A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. You can also browse the blog digest archive or subscribe to its RSS feed in your favorite feed reader. This (late) edition continues the sombre tone from last week, albeit with some joyful news as well. The season of death is upon us. But late autumn and winter is also a time for deeper thinking, and we have some of that as well.
Note that I will continue to share links to these posts on Twitter for as long as a significant portion of us still maintain accounts there, but in general, like many folks, I’m using the opportunity to move most of my microblogging over to the Fediverse, which as an open-source project was always a much better fit with my values. I hope you’ll join me there. (I’m on a medium-sized Mastodon server, here.)
Oh bathroom window, what are those ash-gray clouds,
needle in the morning’s eye —
dawn too early in its strange light-threading.
To 6am, I bring another party:
my thoughts, light and frisky in dark crevices […]Jill Pearlman, The Early Bird and other Myths
An interesting week. The tory clowns have come up with a forecast of a £60 billion black hole in the national finances. It’s their latest wheeze to make the poor pay more than the rich. JK Galbraith once said that “economic forecasting is there to make astrology look good.” But this has not stopped them from delivering one punitive budget after another. […]
there is a second
when the mop bucket’s contents
after being slung into the air
seems to just hang ignorant of gravity
in that moment you could mould the waterPaul Tobin, THE MOLECULES SIGH
into any fantastic shape you pleased
if only you were quick enough
As the wind howled, I thought about all the ways I have tried to make my way as a writer in the world: build a website, develop a presence on various social media sites, try to publish everywhere, try to have a series of readings/presentations, slog, slog, slog. Because it was the middle of the night, I wondered if I could have done anything differently, even though I know the stats about sales and who is making a living from their writing (not very many people).
And if we’re being honest, in many ways, I’m glad I’m not relying on any of my creative endeavors to pay the bills. I am astonished at the ways that people hustle to try to sell their work, and I know all the ways that the various hustles would be hard for me. And statistically, it’s hard these days to sell enough work to pay the bills. Lots of people out there competing for fewer readers. I’m glad that I can write what I want to write without worrying about marketability.Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Winds of Metaphor, Winds of Change
What do you remember about the earth?
I am six and the terrible grandmother has come to liveLuisa A. Igloria, Six Questions
with us. She smells of tobacco and the green eucalyptus-
mint Valda pastilles she is always popping into her mouth
from a tin hidden in her robe pocket. A game I like to play
with some of the neighborhood kids involves taking turns
putting Necco wafers in each other’s mouths while intoning
“The body of Christ.” We are careful not to bite down
so as not to cause the body of Christ to bleed. Then
we walk around the grassy perimeter of the truck yard
pretending we are floating, until the candy has melted
and our tongues turn lime green, orange, or pink.
A commissioned poem is always a leap of faith in the dark. You get a phonecall with a request to write about a particular topic or idea, and you must decide whether you can do it, whether you want to do it, but most importantly, whether you can do it in the time available.
For this commission, and for many commissions for radio, there was a very tight turnaround. I think I got a phonecall on Friday evening from the producer of Woman’s Hour, Clare Walker. She wanted a poem that celebrated the different sounds that women have heard over 100 years. the poem would be two minutes long, but the whole thing would be about eight minutes becuase they were going to weave through the poem lots of archive recordings. “Brilliant!’ I replied – thinking this was a really interesting commission, and an enjoyable one. I briefly envisaged some peaceful weeks trawling through archive recordings of suffragettes and the sond of the first washing machine.
“There’s just one snag” Clare said. “We’re on a bit of a tight deadline, so it has to be finished and recorded by Wednesday”. “Ah” I said. I thought about my looming deadline for a book of hybrid essays (more news to follow on that!) which was due just a few days later. I thought about the five days I had available to write the poem, and how for at least two of those, I wouldn’t be writing, or in fact even thinking because I have no childcare at the weekend.
“That will be fine!” I replied recklessly. “Let’s do it!”. What kind of person would turn down a commission from Woman’s Hour, I asked myself, even with a book deadline, and just five days to write it (well really three).Kim Moore, The Commissioned Poem: A Leap of Faith
Tough, in its various meanings, and tender are the poems in Kathy Fagan’s Bad Hobby. Painful, in parts, as it recalls my own mother’s failings of memory, but funny too, as such things can be, in the right moment, with a good spirit, and with nothing left to lose.
