Sunday, August 30, 2009

Last Days of August Continued

Quiet Sunday morning. . .

We had a wonderful late afternoon dinner and early evening movie. Plans changed because I accompanied Meghan to the Mall to purchase new eyeglasses. We were there for a very long time and she tried on many frames and the decision was keen because she looked beautiful in at least five different pairs. I like the frames she settled on. Then we had to walk about for an hour until the glasses were ready to go. Consequently we didn't make it home in enough time to go to the gallery. So we made new plans. Went to Tavern 58 on Gibbs Street and an early evening movie In the Loop at the Little Theatre. The movie is political fast-talking ( a bit like Wag the Dog) but this is UK and USA. Mimi Kennedy (formerly from Rochester, you will recognize her as the mother on the TV sitcom Dharma and Greg, was wonderful-- I hope this movie gives her a lot of attention, and James Galdolfini (Tony Soprano) was hilarious. Many lines from this script will be quoted in conversations around the water cooler. I need to see/hear it again. Very witty. We had a great audience. They were laughing constantly. That too means I have to see/hear it again. I miss lines when people are laughing.

Dinner was yum and we had a lot of fun with our waiter. He was in a lot of our conversation.
He's a near graduate of Eastman School of Music. He plays the trombone. I asked the waiters if they were attending the Eastman and they were stunned by my question. How did you know?
But you can tell musicians. They have a swagger and carry music in their bodies. I think musician have a keen sense of what is and isn't fluid. Charming. Interesting too the Tavern was playing a lot of Woodstock music, which led to a conversation about Woodstock. We were there so early we had the restaurant to ourselves. It was a lovely and easy-going meal. Happy Birthday Peter.
Maybe we'll go to the Gallery today.
There is a feature in P&W called Bullseye. How to submit to Tin House.
In the article, there are answers to three questions. I was amused by what they didn't want.
Cicadas. Whereas some other Pacific NW magazines may say Herons. Or another region may say Whales. You see my point. Raspberries could be a repeat fruit, or Apples for that matter. They say the frequency smacks of device which makes readers "aware" of what they're reading rather than being in the experience of the poem. Oh, it's anothercicadaheronwhaleraspberryapple poem. Keep Ezra in mind and "Make it new" ; so close to Tim Gunn's "Make it work." This is another authenticity vs artifice question.
My proposal to Winter Wheat, November 12-14, 2009, Bowling Green, Ohio was accepted.
Looking forward to this writers conference.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer Honey

We bought some raw honey at the Public Market on Thursday. It's called Summer Honey and its taste is exquisite. It was quite cool here last night, much like September, and I made a cup of tea with a generous dollop of Summer Honey. Its fragrance and taste is so sweet, but not cloying sweet with aftertaste. It's fresh and alive. Makes me rethink honey. I looked up the process of raw honey and also found explanation of its medicinal properties.

Its slogan: Honey I love You makes me smile every time I read it.

We're going to the Memorial Art Gallery today and then out to dinner to celebrate Peter's birthday. At the gallery we're going to set the Finger Lakes Show, which is a regional artists showcase. The restaurant is called One. This will be an adventure.

Have been preparing for my upcoming classes. So far, so good. The Encounters class is shaping up nicely. I see some themes taking hold in the scheduled art events.

Back to the day at hand.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Last Days of August

Went to the Public Market today with Peter. We bought a basket of tomatoes, mushrooms, Asian eggplants, which are small globes, speckled green. The woman who was standing next to us gave us a recipe on the spot and every time we crossed paths she added a few more details to the recipe. We have a lot of her necessary ingredients. I think this is going to be Peter's birthday dinner tonight. We also bought lemons and plums and red peppers and fresh Mozz and a hunk of x-sharp cheddar and summer honey and baby yellow squash. I think that's it. We're going to go for a canoe ride in a couple of hours. I love the pond. Thus far, I identified hydrilla and bladderwort growing there. There are some plants that look like wild hyacinths, if that's possible? I have to get a closer look. It's an absolutely beautiful day today. Blue skies, gentle air and sun.

I think we're going to celebrate Peter's birthday through the weekend. I like long drawn out birthdays. It makes getting older a bit easier. You literally let the idea of birthday grow on you.

