Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yes, I'm Slowly Healing

My Body's Slow Response

Each day, my small cut reduces, grows thick
with brown callous. Skin expands and contracts,
growing over a weeks-old mistake. Soon,
I won't remember life without this scar.

(February 26)

I wrote this quatrain today, in my brand new quatrain journal. I made the cover last night and downsized to a smaller, lined notebook, in an effort to commit myself to this project. The "found" quatrains on the cover, cobbled together from magazine ads and lines from Poetry magazine poems, read:

Among the things the body doesn't know
it is the dark box I return to most:
Luckily there's enough regrets.

There is no headline
No photograph, no
Only silence.

Imagine four
true wild

I hang your lips
like birdseed
outside my door.
What choice do I have?

let go
the snow
It's easy.

Tonight, my husband and I watched The Darjeeling Limited and this quatrain popped into my head again, when Owen Wilson's character unwraps all his bandages and says, "It looks like I have more healing to do." I like small syncronicities like these.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Home Team Wins the Girl Super Bowl

According to this article in the LA Times, Minnesotans are just like Europeans. Well, sort of. We both cleaned up at the Oscars! It wasn't particularly surprising, given the quality of their respective movies, but Minnesota natives Diablo Cody won Best Original Screenplay for cutest-movie-ever Juno, and Joel and Ethan Cohen won Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture for scary-and-brilliant No Country for Old Men.

I wonder if they had hotdish at their respective victory parties....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Waiting for Spring

After weeks of dipping below zero, way below zero, it's 31 today and feels like summer. The sun is shining, the icy gray snow banks are beginning to melt, and I'm feeling like something should be loosening inside of me.

This winter has been rough -- rough on my skin, which seems to be chapped and flaking off in patches, rough on my creative life, since I don't feel like I have any creative projects really going. When it remains that cold for that long, I feel like I just shut down and retreat into a pseudo-hibernation. My thoughts skim the surface of eat-sleep-work-TV-repeat, without delving any deeper. While some people might be forced to a kind of self-reflection in winter, I simply harden and go into survival mode. I try to imagine what it was like to live here, before central heating, electricity, and the comfort of the metropolis. I wouldn't have been able to make it.

I'm hoping that this small glimpse of sunshine will help recharge my batteries a bit. I may even walk around one of my neighborhood lakes tomorrow, if it remains this warm. The sad thing is that I know it's only the end of February and we still have one more month (at least) to go.

So that I don't sound too much like Debbie Downer (meow, meow -- for those of you who have seen the sketch), here is a list of the small joys I've had in the last couple of weeks...

Season One of How I Met Your Mother -- Predictable, but hilarious
Season Two of Big Love -- Did I mention that I was watching TV)
My grudging enjoyment of Eat, Pray, Love
Going to my alma mater for graduate readings -- although they do make me feel like a slacker. There were many brilliant writers there including, Michele Campbell, Beth Mayer, and James Henderson, to name a few.
Kimya Dawson's Remember That I Love You
Seeing the orange sunrise in the gray sky in the morning
This article in last week's Onion -- I think it was written about my cats
Facebook's Texas Hold 'Em -- I suck, but I love it
The roasted garlic/crusty bread/cheese we're going to have with board games tonight (and the beer)
My impending trip to Tennessee next weekend -- please let it be over 40 degrees
Being able to sign up for cell phones with Credo when I return

Okay, I'm starting to feel like I can handle four or five more weeks of winter. I think.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reading List 2008: Promoting Peace through Education

I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time (337 pgs) by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I was smart enough to read this book for double purposes: a book club at work and my March review for Uptown Neighborhood News. Which I have to write tomorrow. And will post a link to, once its available online.

Since I don't want to squander my enthusiasm for this book before the review, let me just give a brief recommendation. If you are interested in the humane solutions to the real roots of terrorism or if you care about human rights issues around the world or if you want to learn more about Pakistani and Afghani culture, read this book. Also, if you want to feel like a lazy slob who could do more good in the world, read this book.

Total For 2008: 1496 pages
Genres: Memoir (1), Essay (1), Graphic Novel (1), Non-Fiction (2), Poetry (1)

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Review I Wish I Wrote

David Orr has written a truly lovely review of Matthea Harvey's Modern Life, last month's PBC selection. I think he captures the strengths, flaws, and spirit of Harvey's book perfectly. This is truly the kind of review a writer would murder another writer for, or some other dastardly deed.

Back into Practice

These past couple of weeks, I've been doing many things, but writing isn't one of them. I've been keeping up with my articles, for the most part, but I have stopped my daily writing on the bus and I haven't been able to regularly keep up with prompts from read. write. poem.

So, I've decided to change my daily writing practice a bit. I haven't enjoyed the morning pages, so I've decided to write one syllabic quatrain a day. I began writing syllabic quatrains in graduate school while writing my thesis, because I figured, if I could get out at least 40 syllables, that was good enough. Several times, I've written quatrains around a theme and then brought them together in one poem. Right now, though, I'm not thinking that far ahead. I'm merely trying to get my hand moving.

So, I began writing quatrains on Thursday, and I now have three. Funny enough, they all center around the last RWP prompt of sacrifice, so I'm submitting them belatedly for RWP. (I haven't even started on my ode, which is due on Monday.) I may not publish my daily quatrains every day, but I will try to post the ones that I've found interesting.

