Tuesday, February 26, 2013

To Go Back Through

Sunday we had snow so it was the perfect day to revise my manuscript.  I think I mentioned that it had been rejected...but it did get to the semi-finalist stage of a contest, which is pretty nice.  But I knew I wanted to revise it again. 

So I printed it all out and laid it on the living room rug to see.  The first section needed, at least in my mind, the most revision.  What poem should be your first poem?  How do you organize the book--no sections or sections?  And if so, how many?  Do you title your sections?  I've learned to follow my gut on this one and so the manuscript is in four sections with titles.  That stayed the same, pretty much this round of revising but I did decide to rename the manuscript.  In The Kingdom Of Her Small Urges was good in that it narrowed down my concerns in the book, but I've seen just too many other books starting with the phrase In The Kingdom Of...and wanted more my own title. 

So I found the poem that I wanted to start the manuscript off with and really scoured it for a phrase to title the book with.  Ultimately, I decided to name the book after the title of the poem and actually place that poem as an introductory poem, so to speak.  It comes before the first section.  After I decided on that, I rearranged the poems to fit more with the themes of the title, which means the first section deals more with girl-hood poems and then moves into different themes in the other sections.  Then I printed out the rearranged stuff and reread it.  I found a typo, arghhhhhh, and a few other mechanical errors and fixed those and reprinted again.  And then I sent it out to a first-book contest. 

Then, a new press has started up with an open reading period, but they ask for 60 pages of poems, rather than the usual 48-80-ish page requirement.  So I decided to add eight more poems to send to them.  That was interesting in that I had to go back through my poems, again!, and decide which poems might fit.  But it also made me expand my manuscript, which is what I really wanted to do.  Force myself to
think outside my comfort zone.  I still like my other, shorter one better, but we'll see.

So wish me luck! 



Friday, February 22, 2013

Busy At The Feeders

No walk today--well, at least not yet, but the birds have been busy at the feeders.  I've seen bluebirds, which apparently love the suet, white-throated nuthatches--which are very cool looking, all black and white striped--hairy woodpeckers, tufted tit-mice, chickadees, juncos, and....wait for it...a chipmunk!!!  I was so excited to see the chipmunk because it must mean spring is around the corner, even if we are getting ready for another weekend storm. 

I'm reading Laura E. Davis's chapbook, Braiding the Storm and it is fabulous.  She has fascinating titles such as "Upon Realizing Men Could See Through My White Skirt," and "I Am A Full Glass," and "Dear Outer Space," which is such a gorgeous prose-poemy kind of poem.  Each stanza from "Dear Outer Space" begins with variations of the phrase "I think about your" and I very much want to steal many lines and images from this poem.  But that's not even my favorite poem.  My very favorite is "The Vicenarian or My Twenties So Far," which is this incredible sort of a list poem consisting of 25 couplets that's just amazing.  She ends it with the line, "My heart resting on the kitchen table is a machine gun" which, pow!  I highly recommend buying this book. 

Also, I was lucky enough to be the winner of a Dancing Girl Press bundle of chapbooks (5!) and am reading The Five Parts of Love: Confabulating Sappho, in which each poem includes one of Sappho's fragments. I love Sappho, (I have Jim Powell's stunning translation) and this book is gorgeous.  Kristy Bowen, the fantastic editor of Dancing Girl Press, also sent me these gorgeous note cards and a bookmark which is just so sweet.  I can't wait to dive into the other four books I got: She Preferred to Read the Knives, Circumstances of the House and Moon, She Who Loves Her Father, and Yellow Ripe.  Man, those are such juicy titles, aren't they?



Dream With Water Beneath The Floorboards

Red matchstick I thumb alive and send
ahead of me through the dark little emissary,
little locket of light that lets the eye wick
to the cellar’s walls, the green line of mineral
where flood rises up waist-high. Groundwater
seethes through cracks in the mortar, laces
between stones, their flat smooth faces
already buried. All night I ferry
buckets to the surface. All night my fingers
seam together and I climb, my sleeping
like one long flight of stairs, my bucket
like a mouth that won’t drown. In the end,
I envied the bucket. The way all things
that are empty want to be filled.


