Thursday, December 5, 2013

December, December, and some personal reflection...

There is always an excuse for quitting NaNoWriMo before I'm finished. Last year, it was because I wanted to burn my book in a fire* and because I was going to be on the road for about a week. This year, we had a death in our friend group and we were watching another friend's children while she was out of town. I had planned to write through the kids' visit (and even set-up a writer's nest in the mudroom), but the combined effort of copping with everything going on=a hot mess.

There is a poem that always seems to pop up in my life when I'm struggling with particularly difficult deaths. Outside of Dickinson's Because I could not stop for death, I think this is probably one of her most famous poems. I found the first one to be too abstract- but maybe it was my high school lit teacher singing the lyrics to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas that ruined that poem for me. I've had a collection of Dickinson's poetry since middle school, and this was the poem, of all her collected poems, that resonated deeply with me. For mother's day, I printed this poem and framed it as a gift to my mother.

Several years ago, when Pam died, two of our family friends also passed away of the same disease around the same time. This happened around the time I started this blog. It was a rough. I lost three women who were dear to my heart and role models for what strong, intelligent women can do in a world, as long as they stay true to themselves and their passions.  On the back of the program for Helen, this poem was printed. I took it, framed it, and put it in my home. It felt right.

I don't know what it is about this poem that follows me. The Sunday that we found out about Jade's death, it popped up in my pinterest. It was just there. It's just here. So I want to share it with you.
Hope is the thing with feathers
By Emily Dickinson 
Hope is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops-at all- 
And sweetest-in the Gale-is heard-
And sore must be the storm-
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm- 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land-
And on the strangest Sea-
Yet-never-in Extremity,
It asked a crumb-of me.

I gave myself permission to let this goal go and focus on the people in my life who need some love (myself included). It has been a rough November. The difference between last year and this year is that I'm going to finish this book. I don't think it's any good, but I like my weird little queer hunter with her weird little family of thieves, knitters, and sailors. I keep having flashes of how I want to go on with it- so I'm going to make that happen.

I don't know how to lead a slow life, readers. I full-tilt run through my days and that's mostly how I like it. This is the first full day kid-free and I think I'm finally letting myself feel all the feelings about everything that's happened in the past two weeks. I've been weepy all morning. I wish I could take a couple days off to just be in the moment and sit with these emotions. I may hermit this weekend to bake, and write, and feel all the feels.

I'm excited about April already, and not just because it's the month between my two wedding anniversaries, but because Abbey and I are going to NaPoWriMo (yeah, buddy). One of the side effects of intense prose writing is that I have a pretty extensive list of ideas for poems that I didn't have the time to pen. By then, I want to get the mud room totally cleaned out and converted into a writing room. I'm getting a sweet space heater/fake fire/iPod player for Yule from my lovely wife, and a dear friend is donating her beautiful antique desk. I have plans for this mud room. It will be nice to have a room of my own.

*This would have been unfortunate, as I only write on my laptop. Can you burn a cloud? Questions for a future generation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A little cheese with my whine...

I cannot tell a lie, I'm a feast or famine kind of woman. I started out NaNoWriMo strong. Then I decided it was a terrible novel and quit. Then I came back to the fold, with the knowledge that I would have to puke out 3K a night to make my deadline.

In the past week I have loved and hated my novel in equal parts. Tonight, I'm unmotivated, sleep-deprived, and a little frustrated with my story again. I know what I want the words to do, I just can't be arsed to write it out.

I was having a discussion with one of my coworkers about writing, this morning. I was cooing and bragging about how late I stayed up to get to my word count, last night (between yawns). She was appropriately awed and supportive. Many of us no-longer-20 people find staying up until 1:30 to be very impressive, okay?

She told me an interview with some writer she enjoys where the writer talked about her process. Forgive me, it's been a long day and I can't remember which writer she was talking about. Anyway, this writer goes out to her barn with pencils and a pencil sharpener and writes on her typewriter. When she gets lost, she stops and sharpens her unused pencils. Some days, the words flow from her. Some days, the act of writing is brutal and unforgiving.

I am having a brutal and unforgiving day, so I'm procrastinating by whining here. I don't have a lot of the month left... surely I can pull this one out of the fire? I've done more with less.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In which I spread the love (and not in a creepy way)

I have been hyper focused on NaNoWriMo this month, but Rachael (from the Wilde Workshop) and I decided to make a quick trip around downtown tonight. Our mission? Deliver poetry to the masses.

If you want to pick up selected poems from a record of night, and happen to be visiting downtown Columbia, Missouri, please visit Lakota, Kaldi's, or Peace Nook. I left them in the free areas. At Lakota and Kaldi's, they are tacked to the bulletin board. TAKE THEM THEY ARE FREEEEEEEEEE.

This is what it looks like!

This is what's inside!

Look, ma! I can fold things!

Rachael and I getting ready to hit the rainy streets.

Without further ado, I must leave you to go write things for my novel.

Edit: if you've found my blog due to the excerpts left around town, WELCOME! Please look around and enjoy yourself. I welcome any comments or hello's!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Writerly fortitude

Oh my friends! This has been a whirlwind month. I almost gave up but I think I hit my second wind tonight. This novel carp is hard! Mad props to my friends who do it year long! I think there is a reason I gravitate towards poetry- I have a hard time staying in the linear moment. I want to make whispy sentences that float away.

