Thursday, May 30, 2013


81º ~ a stronger breeze than yesterday, cloud cover, the chance of storms

Reader, today, I spent the morning at the desk by finishing my read-through of a manuscript for which I've been asked to craft a blurb and then crafting said blurb.  I've written a handful of blurbs over the last couple of years, and it dawned on me today that nobody every talked to me about writing one.  I've gone blindly forward, so I thought it might make a good blog discussion.

First, what do you all think of blurbs?

If I know a poet personally, I skip the blurbs. If I've read previous books by the poet, I skip the blurbs. If I've read a poet's poems in the journals and those poems inspired me to buy the book, I skip the blurbs. I don't live in a large enough city to support large selections of poetry at the bookstores, so I don't tend to browse the shelves, where reading blurbs might come in handy. Instead, I often use the blurbs to check my own reactions to a book I've just finished, especially if I'm having doubts about my own reading of the poems.

Lately, I have taken to glancing at the writers of the blurbs, as the blurbers are often from the same aesthetic as the writer of the book.  For years when I was just starting out as a poet, I didn't understand the incredible diversity in poetry today; after all, we don't label and shelve books of poetry based on their approach, language poets on the bottom shelf, new-formalists on the top, narrative poets using the American vernacular stretched through the middle, etc. Lately, though, as I've built my personal library of poetry books and as I've read and read and read as widely as possible, I've come to know the groupings more by instinct and muscle memory than by any outward label.  This can help me place a poet new to me before I open the pages, but it guarantees nothing about how I will receive the work.

So, what do you do if someone asks you to blurb?

First, I'd say only say "yes" if you can honestly say you like the work and feel a kinship for it.  No, you don't have to be exactly the same kind of poet as the writer of the book, but a connection of some kind is necessary, lest the reader of the blurb feel fooled.  When I was asking for blurbs, Mary Ann Samyn was so smart.  She asked for a copy of the manuscript and the right to decline after she'd read the poems.  (This is something I forgot until just this moment!)

Also, consider the time it takes to read a pre-publication manuscript and craft the blurb.  Recently, I've had to decline some requests in order to focus on my own work.

In any case, once I've said yes and received the manuscript, I read through and take notes on the themes that pop to the surface.  I'm old school and need to have the manuscript in hard copy, so I take my notes on the title page, which I've clipped together with all of the front and back matter.  That way, I'm reading just the poems, undistracted.  As I read, I turn over each page into a "read" pile on my left.  When I come to a poem where I feel certain lines really speak to the major themes of the book, I underline and annotate on that poem.  When I flip it over, I turn it crosswise to the rest.  That way, when I've finished the whole stack, I have a dozen or so poems that I pull to re-read.  These are the poems I use as references for my blurb, along with the notes I've taken on the title page.

In terms of logistics, if the publisher or poet has given me a word-length or other requirements, I keep those in mind as I start to draft.  I keep it in present tense, like a good literary analysis instructor.  Not everyone does, but I like to include at least one short quote in the blurb.  For those people who use blurbs to make choices about what to buy/read, I think this is a great way to offer a snippet of the poet's voice.

Once I have a draft, I email it to the poet and ask for his/her feedback.  I am completely open to any response, and I'm willing to scrap it and start over if the poet feels I've misrepresented the book in any way.  After all, it's an honor to be asked to blurb and I wouldn't want to let the poet down.  After the poet and I have settled on the draft, it goes to the publisher who may or may not want revisions (most often cutting due to space issues on the cover).  Again, I'm willing to work out whatever is best for the book.

So, what are the benefits of blurbing?  1) I get to read the manuscript before almost anyone else.  2) I get to exercise those analytical skills that I don't use when writing poetry.  3) I get the free publicity of having my name on the back of someone else's book.  And who knows?  Perhaps, someone will read the book and my blurb and look up my work.  4) I get to give back and cheer on another poet.

