Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bird on Glass, 3.

I hope this is the last “bird on glass” entry, for the sake of the birds! (No birds were harmed in the writing of these blog entries: Bird on Glass, Bird on Glass, 2.) But it might not be.

In a comment on “Cool Snap,” Carol said that “it's always somehow surprising and informative for us novice poets to hear someone more established getting rejected as well,” and I was surprised to be considered “established,” since I don’t feel very established. Hence, that “outside looking in” feeling.

I joked back that I am not part of “the establishment” and am old enough not to trust it (my kids think their parents are hippies—I’m a weensy bit too young to be a true hippy, but I have a hippy spirit), all the while aware that a younger generation of poets is joyfully engaged in kicking an older generation of poets out of here 1) until they die, when it’s OK to revere them or 2) unless they were beloved mentors or teachers, and it’s wise and good to love and respect them. 

I hope my own joyful, joking tone is coming through, not just the cynical awareness. In me, most things are sifted, blended. Makes for very fine pancakes. Drenched with pure maple syrup, or Cary’s sugar free. And a few burnt ones.

Anyhoo, I get rejected along with the best/rest of us, yes. No string of past publications makes the next poem any more likely to get accepted. The poem must speak for itself and get itself accepted, and that will also be a matter of the tastes, preferences, judgment, and needs of the editor or publication to which I have sent it. I hope to have sent to the right place, by reading the publication or samples from it, and the guidelines, but I can’t know the literary journal’s individual needs at this moment. That understanding of the process (aided by years of being on the other side, the editors’ side) and that conviction that the poem is more important than the poet’s name or resume helps me move on from the momentary pang of rejection, which is as brief and routine (and annoying and necessary) as, I imagine, pricking the finger to check one’s blood sugar.

I have been so lucky to learn so much by working for a time with 3 publications: Poetry East (where I was associate editor in graduate school), RHINO (where I was with a group of editors for a decade), and Escape Into Life (where I get to read poets at large in the world and choose some to feature every couple of weeks, to share with online readers). Part of what I learned is that a jillion people are writing poems in this world, sharing their hearts, minds, and skills. I am amazed and full of respect for these poets. I like all kinds of poems. I am impressed most by those who take care, who respect the world and the poetic process (and the submission process), and who find a way to “tell it like it is” in their work. There are a jillion ways to do this.

But I remain alone and at large in the world myself, not connected to some group or cultural institution that supports me, morally or practically, not part of any establishment. And, as you well know if you are a poet, the world doesn’t tend to value or respect poets on a daily basis. American culture pushes us to the frivolous fringe; we are not contributing to the economy in important ways. Etc.

But we know our own value, yes?  “So,” to quote Emily Dickinson, “let us keep fast hold of hands, please, that, when the birds begin, none of us be missing.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bird on Glass, 2.

Ruth wanted to know more about my “bird on glass” feeling earlier this month, and I have continued to ponder it. It’s that “outside looking in” feeling of alienation or distance, at times a longing to belong.

Oddly, I felt it on a day of being inside looking out.  Only the metaphorical (but based on literal) bird was looking in, and not really. The bird was seeing the reflection of the sky, not wanting to come in or to belong to any human group. Just mistaken and confused.

Of course, Plato’s cave is pertinent here.  If we are inside one way of looking at things (the cave) and learn that all we are seeing is a reflection flickering on the cave wall, we’d have to realize and turn around to be able to walk out through the mouth of the cave into the true world. 

Likewise, if the bird could just turn around, she would see more sky, more trees, and her true home. Yes?

Why do we get confused and bang our heads on the wall, or our wings on the glass? Yes, it can lead to death! The bird’s death, the heart’s death, the death of the soul perhaps. Or the dulling of the mind, the numbing of our existence.

My dad turns 80 in a couple days, and I was just telling him how he has comforted me during my moments of alienation, reminding me that my true community includes the dead, and people in the future, people not now living but who have written things down or painted things. Yes, the writers and artists are no doubt my true community. (And his.)  Especially the writers, but I am married to an artist, and I drew before I wrote, so I feel an affinity there, for sure.

