Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Day of July

It's gloomy outside. Our Leghorn rooster was crowing at 3:30 a.m. (?) I can't imagine what the other chickens thought of him? His voice sounds like Lennon's: "I've got blisters on my fingers" which we have translated to: "I'm wearing white underpants." He's a wackadoodle. His brother isn't as vocal as he is. They're beautiful-- classic white, high-struttin', chest out-- proud to be the king pins on this little farm.

Yesterday, I had a lot of meetings, preparing for the upcoming semester. Some wonderful events are planned. Went to my last sketchbook class. We created still life arrangements. I put a strawberry on the lips of a Roman head, but the young men in my class were offended and removed the strawberry, but didn't think twice about the wine bottle or the phone off the hook.
I found all of this more of a prose piece than a sketch, but I did do a quick sketch twice of the arrangement. I was having a tough time with proportion and placement (composition).
Marilyn really helped me out with "seeing" it correctly. Now to practice what I've learned on my own. Sad. The class is over. Felt like an eye blink.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In the Mail, a SASE

Received one of my envelopes yesterday. A surprise and delight too. Most submissions are done online now. Rarely send via mail. But I've had two SASEs return in the past month or so. Both with good news. I miss the ritual of the SASE, that is opening the envelope and reading the little slip of a note. I like mail. But realize that everyone is moving toward green enterprise, and that's important.

Sometimes I think my blog is "my letter to the world," even though it's filled with the day to day.

Have been taking long bicycle rides in the park. I "think" I own the park and the lake. I love watching the play of light upon the water. Everything is so green. The sight of chicory means
we're turning toward fall. But we haven't had summer yet! It's been so rainy and cooler than usual. We've had to drain our gardens. Praying that the veggies won't rot. Have been enjoying fresh green beans and peas and cukes. A surprise finding them in the garden. Still no zucchini.
Maybe later this week.

My last art class is this Thursday. Have been working on my sketchbook. I have some ideas percolating for essays and poems. Need to settle down and write. I've been antsy though.
I think I'm caught between two places, and consequently wandering a bit.

Well, this morning looks promising. Time to push the restart button.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last week of July

Making plans for the upcoming Just Poets Fall Retreat on September 19, 2009, 9-4:30 p.m.
The retreat will be held at The Gell Center in Bristol NY. It will be a day of poetry, fellowship and food.

Poet John Roche will be presenting a morning talk on The Black Mountain Poets. There will be four workshops offered in a morning session and afternoon session. Workshop leaders, poets
Claudia Stanek, Ron Bailey, Karla Linn Merrifield and Dwain Wilder.

Members will be able to register at the August 1st, 2009 Just Poets meeting at St. John Fisher College. Cost: $15.00.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Recommend: Borderlands Texas Poetry Review. Issue 12 is dedicated to poetry inspired by art, known as the art of ekphrasis. I've been spending time reading this new arrival and am considering it as a text for the upcoming Fall semester.

Also received yesterday Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath, edited by John Bradley. Thank you Backwaters Press for sending it along.

“All of us live twice at the same time—once uniquely and once representatively. I am interested in those moments when my unique personal life intersects with something bigger, when my small brief moment has a part in ‘fabricating the legend.’”
• Thomas McGrath

This statement from an interview shows why McGrath remains one of our most important poets. Why else, you ask? There’s his attention to craft and language, whether in a poem of a few lines or a book-length epic. His refusal to constrain the poetic imagination. His compassion for others, especially “working stiffs.” His ability to write with tenderness, humor, and defiance—sometimes all in the same poem. And, perhaps most importantly, his poetry continues to speak to our time. To honor the poet and his poetry, this anthology was born. Some of the poems affectionately recall McGrath’s life. Other poems examine the world with his bite and wit. Read this book and see for yourself—the legacy of Thomas McGrath endures.
• John Bradley

I've been enjoying my sketchbook class. The teacher must think I'm peculiar because I'm not on task as the other participants are. When I start drawing I drop into a zone, that is so quiet, so peaceful, so delicious-- it's rhythm without time-- I shut out all background noise. Good thing no one shouted fire or earthquake, or whatever, because I was not "there" to respond. We're working on values and I was suppose to be drawing a two value drawing, which I did and then went on to draw with multiple values. So when Marilyn checked my work she was perplexed
by my not being on task. (I'm a teacher's nightmare). I confessed straight away that I started
doing something other than the assignment. This week, I'm going to do the assignments and bring it in for her to check. At one point, I asked her if she thought I should erase the multiple values and she said no, no-- don't erase-- it's working. and she sighed, which made me think of Lola Haskins. Lola used to sigh that way too. Lola would say to me, "You always do that" which I was never sure of what "that" was exactly, but I was doing it. I could never tell if I was being chided or praised. Maybe a bit of both. (I wonder if this has anything to do with being left handed? Or the way I operate in the world?)

