Rather than resolutions, I prefer to set intentions. Time to take stock of my 2018 intentions and see how they played out.
I put this post-it note on my wall at the beginning of this year:
Intentions for 2018:
– Enjoy my third semester
– Enjoy my semester off
– Move downstairs
– Stay out of the hospital
– Get my PMP
– Take a week off to relax
– Stay sober
Overall I was able to fulfill these goals, if not always in the way that I desired. Continue reading “2018: The Year in Review”
I’ve been interviewing authors and poets on this website for quite some time, but having the opportunity to do so for The Rumpus really inspired me to up my game. I corresponded with Jennifer Martelli about her new book My Tarantella for about three weeks in order to have a true back-and-forth with her. The book spirals around the story of Kitty Genovese, a notorious murder that took place in the late 1960s, ostensibly while scores of people heard the attack and did nothing to come to her aid. I learned a lot I hadn’t known about Kitty, including the fact that she was a lesbian. Jennifer clued me in to a beautiful piece of theater and dance that tells the story of both Kitty and her lover, Mary Ann Zielonko.
My editor at The Rumpus also gave the interview a great headline–A Female, Bone-Deep Obsession: Talking with Jennifer Martelli.
So back when this was more of a personal blog than a poetry-related one, this is a thing I wrote. Sometimes I like to go back and read my own journals. Is that so wrong?
- Haiku improves with practice.
- Poetry is real work.
- Sometimes work is gentle, easy, and takes hardly any time.
- Sometimes work is hard and grueling and difficult.
- Sometimes I forget to do things I said I was going to do
- Instead of hating on myself or giving up, I can just start doing them again.[read more]
This website first came about in 1996, when the World Wide Web (yes, we called it that) was as wide-open and empty as the American West. Fresh out of Vassar with a degree in English and a middling aptitude for computers, I stumbled on a job for a website that forced me to learn HTML. Back then, all you needed to create a website was a text editor, some server space, and FTP software. If you were feeling really fancy, you got Photoshop and threw up some images too. I’d grown discouraged trying to break into more traditional print publishing, so posting my own writing on my own website seemed a great way to circumvent the endless cycle of applications and rejections.
Like most 20-somethings, I had no idea what I was doing. There were a bunch of other 20-somethings out there stealing sharpies and Xeroxes to make ‘zines, but I felt like I belonged to a small, elite group of people with the mix of technical, editorial, and design skills required to make a website.
Being able to say things like “I was doing that before it was cool” might be fun for a little while, but in the long run it doesn’t mean very much. What we now call blogs we used to call online diaries. No matter what you called them, they were homegrown, barbaric yawps in the wilderness. Major Media still wasn’t sure that this blogging thing was going to take off (that’s a direct quote from a VP of Public Affairs circa 2008). Continue reading “The Not-So Glamorous Life of a Working Grad Student”
I’m glad you had your babies. I’m glad good people are raising the next generation. Your children are beautiful and special and I enjoy watching them play with you and take their first steps and say profound things at bedtime.
Sometimes I’m annoyed because it seems like some of you have lost your identity and spend all your time posting photos of your children, but then again I’m sure I annoy a lot of people with my endless photos of our cats and our garden — not to mention my #365feministselfie project. Continue reading “Open Letter to My Friends With Kids”
Creating my very first packet for the Lesley low-residency MFA program was both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s difficult to get over that voice of self-doubt in the back of my head, the one that says both “your work must be perfect” and “your work will never be perfect.” In one of her seminars, Erin Belieu observed that the voice of self-doubt is just as much ego as the voice of complacency and overconfidence. And it’s impossible to get into the flow state so necessary for writing when the ego is up.
Listening to the program’s professors reflect on their own practices as writers was a tremendous help to me. In a getting-to-know-you session with our mentors, I asked “what was the most difficult poem you wrote?” Their thoughtful answers led to some wonderfully deep discussions about the very reasons for writing. My mentor Sharon Bryan made a comment about a poem’s emotional truth that resonated with me. Even though poetry is a powerful tool that uses words in semi-rational ways to appeal to that emotional mind, it’s not something I’d ever heard talked about in previous workshops.
I came to Lesley with a certain amount of emotional baggage. Continue reading “Dispatches From an MFA Program: The First Packet”
- My father-in-law is dying of cancer. He is dying at home with round-the-clock care, surrounded by his extended family. My father died in a public men’s room of an overdose. The contrast in details is pretty stark, but the feelings are much the same. And in the end, they’ll both pass through that gateway alone. Grief doesn’t live in a line, but a labyrinth. I’m surprised every time I turn a corner to find it there.
- I have a pile of review copies in my office. Interviews with a couple of poets are in process, but none are ready for publication yet.
- I’ve completed applications to three low-residency MFA programs. Yes, Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen didn’t need MFAs to become successful writers. But I’m not living in the 19th century. Who knows what will happen during or after my course of study? It still seems important to try.
- I’ve spent three days out of the past two weeks in bed. Having an “invisible” chronic illness is especially frustrating at times like these. Yes, it’s exacerbated by stress, but it’s not exactly like I can keep my life from being stressful. And it’s true that certain preventative measures can keep the symptoms down, but it’s not very helpful to beat myself up about not taking them (or being able to take them) after the fact.
- We have a brief respite from February’s slings and arrows. I’m going to take advantage of it right now and go for a walk before the winter weather returns with a vengeance.
Photo courtesy of Akif Mert via Flickr, CC2.0
I recently heard a historian giving an interview about the original Thanksgiving. She pointed out that what made the English colonists so thankful was the awful year that had come before. The Pilgrims hadn’t meant to settle on a rocky coastline with poor soil and long, frigid winters. They’d been heading to Virginia but got blown off course and landed on Cape Cod in desperation. That first winter, they lost a huge chunk of their numbers to famine and illness. Native Americans in the area had also been decimated by a smallpox epidemic. If it weren’t for assistance from Squanto and treaties with other members of the Wampanoag, the Pilgrims would have been no more than a footnote in the history books.
Continue reading “(In)Gratitude on Thanksgiving”
Think of the year as a wheel. Then divide that wheel at the Solstices and Equinoxes. Then divide it again between each of those days. That is the wheel of the year, and those eight holidays are the days when Wiccans mark the turning of the wheel. We call those days Sabbats, or the Sun Holidays. Samhain and Beltane are the two biggest deals in the Wiccan calendar. Many witches also observe the phases of the moons, or the Esbats. They’re important too, but I’m not going to talk about them right now. I’m going to talk about Samhain and why I am a bad witch.
Continue reading “On Samhain and Being a Bad Witch”
Pope Francis’s recent visit to the United States raised a lot of complicated feelings for me. On the one hand, I’m glad he walks the walk of his namesake. In the other hand, it’s far too little and far too late; nothing he does or says in his tenure as Pope is likely to repair the damage of my Catholic upbringing. Continue reading “Trigger Warning: Jesus is Lord, Francis is Pope”