In the recent tributes to Adrienne Rich, I encountered this quotation: “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.” I do. It does. Reading and writing are my natural activities, my (good!) habits of being.

But it’s true that we are living in a time of quick info, often gained through quick visuals, sound bites, quick, too-quick, and often dubious “facts,” some of which (in the political arena) are outright lies. Very little paying attention and sustained attentiveness going on and rigorous attachment to what is real or true here. So that probably intensifies my “bird on glass” feeling. Though I am part of a natural world, I am not part of this “new” world. And it is hard and shiny.

Mostly, though, I simply feel the slight distance of the artist, the person standing on the edge and looking, listening, paying attention. I’m not eavesdropping on purpose or to use anything I hear in a harmful way. I just understand that I am not in the “in” group at hand or of much interest to them. I am what I am, and it’s hard to explain to people who are not really interested.

“What are you up to these days?”

“I have a rich inner life.”

See what I mean? (It’s OK to laugh. I do.) But I see the irony here, too. In my answer, alas, they are on the outside looking in, and not able to see what I am up to because it is part of the inner life. (Although I do make it outer in my writing.)

Then again, as I said, they are seldom really interested. Not in my inner life, anyway. I hope they are interested in their own!

I love this piece on vulnerability in Maureen’s blog today. Partly because I imagine many people feel vulnerable and have rich inner lives, and that if we could connect, share, respect and protect each other, truly pay attention to each other, many feelings of alienation would fade….

And I have to say, I do feel I belong to a community here, of people who read, write, and care about each other. Thanks. And thanks again, to artist Pamela Callahan, for her birds.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Beauty

The yellow tulips are open, the red ones beginning, wild violets and yellow lamium profuse, and blue bugleweed about to wake up with reveille.

The re-designed Escape Into Life is up and running, but running slower than I remember. Sigh...

And, though designed to be easier to navigate, I'm still having a little trouble finding my way around. But that's me. With technology. Or directions. Sigh...

But here's a new poetry blog entry: a mini-review as appetizer for Charles Rafferty's digital chapbook, Appetites. Art there and here by Brian Oldham.

Last night's history- and letter-based poetry reading went well, with museum director Greg Koos reading a couple poems, too!

Afterwards, a drink with my mom and dad at the historic Lucca Grill, where we were treated to impromptu singing by a band of random barbershoppers. Or maybe not so random. I think they come after practice, and, if they sing, they get a free pizza!

Ah, what lovely blended voices. I love my town.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Potluck O' the Irish

St. Patrick's Day has come and gone, but the new exhibit is still up (& will be through the summer of 2014!) at the McLean County Museum of History, The Greening of the Prairie: Irish Immigration and Settlement in McLean County, and tonight some of us will be celebrating it with a poetry reading: Potluck O' the Irish.

So any of you locals, please come join us, and bring cookies. Shamrock cookies!

No need to fear poetry! It will be fun, with narrative poems recreating Irish history and myth, lyric poems in free verse, and even some rhyming poems, echoing Irish folk song and ballad. Themes of luck and greening will weave themselves into the history, and some of the poems are in the form of letters.

Seven readers: me, my mom (Peg Kirk), James Dunnington, Candace Armstrong, Ginny Nappi, Judy Boudreaux, and Jan Neuleib. Come and support them!

And be sure and visit the exhibit tonight, before or after the reading, later, or again. There's a lot to see, read, and learn, and a big loom as soon as you walk in the door!

And now I should be showing a bit o' the green.

That's one of my collage bookmarks. With butterflies on it. Fake money. Not a bribe.

Shamrock cookies. Bring some!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cool Snap

I won't call it a cold snap, as it's really not that bad out there, the 40s, but the furnace did come back on, so I'll call it a cool snap.

And it's not really a Blue Monday, either, but I did get a rejection in the mail today. I got an acceptance, too, so I am not at all blue, but it reminded me that it's probably time to tally up the tally in the 100 Rejections project several of us are doing.

