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 week, an especially convivial edition, I think, as bloggers muse about things that tie us together—”kinscapes”, epistolary poems, sharing poems with family members, etc. Lots of changes seem to be afoot, and poets are adapting in interesting ways. Books and writing philosophies are hashed over, as usual, and poems are shared, some rare and bleeding, some thoroughly cooked. Enjoy.
When I opened Vol. 1 of the journals, I found a bookmark from Grasmere with an illustration of Grasmere church and the headstone of William and Mary Wordsworth. I love finding bookmarks in second hand books. They feel like way-markers, signposts. Someone was here before me. Someone was reading this book, someone was imagining Dorothy Wordsworth, as I would be, as Polly Atkins had when she’d written her book. All these different versions of Dorothy have existed in the minds of the people who have read her journals, and the journals have linked us, this particular book is linking me to the previous owner, and to Polly Atkin and to Dorothy herself. I imagine Dorothy now, writing the journal, the scrit-scrat of her pen, the sound of the rain outside the window and me here, now, the rain outside my window and the unknown other reader, the book marker. It is like being a part of a silent book club.Wendy Pratt, The Forty Four Year Book Club
This current desk, now a dozen years beneath my fingertips, is entirely straightforward: black wood and solid with three sides, no drawer. I’ve slipped smaller shelving beneath for files, outgoing correspondence, comic books and other items to be close-at-hand. A plastic milk crate on its side to my left, to hold letters, postcards, scraps and other detritus. My lamp and Lego figures atop, along with a cow-shaped Holstein award retrieved from the top of my father’s desk as we dismantled the house, an award presented him in 1954, most likely as part of his 4-H club membership. A stack of trade comics underneath to the right, just by a tin garbage can I’ve had since before I can recall, set in my homestead bedroom before I landed, thus becoming one of my touchstones. It is strange, the things we decide to carry with us as we go. Sometimes we get to choose, and other times, less so.
I can’t remember the last time I cleared off this particular desk, although I might have attempted a fraction of such last year, when the new printer landed. It took a whole day, and the box of books set aside still sits where it lay. Papers and manuscripts and books and journals and chapbooks replenish like lichen, or morning glory. I marvel at the outcrop. I hack at the runners.rob mclennan, the state of my desk
The effects of shared experience and sharing experiences are complex. We find another sort of sharing in the poem Tobi’s tales. [Marie Isabel] Matthews-Schlinzig describes the daily routines shared with a pet dog. The relationship between owner and dog is described as a ‘togetherness’. It is one of constant accommodation: ‘We walk, discovering: you stop, I stop, and/ vice versa. We dance, wait for each other.’ In the image of the dance, there is a suggestion of an accord, a harmonious, productive relationship: their routines are enlivening, vitalising: ‘each time we step out, it remakes us’, even though they experience together both the ‘wondrous’ and the ‘frightful’. In doing so the poet reminds us of the strength we can derive from sharing experiences, from being connected, from experiencing a sense of togetherness, not only with other human beings, but with animals, and even with the natural world itself.
In a world in which new technologies increasingly undermine the social fabric of society and drive us towards isolation, kinscapes reminds us of the importance of togetherness, of the fact that we are not alone, that fulfilment lies in our relationships with others and the world around us. It consists of striking contemporary poems, layered in meaning that reward re-reading. Matthews-Schlinzig is a truly impressive talent.Nigel Kent, Review of ‘kinscapes’ by Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig
In this collection, [Sarah A.] Chavez adds to her series of “Dear Carole” poems that have become their own body of work within her larger body of work (which can be found across her full-length collections Hands That Break & Scar (Sundress Publications, 2017) and All Day, Talking (dancing girl press, 2014)). The poems of like everything else we loved are elegiac epistolary poems, poems that celebrate and hold space for the grief and love the speaker in them feels for Carole, and doing so through the direct address of a letter. Yet, it’s the poetic sensibility on display in these poems — a sensibility able to honor a lost loved one in a way that is intimate as well as accessible — that marks the accomplishment and gift they are to the elegiac and epistolary traditions.
The poem from which the image above comes from, for example, is entitled “Dear Carole, Dermatologists Call the Body a ‘Trunk’,” a title that in its word choice and phrasing invites us into the realm of gossip and daily life. There’s an urgency to this address, a sense of having found something out that only one other person will understand, accompanied by the need to share it. One feels you are overhearing two kindred spirits alive together through the fact of the poem.