From “Snow Moon & the Dementia Unit”:
Dad called again to see how his daughter Kathy’s doing,
and when I tell him I’m doing fine, he asks,
So you’ve talked to her recently? What did she say?
and really, what could I say then…
Through these poems we glimpse the inner and outer life of the speaker, especially the presence of her parents, real or ghostly. From “Animal Prudence”:
…Even when he was
a young drunk going deaf from target practice,
my father preferred picking his teeth
to brushing them. My mother preferred
crying. They bought or rented places
on streets named Castle, Ring, Greystone—
as if we were heroes in a Celtic epic.
The author is unsparing and unsentimental in her observations. Here she regards her own self through a sight of a hawk and its squirrel prey in “Cooper’s Hawk”:
… My tolerance for ‘Nature, red in tooth
and claw’ rose as my estrogen fell. The wish
to die died with my hormones, and with all that
powering down, I could finally hear myself
The wry wit, the dry eye, and the imagination that instills these poems made this hard book a pleasure to read.Marilyn McCabe, Hello goodbye hello; or, On Kathy Fagan’s Bad Hobby
“Naming the Ghost” is a gentle, sensitive journey through bereavement and acceptance. It is not just the loss of the narrator’s father, but also that the newborn daughter will never know her grandfather, which exacerbates the sense of loss. However, the narrator acknowledges that she cannot let her daughter’s sole experience be a grief for someone she did not know. On her journey, she learns to adjust to looking to the future, informed by the past. These are poems that linger and haunt rather than grab the reader.Emma Lee, “Naming the Ghost” Emily Hockaday (Cornerstone Press) – book review
What I was going to say is that I have reached an age where my peers all seem to be facing cancer. Illnesses like Parkinson’s. Bones that break all too easily. Unexpectedly. Everything hurts. Everyone hurts. And we are still comparing ourselves to one another.
Some of us move through the days thinking: but that won’t happen to me. I’ll be one of the shining septuagenarians on Instagram snatching more than their own bodyweight. Some of us hold on to the moments.
Some of us. Maybe only me. Have given up on narratives and justifications.
Here is my beginner’s mind. I pause in stillness. Then inhale and rise along the gentle slope of a polished pearl. Then exhale into stillness. One rich movement at a time, like gusts of wind slamming the body.
I read once that the ghazal was a series of discrete couplets, connected like pearls on a string.Ren Powell, Life as a Ghazal
Here is what we do in our church:Dale Favier, Inventing the Wheel
we never gather and we never sing
we blame but never praise
we cultivate indulgence; we wallow in dread;
we pick the scabs of anxiety.
The stupidest Congregation of the Bigot
in Podunkville does better than that.
Readers accustomed to Fokkina [McDonnell]’s poems will know that she has a great gift for sudden shifts of thought and emphasis which wrong-foot and surprise the reader. Many years’ practice as a psychotherapist must have informed Fokkina’s acute sensitivity to how the brain and heart interact. Her poems implicitly ask questions but usually stop short of providing answers – as with effective haiku, the reader is invited to do some work, in effect to complete the poems. There’s a lightness or playfulness among the trauma which sporadically surfaces; a sense which I can only really explain fully by using the Japanese haiku concept of karumi, which Michael Dylan Welch explores so well in an essay available here. And where Fokkina does apparently provide answers, the reader has to wonder if they are the answers of an unreliable narrator of sorts.Matthew Paul, On Fokkina McDonnell’s ‘Safe House’
What are you working on?
After a two-year hiatus in writing (due to parenting a 3yo and 1yo without childcare during the pandemic), I have just begun to write again while my baby naps and my 3yo attends preschool. My question the past few weeks has been what I can effectively work on given time constraints. Before my children were born I was working on a volume of Norse verse translations. The unpredictability of baby naps has made it nearly impossible to return to this. What surprised me was having inspiration for a fantasy novel and actually being able to write chapter drafts. Holding scenes and characters in my mind until I can work on them again has proven easier than holding the intricately-woven webs that are skaldic poems, with all their linguistic and historical threads.Thomas Whyte, Emily Osborne : part three
More poets and songbirds. Shopaholics at the mall of mercy.
A Congress that engages in friendly congress.
For the homeless to become homeful. Wildfires to take a chill pill.