Since the start of this year, I've sent out 19 packets, had 6 acceptances, and 3 rejections, which looks top heavy in a good way. Back up to September 1, 2011, when the project started, though, and it tips back the other way: 64 sent, 19 accepted, 28 rejected. Sigh...the more typical ratio. Still, not bad!

Today's rejection is a good motivator to get things back out there. I've had a busy couple of months, and the submitting slowed down while other activities held steady or increased. So, time to find the right homes for some lonely strays.

Audrey Hepburn is cool! Love in the Afternoon. And another rose from my daughter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Today, on the walk into town to church, I witnessed these 2 things: 1) a young man being handcuffed as he was walked across the street by 2 police officers and 2) "Happy Birthday Karen" in pastel sidewalk chalk. Unrelated, but probably both related to students. Two were walking behind me, noticing and commenting on the handcuffing incident, and I turned to ask them about it, but they were just witnesses from afar, like me.

"He came out of the apartments," they said. They had just come out of a CVS under these apartments. Later, closer to church, the birthday greeting was in front of another set of student apartments and visible from a dormitory.

In church I learned of the unrelated deaths of two students on Friday night, found in their residence halls. Heart goes out to their parents, friends, to all affected.

So much heartache, so much trouble. Side by side with so much joy, so much com-passion.

Take a look at this short account of Mather Schneider's book, He Took a Cab, in the new issue of Prick of the Spindle. (I'm the Poetry Cheerleader again.) Then take a look at his book. It's an education in being human.

Ah, and, in church, to celebrate Women's History Month, pastor Susan gave an account of Margaret Sanger, who gave us birth control (Thank you!), and, at Susan's request, I read this poem, "Unauthorized Version," by U. A. Fanthorpe, a New Zealand poet, setting the record straight in the persona of Mary, sister of Martha.

Rose pix taken by my daughter. (Thank you!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easy Being Green

What a lovely day. I visited with Basel Al-Aswad, father of the founder of Escape Into Life. I told him I was headed to a talk in the afternoon, by Greg Koos, director of the McLean County Museum of History, about the opening of the new exhibit on Irish history, The Greening of the Prairie: Irish Immigration and Settlement in Mclean County, and he wanted to go, too! So he turned up at the talk, "It's Not Easy Being Green," after a nice walk at, get this, Evergreen Lake!

I visited with my mom and dad, taking Dad a copy of Poems & Plays, with three of my Cassandra poems in it, as his production of The Agamemnon fired my curiosity about and enhanced my understanding of the character of Cassandra, and because he likes them. Mom likes them, too. While she and I went to the talk at the museum, Dad was on the green! Meaning golf course!

The talk was great, full of information and humor. And making clear how hard it was to Irish, in Ireland or the United States, at various times in history, notably the 1800s, as the Irish left their own country to settle here, to escape economic and religious persecution or the potato famine.

As soon as I got home, my daughter wanted to go shopping for prom dresses. Sigh. It's not easy finding the perfect prom dress. My favorite was...2 shades of green! With sparkles. Her favorite...has not been found.

Miss Piggy found hers, though.

I have lots of fun on Slattern Day in the blog!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bird on Glass

For some reason I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this morning, right on up to now. After grocery shopping. Possible reasons:

It was overcast.
Two very overripe bananas. (Now a banana bread.)
Green onions on sale.
Red potatoes that needed to be eaten.
Need for protein (egg) from which cholesterol (yolk) can be removed. (Now potato salad.)
It was overcast.

Now, 2:00 p.m., the sun has come out, so I am going out.  Bye!

But wait. Wasn't there an insight I hoped to share with you? Yes, it was about feeling on the outside looking in, confused, and odd. Like a bird banging itself against the sliding glass door. I do feel like that often, and recently. But why, if I'm a bird, would I want to get in? I am free! I can fly! I can sit on a branch and sing!

So, as I said, out I go! To gaze again at those bleeding hearts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pink & Yellow PEEPS of the Sky

This morning, I drove east into marshmallowy pink clouds, and, after a turn north, I turned east again into marshmallowy yellow clouds, the whole sky like an eruption of PEEPS in a microwave.  (See South Park Fantastic Easter Special.  If you dare.)

