Friday, December 11, 2015

ABCs of Women's Work

I am pleased to announce that I have a new poetry chapbook, ABCs of Women's Work, just out from a wonderful small literary press, Red Bird Chapbooks, of St. Paul, Minnesota. I have admired their chapbooks since they began. Many thanks to Editor-in-Chief Sarah Hayes, Poetry Editor Jenny McDougal, and Book Designer and Red Bird Founder Dana Hoeschen for all their fine work on my book and others! Also thanks to Elizabeth Laidman, who stitched this ABC sampler in 1760, and to my son Hudson Rio, who helped with the cover design! You can order the book here if you are looking for a stocking stuffer for yourself or someone who loves poetry, or writes it! I would be very glad and grateful if you did! Keep in mind that Red Bird publishes limited editions of only 100 copies of each book, a perfect amount for small poetry chapbooks! This one is 6" by 6" and looks exactly like a tiny sampler! Historically smudged.

Sample poems linked below:

How to Jump Through Hoops (at Red Bird)--H poem

Nameless Creek (at Eclectica)--N poem

Grasshopper and the Ant (at Umbrella)--G poem

Local Patterns (at Soundzine)--L poem {broken link, zine gone}

You get the idea!

And many thanks to the editors who first published these and other poems from the book in their print and online journals!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What We Need

Today is Emily Dickinson's birthday. She found what she needed in a life lived mostly at home, baking and writing letters and poems. Legend has it that she dressed all in white, lowered gingerbread out the window in a basket for neighborhood children, and was obsessed with death. Well, death was all around. "There's been a Death,  in the Opposite House, / As lately as Today--" (Yes, she used contractions! And slant rhyme, lots of capitalization, and dashes.) Women died in childbirth, frequently, and frequently at home; the sick and elderly died at home; and the Civil War was going on in her lifetime. Lots of death there. The poet Susan Yount used Emily Dickinson for the Death Card in her tarot.You can find more tarot cards by Susan here, at tumblr, and here, in a poetry feature at Escape Into Life, from April (the cruelest month), 2013.

It's also Human Rights Day, a day in celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt after the shocking human rights violations of World War II and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

Hmm, "spearheaded." Now that's an aggressive word, coming, as it does, from the sharp tip of a spear. Sigh...

Meanwhile, a rabbit has found what he needed: peaceful, out-of-the-wind, above-ground shelter under a plastic lawn chair overturned in my own back yard after the last mow of the season. The rabbit has been out there under the chair for days in a row, enjoying the mild temperatures and random protection. It's a multi-brown rabbit and a white chair. Of course.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Blue Advent

Blue sky this morning, after searing pink streaks, in the season of advent. I turn on the tree every morning now for the sparkle and light in the darkness at six, and I still can't get used to darkness falling at four-thirty in the afternoon. Today I'll take my turquoise-blue tulip to church--leftover from opening-night gifts for The Language Archive--to add to the ongoing home-made advent wreath.

My church annually publishes my poem "Advent" (about this table-top "wreath," a sort of semi-circle around advent candles) in their newsletter, and I've put it in the blog before, but I'll also offer it below:


First, we bring rocks: earth curves in a bow
around the source, light. Is it miracle
or did rock bend always as the willow?

What next? Acorn, walnut, holly, bluebell
pressed with a ribbon, tuft of baby’s breath,
pine cone, lighting of the second candle

by a child. Magic again? Now our wreath
a parade of fauna: camels, a cat, a cow,
marble hippo, rocking horse. Nothing yet

prepares as well for what’s to come: our own
meager arrival as human figurines,
plaster or plastic, a fragile sturdy crowd

of admirers, rigid with unspoken awe.
We stand alive, wild at heart, hope raw.

It's a broken sonnet, with slant rhyme, and we are living in a broken world, (here in the U.S.) a broken democracy, with many things aslant. But we keep putting ourselves back together, mending, healing as best we can, grieving, and being as kind and compassionate as we are able. Some of us seem less able, alas.

Whenever I mention my church, I want to mention its progressiveness, the way it honors all faith traditions as well as none: agnosticism and atheism are honored as reasonable responses to the evidence at hand and intelligence (or intuition or instinct) within.

I finished a powerful and very intelligent book, Unsuspecting Souls, by Barry Sanders, that beautifully and terribly describes and predicts the state we are in now, placing the death of the human being in the 19th century, when science, philosophy, technology, and industry changed the world and changed the view of the "human being." Sanders understands our current fascination with zombies, the walking dead, because, as a scholar, he can trace it back to when we started walking around dead inside, absent of our former sense of being human. I can see current gun violence and terrorism through this lens. Our horror and grief and compassion in response are signs of life; our sense of it being constant and almost routine, daily, an ordinary occurrence, a testament to the inner death. 

Makes me re-see my own words, though the irony was intended, and the challenge: "our own / meager arrival as human figurines, / plaster or plastic." Makes me sad, makes me turn on the Christmas tree lights in the morning, makes me wonder what I can write that will also shine a light.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, celebrated in the early days as a Day Without Art, since so many artists suffered and died from AIDS. So much has changed, and there's so much still to do. This year's theme is baking, with the slogan, "Spread icing not ignorance." You can find out about that, get a red ribbon, and donate here, and you can combat ignorance with information here, as well, at the World Health Organization website. It's also Giving Tuesday, and I see lots of fine giving going on all around.

This December 1, I am changing the calendar pages to find frost on dahlias on my Easter Seals flower calendar in my office and redbirds and snowpeople on the Boys Town calendar on the kitchen door to the garage, where everything happens. I am pausing to remember friends lost to AIDS and pausing to be grateful for the progress in research and treatment. And maybe I'll do some commemorative baking. (If only I could bake like the bakers at