Anyway. Peace and love. I'll check in with you kiddies later.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Well, I updated the other blog, I might as well get this one too...


  1. I'm doing NaNoWriMo, again. 10th time's the charm? ;)
  2. I've been thinking a lot about spoken word and poetry again (spoiler: my opinion hasn't really changed).
  3. Working on a blog post about being a poet (and other easy things, like washing the dishes or ending world hunger).
I'll probably use this blog to whine about NaNo. You'll hear from me soon, friends.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hug an LGBTQ poet today (and tomorrow and the next day)!

Tomorrow kicks off LGBTQ history month! In honor, I want to try to cover some of my favorite LGBTQ poets. While I was doing research for this blog post, I was honestly trying to think of an earnestly heteronormative poet and I honestly couldn't. I guess I can only really think of Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney. Okay, now that I'm really thinking about it, I can put my finger on several. Regardless, I guess my point is that poetry has been a timeless safe space for us queers.

Poets of ambiguous or clearly stated LGBTQ sexualities who I totally dig:

  1. Edna St. Vincent Millay (the poet this blog was titled after)
  2. Oscar Wilde (never read a lot of his poetry, but it's brilliant and I love his stories)
  3. Lord Byron
  4. Elizabeth Bishop (One Art will always be my favorite of her poems)
  5. Emily Dickinson (this one was a shock to me, but is apparently a thing. Susan)
  6. Sappho (Duh)
  7. Georgia Douglas Johnson
  8. Maureen McLane (Syntax is honestly one of the best poems I've read in ten years)
  9. Audre Lorde
  10. Adrienne Rich
  11. Allen Ginsberg
  12. William Shakespeare (obviously)
  13. Marilyn Hacker
  14. Langston Hughes
Please note that I have left out several famous spoken word folks- I think I've already babbled about how I feel about spoken word, slam jam, poetry jams, etc., etc., but I'll leave it simply at this: I characterize spoken word as more as a vein of performance art then a form of poetry. While I admit there is an intersection, it's the difference between a tomato and a peach. 

With respect, this is a fairly sparse, pedantic list. If you're more into post modern poetry, the poets you want to check out from this list are Maureen McLane, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, etc; with the exception of Maureen McLane, these are all fairly canonical poets. There are a plethora of fabulous, current LGBTQ poets and I definitely intend to delve into their work this month. I just wanted to start from my base of knowledge, the original fires of my love.

But don't take my word for it- here are some good articles about LGBTQ poets:

What would your list look like? Who speaks to you? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Poetry is...

I'm having a great deal of fun reading's 20 Poets on the Meaning of Poetry.

We love to say what things are and what they aren't. It's fun to cage match about definitions- it's a thriving business in politics and art.

Okay, okay, so I'm just writing this post to mull over my reactions and respond. It's just for funzies so let's none of us get our boxers in a twist.

From Carl Sandburg's "Tentative (First Model): Definitions of Poetry":

2. Poetry is an art practised with the terribly plastic material of human language.
Is it really? I think that's bullshit. I think that crafting poetry from the human language* is, on good days, like kneading bread: painfully difficult to get the recipe right, but the words are so warm and pliable! Something you want to sink your knuckles into.  A smell that makes you yearn and your tummy rumble. If writing poetry was as stiff and difficult as working "terrible plastic material" there would be less of us and even less readers. I think that's a line of false humility.

Never mind, I'm not going to finish responding to all of his definitions. I just remembered why I don't like his poetry and my boxers are in a twist.

*because there is only one language we speak, existentialists! 

Meanwhile... quotes that I did love:

"Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful." -Rita Dove

"Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads." -Marianne Moore

"If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that ispoetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?" -Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two poems

So, last night I wrote two poems that I won't ever publish except for here and I wanted to share. They will probably be cannibalized for parts in the future. Without further ado, poems about absence.

(No Title)

I took notes for a poem about
lavender lads and ladies,
the twilight people who come
from the world of debut mon,
and when I went to source my
new-old words, I found the
articles notably absent.

(Second poem with no title)

In absentia vobus
In the absence of you-
you, curled in a heart
on the worn carpet.

I scrambled through wires
to reschedule our rendezvous
I’m sorry my voice got
caught inside my ribcage

A scattered day of thoughts and words

1.  A vague obsession with the phrase "In Absentia". From Latin, literally translated to mean "in the absence". I looked up, through Google Translate, at least 15 different ways to write in the absence of you (in absentia vobus). I feel like that phrase deserves something better then confident legalese. In Absentia, in absentia, in absentia. Google Translator also says that "in the presence (of you)" is apud vos, but it's been a long time since I took Latin, so I have no idea if that's accurate, nor do I want to pull out my old books and check. Nor am I at home. So, in Google we trust.

There is something haunting about in absentia vobus.

2.  I read this poem by Georgia Douglas Johnson, notable poet during/of the Harlem Renaissance.
The Heart of a Womanby Georgia Douglas Johnson
The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o'er life's turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home. 
The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
And enters some alien cage in its plight,
And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.
Seriously, that's how you end a fucking poem. Jesus, Mary, & Joseph.

