Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Descriptions of the Endless

Image of the Day:  How you can somehow internally feel the snow melting slowly, hear the birds singing new spring songs, and bask as the sun burnishes snow banks.

What I'm reading:  Women, The New York School, and Other True Abstractions by Maggie Nelson.  Nelson, who wrote Bluets which was so incredible.  This book is just as incredible:  Her study on the painter Joan Mitchell, who said, "I want to paint the feeling of a space," and also, "painting never ends, it is the only thing in the world which is both continuous and still" (20 and 22 respectively). 

What I'm writing:  in my journal, descriptions of the endless snow and its endless changing. 

How I'm feeling:  sore throat, stuffy head, snot-filled nose. 

What I'm waiting for:  next week, on Spring Break!!!

What I'm gonna do on said Spring Break:  create my own writing residency....

What bird I recently saw:  Bufflehead merganser.

What poem to read:

Child of a lighthouse keeper and a firewatch,
conceived in a wordless encounter
at a rest stop—

1 part flywheel, 8 parts resraint—

luminous with near-disaster,

says, Don't try to mirror this

 world of nothing-is-as-it-seems.

Set down no word. Says, by means

 of a searching pause

 I mistake for an intimate nod,

 Step inside the caution tape.

Naomi Mulvihill

Saturday, February 7, 2015

To Land In

Image of the Day:  Small snowflakes sifting down, each one looking hesitant to land in such a snowscape.

Sometimes I am really surprised when a journal accepts one poem out of all the other ones I send in a submission packet that I think will fit, based on my reading and research. 
For example, I have a poem in the recent issue of Harpur Palate.  This was the first time I had ever sent to them.  They accepted my poem "Her Pregnancy Dreams."  And I thought to myself, what resonated about that poem for the editors? Why choose that one? I mean, I like that poem, but you never know. I just got my contributor's copy yesterday in the mail, and after reading through it, I can understand.
Somehow a theme must have started to coalesce from all the submissions they received, and from the first poems that they wanted to accept.  Themes of motherhood, dreams, and water images.  I'm sure from an editor's point of view, that must seem so cool, as if that particular issue was meant to be.  And of course I'm always happy/relieved/surprised that my way of thinking about things--or in this case--dreaming about things, is in fact not so weird.  That other people think about them too. So in this particular case, for this particular poem, I am enormously lucky.  Some journals announce a theme and that's always fun to submit to, but some journals let it happen serendipitously. It's a lot of fun to be involved when that happens. 
And so I need to remember to try and tell myself to just submit the poems I have.  Cause who knows?

The Other Side of the Argument
But she prefers the morning glory,
How slowly its bloom unfurls,
How its curl of vine
Catches the flaw in masonry
First, then the crosshatch
Of kite string we hung
From the porch
As a makeshift trellis,
How it needs only a foothold
To fill half the day with blue.

Eric Pankey

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wanna Buy A Book? Of course you do....

Hey All!
My new chapbook The Ornithologist Poems is now available from dancing girl press!
As always, Kristy Bowen does such a fabulous job!!!  I'm very excited--can you tell by my use of exclamation marks?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Part 1

Some of my favorite lines and beyond:


The world had been sad since Tuesday.”   A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings:  A Tale for Children  Gabriel Garcia Marquez


and I eat men like air  Sylvia Plath


“I could hear everyone’s heart” What we Talk about When We Talk about Love Raymond Carver


They flee from me that one time did me seek  Sir Thomas Wyatt  Also the line "How like you this?



The grave’s a fine and private place  Andrew Marvell  and then what Diane Ackerman does with the lines in her poem “A Fine, A Private Place”


i found them there

rubbing against the leaves

so that the nubs of their

wings were flush under their skin     report from the angel of eden   Lucille Clifton



my heart broke loose on the wind  “Poetry” Neruda


and the child draws another inscrutable house   “Sestina” Elizabeth Bishop
 (pretty bold of her, don’t you think, to title this just Sestina?)

"And this... is your opinion of me!"   Darcy from Pride and Prejudice  Jane Austen

Thursday, January 1, 2015

An Obvious Thing

Happy 2015!

Yesterday I was busy organizing my computer folders and realized I'm horrible at keeping track of some things (like how many poems I've actually published in a year).  I'm trying to keep track of my published poems for grants and stuff.  So after reviewing my system, I decided to open a folder of poetry stuff just for 2015.  Keeping my poems, my submissions, my acceptances and rejections all in one place.  We'll see if that helps.  You'd think that kind of organization would be an obvious thing, but....

I also was facebooking and came across this wonderful commencement speech a MacArthur Genius Fellow had given.  Teresita Fern├índez has this wonderful list of things artists should remember so I'm sharing them here because I think they're spot on:

  1. Art requires time — there’s a reason it’s called a studio practice.
  2. Learn to write well and get into the habit of systematically applying for every grant you can find. If you don’t get it, keep applying. I lived from grant money for four years when I first graduated.
  3. Nobody reads artist’s statements. Learn to tell an interesting story about your work that people can relate to on a personal level.
  4. Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.
  5. Edit privately. As much as I believe in stumbling, I also think nobody else needs to watch you do it.
  6. When people say your work is good do two things. First, don’t believe them. Second, ask them, “Why”? If they can convince you of why they think your work is good, accept the compliment. If they can’t convince you (and most people can’t) dismiss it as superficial and recognize that most bad consensus is made by people simply repeating that they “like” something.
  7. Don’t ever feel like you have to give anything up in order to be an artist. I had babies and made art and traveled and still have a million things I’d like to do.
  8. You don’t need a lot of friends or curators or patrons or a huge following, just a few that really believe in you.
  9. Remind yourself to be gracious to everyone, whether they can help you or not. It will draw people to you over and over again and help build trust in professional relationships.
  10. And lastly, when other things in life get tough, when you’re going through family troubles, when you’re heartbroken, when you’re frustrated with money problems, focus on your work. It has saved me through every single difficult thing I have ever had to do, like a scaffolding that goes far beyond any traditional notions of a career.