Any blurbers out there with other thoughts on the topic?  Feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Submissions or Bust!

80º ~ seriously cannot believe how lucky we have been with the weather these past weeks, all sun, breezes, and green today, windows open, open, open!

Monday, I took the day off from reading/writing and spent time with C.  We aren't really holiday type of people, so this meant going out to lunch and running a few errands.  I ended the day with drinks with a good friend.  Perfection.

Sadly, this all translated to yesterday being a total disaster work-wise.  I couldn't concentrate on any one thing.  I was fragmented.  The time at the desk was near to torture, but I kept my BIC (butt in chair) and muddled through.

The pay off?  Today was great.  I already knew my goal when I sat down: Submissions or Bust!  I did manage to get three submission packets put together and sent out to three journals.  I've definitely scaled back on the number of poems I send out, and I'm okay with that.  Slowly, slowly I've learned which journals are the best fit for me and which journals I really want to see my poems appear in.  All that accrued knowledge means I'm more apt to shake off a journal I once might have submitted to because I now know my chances are slim to none, my work simply not matching the work of the journal.  I'm also always open to submitting to a new journal if the mission statement/call for submissions seems to fit.  I know a lot of folks like to re-submit to journals that have published them in the past, and I do some of that; however, I like the broadness of being in many different types of journals, scholarly & independent, online & in print, magazines & anthologies, etc.

After I ran out of steam on submissions, I turned to book #2, which has languished in semi-finalist, finalist, "great manuscript but we have to pass" purgatory.  One of my missions for the summer is to split the manuscript into two chapbooks.  This morning was my first pass.  I approached it with this attitude:  I'm not going to labor over this.  I'm going on pure instinct.  With that in mind, I flipped through the pages and pulled (yes, I have to use hard copy for this!) all the poems that fit the fairy tale & saints profile.  Then, I did one more pass, asking myself if any others felt like they belonged with the tales.  Now, I have two stacks of 20 and 30 poems each.  Next, I'll re-read and re-order before creating new computer files.  Luckily, I've already done a lot of research into chapbook publishers, so I should be ready to send soon.

As for the fever book (book #3), it's out there.  I've sent it to a dozen publishers.  Now, we wait.  And wait.  And wait.

And the angry sisters lurk, scuttle, and plot on the sidelines.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Draft Process: Desecration Song

71º ~ a cloudy day, not unwelcome, keeping the heat at bay, tiny breezes, squirrels run amok

Last month I wrote about drafting several poems in response to a girl gone missing here in Arkansas.  This past week, her body was recovered.

The angry sisters began in poems about an injustice done to them, personally.  Now, they seem to be morphing into three angry women seeking justice for other girls & women.  Are these political poems?  Maybe.  They are certainly responding to real events, although not naming those events.

Again, I have Traci Brimhall to thank for a draft. (I thank all the poetry gods & goddesses that Traci and I have become friends!)  I keep coming back to Our Lady of the Ruins, in part because of the collective female speaker Traci uses in certain poems, and in part because Traci once told me that a poem of mine needed more ugly in it.  I confess, I shy away from the ugly.  I paint it over with pretty words, all the while trying to describe it.  Somehow, the angry sisters are forcing me to face the ugly.

In particular, I thank Traci for her line, "Spring returns with its terrible resurrection," from "A Year Between Wars."  I had already scribbled out a dozen clunky, long narrative lines about the discovery of the body last week.  I really have nothing against great narrative poems; however, I am not at home there.  I like the fragment and the white space, the hint and the leap.  Still, these angry sisters sometimes drag me back to narrative.  In any case, after setting my journal aside in disgust, I went back to Our Lady and discovered the line above.  Instantly, I went back to the journal and wrote this:

At six o'clock we watch as spring
resurrects the bloated body of a lost girl.
No live footage. A map of the river.
The girl's familiar snapshot smile frozen
on the screen for months.

