Saturday, February 2, 2019

February 2nd: Early Spring in Ground hog's sight!

Photo by  P. Tonery: Sun Dog,  Winter Morning

In an eyeblink of New Year, January came and went. Our weather  (Polar Vortex) has been cold to the bone. The Spring semester at St. John Fisher started three weeks ago, and The College at Brockport started this week. So far, all is well.

Today, the Ground Hog didn't see his shadow, so he predicts the promise of an early Spring-- make it so weather gods.

In 2018, I had the grand total of 106  acceptances (poetry, fiction, essays, reviews). 100 acceptance has been my annual   goal for several years , and I have been a bit short. I was so surprised that I actually did it this year.  I feel extremely fortunate to have my work appear in so many fine journals. Now I am working on  a new collection of poems and a collection of 100 100 word stories.  I began this work in December 2018, during those limbo holiday weeks, when everything is strangely quiet and time seems to move at a slower pace. Now I am not sure if I am on foot or horseback, and the beginning of every new semester is wild with do this--
no, do this-- and somehow, everything gets done.

Recent work published in December: 

Dime Show Review: (100 word Story)

 Poems in Ekphrastic Review.

Poems in Burning House:

Consider sending your creative work to these fine journals.

 Quote for the Day:

“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is life itself. And I think the world tends to forget that this is the ultimate significance of the body of work each artist produces. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.”
                                                        ~ Stanley Kunitz

Friday, December 21, 2018

Dish Garden  called "Scopello"  created by M.J.Iuppa in June 2018. Photo by Meghan Tonery

Dreaming of a small villa on the terraced hillside of Scopello . . .

It's merely days before Christmas, 2018.  My two youngest children celebrate their birthdays this week: Meghan Rose on 12/18 and Nick on 12/21 (today!)

I had robotic gyn surgery on 12/17, and even though it was a radical procedure, I am doing well.  They give this a recovery of 1-2 weeks; yet, by yesterday, I  am feeling better and better. I actually went out and did a bit of xmas shopping with Peter and then we decided to grab some dinner. It was so much fun to be out and about.  I am pain free now too.  The miracle of modern medicine. What would normally be 6-8 weeks if it had been a laparotomy is now an eye blink of recovery time.   So grateful for my good care and results. It's been quite an adventure since August, when  I was thrown into uncharted territories. Every week has tested my ability to handle the challenges I was (still am, but not much longer) facing.  I have had good care from family to friends to all (medical professionals) who have guided me thus far.  For the past three days, I have been both retrospective and introspective about what has transpired from end of August until now. I have been doing everything to keep my life as normal as possible.  I have not played the I'm not well card at all.  Whenever anyone asked me for help, I was there for them, and vice versa.  It has been salvation.

So here we are and it's nearly Christmas.  Wishing everyone peace, sending everyone love.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Poetry (re) Views . . .17 years later . . .

For the past month, I have been rereading some poetry reviews by David Orr that appeared in Poetry magazine in 2001. Orr is a tough critic. Much like Dorothy Parker.  Not afraid to say: ' Antony and Cleopatra travel on the Nile on a barge, and the barge sank.' Orr makes me a bit nervous. In one review, he considers the mundane and the concept of what is publishable;that is, poems that are thoughtful, polished, and  unsurprising.  Unsurprising = competent =  in his words 'eminently publishable.' I continue reading and realize his point is not all published poems deserve to be collected into a volume of poetry. He detests 'wise' poems and prefers short lyrics. He wants verbal facility, but sneers at poetry professionals. He thinks these poets and their wholly publishable poems are foolish; at best offering the reader a metaphorical muddle, rather than something that moves beyond its gesture. Orr seems to be quickly bored by the perfected endings. Most often, couplets, which aren't incompetent, and  most often are effective and moving, but have become the poet's formula-- the "Wait, for it, big ending." Obviously, in 2001, he was hell bent on putting the spotlight on the seven steps to writing the essential "Workshop Lyric Poem." He had had enough of the same old, same old  life lessons.  He wants something more.

