Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Moved!

Hi everyone,

In case you're looking for 9 to 5 poet, we have moved to another domain hosting site. You can find the blog here!



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Technical difficulties

Over the next few days, I am going to be trying to switch my domaiin over to wordpress. Please bear with me as it may create some technical difficulties. (Not to jinx it or anything.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On the First Day of Spring

The World

I say yes to a world with green meadows,
flowers, to lying in sun. I also
say yes to fury, rage, broken asphalt.
I say yes to a world with everything.

(March 18)

I decided to share this quatrain tonight, because I was thinking about the Big Yes Model. I know that sounds a little strange, but bear with me.

When I went to the education conference in Tennessee, Dr. Carla DiMarco was the keynote speaker. She is a psychologist and adult educator, and she was teaching us (a group of often overstretched student services administrators) about saying yes and saying no.

Her taught us how to use her Big Yes Model -- a way to quantify and visualize what you want to say yes to in your life. To simplify it, it's a grid that you fill in what you want to expend your precious energy on. You put your "Big Yeses" closer to your center. Then, you fill in your "flexible no's, " things that you may sometimes say yes to, but reserve the right to say no to. And finally, you fill in your "Big No's," the things that you never ever want to spend your time and energy on.

Simplistic? Yep, in a lot of ways. But, I was surprised by how many things in my Big Yes category that I ignore, let languish, or put off and by how many things in my Big No category that I live with. Overall, though, I was happy with how many of my Big Yeses I pursue.

So what are your Big Yes items? How are you honoring them today?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Notes on Keeping a Daily Practice

The biggest lesson I think I have learned (and relearned) through my writing practice is: It will come back. I am constantly repeating this mantra to myself the past few days, because I feel lucky whenever it comes back.

Natalie Goldberg has a line in Writing Down the Bones, which I used to share with my students back when I taught College Composition: "There is no security, no assurance that because we wrote something good two months ago, that we will ever do it again." I think writers live in this fear that the last good thing we wrote will be the last thing we will ever write. I know this is true for me. Every time I go through a dry patch, and this blog certainly shows that I go through lots of them, I feel like I'll never be able to write again. I'll never have that joy or inspiration in writing poetry again.

When this happens, I flog myself through what my friend Kate and I called in college Writer's Sludge. It's not a block, it's just a moment where everything I write is crap. If I'm writing at all. Towards the end of this winter, it hit me hard. (As I've been writing here ad nauseum.) The sad thing is, each time I go through it, even though I know it is temporary, it bums me out so much.

Luckily, I've been forcing myself through a daily practice. One quatrain (4 lines of ten syllables each) a day. They aren't miraculous, but they are writing. Forty little syllables are a great place to start, because frankly, they aren't initimidating. They're just words strung together, like beads. I write them on the bus on the way to work. Now, to be honest, I only write them on work days in which I take a bus, so I'm averaging four or five a week. But still, it is better than the nothing I had been writing earlier.

I've never been a huge proponent of daily practice, because of the aforementioned Writer's Sludge, but dammit these little forty syllable pieces are working. To make matter even better, I stumbled on a project to do with these little quatrains. Putting these two ideas together, and I'm enjoying writing again. Hallelugiah! I'm thinking of my project when I'm not writing... and not with dread! With actual joy and inspiration.

So now that I'm enjoying writing again (this week) and producing something regularly again (this week), I'm toying with the idea of engaging in National Poetry Writing Month, after reading about it on Poet Mom. Am I a crazy masochist? Will I regret it? Will my writing continue to feel fresh? Probably yes and no to all of the above.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Working Together on the Web

A close friend of mine from college, Kate, has launched a new site with a friend of hers called Wednesday Machine Arts Collective. This site's goal is to bring artists and writers together in a virtual arts festival. They plan on connecting artists of different genres together to collaborate on their work. How the collaboration takes shape is up to the artists.

To me, this is one of the best uses of the online arts community -- to connect writers and artists from around the world to work together. I'm really excited to see how Wednesday Machine takes shape.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

After a Long Absence...

...our sun has finally returned. I never thought that a long stretch of cold weather would affect me so much. But now that the sun is returning, I'm having some serious spring fever.