I continued to draft another twenty lines or so, realizing that my earlier draft paid too much attention to the girl...for the angry sisters, I mean.  For them, the focus is always on "the sinner," the one who harms the girls or women the sisters seek to avenge (note: not always a man).  In the journal draft, the sisters are angry because the man who killed this girl has already killed himself, so they can't do anything.  In the journal draft, they build an effigy and destroy/burn it, my idea being that they would offer the ashes up at the girl's funeral.

Somehow, when I went from journal to computer, I remembered Traci urging me to get to the more ugly truth.  The title of today's draft, "Desecration Song," may hint at what the sisters ended up doing in the computer draft...yep, digging up "the sinner" and tearing apart his actual remains.  They then douse him in kerosene and light him on fire.  The funeral of the girl never comes into it.  Instead, the draft ends, "Our punishment is knowing we will always be / too late to play the role of saving graces."

I have no idea if this draft will survive in this shape and form. Time and revision will tell.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What I'm Reading: Little Black Daydream

75º ~ a slight rising in temps, but still amazingly pleasant for the end of May, bright sun, cool breezes, last weekend's new plants settling in nicely out front

Steve Kistulentz' second book, Little Black Daydream (Akron 2013), is a book filled with American Cold War babies grown into speakers filled with both nostalgia for what was never an innocent childhood and anger, seething beneath the surface, that all the promises of a glorious future failed.

If you recall, I met Steve at the Arkansas Literary Festival last month (although it seems ages ago now).  At that reading, I learned that Steve grew up in the shadow of Washington D.C., immersed in the world of politics.  While there are only one or two poems in Little Black Daydream that feel at all confessional, all of the poems are infused with polit-speak, the language of government and war, policies and proclamations.  With that language, the poems build to an indictment of the early 21st century, of capitalism run amok, of an affliction of excess that has led to a fractured world that cannot be healed.  Within the poems, there are references to the "Bureau of Metropolitan Longing," "the directorate," "the secretary of self-effacement," and "the secretary of nostalgia" to name just a handful of examples.

Here are a few titles to demonstrate how politics and nostalgia combine in the book.

The Symbolic Landscape of Your Childhood
Soldiers at Parade Rest
Life During Wartime
Poem that Admits Its Own Defeat
Last of the Soviets
Poem that Cries at the National Anthem
Portrait of You at the Victory Banquet

These are poems, first and foremost, of ideas, the language not focused on being beautiful or on calling attention to itself.  Instead, the craft is in the blending of the American vernacular with the religious and the political.

Here is the opening of "Poem That Cries at the National Anthem."

The first act of the national assembly:
proclamation of a new anthem,
We Almost Lost Detroit.

Also, a reconstitution of the rituals of High Mass,
beginning with the resurrection
of the ancient language
no one speaks.

So ordered.

This is one way, these distractions, to hide your crimes.

In "Poem That Admits Its Own Defeat," the speaker attends a wedding and states:

                                ... .  We guests
adorn ourselves in Sunday best, all rented
or borrowed or woven out of the flags
of the defeated.  What else is a pinstripe
suit anyway?  The vows are call and response
written on the back of a Topps baseball card,
and the recessional is the dance remix
of Battle Hymn of the Republic.

I should also note that throughout the book, the poems describe some kind of war/battle fought within America.  For example, in "Life During Wartime," the speaker says, "no one saw the tide turning in the Middle West, blood fields / of the republic. After the loyalist routing at Ypsilanti, / the reconstituted government convened show trials."  The rust belt, and its demise in metaphor and in reality, lingers behind the scenes of several poems, although for the most part, these poems apply to Anywhere, America.

As I read the book through, I couldn't help flashing back to my own childhood in working-lower-middle-class, white America suburbia (or what passed for it in a small addition of houses surrounded by cornfields outside of town) of the 70s and 80s.  Images from the film The Day After (*for you young 'uns, I do not mean the Dennis Quaid movie The Day After Tomorrow) rolled through my mind.  The political nature of the poems brought up Carolyn Forche's "The Colonel" and Auden's "The Unknown Citizen."