While the epistolary form necessarily marks it as a one-sided conversation, the voice in this and other poems in the series takes its time meditating and speaking to Carole in empathetic, blunt, and candid ways. The result is a voice whose honesty is animate and grows before the reader. In this way, poetry creates a space of connection, of relating, of inside jokes and acknowledged flaws, and ultimately of mattering.José Angel Araguz, microreview: like everything else we loved by sarah a. chavez
At the diner, a former Bard student of mine introduces herself to D; she’s waiting tables, tells me apologetically she’s still trying to figure out what and who she is or will be. I note that she already is; is doing fine, creative, smart, a good writer, and radiant: look at you, I tell her truthfully, you’re glowing. She smiles, embarrassed and pleased: she was shut down when I had her in class, guarded and dim. Her light is strong now, she needed some time to heal: I think about that through the hikes, how we need time to heal when trauma comes, how we guard and preserve ourselves as we must and this all takes time; glaciation, melt to lake, the shaping of landscapes and mythic story that shapes the inner lives, that places landmarks for lost walkers.JJS, Geographies
Certain regular readers of Rogue Strands have complimented me on the number of poetry blogs I manage to follow (or insinuated that I’ve got far too much time on my hands!), but I continue to make new discoveries of excellent, long-running poetry blogs that have previously slipped under my radar.
This is at once annoying and terrific. Annoying because it makes me feel useless. Terrific because each discovery provides me with the chance to devour a whole back catalogue of interesting posts.
One such case is Edmund Prestwich’s poetry blog (follow this link to read it), which is packed with in-depth reviews that get down to the nitty-gritty of books such as Hannah Lowe’s The Kids, Maurice Riordan’s Shoulder Tap and Gerard Woodward’s The Vulture, alongside nuanced analysis of poetry from the past, especially from the 20th Century. All in all, it’s a treasure trove of points of departure for poetic discussion and debate. Thoroughly recommended and it’s going straight on my Poetry Blogs List. I can only apologise for not having found it earlier…!Matthew Stewart, Edmund Prestwich’s poetry blog
Last night my friend Kim took me out for my birthday. We lay on the floor of a local yoga studio for a sound healing. Pillows, yoga mats, gongs, maybe rain sticks, singing bowls, a thunderstorm. At some point my hands began to dance. At times I thought I might be in a science fiction movie. We had little pillowed eye masks so the sense of hearing would be enhanced. It was actually really loud, and I hope my ears survive. But I think we both got sort of healed! Feeling loose and competent today. Even got my tax organizer filled out!
I had lunch with my folks, and took them some of my poems for a mini-poetry reading afterwards. My mom has been asking about my poems, so I took a batch of recently accepted ones. (When I got home, it was time to approve a proof of one of these, making it a Random Coinciday in the blog!) They read the typescript afterwards. Mom liked them a lot. Dad fell asleep but also liked them intermittently when he woke up. “They’re very spare and mature,” he said. I sure hope so!Kathleen Kirk, Sound Healing
My first AWP event is Thursday’s signing at the book fair at the BOA booth at 3:30 PM, which has its own little official graphic. I hope to see you there, because I’ll be running around like a madwoman the rest of the conference. I am nervous and excited about meeting my BOA publishing people for the first time, too. I hope I make a good impression! Someone asked me, has having a big publisher (well, relatively big, for poetry) changed your life as a poet? I would say, I’m working harder than usual so I can take advantage of things like better distribution and more marketing support. But I’ll know more once the book launches officially in May. I’m so nervous! […]
Made the trip downtown this week to spend some time with my little brother, where we stopped to have coffee in the lobby of the hip hotel Citizen, gave him a copy of my book and spent some time high up getting pictures on a cold windy night with the Space Needle. I realized there is still a lot of downtown I don’t explore on a regular basis (hello strip club across from a Sephora!) and that the Convention Center has been totally redone since the last AWP Seattle so I’ll have to relearn some of the layout. Also figuring out cool hotel bars/coffee shops in walking distance to the Convention Center is important. So even though we got blown around a bit (I almost fell over the wind was so strong! I felt like Mary Poppins!) it was great to traverse the streets on foot pre-AWP. Plus, my brother is always fun to hang out with, and I was so excited to share my book with him.Jeannine Hall Gailey, Countdown to AWP! Six Tips for Surviving AWP Seattle! Also, Flare, Corona’s World Tour Begins, Surprise Snow, Bird Visitors, and a Visit with my Brother
I said this out loud the other day off the cuff, in the context of taking classes/workshops, and it felt profoundly true: I’m at a stage in my writing where I don’t know what I need. I don’t know what I don’t know. This is a dangerous stage (and I do believe it’s a stage)(all the world’s a stage)(so to speak)(i.e., this too shall pass) — it invites hubris, because I feel like I know so much already, and it indicates a blindness: I can’t see my bad habits and weaknesses.