Gun muzzles to nuzzle love.Rich Ferguson, What the world needs now
I’ve noticed in recent years, on social media since that is where I see discussions of poetry, is a criticism of poetry reviews. First the criticisms were about the reviews not being published in mainstream newspapers any more or, if they were, the tiny wordcount afforded to them. Then the criticism shifted to the reviews themselves, their “lack of critical engagement,” that they are “puff pieces”, concerning themselves with the poet and the “poet’s identity” rather than the actual poems, the craft and technique. All of these criticisms are valid, and perhaps the reviews under discussion seem ubiquitous because of the proliferation of online platforms like Goodreads, online journals and blogs, as well as in some poetry magazines. Also, there has been a trend to simply photograph a book or poem and share on social media without also offering any kind of considered review. Perhaps this has also offended people seeking detailed critiques. Unfortunately, in my view, the criticisms risk silencing a group of people who might want to review, or even to express that they like a book or poem, but who now won’t, for fear of being on the end of such criticism. I think it’s far to say that some of the criticisms I’ve observed are from poets who are also academics, used to the rigor of academic principles, and critical of work that strays from from, or seems to disregard, this rigor. I think that’s a shame. The poetry world has room for a rigorous, intellectually challenging approach to appraising and analysing poetry as well as a different kind of response, perhaps personal to the reviewer, regardless of their academic training and experience.
Unfortunately, perhaps because of the nature of social media, particularly Twitter with its limited wordage, these kinds of criticisms can appear aggressive, especially when a lot of people seem to join in. Perhaps one of the good things to come out of the current implosion happening at Twitter will be that this kind of ‘pile on’ will become less prominent in poetry (and other) circles.Josephine Corcoran, On Reviewing
I read somewhere recently that writing poetry reviews (the traditional kind, for poetry mags) is a good discipline as it makes you really read closely and engage with poetry collections. I have to say that interviewing a poet on a podcast takes all that and then some – thinking up relevant questions to ask, talking with the poet about your reading/understanding of their work, suggesting which poems they read and commenting in a way that listeners may find interesting… it’s not easy, and I often curse myself for sounding like an idiot, a sycophant or a ‘womansplainer’, sometimes all three in the same episode. It’s all good fun though!Robin Houghton, Self-sabotage, womansplaining and other poetry joys
Winter is more insidious than summer.
The low-angled sun is a dull blade,
sheathed in bitter grey.
In winter I play old music.
The music my grandparents listened to
as they took me to Friendly’s or to
a clarinet lesson in the next town over.Jason Crane, POEM: A Winter Poem
It’s the music of nostalgia and longing
and emptiness. Winter music.
I once borrowed her jean jacket so I could look cool, as a group of us made for Montreal for a Peace Concert at the Montreal Forum in 1987. The illustration she made of our pre-concert group in the park, drinking beer and playing guitar with a few dozen others, made its way onto the cover of the zine we invented as part of our high school “writer’s craft” class: assembling poems, stories, drawings. All of it published anonymously, of course. She could fall helpless into fits of giggles, including when dancing at the Carleton Tavern somewhere in the 00s, realizing her friend Joy’s dancing had caused Joy’s pants to fall off, without them noticing. There was an element to our pairing that rendered chaos, a joyous silliness that not everyone else had patience for, akin to six-year-old twins: each encouraging the other.
I published some of her poems in the first issue of my long poem magazine, STANZAS, in 1993, and in a chapbook, not that much later. She’d been working on a poetry manuscript she’d titled “Naked,” some of which sits in a file on my computer. The poems from STANZAS, her “Garden” series, that later fell into her novel, The Desmond Road Book of the Dead (Chaudiere Books, 2006). As the first of the series, “Garden,” reads:
I can make the garden grow, the sun fall up and down in the sky, a man full grown from passion in my tissue, in secret places I hide my fat and wait for rain for rain for rain
In August 2019, the last time I saw them, not long before Covid: an afternoon visiting Clare and Bryan on their farm in North Glengarry, a few miles east of the McLennan homestead, as my young ladies admired their two horses, and later accidentally stomped on a hive of bees at the end of the yard. At least we discovered neither young lady allergic, once they both stung. Clare offered them colouring, toys. They played a football game on the porch, and she delighted in them both.