On Sacrifice

When wanting, I'm left with the metal
tang of blood on my tongue, remnants of skin
clipped from cuticle, chewed from the soft
flesh of my cheek. I never wanted more.

(Tuesday, February 12)
* * *

I've lived with less, intentionally, less
creased books and wrinkled receipts, less shopping
malls crammed with clothes. I laid myself prostrate
on acrylic counters, begged for my price.

(Wednesday, February 13)
* * *

Today, I woke from weeping dreams, hiccups
and sighs I've hoarded for years. I only
recall bright glimpses of someone else's
treasures, glittering hopes I've long since lost.

(Thursday, February 14)

Monday, February 11, 2008

In Six Words

I've had an eventful morning, to say the least. While working out, I read my Time Magazine, which contained a short sidebar column about a new book, Not Quite What I Was Planning. In this book, people sum up their life story in 6 words. My favorite that Time excerpted was Joan River's quote, "Liars, hysterectomy didn't improve sex life!"

Being the good little blogger I am, I thought: What a great concept! This would make an interesting post. So, I started thinking about what my 6 words would be. Visions of my six word sentences drifted in and out of my head while I finished my push-ups. Even while I was making my breakfast of a cinnamon raisin bagel, I was still pondering the six words.

Until the knife slipped and a flap of skin opened on my left thumb tip. Then, of course, language left me. I went to the bathroom, washed off the cut -- still blooming with blood, and called my husband to tell him I was going to the clinic. Luckily, the clinic is two blocks from my house (yay city living), and the doctor stitched me up within an hour.

The nurses and doctor laughed at me/with me when I told them that I had worked at a bagel shop during college. This was also the summer that I had the worst accident record at the bagel shop, and got stitches on my thumb, during my vacation at Winnipeg Folk Festival when cutting an apple. (The cut was so deep I saw what fat looked like when it is inside your body. Kind of like cottage cheese.) It was then, in that moment of giggling, that I came to my six words, which sum up my life:

Some stitches, not too many scars.

So what are your six words? And how has your morning been?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Belated Kudos

My mentor from graduate school, Deborah Keenan, was nominated for Minnesota Book Award this year for her book Willow Room, Green Door. Keenan is an accomplished poet and teacher, with eight books to her name. (My favorite is Happiness.) It is long overdue that Deborah is recognized for her amazing poetry!

Buy her book today!

Friday, February 8, 2008


I've been busy, as you probably know. But that's no excuse for the backlog of posts that I planned on posting these past weeks. So, here is a lame attempt to catch up.

I have several articles I've published recently that I haven't shared with you, including an interview with Kirsten Dierking, author of Northern Oracle (pg of the PDF); a review of Kevin Kling's The Dog Says How (also pg 4); and a review of Matthea Harvey's Modern Life.

Whew! I feel better, now that I've caught up.

I will write an actual post sometime this weekend. It may contain something about poetry.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Votes Are In!

No, not the presedential election. That's yesterday's news. The Poetry Book Club book has been selected for February/March.

We are reading Swimming the Witch by Leilani Hall.

I'll launch the discussion on March 1. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Last Time I'll Bug You... Until Around October

If you live in a Super Tuesday State, please vote. Preferrably for Barack Obama, but vote your conscience, your mind, and your heart.

By the way, another important vote ends today. You only have 12 hours to weigh in on our February/March Poetry Book Club book. Vote!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh My God, I Actually Wrote a Poem

It's barely on prompt from read. write. poem., but I'm just proud I actually wrote a real poem. Whew.


Salt water melts
at a lower temperature and yet
here I am, clothed
in a carapace of ice. It started
slowly, as it always does. My eyes
shedding narrow rivulets against
the wind. Icicles grew on the tips
of my eyelashes, hung in sharp relief
against the night sky. Once they stretched
over the cool hollow of my sockets, touched
my exposed skin, it was too late.
My vision was soon obscured by layers
of gray white ice. I huddled
deep inside of myself, loosening my skin
against the husk that eveleoped me.
Waiting here, shivering but not shattering,
I conserve my heat and pray
to break against the frozen street.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What We Did Today, Beneath a Jumbotron

Since we're precinct captains, we got "rockstar" seating at the Target Center Obama rally today -- standing room on the floor. While my whole body aches from standing in line for 2 hours, then standing in the Target Center for another 2 hours, and craning my neck up to watch Obama on the Jumbotron we stood beneath, it was an awesome experience to hear him speak in person. I even got to see him without a mediating screen between people's heads, towards the end of the speech.

Super Tuesday, here we come.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Poetry Book Club Discussion: Matthea Harvey's Modern Life

... a day late. Sorry for the delayed discussion post, but I've been busy prepping for Super Duper Tuesday. (Please vote or caucus, if you're in a Super Tuesday state.)

At any rate, here are the questions:

Overall, did you like the book? What about it did you like?

Were there specific poems that spoke to you? Which ones? Why?

Was there anything that confused you about the overall book? What was it?

Were there any individual poems that confused you?

How would you describe the author's style? How did she use language to convey images, ideas, or voice?

How would you describe the structure of the book? Did you see any sense of movement or progression from one poem to the next?

Would you choose to read this author again? Why or why not?