Watched the movie Solaris a couple of days ago. It's a thought-provoking film. Makes you look closely at metaphor.

Notes to blogville:

Kell, I love the photo gallery and commentary. Thank you for the thoughts on creativity and creating ritual and routine.

RK, thank you for showing us those beautiful landscapes by PL. He is very talented. I've had favorites and would return to just gaze at the picture (s).

Steve Fellner, I loved the essay you posted. I'm still thinking about it. Thank you for letting us read it on your blog.

Now back to the day at hand.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bully Alert

How do you define control? When do you resist control? Is it true that people do not like to be told what to do? But, there is always someone telling someone to do something. How is it that people who fear the most are the biggest bullies? They are righteous and indignant and know how to blind side you when you least expect it.

Bullies. perverse. The ones who, without any concern, would dismember a daddy long legs and let the body button spin little tornadoes in the august dirt, and wait out the loud protest of what are you doing, you're so sick until voices were hoarse. But it didn't matter. They never flinched. They would square off and occupy and curl their lips into SHUT UP and spit, stopping the buttons dead.

Bullies aren't afraid to be alone because the voice in their heads is enough. It must be exhausting.

When you go up against a bully, you will most likely lose everything. The bully is cagey and knows how to bait a situation so it looks like you stirred the pot. So if you want to stop a bully you need to expose the bully so he/she is standing in his/her own juice. Stay alert.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

The wedding in the park was lovely. I really like the bride and groom, and they were so happy. It was intimate and relaxed and perfect. They gave spruce tree saplings as their wedding favor. We're to plant them in honor of loved ones who have passed. I thought that was a wonderful gesture and spruces are beautiful trees. The drive was closer to 2 hours away. Letchworth's waterfall and gorges are just stunning. Glacier made, yet not "carved" by the glacier. The land like the Grand Canyon is pushing upward, which is fascinating. I loved watching the water tumbling and mist rising. Many hawks soaring in wide loops over the gorges. I would like to go back in the Fall when the leaves are turning. There's a bed and breakfast inn there. Something to think about.

Spent some time weeding today. Several rain showers passed through. Caught the bunny twice Now nicknamed Bundini. He looks so miffed when I put him back in the pen. He'd rather hang with the five hens.

The Duckabush Prize for Poetry

The reading period for A River & Sound Review's 2009 Poetry Contest -- The Duckabush Prize for Poetry -- is open from August 1 – October 31, 2009. We will be happy to read and consider your best work. First place prize will be $500, plus a featured spot on a future RSR Live Production and publication in an upcoming issue of our journal.

Final judge for this contest is Judith Kitchen (right). She writes poetry reviews for The Georgia Review and has recently edited with Ted Kooser (former U.S. Poet Laureate) an anthology of bird poems--The Poets Guide to the Birds (Anhinga Press). She has served as judge for many writing awards, including the Pushcart Prize for poetry, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Anhinga Prize, and the AWP Nonfiction Award.

For more details on how to enter, please keep reading!


A River & Sound Review holds two writing contests a year, The Duckabush Prize for Poetry and The Nisqually Prize for Fiction and Nonfiction. Length of manuscripts and subject requirements for each category are the same as for our regular submissions.

Contest Submission Rules:

~ All RSR writing contests are open to all writers, save those who actually serve on the RSR staff.

~ Prose submissions are limited to one story/essay per entry, regardless of length.

~ Poetry submissions are limited to three poems per entry, regardless of length.

~ Writers may submit as many entries as they choose, provided each entry is mailed in separate envelopes and each accompanied with the proper entry fee.

~ The entry fee for the first submission is $10. All subsequent submissions for that season's contest are $5.

~ Judging of all writing contests will be conducted by the RSR staff, along with guest judges making the selection among finalists.

~ RSR will offer a cash prize to the first place entry and publicly announce the names of all finalists.

~ RSR will consider all submissions for publication in our online literary journal.

~ Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but writers must inform RSR staff if any submitted work has been accepted elsewhere and withdraw it from the contest.

Contest Submission Directions:

~ Submit one copy of your story, essay, or poem(s) and make sure your name does not appear anywhere on the manuscript(s).

