Monday, March 23, 2009

Good News Email

Received a good news email from Patty Paine at diode this morning. She's accepted four poems for the fall issue. (Thanks, Patty!) It's a great way to kick off the Spring Break. Of course, there were two rejections in the regular mail to balance me always.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taking a Break

Spring Break Kind of Gone

Gone Napping

Gone Reading

Gone Grading

Gone Writing?

Gone: from
1. pp. of go 1 .
2. departed; left.
3. lost or hopeless.
4. ruined.
5. that has passed away; dead.
6. past.
7. weak and faint: a gone feeling.
8. used up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What I'm Reading: When She Named Fire

Today I began what looks to be a longish journey with the anthology When She Named Fire edited by fellow Arkansan, Andrea Hollander Budy. I must confess that I don't normally read the preface in an anthology, preferring instead to leap into the work, but because of a personal/professional connection of the email variety with Budy, I decided to start there. I'm glad I did.

Budy begins her preface with a question of poetry's necessity and then mentions the 1973 anthology No More Masks. With that my mind went rocketing down memory lane. No More Masks was crucial to my beginnings as a poet. I found a used copy of it sometime in the late 80's, at the local library book sale, I think, just as I began my undergraduate degree in English. When I brought it to a conference with my advisor, she told me she had a copy as well, and I felt that first rush of being connected to someone else through poetry. No More Masks is a collection of poetry by American women, as is Budy's anthology. It is often hard for me to articulate, especially to male poet friends, the lack of lineage that I felt as a beginning female poet, when almost every poet I had been presented with in school was a DWG (dead white guy). I do not mean to knock the work of those amazing men, of course. Only, in thinking back, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and maybe Elizabeth Barrett Browning are the only poets I can remember reading in high school. And their work was somewhat sensationalized: Dickinson, the recluse; Plath, the suicide; and Browning, the wife of a major poet.

But I digress, Budy's preface goes on to state that the book contains "461 poems by 96 women, the youngest born in 1976, the oldest in 1925." Budy then discusses her aesthetic, the necessity of both music and story within the poems she chose. Towards the end of the preface, she writes: "[Poetry] reminds us how to live and how to cope with life's difficulties by stirring us in the places where what we feel and know but cannot express nevertheless exists. It provides one of life's few defenses against inevitable grief and intolerable, unfathomable disaster."

As I flipped through the table of contents, many, many of the names were familiar to me, yet I've already been delighted to discover several poets new to me, and I'm still in the B's. (After much jumping around, I finally decided to just start on page one and go from there.) I find though, that I need to take the poems slowly and to pause often to let each writer's voice ring out from the chorus gathered here. I cannot wait to listen to the voice that waits on the next page.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What I'm Reading: Poetry March 2009 & New Orleans Review 34.2

Spring is in the process here, which means a return to reading poetry on the back deck, albeit a blustery back deck today. I ended up reading lines of poetry as seen through the tips of my hair as it whipped across my glasses. Still 73 degrees is nothing to laugh at in March.

This month's copy of Poetry brings with it the usual hit or miss for me. I've been following the blogs on negative reviews this week and then found Jason Guriel's thoughts on the subject in his preface to his reviews. An idea that began to gather density while I was at AWP has been gaining mass this week. I'm sure it's not a stunner to anyone who knows me: I am not a critic.

This used to bother me. I suppose, somewhere in the MFA gaining process I formed the idea that it wasn't enough to write poetry, that I also needed to be a critic. I really can't put my finger on why I decided this. In any case, I'm clearer now on what/who I want to be, and that is a poet who reads poetry and shares what she likes with others in a conversational and informal way. So be it.

Back to Poetry: The hits for me this month are: Leslie Williams' poems "Fox in the Landscape" and "In Me as the Swans" along with Dave Lucas' "Lines for Winter" and Katy Didden's "At Chartres." I also loved the notebook entry from Fanny Howe, which turns out to be un-summarizable.

The copy of New Orleans Review 34.2 is from my pile of AWP books and journals. I started reading it on the plane and stumbled across the poem "First the Bats, Then the Stars" by colleague and friend, Angie Macri. Today the poems that leapt out were Kevin Prufer's "Late Empires," the seven poems of Nicky Beer in the Poetry Feature, Jennifer Whitaker's "Father as Map of the World" and "Father as Barred Owl," and Stefanie Wortman's "The Transparent Fabulist."

A great morning of reading under the belt, I'm now waiting for the Cubs/Brewers pre-season game that is supposed to air on WGN. 30 days, 4 hours, 29 minutes until Opening Day 2009!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Excellent news for poet-friend Allison Joseph. Her sixth full-length book of poems My Father's Kites will be published by Steel Toe Books! Congratulations, Allison! Check out the link for a sample poem that will knock your socks off.

Also in the new book news, I just received my copy of Andrea Hollander Budy's anthology: When She Named Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women. I am simply awed by the list of contributors and can hardly wait for Saturday when I can dive in with my whole mind's attention. On first glance, one thing I like about the format is that each author's bio (and a photo) is included with the poems...saves me from flipping to the back. A minor thing, I know. Watch for a posting on my reading response.