Thursday, February 26, 2009

Random thoughts . . .

My mom passed away 12 years ago. This is the season she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. It's strange how the twitching light of late February and early March affects me and I think of her and those first weeks of "cancer again." I've been wanting to talk to her. I used to call her a lot about nothing, and we'd talk about everything and nothing. And when she died, I suddenly had no one. Yesterday, in my auto pilot hurry, I accidentally dialed her phone number. Heard the buzz: "Sorry, this phone number is temporarily unassigned." It startled me, realizing what I had done. There are no accidents. Right now I would give my eye teeth and half a ring finger to talk to her.

Yesterday, driving east along the parkway (road built to go nowhere), the lake (Ontario) was breath-taking, looked like a Georgia O'Keefe painting, a thousand small icebergs floating beneath a headstrong blue sky, and sun everywhere, not a shadow in sight. Watched a pair of mute swans fly overhead-- soon the fields will be filled with Canada geese and Mute and Trumpeter Swans. Wanted to stop on the side of the road, but there is no stopping these days. Everything is moving.

I'm entering an extremely busy time of year. Little rest. And now, suddenly Lent, how can that be?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

Went to see my daughter Meghan Rose Tonery perform in the Reader Theatre Winterfest at the JCC. The play was The Triangle Factory Fire Project by Christopher Piehler in collaboration with Scott Alan Evans. Jean Gordon Ryon directed the reading-performance. I've always like Jean's interpretation of plays. She understands how lyrical language dreams of possibilites-- the unexpected can happen. This play requires the actors to play many parts, so they're not identified as one part, but add up to a representation of humanity. The play takes place in the early 1900's but you can certainly see connections to 9/11/2001. I thought it was powerful.

Next play at the JCC's Reader Theatre Winterfest will be Sunday, March 8th at 2 p.m.
Women's Minyan by the Israeli playwright Naomi Ragan directed by Sandi Henschel
"She was the wife of a Rabbi and mother of twelve. Her crime was not that she escaped the horror of abuse. It was that she broke the silence."

My daughter Meghan will be reading-performing in this too.


Still chilly out. I have a cold. A real nasty cold. I thought I was going to escape getting one, but, I've been burning the candle at two ends. So pass the tissues -- achoo! My sinuses hurt.
My teeth hurt. My nose is red. This is not pretty.

Have to gear up for the week now. Ugh. Hope to see some of the Oscars. I actually saw a lot of the movies nominated, so it will be fun to see who takes the awards.

Hope you all have a good week. We're slowly heading towards Spring. We saw a lot of geese and swans this afternoon. They're starting to come back.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 18, 2009

I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to post assignments and grade papers and write recommendations.
So far, so good. After working a couple of hours( the farmhouse is so quiet in the early morning-- all are still asleep), I had a bowl of Cheerios because I really do like those little oat life rings. Every time I plunge my spoon into the blue bowl, I think: save my clogged arteries. Who knows if this is going to work, but I'm exercising more and watching my intake of the four basic food groups: salt, butter, fat, and chocolate.

When my daughter sees me working on papers, she decides it's a really good time to talk to me, in that I got something really juicy to tell you. Any other time, she's like a baseball player and reduced to monosyllabic answers: yes. no, shrug. shrug.

She'll be up soon and will have some great tidbit to share about the play she's rehearsing right now. I'll get to see it on Sunday.

My feet are cold. I've been sitting here for a long time.

Have been reading Ted Kooser'sDelights & Shadows.

One favorite among many:

The Necktie

His hands fluttered like birds,
each with a fancy silk ribbon
to weave into their nest,
as he stood at the mirror
dressing for work, waving hello
to himself with both hands.

Ted Kooser, Delights & Shadows

This makes me smile. It's a perfect small world poem.

Today I'm waving to all of you--
my shadow caught in the monitor.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Say It with Tulips

The potted red tulips with a trace of white around each petal are so lovely. The blooms are wide open, facing the morning sun. Snow is nearly melted now. Yesterday I thought our red tailed hawk "Cry Baby" was back, but it was the Blue Jay imitating his cry. Today will be a good day to go for a long walk along the lake.

Many things to do. Must get busy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blogsville . .. Hello, are you there?

A week ago, I posted a note on Eduardo Corral's blog because he's in residence at VCCA.
My note to him was caught in a crossfire of conversation about publishing. I read the crossfire because I wanted to hear back from Eduardo. Geez, you even get cut off in blogsville.

I want to stir the pot a bit(on Publishing):

This has happened to me more than once. Whenever I send work to a journal, I always send what I believe is my best work. It doesn't matter if it's a boutique journal, or ezine, or university, or national, or international. That said, I HAVE sent work to editors(poets) I know in the Rochester area and have been rejected more than once just because they CAN reject me. I think the rejection was suppose to teach me a lesson (I must be a slow learner) or put me in my place. Of course, I was disappointed by their decision. ( It's very much like not getting picked to play on the home team.) But instead of folding my hands, I sent the poems back out to be accepted later in Poetry, New Letters, The Pennsylvania Review, and so on. I told them about it, in an oh, by the way, and my news basically drained the color from their cheeks, which was wicked on my part; but hey, I grew up playing sand lot baseball. Their reply was: "What do we know?"