How am I supposed to experience a world that Clare Latremouille no longer occupies? I shall have to be attentive enough for the both of us, I suppose. I shall have to be silly enough. An image in my head of the remaining members of Monty Python at Graham Chapman’s graveside, the first of the troupe to die: every one of them standing with pants at their ankles.rob mclennan, Clare Latremouille (July 4, 1964 – November 16, 2022)
My recent video and furthermore (indexed), is getting its first public screening on 23rd November 2022 in the Living With Buildings – IV program in Coventry, UK, as part of their fabulous Disappear Here project, curated by Adam Steiner. This is a quarterly screening that explores human experiences of the urban environment through people, poetry and place.
In Ancient Greece, public notices were engraved in stone on building walls. Now, we find ourselves surrounded by texts: advertising, warnings, directions, graffiti… Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones are in town, violence, scandal and political intrigue vie for attention, someone won the football, and we worry about the future for our youth…
The video samples every occasion that the word “and” was used in the “NEWS” pages on one day in the local Adelaide newspaper. The words following each instance of “and” are listed alphabetically and read by Karen, the MacOS Australian female text-to-voice interpreter. In doing so, it creates a snapshot (indexed) of a day in the news of a contemporary city.Ian Gibbins, and furthermore (indexed)…
In the old days writers would iambize their prose and dangle rhymes on their line-endings to make their words seem more significant, adding poetic words as glitter. As Samuel Johnson said, some people think that anything that doesn’t look like prose must be poetry. Nowadays writers use strange punctuation, deletions, discontinuities and line-breaks instead.
There’s still something about the label “poetry” that writers find tempting. And why not? Poetic license still exists. If you label a piece “poetry”, readers will look for hidden meanings. The meanings will expand to match the readers’ expectations. It saves the writer needing to do so much. A short text (about doing the housework, say) can go far given a big title like “Death”.
But readers might not be so compliant nowadays. They might distrust the label. They might think the shortness is a cop-out.
They’re more alert to tricks of ads, the lure of mistique, aura, etc. They know how the addition of false eyelashes and tan can trick the eye.Tim Love, Ornamentation and aura
A first thing the poetry business and the wine trade have in common: the best way to end up with a small fortune in both poetry publishing and winemaking is to start off with a large one. In part, this is because winemaking is often a highly personal project, just like poetry publishing, and people thus often do stuff that makes little business sense.Matthew Stewart, A comparison between poetry and wine
And then there’s the question of personal taste: I don’t like big, oaky wines from Ribera del Duero. I do admire them in technical terms when they’re well crafted, but I can never bring myself to enjoy them. Same goes for certain types of poetry.
I grew up in a valley bordered on the east by the Rocky Mountains and on the west by the Nevada desert. Both landscapes were awesome and terrifying–people died in both. When we drove across the desert on the way to California, the emptiness was so overwhelming I hid on the car floor. But the sight of the mountains was central and powerful, and I missed them when I moved east. When I took the train home I spent the last few hours staring out the window, desperate for my first glimpse of them. Westerners are landscape snobs–I needed that scale. In the east I sneered at the hills people referred to as mountains. When people said, “Isn’t this landscape beautiful?,” I literally couldn’t see what they were talking about. If it wasn’t awesome it didn’t even matter. It took me years of living in it to realize one day, setting out for a hike (walk) with friends: Oh, this landscape is human scale, you can just walk out into it without risking your life. And for the first time I saw the value in that.
I think the sublime has to do with extremity and intensity, with things larger and deeper than the human scale of things, with situations where one person encounters whatever it is–the void, the abyss, the unfathomable, immeasurable. I think the sublime is something we can visit but not live in–the intensity would crush us, as Rilke says. And the solitude. Most of our lives include relationships with other people. When it comes to poetry, the awesome/ sublime may be the most powerful, but I think more poems, including many great ones, are written out of our human relationships–that scale, the one with emotions that range from happiness to rage to love to sadness, subtle and nuanced, looked at closely. I don’t think I’d describe any of Shakespeare’s sonnets as sublime, for example, however beautiful and moving they are.Sharon Bryan, Poems of Daily Life
The poem is not simply a clever convolution of words but does ‘make sense’ when read carefully. Apart from its description of a time that is gone, it examines and exemplifies the tortured ambivalence between memory and fact. The slippery methodology of examining a personal memory when looking at a visual depiction of that place in that time. Indeed, can memories be altered by the holder of that memory, other than by recognising its inherent subjectivity.Jim Young, poem with explanatory notes
Number of books read while here: 14 – 8 collections of poetry and 6 novels. (You can see all the books I’ve read this year on Goodreads – follow me if you don’t already!)