OR see PEEPS! Products, recipes!

Here, for instance, is the recipe for Chic Lemon Meringue Nests, and I'm sure these Orange Chantilly Cream-Filled Oranges are equally healthy and have more vitamin C.

Anyway, I am trying to show you the colors of the sky this morning. The pinky clouds had orange in them.

I am not trying to drive you crazy, though, so I will give you a tip: Click the button at the top/center of the PEEPS page, the one that says, "Stop Music."

Here's a yellow & chocolate-edged PEEPS topped cake that I like to call PEEPSamisu in my mind. Where is the recipe for that? And see how you can submit your own PEEPS recipes?!  Maybe I will make up something called Pink & Yellow PEEPS of the Sky that explodes in your microwave.

And here is something I actually want to make, see up close, and eat: the PEEPS Sunflower Cake.

Speaking of PEEPS, Denise Duhamel was delightful last night, reading her poetry. She has bright blonde hair.

Afterwards, I walked over to the Ames Library to hear part of the Homerathon, sections read aloud in German, French, and English.  When I went back at 3:30 a.m. to do my stint in the wee hours, the library was locked, and a sign said they had already finished their marathon reading of The Odyssey. So, though I had my Fagels translation in hand, no one heard a peep of Homer out of me!

This morning my white bleeding hearts bloomed exactly like yesterday's image! The Easter bunny did not eat them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World Poetry Day

It's World Poetry Day! According to the United Nations and Wikipedia. I cele-brated by getting my teeth cleaned. Really.

But tonight I will celebrate by attending a reading by poet Denise Duhamel and participating in a Homerathon--that is, a marathon reading of Homer's epic, The Odyssey.

As I understand it, some people will be reading it aloud in Greek. I will be reading an English translation. At 4:14-4:30 a.m.  Yes. A.M. I frequently wake up at 3:ish a.m., so this will give me something classy to do at that hour.

Both of these fine poetry events take place on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University. Once again, it's wonderful to live in a two-university town (twin cities).

Now I am going out to celebrate World Poetry Day by 1) writing a poem (I hope) 2) raking up sweetgumballs 3) continuing to be pelted by fragrant white blossoms 4) communing with the rabbits, as a jillion of them are out there hopping and eating.

I hope they are not eating off the tiny blossoms of bleeding heart just about to open....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jumping for Joy

First day of spring joy. Imaginary soundtrack: "Jump (For My Love)" as sung by the Pointer Sisters. Outside all day + watched 8th grade volleyball this evening. Some local girls came in 2nd (yay!) and the champs were a marvelous team. And they could jump!

Took a long walk with Ron Hardy, a poet I first met online and featured at Escape Into Life! Now, as it happens, I can walk the hiking trail with him and sit in my own back yard with him as we are pelted by viburnum blossoms!

Congrats to Jeannine Hall Gailey for being the featured poet in IthacaLit, and congrats to the editors for the Spring issue, just out on the first day of spring! By chance, I read Jeannine's book She Returns to the Floating World this afternoon, as more viburnum petals floated down around me on the breeze.

Monday, March 19, 2012


It's been very bright & beautiful here, but now a Thor's Day kind of thunderstorm is rolling in on a Blue Monday in the blog. Over the past couple days, I've enjoyed reading Barbara Ehrenreich's book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, and she supports her thesis very well.

She's not saying that positive thinking is bad in itself. She's a remarkably cheerful person here, despite having had to suffer through the pink optimism associated with breast cancer, as well as the disease. What she objects to is the substitution of superstition and optimism for real information and real action in the real world, a world that remains complex despite so many people's effort to oversimplify it.

And if you are constantly told that you won't be cured unless you are blindly optimistic, that's a bitter pink pill to take. It's not that positive thinking might not indeed help the healing process! It's that if you are not cured, you would be blamed for that. Meanwhile, carcinogens still go into the environment, thanks to big business practices. Meanwhile, mainstream state-of-the-art treatments for cancer continue to pour toxins into the body, etc.