3.  I didn't win the contest I submitted my poems to; I found out today. I didn't expect to and now I have a handful of poems to submit to journals, which is good. While I was discussing this rejection today, my coworker told me that I need to go look at a record of  night and "refill my love tank".

May we all go forth and read something that refills our love tank.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seamus Heaney, you are a class act

I haven't had a chance to write about (or process) the passing of one of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney. He passed away at the end of this August. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I highly recommend Opened Ground. I still find new poems in there, new meanings. Seriously, get you a copy. His poetry is beyond compare. If you're looking for an review of his work, this isn't the place. I just want to talk a little about how much his work means to me.

I was introduced to Seamus Heaney in one of my many classes with Pamela McClure. Dr. Pam found a beautiful Irish band that wrote a song using one of his poems as the lyrics. I can't find it on YouTube, which is a damn shame. If any of you know a link to it, please post the link. I did find several beautiful tribute videos.

I have so many things I want to say, but I don't know how to say them, so I'm going to talk around it for a little while until I hit the meat. There is something about his words that really resonates with me. My wife doesn't care for poetry (not written about her), but she knows who Pamela McClure and Seamus Heaney are because they are our household poets. I always know where their books are.

I reconnected with a dear friend from my high school recently, and she dropped that she got to see Heaney read in Texas and I was/am so jealous. A part of me still thinks I'll get to see him read because the truth is that this hasn't quite sunk in, yet.

I read this when I found out:
Late in the Clinton administration, the President and First Lady hosted a party to celebrate American poetry at the White House. I was standing with a group of poets with the President, and one of us asked if he read poetry. He lit up a little and said that he'd been reading The Cure at Troy, Seamus Heaney's version of Sophocles, and that it had been important to him in thinking about peace talks in Northern Ireland. A moment I wanted to remember, in memory of Seamus, and a straight-from-the-horse's- mouth (so to speak) demonstration of poetry's place in public life.
-Mark Doty

The news outlets tell me that he left us with a final message: don't be afraid.

Even on his way out the door, a class act. Thank you for all of everything.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reflecting on an amazing poem and a lost friend (or 10)...

I was born and raised in a College town. Transient friendships, friendships with clear or muddy, but always inevitable ends, these friendships have almost always been a part of my life. Learning to cherish and mourn at the same time is a constant.

Anyway, I stumbled across this poem by Joanna Klink (who might be one of my new favorite poets... time to buy some of her books!). She says, "The poem is addressed to a close friend. Several decades into our friendship we become terribly estranged from each other—and I wanted to see if I could reach her in the poem, and I wanted to wish her well." 

If I could dedicate this poem to my long lost best friend, I would. I'm sorry. This poem makes me think of you.

Without further ado...

by Joanna Klink

And I carried to that emptiness
between us the birds
that had been calling out

     all night. I carried an old
     bicycle, a warm meal,
     some time to talk.

I would have brought
them to you sooner
but was afraid your own

     hopelessness would keep you
     crouched there. If you spring up,
     let it not be against me

but like a weed or a
fountain. I grant you
the hard spine of your

     childhood. I grant you
     the frowning arc of this morning.
     If I could I would grant you

a bright throat and even
brighter eyes, this whole hill
of olive trees, its

     calmness of purpose.
     Let me not forget
     ever what I owe you.

I have loved the love
you felt for those gardens
and I would grant you

     the always steadying
     presence of seeds.
     I bring to that trouble

between us a bell that might
blur into air. I bring the woods
and a sense of what lives there.

     Like you, I turn to sunlight for
     answers. Like you, I am
     not sure where it has gone.

Monday, August 26, 2013

a record of night

In honor of three years of poetry on this blog, I'm pleased as punch to introduce my small chapbook a record of night to you!

You can purchase it on Amazon!

Or, if you don't have a kindle (or dislike Amazon), you can purchase it on etsy

If you feel so inclined, readers, I would love any feedback you have on Amazon page.

Peace, love, and good night!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Why you should subscribe to poem-a-day, and other uncomfortably sexy things...

This poem, um, is fabulous. These Hands, If Not Gods by Natalie Diaz.
Haven't they moved like rivers--
like Glory, like light--
over the seven days of your body?
Aren't they, too, the dark carpenters
of your small church? Have they not burned
on the altar of your belly, eaten the bread
of your thighs, broke you to wine, to ichor,
to nectareous feast?
Seriously. Go. Read it. I'm not normally for weirdly erotic religious poetry, but if you pretend like this is about a super sexy lover, it makes you crave a cigarette and a glass of wine. Um. Or you feel really awkward afterwards. Look, I don't need to know about your hangups and you don't need to know about mine.

My favorite part is Natalie Diaz' about-this-poem:
The images and hands of this poem began building during Mass one Sunday. The reading was about the laying of hands on someone, and I began thinking of how my own hands work upon a body. How they do things both beautiful and awful—to gently trace a throat in one moment, to hold it tightly in another—a type of sweet wreckery that makes me feel godlike and helpless all at once.
If that kind of imagery was building up in my mind during church, I probably would have stayed Catholic. Damn.

