Sunday, February 28, 2010

Big Wave Didn't Come!

Big wave didn't come . . . Glad to hear that it was quiet in the Pacific. The newscasters were
so keen on reporting the "pull back" action, which is a signal for the Tsunami wave, but it was also low tide. It didn't disappoint me that the wave didn't come crashing into shore. Yesterday, I kept track of both news and Olympics and stayed at home. We had a heavy snowfall Thursday night into Friday, over 20 inches here. It took over 5 hours to clear out our driveway, just in time to jump in the car and make it to my class, where most of my students were waiting for me.


Received news from Six Sentences that another one of my micro fictions, "The Interview," will appear in its print journal. The release date will be March 16th. The six sentence story is so much fun to write. Perfect for poets. I like the idea of the six word story too. Many of you know
Hemingway's "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn." It's said that Hemingway claimed it to be his best work. Not sure if that's true, but I like how much is packed (implicitly & explicitly) into those six words. Six is an interesting number too-- as in six of those, half dozen of the other. It's a win-win number.


Upcoming week will be a catch up week. I'm looking forward to this luxury. By next Sunday, I want to tell everyone: mission accomplished. I want to have a lighter step. March is going to be very busy with special events. I'm looking forward to the scheduled readings and exhibits, lectures. March is a terrific month. Best day will be first day of Spring. I'm looking forward to that too. I'm hoping my lilies of the valley sleeping under the mound of snow have tripled. Last year in a bunch of donkeytail was one stray lily of the valley, which I planted. Next year I had at least three more. Then my friend who gave me the donkeytail, which is a succulent, gave me more of her lilies of the valley and they all took in transplant-- so I'm hoping for a real bouquet in Spring. Lilies of the Valley remind me of my mother, and I love the smell of those tiny white bells-- so lovely.

We've been looking at the seed catalogs too. Soon, soon. We'll be working the dirt again. Hopefully the weather will be better this year. Besides looking at seed catalogs, I've been checking out the class offerings at the Memorial Art Gallery. I would like to take another art class this summer.

Will March come in like a lion or a lamb? We'll see.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Will there be a Great Wave ?

Great Wave off of Kanagawa by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai

A bit worried about the possible Tsunami that's heading toward Hawaii. My sister Andrea lives there. All the lower roads have been closed. At 6 a.m. this morning. warning alarms were blasting. She's filled her bathtub with water, and is waiting . . . She told my other sister that it will take 13 hours to reach Hawaii.This Tsunami is the result of the earthquake in Chile, which reportedly, is far worse than Haiti.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Memory Lane

Watched a 16 mm film converted to video of my sister Andrea's graduation from Manhattanville (1960) this weekend. I didn't go to the actual event, I was 7 years old at the time and went to my Aunt Jane's house, which was probably a glorious weekend in the house on Aberdeen Street. But, I always wondered about Andrea's graduation. So this weekend I attended her graduation. 1960, my dad was the cameraman. Everyone was so beautiful and glamorous. I cried. a lot. My mother posing with Andrea, glasses off. All around the demure smiles. My sister Karen, sidling in next to Andrea, and my dad giving up the camera to get in a scene with Andrea-- proof that he was there and not being called to deliver a baby, which was always happening-- 10,000 babies. That's proof that babies come at all hours of day and night, and interrupted every important event in our lives. Always at Father-Daughter Dinners, Dad was there for fruit cocktail and called out, and we (Karen and I) went home with someone else's father-daughter. But Dad looked so pleased. This was his day to celebrate Andrea. I felt his kiss on Andrea's cheek. I wanted a kiss too. I wanted to be with both of my parents again. Everyone so youthful. I loved seeing the cars-- a tribute to GM in the parking lot. The women in the watching crowd, with matching silver fox stoles in that May heat. the procession of all the young women and I could name a lot of them as they passed by. Dad was a good cameraman. He took everyone's picture, even the nuns hurrying past and the Cardinal, who blessed the day.

I think Andrea received a degree in European History. All the gestures of grace were my mother's gestures. It was so amazing to watch. Our half century memories. I want my children to see this film.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Drip, drip

Everything is melting here. Hear it? I've been doing some fancy cleaning. Wish I lived in a house that had a drain in its center and a sprinkler system (like a dishwasher) and I could turn it on, leave and come back 2 hours later. Everything clean as a whistle. Dream on . . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday

So today is Fat Tuesday, a day to be deliberate in everything I do. I'm going to listen to Chris Isaak all day and prepare a World Lit quiz. I love his song "Wrong to love you." Going to Fisher for the whole day long. and maybe the Cyber Cafe will have some delish soup offering today-- it's very cold here, but the snow has been minimal. Our heavy snow was end of December-beginning of January. I'm hooked on Isaak's voice-- fitting for Fat Tuesday.

