating a team that contained two of their teammates from last year, due to redistricting and a new junior high school. Bittersweet for everyone, harder for the losing team. But a good match, excellent play all around.

Busy lately with the freelance editing & teaching, and glad & grateful for this! Somehow getting by and getting over the blues....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Le Herrison

If you are a regular reader of this blog, back when I covered a book a day, asking people, "What are you reading?" you already know I loved the book The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.  Last night I got to see the film based on it, Le Herrison, or The Hedgehog, at the fabulous restored Normal Theatre.

Lovely, sweet, funny film. Punches you in the heart.

I love it when a film does its own thing well, letting the book stand alone and do its own thing well. I love the book To Kill a Mockingbird, which does one thing, and my favorite movie ever is To Kill a Mockingbird, which does its own thing, a little different, necessarily condensing the book. Compare/contrast is natural, but they each do it well, one on literary terms, the other on cinematic terms.

Likewise with Le Herrison. The film works fine without a central narrative from a central character's past and without all the existentialism. I loved the philosophy in the book, but I did not miss it in the film. The film made me all the more curious about the Japanese film loved by Renee Michel; we see a clip. It made my experience of the book even richer without causing any problem at all for viewers (husband, friend) who had not read the book.

Trailer here.

I am such a slattern, I did not post yesterday, nor do anything but laundry and teaching today....  Oh, that is not even very slatternly...  Sigh, I'm such a lousy slattern.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cloudy With a Chance of Hummus

According to weather and wacky-holiday person Kim J. Kimmel of Hummus Anonymous, today is Umbrella Day, which makes it also a Random Coinciday in the blog.

It is gray here, and I am still in a bluish mood.

We've had a measly snow shower. There might be more.

One of my favorite online journals is Umbrella, which has numerous wonderful umbrella images on various pages throughout. I got to be in it during this past issue and will surely try again!

I have many times encountered the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett and Ronald Barrett, but I have not yet seen the film, only the trailer....

This guy does not have an umbrella!

I think my son recommends this Ninja Umbrella to those who must do battle with the rain.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crush on the Moon

O, the romance of the moon! O, the big old moon in the west this morning!

Coming up on Valentine's Day, you might want to read some, er, erotic poems. Love poems, yes, that awaken Eros, god of love. Here he is reviving Psyche, the human soul. (In marble, they are both the color of the moon.) And here is a bunch of erotic poems in the Valentine issue of Poetry Crush. Brace yourself. There's something for everyone here, and it's strong stuff!

Poets from Hyacinth Girl Press were asked to pick a favorite erotic poem for this issue. I picked "First Poem for You," by Kim Addonizio, a poem about tattoos. (It's a couple poems down from the tattoo photo of Kathy Acker.)  I see that I mentioned getting a Beatles tattoo in my blurb about this poem, so I refer you to it today, February 9, when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show!

They sang some of their top hits but also "Till There Was You," a sweet love song from The Music Man. Yes! A musical comedy! Marvelous music by Meredith Willson. And Marian the Librarian was the first role I ever played in a musical. I got to sing "Till There Was You"!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Inner Walrus

There is some consensus that I should retain the super-power acquired in yester-day's dream, but I do fear it would endanger my commitment to nonviolent protest. Collagemama offered up a peaceful blog entry from July that reminds us we are the walrii.

Hannah, The Storialist, wanted a dream analysis for today, but I'll let you mull all this over instead and just say that while I was planning my AWP schedule yesterday, I realized I should probably attend a panel that might 1) get my goat 2) require the need of a superpower or 3) my inner walrus.

So, to get us over the hump of this particular week, I encourage you to visit Escape Into Life today, and read the haunting persona poems of Ren Powell, who is speaking in the voice of Dorothea Lynde Dix, a champion of the poor and mentally ill, then called the "indigent insane." She was a Civil War era activist, appointed as Superintendent of Army Nurses.

In random coincidii mode, I note that we brought back to life several Civil War era people in this past year's Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk, and that I just played Georgina Trotter, a Civil War army nurse, in another theatrical-historical event in January!

