Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rainy Day Wednesday

Strange mood. It's raining quite hard and steady this morning. The gutters are gurgling. The meadow grasses that once were brimming with clusters of asters and daisy flea bane are now entering their phase of entropy-- the umber of demise-- the sounds of rattle. Autumn turns its face away. "There are no answers, only choices."

Wrote a new poem yesterday, but my writing time was disturbed by family asking me what I was doing. Is this their first day living with me? Not sure if this is worth being annoyed about, but the poem I wrote disturbed me. It revealed something quite intimate about my interior life.

I'm going to let it simmer on the back burner for a bit.

Today, I will be showing Our Town to my metaphor class. Hunka-Hunka Burning Love-- Paul Newman stars in it. I think it's a fascinating play, and enjoyed listening to my students play the parts in class. Even gender bending, asking them to play opposite roles. I loved how they interpreted the voices. I think they will be surprised by how accurate they were in delivery and tone, which is a hat tip to Wilder. I'm hoping they will pick up on the undertelling in the story.
How change is a curious character in the play. Make us think twice about what is happening.
It's really not the pat answer of remembering the way we were or live life to the fullest or a version of Carpe Diem.

Thursday I will be taking my Encounters class to PUSH Theatre's performace of Dracula. I posted a huge promotion about it an earlier post. Those of you who are in our area should
go to the performance. PUSH is breath-taking. If you're not in the area, but could bring this troupe to your area, I would say look into it, especially colleges and universities that have a dance department. I love dance. SUNY Brockport has a strong dance department and I love to go to their performances, which are quite frequent and varied.

Hope all of you out there are well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Definition of Break, Brake

An eventful weekend: my youngest son broke his ankle in his last rugby match of the season. This is going to take 4-6 weeks to heal and may jeopardize his snowboarding trip out west, as well as countless other things he has planned right now. No doubt, he will hobble through this. I'm hoping he will make a speedy recovery. It's not the break, but the tendon damage that worries me. That kind of injury takes time . . . We went to an urgent care facility (Doc in a Box) and it was terrific care. So glad we didn't go to the emergency room. We'd probably still be there. As it was, the urgent care had its share of flu patients. Interesting too, it was very, very old patients and mini munchkins who were sick with the flu. So those two groups mush be the most vulnerable. Students are now starting to get sick. But it isn't flu. Mono, bronchitis, pneumonia. The coughs have been "seal barks," which has unhinged some of the students who are sitting "too close." I try not to think of the spray of germs and how invasive they are. Yuck!

Wrote a poem last week and ruined it. Worse than burned spinach. Hit delete. Yet some of the phrases still swirl in my head, tempting me to pick them up and start over with images that won't leave me. And it's actually leaves-- bright yellow leaves. Big basswood leaves(the size of plates) and maple leaves-- glow in the dark, especially when the moonlight strikes them . . .

I've been looking at everything as if it were a diorama-- small dramas contained within the hollow stump of a tree, the swirl of moss on rocks, the way the land moves in open space and how it rises up in the city, trying to make sense of it. The grid I live in or outside of, depending on the hour and my willingness to conform.

You should hear the rascal voice in my head. The one that encourages me to give it a go, which is very youthful and doesn't know when to stop. I want to stop for a bit. Just take it in, without
any judgment, just be-- somehow filled up by being would work for me right now. I need turtle medicine. Do you know what I mean? I need to get lost in a stare's daydream. Yeah, that's it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tonight is Opening Night of Push Theatre's Dracula at GeVa Theatre, Rochester, NY

PUSH Physical Theatre

Gravity defying PUSH Physical Theatre has been called a cross between fine art sculpture and the hit movie “The Matrix.” You have never seen anything like this before... it’s cool, it’s athletic, it’s entertaining, it’s impossible to resist... This theatre of the body features performers who appear to manipulate time and space in a live environment.

It’s all about the stories. The narratives of our lives played out with hope, strength and optimism. Once you’ve experienced PUSH, you will know the strength of the human soul expressed by the power of the human body.

PUSH’s unique form has transformed it into a national company that has performed all over England, across the United States and Mexico and appeared on PBS and NPR.

PUSH's DRACULA at Geva Theatre

Groundbreaking Work gets World
Premiere at Geva Theatre

PUSH’s Darren & Heather Stevenson:
2009 Arts Council Performing Artist of the Year

PUSH's Dracula

With the addition of respected Rochester actor and writer, Danny Hoskins, Dracula is not only an experiment in true collaboration, but a daring departure from the company’s usual silent treatment. Hoskins wrote the loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel and plays the part of “Renfield,” from whose point of view the classic story of seduction, desire and madness is told. Creative music and sound design have always been an integral part of PUSH – as they are in Sound Designer Dan Roach’s brilliant soundscape for Dracula but beyond co-founder Darren Stevenson’s entertaining curtain speeches, the word has always been mum…until now.

