Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tea Time or Nap Time?

Winter's Clock, January 2015.Photo by P. Tonery.

Is it tea time or nap time? Mid-January waiting for the blue skies of first thaw.  Not in sight, not just yet. . . . Maybe tomorrow. 

It has been double negative cold with blowing snow and icy streets.  Still, we went out last night to honor Michael Arve's (actor, playwright, director) final full theater production with Judgment at Nuremberg by Abby Mann. So glad we were able to make our way East and settle in the MuCCC theatre space to see this thought-provoking play that had exceptional performances by Roger Gans as Judge Dan Haywood and Peter J. Doyle as Ernest Janning.  Tonight's last performance is sold out.  Kudos to Michael Arve for this fine production.  I find it hard to believe that he'll embrace retirement.  I'm hoping Michael will be like Cher and have a comeback production of his choice in 6-9 months, just enough time for him to enjoy some travel time or down time or both; then jump right back into the Rochester theatre scene. We'll see . . .

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Short Story "Thin Walls" on Black Poppy Review 1/13/2015

Thin Walls by M.J. Iuppa

Hope you like this recent "haunting" story.  if you have work that is "haunting," consider sending it to Black Poppy Review.  

 About the Editor:

Sandy Benitez is the founder & editor of Poppy Road Review.  She's been nominated for the Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best of the Web.  Sandy is also the editor of  Flutter Press and Black Poppy Review.  She's been published in over 135 print and online literary journals since 2006.  Sandy has authored 6 poetry chapbooks and has been published in 3 anthologies.              

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tis A Cold Morning on Red Rooster Farm: photo by P. Tonery. (2014).

Good Morning, Gentle Readers~
Today begins the long march to Spring.  This week I will welcome students to my classes that will be jammed packed with work that counts, in my estimation, for life.  The rooster crows. Are you ready?

Yesterday, my micro story "Secondhand" was accepted by100 Word Story. I am thrilled by this news.  I love the consistently good work they publish, and I am so happy to be listed among their authors. The 100 word form is tricky. Thankfully, they do not count the title into their word count! But for those of you who love to write nugget stories, 100 Word Story  is a gallery to consider.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Last Sunday of Holiday Break. No Comment.

From Kitchen Window Facing West, photo P. Tonery.(Winter 2014).

Here I am standing on the edge of starting over.  The anticipation of a new semester is much like preparing for a newborn.  What would make this new semester perfect? I'm a veteran and I'm still asking this question. Always cheerful about the fresh start.  So many things went well last semester.  I'm going to make it so this semester too.

Truthfully, I am going to miss this luxurious life, that is doing what I want when  I want to do it.  I have written a lot of poems, essays and stories over this break.  The poems gave me a hard time. Each one seemed to be a 1000 piece puzzle.  I'm wondering if the reel of prose line is making it difficult to find the poem's proper rhythm. Mixing genre can complicate one's level of competency.  So, because of this, I have been running away with a writer's tool kit that looks like our 38 years of  homesteading. We have gadgets, tricks, solutions, a memorized list of profanity, frustrations, successes.  You get the drift. But what has been really challenging me this break is determining who is doing this writing.

Of course, it's me, but not the me you know in this blog, or in the classroom, or out in our many gardens.
My creator me can stop (temporarily stop)  life's chaos.  I have a gift of blocking everything out.  My concentration can go to depths that sonar can't reach.   I think this space is immortality.  I think I have lived here for thousands of years. Because of this, my writing "sees" from both sides.  It's weirdly calm when I'm in this space. In this space, I can be many things-- good and not so good things.  The liberation isn't a "break though," but I imagine I may have thought it was long ago, because I didn't really understand what was happening.  Not really.  When you let the story be told without restraint, you start to see the immense power of  your imagination.  To be a creator has to include the failures, near misses, scraps of paper with gold stars-- the process is both coarse and fine work.  I like the chunkiness of my current writing.  The way it comes into focus reminds me of Polaroid film,  the way my memory recalls, bit by bit, the discovery of the missing pieces.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Daily Mandala

Stunningly cold. I'm not prepared for this.  It's a slap.  What did I expect (wish for) a mild, green winter?

This week, a series of sealed envelopes. Yesterday, I ventured out and made my way over the St. John Fisher College to do some work before the Spring semester begins. I completed those tasks by 4:30 p.m. A decent day's work.   Today, I have to prepare  for my upcoming classes.  I'm hoping to get my syllabi done before the weekend.   I feel the tug, the March Hare is beginning to thump his watch, so many important dates.

