If We Were Having Coffee…Winter Edition

No picture of me with a drink today. I'm sniffly :(

No picture of me with a drink today. I’m sniffly 😦

(Not sure what this series is about? Check out the first post here!)

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I’m not quite ready for school to start. For as much as I enjoy teaching, the holiday break didn’t quite feel like enough time. Perhaps this is because I was sick through most of break (see above photo) and am still trying to get over whatever it is I have. I had my first day of class this past Thursday and am happy to report it went well. This week starts the real grind with assignment sheets and keeping up with reading and grading.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that Poetry Monday is on a hiatus. My poetry well is experiencing a bit of a drought. I started Poetry Monday because my cup was full, and I had so much to share. Now I’m struggling a bit, so I’m putting it on an indefinite hold (though I’ll reassess at the mid-year point) to fill my well again. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing other fun things on Mondays (and other days too).

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I just wrote a letter to a friend. And it felt awesome! I think letter (or card) writing is a long lost art. Sure, people do it during the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? I vote we bring back snail mail somethin’ fierce!

I’d ask you what you thought of letter writing. I’d also ask when was the last time you wrote an honest-to-goodness handwritten letter.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that so far, I’m doing OK with my New Year’s resolutions. I think trimming down the number of goals has a lot to do with it. My goals also focus on areas of my life I really want to improve rather than on areas I “should” improve. Perhaps my favorite goal to work on thus far is daily meditation. I find I look forward to this practice. Who knew sitting still for a few minutes each day could be so rewarding?

I’d ask you what you hope to accomplish this year.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I want to offer one or two writing e-courses this summer and am nervous about it. The usual questions pop up (What if no one signs up? What if people sign up but don’t like it? etc). I’d tell you that I’ve been pushing those thoughts aside and have been trying to move forward.

I’d also tell you there was a way you could help me form these courses. I’ve prepared a short, eight-question survey to gauge interest in these types of courses as well as collect stats on the type of content people would love to see in a writing e-course. Interested in giving your two cents? Take the survey!

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that my life has all the marking of an adult life, but I still feel like a kid. I’m married. I have a somewhat steady income from my freelance work. I pay rent. But I’m always silly! I don’t know…I guess I figured that at some point I’d feel like I knew what I was doing. I’m actually just enjoying playing….that seems like the real me. I feel like even when my husband and I decide to have kids, we’ll still play. Perhaps that’s a big part of what parenting is: showing your kids how to play well at life.

I’d ask you if there was a moment that really made you feel like an honest-to-goodness adult.

Now it’s your turn! What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Poetry Monday – Mark Strand

Photo courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

Photo courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

The book from which the poem is taken. Photo courtesy of oxonianreview.org.

The book from which the poem is taken. Photo courtesy of oxonianreview.org.

Too many talents have died this year. Among them is poet Mark Strand, who passed this Saturday. I’d like to dedicate this Poetry Monday to his work and memory.

“The Coming of the Light” by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

What I like about this poem: I first heard about this piece when I took a workshop with Jericho Brown a few years back. He featured this poem in a really cool prompt. Since that time, I’ve used this poem in a few workshops with high school students. Because of these experiences, I associate this poem with playfulness and wonder. I often think of the surreal imagery in this poem, particularly the “warm bouquets of air.”

Bonus! Prompt: Here is the prompt Jericho Brown gave us in that workshop I mentioned earlier–
What is the opposite of “up”? Down.
What about “left”? Right.
What about “green”?
What about “the”?
Starting to get more difficult, right?

The prompt is to re-write this poem. The catch is that you must re-write it word for word using the opposite of each word. For example, write down the opposite of “even,” then the opposite of “this,” and continue in this manner until you’ve finished the whole poem. It’s OK if you are not certain of a word’s opposite. Make it up! “Opposite” can be interpreted in so many different ways. This is a great exercise for letting go of expectations and being surprised!