What intrigues me is the repetition of drawing, that is drawing and redrawing in the sketchbook,which is "never" a finished drawing, but work in progress, ideas, and so on.

The skill is being able to draw again and again-- transferring the drawing to its true medium, whether it's acrylics or watercolors, or pen and ink, and so on.

Equally, the more proficient one becomes with drawing, the more the sketchbook becomes a sketchbook. Right now I have "drawings" in my sketchbook. So much more ahead of me. I bought some watercolor pencils and a whole pencil set with varying degrees of hard and soft graphite, and brown and white too. I'm enjoying getting to know and appreciate what can be done with these materials. Something new, and I'm sure it will show up in my writing.


Going to a wedding later today. I hope the weather holds out for them. We went to the rehearsal dinner last night. Such a nice time. It was held at Artisan Works, which is a huge warehouse, filled with art-- many rooms full of art and set up as entertaining venues. This is how the Artisan Works works. It supports itself on the events booked there, from private parties to business meetings, and so on. Interesting concept. I like the idea that they pay the artists to house their work. Some of the work is for sale, but most of it is held by the gallery.

Off to the public market.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Borderlands Texas Poetry Review

Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review

Contributors Spring/Summer 2009


Robert Ayres, Anita M. Barnard, David Bart, Andrea Bates, Terry M. Blackhawk, Chelsea Bolan, Nancy Carroll, Anne Babson Carter, Deborah Casillas, Michael Catherwood, Laura Cherry, Kyle Churney, Mary Cisper, Nancy Kenney Connolly, Gary Cooke, Barbara Crooker, Chip Dameron, Melissa del Bosque, Lois Parker Edstrom, Karl Elder, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Robert A. Fink, John Gallaher, Alan Gann, Madelyn Garner, Rodney Gomez, Vivé Griffith, Alex Haley, Rachel Harkai, J. Todd Hawkins, Susan Hazen-Hammond, Scott Hightower, James Hoggard, W. Joe Hoppe, Diane Hueter, Cindy Huyser, M.J. Iuppa, Judy Jensen, Marcelle Kasprowicz, Steven G. Kellman, Jennifer A. King, George Klawitter, Jacqueline Kolosov, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee, Brandon Lewis,
Lyn Lifshin, Jane Lin, Joanne Lowery, Robert Lunday, Ed Madden, James Magorian, Sylvia Manning, Jennifer Margulies, David Meischen, Susan Meyers, Jack Myers, Philip Pardi, Dave Parsons, Lynn Pedersen, Kathleen Peirce, Craig Santos Perez, Mary-Lou Pilkinton, Del Marie Rogers, Pattiann Rogers, Laurie Rosenblatt, Susan Jo Russell, Elizabeth Garton Scanlon, Anis Shivani, John E. Smelcer, Michael G. Smith, Susan B.A. Somers-Willett, Randolph Spencer, Phyllis Stowell, Zack Strait, David Taylor, Larry D. Thomas, Meredith Trede, Liliana Valenzuela, Adam Vines and Allen Jih, Nicola Waldron, Andrea L. Watson, Ellen Wehle, Jared White, Scott Wiggerman, Sonny Williams, Robert Wynne, D. E. Zuccone


Robert Wynne, Museum of Parallel Art
Interwoven Illuminations I: Weaving the Tapestry of Art. Poetry. Lives


Selections from the Blanton Poetry Project, artwork courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art