“Combining our physical theatre with Danny’s excellent acting and writing talents has resulted in something that’s quite possibly groundbreaking – I certainly have never seen anything quite like this before,” says Darren.
The six-member company not only uses its physicality to play the story’s characters, but incredibly transforms itself into set pieces, props, creatures and more. PUSH presented a five-minute sneak peek during its May/June Time Remix Geva run, as well as two full-length workshop performances in Geva’s What’s Next: Festival of New Theatre in June, both to very enthusiastic audience response.
In addition to Heather, Darren and Danny, the second-act piece also features PUSHers Johanna Bystrom, Jonathan Lowery, Christine Prewitt and Isaac Carter. Act One of the program will feature PUSH favorites including “Galileo” and “The Visit.”

See behind the scenes photo's and video, hear from PUSH cast members and download free Dracula desktops on PUSH's Facebook fan page:


Friday, Oct 23: 7pm (opening night)
Saturday, Oct 24: 4 & 8pm
Sunday, Oct 25: 3pm
Wednesday, Oct 28: 7pm
Thursday, Oct 29: 7pm
Friday, Oct 30: 7pm
Saturday, Oct 31: 4 & 8pm (Halloween)
Sunday, Nov 1: 3pm
Wednesday, Nov 4: 7pm
Thursday, Nov 5: 7pm
Friday, Nov 6: 7pm
Saturday, Nov 7: 4 & 8pm
Sunday, Nov 8: 3pm

Sunday, October 18, 2009

24 hour Getaway

Went to the Finger Lakes for a 24 hour getaway. We hiked in the Bristol Mountains, ate at a lovely bistro called The Brown Hound, then returned to The Gell House and talked and played cards. Woke up early this morning, ate an exceptional breakfast, then packed up and went to the Ontario County Park and hiked there for a bit. Returned home. Since arriving home, I've put by another batch fresh tomato sauce and made an apple pie; did some laundry, and looked at the mail. It was really nice getting away; and now, it feels good settling back in. The woodstoves are burning. Our farmhouse is toasty warm. The leaves were mostly yelloworange, with a blush of red, but not as much as usual. No doubt the rain has something to do with this. But the valley looked breath-taking at the look out. Our small towns look so picturesque, especially when autumn presents us with a glorious day. We walked in a woods that reminded me of New England. I like the way the trails wound around and around and around. It was a foot and bike trail, and we could see the mountain bikers move through the woods, lickety-split, flashes of them, moving above us on a different path. I was going slower than my company because I worried about losing my footing. There were a lot of leaves and the ground was slippery from yesterday's rain. I do a lot of walking, but I live in a very flat landscape; so consequently, this hilly landscape was a challenge for me. As I grew accustomed to the incline or decline, my breathing and heart rate adjusted. I should do more of this.

Congratulation to my friend Kelli Russell Agodon. She sent me an email note announcing her good news. White Pines Press has accepted her second full length collection as the winner of this year's competition. Carl Dennis judged. LETTERS FROM THE EMILY DICKINSON ROOM will be released in Fall 2010. Very exciting news!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Self Portrait with note, numbers, and the power of two feet

When work gets extremely busy with busyness, I play a game, much like plucking petals off a daisy-- the decision for love or not-- something for them, something for me, or not. I've been waiting for news by mail, email; instead have received hand writ notes scribbled and sent under my office door. Some for me, some for the others who share my space. All S.O.S. All given a roll of lifesavers, in memory of Hart Crane. So far, the flu hasn't torpedoed my classes. Not a sniffle. Midterms this week. Next week we roll into the second half of the semester. The leaves are changing. I roasted and put by a bushel red peppers last weekend and made another apple pie, which is all gone. Went to see My One and Only with my sisters and family. The leaves are changing and some have fallen. I've been sending work out. I've been preparing reports, grading papers, reading books. I've been making lists. I want to walk and walk and walk along the lake. I don't want to be carrying anything. On Sunday's walk, I saw common loons, mergansers, Canada geese riding the lake waves.There were birders at work, hunched over their high powered scopes, scribbling a line or two on their clipboards. The leaves, blowing away. Yesterday the first heavy frost came. The basil and cilantro shriveled up. We're putting things away.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art, Music, Email, Apples

Yesterday, I went to Fisher for meetings and had a lively and invigorating art conversation with two of my faculty members about the upcoming Paint Made Flesh exhibit. Soon it will be on display at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY. I'm taking my Encounters class to see the show. This exhibit is going to be BIG, as in the size of the canvases and the consequence (range of emotions) found in these paintings.

Here's a NPR link:

If you go to this site, you can click on one of the images and see the slide show of 13 paintings in the exhibit.