Little Black Daydream may not be the kind of book that sent me to my journal sparking with language, but it is a book that jolts me into confronting a reality I am often prone to covering up.  I feel a solidarity with the speakers in this book; their causes are my causes and their angry nostalgia is my own.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Draft Process: October Chorus

66º ~ holy cold front, Batman!  beautiful bright sun, slight breezes, a lawn to be mowed

The garden plot with new plants settling in.

Well, I'm adrift in the sea of summer reading and writing.  This means that everyday, I can wake up, go through my ablutions and breakfast, and then spend as long as I want at the desk.

So, this morning I drifted for a bit and cleared the desk.  One tactic I use is the notepad to-do list.  I write down all the errands that are on my mind, household chores that need to be done, etc.  No, I don't really need the reminder of the list, but it helps me organize and compartmentalize.  Once I have the list and accompanying paperwork, letters, coupons, etc. organized, I set it to one side.  If something else pops up and tries to interrupt my time, I can quickly add it to the list and get back to work.

I started off by grabbing the first book on the top of my to-read stack: The Philosopher's Club by Kim Addonizio (Boa, 1994).  A good friend recently found a used bookstore out of town with a plethora of poetry and brought me back a sampling.  As I started to read, I also had the angry sisters in the back of my head, along with the idea that the last two poems I drafted for them were squat, long-lined stanzas with little white space and no indents.  At the beginning of Addonizio's book, and I only got through three poems, the poems are longish single stanzas with longish lines.  They are clearly narrative, which a lot of the angry sister poems are as well.  Suddenly, in poem three, I remembered a technique I used in Blood Almanac for the poem "June."  I based it on Lucie Brock-Broido's poem "Am Moor" from The Master Letters. 

Brock-Broido's poem begins:

Am lean against.
Am the heavy hour

Hand at urge,
At the verge of one.  Am the ice comb of the tonsured


"June" begins:

Am aerial. Am light catcher and reflector --
flickering goldfinch wing, patch of blood
on the blackbird's shoulder.  Am wind lover.

As I was drifting through Addonizio's third poem, all of this was running through my head, but I couldn't quite remember what I had written for "June," so I picked up my battered reading copy of BA and flipped to the poem.  I didn't look back at L B-B's "Am Moor."

Weirdly, the lines in today's draft mirror Brock-Broido's.  They are in couplets with the first line shorter than the second (although not as drastically different in length as in "Am Moor").  Still, I perked up at the idea of this condensed language and the test of turning it to a plural first person, "are."  The actual first line I scribbled in the journal didn't work as a first line and is now much later in the poem, but the draft begins:

Are sisters. Are bound
by blood, muscle, & face-shape.

I knew I wanted to use the word "chorus" in the title as a way to weave in the collective voice.  The month comes from when a cataclysmic event occurs in their story, an event that sets them on their path of vengeance, although they end this draft as:

"Are bled dry. Are deflated girl-shells."

One major difference between the sickly speaker and the angry sisters is narrative arc.  With the sickly speaker, she came to me wounded, ill, and on the verge of death.  All I had to do was follow her on her medical journey and discover whether she lived or died.  With the angry sister, the timeline is all over the place.  Who knows where this "project" will go and if I will eventually organize the poems in some sense of chronology, but I am missing that sense of forward motion that I had with the sickly speaker.  Still, I'm happy for whatever drafts arrive!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Copper Nickel #19 Contributor Copy

78º ~ after the storms, a cold front, dry air, pleasant temps, windows open at 10:30 a.m. at the end of May, counting the blessing

On Tuesday, my contributor copy of the new Copper Nickel arrived in the mail.  I grieved again for Jake as I took it from the mailbox, knowing as I held it in my hands, that the two poems he'd accepted of mine would be the last two of my poems he and I would talk about, confronting again the reality that he is gone from this earth.  I love Jake's poems and own all of his books, but if you've only ever known him through his poems, you need to know that Jake was also an amazing editor who took such care of the work he published and of his writers.  I know that tradition will be carried on by Brian Barker, Nicky Beer, and all the rest at CN, and that will be another of Jake's legacies.  I can't imagine how difficult it was to produce this issue in the aftermath of Jake's death.