Cindy, Sam, me & some poetry: I stopped by Cindy's to go through her edits for record of night.

Meanwhile, my blogaversary is coming up tomorrow! I wish I could bake you all cookies. I might bake cookies anyway...  or buy them. And eat them. Without you. Okay, okay, I'll instagram you some photos, if you're sweet.

I don't think you're ready for this jelly.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rambles and a poem fragment...

Lunchtime blog is written during lunch.

Somebody brought me caffeine. I haven't started drinking it, but you better watch your ass when I do! Caffeine is GO TIME.

So, basically, this is a ramble blog. I just wanted to write to you guys. It helps me past the time while I wait for my work to come back to me. I'm waiting for my birds to fly back to me. It's cool, I have a nest and some sweet worms. Or something. Is this awkward? Anyways...

I would fly North,
But it wouldn't
be a true migration-
not the way bees
carry honey to
their true love.

Ok, so my lunch is two minutes from being over. Peace out, homies.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Submitter's Block- the tummy churning edition

You love writing. You've been writing since you were a kid, or you picked up writing in College. Maybe you found writing in the middle of a divorce or on a quiet Sunday evening, sitting under a Mimosa tree. You took classes, engaged in workshops, are active in online communities and love everything about it, or some variation of this...but you are terrified of submitting your work. We're talking pit-in-your-throat, rock-in-your-stomach, binge eating Blizzards, procrastinating Sheriff of Anxiety. I know, I have a Sheriff's star badge. Okay, well, I don't, but I wish I did.

I have an awful case of the Submitter's Block.  I'm sharing my feelings today because when I did a web search for other people who have trouble with this, I found very little to relate to or to soothe my nerves. If my descent into batshit cat lady helps somebody else avoid 30 minute discussions about absorbent kitty litter and what brand to use to best avoid UTI's in kitties, I want to do my part.

I'm not going to let it stall me, this time. I will submit. Ugggggggggg.

My Internal Monologue (occasionally dialogue):

  • I'm not actually a poet, but a big fake.
  • I will get rejected again.
  • I will never get accepted.
  • I am a big fake. No, really.
  • I'm not talented.
  • I'm no good.
  • It all sucks.
  • I suck.
  • Fake, Fake, Fake, Fake.
  • Why bother? The likelihood that you'll win this contest/get accepted is so incredibly slim, why do you even try?
It is getting ugly in here, folks. I don't mean to be a drama queen, but I haven't had this much anxiety since college. I almost didn't recognize it... So today I'm venting. I tried ignoring, but that was pushing me to tears at my desk. So what next? 

I accept these emotions. I accept the rock sitting in my tummy. Deep breath. Feel the air in my lungs. Give me space for self compassion.

Plan of Action:
  1. JUST DO IT: Drop of envelope for contest in the mail after work.
  2. REWARD SELF: Go with wife to local ice creamery and consume alcoholic ice cream. That exists, I kid you not, and it is heaven.
  3. DON'T GIVE UP: Work on my Record of Night.
  4. RELAX: Put on Pj's.
  5. CONTINUE TO RELAX: Cuddle with wife and friend on couch. Hopefully these cuddles will include viewing a movie that makes me giggle.
Take a deep breath. Breathing is important. Here is another list. This is an important one...

Things that are important to remember:
  • Rejection is not a sign that my writing is bad. Poetry editors handle an overwhelming number of submissions/year. Just because they kick yours to the curb doesn't reflect on my value or the value of my work.
  • Rejection is a natural part of being a published poet.
  • Everybody gets rejected. Your idols, your icons, your profs, your contemporaries. Everybody.
  • I've been published before, I can get published again.
Update: submissions dropped in the mail, delicious food reward consumed, ready to get home and work on record. On track an I feel much better. I can totally do this.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reclaiming that's what she said...

Normally I write about my writing, you know, hi! Writing blog.

I want to share something entirely different. I created these and I will now present them with no further comment:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Poems & Pride

I have to admit to you that I'm an unabashed cry baby. The littlest things make me cry: MIA's Bad Girls, the Rod Stewart-written Enterprise theme song, losing my car keys... I think you get the point. I accidentally ran across this collection of poetry Today and I want to share it with you. 

As Pride month winds down, and a giant crack of thunder shakes my house, I was reading through Audre Lorde's selection and I felt that tight lump in my throat and tried to choke back the tears. Poetry is where I first found people who, if not like me, were othered in parallel ways. I found voices and lives in those words that told me that I wasn't alone and that I wasn't a freak... or that I should revel in my freak, dance through moments of isolation. I know I've talked about Allen Ginsberg before, and the importance of the Beats in my life, but around the time I found Allen, I found Audre, I found Sylvia, I found Anne, I found Byron, I found collections of poetry transcribed from voicemail poems from then-current poets, I found so much. 

Frequently, I didn't know that these poets were queer, just that they were different. One of the amazing things about the last decade (or so) is that queer history has become more visible. Finding out that people who I really looked up to, whose words meant so much to me, were also queer was/is a revelation. I think, if anything, I would like to take a moment to recognize these unconventionally invisible coffee-table poets. Their love and struggles is what drove their writing and it's important that we see that and recognize the whole of their work.