It's that curious dilemma of "you can't go home." If they hadn't rejected me, I wouldn't have been accepted in those other journals and reviews. Maybe they did me a favor, yes?

Now these many years later, a local journal has made a call: Is the lyric dead? I'm not going to send my essay because the editor WILL reject me. Instead I will post my thoughts here in a bit. Do you have any thoughts on this? I open it up to my virtual home team.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Day Sunshine, I love to

Had the Beatles' tune running through my head today. It's felt like Spring for the past few days.
I know this is wishful thinking. We usually have wild weather in March.

Spent the morning with 2nd graders. We created "Picture Me" poems.

Example: Picture me pink as a rabbit's nose, wiggling: "Hey, where's my carrots!"


The World Wrestling theme, which I really don't have any expertise, but 2nd grade boys know everything about it. It makes their eyes gleam. 2nd and 3rd graders remind me of birds.
They float around the room, settle on chairs, on top of desks, they chirp, chirp, chirp.

There are never enough pencils. Never enough pink pearl erasers.


Then after working with the 2nd graders, I traveled 30 minutes West to SUNY Brockport where we discussed the short story "The Land of Sad Oranges" and Li Young Lee's Rose.
The day just flew by. Snow melting, melting-- water gurgling down the streets and sidewalks, revealing the wear of winter-- the numerous potholes everywhere and sometimes unavoidable.
The other day, I did skirt one which would have swallowed my car. It was the size of a room. I swear there was a family of four inside, sitting down at a table, eating soup.


This week my Encounters Class goes to a West African Dance session. They are excited about it, but are having some anxiety about being barefoot. Some just don't like to look at feet. Others are worried about germs on the floor. I'll let you know how we do, barefoot-ing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

AWP Buzz

Sadly, I won't be going to AWP. I've made a commitment to Better Day Buddies at the University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital. I'm part of a team of teaching artists (Young Audiences) working with the children who are in outpatient cancer treatment. My first session is February 13, 2009.


The one and only time I went to AWP was years ago in Albany. Must be at least 10 years ago.
I remember enjoying the panel discussions and readings, and bought a lot of books/journals at the book fair. Go with an empty suitcase because it's hard to resist.

I remember sadness. I overheard it waiting in lines and sitting on the bus that took us from our hotel to the conference center. The whispered desire (sometimes doubt) of hidden selves. The expectations of meeting poets and writers who love what you love best to everything, and the opportunity to share a meal with a chosen few, where the conversation is the fuel not the food.

This past November, I saw some writers (Michigan) that I had met at Albany's AWP at Winter Wheat Fesitival (Bowling Green) and we immediately fell into a conversation, as if no time had passed. No awkwardness at all. That's amazing, right?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 7, 2009, Saturday Round Up

Out and About:

Went to the Memorial Art Gallery on Thursday with my Encounter with the Arts class and saw two new exhibits: "Leaded: The Materiality and Metamorphosis of Graphite" and Self-taught artist Gregory Van Maanen's "The Happy Survivor."

I enjoyed "Leaded" for its many ways of looking at the act of mark-making. The history of graphite and how it creates different textures with repetitive marks. There were 16 contemporary artists in this show. Leaded is an exhibit of the use of material and dimension. Some work was very ethereal; others were layer upon layer of graphite which made the paper warp and dimple like the surface of coal.

Gregory Van Maanen's show "The Happy Survivor" was powerful and haunting. He is a Vietnam Vet who has created spirit guides to help him heal from the sights of war. His paintings and sculpture have "mask" faces, many eyes, some he calls "blood" eyes, bright mouths with sharp teeth and bitten tongues exposed. You can see some of these images as "rebirth." The mask eyes are staring out of skeleton heads, staring straight ahead, unblinking. Thought the exhibit room was like an altar or Day of the Dead exhibit.

Our docent said something interesting about him. He paints every day for 6-8 hours, and uses every bit of paint up. Not a drop wasted. When the paint is gone, He's done for the day.


Last night, Peter and I went to an art opening at The Renaissance Art Gallery. My colleague Elizabeth King Durand's series of vibrant prints "Re-presenting Landscapes" was the show's
featured artist. I love how she uses color and "movement" in her landscapes. Some images are
clearly defined and others ride on the swept of color, creating the landscape. You can feel the weather. Freedom to dream.


Working on a new lyrical essay and looking over recent poems, I see that I'm wrestling with the conditional. Not sure if that's where I want to be, but that's where I am, at this moment.
Time for another cup of coffee.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Phil Saw His Shadow. Six More Weeks of Winter

No kidding. It's the same report every year, isn't it? The poor little furry fatso pulled from his cozy bed. To be hoisted up in the crowd among men wearing top hats and big grins. Something creepy about this ritual. So much depends upon a groundhog's shadow . . .