I don’t know what to engage in because I don’t know what will be most helpful because, really, I don’t know what my poems aren’t doing that they COULD be doing. (I mean, getting published, for one thing…) I just sense that I could be working at another level.
My instinct is to hold still for a while. Write on. Read away. But make no sudden moves. I feel like something needs to happen, but I don’t know what.Marilyn McCabe, I know ain’t no sunshine; or, On Writing and Development
A Punch in the Gut of a Star / Un Cop de Puny Al Ventre d’Una Estrella is a bilingual collaborative work by the great Anne Waldman and Emma Gomis, a writer whose work is new to me. The book opens with a pair of introductory texts in which the poets demonstrate rather than explain how they arrived at the work. These introductions discuss the language in, as opposed to of, dreams and the viability of using dream and telepathy as modes of collaboration under the conditions of Covid lockdown, with special emphasis on liminal hypnagogic states.
What follows is a longish poem in alternating English and Catalan sections, with the English translated into Catalan and Catalan into English as footnotes (with some lacunae, intentional or otherwise). The languages are further disambiguated by using bold font for the Catalan and its English transpositions. […]
The result is a complex interweaving of not two but four voices, a kind of dream fugue of language with Waldman-in-English-and-Catalan and Gomis-in-Catalan-and-English expounding theme and countertheme. as when, for example, across facing pages 24 and 25 ‘poc a poc, la paraula es desfà’ (‘little by little, the word undoes itself’) is transmuted into ‘We said green we said enough’ (‘vam dir verd vam dir prou’). Both poets are pushing up against the boundaries of language, its ability to function in a radically, if temporarily, altered world, a kind of plague dreamtime.Billy Mills, Recent Reading February 2023: A Review
Deadly nightshade gives a sense of lightness, of flying, as its
poison takes hold. The trick, they say, is to eat just enough.
I remember when the police confiscated our typewriters.
They stacked them in trucks like rescued dogs or cats.
Whose job was it to analyse what had been written?
Did they enjoy screening the imprints on the ribbons?
A scientist says a hundred species become extinct every day.Bob Mee, HIGH WINDOW
Or was it two hundred? Details stumble clumsily off in
search of a more ordered mind. On the TV an image:
beehives in a clearing in woods, a beekeeper like a ghost
in the early light. I switch over. Gary Cooper walks alone
as someone softly sings Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.
What I remember: Inside the library and all the way to the auditorium, security guards and tall men in suits lined the corridors. At a poetry reading? The evening’s playbill, handed to us by beaming librarians, announced that the Irish Consul was going to be introducing Boland. The entire event had the feel of an official state dinner—but without the food and drink.
What we didn’t know at the time was that Boland’s father had been Ireland’s first Ambassador to Great Britain, and later, to the United Nations. That Eavan Boland’s classmate was Mary Robinson, President of Ireland. Perhaps this had something to do with the formality (and sellout crowd) of the event or perhaps Bostonians simply adore anything Irish. In either case, I remember feeling every bit the gate crasher.
