Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wait. . .What?

My dreams last night were full of writing. I even admired it!  But like this early  morning's fog, it's all a bit vague. I've been writing this morning, but it's not the CNF created in my dream work.  I'm hoping something will trigger my memory.I should keep a notebook by my bedside.  To jot down my dreams . . .hmm.

Long ago, I was friends with a younger poet Anne Bromley, who used to have a dream catcher notebook.  I loved Anne for her spirit and poetry.  She was the little sister I never had.  She used to laugh at this notion.   
She went to Charlottesville VA, fell in love with a man named Mark, and lived on a farm that had the visitation of wild horses.  She would talk about their hoofbeats at night, summoning beneath her bedroom window.     Last time I saw her was 31 years ago. She came to visit me right after my daughter Meghan Rose was born. I wonder if she's still in Charlotteville?  I hope she's well and still writing.  I should look her up.  It should be so easy, right?

I don't know why my life has been filled with these kinds of relationships.  Real friendships, then the drifting away.  Life filling up the distances.  Children born. That was the real game changer.  Having a family is a mysterious dynamic. It requires so much of . . . well, everything. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fisher Gothic!

Fisher Gothic!  Jade and I had our picture taken at the Student Art Showcase on 12/4/2014 at St. John Fisher.  Art Students in Liz Durand's class created this photo opportunity.  Many posed.
Sch fun!

The Art Show was a huge success.  Over 90 attended and stayed a long time, talking about art, their projects and so on.

Big Thank you to Nancy Greco, Heather Erwin, Liz Durand!
The Arts Minor Faculty at St John Fisher are the best!

Ninth Day of Christmas Writing Challenge

It's December 16th and all is well.  Had two terrific planning meetings yesterday.  I feel energized!  Looking forward to these upcoming collaborations.

For today's writing challenge, I thought I would put up some subject prompts:

1. Cars, Dinners, Dives

2. Baskets, boxes, bins.

3. Keys.

Ready, Set, Go!  (Poem, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction.)

For prose, you decide word limit.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Eleventh and Tenth Day of Christmas Sans Holiday Music!

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and began working on poems, submitting work, sending emails.  Accomplished a lot.  Drank too much organic coffee. 6:30 a.m., showered, dressed, ready for the day.  Made an eight apple pie and pecan turtles.  Timing is essential in this process.  I kept time.
Made over 55  pecan turtles, without any mishaps.

 My focus on the 12 Days of Christmas has been poetry, past two days.  Beginning with haiku/senryu. Have been concentrating on honing idea and image in these new offerings that tumbled out of me.  I'm getting better at these forms.  Polishing them to become the crystals I like to hang on fishing line in my kitchen window.  Multifaceted, emitting shafts of light. That is the haiku/senryu I want, the ones that contain enough mystery to keep me coming back to re-read, again and again.

Moved on to writing Haibun, which is the Japanese prose poem that ends with a haiku/senryu. This too informs the rest of my writing. I have always loved compression, distilling language to its essence, its truth.

The weather is raw and damp.  Snow that came last week is melting slowly.  Gray light, shades of winter coming closer and closer.  It's a good time to work.


Tenth Day of Christmas, I woke up at 6:30 a.m.  I made coffee.  It's Monday and I have a lot to do today.
 Meetings this afternoon regarding writing residences and professional development workshops. I may go for a walk this morning.  I need Ontario's ions, the lake air to fill my lungs.

My youngest son is winging his way home today from Germany. Haven't seen him in 2.8 years. He'll be landing in NYC to join his sister and we will be joining them for the holidays.   We will give new meaning to the SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS.

I haven't done any writing yet.  Will resume work on a lyric CNF I began a while ago. Found it yesterday in my poking around some older files and wondered why I didn't finish it.  Most likely distractions, the push and pull of daily life.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Challenge. Please Join me!

Oh my, my last post was October 25th, with its held-in-flight maple leaf, and that is what my life has been like since that date until now.  Yesterday at 2:08 p.m. I entered grades for 126 students.  I read and read and read for five days and four nights.  Let the bells ring!  The Fall 2014 semester is complete and I am satisfied.

This morning, once again I'm  up before dawn.  Hard to break habits; I keep very strange hours.  It puzzles everyone who receives emails from me in the wee hours of morning. I prefer to work in these hours when I am alone with my thoughts, my full attention on whatever is in front of me.  I do sleep, and I can fall asleep in a second.  That is before my head hits the pillow, I'm gone . . . And when I wake, I'm ready. 