And the marvelous photos you see here and at Ren Powell's feature are by Katia Chauseva of Bulgaria. I love the scratchy, blurry quality that somehow evokes both history and dreaming in color.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Heckled in My Dreams

That's right. As if yesterday's vague anxiousness wasn't enough, last night I was heckled in my dreams. This was actually a fine and hilarious release! And I am grateful to Kim J. Kimmel for reminding me to blame the full moon for that building tension and unsettled feeling.

Full moon tonight! (And here's a cool calendar about that.)

If you, too, have been feeling unsettled of late, fictionalize your personal horror in 1500 words or less, and you could be anthologized at Smashwords. Learn more here at The Leaky Pencil about Eight Days of Madness, now expanded to 9. Many thanks to Seana, of Confessions of Ignorance, for this information.

OK, so I do write down some dreams to know what the heck is going on in my subconscious and because writers have been known to get great poems, prose poems, and even fiction from dreams. The heckler in my dreams was an annoying man who had accepted an invitation to a poetry "party" at which I was the guest (paid) workshop leader. He sat at the end of the table--it's OK; I'd already chosen the middle, a more cooperative/collaborative position--and casually dismissed the whole idea of workshops and especially any poem with the word "armpit" in it.

I was quiet and gracious in my insistence that no workshop would proceed while this heckling was going on. They had a choice, the other participants, to let this just be a party or to stop the heckling and I'd proceed. As in so many cases, no one spoke up except me. I spoke up!

The dream ended before this was resolved but not before I acquired a superpower. At one point, and I admit that this was less than gracious, with my left hand (which knew what it was doing), I flicked the heckler against the wall. He slid down horizontal on the floor, dazed and silent.

Part of me liked this quite a bit. The other part me revised the dream to take up where it had left off just before the superpower flicking and resumed its standing up to evil with words and without violence.

My husband also revises his violent dreams into non-violent dreams. We are lucid that way.

I would just like to say that in my Ekphrasis class today--in real, waking life--the students very graciously received my poem based on a photograph by Eudora Welty. It contained the word "armpit."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Imaginary Playlist

The truth is I woke very early, in the dark, oddly anxious. I knew there'd be no going back to sleep, and there wasn't, just looking at things that can be seen in the dark.

Those moments of brief falling...into weird dream images, a woven grindstone...but no sleep.

Drove my daughter to school in the freezing fog (watch out on the sidewalk), frost on all the grasses. Said goodbye to my son on the train platform.

Yes, it's a Blue Monday.

Imaginary playlist: Whatever my daughter was listening to on her iPod. I asked but I could not keep track of the answer.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weaving Us Together

OK, so the Super Bowl is today, but that didn't prevent my poetry students from coming to our afternoon workshop. Church was about Love 146, an organization that is fighting the contemporary slave trade in sex workers, particular the enslavement of children.

I had already been thinking about this, specifically in regard to the Super Bowl, because of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who have been working to stop sex trafficking and focusing specifically on the Super Bowl "market" for this "trade." My thanks to the hotel chains who are on the alert for sex traffickers and who have trained their staff to spot possible traffickers and their customers and to offer help to potential victims.

As Pastor Bob said, quoting Yehunda Bauer, "[A]bove all, thou shalt not be a bystander."

To weave in poetry, I read two great blog entries this week on the kind of poems that successfully weave together disparate ideas. See Donna Vorreyer's "Poetry Mixtape #6" and Grace Curtis's "Polyptych in Poetry" for sample poems, explication, and inspiration.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hobble Creek, Cowbird, Scary Fishing

My son arrived by train last night, and the rest of us are rushing out the door this morning: me, to a meeting at the library; my daughter, to a volleyball tournament; my husband, to a junior high v-ball practice (he's the coach). So my son gets to sleep in, or wake up and do homework, or a combination of those 2 things + bananas and bagels in this rather untidy house. We will gather again gradually, and hang out.

The new issue of Hobble Creek Review, on online magazine of the poetry of place, has just gone live, and I'm in it! I have poems about Sugar Creek and cowbirds, but you will also find poems about Ohio,* scary fishing, and paying attention to a fly! I've just begun to read it...but must rush away (see above) as everybody else gets a car and I am on foot...on this gray and drizzly day!

