Friday, December 31, 2010

merry christmas & happy new year

Bobby, Stella, and Mom at Grandma & Granddad's, Christmas 2010
D.P. and A.L., Fairfield Pike, 12/29/10
Grateful for these wonderful people in my life....

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


  • parent-teacher conferences
  • forms, endless, endless forms to fill out
  • take kids to get blood/urine samples for their physicals (which happened over a month ago)
  • bobby home sick two days
  • stella half day tuesday
  • both kids off thursday for veteran's day
  • keeping up the household
  • WORK: five classes. five billion ungraded written assignments. forgetting things, things slipping through my fingers. the threat of student evaluations. insane and slippery paperwork for four guest speakers' honoraria.
  • a bunch of other stuff i probably forgot.
  • oh, and grief slapping one upside the head, randomly. "part of the process"

ican'tdoit ican'tdoit ican'tdoit ican'tcan'tcan'tcan'tcan't

iwillnotfeelsorryformyself. no.

UGH. ARGH. AUGH. It will pass, I know it will....

Monday, November 08, 2010

light shining in the darkness

In the midst of one of the worst experiences of my life, somehow I have also found myself at the beginning of one of the best. I'm trying very hard not to question or wonder why, and just to accept this wonderful gift. And be very, very grateful.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

buddy walk...stella style!

The NYC Buddy Walk starts at the top of the "Great Hill" in Central Park, then winds down the path and out to Central Park West and back up to enter the park at 106th Street. We (that is, Stella, Bobby, our friends Adrian and George, and I) got off on the right foot, perhaps a little behind the curve, with perhaps a few more stops than the rest of the walkers, but then we took a sharp left at the practically brand-new, very cool Tarr Family Playground.

A giant sandbox. A water play area. Some really cool jungle-gym type things. It was no contest. This was where we ended up spending the rest of the "Walk."

There is a certain point at which you just give in and let the moment happen, despite the "plan." We have many such moments with our Stella Bella. This photo was snapped after her strip-down sojourn under the water sprayers (blessings to the anonymous woman who offered a beach towel). She was clearly in her element. And the whole thing really was all about her, anyway.

I sat on a bench and chilled. I chatted with George and cleared up a funny miscommunication (I'd been raving about the new Howl movie, and he thought I meant the "owl movie," Legend of the Guardians). When Stella moved out of sight range, George got up and followed her for a bit (he had also chased her earlier when she started running, and carried her piggyback when she refused to walk).

Then it was time to go, so we headed to our car (which George had parked for me after I spent a fruitless 45 minutes circling a 10-block radius for a space) and back to Queens. I felt a little weird about not participating in the events on the Great Hill--Bobby and Adrian did not even get their snow cones--but we had done the walk. And unlike last year, we had T-shirts. It was a beautiful day. Somehow, thanks to a little--or a lot of--help from our friends, and a few deep breaths, it had worked out for the best.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

and now for something completely different (musical lactose tolerance)

I do not know why (the season, the weather, the effects of tragic life events, satellite radio on long road trips) but I find myself gravitating towards songs that I would ordinarily deem decidedly, um, cheesy.

Case in point: sophisticated musical snob that I am, I seem to have developed an affinity for, of all people, Dave Matthews and his musical progeny. Jason Mraz. Matt Nathanson. Joshua Radin. And yes, I have even found myself actually enjoying the occasional Jack Johnson tune (very occasional).

There is something to be said for being transported, however temporarily. By cranking it up and dancing in a spiraling swirl. By the giant orange sun setting over cornfields and I-70 West. By a huge comfy hotel bed with too many pillows. By a ginormous coffee to go. By old friends and new. By kids. By grownups.

And if it all seems a little cheesy, a little escapist, a little incurably romantic...what's wrong with that? Because after all, as Sir Paul reminds us, the world can't get enough of silly love songs. Enjoy.

Friday, October 01, 2010

two memorial events for bob tonight

There are two memorial events for Bob being held at different locations tonight, both at 8pm.
First, Hofstra University is having a special concert of Bob's students, former students, and colleagues. Monroe Lecture Center Theater. 

Also, Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble is doing FreePlay!, a tribute to Bob, who was an integral part of the group. 
Brecht Forum
451 West St (between Bank and Bethune), New York, NY

Saturday, September 25, 2010

stella's stars...buddy walking in central park today!

our wonderful team logo by the stellar George Giunta!
We're walking in Central Park today to support the National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk! Despite our terrible loss, the memorial on Monday, and all the other stuff that's been going on (including a sprained ankle Monday night), I was determined to walk this year, and we've put together a little team for the event. It's a beautiful day, and I have a pair of high-top sneakers to get me around the trail. You can click here to contribute to our team. You can enter my name (Amy Lemmon Bowen) Bobby's (Robert Bowen) or Stella's (Stella Bowen) to go to our personal pages.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

here comes the sun

Stellabella playing along with George motion.