Ehrenreich acknowledges the real effectiveness of much positive thinking, so she's not blindly critical, either. She's just making it impossible to look away from the greed motives and ridiculous detachment from reality in much of the guru- and hunch-based motivational thinking of today, which relates to similar movements in history, all of which come back to bilking a blindsided bunch of wishful thinkers. She points to how the hugely successful megachurches are run with big-business motives, while, oddly, despite the surge of MBA programs, a number of companies are run by not very realistically-thinking guru types, who, she argues, helped push the country over the brink into the current economic abyss.

So I recently re-viewed Yes Man, to see motivational speaker Terrence, played by the charismatic Terence Stamp, and Baby Mama, to see business guru Barry, played with giggle-producing calm intensity by Steve Martin, in action as the kind of money-making manipulators who benefit from blindsiding those around them with the need to be positive. I love how both films gently mock the gurus while demonstrating their undeniable success.

One of the book's sentences that sticks in my mind as "Most of the money is made at the back of the room" (at motivational speaker events) is evidenced in the scene from Yes Man, where, even before Jim Carrey hears the great "Yes!" speaker, he's there buying books and DVDs in a labelled plastic shopping bag that continues the relentless promotion of positive thinking.

Comedy is such a great way to criticize society. The viewer gets to laugh and make her own choices.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Greening of the Prairie

I think stuff in my garden grew 4 inches in the past 2 days, and a bunch more stuff is suddenly about to bloom, or suddenly did, like the forsythia. It's still warm and soft today, but now overcast, which might make for a more pleasant walk or ride in the St. Patrick's Day parade about to start soon.

I just visited the opening of the Irish history exhibit at the McLean County Museum of History, called The Greening of the Prairie: Irish Immigration and Settlement in McLean County. Wonderful fun, with some folk music by the Old Men Boys going on, too!

And this, of course, is a baby leprechaun who has been circulating on Facebook. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pink Slash

The sun rising was a pink slash in the east as I drove my daughter to school today, and behind me as I drove home listening to one of NPR's stories on "pink slime," or "lean finely textured beef," the ooey gooey stuff separated from fat that has been used in fast-food burgers and school lunches but is now coming under protest. It's probably in grocery store beef, too, but how would you know, as it's not required to be labeled...

One problem with it is that it can contain E coli, but fear not, as it's treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill that. Not the same stuff you use to clean your kitchen, but still...a gas. It's all so gross, I am glad I continue to avoid red meat and to share my lettuce, celery, and apples with the rabbits and squirrels in the back yard. Whom I also do not plan to eat.

I'm also cranky about mean-spirited, racist bumper stickers I've been seeing around town and on Facebook. Oh, have we forgotten our own past and our own hearts?

I Love This Rabbit by Mo Conlon in the EIL Store.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Daffodil

I have a solitary daffodil in bloom on the north side of the house, and one in bud in front. Usually these clumps get their greenery but do not bloom, so I am glad to see them this year. Other things are coming up, as well: tufts of columbine and bleeding heart, the little tongues of wild violet, buds on the clematis vine, tulips, iris, and day lily. Plus hydrangea, forsythia, and lilac are beginning their budding.

It will be 80 degrees, perhaps, today, and I am tempted to do lots of yard work, but I also resist pulling off all the fall leaf cover because then the big fat rabbits will find and eat it all, getting bigger and fatter. I am OK with them eating some of it, but not all.

So I plan a long walk on the trail into town to get some library books: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, our next book-group book, and Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich, because, happy, optimistic, and joyful as I am, I am not blinded by the cheerful light, nor fooled by it, and I need a wise crone to tell it to me straight so I know I'm not crazy when my cynicism surges up.

I do need sunglasses.

Thanks to Karen Roe for the daffodil in England above, and to BerndH for the Narcissus pseudo-narcissus, a name that implies all that's making it a Cranky Doodle Day for me in the privacy of my own mind. That's why I'm going outdoors, to be in touch with reality and to let the big fat rabbits know I'm here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

State Champs!