I personally think #3 and 4 are especially important.  Well, #5 too but I think that goes for a lot of things--although I'm not as private as I think I am.  Or would like to be.  (Update:  Here is a link to the complete speech:

Anyway, I hope your writing and my writing are better than ever this year.  

Orange, Enormous 
to be a lunatic, fellowing the moon
shining, binding in quartz cracks

broken? no bracken,
leaves grown flown and blacking

I'll mumble I'll bramble
up slide down rise flattering scree

cluttering tattering full to fall
all the way to tamarack stands

crayons of larch trees please me
as they dip they tip they drip rain

sips, a psalm on my tongue
my roots laced to ground, found

the soil slinks to sap — I've tapped
I'm home come wholed

held healed in a halo of moon sight
lit I leap, lip, leaf into singing

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Sea Full

Image of the Day:  The cold Earth steady and still beneath my feet.

I've been on a cruise ship for the past week.  I walked up a waterfall with fast streaming water flowing downward, holding the hands of complete strangers helping me not fall onto slippery rocks.
I've seen goats running around the Jamaica green jungle.  A very controlled and well-trained dolphin kissed me on the cheek and let me kiss it.  A very thick-lipped and sunburnt-skinned Australian captain let me jump into a sea full of large wild sting-rays while a woman screamed.  They streamed through the water like huge, black capes, their width the length of me.  I did not stay long in that water, even though it was gorgeous tourmalined in color.  My skin got so burned there were little raised bumps all over my chest.  The ocean was a constant motion, small waves combining with themselves to form bigger waves that rolled and rolled.  Small nearly see-through flying fish rode above the waves far longer than I thought possible.  And at 2:30 in the  morning, the ship would cavitate and my whole body felt like it was threaded through some giant hook, streaming underneath the water.  It was nice to go away and it is nice to be back. 

I have a poem here in the whimsical Arsenic Lobster Poetry Review.  I'm sharing poetry space with some of my favorite poets, all incredibly talented, such as D.M. Aderibigbe, Karen J Weyant, Jill Khoury and others. 

I finished reading State of Wonder which was quite fitting for a cruise.  Lots of surprises.  Today I'm just blah, doing loads of laundry and wandering aimlessly around the house. 

Siberian Spring

      Tomsk, Siberia

A moment for a painting: crisp, clean
snow sparking over hill and hollow,
barest green halo hovering above branches.
Taiga: the word smells fresh, unstained.
Gone are the long nights—woman, bottle, knife,
each good company in her own way—
swept clear by green noise.

Up front the driver tightens a wire in the engine.
Satisfying, these small victories:
the engine's rev, the road's drag,
the marking of another spring—
as if it were an easy thing.
As if any of it were easy.
Just ask the river ice, keening now
over the carcass of her rank,
disemboweled self.

Katherine E. Young

Friday, December 12, 2014

Such a Jolt

Image of the Day:  The slow and graceful deer shaking their big ears at my dog, barking at them behind the back door.

So this blog is kind of a weird thing for me.  Yesterday, for reasons I can't figure out, this blog had 112 hits or pageviews.  I have no idea why, unless my namesake in fiction, the other Carol Berg, had some news and people were confused.  I had visitors from China, France, the Ukraine, Brazil and South Korea stop by.  Normally, I get like maybe 7-12 visitors unless I'm writing about someone else's poetry, like Amorak Huey, and then I might get 60 or so.  Which is nice, since this blog is all about promoting poetry and writing in general, but still.  So, anyway, just wanted to say thanks for stopping by! (And hey, feel free to buy a book or two of mine while you're here.  They make great presents!  And if mine don't work for you, visit the presses and browse around.  You're sure to find something for someone!)

And I'm officially on break from my other job for about a month, which is nice.  But my boss has retired and yesterday was our last day working together which made me enormously sad.  I love my boss and try and learn as much from her as I can.  I know not a lot of people can say that which is why I also love my job.  And it's so hard to have someone that has been in your life for almost 15 years suddenly not be in your life so much.  Or hardly at all.  I know people come in and out of our lives all the time and it can be such a jolt.  It's been also very emotional for me and now I think I'm sick.  With a cold. Or just a huge emotional hangover.  Last night I was in bed by eight reading my book, State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett.  It's a good read so far.

So here's a beautiful poem from the gorgeous DMQ Review that you should read from beginning poem to last poem.  Nothing like an ode to a punctuation mark to get you rolling. 


Not lips but the opening of lips, the kiss that fits
    a mouth, moistens a tongue with a lungful
of mimosa. Two dots offer aromas of oleander,
    pine, sweet plum. They numb the funk of the manuscript
locked in a trunk. Two dots open to mercy
    in Minneapolis or the middle of Muscatine,
two eyes watching swaths of brush tumble
    in the wind. After a colon, you can wake up as a reptile
or a gilt chandelier in France or ants in a manse
    passing on the left carrying crumbs from the kitchen
while the pastor pens a sermon on olive blossoms
    then fingers his earring. Not a period, a colon
is an open church: Muslims, Jews, dragonflies
    dampened by fog. The rivers of day and night return
in currents of fish. They swim through two dots
    to open the floodgates of silence and sound:
for the mist frozen in its moment, for the green
    alone in its moss, for the bee buzzing above
the pond scum, for the baby laughing
    in her bassinet while the ground shakes.
John Davis
Copyright © 2014