~ On a separate page, print your name, full mailing address, email address, and phone number. Also on this page, list the title of the manuscript(s) you submitted.

~ Include in your submission a check (for entry fee) made out to A River & Sound Review.

Mail your entry to:

A River & Sound Review

2009 Poetry Contest

17317 136th Ave. Ct. E.

Puyallup, WA 98374

Saturday, August 22, 2009


One of the teen white rabbits keeps escaping from the outdoor pen. He stays close to the other bunnies but likes being on the other side. Sometimes catching him in daylight is a two or three person effort, whereas catching him at night only takes one. He's always so startled to be back in the pen. He looks around as if to say, back with all of you, again. Petulant bunny. So teen.

Last night I caught him and put him back and this morning he's out again. Is he a really smart bunny, or dumb bunny?

Today we're going to a wedding in Letchworth Park. It's about an hour away from here. Letchworth is very beautiful state park with gorges and waterfalls. It looks like it's going to be a
sunny, warm day. Perfect.

I finished another scarf last night. I like the yarns I'm working with. I daydream/meditate a lot when I'm doing repetitive tasks such as knitting, dishwashing, shucking dry beans and so on.
It recharges me.

My sister Andrea sent a bamboo basketful of shortbread cookies from Hawaii. Every cookie is individually wrapped. It's the summer collection. It has a teal ribbon fastened with a carved pineapple made out of coconut shell. It would be a pretty barrette. Have to think about that.
Haven't tasted the cookies yet, but I'm sure they will be great with a cup of tea.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Ghazal Page

Here's the link to Summer 2009 Ghazal Page:

I am very excited to be showcased with these poets. The poems speak back and forth to each other.

This is what the editor Gino Peregrini has to say about these Ghazals:

Editor's Comments

There are mysteries in these ghazals: prayer, sisterhood, middle age, the metaphysics of erotic love, the surfaces under which desire lurks, a hollowness of roads. There are other echoes and resonances in these poems, for instance, to metaphysical poet John Donne's "bracelet of bright hair about the bone." Of course, every reader makes their own resonances from their own experiences, knowledge, imagination. I'm sure you'll find these poems rewarding on that level.

If you're interested in this form, I think you'll find some wonderful examples.

It's important to note that each stanza in a traditional ghazal ( pronounced guzz-el) should be discreet. First stanza repeats the end word in both lines of the couplet; after that it's the second line of the couplet (see examples). Keep in mind that this Persian form is a love poem, with 5-8 stanzas.

There are interesting challenges on this web site/ journal. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Air Mail

I came across some overseas stationery in my desk drawer. The thin blue papers that fold into the shape of letter. I was trying to remember who was far away when I purchased these delicate pages? Maybe it's you, you who are at a distance and waiting for some news. I wish this blog was tissue blue, see through onion skin, and I had a glossy ink pen that didn't smudge.

Received news from a friend yesterday that he was undergoing heart surgery that afternoon. it stopped me cold. Later heard that the surgery went well and he was doing well, and able to write an update to everyone. I'm so glad he was able to recognize trouble and get help immediately. I wish him speedy recovery. He is a vital person and dear friend and generous poet.

Received a note that Cherry Grove Collections is expecting my poetry manuscript in September. It's hard to believe that the time has arrived. Within Reach was accepted on 4/2/2008. Soon it will be a book to hold. I'm looking forward to the Spring 2010.

Received a grant from Poets & Writers ( Thanks! P&W) for Mark Yakich's upcoming poetry reading at St. John Fisher College on September 24. I have collaborated with R.I.T. ( John Roche & Paulette Swartzfager) to bring this New Orleans poet to our area. Mark will also present a workshop at R.I.T. on September 24. I will post all the exact details in a bit. But save the date.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Note on my Prose Poem Essay

When you read my analysis of my poem "Star(e)," the "balance" is the relationship between the student and teacher, and then me in relationship to them and the note.

You know how hard it is to wait for response, and to wait without impatience or judgment, which is the test of the relationship; which is what I learned from the scene.

It was a poignant lesson for me.

What Makes A Prose Poem, A Prose Poem?

