Sunday, September 30, 2007


You can go here to purchase your very own copy.

Limited edition (100 copies); poem permanently linked here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

best american poetry 2007

I am with Teresa, who has trouble with anthologies--the poems knocking against each other, rattling around--particularly those whose organization is based on alphabetizing the author's names.

Carolyn Forche says you must read a book of poems from beginning to end in one sitting.

Anthologies might be better for hallway reading. Between each bell, I stand guard outside of my classroom--to let students know that I do read constantly, a variety of things, and to remind those hooligans that starting a fight in the J pod is not an option because a teacher is there at all times, a silent reading sentinel.

And I've read Best American anthologies sporadically; for a while, I wanted to start at the beginning of the story series and read straight through, especially because it's a gorgeous way to meet a new voice, but I found myself disappointed at the end, wanting some gems to stand out but only found stones.

There were two that clambered out of the din of the hallways for this recent anthology, and I read them back to back (perhaps this is why reading in one sitting is wise--it does not change my attitude as a reader much; I'm likely to be as receptive to the beginning as the end): Maya Rosenberg's "If I Tell You You're Beautiful, Will You Report Me?: A West Point Haiku Series," and Natasha Saje's "F." I read the contributor's notes on both and was surprised at how very different their backgrounds were: I was instantly jealous of Rosenberg, younger than me, whose only publishing credit ended up in this anthology; Saje, a professor, with meaty credits to her name. Perhaps this is why being voyeuristic isn't always the wisest as a reader--peering into the secret lives of the authors. I am tainted by jealousy or respect, but when I read the words, I didn't know who, just what--beautiful language, words and phrases that I could taste on my tongue.

Sometimes I worry that I am not a very good reader of poetry, that I cannot recognize a good poem when it is in a form that does not always appeal--sometimes highly experimental or highly formal poetry frustrates me, even if it's from a master. Sometimes poems written in sparse language don't catch my attention. I love poetry that is in love with language, that uses figurative language well, that I can hum in my head long after reading it. I like poems that I can taste on my tongue, that reveal the world up close and brave. I love poems that beg to be framed, to be read again and again, to be that worn piece of paper I carry in my wallet.

Of course, much poetry needs a second chance--to read a second time, when the voices are quiet in the hall, or in our head, and we can spend time with the poem, invite it over for dinner, hold hands in the park. Returning to poetry. Again and again.

Thursday Prompt: I give you three images

"Colors of Summer" by David Short

"Birch Silhouette I" by James Wiens

"Gold Swirls" by Lisa Kowalski.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

poem a day

In the spirit of morning pages, of consistent practice, of writing your way out of block, a new poetry friend, Jen Johnson, and I are embarking on the poem-a-day project so many of my other poetry friends have already taken on. Stephanie and Laressa; Eireann and Shana. And now, Molly and Jen. Each day, little treasures in the mail: a poem, written in the twenty four hours that is today, and in return, encouragement, randomly scattered prompts, and a quiet audience. This is not for critique; this is for methodical practice. This is so our singular poems do not go into a void.

I love the image Stephanie creates of her daily poem: she prints it out, hangs in somewhere, to dry, before she sends it off to Laressa. The poem exists, meditates, prepares itself to move on.

In other exciting news, I will contribute a review to CutBank's poetry blog. This will be a first for me--a review that counts more than the space of my own blog, where each word matters, and I will live and breathe a book, as what I will say goes beyond the flippant reaction of a singular reader. I want to do well by this magazine and by the poet--honesty, consideration, interpretation.

Happy Wednesday, all. Tomorrow, a prompt, and more on a cold dissipating. (Sleeping through the night, no waking up in confusion, staring at the clock and into the darkness, my nose a snaked faucet, desperate for relief.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

in a dayquil / nyquil fog

I wonder if being doped up on cold medicine can make your writing better? I'm thinking not, though it hasn't stopped me from continuing my poem a day venture. I've found myself vacillating between hating myself as a writer and loving what is happening with my writing; I suppose this is a natural push-pull when you force yourself to write. Most of my irritation with what I was producing has come with deadlines: I love to learn for learning's sake, but given a structure, and I rebel. Perhaps I can understand my students' desire to pull back a little more too.

