Tuesday, January 29, 2008

T-23 Hours and Counting

This time tomorrow, I'll be checked into my hotel and picking up my AWP badge.

Having just gotten back from Frida's doctor's appointment where she got a shot and had blood drawn, I'm feeling especially excited to be headed out of town for a few days...

Monday, January 28, 2008

WETA's "Author Author" interviews Richard Peabody about Electric Grace

Check out an awesome online video interview by WETA's "Author Author" vlog (that's v-log as in "video log") with Richard Peabody on the Electric Grace anthology of short fiction by Washington, DC, area women.

If you are a fiction writer, Peabody still has space available in his "in-home novel class." If you have a completed novel in the 300-350pp, double-spaced, 12-pt Courier range, talk to him ASAP about what his novel class can do for you. The next class starts February 28, 2008. See http://www.atticusbooks.com/richard/richard.html for more information about Richard and how to contact him.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Book Reviews at berniE-zine

Despite my frantic preparations to leave for AWP next week, I've managed to post the Winter Issue of berniE-zine, featuring four new reviews:

The Good Soldier Švejk, by Jaroslav Hašek -- Švejk, a Czech soldier during WWI, pretends to be an idiot to avoid reaching the front, and it works! A satirical look at the military establishment.
http://rantsravesre views.homestead. com/GoodSoldierS vejk.html

Broken Hallelujahs, poems by Sean Thomas Dougherty -- Known widely for his performances, Dougherty's collection traverses a wide range of subjects, from music to family history.
http://rantsravesre views.homestead. com/BrokenHallel ujahs.html

With the German Guns: Four Years on the Western Front, by Herbert Sulzbach -- From German soldier in WWI to British officer in WWII, Sulzbach's memoir is a portrait of strength.
http://rantsravesre views.homestead. com/WithGermanGu ns.html

Of Whiskey and Winter, prose poems by Peter Conners -- From narratives to lyrics, letters to fabulist fables, these poems are interwoven with a wonderful sense of playfulness.
http://rantsravesre views.homestead. com/OfWhiskey. html

Our literary link-of-the-month for the Winter issue is The Library of Congress Young Readers' Toolkit, featuring links, author info and videos of readings from the National Book Festival.
http://rantsravesre views.homestead. com/Raves. html

I just have to finish up the monthly newsletter I do on a contract basis for one of my clients, and I should be all set. Oh, and packing. I guess a bottle of rum and a notebook won't quite suffice ...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Homecoming - by Dana Gioia

I just finished reading The Gods of Winter by Dana Gioia and was completely blown away by his poem, The Homecoming, written in the voice of a murderer. It's a 14-page poem and I greatly admire Gioia's ability to sustain a persona for such a lengthy poem, given the difficult subject matter. I'm not sure if this is "based on" any crime he heard/read about in the news, but it is absolutely gripping. Here's a stanza:

In prison everyone's a little crazy--
nothing to do and lots of time to do it.
So soon you either fasten on some memory
or lose your mind. Most guys just choose a woman
or a special place, but who knows what it takes
to make one thing stick in your mind for years?
Some people there, who barely talked outside,
would ramble on for hours about Sue
or Laurie Jean, Lynette or dear old Mam.
I knew a fellow who talked all day long
about some Friday night five years before
when he'd gone drinking with his older brothers.
He sat there trying to remember it,
putting each scrap exactly in its place--
the car, the burger joint, the brand of beer.
And when no one would listen any more,
he sat at dinner by himself and drew
street maps of his home town on paper napkins,
carefully marking out the route they traveled.
Madness makes storytellers of us all.

Gioia use of rhythm, five stresses per line, gives the poem a music that pulls you along. Wow.

I especially like the last line of that stanza, given that Gioia, a poet, is also telling a story. The linking of storytelling and madness.

All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Announcing the launch of Letters to the World!

The members of the Wom-Po (Women Poets) Listserv are proud to announce the publication of Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv, an anthology edited by Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace and Lesley Wheeler, with an introduction by D'Arcy Randall. This 456-page anthology also contains brief essays on the history and spirit of the listserv.

Poets appearing in the anthology include Annie Finch, Sharon Dolin, Marilyn Hacker, Alicia Ostriker, Molly Peacock, Katha Pollitt, and many many other poets (including myself, I should add).