Number of manuscripts read for Riot in Your Throat: 22 and counting – the independent poetry press I run, Riot in Your Throat, is currently open for full length poetry manuscripts. I’m looking for 2-4 collections to publish in 2023 – submissions are open all month so if you haven’t yet submitted there’s still time!
Number of dreams about ex-lovers: 3 – seriously, what is going on in my brain?!Courtney LeBlanc, VCCA: By the Numbers
A deer drives into a parking lot. It desires nothing. It’s my voice. I’ve been looking for you. Yeah, out on a joyride, now here to buy pants. Later, parking spots turn into breath. My voice full of venison and wheels. Fog and knives. What I desire, the deer says: An on and off switch. My thighs in lake water. But I’m wearing pants. I’m always wearing pants.Gary Barwin, Pants
Tuesday is my dad’s memorial service, when we will placing both his ashes and my mother’s, which have been on the mantle for the past 5 years, in the ground of the plots they owned since around the time they got married. It is all moving very fast and I have yet to catch my breath or spend much time with my thoughts. I’ve mostly been working furiously and napping frequently in equal measure. I have to keep reminding myself that its the holiday season, that Thanksgiving is this week. I am not really feeling it, but am hoping to fake it til I make it, procuring new garlands and stockings from Amazon for my bookshelf, some new evergreen sprigs for some vases. I was going to just wait til I get back to the city next Sunday, but I may just put it up tomorrow.
I write this post now as I would normally be embroiled in my twice-weekly call with my dad, an hour I have cautiously watched approach on the clock on all day as I did the usual Sunday things like sweep the floors and clean up the kitchen. The past few years, he had taken over where my mother had left off on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I have always been grateful for that time, mostly since the previous 20-ish odd years of living away from them had involved very little phone convo with him, since my mom liked to do the talking for both of them with him occasionally chiming in from the other side of the room. Only when she was really sick and the delirium had set in did he take over. It was sort of like getting to know someone new, but also very familiar. I am not quite sure what I will do with myself, especially on Sundays when the 6pm call was so engrained in my schedule my entire adult life.Kristy Bowen, notes & things | 11/20/2022
clay and paper string
persuaded him not to prosecute
the silent sneeze
even in the cafeteriaAma Bolton, ABCD November 2022
her own aeroplane
is made to be burnt
Word went out Thursday that he was moving to palliative. By now you’ve probably heard of the quick decline of Robert Hogg and our loss of him on Sunday.
I never did the math that he was 80. He was busy in the 60s with that zeitgeist of poetic excitement. He had a young energy. Even cancer’s “trauma age” didn’t impinge as much as on some people.
Death has offended and hurt many again. Its timing is never good. In the last few years, Bob was redoubling his efforts to get more of his work out before people while he could. Love while you can, write while you can and support while you can seemed to be his driver.
He was like electricity, always there at the ready when you reach for him. He had a calm gentle humour, plain spoken and as if amused by life.
It’s funny seeing the tributes coming out from so many and from so far and yet not surprising at the same time. He had the rare gift while talking to you of making you the only person in the room.Pearl Pirie, Bob Hogg
What can poetry do?
There have been many who advocate art for art’s sake, or l’art pour l’art, as the slogan was initially rendered in nineteenth century France.
There have also been many, and indeed there are an ever-increasing number, of artists (in the broadest sense) who see their work as a focus for, or extension of, their activism.
I feel fortunate to have had poems included in a variety of charity anthologies over the years, raising funds (and awareness) for Macmillan Cancer Support, Welney WWT and the Born Free Foundation, to name but three.
I am delighted to add another to the list in the form of Voices for the Silent (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2022), the new companion volume to For the Silent (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2019), edited by Ronnie Goodyer, Poet-in-Residence at the League Against Cruel Sports. These companion (or stand-alone) volumes have been produced to aid the work of this charity, and not surprisingly some of the selected poems concern animal cruelty. Others focus on habitats and the wonders and complexities of the natural world.Caroline Gill, ‘Voices For The Silent’, New Anthology from Indigo Dreams Publishing
Rajani Radhakrishnan, The night before surgery: thoughts and stuff…
- My unfinished poems. Technically, what is the status of a half-done poem when life is finished?