It must still be true.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018! Is the Coast Clear?

Photo: P.Tonery, taken several years ago,on Red Rooster Farm.  I love this picture.

Yesterday, we celebrated Thanksgiving at the the farm, with 18 family members!  It's been fun having my adult children home for the holidays.  I am feeling particularly blessed this year. We had a great harvest. Our root cellar is full of many jars-- all lined up and ready to make something delicious on cold winter nights.  Ah, when we open those jars, we can smell and taste the best days of summer.  Have given a lot of our efforts away, and still  we have an abundance.

It literally took more than 10 weeks to do all the processing, which was right in sync with the Fall semester and grading, grading, grading. And on the eighth day, they rested . . . No such luck.

So it's onward.  Now we have a few quiet days before the real marathon begin. The end of the semester is always a wild whirlwind. I have many conferences scheduled for next week. Looking forward to talking to my many creative writers about their work, which should strike terror into many writers' hearts, because they are the new batch of competition.  I have some exceptional writers at both colleges.  All of my classes have been going well this semester.  I have 5 in total.  147 students. All writing. I grade approx. 294 papers per week.  I have a batch to do this weekend, and then the final portfolios. We only have  two weeks left of school, then finals, and once I cross the finish line: Jingle Bells!

Enjoy those leftovers!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

End of Summer . . . Let the Harvest begin . . .

Photo: Karen Iuppa

Suddenly, it's September.   I have been up since 4 a.m.  Putting by tomato sauce and getting ready for
the day of doing, this and that.  Labor Day weekend.  The crickets  are still pulsating beneath the open window.  I can smell the campfires from Hamlin State park. Summer is smouldering . . .

Brockport's Fall semester began this past week. St. John Fisher begins next week.  It's hard to believe that I am standing at this threshold.

A lot is happening . . . has happened.

Here's an update:

This is a link to the WAYO FM interview taped on 7/19/2018. Rochester poet Al Abonado is the host of this radio show that promotes local poets, poetics, and celebrates recent poetry books.  Al is a smart interviewer and close reader, and brings out the best in his guests.   This is my second appearance on his show.  I have had the good fortune to have a new poetry collection This Thirst released in December 2017(Kelsay Books).  Besides the direct link, you can listen to the archive of poetry interviews on the station's web site.  He is accruing a significant historical collection.  It's impressive and worth  every minute you tune in. 

In publishing news:

Thus far, the Sicily essays (3) and poems (8) have been accepted for publication:

Here are the recent links to published poems; essays will be forthcoming in September and November 2018:

Mediterranean Poetry

One Sentence Poems

So grateful to the editors who  have accepted this work.  I have more to write, but settling back in our daily life has made me  focus on what's happening around me.  This summer has been a waterfall of creativity. I am not sure where all of this energy is coming from, but it's a godsend. I am seeing things that I've overlooked.  Thank goodness for the 100 days of summer.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Oh Sicily, I miss you . . .

Photo: P. Tonery

Since returning home from Sicily, I have been steeped in creative work and tending our vegetable gardens, which are growing by leaps and bounds.

These are the pendants  I made, using the collected seaglass and lentil size stones I found on the shingle beach in Scopello.

I have been writing a lot of essays and poems, trying to recapture the best of the experience. (Some of the travel is a bit daunting, especially when you're flying with over 500 people.  I think I learned something to make those flights a bit kinder. Seats on the sides of plane or just behind the walls that divide travel classes have a bit more room.  If you are given the opportunity to select seats, then pick these areas. You may have to pay a bit more, but it will be worth it. Trust me, I know the difference in leg room.) Thus far, 3 poems and two essays have been selected for publication. What a thrill that is, especially when it's challenging to make scenes as poignant as being there.
Maybe that is always the challenge. Besides writing about Sicily, I have been working on my 100 word story collection.  Hoping to put together one hundred 100 word stories. I am writing 1-2 stories a day.Everything and anything can trigger a story. The characters, for the most part, are quirky and behaving badly, or are strangely righteous, or  just trying to get by, day by day, and make sense of their lives. These stories are so different from my poetry, and I am having a lot of fun writing these terse ironic scenes. It's deliciously wicked, letting readers "see"  the underside of situations.