We won, we won, we won! Congratulations to the 7th grade volleyball team at Kingsley Junior High School, and their wonderful coach! State champions! The girls played at the top of their abilities, full of confidence and joy. "We peaked!" said Coach Tony Rio, tickled pink.

What a thrill it is to see the area girls play in this lively sport. It was a joy to see some of the teams from all over the state, to know how hard they've worked. And I felt the pang of disappointment in many, also part of the learning process. Our region is a particularly tough and talented region, and we don't always make it out, so we feel for the talented players left behind at regionals this year. And KJHS is going to have a great 8th team next year, too, so watch out!

The team came home with individual medals, a trophy for the trophy case, and a Rawlings game ball. I think the players will sign it, and it will go in the trophy case, too.

Escape Into Life site maintenance is done, so I've done more AWP recap over there, at EIL at AWP. Poetry features will resume soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Toward Pink

I was driving toward pink sky this morning, horizontally split by strips of light. Feeling all kinds of joy, gratitude, hope, abundance. Tonight's the state volleyball championship, so thanks for those good wishes!

Tonight, also, Nina Corwin, the poet who sets up readings at Woman Made Gallery, will be in town reading for Re:Verse, at TheatresCool downtown. I've been looking forward to her visit but knew that this other good, good thing might be happening, and it is, so I send our local poets to hear her and to participate in the open mic!

I'm delighted to see Lizabeth VonSeipler, a fellow former RHINO editor, now on the masthead of Prick of the Spindle. Look for its spring issue to come out soon, and I'll have a new Poetry Cheerleader column up, reviewing Mather Schneider's book, He Took a Cab. I'm sure Lizabeth will remember Mather from RHINO, as he blew us away.

Lizabeth and I both might feel a pang at the phrase "early motto" in this sentence, about the Big Horn Blog, at the RHINO website: "Our blog is named after RHINO's early motto, 'The Little Magazine with the Big Horn.'" Early, eh? That wasn't so long ago!

But it's OK to be considered ancient when you still feel in the pink!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Darker This Morning

I'm cured of the crud but a little hoarse still, from screaming at volleyball and with a bit of lingering chest cough. We play for the state championship Tuesday evening. Wish us luck! My husband is the coach of a marvelous team of 7th graders, who are nice human beings, very supportive of each other and of their 6th grade practice squad, as well as talented athletes.

He is such a good coach. The girls and their parents appreciate and admire him, and he brings out the best in them. In the second game of the first match, he started several "bench players," girls who have been improving all season in practice, and were ready now to perform, and they did. This was an appropriate risk to take against this particular team, and our girls won the match in two games. In the next match, which went all three games, the regular season starters went back in, rested and fed, and played at the top of their abilities against a well-matched challenger. Tight fight all the way through! Screaming final point on a spike. Yay!

This morning it was darker driving my daughter to school, but spring is coming, more light, and it's already 55 out there and due to be in the 70s all week, we hear. I was driving straight into dark blue beauty, clouds opening, somehow perfect Blue Monday weather.

I am a little blue, sort of that post-sickness lingering faint fatigue and post-thrill sighing release. I've drafted some new poems and have more work to do. It's good work. I'm grateful for it.

Somehow the sky resembled these blue roses.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Light Blessings Drifting Together

Yesterday, while we were off at the quarter- & semi-finals of the state volleyball tournament, the mail carrier brought this beautiful chapbook, Light Blessings Drifting Together, by Jannett Highfill, eagerly awaited. Jannett is a beautiful human being and poet who teaches economics at Bradley University in Peoria, and I was glad to make her acquaintance gradually over the years, as she attended the RHINO Poetry Forum when I facilitated it at the Normal Public Library. We took her work at RHINO and, since then, I was also able to feature her at Escape Into Life! Now here's this lovely book from Finishing Line Press, and it contains 2 of the EIL poems, "Deal Breaker" and "Still Married," if you want a little sampler!