So if you have a moment and the inclination, please take a moment to read through some of these poems. 

By Audre Lorde

I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck   
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
without goodbyes.

Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof   
as the maker of legends
nor as a trap
door to that world
where black and white clericals
hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators   
twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh   
and now
there is someone to speak for them   
moving away from me into tomorrows   
morning of wish and ripen
your goodbye is a promise of lightning   
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us   
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into desire
into mornings alone
where excuse and endurance mingle   
conceiving decision.
Do not remember me
as disaster
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
you move slowly out of my bed   
saying we cannot waste time
only ourselves.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A morning thought on editing

...and it's all I'm capable of in the morning.

Sometimes editing poems is like doing a word problem in Math. You have to pull out the variables that help you find the answer. If you don't cut out the superfluous variables, you reach the wrong answer. A good editor helps you trim the fat for a strong, solid poem.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A mobile post about submission and the past

The pesky cats pulled out the power cord from my laptop and now it is drained of juice. 

Do you ever get writing fevers? Today was wrought with a kind of fever. I suspect it's because I was looking up lit mags for submissions, an overwhelming experience that triggers every rejection memory. Holy hell! 

I've been working on my tiny manuscript that I plan to self publish. I finally got through all of Rachael's revisions. My next step is to have some of my non-workshop writing friends critique and hopefully review it. The goal, with this tiny thing, is to finally bury the poems of my past. I want ton give them a proper burial, one that honors the few words that I really love from college, and start a new life. In the process, I feel totally vulnerable, raw, and opened. It's very uncomfortable.

In a couple hours, I'm meeting with an old friend for coffee and a discussion about poetry. I'm stoked. I have missed her immensely- and missed our creative energy.

I feel like I'm careening down a rocky hill on a cart. It's exciting  but I know I'll be lucky to escape with only scraped knees and palms.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rambling about deadlines

This deadline thing has been working pretty solid for me. I pushed out two poems last night (although I really only like 1 of them, but hey, whatchya gonna do?) despite some serious happenings.

I miss sharing my new poems in this blog. I've been contemplating content that I can share besides my inane babbling. Rachel and I have been discussing the merits of YouTube poetry (as Steve and I have discussed). It's a thing I might end up doing. I feel like I need to clean up my account so that it's less more professional and less personal, but I just can't get rid of the videos on there. Am I a media junky? Maybe I need to just start a separate yt account. Or I could make my brother's graduation "private", I guess. It's been years, but I'm still so proud of that booger.

How do you feel about prompts? Useless or useful? When I was reading Jeff Goin's You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) he talks about how important it is that you focus on the meaty (my word, not his) writing and not waste your time on things like prompts or other distractions. I think that's a little severe. Personally, I lack the ability to focus that intensely. Look, it's ADHD, I have problems with shinny squirrels. Give me a break. I found that allowing myself play time (prompts) gets my juices flowing and sometimes those prompts become a real thing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thoughts on a getaway or retreat or writer's shack!

I want one! Somebody, how do I make a writer's shack? And by how, I mean make one for me; because I'm useless with a hammer. And by useless, I mean that I'm lethal. I do mean that. Seriously, how amazing is Dylan Thomas' writing shack? Amahzing.

Have you ever done a writer's retreat? I've always wanted to. If I owned land in the country, I would run my own writer's retreats. As is, I think it's a wee bit out of my price range. There was even a point where I started planning one with like-minded friends. I'm rethinking this. I might come back to it. There are cabins I really like, that aren't that expensive, that I could probably convince some friends to go in on it with me.

Just thoughts for the night.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

3 poems down and feeling a bit full of myself

Good evening, friends and foes. How is your candle burning?

I didn't quite meet the deadline I set, but I had the wrong date for the workshop, so I guess it evens out. I just finished up my third poem and I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping up with this. Yeah, buddy!

I got a text from a lady rabble rouser in our workshop today that made my heart burst into a thousand sparkly hearts. It read something to the effect of (and I'm paraphrasing) "I've been writing a lot, lately! This workshop is really kicking me into gear." Me too!

When I started kicking around the idea of starting a workshop, it was a desperate attempt to impose some accountability and hone my craft with like-minded folks. Since I left college, it's been a struggle to make myself stick to some kind of writing schedule. "Muse" can only take you so far, kids. I'm not a huge believer in consistent inspiration, but an avid follower of the idea that we should write, write, write until our fingers fall off. Even (and especially) if it's crap. Writing is not like riding a bike, and if you don't use it, you lose it (I swear, no more cliches). The workshop took many forms before I finally just bit the bullet (woops) and made it happen- and it continues to grow organically with our needs and goals. I'm pretty proud of all the women I've written/critiqued with; proud that we're sticking to our guns (rut ro, another, I lied).

I just have to keep telling myself: I will get published, I will get published, I will get published, I will get published.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Poems shmoems and butterfly wings


We meet again, fateful reader. I would say faithful, but I think we both know that this is an on-again off-again relationship. Look, no judgments. We both have shit to do. We're both busy people. I get that, you get that. We're all good.