Which leads me to creating. I'm starting a new project, which I'm not quite ready to unveil yet. (I want to make sure I stick to it first.) I'm finishing up submissions for Asphalt Sky, so the new issue should be out by the end of April. And, I baked muffins for breakfast last weekend. Even though they came out of a box, they sure are pretty.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Poetry Book Club for April

I am very pleased to announce that Deborah Keenan's Willow Room, Green Door has been selected for our April Poetry Book Club book.

Deborah has been a fixture in the Twin Cities literary scene for many years, and she fosters younger poets' talents through her work at Hamline University's Master of Fine Arts program and the Loft Literary Center. She's also a founding member of the Laurel Poetry Collective. Obviously, I'm biased, because I am a former student of Deborah's and I have a lot of admiration for her talent and generosity.

I'll post the conversation post on Monday, April 7. Until then, happy reading!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Drawing Cards

When I was in high school in California, I taught myself how to read tarot cards. It was my first step into my own independent, spiritual practices, and it opened up doors for me.

I don't read cards as much any more, mostly because I feel like I've answered my questions for now, but I still remember what it felt like to learn how to read them. So, when read. write. poem. had a prompt to interpret dream symbolism through tarot (among other methods), I was immediately transported back to that time.

Here is the daily quatrain that resulted:

Three of Swords

Everything was too big for me: width and
length of the deck in my hands, the questions
I tried to answer. Three steel swords piercing
my fragile pink heart. Too big, the burdens.

Note: If you click on the title, you can read an interpretation of the card. The picture is of the different "Three of Swords" cards from my personal decks.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

New Matthea Harvey Review

Over at Poetry Foundation, Jeannine Hall Gailey just posted a fantastic interview with Matthea Harvey. If you want to know about some of Harvey's artistic influences, check it out!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Reading List 2008: Colonialism in a Memoir

Over my business trip, I finished Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat Pray Love. (331 pages) While I enjoyed reading her spiritual/personal/emotional journey, I felt a little icky reading it.

Let me explain. I definitely think there is some strength and power in her act of taking time out of her (love) life in order to center herself spiritually and find balance in her life. However, I have two problems with her project.

First, in order to find herself she needs to leave America (fine) and immerse herself in another culture (also fine). But the way in which she insinuates herself into the culture -- simultaneously adopting and fetishizing their way of life -- seemed a bit offensive. I felt a little like I was reading a British women in the nineteenth century having her one last fling in Italy before going back to her staid normal life.

Secondly, I found her voice throughout the book to be a little annoying. There, I said it. I found myself admiring and loathing her, alternately. Now, the likability or charisma of a memoir's narrator is a huge part of the reading experience. In fact, it is probably the most important quality of the reading experience. She was kind of like that friend who leads a super-dramatic life and needs all of the attention all of the time.

Now, despite my above grievances, I did enjoy the book. I think she led some fascinating experiences, and I would love to have the opportunity to spend a year abroad. I'm wondering if anyone else out there had mixed feelings about the book, or if I'm just feeling some sour grapes.

Total For 2008: 1901 pages
Genres: Memoir (2), Essay (1), Graphic Novel (1), Non-Fiction (2), Poetry (2)

Poetry Book Club - a - palooza

So, we need to pick April's Poetry Book Club Book. I've posted the poll, which will be open until March 12. Considering the time it takes to order off of Amazon, or find a poetry book at bookstore, I'll be posting the conversation post on Monday, April 7.

Here are the options:

Deborah Keenan -- Willow Room, Green Door
Dorthea Lasky -- Awe
Rae Armantrout – Next Life
Bob Hicok – This Clumsy Living
Paul Guest – Notes for My Body Double

2008 Reading List: Swimming the Witch

Alright, so I have read Leilani Hall's Swimming the Witch. (74 pages) I just haven't posted my opinion on it yet. On my site. Last night, I wrote my review for read. write. poem., and the review will be appearing tonight at midnight. I'll post the link tomorrow morning when it's up (and I'm up).

Until then, my reading count is:

Total For 2008: 1570 pages
Genres: Memoir (1), Essay (1), Graphic Novel (1), Non-Fiction (2), Poetry (2)

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Late-Again Poetry Book Club Discusison Post: Swimming the Witch

Sorry for the late PBC discussion post. I was on a business trip to Tennessee, and didn't get back until yesterday. I'll have more to post later, but for now, we'll start the conversation.

Here are the discussion 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?