It's week four of the school year, and I'm trying to keep balance: a teacher, a person who is applying to graduate school, a person who is finishing a Master's in Education, a person who is learning how to be a wife, a partner, a person who gets enough sleep every night.

It's quiet and peaceful in the fall. There is still a little energy left from the summer, and autum storms are rolling in. Tonight, the sun disappeared early, giving way to lightning and subtle thunder. The dogs were anxious to return inside, sopping wet, and I took an afternoon nap, hoping to sleep off some of this sick.

It's only Monday; this week will drag its feet. But we will all manage to find ourselves at the other end of it, small steps in learning following.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday Prompt: Epistolary

We've written notes, texts, emails. We've mourned the slow demise of the handwritten letter--the long epistle by post, a treasure indeed.

For today's Thursday prompt, you are to write an epistolary poem, meaning a poem as a letter. It can certainly be fictional; write it as a persona poem, write it to yourself, write it to a lost lover, write it to an object. But make sure this poem is a direct address--one in which you are composing to someone or something else.

More on epistolary prompts here.

Some examples here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Molly Sutton!

  1. A sixteenth century mathematician lost his nose in a duel over his love for Molly Sutton, and wore a silver replacement for the rest of his life.
  2. Molly Sutton can sleep for three and a half years!
  3. In 1982 Time Magazine named Molly Sutton its 'Man of the Year'.
  4. The only planet that rotates on its side is Molly Sutton.
  5. Molly Sutton can be found on a Cluedo board between the Library and the Conservatory.
  6. Two grams of Molly Sutton provide enough energy to power a television for over twenty-three hours!
  7. To check whether Molly Sutton is safe to eat, drop her in a bowl of water; rotten Molly Sutton will sink, and fresh Molly Sutton will float.
  8. It can take Molly Sutton several days to move just through one tree!
  9. The blood of mammals is red, the blood of insects is yellow, and the blood of Molly Sutton is blue.
  10. About 100 people choke to death on Molly Sutton each year.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

collecting things for poetry

1. When the 35W bridge collapsed, MPR had an interview with some expert, who spoke of harmonics and the way traffic needed to be tuned to the bridge itself, the truck's vibrations, etc.

2. In a friend's blog, she mentioned "Metro Island" heating. She wrote, "The sun from the previous day is absorbed into the metal, concrete, and other surfaces around the city and then released into the night air, making it an entire eleven degrees cooler twenty five miles from the city."

Friday, September 14, 2007


Newly discovered:

"We live and work in a city that sits where the Arabian Desert meets the Persian Gulf. Such a location makes for a climate of intense heat and humidity. Occasionally, we even see fog, unusual in a desert. More often, though, the air is heavy with sand and dust, blotting out the sun and reducing the cityscape to something two-dimensional, without depth, without relief. It can make for a world that seems somehow less than alive.

Enter diode, teeming with “poetry that excites and energizes. . . . poetry that uses language that crackles and sparks.” We set out to find poetry that creates an arc between writer and reader, an arc that hums with the live current of language. We believe our first issue does just that. We bring you poetry from well-known poets such as Chris Abani, Bob Hicok, Suzanne Frischkorn, Rick Barot, Jake Adam York, and Peter Jay Shippy, but also from some poets you may not yet know but will be pleased to discover. We express our deepest gratitude to all of them.

Join us, then. Read. Connect. Be alive. "

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday Prompt: I Am Thinking of My First...

When I find a blog whose writing and experiences I find compelling, I tend to go back and slowly devour that blog. I did that with this and this blog, and I do not regret it--the writing is fresh, the reflections are real, and I hope to see more of their writing in print in the near future.

And I'm currently reading this blog, from beginning to current. Teresa was in a workshop I took this summer with Carolyn Forche, and her writing reminds me of something you could crawl into--the hide of a skinned animal, the flesh of a fruit. She is raw and completely aware of her surroundings.