- The first thirteen lines of a brand new poem. Quite unrelated to the situation at hand. Poetry comes when it comes. Even through a canula.
- One person I wanted to apologize to. From way back before way back. Time moves in mysterious trajectories inside a hospital, dodging right angles and ramps, needles and gurneys.
- How mesmerizing that infinitely slow drip from the IV pouch is – like an existential morse code. Drip. Dash. Dash. Damn. Drip.
- Two questions the universe hasn’t answered yet. The universe needs deadlines and then someone to enforce the deadlines. The united nations of forsaken questions.
You wait.Tom Montag, TEN OLD MONK POEMS (94)
That’s what you do,
whether the poems
come, or not,
the old monk said.
First, while the press aims to be sustainable, it is not trying to be profitable. Breaking even is acceptable to me, and I would consider it a victory to be able to break even while 1) putting good poetry into the world and 2) continuing to donate half of all sales. If there are times when I go into deficit by a hundred dollars or so, this too is acceptable to me personally. However, I am rigorously working to avoid this. And again, even without the $500 donation, I’ve still basically broken even on a relatively large ($1000) investment, and I’ve also managed to give away almost $850 — all while getting my poems into the world. So I’m OK with how things are going.
Secondly, the great majority of the money spent so far was “start up” money, and this does not represent ongoing costs. These initial costs include both tools I will not need to replace anytime soon, if ever, as well as a lot of practice materials I won’t ever be buying again (different weights of card stock and paper, in particular). Thus, the longer the press continues to exist, the more it will produce from these initial materials, and the more it will earn from them.R.M. Haines, DMP Summary and Receipts: 10/17 to 11/14
So, this weekend, I am working on final edits of Flare, Corona for BOA – including updating last-minute acknowledgements, deciding on spelling conventions that I apparently don’t write twice the name way, and keeping an eye out for wayward commas, and I’m also sending out e-galleys of Flare, Corona to people who might be interested in reviewing it. If you are interested in reviewing it, in a Zoom class visit, or book club inclusion, please e-mail me at jeannine dot gailey at gmail dot com and I will send you a copy!
I’m monitoring the somewhat sad situation at Twitter. If I had 44 billion dollars, I think I’d do a better job of managing the product instead of destroying it, but Elon Musk is a really bad manager with a lot of money willing to hurt others in the process of getting his own way (toxic misogyny writ large, I’m afraid) and I’m sad because I’ve built relationships with not just the poetry community but disability Twitter and even fellow cat and flower lovers and I hate that a spoiled billionaire can make everything crumble in a few days that I’ve built for years. On the other hand, it makes you rethink your whole relationship with social media. For writers it’s essential to connect with audiences—and for a long time, Twitter was the place to connect with Millennial friends, writers, and readers.Jeannine Hall Gailey, November Sunshine in the Pacific Northwest…
Finally, there is this blog, which has endured all sorts of personal, technological, and societal changes since it began in 2003. As a firm believer in owning and controlling one’s own online content, I’ve no intention of letting it go, and instead, have been thinking about how to infuse it with more energy now that I have some time. Could it be more educational, more helpful? Could it help to launch new projects and bring people together, as it has in the past (quarrtsiluni, Phoenicia Publishing, online groups)? What else is there that I haven’t considered? There’s nothing wrong with social media functioning as a hub where interested people find content and go to it, but as our disillusionment with these social platforms and their capitalist agendas grow, could blogs regain some of their gravitas and a new sense of purpose? I wonder.
It depends somewhat on our expectations. I do know that I don’t care about the number of followers or readers, and we are long since past those heady days where aspiring writers thought they’d become well-known through their blogs — there’s no way that someone steadily writing good but long-form posts would become famous like a seductive Instagram influencer, not in today’s world! But careful and engaged readers and writers still do exist […] Blogs like Language Hat, Velveteen Rabbi, Hoarded Ordinaries, and Whiskey River have kept on quietly, steadily, thoughtfully posting for nearly two decades now, and there are many others. If these are not impressive and worthy bodies of creative work, I don’t know what qualifies.Beth Adams, Coming Up for Air
The weather is cold cold cold, but the days are so brightly sunny I keep saying I need to get my sunglasses back out. I’m savoring every last bit of true fall that I can, before we pass Thanksgiving and it is officially winter holiday season. I love this time of year, when we go inside and get cozy but don’t yet have a bunch of other obligations. When we love light all the more for its scarcity.