And, yes, Jannett is someone I bumped into at AWP, in the Emily Dickinson session. David Baker, Carl Phillips, Ann Townsend, and Stanley Plumly looked at Emily's poems focusing on her birds, flowers, books, and obsessive topics. Fascinating!

I'm over the "conference crud" and most of the AWP recap, but I will weave in other reactions and remembrances as I report on my reading. For instance, I am still reading Absence of Mind, by Marilynne Robinson, who spoke eloquently, during the Literature of Evil session, on literature as what can teach us compassion. And I will probably gush again about The Sun as I read the March and then the April issues, but I can say now what a privilege and thrill it was to hear the writers read their essays at AWP. I had read them all in advance, but here they were in the voices and with the facial expressions and emotional nuances of the writers themselves!

Likewise, it was a thrill to hear Jannett read her work at the recent ekphrasis event at the McLean County Arts Center. You can read her response to Matisse in "Still Married" at the EIL feature...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

RHINOs in Love

The new issue of RHINO, a literary annual, will be out very soon, followed by the reopening of their reading period on April 1, just in time for National Poetry Month! So check out their submission guidelines! And how about those adorable rhinos in love?

In my ongoing recap of the AWP Conference, I will mention that I ran into Deborah Nodler Rosen, one of the editors of RHINO, in the women's restroom! Of course! There were many, many poets, writers, and editors in the women's restroom after all events! The hotel even had the good sense to convert one of the men's restrooms, between floors, into a women's restroom! (Paper sign taped over metal plaque.)

I'm surprised I didn't run into Donna Vorreyer, someone I've met online, and who recently led an ekphrasis workshop for RHINO, in the women's restroom, too. (She reading at the RHINO Release party on April 15, I see!) Or Grace Curtis, who called when my phone was off. Most of the time it was off, or I couldn't hear it. Anyhoo, the women's restroom was always busy, and I took care to thank the cheerful, harried, overworked, overwhelmed housekeeping staff!

The rhinoceros is a fierce creature, lovable at a distance, in zoos, or in drawings, and constantly endangered, its horn sought as a medicine and sold in the black market. The legend is that rhino horn was an aphrodisiac, but probably it was always known for its curative potential. While it is used in making dagger handles, it is not really a bony thing, instead made of keratin, the same stuff as hair and nails, leading to this couplet from one of my nocturnes:

Which rhinoceros lends its horn
of matted hair to love?

And this armored-looking fellow is a woodcut by Albrecht Durer.

Friday, March 9, 2012

People I Got to Meet at AWP

Well, I came home with “conference crud” as people call it, and I’ve been chilled and tired and not attending my exercise class (so I don’t ensicken the other class members), but I think I got it from my son, though we both got it from Chicago, thank you very much. Sigh….

Anyhoo, it was a thrill to bump into many people at the AWP Conference, people I’d met online through blogs or Facebook, or through submissions, etc., and this wonderful bunch of random coincidii started immediately after registration, when I walked into the Bookfair and saw the Tupelo Press booth and there was:

Marie Gauthier, who said, “I was just, moments ago, talking about you and saying I hoped I’d meet you. Were your ears burning?” I hoped I’d meet her, too! I just didn’t know it would be within minutes!

Daily, I stopped by the Arsenic Lobster/Hyacinth Girl/Weighed Words shared table in the Bookfair, so I got to meet/see:

Susan Yount, editor of Arsenic Lobster and MadamBlack-Eyed Susan at the Chicago Poetry BordelloEllen Wade Beals, editor of the anthology Solace in So ManyWords, and Margaret Bashaar, editor & publisher of Hyacinth Girl Press, a feminist micro-press.