I stumbled upon a poem called "I Am Thinking of My First Deer," which is such a wonderful way to enter a poem, and in honor or in reaction, I wrote my own first draft of a poem I think may live to a revision called "I Am Thinking of My First Bee Sting," where I hope will eventually find a way to juxtapose the beauty and vanity of my grandmother with destruction and protection. It's not doing that yet, but I think, for me, first drafts can do two things: they can simply be an enjoyable way of drooling thoughts onto the page, or they can be the seed of something, and you can see it happening right there (or maybe see it right there a little while later). I think I've known the first drafts that might live on; some first drafts have done little in the way of changing just yet, and others, like the one I wrote today, have a long, long way to go, but I'm excited to see where it will go.

This is something I'm struggling with the most right now: revision. How do you know when to revise? How do you even approach it? MDB used to tell us we needed to wait months sometimes to revise a poem as we needed that distance; Carolyn Forche told us a poem has a certain shelf life in a poet, and at some point, the poem does expire. I'm torn between wanting to let the poem percolate and being afraid of it molding over when I thought I could let it set for a while.

With all that said, today's prompt is to write a poem that is either titled "I Am Thinking of my First _________" or has an opening line this way.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"A poet's work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep."
—Salman Rushdie

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I share with my students on the 6th anniversary of 9/11

Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

-from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Please see also: Poets Against the War. I have a poem there, along with a former professor, MDB.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


This happened a month ago, in the wake of my wedding, and I didn't exactly forget to tell you, but instead, wanted to wait until my life was a little more quiet.

As you already know, I have begun sending poetry out again on a randomly regular basis. And I've really begun to immerse myself in regular meditation and exploration of poetry. I used to breathe poetry, devour it for breakfast, snack on it in Lind Hall, sleep with it in my bed; and there was that day, in Winona, when I realized, you cannot truly eat poetry. (So when I am asked the question, "Why did you become a teacher?", I say truthfully, "Because I love literature and want to pass that passion on," but I do not mention the seed beneath that sapling: Because I needed to make the rent and this was the only way I could think to do it. And even deeper: Because I failed myself.)

Oh, I don't know if this is really true. You won't get a full recap of my first week as the likelihood of being discovered is even higher this year, but I will tell you this: I have left that building each day, joyous. My days start rough, but quickly turn, and I celebrate the lessons I've been able to teach, celebrate the students I have in my classroom. There's a really wonderful mix--from the freshmen in the ALC to the seniors in the Brit Lit class. It's going to be a good year indeed.

But all of this doesn't mean I'm not going to turn away from my momentous search for putting poetry at the forefront of my life. Perhaps I won't be accepted into an MFA program; I won't allow that to close the world of poetry off to me forever. But I do know this: I need to dedicate more time to the written word in my life, to read good books, to not waste time.

And in this, I have begun the practice of sending poetry out into the world again. And one will appear in a few weeks in a place where you can read it.

As you already know, my friend Eireann has started the fabulous Yes Press with Brian (so artistic) and Zach (so talented). And my poem "Harry Houdini" will be their October poem: what I can only assume is Eireann's was August, and Shana Youngdahl, someone I am just getting to know through a small community of poetry we have erected (the blocked blog linked above--we have some shy folks, including me, I think) contributed the September poem.

And I must give you a side note here: Eireann has rejected me before, so don't think she had pressure to take me just because we are friends or because we commissioned Brian to make our wedding invites or because Zach was in a spring poetry group with me. Okay, okay, maybe they did. All the same, you can purchase a subscription to the poetry postcard broadsides here or buy them individually as well. The last were available September first, so I can only assume Harry will arrive October first--I'll sing out when it does, however!

And happy weekend to all, now that weekends mean so much again.

Gros bisous~~

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thursday Prompt: You Can't Have It All

Listing poems have a nice rhythm to them, I think, and a ready-made layout. I love the idea of a recipe poem from life--these are the beautiful things, or the hard things, or the things I can only wish for myself or someone else.

Today's prompt is to write a listing poem. Check out You Can't Have It All by Barbara Ras, a lovely, sensory version of what I'm talking about.
Feel free to leave a link in the comments to your own take on this prompt! I will come back each Thursday with a new prompt, in hopes to give motivation to myself and maybe others.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

wearing your [poetry] on your [heart]

These were not actually purchased from the website, but from a one in ten auction, honoring the mother of Eireann Lorsung. (Her mother suffered an aneurysm and this auction then helped with the medical bills.) You can purchase your own dictionary (or other ephemera) necklaces at The Foundling.