This essay was first published in Byline in April, 2008 and later reprinted in The Just Poets
Newsletter this year.

What Makes A Prose Poem, A Prose Poem?

A prose poem uses a combination of idea, image, and narrative patterns in its form. It creates a narrative grounded in a particular time and place and, like fiction, there is a “turn” where readers recognize a significant change or outcome based on the narrative’s events. It is a “compressed” narrative, one which creates a scene through meditation or dialogue in a limited word count. However, in the past twenty years, the prose poem’s form has become elusive because the margins between poetry and prose have blurred due to poets’ experimentation. With the invention of “sudden” or “flash” fiction and short creative nonfiction essays, writers are now trying to name the defining features of each. So, for the purpose of this essay, I will share my thoughts on defining what I believe makes a prose poem, a prose poem.
Most poets agree that the prose poem’s stanzas can be one to several terse paragraphs that create a ‘visual narrative block,’ like a snapshot, held in time. The strength of the narrative depends on the cumulative effect of its images. Since images are concrete, they engage readers’ five senses (see, hear, taste, touch, smell), and build the narrative’s extended metaphor, which is a defining feature of the prose poem. I believe the images in the prose poem are elliptical– they hook readers’ attention implicitly and explicitly, and line by line gain meaning.

For example, here’s one of my prose poems. It was first published in Blueline, Spring 2002.

The boy is looking hard at the word STAR printed in block letters
on the yellow flash card. He is standing on one foot, poised like
a heron fishing. Dark hair falling into his eyes, he squints. The teacher
is barely breathing, waiting on his one word. He says, “Stare.” And
I am, staring at them; then at a loose note in my hand that’s rumpled
with a message scrawled in black ink, Don’t worry.
“Don’t worry,” she says, “Try again.” I look up. He says, “Star.”

As you can see, my title “Star(e)” is an indirect lead into the poem. Its meaning is both star and stare. I am fascinated by words that contain more than one word within its context. I like juggling the meaning of both words in the prose poem.
I think that this prose poem is deceptive in its simplicity. It reads effortlessly. The scene reveals a young boy working with flash cards with his reading teacher. The boy poised as the heron fishing for the right word and the teacher patiently waiting is a balance that’s hard to achieve. I am peripheral to this scene, watching (staring at) their exchange that connects with my own flash card, which is a note telling me not to worry. In that instant of my reading the note, I hear the teacher’s reassuring voice. I look up to witness the boy’s success. In this breakdown of the poem’s action and primary images, flash card and note, you can see how the poem’s metaphor gains meaning, line by line, and ties back to its title. The greater meaning of this poem’s metaphor hinges on star. For me, it’s the North star, that heavenly guide. I think both the young boy and I were lost in that particular moment. Both of us needed to get our bearings and look hard at our flash card and note, before we could move forward and get it right. Some may say the last word, “Star” is the gold star, the success we all want to achieve, no matter how difficult it is.
I became interested in writing prose poems while I was completing my M.A. at SUNY Brockport in 1999. During that time, my ambition and desire was “to slam” the lyrical line into the narrative. I wanted to see how far I could push the music of the line to its point of breaking breath– much like the cresting of a wave. Mind you, “to slam” isn’t a literary term and my professors, in particular, poet Stan Sanvel Rubin, who loves and reveres the lyric poem, was truly skeptical of my choice of terms or collision tactics to create the combination of lines that would become my version of a prose poem. Fortunately, he recognized that I was challenging myself to create a poem that was pushing the limits of an extended metaphor, and supportive with both praise and suggestions. Consequently, over the years, I’ve enjoyed the ‘elasticity’ of the prose poem. How it invites poets to manipulate whole lines by using repetition, alliteration, a convincing rhythm, and narrative to create a poignant lyric moment.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Future in General

"I believe in things
that take a long time to make
like trees and books"
-- Arne Ruste from poem "Say More, Speak like Rain"