Yesterday was sunny & blue, and I took the long walk into town and back, smiling...and talking to myself, a thing I do more and more lately.

*"A kink in the Ohio"--Grace Curtis

Friday, February 3, 2012

Standing with Planned Parenthood

Generally I say what I think here, name attached, though I often stick to discuss-ions of poetry or books or life's joys and foibles, mostly avoiding politics, as there's plenty of venting about that going on without me. I own my opinions (and am annoyed by anonymous commenters all over the Internet, who don't) and place my values and concerns firmly in the context of whatever I am discussing. Often I see the complexities in a topic, not just the black and white.

Today I am seeing pink. On Facebook, for now, the arrow points at me. (Once I get Timeline, I don't know where the heck it will be pointing.) Here, it is pointing out at all the others who are standing with Planned Parenthood in the current controversy involving the Susan G. Komen for Cure foundation. Here's a summary article on the current state of affairs from the New York Times.

I am distressed by the polarization in our country right now. This is a great example of it. And of the "black and white" stance taken by so many, who, in this case, seem to have reduced it all to an abortion debate, at the same time reducing Planned Parenthood to an abortion clinic. I have to confess I lived many, many years not even knowing that abortions were one of the services provided by Planned Parenthood. I have always considered it a place I could go for information and education about contraception, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and STDs, as needed. That I could go there, that teens could get information there (if unable to get it from parents or school), and that people of all income levels could go there. In Chicago, the nearest Planned Parenthood office to me was around the corner from a religious bookstore. They co-existed peacefully in my neighborhood.

Here is the handy pie-chart on the services Planned Parenthood provides. Here is their website for more info.

I have participated in Race for the Cure (walking) and worn pink shirts at numerous volleyball games via Volley for the Cure. I have lost friends and relatives to breast cancer, and have friends and relatives who are healthy survivors. I am grateful for all that has and can be done by Komen and other organizations to raise awareness and help fund research for treatment and cure. Like Barbara Ehrenreich, I don't think that wearing a pink ribbon and relentlessly smiling will be enough, and I will watch what happens next and think long and hard about how I will support breast cancer research in the future.

I imagine I'll keep buying and using those Fund the Fight, Find a Cure stamps at the post office. Because I actually write letters...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Out of a fog...

...into a room perpendicular with pianos. It's fun to be on Poetry Radio, a local WGLT program that you can hear live, stream, or click to hear via podcast. I am up today with "Two Pianos," published in Drought some years back, and based on the fact of two pianos in our dining room for a time in my life.

It's also an eerie sort of fun to drive, slowly, through a thick fog in the morning, as I did, safely, today! Now: blue sky, sun shining, and 31 but expected to be in the mid-50s later. Maybe I'll take a long, leisurely walk.

And, technology challenged as I am, I managed to download and install a new, free security program for my computer today. Yay! My son advised me, and I followed his advice. And he is coming home for a visit this weekend, so if I screwed anything up, he can fix it!

Happy Groundhog's Day. The fog prevented the shadow. The sun foreshadows...eh?...the spring!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

After the Sheep

Sending you to another interview today, this one full of the magic and wisdom of Sherry O'Keefe, poet, editor, viola player, and sometime sheep shearer.

I was struck by this:

After the sheep are sheared, they run about the barnyard a little bit shocked and startled. Not so much because of what happened to them, but because of what happened to the others! Until they run around and smell each other, they no longer recognize any other sheep. 

I can't help but make a human connection, of a spiritual or emotional or psychological sort. When we are naked and vulnerable together, shorn of our protective covering, yes, we don't know who we are! But this is us! The real us, the old us, and the new us. And we are finally focused on each other! By necessity! To know who we are collectively, to figure ourselves out individually.

And running around smelling each other somehow seems perfect for the Hump of the Week in the blog.

You can read some of Sherry O'Keefe's poems here, and her blog, here. I think her Making Good Use of August chapbook must be sold out at Finishing Line Press, as the link doesn't work, so contact her through her blog, if you want to get hold of that.

The fabulous art here, at the interview, and in Sherry O'Keefe's solo poetry feature is by Escape Into Life artist Michal Geidrojc.

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