For so many reasons, I really can’t with Thanksgiving much any more, but I will always love taking time to notice and name what I am grateful for. In this funky week full with appointments and phone calls and triggers and wind and wool sweaters, there was one morning where everything sparkled because the temperatures had dropped below freezing overnight, but the sun was rising. Branches were newly bare, but there were still leaves clinging to them–leaves blazing with their final colors.Rita Ott Ramstad, Pain management
I think some of the things I’m doing right now that are part of my work for the NF book – visiting museums, walking, reading – are exactly what I should be doing and I am realising just how stressed I get if I do too much ‘people’ stuff in one week. I’m trying to train myself out of feeling and labelling myself as ‘pathetic’ or ‘ridiculous’ or ‘weak’ if I need more rest than perhaps other people seem to, or if I’m not juggling 100 projects at once and just want to plod slowly into a book. This is where I have always wanted to be – plodding into my work, absorbed in it like the utter library nerd that I am. I just want to read books and write books and have the time and energy to do that.
Perhaps my dad’s death has opened up a few old wounds, wounds I thought I’d packed and sewed up tightly. I don’t know. It’s been a hell of a year, again. I’m starting to think about goals for next year, starting to think about my rituals of the new year. I’m ticking off some big goals from 2022 and that makes me wonderfully happy, and I am surprising myself with the new goals in my planner, they are much less poetry centred. I feel strangely guilty for moving away from poetry, even if it is only while I work on the non fiction project. I’ve cut my work back to some mentoring, running Spelt and running the occasional course. which still sounds like a lot really, on top of writing a book. Having the opportunity to help other poets progress their own writing is really important to me, and it’s also a source of absolute joy for me, mentoring in particular. And I love the camaraderie of the email courses I still run. When I come to write prompts and notes for a course it feels like putting a comfortable cardigan on, and mentoring always feels like meeting friends. I find, more and more, that the work that I am choosing to do brings me joy, I find that when I look around myself, my life is good. Terrible fretting over what the next terrible loss will be aside, I am happy and enjoying the way my brain works, and I’m looking forward to reflecting that in my writing. But still a part of me clings to the idea that if I’m not cramming in more stuff, applying for more things, winning more things, making more connections…I’m not doing well. I need to change the definition of ‘doing well’ and emphasise ‘feeling happy’ more I think.Wendy Pratt, Writing and Reading the Trauma Poems
I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the good poetry news I’ve received lately, and I’m behind on sharing it here…
At the end of September, my poem “One Way to Use a Deck of Cards” from How to Play was featured on Verse Daily!
Last month, two of my poems were published in Writing in a Woman’s Voice: “After an Older Man from Church Drunk-Texts to Tell Me I Looked Good Topless in His Dream Last Night” and “What’s Something You Love That Can’t Love You Back?”
Also in October, two of my poems were published in Pirene’s Fountain: “This Poem Is about Dinosaurs” and “Choosing a Moon.” This whole issue is fantastic, and you can purchase a copy at this link.
This month, I’ve gotten some happy award news! “After an Older Man from Church…” received the Moon Prize from Writing in a Woman’s Voice on November 9, and “This Poem Is about Dinosaurs” was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize this week! I’m so grateful to these editors who’ve published and affirmed my work and to the folks who encourage me and read my poems.Katie Manning, Verse Daily & Moon Prize & Pushcart (Oh my!)
Lately I’ve been remembering the dances I’ve already had – the romantic ones with boys/men a long time ago. I now know that at least three of those boys/men have passed on. That’s something else I’ve considered: the synonyms for “died”: passed on, passed away, etc. One of my sisters always says “Gone to God.” The dogs and cats who have “crossed the Rainbow Bridge”
I still have the image in my head from when my dad died. I visited him on a Wednesday, and on the following Friday I was at a meeting in Buffalo and got a call from the nursing home that he had died in his sleep in the middle of the afternoon. I envisioned him on a small boat, moving away from the shore of the living on the sea of eternity, quietly moving on, his face toward the horizon.Anne Higgins, The Dances you’ve already had