Fall/Winter 2008

Monday, July 20, 2009

Inkwell Contest:Call for Submissions

INKWELL: Short Fiction and Poetry Contest







1. Up to 3 previously unpublished stories, 5,000-word limit

2. Text must be typed, 12pt. font, double-spaced, one-sided

3. Cover sheet with name, address, phone, e-mail, titles and word counts

4. No name or address anywhere on manuscripts

5. SASE for contest notification only – manuscripts will be recycled

6. Entry fee: $15 per story

7. Checks (USD ONLY) made out to Manhattanville – INKWELL





1. Up to 5 previously unpublished poems, 40-line limit per poem

2. Only typed entries will be considered; 12pt. font

3. Cover sheet with name, address, phone, e-mail, titles and line counts

4. No name or address anywhere on manuscript(s)

5. SASE for contest notification only – manuscripts will be recycled

6. Entry Fee: $10 for first poem, $5 per each additional poem

7. Checks (USD ONLY) payable to Manhattanville – INKWELL

NOTE: Indicate Poetry or Fiction Competition on envelope.

If submitting to both Poetry and Fiction Competitions, please use separate envelopes.

Submissions not adhering to the above guidelines will not be considered.

Mail to:

INKWELL - Manhattanville College

2900 Purchase Street

Purchase, NY 10577


Postmarked between August 1 and October 30, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Last Night: Hamlet in the Park

Last night, I went to see the last performance of Rochester Shakespeare Players' Hamlet in the Highland Bowl Park. I love watching performances at this venue. The stage is set at the bottom of a hilly basin and people with blankets and lawn chairs sit on the hillside and watch. The crowd was quite large. I would guess 500 people were there. No rain (thankfully) and decent sound. Fireflies were blinking on and off in the trees. It did get quite cool. Note to self, always bring extra blankets.

One annoying thing: a woman who was an excessive smoker was sitting behind me and was running commentary on everything that was going on. Usually, I can shut out other noise, but
she became more than background. It was nervous talking. She couldn't stop. Shame on me for not saying anything, but she was sitting with the director.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Free for the Weekend!

I'm a bit startled by the date. Mid-July. Mid-summer. Still so many things I want to do before the Fall semester begins. . . I started my sketchbook art class this week. We are a good size class (13 people), and our instructor Marilyn Feinberg gave us an assignment similar to the one Karen W. was given at Chautauqua. To make the list of things we are attracted to, then another list of things we're repelled by, and another list of things that are attractive, but make us nervous. I had more things listed in the attracted to and attracted to but nervous columns. Certainly this was a reflection of my mood and stamina. We created mandalas, using symbols and design. Went into the gallery and did gesture sketches of images, designs, then came back to the classroom to take those captured images and work them into a mandala of our own. Looking back, I'm intrigued by the country/time periods that caught my attention. There was a lot of spirit energy in this work.

The gesture drawing is very quick. It capture the essence of subject. So it's line and shape contains energy, whereas the actual drawing enters time, and once the lines and shapes take hold, value (shading) determines its dimension (depth, breadth, and so on). This is where I want to improve my drawing. Actually, the sketchbook is all about ways of "seeing" and I know I have to see from many angles. This sounds a lot like creating a poem, doesn't it.

I have a "light" or airy stroke, which my sister Karen, who is an exceptional visual artist, says is my strength (insert: praise from Caesar is praise indeed), but I need to to learn values. (Ha! still learning values.) I use watercolors, pen and ink. The paintings I've done, especially post
word overload(my degrees), I made into notecards and gave them to a lot of people who are writers and write letters. I had this fantasy that they would send my drawings to friends and family, and my drawings would travel the world. Well, my friends didn't do this. They framed the notecards. They said, if you wanted us to send these out, you should have given us two sets!
It just made me laugh. Moral: don't have fantasies.

The sketchbook is all about ideas and images. I like the set up of this one. I want to do a bunch of gesture drawings before the next class and see if my new skills improve.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Publishing News and Views from the Farm

My short story "No Such Luck" is online. Received an email the other day and the anthology Eating the Pure Light, poems honoring Thomas McGrath, edited by John Bradley, Backwaters Press was released earlier this year, but they had difficulty notifying me. Soon, a copy of the anthology will be mailed to me. Can't wait to see and read it.

Have read quite a few blogs about the Newsweek article, e.g. poetry is dead. I have read this same article since the early 70s. Actually it comes out once or twice a decade and is more or less the same petulant smear. Poetry is song and song is revolutionary in its ability to connect and move people. Poetry and song, when it's really, really good, can circle the world and change point of view.

