Friday, February 29, 2008

just can't stop it

In response to the previous post, an old friend now living in the U.K. tells me that this very evening, he's going to see the Specials' Neville Staples perform with the Beat (aka the English Beat) tonight in Oxfordshire! I'm jealous.

If only the Concorde were still operational...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

stop your messing around

Boy, sometimes there is nothing that gets you going like a good old-fashioned ska tune. Thank you, WFUV!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Personal Narrative: The Art and the Health of It

Here are some random notes that will probably mean nothing to anyone but me and the one billion other people who were at the AWP panel with Kyoko Mori, Michael Steinberg, Molly Peacock, Phillip Lopate, and Mindy Lewis. I've got to get them down somewhere besides this crumpled piece of notebook paper on my desk!

Molly Peacock: Fact and metaphor are a way of "buttressing the personal voice" to prevent "dull midvoice lyricism" (and navel-gazing). They anchor voice in the conscious world. "Fact creates a neutral shared reality with the reader."

"Operation Gomorrah" [Marione Ingram] Best American Essays 2007 [not sure who recommended this: M. Steinberg?]

Elizabeth Gilbert [Yes, and....? Who mentioned her?]

Phillip Lopate: shame about personal narrative--there are good and bad reasons to be defensive about it. "The reader is not your mother." The reader wants to be stimulated--turn yourself into a character. [where I have heard that before?] "I've always regarded myself as slightly obnoxious...[my character] became a curmudgeon."

Mindy Lewis: "Facing Shame in Personal Narrative." Memoir
Life Inside "Era is important in writing memoir."

My own notes for Little Star:
era of aggressively [ostentatiously] responsible parenting
era of post-9/11 insecurity (esp. in NYC)

Friday, February 15, 2008

words of wisdom from a broad abroad

I've spent some time this morning emailing dear friends who are living in Europe. Jill, in Switzerland, sends this bit of wisdom:

Gospel Truth: one really never knows. So, it's best to be open to surprises.

Spoken like a true radical liberal Lutheran!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Eating: Russell Stover Private Reserve Vanilla Bean Brulee (bought myself)
Listening to: The Juliet Letters by Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet

Evening plans: Poets Billy Collins, Deborah Landau, David Lehman, Noah Michelson, Honor Moore, Molly Peacock, and Mark Strand help celebrate Valentine’s Day when they read from The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present at New York University.

And probably more chocolate.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

a parliament of owls

Tu-whoo! tu-whoo! What a to-do!! Bobby and I have been reading The Silver Chair from the Narnia series, and I feel I need to quote the wise owl Glimfeather, because my contributor's copies of the fabulous first issue of Barn Owl Review have arrived! I'm so glad to be published in this excellent magazine from my home state with fellow Ohioans Nin Andrews and Susan Grimm, and many other wonderful poets.

The poem is "Subway Blunder," from the collaborative series that Denise Duhamel and I have been working on, ABBA: The Poems. Our rules are that each poem has eight quatrains, rhyming in abba scheme, and there must be one reference to 70s pop superstars ABBA. We've had a lot of fun with these poems, and fortunately, Barn Owl's Mary Biddinger is an ABBA fan!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

stella bus update

Stella's IEP (individualize Education Plan) has been udpated to reflect the heavily documented, hard-won request that she have a bus ride of 45 minutes or less each day.

So far, the driver is still picking her up at 6:45 (school starts at 8). We'll see what happens.


In their fab book Vicki King and Jennifer O'Connell intersperse the lively text with "Mantras to Get You Through the Day."

Here's one:

I am that friend in need.

Guess it's time to call in those rainchecks.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

a friend in need

I somehow ended up with a free subscription to Parenting magazine, which seems to be so geared towards new mothers (preferably those under 35) that I often find it annoyingly irrelevant. At this point in my life, for instance, articles about how to "keep the spark alive with the new Daddy" make me more nauseated than a first-trimester subway ride without Sea-Bands.