All of that being said, I spent the morning reading the issue, and as expected, I was wowed, awed, and stunned over and over again.  CN is a meaty journal, coming out twice per year; it is the kind of journal one needs to set aside several hours at the minimum to absorb.  And another thing I love about it is that the physical journal is as lush and aesthetically pleasing as are the words printed inside it.

While there wasn't a single poem I skipped over in the issue, here's a list of my favorites:

Austin Segrest "Cutlass Supreme"
Margaret Bashaar "You are not the one I call when I am down and out"
Jaclyn Dwyer "On Turning Thirty, Still Single"
Hala Alyan "Junebug,"
W. Todd Kaneko "Selected Legends of Andre the Giant"
Molly Damm "Poem for the Langley-Porter Hospital"
Jason Myers "This View of Life"  (a long poem done right!)
Tarfia Faizullah "The Interviewer Acknowledges Shame"
Lorraine Coulter "Red Terror"
Laura Kochman "Sand Map"
Ephraim Scott Sommers "One Self"

And that doesn't even touch on some of the great prose between the pages!  Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this issue!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gardening 101 with Mom

68º  ~ stormy skies, a brief respite from the storms, luckily no tornadoes

Just a brief pictorial of the work Mom and I accomplished on Sunday, with a few finishing touches today.  Quite a few older, established plants with a few new annuals (purslane, angelonia, caladiums, wave petunias, henna coleus). The pansies are what we planted at Thanksgiving and have survived well into a second blooming, which makes them super tall and prone to fall over.  Painting the old terra cotta pots was my idea!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Preparations are Being Made

73º ~ all muggy, heavy air still replete with yesterday's dousing, the heat coming on

Friends, I shall be away from the desk of the kangaroo for a few days.  Tomorrow is graduation in the afternoon and the arrival of my parents in the evening.  That means today will be spent getting the house is some kind of order and doing some major grocery shopping. 

Once the folks arrive, we will embark on our twice yearly front yard gardening (my mother loves to garden!).  I shall return on Wednesday.

Until then...happy reading/happy writing!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Draft Process: The Angry Sisters Experience Their Conversion

65º ~ a soft, gentle, & constant rain, just above a drizzle

Today's draft is in part a result of my frustration with our internet provider and a conflict entering its fifth day.  We are waiting on a new modem, which should arrive tomorrow and will magically make everything better. (Excuse my skepticism.)

In any case, normally, I take care of email, check in on FB, and read the blogs before I move my mind to that more concentrated space required of reading or drafting.  So far, I've been successful during those periods at ignoring said internet distractions, as long as I've cleared the path first.  Well, today, my attempts to do so were stymied by dial-up speeds instead of my lightning fast wi-fi modem/router combination.  In frustration, I turned to my journal.

Last night, a couple of lines came to me in the wake of reading Malinda Markham's book earlier in the week.  I thought I might return to those.  Instead, four small, white sheets of paper fluttered out of the journal.  Aha!  Notes I'd taken during Christian Wiman's reading at the Arkansas Literary Festival.  (I'm not going to link back to previous entries for Markham and Wiman given the internet difficulties, but feel free to use the search feature to find them.)