Friday, September 10, 2010

memorial for bob in nyc 9/27/10

Two Bobs, Brooklyn Bridge, spring 2005
New York Memorial for Bob Bowen (Robert Emmett Bowen III)
Monday, September 27th, from 5:30 to 10 pm.
Irondale Theater
85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn NY

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Robert Emmett Bowen III, June 18, 1965-August 30, 2010

I cannot imagine anything sadder or harder to grasp. Bob Bowen, my soulmate, friend, and coparent was severely injured in a brutal hit-and-run incident while riding his bicycle in Manhattan on Thursday, August 26. Despite exceptional care at New York Presbyterian's Trauma Center, we lost him Monday night, August 30, just before midnight.

He was loved by so many, and Bobby, Stella, and I are receiving so much love right now. This is only one example. And here is another.

There are no words. Just none.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

beating the retreat....again

It's hard to believe that it's been over two years since I last visited the Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Maryland. This is the third time that I've created my own "retreat"--this time I intended to spend a lot of time writing, but I've been distracted by various emotional upheavals and just life in general. I've been here since Monday afternoon, and yesterday I finally just decided this was my vacation and I would do my best to chill and enjoy this beautiful place. Just a few days left until the fall semester starts at FIT, so I'm taking it all in while I can.

P.S. My mom just went into the hospital with pneumonia and is on IV antibiotics. Last week the kids and I stayed with her and Dad in Ohio, and she started to feel sick at the end of our visit, but has gotten worse since then. Thoughts and prayers appreciated!

Friday, July 16, 2010

little star

The little angel in this photo is much bigger now than she was on Halloween 2003. But it remains one of my favorite images of Stella, so I can't resist putting it up here.

I'm writing again. It sound simple, but it is a Very Big Deal. Right now I'm at the Antioch Writers' Workshop, getting feedback on excerpts from my memoir in progress, Little Star. It's been an amazing week, and I feel encouraged and scared and excited and all the things you're supposed to feel when you're really in the midst of something.

I'll post more about the workshop, and what I'm working on, soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

whole children rock! and stella writes!!!

Thanks to Emma Sage's mom, Tara Marie, I just found out about Whole Children, an organization in Western Massachusetts that provides "recreation and enrichment programs for children of all abilities." On Mother's Day they presented a concert, called "Everyone Has a Voice," with none other than our fave rocker-turned-kid-tunesmith, Dan Zanes. Two years ago Stella and Emma Sage (and their mamas) got VIP treatment at a Dan Zanes and Friends concert to celebrate Emma's 7th birthday.

Whole Children is just the sort of thing I wish we had around here somewhere. I can't imagine how thrilling it would be for Stella, who turns any suitable object into a microphone and belts out number after number, to sing with a group of other children.

Speaking of Stella, yesterday Bob showed me that she had written her own name without any help! And said the name of each letter as she wrote! This is a wonderful milestone for our girl!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

cincinnati homecoming

I'm in Ohio for a quick trip--yesterday I participated in a "Poets' Homecoming" reading at the University of Cincinnati, where I earned my master's and doctoral degrees. I was thrilled and honored to be part of a panel that included my old friend Jim Murphy, and new friends Kristin Naca and Lesley Jenike. Hearing their work, hanging out, and seeing so many wonderful people I don't see very often--well, it's been great.

Another perk has been staying at the Clifton House, an incredible B&B in Cincinnati's gaslight district, not far from campus. Nancy runs a lovely home, and I'm thrilled to be able to rest here for a little while.

I'm back to Springfield today for a little pre-Mother's Day time with my parents, then back to NYC tomorrow for some time with the kiddies.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

literary mama

Vicki pointed out that a new review of Saint Nobody, by Ginny Kaczmarek, is now up on Literary Mama, one of the coolest webzines around. I'm thrilled to have my book mentioned there!

Friday, April 16, 2010

abba: the debut

Denise read at the New School on Tuesday--and she generously invited me to read one of our ABBA poems with her. We also had chapbooks on hand for the first time ever! Liz Howort wrote this post about the reading on The Best American Poetry Blog. Woo hoo!

Friday, April 09, 2010

my little rockstars

Dancing Queen Stella ready to get her royal 'do on....and Bobby the blues boy (he got the harmonica as a prize in music class).

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

abba: the poems

It's here! A chapbook of poems that I wrote collaboratively with my dear friend (and personal heroine), Denise Duhamel. Our publisher, Bruce Covey of Coconut Books, is selling away at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Denver this week.

All 21 poems were written with the same constraints: 1) each poem must be eight quatrains in ABBA rhyme scheme; and 2) there must be a reference in each poem to Europop superstars ABBA, or their music.

We had a blast writing these and hope our readers have as much fun as we did!