But needing something to read while I was eating lunch today, I fished the March issue out of the recyling bag and found a fabulous article: "How to Help a Friend in Need," by Margaret Renkel. It gives advice for how to be truly helpful when someone is in a state of loss or other crisis.

The online version doesn't include the rather brilliant sidebar, "What Not to Say to a Mom in Crisis." So I'm taking the liberty of typing it up here.

Sometimes the most well-meaning friends say hurtful things. Try to avoid:
"Everything's going to be just fine." This minimizes what may be a very serious problem and says that her fears aren't legitimate.
“I know just how you feel.” You probably don’t. Even if you were once in similar circumstances you didn’t necessarily feel the same way your friend feels now. A gentler opening: “If you ever feel like talking, please give me a call. I suffered a miscarriage once, and it helped to talk with women who’d been through the experience.”
“It’s all part of God’s plan.” Many religious traditions don’t accept misfortune as divinely ordained. It’s best to avoid imposing your own religious frame of reference on someone else.
“It could be worse.” It isn’t helpful to point out that some kinds of cancer are worse than others.
“At least you still have [fill in the blank].” People who’ve lost someone or something important—a parent, a marriage—are usually well aware of the blessings that remain, but still need time to mourn that loss.

One caveat: If you’re reading this list and consumed with guilt, remembering the times you’ve made exactly these statements, don’t kick yourself. Even when people are in crisis mode, they can tell when a remark is innocent and not intended to be hurtful. They’ll try not to take it to heart—and you should do the same.

Just reading this article made me feel a little better somehow. (My life, alas, is not all about dazzling writers' conferences.) And listening to Ron Sexsmith helps, too.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

AWP--a haze, a daze, a-dazzle

Last week I spent four days with writers from all over the world at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference. This year it was in NYC, and it was a madhouse! The conference was sold out--7500 people registered--and of course there were many off-site events in this literary mecca in addition to the panels, readings, and book fair at the conference.

Some highlights:
---Moderating a lively discussion in the Multi-Genre Pedagogy Forum session with a great group of creative writers/teachers. I hope to post more about our discussion soon.
--Carly's panel "Speaking Through Silence: Women Respond to Rape and Assault" including readings from her important new anthology the why and later
---"The Personal Narrative: The Art and The Health of It." (Diana Raab, Mindy Lewis, Michael Steinberg, Kyoko Mori, Phillip Lopate, Molly Peacock)
--"Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction." (Paul Morris, Robert Boynton, Lee Gutkind, Meredith Hall, Barbara Lounsberry)
--"Overlooked Foremother? Marianne Moore in the 21st Century." (Sharon Dolin, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Catherine Daly, Timothy Liu, Moira Egan)
--"Blockheads: A Roundtable Discussion of the Pleasures and Pains of the Prose Poem." (Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Kim Addonizio, Beth Ann Fennelly, Patrick Rosal)
--Mark Strand's reading (with Rae Armantrout)
--Getting my contributor's copy of Letters to the World: Poems from the WOM-PO Listserv, and meeting fellow WOM-PO members at the panel and party.
--Reception at the Center for Book Arts--a fabulous display.
--Parties (not one,
but two!) for the Contemporary Poetry Review. Meeting Martin Amis for five minutes. Seeing many, many friends, including the West Chester and Sewanee crews. Sipping an 89 Margaux (on the house) at Maison (thanks Erin and Adam!). All-too-brief time with fellow poe-bloggers Sandra , Reb, and Mary. Spotting "Professors Strike Back" star Jerry Williams. Brief hug with Jill and Jess.
--last but certainly not least: spending time with Kate and Mark from Red Hen Press and finding out that Saint Nobody will be out in time for the 2009 AWP Conference in Chicago!

Anything I've forgotten? Let me know!

I think I've finally recovered (somewhat). And it's time to put together a panel proposal for next year!