However, none of this mattered when Eavan Boland took the stage. Actually, she commanded the stage from her military posture to her no nonsense approach to her poems. I believe she might have referred to herself in the third person. It was as if Eavan Boland was performing a lecture on Eavan Boland.Susan Rich, Eavan Boland with Mixed Emotions
When I’m in a bad mood I wallow, I snipe, I growl, I see subterfuge where there is none. I say things I don’t mean and I know it when I say it but sometimes I can’t stop myself. Often, this happens on dreary days, overcast days, humid hot or humid wet days. Occasionally, I will be in a writing mood on days that are grey and that seems to keep the meanness in check. It’s only lately, after all these decades, that I realize I might have a kind of Seasonal Affective Disorder, except my moods change with weather instead of the season, so it’s Daily Weather Affective Disorder? Oh, I don’t have extreme highs and extreme lows. I do have some control over my emotions. I can, for instance, stop myself from posting a snarky tweet, or not say out loud what I’m thinking during a disagreement. But other times I just want to release control. I want to feel my feelings. The trick is not to hurt someone else when I do. […]
I went through a period of time, though, where I drank too much. I was aware enough at the time to know why I was drinking but I chose to do it anyway. It was an escape. I never drank to the point of losing all control or blacking out but alcohol affected my moods and my thought processes in a big way. I began to realize I was sick of it. Sick of how I felt when I drank, sick of feeling wiped out, foggy-headed, and just sad. So I quit. I haven’t had any alcohol now for years and I don’t miss it at all.
We are always and forever a work in progress, aren’t we? We are never done learning and growing and adapting. We are in a life-long school of ourselves.Charlotte Hamrick, A School of Ourselves
My long patienceDale Favier, Spring Slash
has run out. The Spring slash is burning, but no voice
comes from it. A beetle makes its slow desperate way
over the moss, while the shadows of birds and clouds
fill him with distress: O brother! We understand as much.
One of the secrets to being creative, and to creative thought is this: (which is really no secret): the more creative you are the more creative you are. So if you do one fun and creative thing in say, photography, then when you go back to the page to write something, it somehow seems to boost your ability there to think in new ways. […]
A lot of it comes down to play, and to turning things around, to see from another angle. To shift things. To pun and put together odd things. To juxtapose. When I took the photo of the rose in the coke bottle, I’d initially planned to drink the coke and then replace it with water. But then, it seemed like it would be more fun to put the rose into the coke. And then initially I put it on top of a book of women photographers, it then seemed interesting to put it on top of the book nature morte. I took the photo one day with the bud of the rose quite closed up. The outer petals were quite muted. And then I cracked open another coke a couple of days letter when the flower had opened. This is all fine, right? I find the photos amusing, if nothing else. But what happened next was that I came up with three new ideas for the book I’m writing. Coincidence? Maybe.Shawna Lemay, Consider the Opposite
For me, a poem tends to begin in one of three ways: (1) An image. Something I see or encounter, or from my memories, that I find arresting, or compelling. Something that isn’t literally shiny (especially since the image doesn’t have to be visual although, for me, it oftentimes is), but feels “shiny” inside my brain and continues to linger or shimmer or hold space within my mind until it becomes a kind of a question to which a poem might respond, but not necessarily answer. (2) A line, or a snippet of a line. Something that has a sense of music or propulsion, and is also language that I don’t really quite understand. Once again, this creates a question to which a poem might respond, but not necessarily answer. (3) A strange and compelling fact, usually scientific, frequently zoological, that brings me delight. From one of these starting points, I look for patterns, or connections, and I usually start to collect other images, pieces of language, or sometimes additional facts—oftentimes the more disparate on the surface the better—and I start to clink them together and see if I can make them sing.Lee Ann Roripaugh : part five (Thomas Whyte)
This lateLuisa A. Igloria, On Fission
in life, I am still always trying to resist
words like forlorn, with their long
centuries of loss behind them, their
habit of loosening whatever they
were attached to or bound. Bound as in
bond, as in a chemistry of atoms, their
orbitals and shells able to hold only
so much until the moment of breaking.
Years ago, when I volunteered in fundraising for WHYY in Philadelphia we used the letters OoB to indicate a business which was no longer there (so don’t try to call them for a donation). Sin Fronteras Journal is now OoB, out of business.
We lost most of our volunteers over the past two years, and found no new ones who might help us transition to digital publication. We wanted to do this because hard copies are more and more expensive and frequently are not in high enough demand to pay their way. We did not succeed.
I didn’t want to make the decision by myself to shut down the magazine, which had lasted 26 years, but in the end, I am the only one here, so down it must go.
The draft of our last issue, #26, is available for viewing at http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com.Ellen Roberts Young, Sin Fronteras Journal Closes
This is a relatively small issue, as far as lit mags go. Personally, I appreciated the size. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when reading online magazines. There is so much to take in and without being able to make notes and engage with the content in a physical way, it can overwhelm. (Maybe I’m just getting old.) At any rate, I appreciated the simple and straightforward structure of this magazine, its visual elegance, clear and easy navigability and the editorial choice to provide quality over excess material.