It's quite powerful. Just think of Mark Johnson's Playing for Change project, which I hope all of you have bought the CD to support the building of music schools in impoverished communities. See Bill Moyers Show for his interview with Johnson. Very inspiring. Poetry has been know to shake it up too. Always, it's person to person, which makes it intimate and significant.

So many or is it so few want to keep things Status Quo? Just think about control. When we write a poem, it's our attempt to still the chaos for just a moment, then release it. A successful poem holds that stilled moment for anyone who enters it. It can be a true relief, a lesson, a
wink and a wave hello. It can stay with the reader long after it's put down.

I told my workshop class (8-12) the story of my parents' first date. They rode in a horse drawn wagon and lit the streelights. The kids said, " Wait, how old are you, M.J. " I said, " As old as Yoda." They roared. They are a terrific group of young writers and more important, hand on heart, good human beings. More of our future competition. Ha!

I put up another batch of strawberry jam, with small berries called Juliettes. They are sweet and tart, whereas the first batch was another berry which was sweet, sweet. We're going to do cherries today.

I have to go and teach. Have a great day. And, the sun is shining.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Copies gone!

Thanks for the emails. All copies are now spoken for.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Northville Review

My short story "No Such Luck" will be posted on 7/14/09 in The Northville Review.
Please check it out:

Let me know what you think of the story, and check out the other stories, poems, essays too. Hopefully you will like the review as I do and consider sending your work there.


Also, Joyce Odam's Brevities has graciously included me in her "poems in a pocket" journal-- this is what I call it. It can literally fit in a pocket. I love Odam's poems and her artwork. Besides creating the journal, she sends along bookmarks, which I can never have enough of!

I have extra issues of Brevities. Email with your land address and I will mail you a copy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Present and Upcoming, Things To Do

The summer session is over, grades handed in. Went to Fisher yesterday and spent time in my office, cleaning out old and forgotten stuff. I confess I have a paper problem. Everything into the recycling bin. Voila! Free space. It's lovely at school. So quiet.

Went to the Memorial Art Gallery and signed up for an upcoming Sketchbook class. I'm looking forward to this. It's just three Thursday evenings, which will fly by, but promises to fill up my sketchbook with ideas and doodles and hopefully a bit more technique. Class begins next week.

I hope to get back to Brown's to pick more strawberries today. Cherries too.

The sun is out!

Hopefully tonight, we'll mosey on over to Rochester and see the Average White Band. Rochester has a whole slew of concerts.

Here's a calendar listing from Artist Breakfast Group Newsletter:

