Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Aeolian Piano

Trying to write a poem for more than an hour. It's usually delivered whole to me. Otherwise I don't trust it.

All I hear are waves and birds and my old dog crying for breakfast. A plane far off.

Poem not born this morning, just pieces and parts on a page.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eclectic poetry news

Having blog and blog-friend withdrawal. Too busy last week with school, work, and fabulous baseball game (a two-run homer in the 11th inning, us standing right next to the fireworks), Pandemonium at CPT, Jeff Chiplis's neon work at Arts Collinwood gallery, reading old manuscripts, etc...

Hate to leave the lake when it's cool, sunny, and breezy...

Met with M & M (Mary Biddinger and Michael Dumanis) my thesis director & advisor yesterday. Poems coming together in an organic way (hopefully). Breaking some old habits. My love-hate relationship with narrative (why do we crave it? why should I care?). Poems becoming deductive and reductive. This book will be totally different than my first, that's for sure.

Changes at Whiskey Island: The annual poetry and fiction prizes are now $500 each, with no "runner-up" prizes being awarded. Denise Duhamel is the judge for poetry; Karen Joy Fowler the judge for fiction. Contest submissions open October 1, 2007, and close March 31, 2008. Expect to see a different Whiskey Island than in the past. Editor Karen Schubert, fiction editor (Travis Hessman), and poetry editor (me), going in a new direction. Stay tuned.

The Whiskey Island stuff has absolutely nothing to do with the Cleveland State Poetry Center contests and publications. But director Michael Dumanis is shaking that up too...

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Sometimes these girls were and are reason enough to keep going. The one on the left is gone now. The one on the right is "sundowning." Sweet peas. B, thanks for the pic.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

School 3

Instead of complaining about dead poets, I will celebrate the living ones. Courtesy of Mary Biddinger at University of Akron, we met poet and painter Kate Greenstreet last night. This is what school is for!

If you shun poetry because it seems like prose that has been broken into shorter lines, or if you shun poetry for its overwrought language, or its (sometimes) dripping emotion, or anal attention to seemingly irrelevant details, you should read Greenstreet's case sensitive (published by Ahsahta Press).

It's a fictional road trip, a rumination on great women of science (who are never named). It's about salt and its high and low attributes. It's about a break-up, a character who talks to ghosts who is journeying toward an empty house that has been willed to her. It's about eating tuna fish sandwiches in motel rooms and listening to a murder mystery on tape. All mashed up together.

She took risks, and garnered more than 300 rejections before publishing this and a chapbook. Now that's some kind of grit.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

School 2

Okay, am relating to Whitman in a couple ways:

The first time I saw the Pacific Ocean, I pressed my legs together and sawed like a cricket.

Also, he worked for many, many publications, wrote essays, had columns, published poems in them, and usually left under unfavorable circumstances (didn't like the owners' politics, the owners didn't like his politics, he clashed with the money people). He wasn't liberal enough for the abolitionist papers; he wasn't conservative enough for the pro-slavery newspapers. It reminds me of the time when the editorial workers of the Free Times tried to unionize the paper, and I managed to anger both sides.

Obviously, my world has gotten very narrow: school, work, home, school, work, home. Isn't there a war going on?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


School has started with a vengeance. Already behind in reading.

My first impression: Whitman and Dickinson were wack-jobs.

I'm sure that will change under the guidance of my professor.

The trouble with poetry is either the poet tells too much or too little. And why do we have to have narrative at all? Isn't that the novelist's (or the carny's?) domain?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Monarch days

It isn't a swarm. It's more of a gathering. All of a sudden monarchs. Tree to tree, as if looking for their tribe. Having crossed the lake, it's time to rest and collect in the silver maples. At dusk they look like miniature bats, drunk on nectar. They have so far yet to go.