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Blossoms on W. 12th Street, Manhattan.

I'm praying today for personal renewal to match the renewal of life in nature.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

maundy maundy

Tonight I'm delighted to be participating in the annual Maundy Thursday reading of Dante's Inferno at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Last year I was a last-minute replacement for one of the scheduled readers; this year I was invited to be part of the regular program under the auspices of poet in residence Marilyn Nelson.

It was particularly cool for me last year because I had just joined an Episcopal church and was soon to be confirmed--so in addition to the wonderful literary history of this institution, it was also "my" cathedral!

The three-hour reading starts at 9pm and covers fifteen out of the thirty-four cantos. I've been assigned the second half of Canto XXI, which will occur sometime between 10 and 11 pm. If you're inclined to stop by, know that you're not required to stay for the whole three hours....judging by my observations from last year, attendees sneak in and out as the spirit moves them.

Today is also, of course, April Fool's, and I've had a fun gmail exchange just now with my friend Greg who works for The Company Currently Known as Topeka. He said in their Chelsea offices they had fake "surveillance cameras" in the restrooms and (uncracked and thus inedible) coconuts in the cafeteria's fruit baskets. What a bunch of kooks!

It's also the birthday of my wonderful father. Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

spring break

It's officially spring break this week, and the kids are in Chicago with Bob until next Tuesday. They took the train--I dropped them off at Penn Station and drove Bob's standard shift late 90s Saturn back to Astoria in crazy crosstown traffic. The trip was 19 hours and they had a little room to themselves with seats that convert to beds. The kids loved it, and apparently they got some sleep, too.

Meanwhile, I'm taking it easy but trying not to turn into a complete blob. I have tons of grading to catch up on, and church activities for Holy Week, time with friends, literary events (the Red Hen gang is in town), and of course the all-important "me time." My goal is going to yoga classes at least five out of the next seven days.

Oh, and did I mention gathering receipts and getting the paperwork ready for my accountant so he can do my taxes? And laundry? And tackling the crazy amount of clutter, starting spring cleaning, and, (wait for it) putting away the Christmas tree? (Shhh! Don't tell anybody!) As for home entertainment: Mad Men--Season 3 is finally out on DVD--a new Nurse Jackie, and checking out, at long last, Liz Lemon's world on 30 Rock.

Anyway, I'm also taking time for the spirit, contemplating the Passion and Resurrection, the stories and the truths behind them (to borrow a phrase from my vicar).

It is spring, a time for clearing out the cobwebs and welcoming new growth. And time for flowers--like this lovely dozen roses I bought for myself. Bienvenue Printemps!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

paul james vasquez, 1954-2010

Bob's Uncle Paul was a creative inspiration to his family--musician, actor, writer, director. He passed away yesterday after being seriously ill with cancer for about the past year. This photo is a still from Jail City,an independent film by his former student Dan Eberle. Bob's brother Paulie was a co-star, and Bob had a cameo as some hoodlum who gets offed in a mob hit. (He was really good at falling on the floor :)

This week Paul was in the hospital with hospice care--the whole family came to see him--Bob took Bobby on Tuesday--and Bob and his brother Mike played music for him all day Thursday. Bob said he made sure Paul's hand was on his guitar. Pax, Paul.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the chef is in...

Another pic for all you Stella fans...our girl loves to cook--for real or for pretend. Here she is in the chef's outfit Santa brought this year. And the groovy glasses she doesn't seem to want to wear much anymore. Time for pancakes--which she calls "ca-cakes"!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

world down syndrome day

It's World Down Syndrome Day again, 3/21 (get it? Trisomy 21). The National Down Syndrome Society has released a national policy update for the occasion. I particularly applaud the point, "Provide a first-class education for children with Down syndrome." We're not exactly thrilled with the education Stella has been getting in the NYC public school's District 75 program. I'll write more about this later--Bob went to the IEP meeting a couple weeks ago and we have some updates--but for now let's just say there could be more pro-activity going on.

Here's a fairly recent pic of Stella Bella, with her new glasses (which have already been lost and found several times and which she is not currently wearing a whole lot). Today is so warm there is no need for the coat and the stylish beret--we're going to head out into the sunshine soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


NOTE: It is perhaps unsurprising that I originally drafted the following post LAST weekend and am just finishing and posting it now.

I haven't posted here in awhile (again). Mostly it's because I've been doing other things, but there is always the shadow of blogger's block. I still don't know what it's about, exactly. Partly it's the same as regular writer's block, but the other part of it is the public nature of blogging. I have a link to my blog on my email signature, it's on my facebook page, it's the first thing that comes up if someone googles my name. So there's no way I can really hide here, unless I have some "restricted" posts, and I don't really see the sense of that. If I have something to say that's private, for a small group, I either just write in my notebook or send an email to a couple of friends.

