August 15, 2009

"That's a human ear, all right."

Tonight, we are watching Blue Velvet.

Tonight, my dress is spotted with bleach.

Tonight, I devoured what had been a large dish of quinoa mixed with diced zucchini, yellow squash, orange pepper, corn sliced straight from the cob, onions, and cilantro. Highly recommended--you can use any variation on this recipe. But use "Inca red" quinoa; it makes a huge difference in terms of the color and taste. And make the ration of water to quinoa = 1 3/4 to 1, not 2 to 1.

Tonight, I am worried about Red Morning Press. Anyone know what's going on with those guys? They've published some good books in a very short period of time, and I want to root for any DC-based indie press. But they seem dormant.

Tonight, I learned all about Wales. And spices. And Agatha Christie.

Tonight, I wish I had golden rum to mix with this coconut water. I'm attempting to go the icebox-gin-and-olive route instead. Once you've gone Bluecoat, other brands just don't compare. (That's if you like the floral, juicier gins; I hear Leopold's is good too, but haven't tried it yet.) I'll have to just keep the Bombay on hand for guests.

Tonight, I am toasting my friend Erika Meitner, whose poetry collection Ideal Cities was named a winner in the National Poetry Series. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving poet!

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My friend Eric, who keeps the awesome blog "Evan Said It," let me know that "Let Me Count the Waves" had been quoted in the Arts Beat blog of The New York Times. I'm so honored--and caught off guard. I have to say that the July/August issue of Poetry has introduced my poems to a whole other audience, and I'm nothing but grateful.

I wish this period of readership was concurrent to a period of drafting, but the truth is that I haven't been doing much drafting lately. Even a one-a-day group of extraordinarily talented poets wasn't able to get me in gear. It's all part of the process, though. There's time.

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Besides, my mind has been productive elsewhere. I've agreed to teach a few classes this fall, at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (Introduction to Writing, as part of their "Freshman Foundation" program) and the Catholic University of America (undergrad poetry workshops). Those close to me know this is a somewhat unexpected move, since I'm openly skeptical of entering the world of full-time teaching, at least until I've got more life experience under my belt. Plus, it was only a couple of months ago that I quit my job to work on the nonfiction book full-time. What gives?

A few things. Psychologically, I'm amazed by how quickly I have slipped the leash of a desk job. It's great to be able to honor an instinct to write first thing in the morning, or late into the night. But I kind of miss the concept of weekends! With nothing to pace me, I can't remember what day it is. Also, even though I know I have enough in the bank to keep me afloat, there's something reassuring about having checks come in, no matter how minor. It lets me grant myself permission for the occasional sushi dinner, or new dress (given this one is spotted with bleach) that brightens a week.

And I can only write so much nonfiction in a given stretch. When I draft, I draft with focus--usually about 1,000-1,800 words in a day, most of which end up being usable in the final draft. But it's emotionally draining, with breaks required between sections. I like having something fundamentally different to do in the meantime.

So I have been syllabizing, thinking about the poems I love best, poems I want to share with these students. Henry Taylor's "Artichoke," Sandra Cisneros's "Night Madness Poem," Jack Gilbert's "Tear It Down," Li-Young Lee's "Eating Alone," Gwendolyn Brooks' wartime sonnets (which bear the unfortunately dated title "Gay Chaps at the Bar," which is not a phrase you want to casually Google), Meg Kearney's "Creed," Natasha Trethewey's "Miscegenation." Nothing like reading to get a girl to writing.

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Isabella Rossellini in her underwear. Oh my.

3 comments:

Martha Silano said...

Absolutely LOVE "Let Me Count the Waves"!!!!!!

When does your book (congrats!!) come out from Barnard? You should really plan a reading in Seattle. Let's tawk . . .

xo m

Maggie May said...

Isabella is divine. A true goddess.

Keith said...

I too wonder about RMP.

I heard from a source that they pretty much folded. The three guys had lives that got in the way, understandably, and they just couldn't give up the time or the money to keep the project going.

That's what I heard at least...

And I agree, they put out some good stuff in a short period of time and seemed like they were going places.