Kara van de Graaf
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Poem

This is from a book I'm reading, Desiring Voices: Women Sonneteers and Petrarchism, by Mary B. Moore.  This is her translation of Gaspara Stampa's Rime 14.  I thought it was beautiful and very apt for this day.


As someone who stares at the stars in the sky
always distinguishes some new one,
not ever seen before among so many emerging
shining lights of the world, little holy flames;
so, staring at your high and beautiful gifts,
Signor, my eye notices some new one,
that offers the matter
whereby of them one may write and tell.
But, just as the mortal tongue, closed
in the human veil, cannot recount
all the eyes of the sky, although the eye may see,
so, I can look at your honors well,
but the greater part of them I hide and obscure,
because the tongue is not equal to the task. 



Monday, February 11, 2013

Letting Loose

Yesterday, my son and I finally got outside and went to my friend's house (thank you Linda!) for some much needed fun.  We went sledding down paths we made ourselves in her back yard.  After being stuck inside for what seemed like years.  The sun was happy and warm and shiny. 

This month the poems aren't working for me.  I think part of my problem is that I wanted to force the poems to work a certain way for me and wasn't willing to just let what come, come.  I wanted to write about different subject matters and I just couldn't make them work the way they wanted to / needed to.  I'm thinking about still trying to jump into the foray but I think I may need to just read more, practice in my journal more.  It's sort of depressing but knowing I'm trying to force the poems means, I think, that I need to step back for awhile.  Try something different, rather than write with a group that knows me so well--even though I'm a stout believer in that sort of thing, but something needs to be let loose.  Or let happen more quietly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quite Delirious

It is one gorgeous day out there today. 

I've been trying to run on my walks lately but Monday's walk/run didn't go so well because I was wearing jeans and felt like an idiot.  Not to mention all the negative thoughts. Today, I wore something different and it felt way more comfortable and the path had just a little coating of fluffy snow that made it feel as if I were gliding instead of running.  The birds were quite delirious as well--singing and playing in the air and there was that delicious early-Spring wet-earth smell. 

I'm writing a poem a day this month and it's been like pulling teeth.  I'm not writing a series--instead I've been what feels like re-training myself and using prompts from the book Wingbeats, which I learned about from Diane Lockward's very informative blog.  The other poets I'm working with have been writing some incredible poems, really upping the bar, so to speak.  I love being pushed and even when I know my poems haven't got the spark this particular month, and even though many other poets seem to have problems with the whole poem a day process, I believe the effort and stretching is helpful to me. 

I have a poem here in Alimentum Literary Journal.  This poem has had a very long journey.  I submitted it to Alimentum, oh, in October 2010.  It got accepted July 2011.  Yep.  Then the journal went from just a print publication to on-line pub, which took a little over a year.  I actually did inquire about the poem, cause it was such a long process but I couldn't be more delighted with how it has ended up.  Talk about learning patience.

Also, my poem, "The Ornithologist Loses Her Map Made Of Wings," is in Redactions Literary Journal, the print journal, which you want to take a look at cause that cover is just breath-taking.  And then of course purchase.



The Horses are Fighting


They stand scattered and not
facing each other. Like black-eyed
susans lining the highway, or sisters
angry in some small kitchen.

The goats traipse a diagonal
through knee-high meadow,
following head to tail. Then
one decides to feed. Suddenly
they are strangers.

But how elegant these animals
seem after your funeral, each
quiet despite a whole field,
content with any fresh mouthful.


  Jill Osier

Green Mountains Review
Volume XXV, No. 2



The Squannacook

I have a poem here in the new journal Rockvale Review , a gorgeous journal to read cover to cover.  Spend some time reading all the deliciou...