Here's a link to a 100 word story that I wrote last summer.  It was accepted in the fall, and has just been published on Lost Balloon

The 100 word story form is a bit addictive, too.

Our gardens are doing quite well, especially having the two week late start.  I think we're catching up.
I cannot believe how we have managed to stay ahead of weeds. Seriously, this is a miracle.  It's been so hot here.  No rain for days, weeks to be exact; then, this past week we have had some slow soaking rain.  The plants have jumped in size and fullness, especially squash plants. We had to water, which  works, but rain water is the real elixir. We're going to take pictures today and I will post.

I think I did something smart in the section that holds the squash type plants: zucchini, yellow, acorn, butternut, etc. these are shorter rows, north to south, whereas the other rows are longer, east to west.
Consequently, the squash vines are contained to their area and not running amok across the whole garden, which is quite large.

In other news, several weeks ago, we had a terrible disaster with our chickens and turkeys, which were growing up so nicely. A fierce raccoon came in and killed all but three birds. Ugh.  We lost 20 birds. I was heartsick.

Now we have that situation solved, and have acquired some new birds. To everything, there is a season . . .


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Imagine beauty. Imagine Sicily

Castellammare d. Golfo, photo, K. Iuppa 2018

I went to Sicily with my sisters and their children and my brother's oldest daughter, and my youngest children. We stayed in Scopello Sicily, which is near this vista of Castellammare d. Golfo. We (my family)stayed in  a cozy villa  perched on a cliff that overlooked the Tirreno Sea. My sisters and their children and my Brother's oldest daughter (all first cousins) stayed in a very glamorous, modern villa, with a pool, that slept 12!  Truthfully, I loved where we were staying and didn't want to leave it. My sister Andrea made this family trip possible.  We celebrated her upcoming "wisdom" birthday.

I kept a travel journal, with small drawings.  I was faithful to entering the day to day experiences, large and small. I wrote some creative work while I was away,; but, since I've returned, I have been writing every day. Poems, essays.  My perspective has changed completely, and I feel utterly calm.  Not sure if that's a jet lag hangover or not, but I think I have come to terms with a lot of life that I can't change.

I swam in the Tirreno Sea with my sisters and nieces and daughter!  The shingled beach was hard to nagivate bare foot, much less with flip flops. I persevered, tho!  Walked the beach collecting small lentil-sized stones of blues, tans, and whites, and sea glass mostly green; some amber. When I came home, I decided to make keepsake lockets with my collection.  So far, I have completed four in rose gold and silver. I think I have enough for one more.  Then, I went to the garden store and bought an assortment of cacti and succulents that resemble or are related to the cacti in Sicily and have created dish gardens with the  larger stones I pick up from the shingle beach.

I miss Sicily.  So does, my husband. As we begin to play catch up with our planting here, we talk about our trip and what it meant to us. We have two countries stamped into our passports. Soon, we will have more.  I love history and culture. I loved being in crowds where I looked like the people.
A salesperson in Castellammare d. Golfo asked me what town I was from. I think Peter and I could settle into that landscape and thrive. There are no street signs, anywhere. Yet, we were able to find our way, even in the dark!  At first, we  turned around a lot; but then, we became quite certain of the right direction.  Even, called lost travelers "tourists," when they  had to turn  their cars around. Too funny. We made our own mental maps, with landmarks.  The roads are actually quite good, but narrow and "blind" turns.  Many corners had  mirrors.  So you had to look left, right, up, around while driving. Thankfully, in Sicily, they drive on the right side of the road. So, that was a shared
driving expectation.

I will be a bit more faithful to this blog, now that  it is summer, or nearly summer.