As many of you know, Wiman has experienced a return to faith after many years away from it.  He grew up in a household of religious fervor, spent time as an atheist, and has returned to explore his faith in the wake of a serious illness.  I say all of this to set the stage; my notes are mostly religious words I captured during Wiman's talk.  On the first page of those is a fragment: "feeling through the sounds of words to the form of poetry," something Wiman said about the difference between poetry and prose, since he was reading from both.  Then, there are a half a dozen religious words, and then this, "The Angry Sisters Experience Their Conversion," which I knew even then would be the title of a poem.  This knowing the title first is incredibly rare for me.  The rest of the pages of notes are mostly words, and then there is this: "Poetry = being @ the mercy of language ~ Prose which can always be written," more on how Wiman sees the two genres.

Today's poem grew from these notes and a memory from my childhood.  The family across the street from us must have been evangelical, although I don't remember that word being used at the time.  In any case, for a brief time, my sisters and I went to the neighbor's after school, probably on Wednesdays, with a ton of other neighborhood kids for what was essentially a Christian youth group.  I only have fragments of memories from this time, but those fragments found their way into the poem, which begins:

In a neighbor's basement, their ears
were at the mercy of language

The poem goes on to describe the way some children can get caught up in the fervor of religion; however, the angry sisters' conversion is not at all what the neighbor thought it would be.  In other words, that fervor becomes a match to the kindling they've laid in their quest for vengeance.

In today's draft, I have two squat stanzas (one of 9 lines, one of 10).  I'm not sure where my beloved couplets have gone, or where my sprawling, white-space-laced drafts are.  Interesting.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What I'm Reading: Having Cut the Sparrow's Heart

79º ~ bright sun, slight breeze, birdsong, pretty much a perfect spring day

Some years ago, before I started posting my mini-personal responses to books here, I read Markham's first book, Ninety-five Nights of Listening, which won the Bakeless Prize and was published by Mariner Books.  I fell in love with Markham's work, I fell hard.  So, when I saw that she had a new book coming out in 2010 from New Issues, I was thrilled, and I put it on my list.  Somehow, I never got around to ordering it.  When I was at AWP 2012, I meant to get a copy and forgot, so this year at AWP, I made the New Issues table my first stop in the book fair and bought a copy of Having Cut the Sparrow's Heart.

Markham's book has been on the top of my to-read pile since I returned from Boston in March.  Yesterday and today, I sank into this amazing collection.

Having Cut the Sparrow's Heart, like Ninety-five Nights of Listening, is hugely influenced by Markham's experiences living in Japan and her studying and translating of Japanese poetry.  Sparrow's Heart is a book of fairy tales of Markham's own invention, weaving together strands and themes of Eastern traditional tales (that I know only slightly) with themes of the modern, fragile, global community.  This is a book of danger and a search for comfort that isn't always found.  The speaker always remains separate, foreign, at odds with both the natural world and the people, flora, & fauna found in it.

Here is an example from the opening of "Having Overheard Talk of the Fates, the Clearest Answer is Silence."

Low voices carry on wind.  One of the children
will burst into luck, the other will curl
into ash.  That year, the solstice-flower
unfolded red petals all at once,
over grass so sharp you could slice
fingers on it.

And here, another passage, this time from the middle of "The Outing."

                Night birds
Stitch the leaves shut with their cries.
Sing once, and the dolls go to sleep.
The teapot falls off a rock and bursts
Into stars.  See, there is light now.
We tell all the stories we know.

This is an urgent book, but it is a quiet, tragic urgency.  I had a feeling it would become a touchstone for me, and that feeling gathers strength, now, in the aftermath of the first reading.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Draft Process: Little One's Provocation

62º ~ an "arctic" cool down for Mother's Day, which makes me laugh ~ feeling sorry for my mom who really wants to get in the garden but Iowa is all cold & wet this year, even a frost advisory for this morning

Well, that was unexpected.  I wasn't even thinking about drafting this morning.  I was thinking about reading, and I did start the day by finishing up a book of poetry that had been sitting on my desk for about a month.  I'm not quite ready to comment on the book yet, so I'll leave it at that.  After closing the book, I started sorting through more of the endless papers that seem to breed on my desk.  At the same time, I was on FB taking care of a Heron Tree posting.

