Thursday, May 31, 2007

Calls for Submissions

Here are some recent calls for submissions I thought people would find useful:

The New Quarterly is looking for poems, stories and essays for its "Real Estate Issue" Submissions must be received by June 30, 2007.

If Poetry Journal seeks submissions for its inaugural issue. Submissions are being read through July 31, 2007.

Barn Owl Review welcomes submissions of poetry and short fiction for its inaugural 2008 issue. Deadline for submissions is November 1, 2007.

MiPOesias Magazine seeks submissions from Cuban-American poets for an upcoming special edition. Deadline for submissions is November 15.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Advice to Myself

On a day like today, where I am handling roofers, gutter cleaners, HVAC repairmen, grocery shopping and dealing with a broken dishwasher, I really needed to hear today's poem on The Writer's Almanac: Advice to Myself, by Louise Erdrich.

Luckily I had the forethought to hire a babysitter from 3:30-5:30 so that I can take a short break with a tall glass of iced tea and devote a little time to myself by writing book reviews for my zine.

What I'm currently reading: Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Poetry of Rachel Carson

The Washington Post has a wonderful opinion piece about Rachel Carson on this, the 100th anniversary of her birth:

In 1999, Time Magazine listed her as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century:

You can even visit the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale, Pennsylvania, overlooking the Allegheny River:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Writer's Center Celebrates the Work of Ann Darr

Here's an upcoming event you may be interested in:

Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m.

The Writer’s Center presents a celebration of work of Ann Darr, a long-time poetry workshop leader who is now retired. Ann is author of several books of poems, among them, Cleared for Landing, The Myth of a Woman's Fist, Flying the Zuni Mountains , and Riding with the Fireworks. Several area poets, including Myra Sklarew, Cicely Angleton, Barbara Goldberg, Merrill Leffler, Silvana Straw, and Sunil Freeman will read her poems and share stories. Admission is free, and there will be a reception after the reading.

At The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh Street , Bethesda , MD 20815 . For more information on programs at the Writer’s Center, please visit, email, or call 301-654-8664.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dora As a Way of Life

My husband & I affectionately make fun of the program Dora the Explorer. While our daughter loves it, we find numerous aspects hilarious. He likes to walk around shouting the most benign statements the way Dora does: TODAY IS FRIENDSHIP DAY! CAN YOU SAY 'FRIEND'?!!

I, personally, have voiced my desire to have an insect mariachi band that plays celebratory music whenever I accomplish even the smallest task, especially folding laundry.

One of the funniest things we've seen lately is this spoof of Dora, which appeared on Saturday Night Live earlier this year:


Friday, May 11, 2007

Poetry Friday

This morning, I was invited by a neighbor to attend the Mother's Day Poetry Cafe at what may one day be my daughter's elementary school. It was great to hear the 1st & 6th graders read the poems they wrote to their mothers. I used to teach poetry to 1st & 2nd graders, so this event reminded me how much fun that was.

Then, this afternoon, I taught a poetry workshop at a hospice in Alexandria. That was certainly an interesting experience. About 8 residents attended and we had an interesting discussion about why poems that don't rhyme can still be considered poems. I gave them my own reasons why I consider free verse to be poetry:
  1. Words are selected with a care that is specific to poetry as opposed to either prose or normal speech.
  2. Lines can be enjambed to create specific effects, such as emphasis on a specific word, or to create tension or rhythms which may not be apparent when one hears a poem read aloud, but which become apparent when one reads it on the page.
  3. Lines can be composed with attention to rhythm or meter even if the poems don't rhyme (I realize I forgot to mention the possibility of interior rhymes... oh well, next time I guess).

Aside from one of the residents asking me if I had a devil standing behind me, the participants in the workshop really got into it and wrote short poems about objects of importance they were told ahead of time to bring with them. The woman who asked about the devil behind me brought her "eyes", which was a small round magnifying glass. Even though she did not actually write a poem about it, I felt satisfied with just the fact that she kept referring to it as her "eyes" the whole time.

Another woman asked how one can tell if a poem is "done." This was a tricky one to answer. My first instinct was to quote Paul Valery who said "A poem is never finished, only abandoned" but then I thought better of being that glib to someone who really wanted to know. The best I could tell her was that I thought a poem was complete when it accomplished what the poet set out to accomplish with it.