There is also sex! Indeed, tucked into this elegant and quiet-seeming journal that evokes the cool air and open spaces of the Pacific Northwest, there is a section for erotic content.Becky Tuch, Let’s Discuss! Pacifica Literary Review, issue 19.1
Speaking of stirs: like many others, I appreciated Becky Tuch’s recent investigation into publishers with whom I have entanglements. When I published my first book, Heathen, with C&R, the press was owned by Ryan Van Cleave and Chad Prevost, who treated me well. After the press was sold and the new owners, Andrew Sullivan and John Gosslee, were visiting my region, they reached out, we got together for coffee, and they invited me to submit any book mss I was working on (at the time, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, so it might have been 2015 or 2016). I didn’t submit the book to C&R. It wasn’t ready yet but I also felt uneasy about the interaction, not that I was able to put my finger on why. I’m not saying you should trust my instinct or my memory, but for whatever it’s worth, a random detail that made an impression: the editors seemed incredulous when they found out I wasn’t paid for serving as an AWP board member. I was surprised that they were surprised. While board members at nonprofits get some free meals and similar perks, it’s because they’re attending meetings, getting VIPs to the event on time, etc. They’re working hard as a gift to the organization, although like other professional service, being on the AWP board can make you and your writing a notch more visible, a kind of compensation that did weigh with me. Anyway, at that point John Gosslee invited me to submit to Fjords Review, then accepted and published two poems. Now I wonder with chagrin if my name in the magazine or on the press’ backlist could have made anyone feel safer submitting–whether I helped credential businesses that have done harm.
Poetry’s Possible Worlds is in part about my father’s long cons. There have been too many liars and gaslighters in my life, so I have deep sympathy for people who get sucked in. In this case, while there are still some authors defending C&R and I have no first-hand experience of any unprofessional behavior, I’ve now heard credible stories of scams and damage. A colleague I trust and admire, Brenna Womer, is quoted in Tuch’s piece; I’d previously seen her tweet about Gosslee’s abusive behavior, and I believe her completely. I had the vague sense, in fact, that he had stepped down from mastheads in the wake of multiple #MeToo allegations, and that even Andrew Sullivan had distanced himself from his collaborator. (One of Tuch’s key findings, though, is that Sullivan sometimes goes by Andrew Ibis. Even if that didn’t make me wonder about an ominous Thoth allusion, I’d find the name-switching problematic. Authors use pen names, but how would that serve an entrepreneur seeking work as an editor and agent?)
In short, while there’s some rhetorical twistiness in Tuch’s piece–asking questions to convey reportorial skepticism, then answering them with evidence that’s more suggestive than conclusive–I find the gist persuasive and am grateful for her research. It’s sad, though, that exposés can’t put scammers out of business without hurting the scammed. Personally, I’m just fine–it was a long time ago and I have other creds. Yet C&R, even under its current leadership, has published good books, and those authors don’t deserve a press boycott. I guess that’s why I’d rather blog about all this than tweet; I keep glimpsing a star of clear wrongdoing surrounded by a nebula of mess.Lesley Wheeler, Sprains, scams, and spells
Today’s annotation isn’t a poem but a playlist. I love making playlists, though I still slip and call them “mixes.” I was a mixtape teenager—like, actual cassette tapes—and a mix CD college student. Mixes were Gen X social currency. We made them for our friends; we made them for crushes; we made them for our exes to make them want us back. And we put an incredible amount of thought into every song, every transition, and every detail, down to the handwritten and cut-to-fit-the-case liner notes.
My first iPod had a click wheel and was the size of a toaster, and I took it everywhere. I had (and still have!) an iTunes playlist called “Writing” that was full of music I listened to while working on poems: Mojave 3, REM, Gillian Welch, Low, Wilco, Elliott Smith, The Decemberists.
These days, I stream music on my phone when I’m on the go, and I prefer vinyl on my stereo here at home. No matter where I am, I listen to music constantly. I listen in the kitchen while cooking. I balance my phone on the edge of the bathroom sink so I can listen in the shower. I wear AirPods while walking my dog or running errands in my neighborhood. And yes, I still listen to music while writing.