"I do what I like, and I like what I do." How reassuring this argument is.I can smile like the Cheshire Cat.

 It's cold and still dark.  It's snowed, as predicted. Every once in a while a car drives by. Where are you going?  I think this is a question that is both informational and spiritual. How often do we ignore the spiritual side of it?  Sometimes, it's hard to answer the question.   Sometimes, I'm frustrated by the repetition.  Routine can be good and not-so-good.   Just  think of all the things we count on. When I go to the store,  my family expects me to come back with groceries.  What if I came back empty handed? Would I be ready to answer  the long list of why?  Is this the reason why I buy groceries, to avoid the questions? Maybe,so.

I'm  making progress on my second scarf.  I hope to finish it today, or maybe tomorrow. My trigger thumb is improving. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Art, Art, Art

The wind howled all night long . . . Still dark, this January morning, snow swirling, swirling.  Perhaps this will be a good day to stay put.

Yesterday, I finished my first scarf of 2015.  A length of thoughts, I'd say.  I love the shades of green.  This will keep someone very warm.

Began the second scarf. This is shades of purple and pink and blue, like the early mornings in the apple orchard.  My thoughts continue.  In the year of finishing my MFA, I  knitted my thesis before I wrote it.  The rhythm of knitting takes me somewhere beyond the rocking chair.  The weave of my imagination. 

In 10 days or so, the Spring semester will begin.  Well, truthfully it's Winter, but we work towards Spring, and when Spring arrives, we will be so anxious to have it done.  Predictable.  But what isn't predictable is the mood of the semester.   These days, I'm only interested in the conversation of creative process. 

I am only interested in Art.  I think this may be intimidating, the mystery of Art, which is something I find comforting.  Something I can go back to and  study it from another angle. I don't have all the answers, but look forward to the conversation.   I think art makes me think  like the turn of a kaleidoscope. How subtle is the slight change.  Something beautiful in the silence that follows the turn. To see it this way is the difference, I think. 

Upcoming Local Events:

Writers & Books, 740 University Avenue

Friday evening, January 9, 2015, 7-8:30 p.m.
Price: Pay What You Wish.

Building on the narrative of our lives…one brick at a time. Join us to celebrate the inaugural issue of The Big Brick Review and enjoy readings by several of the first-issue authors. Wine and snacks provided.
Initial publication: The Big Brick Review launched its inaugural issue on Oct 7, 2014, featuring celebrated narrative nonfiction writers including Georgia Beers, Susan Bono, Gregory Gerard, Erin Green, Sonja Livingston, Jenny Lloyd, Sejal Shah, and Alison Smith. The next scheduled publication is a February Essay Contest issue. See for more information.
What’s it all about? The Big Brick Review is an online publication devoted to support of the narrative non- fiction genre by serving as a venue for established writers and a springboard for emerging writers. Founded in 2014 by Gregory Gerard, the journal features personal accounts that build on the narrative of our lives, finding new insight to old struggles…old insight to new struggles…and all shades-of-gray in between.

Writers & Books, 740 University Avenue
Genesee Reading Series, curated by Wanda Schubmehl
Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 7:30-9 p.m. Poets Kathleen Van Schaick and Colleen Powderly
Price: $3.00 member' $6/ General Public.

Now in its 31st year, the Genesee Reading Series presents writers from the greater Genesee Valley region reading in the W&B Performance Space.

Kathleen Van Schaick has been an elementary school teacher and literary anthology editor (Le Mot Juste, Foothills Publishing, 2008-2010). Her work has been published in The MacGuffin, The Broad River Review, Cairn: St. Andrews Review, The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America and Listening to Water: The Susquehanna Watershed Anthology. She was awarded the 2006 Portia Steele Award in Poetry. She serves as program coordinator on senior issues for WXXI radio’s Reachout Radio, programming for the blind and visually impaired, and is a hospice volunteer.

An avid hiker, she has hiked in Vermont, North Carolina and Newfoundland. Colleen Powderly’s early poems reflect her childhood in the deep South and a decade spent in the Midwest. Those poems eventually formed the basis for her book, Split (FootHills Publishing, 2009). More recent work has focused on narrative and ekphrastic poems. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Ekphrasis, Steel Toe Review, Third Wednesday, and The Centrifugal Eye, and has been anthologized in Malala: Poems for Malala Yousefzai and Mo’ Joe: The Anthology. Colleen has served on the editorial board for the Just Poets anthology, Le Mot Juste, and is currently Vice President of that organization.