So here I am, thinking about how I'm going to spend every delicious free moment of this holiday season. 

Of course, I'm going to have a lot of fun.  After all, I bought cocktail napkins: "KEEP CALM & JINGLE ON."  Good motto, I think.

I have plans to make my traditional Christmas fudge and Santa Beards and Pecan Turtles.

This is our holiday card from Red Rooster Farm.  Homegrown Cherry Bomb peppers placed in an accidental arrangement on our porch glass table and dusted with the first snow of the season.  I saw the image when I was gazing out the picture window facing the orchard.  Oh, quick, take a picture of this, I said to the one who listens to me ( acting as art director). Viola!  We hope you have a Hot Holiday!  Photo by Peter Tonery.

 So, you may be wondering what the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge is.  Beginning today, I am going to write every morning, with purpose.  Any genre, form  X 12 Days = New Work to launch me into the New Year.  Please join me. I will post my progress  in daily reports. 

The reason why I need to do this is to get back to the rhythm I had established over the summer.  I created a month long  CNF lyric essay challenge.  I promised  to write the baker's dozen and did, and to my delight 12 of the 13 essays have been accepted for publication.  The 13th essay has not been submitted. I don't know why I'm holding onto it, but I am.  Maybe it will be released in time.

Also, in a catch-up (not ketchup) conversation with Sarah Cedeno, I've decided to get back to my novella, which has been patiently waiting for me to return.  Sarah has had the recent experience of accomplishing this form, and I loved listening to her yesterday at the SUNY Brockport English Dept Holiday  Get Together. So, Sarah, if you ever read this, you have given me  the nudge in the right direction. So my plan is to dust off those pages and re-emerge into the lives of my characters who do as they please.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Up In the Air!

Photo by Michael Czarnecki, Fall 2014
used with his permission.

Autumn.  Say it aloud. Hear its sound of yum; taste it with your tongue. This season of weight and delight offers us a full share of its hours. Don't miss out on
that walk in the park, kicking the leaves, or sharing a cup of something with your family and friends.

I have been tying to slow things down a bit; making a conscious effort to enjoy the people I'm with when I'm with them, especially my students (all 102 of them) this semester, who are truly some kind of wonderful.

It's getting dark early now.  Soon, the clocks will click backwards, and we will return to the rhythm I love best to everything.

You don't know how I love taking back that hour.

I confess this week, actually starting  last Sunday night, I was praying for a snow day.  I need a day to just hunker down without any interruption. (Who am I kidding?) I think this is the reason why I get up in the middle of the night to do work.  This weekend I will be another grading marathon.  I think I have close to 600 pages of quilt essays, which I have started to read, but haven't had big chunks of time to get it all done.  This weekend is do or die.

I am glad to report that the harvest is nearly complete.  Still have to pick more apples and carrots ( as most of you know, I planted over 400 carrots-- all named Jack). As soon as this is done, we will be tuning over the garden.  On Halloween, we celebrate our 26th year living on the farm.

So far, so good.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Upcoming Just Poets Event: Poet James Longenbach November 1, 2014


JUST POETS Special Guest 
James Longenbach
Nov. 1st  at 1:30p.m.
St. John Fisher College
Campus Center Conference Rm, 2nd floor

Come join us for a very special meeting of Just Poets on Saturday, November 1st at 1:30, when we welcome James Longenbach of the University of Rochester. James will be speaking on the craft of poetry writing, and then will answer questions submitted by you.

Just Poets meets for programs and workshops from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at St. John Fisher College in the Campus Center (COP) conference room on the second floor on the first Saturday of every month. We’ll have refreshments and several of Jim’s books available for purchase at the November 1 meeting.

Interested in attending? 
Please RSVP Celeste Schantz at or respond Yes or No on the FB events page (forthcoming on the JP Facebook page). 

Do you have questions about craft that you’d like to submit?
E-mail them to by October 25th.

James Longenbach is a poet and a critic whose most recent collection of poems, The Iron Key, is a meditation on the conditions and consequences of beauty. His critical work, The Art of the Poetic Line, is an account of the work of lineation in free-verse, syllabic, and metered poetry (ranging from Shakespeare to Ashbery). He has also written widely about modern and postmodern poetry, sometimes emphasizing the historicity of poetic language (Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things) but also exploring the ways in which poems resist their historical situation (The Resistance to Poetry).   See you there!