Anyway, lately I've been remembering the words of Dave Smith, who with Claudia Emerson led the workshop in which I was a fellow at Sewanee last summer. Dave really held my feet to the fire, but it was something I needed. I'd submitted a manuscript of work-in-progress (something that most of the fellows don't do, for some reason, but I thought I'd take advantage of having a thorough reading by some experts, free of charge). After my hour-long conference, I read the three-page single-spaced letter Dave had written--it was more like an essay directed to me individually, engaged, elegantly-written, and incisive. At the end, I broke down and cried because he had hit the nail on the head--not so much about the poems themselves (although his comments were useful and on-target) as about my commitment to poetry.

I think the "serious" poet is not competing against stand-up comics but against the great poems in our language. To bear that burden of competition is a killer weight, but if a poet is not trying to do the best possible work, how is he/she different from the literary week-ender?

That, dear reader, is the question, and underlying that is another series of questions: am I destined to be a "week-ender"? what would I have to do to be "serious" about poetry? something's gotta give, but what?

At the end of the letter, Dave wrote:

I think you can be a very entertaining poet, especially reading to small crowds who have every reason to like not being challenged; or you can be both entertaining and much better, the kind of poet whose language has resonance and durability.

He went on to name some poets (all women, of course) he considered "non-week-enders" and the list included some of my personal heroes and one of my close personal friends. That was when I cried. Yes, I want to do what these writers have done. What has been stopping me? Why, if I consider my writing so central to my life, do I always give other work, the work that is for pay, more legitimacy and thus more of my energy? How can I change this?

If I don't get a handle on this I'll never have a second book. I'll never finish the memoir. I'll always be a might-have-been, an also-ran, a "but she had so much potential." I'm working on finding another way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snow day

The only reason I can even post this is that FIT is closed (along with the NYC public schools) due to "inclement weather." We've got a snowstorm on our hands and, although at the moment it looks like it may be petering out, it's dumped several inches already and is supposed to leave us with up to a foot on the ground.

Bob came over to take the kids out sledding. So here I am, just you, me, and my computer. I have so much to talk about, but I just can't bring myself to write much. I don't know what it is--some of my "stuff" is not suitable for public consumption, but mostly it's just too daunting to shape and craft and wrestle with words right now. I've written dozens of emails for work, done some Facebook status updates, exchanged some messages with friends. Maybe I'm worded out. I'll keep trying, though. I promise.

Friday, January 22, 2010

reading with the peeps

Last night my poetry group gave a reading at Cornelia Street Cafe. We published an anthology together in 2008, This Full Green Hour, and this time readers included not only the six of us who were involved in the book, but two other fabulous members, Katie Johntz and Carly Sachs. It was a full house, and a good time was had by all.

I'm so glad to be part of this community--I literally would not have written some of the poems in Saint Nobody without them, and there are others that would definitely not be in the shape they are, thanks to their insights and inspiration.

Here are two videos, courtesy of the lovely and talented Greg Sanders.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The kids and I moved into a new apartment in August, but it's only been the past couple of weeks that I've finally been able to make it feel respectable. It's bigger than the old place (the two-bedroom Bob and I moved into as newlyweds in '96), and was completely redone before we moved in--the walls and floors are immaculate, all the bathroom fixtures and appliances (except the refrigerator) are brand-new, there's actually counter space and cupboard space in the kitchen--and [gasp] a dishwasher.

It was advertised as a three bedroom, but it's technically a two-and-a-half with a formal dining room. There's a little room off of the living room that I'm using as my "study" (yes! a study!). The kids each have their own bedrooms, and I use the front room as my sleeping place. Until last week, I was using our old futon couch as my bed, leaving it down because the frame is too much of a pain to crank into sofa mode. We put the TV in the dining room also doubled as the living room, kids' homework room, etc. The front room has three huge east-facing windows, and I felt bad about hogging the light (the dining room has only two small ones). I wanted to find a way to have the front room really be flexible enough to function as a sitting room.

All that has changed now that I have a sleeper sofa (pictured). It's awesome--a "click-clack" mechanism makes it easy to change back and forth, and there are two storage compartments underneath where I stow the pillows and bedclothes while it's being playing the role of sofa. And the futon, now mostly a sofa, is in the dining room, and the kids no longer have to sit on the floor to watch TV. It's strange how one item can change your way of life.

p.s.: posting more today on the Red Hen blog.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

logos, ethos, pathos....

Actually, I don't plan to discourse on the three rhetorical appeals in the title, above. But I do find it positively pathetic that I haven't blogged here in over a month! I've been posting at the Red Hen Press blog (rather sketchily) and doing a lot of other stuff, mainly fixing up the apartment so that, after six months, there are finally more actual pieces of furniture than cardboard boxes. The place is starting to live up to its potential.

I've also been baking a lot of pies. And eating them. More about that another time.