In my childhood, Lent always began with a noble decision to give certain things up. The offering began in general terms, then as I slipped in fasting, I would modify what was being given up. Example: Candy, then everything but Clark Bars and cinnamon discs-- no,no, just gum, except Chiclets. It's no wonder I'm the way I am.

In my children's childhood, we would have the annual Margaret Mead Memorial Egg Hunt on the farm. It was a blast. My oldest friends and their children would come to the farm and bring
a stash of plastic eggs filled with candy and coins and some even had dollar bills.

The older kids would hide the eggs and the hunt would last a long time, because there are a lot of hiding places here. I used to love listening to the swap conversation on the living room rug. They would sprawl and talk about their loot, and make deals. We'd have a big picnic meal. Grilling was always interesting because Spring was around the corner, but still cold here. The Canada Geese would fly (still do) by the hundreds at the hour of dusk. It looks like the scene from the Wizard of Oz-- flight of the flying monkeys. I miss those days. Maybe I will recreate it with our new generation of children. . . .

I think I'm looking ahead, not sure if I will be successful giving things up this year, but I'll try. I would really enjoy giving up being responsible. Is that possible? I would love to be spontaneous
for forty days. What do think would happen?

I have attempted a poem a day in February and I'm a bit behind. I have 8 new poems and 3 sudden fictions. I really don't know how Blogville folks stay on track with their challenges-- Kudos to them. I get distracted by the work I've just written. I always go back, and revisit the lines, and tweak them a bit. I wrote one poem, which everyone gave thumbs up -- even my sister Karen, who is first to tell me something stinks. PU, she says. Karen has a great ear. And, you betcha, I listen to her.

It's starting to snow-- a delicate, small snowflake snow is sifting out there.

Make sure you dance and sing today.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day from Lake Ontario

Happy Valentine's Day from Lake Ontario.

Photo: K. Iuppa

Sunday, sunday, so much to do-- my ABC report

A. From mid-January to mid-week last week, I have gone to countless meetings, written so many reports, and sent out over 20 recommendations-- all of which I'm relieved to say: fini. Yet, the sad truth: not one of my students will thank me for the recommendation (s), nor will they let me know if they were admitted into their desired programs (grad school to law school to medical school). I will see them weeks from now, and say, hey did you get into your program? And, they'll say, oh yea, I did. And I'll say, why didn't you tell me????? Social grace. I think we need to teach a course on it.

B. I turned in my students' poems and fictions for a writing competition. Unfortunately, some of my favorite poems weren't submitted because the students didn't follow through. I gave up on hounding them, especially after reminding them at each class at the end of last semester. It was obvious they weren't going to do it. Malaise. They suffer it. They don't realize that they could be surprisingly richer by merely handing in their work. Oh well, maybe this is good news for the ones who did submit their work. Good luck to them.

C. Yesterday, or maybe two days ago now. Our roaming chickens were standing under the canoe that is parked behind our farmhouse. Imagine this: the canoe is turned over and off the ground.
All you can see are the chickens' pantaloons-- their legs moving in step or not. It looked like
they were shouldering the canoe to go for a ride. It made me laugh. I didn't have a camera, but hope I do catch it again, so I can show you the visual.

D. Went to see Spring Awakening this past week, with my Encounters class. I did love the music, but found the story's narrative disappointing. I thought because it was controversial, it was going to have the depth and artistic quality of Cabaret. It doesn't.

E. Read in the news today that Lucille Clifton has passed. Over the years I have heard her read several times. Last time was a couple of years ago on my birthday. Always poignant, inspiring,
witty, honest. Long live, Lucille. I will keep your words close and pass them on.

F. Right now, moment in time, there is snow in every state, but Hawaii. My sister Andrea lives in Hawaii and says they're currently in a drought. No rain.

G. My paper whites are leaping forward. My amaryllis is growing slowly. I'm caught somewhere between these two energies.

H. It's Valentine's Day. " Love the one your with!"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Within Reach will soon be here!!

Last proof of Within Reach completed. Soon the book will be here. I'm so excited about this.

The photograph was created by my sister K Iuppa (visual artist).
I have always loved this magnolia on black velvet, and was so happy that she allowed me to use it for my book's cover.

Poets Susan Ludvigson's and Peggy Shumaker's kind words grace my back cover.