My mother and I were going through boxes in her basement to get stuff together for a yard sale on Saturday. Let me tell you, good reader, it was a blast from the past. It was like digging through my childhood. I found a poem that I wrote in elementary school. I would have saved it and shared it with you in it's unabridged form, but there were ziplock bags of butterfly wings in the papers and I freaked out and threw them in the trash. Allow me to offer you the abridged version that I remember:

I'm free, I'm free
I'm free, I'm unbound
I'm free, I'm free,
I'm free, I'm meaningless.

I read this poem to my mother. It was very difficult to read while laughing so hard. My mother giggled, and as I finished, her face flashed mild shock.
"God Kirstin, you were dark even then!"

It didn't help, I'm sure, that I was gesticulating wildly while I read. I'm free (throws arms wide), I'm free! (throws arms wide), well, you get the idea. Perhaps I wrote this about the beginning of summer? We will never know.

Look kids, this is what happens when you eat Gothios for breakfast and read books. You get all of your bad poetry out in elementary and middle school. It's important to get that out of your system. Write all the dark-black-void-of-my-heart poems you can so that you can move on. It is an integral time period in a developing poet's life.

And now for something completely different!

I'm one new poem down. It's killing me not to share it. Turns out, I really like doing that. Sharing. Hoping to have another one under my belt tonight. In fact, tonight is devoted to poetry, poetry, poetry. Hopefully my (horrible, no good, very bad) allergies agree with me.

Optimistic. I was reading an article that my former English Proff posted about how people drown and I suspect it may work it's way into a poem. Drowning is really creepy, you guys. One of the most depressing writer-suicides (in my opinion, and excepting Sylvia Plath, who obviously wins every depressing award of all time), was Virginia Woolf's. Rocks, pockets, into the River Ouse. Peace-out.

It's quiet. That's what the article said. From an observer's perspective, there isn't thrashing around or screaming, you just bob in the water until you can't hold yourself up anymore, or you don't get enough gasps of air, and then you drown. Quietly. Maybe you scream into the water. You are trying so hard just to get your head to the surface, to gasp for air, that you don't have the time or energy to holler for help. I wonder if your mind is quiet during this struggle, or if it's deafened with noise, if you hear your heartbeat like a scream. And then there's this.

At some point during your childhood or adolescence, somebody has asked you this question:

Would you rather die by fire, ice, or water?

If they haven't, allow me to ask you... would you rather die by fire, ice, or water? My response, without hesitation, has always been ice. I like the idea of falling asleep. The idea of my flesh melting from my semi conscious body, or the futile, quiet underwater struggle doesn't appeal to me. I have since learned that the smoke will, most likely, asphyxiate you before you die by fire. Maybe I'll amend my answer, at some point.

Also, just in the off chance that my parents are reading this (hi, mom!) this is just morbid, idle speculation. I have no intention of dying by fire, ice, or water. I am immortal. I have inside me blood of kings. If I die, remember, it's because there can be only one. I give my power to Adrian Paul in the form of sweet, sweet lightning.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Feeling ambitious, and other various nonsense.

Good afternoon, readers!

We had a very productive work shop tonight. Abbey, Rachael, and I made a goal to submit to two writing contests by the end of the summer. I feel really good about this! I will have to write 12 new poems! Unfortunately, I can't publish them here, so that they meet the basic requirements. I normally write that many poems in a year, not a couple months, but I think I'm up to the challenge! I'm excited to work for a goal, excited about the prospects of being published again, and excited about pushing myself to put out that level of content (hopefully quality).

We also decided to do a reading in mid-September, to showcase our work. Keep an eye out! It will be a reading and picnic in the park (a twirling maenad picnic, if Abbey has anything to say about it!) I'm going to start working on a flyer as soon as possible.

I'm so excited.

I'm also working on my first poetry compilation, which I imagine I'll self-publish, called A Record of Night: 14 poems. This compilation will contain several of my favorite poems.

I've also been reading You're a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins. It's inspired me to keep the ball rolling, as it were. There were several tips that I'm not buying whole-sale, but the book has been really good, regardless. I don't know if you've noticed, but I changed the layout of my blog, Facebook, and Twitter to the same imagery and the professional photo taken by Pam Roe (an amazing photographer, who I definitely recommend. If you want her info, shoot me an email and I'll send it to you).

One of the things that Jeff talks about really resonated with me. He talks about self identification: do you identify as a writer? Why? Why not? And I realized that the only place I self identified as a writer and a poet is here (and a little on my twitter). He suggests that you (me) own the label. Rock it. So last night I went through all of my social media and updated my profiles to reflect my writerly bio. When I got to Facebook, I started listing all the projects I've worked on, or currently work on, and I had a moment of "Woah! I really am a writer! I guess that's a true thing!"

So I'd like to introduce myself. Hello! I'm Kirstin. I'm a writer.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beware, there be sexy talk in the waters?

My friend and comrade writer, Steve, dared me to write a poem about my least favorite word. This poem is light hearted, but the dangers of void are not to be ignored. It is a nebulous word that lacks hands, feet, and concrete to stand on. I have never met a poem that uses this word in a way that I like. /rant

Pillow Clutchers

“Oh, Oh Void!”
She thought-

Ran her

fingers down
the shadow’s
knotted spine-

Must be
what an
atheist screams,
when they
clutch the pillow.