I’ve heard many writers say that they can’t listen to music while they work, or at least not music with lyrics. (In which case I recommend Dirty Three, Explosions in the Sky, and Godspeed You Black Emperor! I bet Sigus Ros, while not instrumental, would also fit the bill.) It doesn’t bother me to hear someone else’s words while I’m conjuring my own. When I’m writing, the songs become part of the weather; they help set the tone for the work.Maggie Smith, Annotated Playlist
I was listening to the singer Connie Converse on Friday, and the last song on the album was called I Have Considered The Lilies. I was struck by the line in the chorus about “handing over my pencil and pen”. I’d certainly felt like doing that a few times in the last week, but I’m glad I’ve ploughed on. I think I now have the next draft of the book ready to go. I shall be sending it off shortly.
And the song also reminded me I’d not read the latest edition of Bad Lilies. I can’t share specific poems from what feels like quite a damp and slightly biblical issue (and given Connie describes the song as coming from a biblical text at the start this makes sense), but have a read…There is plenty to enjoy.
Finally, I was struck by this article this week. It discusses the time Marianne Moore was invite to name cars…Her suggestions weren’t used, but I think I’d rather drive the Dearborn Diamante instead of the Edsel.Mat Riches, MATGPT, Considered Lilies and poets naming cars
I had a random thought float across my brain as I was spreading a quilt over the bed: I wish that Kathleen Norris had a new book out. And then I wondered if maybe she did–but instead of turning the computer back on, I went to my bookshelf and pulled out Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, the first book of hers that I read and loved. […]
Here is a quote from the book, which talks about the Dakotas both as a physical location and something larger: “Dakota is a painful reminder of human limits, just as cities and shopping malls are attempts to deny them” (p. 2). As I write these words, I’m thinking that the season of Lent can also be a painful reminder of human limits. Our Lenten disciplines can be a way of helping us think about the ways that we want to avoid thinking about these limits and perhaps a way of helping us embrace these limits.
As we eat our Shrove Tuesday pancakes or our Mardi Gras King Cakes, as we indulge and/or plan for how we will avoid indulging, let us plan for our Lenten disciplines. Or maybe discipline is not the word for our current time–we’ve had an awful lot of discipline imposed on us for the past few years. Maybe heightened attention would be better–or here’s something I like even better: enrichment.
Let us plan our Lenten enrichments!Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Lenten Enrichments
There is no sign of the mountains, aRajani Radhakrishnan, Part 35
heavy smog hangs over all of Kathmandu,
as if the sky has drawn a curtain. Believe, it
says. Believe what you cannot see, still is. We
rise higher in a tiny aeroplane until we are
face to face with the mightiest of them all.
Sagarmatha. Chomolungma. Those who
cannot endure the climb, come to see it
like this. There is silence in the cabin. Even
the cameras are still.
February 26th is just another day, another year–and at this point, my mother has very little sense of time. It is likely that my mother’s life-shifts are in the past, and the next shift (there’s no escaping it) will be death; but who can tell? My mother’s ninetieth feels like a huge shift in my life as her daughter, as an adult, as a mother to grown people, and as a writer in the world. Why this is so, I can’t say. It’s certainly something I’ll be reflecting on often in the coming years, and the reflections emerge in my writing. As I work on revising the poems I’ve drafted in the past 5 years, the topics of aging, mortality, aphasia, and memory keep showing up. Things I can consider myself fortunate, perhaps, to be preoccupied with, rather than being forced into confronting a natural disaster (Pakistan, Turkey, Syria, and others) or war (Ukraine, Syria, and other regions).
Here’s part of a poem I’ve been wrestling with lately.
… –I would untangle
my mother’s mind if I could be let access to its
recesses, but those stay hidden like the life in hedge
and meadow, in the woody undergrowth,
unknowns twisted together, impenetrable. …
How fortunate for me that my mother is not far away, is well-housed and safely cared-for, and has had a long, creative, fruitful life to celebrate this weekend. Nonetheless, the grief inheres. The hardest shift? I miss the person she has been all my life until recently. And yet: here she is. Herself, more impenetrable than ever. And loved.Ann E. Michael, Life-shifts
I stumbled recently into a strange land of videos of women, mostly in their thirties, talking about their rejection of hustle culture, which is countered by the crazy morning routines and discussions of productiveness and goals and hustling by another set of women, usually in their twenties. Like on instagram, there is a lot of workout gear and yoga and juicing. Journaling and 6AM wakeups, and reading that Atomic Habits book everyone somehow has. The thirty-somethings live in idyllic places like France or some countryside somewhere, drink a lot of tea, read many novels, are usually married or partnered, and talk about “slow” living. They may make a living off youtube ads or selling art on etsy shops. One does something with astrology for money that I don’t think I understand.