Upcoming GRS Readings:
February 10: Norm Davis and Rick Petrie
March 10: Al Abonado and Noah Falck

Just Poets Events:

 On Thursday, January 8thDavid Forman is our featured reader followed by open mic (Barnes & Noble, 7 PM). You may not know David—he divides his time between Ithaca and Rochester and comes to readings and meetings when he can. He’s a fine poet and I look forward to hearing him read at length.

·         Saturday, January 10th is our monthly meeting at St. John Fisher. Bob McDonough leads a program on poet Russell Atkins. Here’s a link to a good article on Atkins along with a sample of his poems: Bring your poems for workshop afterwards. Please note that we will meet in the Wilson Formal Lounge, just past the student cafeteria on the first floor. (1:30-4 PM).

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Sunday of the New Year, 2015

Apple Orchard in Winter
Photo by P. Tonery

So, here we are at the beginning of a new year, and I'm looking for a way to make this year different from all the others.

Top Five Ambitions:

1. To have this year be filled with discoveries.
2. To imagine all the possibilities attached to the word: Yes. 3. To dance and sing and laugh, with young and old, and everyone in-between. 4.To be clear in my thoughts and actions. 5.  To have the best garden, ever.

This will be the year of "No Regrets."  Smoke goes up the chimney, the kitchen is warm.  My home isn't polite.  It takes heart to live here, and I do most of the time have heart.

I have been writing a lot since I returned from Brooklyn.  The work is scary and dark.  Hardly a match for my usual disposition.  I'm in unfamiliar territory.  This fiction's make-believe may change the way I see the world. I have a naked eye.  Everything is changing.  Strangely, I'm not afraid.

This past week I finished a short fiction called "Thin Walls."  a prose poem called "Gray Sea, Gray Ship, Floating, " a lyric poem called "Not Nearly Enough to Save," "Among White Birches," and "What Words Would Do." I'm still working on a Lyric CNF essay.  It's going to be long.

Lastly, I am going to be a bit more faithful to this blog this year.  I want to post more about the writing life, about my love of art, and the art of living on a small farm.  The seed catalogs are arriving now.  Gorgeous veggies.  This upcoming growing season may be really warm  (I hope so).   So far, the winter has been very mild. Last year was a record for snow and cold, and our growing season was not as warm as in the past.  2012 was our last exceptional year.  Maybe a three year cycle?  We'll see.

Today:  More editing work to finish.  Planning on making a potful of applesauce.  Want to go for a long walk.


Friday, January 2, 2015

The Second Day of the New Year . . .What I did Yesterday

Happy New Year to You  and You and You . . . The customary practice  for New Year's Day is to do everything you love to do; hence. guaranteeing that you will do all those things over the course of the year.

What I did yesterday:

I made an exceptional pot of coffee.

Woke up early and wrote several poems and revised several too.

I did a cedar waxwing watercolor in my journal.  He looks like a fat buddha baby.
Went to a New Year's Brunch with my oldest friends.  I love them  all so very much. We laughed for at least 3 hours. They always puts me in the best mood.

I spent time knitting. The scarf I'm making will hopefully cure my trigger thumb (painful). I did this once before and the knitting fixed my thumb's alignment and everyone got a scarf.  It was definitely a win-win.  
The yarn I'm working with is really gorgeous shades of green and oh-so soft. 

I did the tally of my creative work submitted in 2014 (poems, fictions, CNF essays, reviews, plays):
91 acceptances. It was an exceptional year.I'm grateful to  my muses and to all of the editors who have said, yes. Of course, when I announced this news, Peter and Nick said: Next Year Break One Hundred.  Ah, the glove has been thrown into the ring. We'll see.


On Wednesday, December 31 (New Year's Eve), I met up with a group of poets for a Word Happening at Starry Nites Cafe. It was a blast. Two 20 minute writing sets, selecting two of the prompts from the handout, with the direction that they could stray from the directions, if need be.

We shared out after the writing, which is always a challenge, e.g. reading one's handwriting. I was stunned by how fabulous the work was. So much to admire in this magnificent seven !    We set a date for the next word happening.  Can't wait.