Poetry: The Inchworm’s Marathon

29389301_10155177235596960_1475582911288705024_nSo many poems have been falling out of the sky lately and landing on my head/page/lap/grocery list/tire repair receipt– everywhere. I love this gift of life and learning, the hard work that goes into it, but also the inevitability. The roll of it. Honoring this means stopping to get against a solid service to get the line down, and it also means granting permission to do so rather than denigrating my talent with bullshit like “Oh, that’s stupid” or “Who even reads poems anyway?” or “I can’t do this.”

Answers: “No it’s not.” “Everyone, whether they realize it or not.” “Yes you can.” Good, glad that’s clear now.

Lately I am in a fever dream of production, and it feels honest and raw: an earthquake rumbling my consciousness. Some sadness has come of it too– confronting loss, disappointment, heartbreak. This is often where the goods are, but all must be carefully handled lest the kryptonite dissolve into all my high school angst (which I still secretly love and honor despite myself). For this reason alone it can be wonderful to teach and to be a high school English teacher, so lurkingly close to the source.

The artist M. Lamar recently posted the following note on Facebook that stopped me cold: “I have always seen my art making as constantly being introduced to myself by myself and that introduction being a surprisingly unexpected encounter with a stranger.” Beautifully stated.

This can also be intensely scary. Ergo, for an additional vitamin boost of empathy, insight, generous spirit, and absolute courage, I recommend this post by composer Nico Muhly on mental health and getting out of your own way. Aaaaah.

My own pen churns my soul’s soil to offer up a funny little bounty. Sometimes I plant for big fruit and come away only with a miserly strawberry, sunburnt and shriveled. Other times I toss a few seeds and walk away, hands in empty pockets, only to return to glorious rows of opalescent growth in the form of lines, words, whole compositions, images spreading across the page. It’s spring now, and my first chapbook is underway.

Other iotas of upcomingness: Three new poems forthcoming in the summer edition of the lit journal Kestrel, short stories in The Watershed Review and Little Patuxent Review, and a guest poet situation at Poets House. Gratitude and daffodils to it all…. now where’s my trowel?

When Life Gives You Lemons…

…Turn those lemons into a short story complete with a raucous reading by old friends and score provided by hubby-to-be! I wrote this piece for a competition (that I lost), but went on to place it with FIVE:2:ONE and their esteemed audio-centric site. How funny to watch a truly terrible professional experience emerge as belly-laughable art. Lemons! Lemons, everywhere!

“Art and China after 1989”

Today, the Guggenheim exhibit “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” closes here in New York City.

I did not go expecting to see any works of great beauty. To be sure, there were none. But so, too, did I not expect to see a view of China’s artists straining so mightily—and exclusively—under the weight of the CCP regime. That is the singular narrative. Portrait after portrait, list after list, needle after needle, video after video: oppression. I wondered: could there not be even just one alternate voice, one perspective from a slightly different angle that had turned its head not to the sun but, instead, toward the sky?
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Louie Louie: The Red, White, and Bluey

Lately I’ve been thinking about misunderstandings. Like, when you’re talking to a friend in your kitchen and she’s looking for something and you say “on the shelf,” and she hears “honest help.” Now she’s confused and you’re confused because she’s confused. Stuff like that. It’s especially common in song lyrics. I love Creedence Clearwater Revival and their song Bad Moon Rising is a true gem. But how many people spent years– years!– hearing “there’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “there’s a bad moon on the rise”?
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Writing As Resistance

20312-original-4698It is possible to write your heart and your mind, both, to the point where they meet each other. There, they will shake hands and say “hello”. They will make small talk and exchange pleasantries. They will ask about wives and children. They will laugh. And you will shake your head at their fine demeanor and grand talk. Because you will know them for what they are, for they are yours. More here.

Gunna Press This Damn Duck If It’s The Last Thing I Do

bud1077_queenduckWhen life gives you lemons, they say, make lemonade. When life gives you cooling weather, I say, smash a duck inside the wicked confines of a duck press. These and other thoughts on the change of the seasons, the need for inhumane yet nourishing sustenance, and much, much more in my recent essay on the glorious la presse a canard.