In a month I will have another birthday. My sister says we lose our cuteness at the end of a decade and are really cute at the beginning of a decade. I'm making the turn into rusty years-- the rough side drag of a decade. It's gonna be a long three years til the return of cute. I have marshmallow tendencies, even in all the bull work I've been doing. I feel soft in the middle. Squishy. I want to be formidable, not diffused. I want to say enough is enough. I want not to have to say it. I want my question: Would you like _____? to be answered on the first try. I'm unhinged by the guessing game. I'm related to people who answer in their heads and never
say what they want. This is a real problem because the receivers who never voiced what they want look perplexed, maybe a bit peeved. I didn't ask for this, they say, indignantly.
Yeah, I know, I decided. I don't know why I run my home as a democracy. I came from a home that was Monarchy. New World, Old World, This World. Now I think I made progress this summer. Pilgrim that I am, I have said the unsaid. I have given my feelings voice, and by doing so I feel liberated from the things that tie me up (my imagination, my tendency to create speculative fictions). When I stuff resentment, I think: suffer and die, suffer and die, which was
a mantra from childhood. To live with that fog in my chest is just too much. I blew it out in one long steady woosh.

Confessional versus Autobiographical. Domestic versus Other. These are the topics rolling around in my head. It's a constellation of my own making. See diagram:

* * *

* * *_______.

I want to make a paper boat and set a lit votive candle in its belly and let it sail the lake tonight.
This is making a way clear.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time to Weed

I have donned my "Potentially Disgruntled Employee' tee shirt, old cut offs , straw hat. It's time to tackle the sprawl of grasses that are trying to choke out our desperate plants.
Wish me luck.

2.5 hours in the blistering sun. Progress made. Tomatoes, eggplant and peppers may have a chance. Supposedly we're going to have a warm week (no rain!!), which means the plants will get what they need in order to double their size. Oh, I do hope the weather is warm and rainless right through to November. That would be perfect.

My face is sunburned and I had a wide brim hat on and sunscreen (?) It was really hot out there.
I took a swim after weeding. Water was just right. Then made an exceptional fresh dinner.

Here's the recipe:

Wash and chop up 4-5 tomatoes. Put chopped tomatoes in a decent size mixing bowl
and add these ingredients to the tomatoes:
Mince 2-3 small cloves of garlic (size of the pad of your baby finger).
Chop up 4-5 fresh, white mushrooms. Mushrooms need to be washed and patted dry.
then chopped.
Chop up into small pieces fresh mozzarella.
Chop up 4-5 leaves of fresh basil.
Chop a wedge of fresh yellow or red pepper
sprinkle a bit of red pepper flakes
a shake of pepper and seasoned salt
Then two turns around the bowl with olive oil
Mix all the ingredients and let sit
while you prepare your pasta per directions.

Drain pasta, put a little olive oil on pasta so it doesn't clump. You pick your favorite pasta. I like spaghetti rigati, which is a ridged spaghetti strand. But pasta is personal, so you pick what you like. You can serve this on one big plate family style or individual plates.
Put the fresh sauce on top of the pasta. With grated cheese (Pecorino Romano is my choice)
Serve with fresh salad and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Oh it's so good.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Adventures out the back door

Every bone and muscle aches. Past three days have been a marathon of activity.

We took the canoe to the pond yesterday morning, walking the trail in the woods across the street from our farm to a hidden pond. This is the pond where Peter and I let Elliot (snapping turtle, the size of a 50 cent piece) go last fall. While canoeing we saw a Great Blue Heron, a Green Heron sitting on a log over the pond, a painted turtle sunning on another log, many large grass carp undulating in the weeds (at first we thought they were turtles feeding-- quite a surprise, seeing them up close), damsel flies, very small fry, not sure what kind of fish, but not minnows (there are Blue Gill and Pumpkinseed in this pond), and A Rough Shinned Hawk. The children who have never been canoeing before were quite good at it. They kept quiet, quiet too, so we could see everything in its routine. We had a glorious mid-week weekend. The children have keen imaginations so it was fun swimming and hiking with them. We went berry picking (black raspberries-- the bramble was fierce and welcomed the gentle blueberry branches. Made blueberry and black raspberry pancakes which turned the batter lavender. They were delicious too. We watched two movies, their selections, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Nim's Island. I enjoyed Nim's Island because it sparks my imagination-- like Swiss Family Robinson ( I always wanted to have a treehouse room with a roof that opened up to the stars). The singing chipmunks were amusing too. They were singing contemporary pop tunes besides their own hits. It had some moments.