Still the movie Groundhog Day is one of my favorites. Should try to watch it this week or coming weekend.

What is your forecast? Where do you see yourself in six weeks? What do you plan on creating?

No more I wish . . . put something into motion. What will it be?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ragged Sky Press

Ragged Sky Press Publishes New Poetry Anthology:

EATING HER WEDDING DRESS: A COLLECTION OF CLOTHING POEMS brings together one hundred celebrated and distinctive voices from across the United States, including internationally acclaimed poets such as Kim Addonizio, Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, Elaine Equi, Jorie Graham, Maxine Kumin, Paul Muldoon, and Charles Simic, to speak about clothing as object of desire, as memento, and as metaphor for the body. Arranged into four parts, this anthology includes poems of self-presentation and identity, poems of alteration and transformation, poetry about the woven word, and poems invoking the talismanic quality of clothing.

To celebrate the publication of this new, stylish anthology during National Poetry Month, Ragged Sky Press, The Arts Council of Princeton and Gallery 125 will hold special reading events this April in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey:

Reading & Reception:

Friday April 3, 2009, 7:30-9:30 pm

Arts Council of Princeton

Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton NJ 08542

phone (609) 924-8777

Reading, Reception & Juried All-Media Gallery Exhibition Threads:

Friday April 10, 2009, 7-9 pm

Gallery 125

125 S. Warren St. , Trenton NJ

phone (609) 989-9119


Kim Addonizio • Marcia Aldrich • Sherrill Alesiak • Celia Lisset Alvarez • Margaret Atwood • Elizabeth H. Barbato • Wendy Barker • Janet Barry • Rachim Baskin • Jan Beatty • Shaindel Beers • Nadine D. Boulware • Deirdre Brennan • Michael R. Brown • Megan Buchanan Cherry • Enriqueta Carrington • Billy Collins • Carolyn A. Dahl • Elizabeth Danson • Diane Elayne Dees • Madeline DeFrees • Stephan Delbos • Juditha Dowd • Lynn Emanuel • Elaine Equi • John Estes • John L. Falk • Roberta Feins • Linda Annas Ferguson • Ellen Foos • Alice Friman • Christine Gelineau • Wally Glickman • Jorie Graham • Susan Grimm • Carol Guess • Greg Hagan • Rasma Haidri • Daniel A. Harris • Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes • Carlos Hernández Peña • Beatrice M. Hogg • Janis Butler Holm • Jean Hollander • Eric Howard • Winifred Hughes-Spar • M.J. Iuppa • Vasiliki Katsarou • James Keane • Shelley Spence Kiernan • Jane Knechtel • Maxine Kumin • Valerie Lawson • Daniel W.K. Lee • Laura LeHew • Howard Lieberman • Betty Lies • Lorraine Henrie Lins • Diane Lockward • Christina Lovin • Bobbi Lurie • Amy MacLennan • Eileen Malone • Alda Merini • Susan Meyers • Paul Muldoon • Charlotte Nekola • Ruth O'Toole • Carl Palmer • Andrea Potos • Wanda S. Praisner • James Richardson • Penelope Scambly Schott • Lynne Shapiro • Rochelle Jewel Shapiro • Shoshauna Shy • Charles Simic • Erin Elizabeth Smith • J.D. Smith • Elizabeth Anne Sussman Socolow • Jill Stein • Harvey Steinberg • Susan Stewart • Maxine Susman • Katrin Talbot • Maria Terrone • Mary Langer Thompson • Anca Vlasopolos • Donna Vorreyer • Lynn Wagner • Helen Pruitt Wallace • Ann Walters • Andy Wass • Arlene Weiner • Lesley Wheeler • Irene Willis • Laura Madeline Wiseman • Anne Harding Woodworth • Susan Yount • Andrena Zawinski • Claire Zoghb

Ragged Sky Press was founded in 1992 by poet and publisher Ellen Foos and publishes quality works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Ellen Foos is a MacDowell Colony fellow and a member of Princeton's U.S. 1 Poets' Cooperative.

For EATING HER WEDDING DRESS: A COLLECTION OF CLOTHING POEMS, Ellen Foos was joined by two co-editors. Vasiliki Katsarou is a first-generation Greek-American poet and translator of French and Modern Greek. She is a graduate of Harvard College and has written and directed an award-winning 35mm film called Fruitlands 1843. Her poems have appeared in U.S. 1 Worksheets and wicked alice. Ruth O'Toole earned her MA in English at New York University. She is the author of Otsu and Other Poems (2008, Bronze by Gold Press), a collection of poems inspired by Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings. Her novel was published serially by in 2002.

Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems

Edited by Vasiliki Katsarou, Ruth O'Toole, and Ellen Foos, 160 pages

Available June 12, 2009

Ragged Sky Press

ISBN 978-1-933974-06-4