During one of these drop-in visits, Ellen was talking to a tall man who turned out to be Dave Bonta, of Via Negativa, the Morning Porch, and Moving Poems, which he was demonstrating, with video and earphones for audio. A nice surprise.
Passing through the hotel hallways or the bookfair, or going up and down the stairs, I also bumped into, often causing hugging, several old friends, recent acquaintances, and familiar strangers, including:

Patricia McMillen, an old poet friend from Chicago…not “old,” but an old friend!
Lindsay Teague, formerly of the Great Books Foundation
Helen Vitoria, editor of the new journal, Thrush
Susan Elbe, a poet I’d met at a reading at Woman Made Gallery
Duriel Harris, ditto WMG, but she also happens to be in Normal, at Illinois State University
Kirstin Hotelling Zona, ditto Normal, new editor of SpoonRiver Poetry Review
Steve Halle, with Spoon River, but I met him at Matt Guenette’s reading of American Busboy at Illinois Wesleyan University, part of their Tongue & Ink series
Meg Tuite, Susan Tepper, and Amy Monticello at book fair
Alice George, Pamela Miller, and Jeanne Larsen, poets I got to have dinner with before their reading for Mayapple Press, and their editor, Judith Kerman
Danna Ephland, Susan Blackwell Ramsey, and Renee D’Aoust, poets I got to have dinner with on Saturday night
Debra Bruce, a Chicago area poet, whose book Sudden Hunger I read as soon as I got home.  Our paths had crossed before, but I met and spoke with her at the Adanna Journal reading Saturday night, where I also got to meet editor Christine Redman-Waldeyer and poet SandyLonghorn, whose poems and blog I love and admire!
Bertha Rogers, a poet I’d featured at Escape Into Life, and Georgia Popoff, poet and editor of The Comstock Review, at their reading in celebration of 25 years of Comstock!
And Matt Dye and Jason Reynolds, new literary editors at Escape Into Life, whom I’d never met!

I got to chat with Jodee Stanley of Ninth Letter, the current issue of which opens with the alphabet written in octopus…toast, banana, and other interesting things. And I got to meet Albert Goldbarth and to thank him for being alive!

I probably ran into more of you, but I’m too tired to remember or write more. Fear not, as I wasn’t contagious then! But I am now. **coughing**

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day. We are celebrating with Girl Scout cookies! They arrived at our door last night via the neighborhood Girl Scout. It was very windy, and she had brought our boxes in a handy grocery bag. "Don't blow away!" I said, laughing, but she didn't have far to go to get home.

My daughter and I of course immediately opened a box. We'd finished dinner; the timing was perfect. I was so glad it was our neighborhood Girl Scout at the door, and not someone selling me siding. We ate some Thanks-A-Lot cookies, which have a thin fudge layer on one side and say "thank you" on the other in various languages.

So this is a day I want to pause and say a big thank you to women all over the world working toward human rights and equality for women. This year's UN theme for the day is "Empower Women--End Hunger and Poverty," so I feel acutely the irony of eating Girl Scout cookies in celebration. They are a luxury, but they do support a good cause. And I think they've gotten a little healthier: Thanks-A-Lot cookies have a little iron and no cholesterol.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Poets Laureate, Men in Kilts

In the continuing AWP wrap-up, today I'll speak of seeing & hearing the Poets Laureate of the United Kingdom--Carol Ann Duffy--and of the United States--Philip Levine. They were a delight and had clearly been drinking. This isn't gossip: Duffy referred to her margarita (not as good as the ones back home), and Levine spoke of being wined and dined well in Chicago, and how nice it was that somebody else (AWP) was paying!

The alcohol is pertinent. While Levine gets an actual salary as Poet Laureate, Duffy claimed to be paid in sherry. She's not exactly joking. Even Wikipedia states that, in the U.K., "The salary has varied, but traditionally includes some alcohol." It goes on to call this sack or Canary wine--a "sack" or fortified wine from the Canary Islands or "Sherris sack" from Spain, which is sherry.

Carol Ann Duffy is Scottish, and just before I heard her read I was in a bar with some men in kilts. I praised them and found out they were about to play as the opening band for The Chieftains, a popular Celtic band originally from Dublin, Ireland. So Chicago was really hopping that night!

Ah, alcohol and poetry and men in kilts. That should get us over the Hump of the Week!

Escape Into Life is undergoing site maintenance. I'll resume poetry features and poetry blogging there next week.