Maybe it’s a decade-of-life thing, and I’m not sure where I stand as a woman in her forties on this equation or if it matters where I stand at all. Truly, I can see both sides, but also tend to roll my eyes at people who talk about rejecting hustle who seem to be enjoying a financially stable existence that doesn’t depend on whether they hustle or not (likely family money or a working spouse). It reminded me of a recent article about a woman who was encouraged to step away from hustling but feared the ground she’d lose if she did as a writer and whether or not she’d be able to pay her rent or eat and I related so hard. There isn’t really a safety net sometimes, so all you have is hustle. I also have a similar eyeroll for discussions of minimalism, which are easy to have if you have the cushioning to replace the things you threw out if you need them later.
But also I think the hustle I’ve always done, even when working for somewhere else. There was a sense of stability (well not much) but I needed to hustle, to cram in as much as I could, do as much as I could. And in many ways this is still true. Because I don’t have that stability anymore, I hustle quite a lot to make sure I have pillars of income to keep things afloat should any of them fail. I want to keep things humming along with the press because it feels like important work, so I wind up hustling there. I need to hustle with my own writing and art because these are the things I am most passionate about and feel I should spend my time doing. It’s not about awards and publications so much as it is about putting work out and being creatively productive as an artist and writer. This is the most valuable way–the most content way–I can think of being in the world. I want it, and only parts of it even seem like work. I’m not sure that deciding all I was going to do was drink tea and read novels, tempting as that is, would make me quite as happy as making things, doing things. Maybe the key is finding balance.Kristy Bowen, hustle and slowness
A turkey vulture glides above his head. He raises one hand
to shield his eyes, captures the image with his thumb.
Rousseau to Voltaire: “I hate you … But I hate you as a man
better fitted to love you, had you so willed.”
There’s a purple finch on the wire under the water tower,
balanced in that way birds can and humans aspire to.
He imagines the feeling of falling, or feels it, truly –
his chest tightening at the thought.Jason Crane, POEM: Jean-Jacques And The Finch
When he looks again the finch is gone.
In the hallway just outside the preschool, pictures of past synagogue presidents. First names: Jacob, Jacob, Louis, Max, Adolph, Jacob, Adolf, Max, Moses, Adolph, Samuel, Sam, Aaron, Joe, Joseph, Moses, Leo, Adam. At a certain point, the name Adolf falls out of fashion.
At another point, Hitler’s moustache and my grandfather’s traded places. Did they pass in the street and one jumped off the upper lip of the other? Did the Führer sneeze during a salute and my grandfather, hiding in an alley, sneezed at the exact same time and so the trade was made? Such mysteries can never be known. Eventually, my grandfather and the new moustache emigrated to South Africa. My grandfather’s original moustache hid beneath Berlin on Hitler’s lip, then was blown away with the rest of Hitler’s face as the Allies entered the city and Hitler shot Eva Braun and then himself.
The idea that a growth of hair could have a name is strange but also telling. Van Dyck, Fu Manchu, Charlie Chaplin. Did my grandfather initially adopt the look because he was emulating the Little Tramp, Oliver Hardy, a truncated Groucho Marx? Pratfalling his way out of history, somehow escaping what he knew was soon to occur?Gary Barwin, HITLER’S MOUSTACHE, MY GRANDFATHER’S LIP
which sounds are most remembered by rain
which language speaks through seed
whose love is snow on a black woolen sleeveGrant Hackett [no title]
The weather has not improved. No good news coming in my inbox. But still, I seem to have a new perspective on things. I feel something much smaller than ambition, but there are gears turning again, propelling me forward with a sense of identity.
I think I remember being this.
I hear buzzing from a mason wasp’s pot. It resonates in my chest. In a good way – because moving outward from here is a field-full of purple heather, and beyond that the woods where the songbirds are about to return.Ren Powell, On the Cusp