After meetings I had to go to the RPO ticket office and swap tickets because they sent me the wrong date for my class! Imagine my eyeballs bugging out and rolling on my desk when I realized this! All is well. Made the exchange of tickets, pronto! We're going to the RPO concert celebrating the recent Van Cliburn winner Haochen Zhang. He's nineteen and a stunning pianist. I can't wait.

Here's a link of

Haochen Zhang - Bach BWV 848


Then I went and spent some sister time with my sisters. My oldest sister Andrea has been here since Monday. She arrived on an early, early morning flight, and has been hanging out at the lake house (My sister Karen's house), reading and relaxing. I was so glad to get there (finally) yesterday afternoon and I stayed until 9 p.m. We laughed a lot. Conversations bounced from what happened then to what's happening now. We're going to be together today too.


I have my papers graded and handed back, so I'm up to date in all of my classes. Midterms this week. Hard to believe it's mid-semester. Received a lovely email from a young woman in B.C. Canada who is studying creative nonfiction and using Short Takes, an anthology edited by Judith Kitchen. The class has been studying my essay "Daylight Savings Time" and she has been reading and rereading it, and decided to write me to talk about it. So sometime this weekend, most likely Sunday, I will sit down and write her a letter, and hopefully answer her questions.


The apples are ready to be picked. Yesterday, before traveling to Fisher, I walked into our little orchard and picked some golden delicious apples for the road(these apples are so yum). I love biting into apples, and how they shake up your mouth. So much better than chewing gum. I ate one on the way to school. The 45 minute ride can be long, either way, and having apples in the car can save me from low blood sugar. So I made a good choice by getting the apples before leaving. However, my shoes were totally soaked from the morning dew, and consequently wet the whole day long.

I hope it's a sunny day today. I've been up for hours and daylight is just coming on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October: Awareness of the World

“There’s a sense in which poetry is not so much the writing of words as much as it is the movement of breath itself. To write it you must pay attention to the breathing of poetry, to all speech as breath, to the relationship of our thoughts and emotions and the actual way they fill our bodies. This is the emotional, physical centering of the activity of poetry.”

– Poet Robert Hass

This week focus on who you are where you are and why you are (write pro or con or both). The poem within the poem. The facade voice versus the actual voice. Roar or pip squeak. Challenge to write three poems (triad) that stand alone and together. What image word will be the "Hinge."

Brainstorm write at least 5 words under each column:

Landscape Emotion Colors Objects Verbs in Action

Use as many of the trigger words as you like in your poem.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Briefly Noted: The Week That Was

Enjoyed Robert Bernard Hass's reading on Thursday Night. He recites with a strong, yet tender voice. As a Frost scholar, his work pays homage to Frost and Wilbur and Eliot. C-O-U-N-T-I-N-G Thunder reflects upon nature and human nature through a variety of forms: sonnet, villianelle, free verse and so on. Some of the poems are written from a place of longing; looking back upon his childhood landscape growing up in the Hershey Pennsylvania area. Many lovely, poignant poems in this first collection.


I've been thinking about the process of writing a series of poems. I enjoy reading linked poems. How the series, even if it's lyric or lyric-narrative poems, creates a greater narrative because of its cumulative effect. I love the use of epigraph in series writing. It serves as a jumping off point because the epigraph in itself is un bon mot and shouldn't be duplicated; making the poet leap in her/his imagination to uncharted territory. In many ways it's making sense of a particular topic, from multiple angles. Here's the challenge: to make sure that the poems can stand on their own as well as in group. However, it's quite possible, maybe more usual, that there will be several poems that are only successful in "cluster." Maybe the cluster actually is the poem in its entirety.

Long ago, I wrote a series called Temptations, which became a chapbook. I still love these poems and I learned so much about the poet's craft while writing them. Writing in a series makes a poet focus in a different way. When I'm writing poems that are inspired by my randomness and the everyday, they may be considered a loose series because the topic is
"all about me" (HA!) . I used to think I thumped out these poems, whereas a directed series, with its research and concentration, is a very different experience. In many ways it creates the opportunity to use persona, which I love because you can act, speak, move behind the guise.

Maybe some of you who have written in series could weigh in here. This would be a good panel discussion, don't you think?


Shout outs: Congratulations to Karen Weyant's recent news. Her poems were selected as HM and Special Merit by Maxine Kumin in the Comstock Review's annual contest. Can't wait to see the poems, Karen! Check out Comstock's web site. It's one of my all time favorite journals.


Today is make an Apple pie day! I have papers to correct and laundry to do and things to sort.
The last one is the killer, but I feel so much better when I have the mail under control.
We're going to canoe on the pond this morning too. I imagine it's changed a lot since the last time we were there.