A book launch celebration is scheduled for February 2, 2008, from 6-8pm at the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, New York, NY 10012. Ph. 212-614-0505.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Poetry Class: taking the fear out of teaching poetry

As I gear up to teach poetry in Arlington (VA) elementary schools over the next few months, I've stumbled across a fantastic resource for anyone who is interested in teaching poetry. PoetryClass says it is "taking the fear out of teaching poetry."

While I've not had the chance to thoroughly peruse the site, a cursory look around spotted a listing of lesson plan ideas.

I'll be teaching eleven workshops. Students range in age from 1st thru 5th grades, so I'm looking at a wide range of skill levels. If you've taught poetry to young-unz, I'd love to hear about lesson plans that worked for you!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

NBCC Announces Award Finalists

The National Book Critics Circle announced its award finalists in San Francisco yesterday. Here are the finalists in poetry:

Mary Jo Bang, Elegy, Graywolf
Matthea Harvey, Modern Life, Graywolf
Michael O'Brien, Sleeping and Waking, Flood
Tom Pickard, The Ballad of Jamie Allan, Flood
Tadeusz Rozewicz, New Poems, Archipelago

It's nice to see independent presses getting the glory in this category. Award winners will be announced on March 6, 2008, in New York City.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

AWP Bookfair Open to Public on Saturday, Feb. 2

AWP's 2008 Conference may be sold out, but that doesn't mean you can't attend the Bookfair.

According to the AWP Conference web site's FAQs for exhibitors (http://www.awpwriter.org/conference/2008exhibitorfaqs.php), the Bookfair is open to the public on Saturday, February 2. No badges will be necessary to visit the Bookfair on THAT DAY ONLY.

Many people who have been used to registering on-site have found themselves with hotel and transportation booked, but nothing to do when they get there. Fortunately, AWP has opened a forum for organizations/authors to post "off-site" events. You can access that forum at the following link:


While anyone can attend off-site events, some events do have cover charges.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Revise and Succeed

That's my new motto.

Thanks to my computer hard-drive failure last year, I've had to retype my "lost" poems into my new computer based on old hard-copy printouts. What began as drudgery became an insightful look at poems I hadn't REALLY looked at in months, if not years. And it became an impetus to finally get around to revising poems I drafted during the NaPoWriMo of April 2007.

The result of my painstakingly slow revision process has been extremely positive, resulting in recent acceptances from The Evansville Review and Dislocate.

But more importantly, the result of the revision process is better poems. "I" think that the poems are greatly improved. And I am usually my own toughest critic.

So, onward with revisions... and maybe I'll be ready for another NaPoWriMo in April!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

"Unofficial" Resolution #1 - check!

Well, today I checked off the first of many "unofficial" resolutions (meaning I have not written any "official") for 2008: I updated every single book review page on berniE-zine!

I fixed broken links, updated lists of other books by reviewed authors, and finally upgraded the purchasing links for all the books I've reviewed that are available through Amazon. If I reviewed a book or literary magazine only available through a different web site, I checked/updated those links as well. It's been a helluva week completing this project.

In the process, I realized that, after 10 years in existence, berniE-zine now has 227 reviews! That's an average of 22.7 reviews per year. Whew. I'm gonna go pat myself on the back and open a celebratory beer.

And then I'll get cracking on some new reviews for the first 2008 issue...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Thoughts on the New Year

I've always been fond of the New Year's holiday. To me, it is a time of hope, a looking forward to the promise and potential of the coming year. I've learned to look back fondly at the past year, bad days as well as good days.

I haven't really done a list of "resolutions" for the coming year, but have some broad goals such as "relax more" by which I do not mean "goof off more". I look forward to continuing to work hard on my writing while still trying to be a good mother to Frida and best friend to my husband.

But, I aim to forgive myself more when I screw up.

Last night, I looked back at the journal I kept for the past year. I re-read some scribblings that I have no recollection of writing. I found some gems that I think might even make good poems. So I typed them up and will carry them around for the next few weeks/months to edit. Nine poems with potential.

I've cut back on some of the demands on my life in order to make more time for myself and family without spreading myself too thin.

Each year, I learn more about what I have the strength to do. What I want to do. What I simply cannot do.

And, above all, what is most important for me to do.

I hope that 2008 is just as enlightening for you as well.