Thanks to Kevin Walzer for selecting my manuscript to be a part of the Cherry Grove Collections.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Shameless self-promotion

Please check out my mini-fiction just posted on Six Sentences:

Let me know what you think of it. This form intrigues me, and mine's just in time for Valentines.

Call for Submissions: Anthology of Women's Stories of Becoming

Subject: Call for Submissions: Anthology of Women's Stories of Becoming

The University of Nebraska Women's Center is publishing the anthology Becoming, edited by Jill McCabe Johnson. The editors seek personal narratives and a small number of poems relaying the story of a formative experience that helped shape the woman you've become.

Please send one personal narrative or one autobiographical poem to:
becominganthology(at) (replace (at) with @)

Files must be in .doc, .docx, .pdf, or .rtf formats. Files should be named with the word poetry or prose followed by the author’s last name. For example:

"Prose_Gonzalez.doc" or "Poetry_Albrecht-Hanes.pdf"

Poems should be one page or less. Personal narratives can be up to 1,000 words. Please note: only a handful of poems will be selected for the anthology.

In your email, please include:

Email address
Title of submission
If your submission was previously published please include the publication title, edition, and date

For full guidelines, go here.
Thank you. We look forward to reading your work!

Note: This looks very interesting and I think this editor was at PLU in my MFA program.
Kelli, this is Jill with the long dark hair and terrific sense of humor, right?

Revision, Anyone?

Yesterday, I went to the Just Poets monthly meeting to hear a lecture on revision by Kitty Jospe. Kitty just completed an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry, from Pacific University (2009), and I was interested to hear what she had to say. I took a lot of notes, most of which were in homage to her mentors: Ellen Bass, David St. John and her favorite poets, and her reactions to learning how to revise.

Revision is the challenge to "dig deeper" and unearth whatever you're not doing-- to shake up something in your subconscious. To look for the poem's aperture (opening in the poem) and see if something more wants to come out (David St. John).

Look for the unspoken tension-- that's where you want to invest(dig deeper)-- how does one create more tension? Ask the questions: Where's the heat? (Marie Howe) Where's the out cry?

In revision, "practice staying submerged." Think about how you relate simple information. This
could be your poem's setting and word choice in creating the setting. Think about the way you move metaphors forward. Many poets have trouble with this, either mixing metaphors or not paying attention to the order and incident in their poem's narrative-- how things build in a poem.

Think of poems you love, and figure out how you feel included in the poem. When a poem includes the reader, investment occurs. This is an important note to pay attention to while revising. Ask yourself: does the poem engage others?

Take time to notice and wonder about the poem. Kitty says, we should practice noticing and wondering-- I agree with her. She says, notice three things. I think three is a good number-- you can remember three things without much trouble. More than three and you're creating a list.

Kitty talked about drafting the poem in several points of view-- allow discovery to occur in each draft.

She said, quoting Sharon Olds: "Ask each word: can you leave?"


I think I do a lot of revision while driving. I have such long commutes that I often think about my drafts when I'm on open roads-- reciting the lines in my head, actually editing. So when I sit down to write the draft is quite realized.

Interesting though, I haven't brought any poems to workshop at the JP monthly meeting for three sessions now. Not that I'm not writing, rather I'm not ready to present the new work.
Maybe by the March session, I will be ready.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Upcoming Genesee Reading Series at Writers & Books 2/9/10 at 7:30 p.m.

Genesee Reading Series

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

7:30 PM

Writers and Books

Hosted by Wanda Schubmehl

Featuring Steven Huff and Ralph Black

February - well, it's winter in Rochester, so you can be pretty sure of interesting weather. You can be completely confident that the Genesee Reading Series this month features two of the area's hottest writers - Steven Huff and Ralph Black. Please join us for a memorable evening!

Steven Huff is the author of two books of poems, most recently More Daring Escapes, and a collection of stories, A Pig in Paris. A Pushcart Prize winner in fiction, and an O. Henry finalist, his poetry has been read on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac, and been chosen by Ted Kooser for American Life in Poetry. The former host of WXXI’s Fiction in Shorts, he is Director of Adult Education and Programs at Writers & Books, and teaches writing at RIT and the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College.

Ralph Black’s poems have appeared in the West Branch, The Gettysburg Review and 32 Poems, among other journals. He is the recipient of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize from The Massachusetts Review. His first book, Turning Over the Earth, was published by Milkweed Editions. He teaches at SUNY Brockport, where he is Co-Director of the Brockport Writers Forum.