Poetry Monday – Sam Sax

The man himself. Image courtesy of samsax.tumblr.com

The man himself. Image courtesy of samsax.tumblr.com

The book from which the poem is taken. Image courtesy of www.buttonpoetry.com

The book from which the poem is taken. Image courtesy of http://www.buttonpoetry.com

“The Hunger Artist” by Sam Sax

the boy ate from my hands
then ate my hands,

finger bones making old
noises between his teeth,

my arm in his mouth down
to the elbow, the shoulder.

he gnaws through the sinew
strung up in my neck

like a white upright piano.
it sounds terrible

when he eats, all those
depressed keys

making music. each organ
forging sound. his windpipe

a well that drowns bright
boys like coins with dead

blues singers’ faces stamped
in the metal. fathomless pit,

cannibal ditch, the father,
the son, & the holy spirit

spread across his fingers
& lips.

the job of any competent
parasite is to convince

its host of the their relationship’s
symbiosis. i loved him even

as the anesthetic went in,
hatchet lifted from a hymnal,

& when i was at last inside him,
i couldn’t make a sound.

What I like about this poem: I love poems that give me the creeps sometimes, and this one certainly does! (Also, I thought it was appropriate since Halloween is coming up.) I love the coupling of both the religious and the macabre—like hymnal and hatchet, as well as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on the artist’s lips—which I think is what makes the poem so good at being spooky. I like that this poem is irreverent (even down to the refusal to use capitalization.) Lastly, the following lines get me every time:

the job of any competent
parasite is to convince

its host of the their relationship’s
symbiosis. i loved him even

as the anesthetic went in…

It can be tempting to think that one is just entering into a gross poem, but those last lines show it’s something more—the manipulation, the love even as the lover is being hurt by the beloved. I mean, it’s just the grittiness of life!

I recently discovered an earlier version of this piece, which, I think, has a much different vibe than the one printed here. If you’d like to hear an earlier version of this poem, click here.

An Update, Some Great News, and a Poem for Your Monday

Hey gang,

As I shared in my resolutions update, I’ve been wondering how to restructure my blog so as to better facilitate posting more regularly. One of those ways involved making a three-sheet spreadsheet. Another includes making some tweaks to featured posts.

On this note: I’m trying a new format for Poetry Monday. Rather than posting a video of me reading the poem, I’m going to still share a poem, but in typed format, then give a few sentences as to why I like it. If this goes well, I’ll keep doing it. If not, I’ll go back to videos in a few months.

The great news: I got word on Friday that my chapbook,”Field Guide to Fire,” will be published by Finishing Line Press! No word on a publication date yet, but I’ll be sure to post when I know! Now that I’ll be on the author side of things, I’ve got a kick in the pants to support other authors and catch up on reviews I’ve been dragging on.

velociraptor_FINAL

Why raptors? Why the heck not?! Thanks to Beth Colletti for helping me with this image.

Speaking of reviews, I know I don’t usually post star ratings, but I’ve come up with a system. I’ll give books “Raptor Ratings.” The highest rating is five raptors. Why raptors? Why the heck not?!

Now for the poem. I’ve posted quite a few poems by Kim Addonizio on my blog, but given my recent publication news, she’s the first that comes to mind. I’m over the moon with this news, so I want to share a poem that makes me feel unstoppable!

“What Do Women Want?” by Kim Addonizio (from Tell Me)

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Photo courtesy of goodreads.com

Kim Addonizio - How badass is she? So badass. Photo courtesy of pirenesfountain.com

Kim Addonizio – How badass is she? So badass.
Photo courtesy of pirenesfountain.com

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.


Why I like it
: My word, the sass! I love the no-holds-barred brashness of the language. “I want it to confirm/your worst fears about me.” I mean, damn! Addonizio dives head first in the face of what is expected of women and says, “Screw you!” I love those last lines. They’re so affirming, as if to say, “This is who I am, and I’ll be this ’til I die.” I read this poem and I have insta-confidence. And, of course, I just love red dresses.

Poetry Monday – Teresa Carson

Thanks for joining me for the last Poetry Monday until September. Today I’m reading two poems from Teresa Carson’s latest book “My Crooked House.” The poems are “To My House” and “My Crooked House.” Enjoy!

Poetry Monday – Jon Woodward

Thanks for joining me for Poetry Monday! Today’s poem is from Jon Woodward’s book “Mister Goodbye Easter Island.” The poem I am reading is called “Cello.” Enjoy!