Consistently Inconsistent

If I were writing me as a character, I would immediately identify inconsistency as my fatal flaw. As a tow-headed child with long braids, the most common grade card I handed to my parents contained the phrase, "Doesn't apply herself." But applying myself is not the problem. Consistently applying myself is a different matter. I can take the plunge (eagerly, hungrily), I just get out of the pool for too many snacks or tennis games. Who doesn't like a snack, right?

This is a blog post I could easily cross-post to the yoga blog I contribute to.

There are few crafts or skills that I stick with, and my learning curve is entirely dependent on how much glitter is being thrown around me. Look, I like shiny things. I'm bad at schedules, boy am I bad.

Moving in with my wife was the best thing that ever happened to me. Not just because she's amazing, wonderful, and I love her- but because I was forced to finally adapt a sleep schedule. Several things coalesced to make this happen: I obtained a job with steady 8-5 hours, I moved in with a woman who refused to let me stay up until midnight, we moved into a house with nobody else but us (and no other schedules to knock me out of rhythm). I now consistently get up by 7 am and go to bed before midnight.

I don't think I can stress how significant of a change this has been in my life. I have always resisted a scheduled life. You could ask my mother or past roomates- as soon as I figured out how to read a book, I was up until 3 am on weeknights. In middle school, I pulled all-nighters just to finish a book, regularly. I learned the sound and distinction between my parents foot steps in the hallway. I created quick-stash places around my bed that were conducive to bookmarks. When I was reading, I was writing or drawing (but reading was easier to hide quickly). My parents knew... they aren't fools, but reading was (and is!) a valued hobby in my family of retired teachers, and the worst I would get was a finger wagging. Come to think of it, I think my dad did threaten to take away my book once and I smarted off about how he'd have to box up all of my books to be honestly effective. Look, I was a brat and I did (do) what I want.

Finding peace in a schedule that seems so simple for every other person on the planet, and so fucking hard for me sometimes feels ridiculous, but as I get older, I'm trying to teach myself to accept and honor my accomplishments, rather then focus on my failures. Or some shit.

So that's the context... here's the meat: I have been incapable of keeping a writing schedule. I try. I see my friends, friends who are fabulous writers (and published, too!)- I understand that a regular writing practice is integral to my success, to finally applying myself; but it's not easy, man. My very nature, diagnostically, is fettered with distraction and fuzziness. I am, down to my genetic code, easily put off. I could blame my genetic donors, but I think they're really marvelous people and that would be decidedly unjust and unfair.

Committing to this 8-5 thing has shown me that I do have the capacity to change. I'm hoping, this year, to add some new things to my schedule. Not giving up on either of these blogs has been a first step for me. Despite not becoming the glamorous, 2.0 blogster, just remembering to write in here once a month, forcing myself to come back, revisit, rethink, has been the best thing I've done for my craft since I left college (the second best thing: starting Wilde Workshop to get together and workshop with like-minded folks). Tangent aside, I'm not giving up, and I'm going to try to increase my consistency. Through sheer hard-headedness, I've managed to make it in the 8-5. If I can do that, I can make room for more writing.

Thank you for bearing with me. Thank you for reading so far. I know there are only like 10 people who read this blog... honestly, my stats probably only reflect me from different computers! Hah!

There may be more prose in here, in the future.

Monday, April 29, 2013

the price of citrus

the price of citrus

I found you under the fog of dawn
There, you were a bright holly berry
a tradition in Winter, coming undone

There, you were a clean child again
but your fingers were buckled and weary
Still, I found you under the fog of dawn

I tried to lose you under the loom
unraveling knots of hair from a tapestry
this tradition in must, already undone

I, a tabby and you were a Maine Coon
At night, your eyes were always leary
but I found you under the fog of dawn

Oh, my love, come back, please do come
We can dance the needled claw jiggery
a tradition in must, already undone

The price of citrus and raw cinnamon,
for less, you grabbed all you could carry
I looked for you under this dogged dawn
But It's a tradition in must, already undone

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

in which I write a poem about more bizarre Missouri weather.

snow in april

in the Northern Hemisphere,
under this Medusa street lamp,
snow hits the road with a hiss,
because it's April and this
pavement is warm beneath my palm.

I can't tell you what it means
when morning is a horizon dream
and air freezes between your lips-

but I can tell you one thing,
and I promise it's only weather talk:
when the sun comes up, the snow will
melt and you will resume your rituals.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

a poem and thoughts on another National Poetry Month...

On the Gasconade in March

bring to me
these things
in beauty;

first season’s

crooked bluffs
weeping in
the mist,

an egret
with coal-
tipped wings,

a puddle
of wood

cigar smoke
thick and
low hung,

a standing
from cows,

a canoe
on the

Musings on another National Poetry Month

So it comes, every year. Every year, I'm ecstatic and try to push out all the poems from my body. I have since come to the conclusion that this is too painful and the cost for the amount of wine required is astronomical. Instead of setting unrealistic creating goals, I'm going to reframe this cantankerous beast. What is it about? How does it impact me? Why do I want to take time to revere my favorite of favorites?