In the end, it was a truly satisfying experience and I urged them all to continue writing poetry and reading it. If I accomplished anything this week, I hope it was to inspire 8 people who haven't read poetry in a very long time to seek and find poems and poets they love.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Taking a Break

After workshopping five NaPoWriMo poems, I've realized I need to take a break from literary endeavors for a short while. I am mentally exhausted. Haven't written in my notebook since April 30 and have no desire to look at or begin editing poems.

What I am feeling compelled towards instead:

  • unpacking - now that our bookcases were FINALLY installed after a two month delay, it's good to almost finish unpacking. The installers still have to come back this week and finish the ones on the other side of the room...

  • yardwork - grub & fungus problems abound in our yard, as well as overgrown bushes and weeds. Need to throw down some new grass seed, too...

  • organization - I need to build some simple shelving in my office so I can finally finish unpacking all of my office things

  • playing - this nice weather has caused me & my daughter to spend endless hours in the yard, walking around the neighborhood, going to playgroups, playing with neighbors, etc. Frida has discovered the joys of digging in the dirt and sand, so I spend a lot of time either playing with her or swinging on our swing watching her concentrate on transferring potting soil from one bucket to another.

It is wonderfully refreshing to "allow" myself some time off for good behavior. I'm sure my writing will benefit from the period of rejuvination.

Plus, the new gas grill arrives tomorrow. We are all set to become cookout fanatics...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Montserrat Review Poetry Book Recommendations for Spring

Check out Grace Cavalieri's recommended Spring 2007 reading list at The Montserrat Review. The saddest thing is I have not read ANY from that list. Wow. I've got some purchases to make.

I'm currently reading Vol. XXVII of Mid-American Review and fell in love with Erin Gay's "Portrait from the Tiniest Window," the issue's "Featured Poet Chapbook." As Gay states in her introduction to the chapbook section,

The portrait series comes out of my interest in storytelling, and the idea that all fictional characters are to some extent exaggerated caricatures...The characters' lives become fables through which I examine my own relationships.

The portraits are highly imagistic, incorporating fact and fantasy into their fluid lines. You can find a clip from her "Portrait of My Love as a Baguette" on the blog Nothing to Say & Saying It.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

NaPoWriMo Tally / Titles

Welcome May!

Wow... 30 days of writing. I didn't think I'd be able to do it. Sure, I slacked off a few days, but made up for it with multiple poems on other days. If not for NaPoWriMo, it would have probably taken me the better part of a year to get 32 poem drafts. I'm looking forward to taking time to edit these now. Some are definite duds. Some are promising. And some may only need a little editing. I'm certainly excited by at least 50% of the drafts I wrote, which is more than I expected.

One thing I did find difficult were the days when writing was "contrived". I can pinpoint those poems right away. But they were great practice and served to "prime the pump" for the next poem. I practiced different styles, let myself be inspired by styles I was reading that day, and let myself just enjoy writing one line after another, even if they didn't all belong to the same poem. Looking back over the list of titles, I notice a distinct spiritual and inward-looking bent to the poems I came up with. Perhaps partially due to the Lenten season, but also perhaps due to forcing myself to sit and contemplate an empty page on a regular basis instead of waiting for inspiration or a theme to present itself.

I plan to do this again later in the year. 30 poems in 30 days is doable. You just have to be willing to kill the self-censoring instinct that tells you every poem you write should be a keeper.

NaPoWriMo "Working" Titles -- the Final List:

1. Spring
2. Fire Ants Invade Hong Hock See Buddhist Temple
3. Baking Cookies for American Soldiers in Qatar
4. Because You Were Here Once
5. When She Fell
6. Ritual
7. The Pressing
8. Neck Violin
9. Double Neck Violin
10. The Loneliness of the Iron Maiden
11. Belief
12. Rite
13. Ways of Celebration
14. I Could Say
15. Palmistry
16. First
17. Bad News
18. Leaving the Room
19. A Partial Answer to Your Question
20. What Leaving Means to Me
21. Implicated
22. The First Dead Thing
23. Going Home Again
24. Alone in My Parent's House
25. Our Lady's Scapular Promise
26. Believing It
27. Shaking Dirt
28. Zen Master
29. My Body Becomes a Stranger to Me
30. Everyday Miracles
31. Dreams Do Not Need to Offer Reasons
32. Self-Portrait in a Window

You can find a good list of other participants in NaPoWriMo on the 32 Poems Blog.