Image City Photo Gallery: 722 University Avenue, Congratulations! Jeno Horvath is currently exhibiting as a Camera Rochester Winner through July 12. Jun 17-Jul 12, Faces of India, Jim Patton with Don Menges in the East Gallery. New Shows: Wanderings and Velikiy Novgorod: Birthplace of Russian History. Jul 15 with reception on jul 17, 5-8:30pm
Community Darkroom Exhibit: 713 Monroe Ave. Local Sustenance; The Rochester Public Market, Margaret Miyake talk on Jul 13, 7-9 pm. Exhibit Jun 5- Aug 29, UPLIFT: July 17 6:30-9pm- celebration of building renovations, $10.00 includes food by Savory Thyme, music by Margaret Explosion, Nate Rawls with SWAN Community Band, and Tin Can. Also new classes are starting July 7, call 271-5920, Marianne Pojman.
Writers and Books: 740 University Avenue, Genesee Reading Series, Kitty Jospe reading on Jul 14 at 7:30, $3.00 members/$6.00 public. Come and congratulate her on receiving her MFA from Pacific University. We have heard her readings at ABG this week. Great work Kitty. Also, Melissa Slocum will discuss her creative writing.
Tango Cafe: 389 Gregory St. New classes Jul 9, with Maureen Hickey Viennese Waltz and Quickstep.
Equal Grounds Coffee Shop: Listening Party open mic, bring a poem or 2 to read. Courtesy of Elaine Heveron.
Joseph Sorrentino: other photo-essays and images from Mexico,
Pieters Family Life Center: Matt Smeltzer "On the Ark" Christian Cartoon Series and George Kerson: Disney and Race Cars. Reception Jul 10 6-8pm music by Deep Blue Dream. Runs-Aug 28.
Gloria Betlem: 6414 S. Lima Rd. Livonia. Painting Birds in Pastel workshops. Jul 16&23 7-9pm. 739-2124, See flyer below.
Rochester Art Supply: 150 W Main St. Sumi Painting: Yuming Zhu Aug 20 11-12pm 585-546-6509. FREE! registration required.
Canaltown Coffee: 1805 East Ave Mark Bangs photography reception July 3, runs through July 31.
Equal Grounds: Open Mic, Jul 15 7pm, Listening Party. Bring a poem or two to read. Elaine Heveron.
David Boyer: Ongoing caricature at parties and events; Solar Power and Engineering student workshops.
Wesley Gardens: One block from Image City Photography Gallery. See Image City and ABG members exhibiting. 241-2102.
Muddy Waters Coffee-shop: 752 Goodman St S. 730-7949 Joseph Sorrentino exhibit of Mexico's coffee plantation regions.
Gallery R: 755 Park Ave 242-9470. Joseph Sorrentino Farm-workers; Western NY and Mexico.
Center at High Falls: 60 Browns Race Rochester Art Supply Invitational and the Small Exhibit. thru July 11 Many ABG members.
Hochstein Performance Hall: 50 N. Plymouth Ave. Beethoven Missa Soelmnis, Finger Lakes Choral Festival with Penfield Symphony Orchestra Members. RPO Box Office 454-2100, or Wegmans 742-8092, Courtesy of Judith Van Ness.
Linwood Gardens: Jean K Stephens change of plein air oil painting workshop to Jul 24 & 25,, classes and open artists days (Jun 28),
Genesee Valley Council on the Arts: Members Exhibit Bertha V.B. Lederer Gallery, Bodie Hall, SUNY Geneseo thru Jul 31. ABG Judith Wesley will be exhibiting 2 works.
Rochester Peer Collaborative 3rd Annual Conference for Wellness: School of the Arts 45 Prince Street, Lawrence Berger Presents: The Multi-Million Dollar Poetry Industry: an Overview, 8:30 - 4:30 pm $5.00, Pre register by Jul 31. Call Creative Wellness Center, 585-325-3145 x 142.
Barnes & Noble: Risa Vendittuoli will be having her first book signing on Aug 29 at 2:00 pm. Just days before our exhibit. What a great deal Risa.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ka-boom! Another 4th of July weekend!

The 4th of July picnic went well. I had fun holding my newest great grand nephew Brady. He's so adorable. I think he's about three months. He slept on my chest for over an hour. We were cozy together. All the children had fun playing on the beach and going into the lake, which I believe is still cold. Although it didn't phase them. No blue lips or chattering teeth.
The ring of fire was amazing and fireworks galore. I left my sister's after midnight. It was peaceful sitting on the deck after all the fireworks ended. The fires still burning. The lake calm, clear skies, no wind.


Put up strawberry jam yesterday. It took us several hours and so many precise steps. It was like a dance. I love to look at the jars all lined up on the sideboard. The 10 lbs plus an extra quart bought at a road side stand because we were two cups short made 15 12 oz jars and 3 8 oz jars. Not bad. I may go back to Brown's today and pick some more. There is nothing better than a taste of summer when we have two feet of snow.


I have a bunch of things I have to accomplish today. I woke up early, so you would think I'd have a jump on it. But I don't, not really. Have some big decisions to make in the next few weeks and I think I'm waiting for some divine counsel or sign, or both. Hopefully I'll make the right choices.


I think I have a new series of poems coming together. Have been writing nearly every day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rain, rain go away . . .

It's been raining every day for the past week. My garden is so soggy. I'm worried that we're going to end up with rot. Hopefully some sun today.


Yes, sun! Went to Brown's Berry Patch today and picked 10 lbs of strawberries.
The cherries are ready too and people had heaping baskets full. They looked like rubies.
The strawberries patch was very soggy. Everyone who was out there picking today was a Strawberry Samaritan. We were literally saving the strawberries. Hopefully I will go back on Sunday to pick some more. We're going to make jam.

It was fun listening to everyone talking about the strawberries. They were planning to have them on pancakes and short cake and sugar and cream, or straight from the plant like the young brothers who said: "I swear to you, mom, we're not lying; we found the biggest, juiciest strawberries."

Mom: "Well, where are they?"

Boys: "O, we ate them!"

Evidence all down the front of their tee shirts. Big grins. My kind of kids.