In that space of time, I read three poems that all conspired to send me to my journal, setting off one singular voice from the angry sisters trio, in this case "Little One."

Here are the three poems.  First, I read Lisa Fay Coutley's brutally honest poem "On Home." While I'm not a mother, this poem sliced something open inside me.  Then, among my papers, I found that I'd torn out the following two poems from their journals.  Roger Reeves' "The Sun Was Like a Gold Body" from The Cincinnati Review and Marcus Wicker's "Shibboleth" from The Journal.  (Neither appears to be available online.)  Both of these last two poems are litanies, and maybe there is a better word for the form.  Both poems use the repetition of the phrase "Say" or "Say it," beseeching, prodding, goading the reader.  I know exactly why I tore out these two poems, as I've long been a lover of this type of repetition/litany.

Well, I re-read "Shibboleth" in full and only made it through the first three lines of Reeves' poem, when the youngest of the angry sisters started a full-on rant.  Boom, I had to go to the journal and start writing.  What arrived on the page is nearly exactly what made it onto the computer screen, which is a bit unusual for me.  Usually, once I get to the computer with the kernel of the poem, things expand and contract and change shape to a great extent.  Instead, what I wound up with is a highly combustible, 8-line nugget of anger that matches almost exactly what I scribbled in my journal, thus the title including the word "provocation." 

Without even really thinking about it, Little One's litany is not directed at the reader.  Instead, she implores her sisters, opening with "Say it, sisters."  And yes, there are a LOT of esses bouncing around in her angry poem.

Feeling a bit stunned by it all, I'm grateful to the three poets named above for the spark & shove.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

All Giddy with Summer Tidings (and a little codeine laced cough syrup)

70º ~ a blissfully perfect spring day if a bit cloudy, all the windows thrown open, both cats and humans basking in the sweet breezes



Is anyone still out there?  I hope so.  I confess it's been a bit too long, but you all know the drill: end of the semester brouhaha.  Plus, my end of the semester cold.  I made it all the way to the last day of classes and then I lost it, coming down with a serious head cold.  Luckily, when the cough sank into my chest and kept me from sleeping the last two nights, I discovered that I had two nights worth of codeine-laced cough syrup left.  When I looked at the date on the pharmacy label, it turned out I had the same cold almost exactly one year ago.  Hmmmmmm.  Silly germs!

With great fanfare (or at least what serves as great fanfare here at the desk of the Kangaroo), I punched in my final set of grades this morning, and like magic, I felt like I lost 10 lbs.  Happens every semester.  Wahooooooooooo!

I spent the rest of the morning working through the piles of papers that had accumulated over the last couple of weeks.  One priority task was to revise the poem I drafted way, way back at the end of February for The Book of Scented Things, an anthology of poems inspired by perfume samples.  As the official deadline for poems is coming up rapidly, I am so, so thankful that I drafted what I did back then.  I know I'd be panicking if I had to start from scratch today, as my poems really do need to sit for a bit.  In fact, I re-read the draft yesterday and knew immediately that the ending didn't work.  I fumbled around and came up with an "idea" for how I wanted the ending to function, but I couldn't find the words.  Today, with some time and some silence, I worked it out.

I think the anthology is supposed to be out in fall of 2014, which seems an interminable wait.  I am so curious to find out what the other poets came up with and what scents they got to use.  Wouldn't it be cool if the book had a scratch-n-sniff feature for each poem?  (Probably cost prohibitive, but a girl can dream.)

So, what plans for the summer?
1. Deal with manuscript #2.  Break it down into two chapbooks. 
2. Give manuscript #3 (fever book) a thorough going over and keep sending out.
3. Read and read and read from the towering stack beside me.
4. Write and write and write and see if the angry sisters are still angry or if it is time to move on to other voices.
5.  Submit some poems.

Let me just say it one more time:  Wahooooooooooooooooo!