It's quiet here. Now to return to my appointed tasks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August Snippets

Here's a bit of distressing Palin commentary:

Palin's remarks are so off base. Well, you decide.

Went to see Julie & Julia last night. Overall I enjoyed the movie and would give it 4 stars. However, Julie's character arc is a bit off because viewers really don't "see" how she's a bitch. She really wasn't a bitch in my opinion. I didn't even find her narcissistic. With that said, it's a charming story. I thought Meryl Streep was wonderful-- actually all of the actors had great chemistry. Made me want Fall to come quick, so I could make a stew.

On the way home I thought of all the wonderful recipes I've gleaned from Blogville.
All you exceptional cooks.

Also, during the painfully long trailers (getting longer and longer and now include TV promo), two movies caught my attention: Amelia starring Hillary Swank (This looks like a great movie, one that has a "real" story-- fingers crossed that it's all that I hope it will be) and Lovely Bones based on Alice Sebold's novel.

In November, I will be leading a book discussion on Lovely Bones at Valley Manor. Valley Manor is an adult residence with varying degrees of assistance. The community
is smart, witty and charming. When I saw the Lovely Bones trailer, which seemed to follow the novel closely, I thought it would be great if the book club saw the movie too. I'll have to see if that would be possible. I guess that will depend on the DVD release.

Yesterday was a bit of a loss because of the muggy weather. The air is better today.
Company is coming today. It's going to get busy around here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Alone in the farmhouse

The sun is shining after many linked rainstorms last night. A lot of thunder and lightning. Now it's quiet. I'm drinking coffee. Had a bowl of exceptional fresh sliced peaches. Eating the sun, the best part of summer. Everything is so green and lush. It feels like early June. Heard cicadas yesterday and it startled me. Hardly warm enough for their simmering sound. Although it was very muggy. Nothing looks right. The grass should be yellowed and patchy and dry by now. The chicory isn't tough like barbed wire. Flowers, that should be done, continue to bloom. Saw mums, burgundy and gold, waiting to be sold. I pointed them out to Peter, and said Look and he said, What?, and I said Mums, and he said, Would you like some? And I said, Not yet. It just doesn't seem right. He said, Yeah, I know. They say (weather casters) that the hurricane season won't be as threatening this year, which I hope is true for the folks living on our coasts. it would be a welcomed break.

Yesterday, received my proof pages for upcoming The Centrifugal Eye. It looks gorgeous. Eve Hanninen is a remarkable artist, poet and editor. She was one of the first editors (in my awareness) to use Issuu Viewer, the virtual magazine. TCE is also available in print copy too. The compliment of poetry and artwork found in TCE is thrilling. I've wanted broadsides of these pages. Hope some of you will check this out and send some of your work to Eve's fine journal.

I have a stack of editing to do, both my own work and work for hire. Need to do that this week, without distraction. I have been so distracted lately. Most likely writing in my head, which I do a lot of before actually sitting down to write. I have so much drive time that it's become part of my process. I have written many poems this summer, but few stories and essays. Something is percolating. It's always a good feeling to begin the semester with new work. We'll see what happens in the next three weeks.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Out of Touch

Spent last week in the company of teen writers. A creative writing workshop focusing on poems, fiction, nonfiction & monologues. Again, the week went by quickly. Fortunately, it wasn't stressful getting to this week's workshop, as it was in the last workshop. Somehow I hit the highways just right, arriving 15-20 minutes early all week. I swear my spine locks when I get uptight. Stuck in construction or rubber-necking- the-how-did-that-happen accident is just enough to put me over the edge. I have to remind myself to offer it up. Stuck is stuck, until it's unstuck. What can you do?

Many times I wish I had a jet pack. That would solve a lot of distance problems for me.
I start out so early, not to be late, (I live at the end of the "milky way" on "Ma's Cow" road), but sometimes the trip becomes a test of letting go. There are some things not in our control-- road construction is one of them. I think I'm talking about this because the Fall semester will be beginning in 3-4 weeks. What? I declared every day from now until then will be Saturdays!