It's time to explore not produce; but producing is cool too. Basically, awesome. Ok. So whatever. Something zen, okay? Ok. Roll with it.

Maybe there is nothing profound to say.

General Musings about whatever the fuck
  • In the past several months, a few friends and I have started work-shoping together. I think it's just what the doctor ordered. Anyways, more on this later.
  • I've been thinking a lot about spoken word. I wrote like a 5 page essay about how much I hate spoken word but I think it's a little too harsh. There is a good chance I won't be sharing it because I think I tend to lean towards critical rather than recognizing the importance of emotional resonance. Listen, there is even some spoken work I like. Not much. It's rare. I did spoken word a few times! It was terrible. Instead of giving you all my long-winded, judgmental rants about the subject, let me leave it at this.
  • Oh, I wrote 3/4ths of a villanelle and decided there is a better chance of the world ending due to excessive monkey farts than there is of me finishing it. Sorry, villanelle Masters. It ain't my thing. It's feels like stabbing myself in the eyes with number two pencils. Elizabeth Bishop, I bow to you (always).
  • Spring is here, in Missouri. Oh pollen, oh the humanity!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And look at that, I wrote another poem... are question marks inappropriate in the middle of poems?


Your new name is Night,
in the grand tradition of
bright constellations.

Or do you flicker
forty million miles off?
constant explosions

so far away that
they tumble on to me as
pale, frozen star beams.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In which I write a poem about the lion wind...

This Sunday

This wind is the offspring of
the four foot snow layered deep
on the playgrounds and tire tracks
between Boston and Portland, Maine.

It growls through thin branches
and sends twigs and dead leaves to
scratch at chilled window panes,
to scrape across wet pavement and
push puddles down the drainage.

It shifts, like a dreaming beast,
against the walls of our Sexton
home, aching for unwelcome entrance.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transatlantic Project- The Harbinger

Another installment of the Transatlantic Project. For those of you just tuning in, Transatlantic Project is a collaborative podcast by me and Steve. Every couple weeks, we share prompts, explore new (or old) poetry forms and riff off of each other. We record the product and share it with you.

You can listen to my poem, The Harbinger, at podbean, or check out our other poems we've recorded.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Living is Easy

The Living is Easy

There are garlic shoots
under our naked arches

we come to this place
to pick the honeyed clover
to revel in a dream summer

our finger laced together
in a child's clasp or a
silver lover's claddagh

but in the waking hour
we shiver under blankets
and our toes trace night

circles against the sheets
our voices are low growls

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In which I write a sad poem

Elegy to a fierce creature
     who once lived in the burnt-out, 
     abandoned house across from ours.

There is no poem that I want to write
about the broken bridge of fleshless ribs,
open to the sun, laid bare on the asphalt-

but she was full and furred, once.
She was two star-pointed eyes piercing
the midnight brush on the side of the road.

There was a little girl in a tutu who used
to sneak out breadcrumbs and milk.
There were clumsy hands and greasy pets.

Frame her outside the context of our love
and she was a fierce hunter, a feral mother,
an urban warrior, a short-lived fury.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Transatlantic Project: The New Year

Hi, friends! It's time for another installment of The Transatlantic Project. You can hear my poem here and read Steve's here.

For those without audio, here's the poem.

The New Year

We start at the base of the bur oak tree
the old trunk circled with a frothing ice
thick thigh roots in winter stasis

We move to the floodplains the
field of frosted wheat stretched and
cracking as hide across an old drum

We end high on a wind-carved bluff
above the low Missouri river with her
sluggish currents sliding down the vein

We pass a plaque to Lewis & Clark
in greened bronze at the highest point
to make fresh boot tracks in the snow

Thursday, January 3, 2013

the transatlantic project

Salutations! My lovely friend, Steve, and I have endeavored to start a poetry podcast called the Transatlantic Project. It's so named because he's in Birmingham, England and I'm here in good ole Missouri, USA. Part of the project is that we give each other prompts each week and respond.

This week, Steve gave me a prompt to write a poem containing the words snow, skeleton, and eclipse.

You can listen to it here.

winter break

The thing about clouds,
At least these snow clouds,
is that they are the great
leveller, a gray blanket, a
simple backdrop for rolling
outlines of skeleton fingers
grasping at the horizon, for
the industrial windmill to
fade quietly into, located on
the edge of campus, where
we all try to fade quietly in,
where there are still cigarette
butts and the stadium looms,
unused over Winter break,
shadowed by empty bleachers,
eclipsed by the reverent silence
of the calm before the storm.

Let us know what you think! His poem is posted to his blog.

Happy listening!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In which there is a seasonal poem that I shockingly like

Hey, y'all! Happy New Years!

If you're anything like me, you maybe had too much of whatever that purple drink was last night: maybe you need to send apology texts to friends you said unfortunate things to, maybe you didn't made resolutions because resolutions are crap, maybe you reaffirmed your desire to keep writing, and maybe you had an awesome friend tell you to finish that crap novel you're writing because THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO. Or maybe you were a responsible adult and partied responsibly, drank responsibly, and all that good stuff.

Either way, here is a lovely poem that showed up in my inbox this morning. Hope you enjoy!

The Year
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.