Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Towns

I have a new chapbook out, The Towns, from Unicorn Press, and I just did the first release reading for it at the fabulous Ryburn Place, on historic Route 66, thanks to Terri Ryburn. Terri will also introduce me at the next release reading, November 15, 2018, at the Normal Public Library, which I hope will also be a release reading for Spiritual Midwifery, due out from Red Bird Chapbooks before the end of the year! (here is my Author Page at Red Bird from my previous book with them, ABCs of Women's Work, the one with the perfect cover, where I am invisible! See alphabet sampler below.) And here is the cover of The Towns, in a picture taken by Terri Ryburn.

I loved reading to a room full of attentive, warm, loving people in Terri's Route 66 shop, full of interesting arts and crafts and Route 66 doodads. I was wearing my Route 66 earrings, made by Marcia Hirst, who was in the audience, with more of her handmade earrings dangling close behind her. The Tingleys were there, a couple who lived in Towanda, Illinois when I first knew them, and the first poem I read was "Towanda." Family came, women I write with, lovely people from our community. I got to refer to the towns in the poems on a map right behind me, showing that some are are Route 66 and some require you to exit. The audience also enjoyed and/or got chilled by my accounts of outlaws along the Natchez Trace, also represented in The Towns.

And I was pleased that my listeners enjoyed learning about my process, and about how the poems connected to two other books: The Triggering Town, by Richard Hugo, and The Outlaw Years, by Robert M. Coates. And those of you know how much I love random coincidii will be delighted to know The Outlaw Years was published in 1930, the same year the structure I was in, originally a service station on Route 66, had been built. I did not read the title poem, since it always makes me cry, but I might read it at the library, anyway.

Sorry I've been so silent here. I swam all summer, often with a duck, and went to Santa Cruz, California. Life has been busy. And wonderful.

Monday, May 28, 2018

I Was a Miserable Failure

...in terms of keeping up with poetry blog challenges in April, National Poetry Month. Sigh...

I did manage to write a poem a day, and soon I must 1) revise and 2) send some of these out! But I do have two poems just out in online venues: "Vintage Hunger" in Redheaded Stepchild, a home for rejected poems, and "In the Future Library" in Poetry Porch, a virtual porch.

Meanwhile, my first roses opened today, Memorial Day, like sudden wounds. The blue and the purple spiderwort are blooming. The white anemone. The cottage pinks. The long, long cold, snowy April caused many shorter plants this spring, I see, but I am glad they are blooming. I am still sprinkling perennial seeds where I can, and zinnias, and we'll see what happens later in the summer.

And there is poetry up at Escape Into Life, too, where I am poetry editor: a Mother's Day post, and a between Mother's Day and Father's Day feature by Susan Slaviero! So I kept at it, though absent here, alas. I feel very busy and spread thin. But very happy it's finally spring, and hot, and flowery.

The rose above is a past rose, a photo taken by my daughter!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

I love it when I read a book at exactly the right time (for me)! For me, it was exactly the right time to read Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney. I've been wanting to read it since it first came out, and though I did read the hardback, the paperback has just come out, and Kathleen Rooney will be presenting it, via Surprise Bookshelf series, at the American Writers Museum in Chicago today, at 5:30 p.m.! Wooee! I recently (St. Patrick's Day) visited the American Writers Museum, and it's wonderful. Kathleen Rooney and her husband, Martin Seay, also a novelist, are coming to our town in August to read from their work at the library. I'm sure I will read Martin Seay's book, The Mirror Thief, at exactly the right time (before he comes to town), too!

Also, it's National Poetry Month, and Lillian Boxfish is a poet and an ad writer, the highest paid woman in advertising in America! She is based on the real highest-paid woman in advertising of her day, Margaret Fishback, who was powerful and respected and well paid before the era of Mad Men, to give us some perspective. But it was still the era of having to leave work if you got pregnant, as there was no maternity leave and employers did not hold jobs for women who had babies or men who went to war. To give it further perspective.

This is an utterly charming book. The end papers of my hardback edition show a map of where Lillian walked. As a child, Lillian was inspired by another career woman, her aunt Sadie, a nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City in the early 1900s, which is crucial here due to the flu epidemic of 1918. And Edna St. Vincent Millay got her middle name from that hospital/saint! She's a favorite poet of mine. On with poetry month!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Above the Dreamless Dead

I was wowed to discover the book Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics, edited by Chris Duffy, in our own public library! What a powerful book. Contemporary cartoonists "adapt" (interpret, illustrate) poems from the Great War, whether by the actual Trench Poets (poets who really served in the trenches) or others connected to that war. I reviewed it over at Escape Into Life, and should review more poetry books there this month, National Poetry Month, but I am a fast/slow reader of poetry. Even if I whiz through a book on first read, like eating M&Ms, I then slow down and go poem by poem, taking notes, savoring, mulling....um, to pursue the original simile, sucking off the candy coating to get to the chocolate. No, that doesn't apply at all to most poetry I read! Never mind.

At EIL, we are celebrating National Poetry Month with poems about poetry! Be sure to read the current solo feature by Christine Klocek-Lim, who has another poem in a mini-anthology coming up next week with other EIL poets.

And I hope I do a better job here in April, keeping up with my own blog posts on poetry, reading, and random coincidii. It looks like I missed March entirely.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Call Me By Your Name

I still haven't seen the movie, but I have read the book. My mother had a movie-tie-in paperback copy. Now I will be very interested to see how all the internal musing manifests in the film. I jotted down this snippet of dialogue between Elio and Marzia about readers:

     "People who read are hiders. They hide who they are. People who hide don't always like who they are."

     "Do you hide you who are?"

     "Sometimes. Don't you."

     "Do I? I suppose."

I guess it's mainly the comment on readers as hiders that interests me. Are they? Are you? She is afraid of revealing that she likes reading. Why? Not all readers are hiders, surely. I do think some (many) are introverts and armchair travelers. It's like Emily Dickinson's poem, "I never saw a moor."

It's National Poetry Month, and 1) I am again writing a poem a day 2) as a blogger have recommitted to at least one blog entry per week devoted to poetry. I committed and then failed, dropping into woe over Parkland and snow, marched for our lives in snow....but here I am again, now about to quote more from Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman, this time about poetry.

They are in a restaurant after a bookstore reading. A late arriving guest proposes a toast: "But if the job of poetry, like that of wine, is to make us see double, then I propose another toast until we've drunk enough to see the world with four eyes--and, if we're not careful, with eight."

Then Elio muses on his favorite poem from the reading, the San Clemente poem, and how it connects to his life: "As we ambled down an emptied labyrinth of sparely lit streets, I began to wonder what all this talk of San Clemente had to do with us--how we move through time, how time moves through us, how we change and keep changing and come back to the same. One could even grow old and not learn a thing but this. That was the poet's lesson, I presume."

I connected strongly with this, that "one could even grow old and not learn a thing but this." I feel I have been learning it.