Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I'm having all kinds of adjustment issues - it's fall, but feels like summer again, I'm in the classroom wondering whether I'm offering anything unique to the kids (4th graders and 8th graders at the moment, in different classes on different days.) Outside I am whacking away at the really horrible looking crocosmia. During late spring to early summer crocosmia send their dark greens up up, like bunch grass but with wide wide blades. As summer moves along, the crocosmia starts leaning downhill, and by the time it sends out its clusters of orange (mine are orange, there are also red ones) flowers in Late July, it is nearly horizontal to the ground, and since the stuff self propagates like mad it forms a nearly seamless mat. Then comes September and it turns brown. Brown matted bad hair all over the hillside. I hack at it till it looks like the hill has a bad (or super trendy) haircut. My lavender don't get enough light now that the quaking aspen (typed quacking, deleted it, but now it's back so you can enjoy it too) has grown up up up and filled in, blocking all the light lavenders need so that the flower stalks fling themselves wildly like alien antennas or on the courses I used to send my yoyo when trying to do around the world. September is also when the blackberries send their ground runners stealthily along the ground (hence the name) - when they're covered by crocosmia for example they can get pretty far before I spy them and whack them to the property line. My next door neighbors have a native yard, a native bird sanctuary yard. They have a certificate to prove it. They have accomplished this by ignoring their yard except for brief forays through the thicket with sharp pruners (typed prooners. Must be the fourth graders.) I hold no grudges. They are great people and have made a trellis so that the kiwi from our yard can grow on it. More than a year ago one of our kiwi vines made its way into their house. They kept the window open all winter (it's a high window) - it was a weird sight to see green green kiwi leaves inside their house when the rest of the vines, including that one were bare outside. Botanically, I don't quite understand how this was possible, except for the fact that kiwi are from New Zealand.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Big meeting of writers who teach yesterday. 8:30-4:30. I am unused to being out in the peopled world for that long especially in an "on" context and feel tremendously blessed to possess large blocks of solitary time in my ordinary life. Greeting gray today I would rather pull the covers up around me and read than teach three classes and participate in another beginning of the year orientation.

Seasonal transition to darker, wetter days has me a little down. Also the moisture ants now mustering not only along the kitchen counter but the downstairs bathroom counter too. One of the writers, young, newly engaged, will spend the three darkest months in Arizona this year. Such brilliant planning ahead, such lateral thinking. I am teaching too many classes to go anywhere unless my sig oth gets a gig in London in which case I'm off off off.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ninetieth Post

Who doesn't think I take seriously my obligations as a literary blogger? Huh?

Getting ready to enter a class of fourth graders this morning - we'll be playing Acronymble, a game invented by a friend of a friend (both of these people highly dedicated writer-types) wherein you draw x number of Scrabble tiles from a bag and must make up an acronym to go with those letters in the order they were pulled out of the bag. Example: r, m, d are drawn from the sack. Reckless misogonystic dromedaries is a legal acronymble. Marvelous dandelion revelations is an illegal acronymble. After we play a few rounds of A., we'll write lunes from the words in the games (each kid will have their own cache of words, though we'll all have played from the same x number of letters. I have no intention of talking in this blog or in the classroom about crookneck squash, although if letters come out C and S in that order you can bet that combo will show up on my paper.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gregarious, Hilarious, Precarious

Last night I gave the "Craft Talk" at It's About Time Reading Series at Ravenna Third Place Books - it was reading #209, I THINK. Featured readers were Murray Gordon, Allen Braden and Gerry McFarland. I was psyched to hear Allen Braden read and was rewarded as were we all. He spent July at a writer residency in downtown Chicago, where I guess it was cooler than in Seattle. I liked his postcard poems and his what he called "Lazy Sonnets." I nodded like mad as I write lazy sonnets too - no iambic pentameter or rhyme scheme for mine. Sometimes I think he stuck with rhyme, maybe all the time so I win for lazier sonnets, some of which I am toying with calling sonnetinas, particularly the two or so that are five syllables per line. Murray Gordon, who came in second in the Bart Baxter Spoken Word competition this year and in 2004 definitely has taken performance poetry to his heart, and beret and cargo pants. He was a kick. Sadly, Gerry McFarland was intensely difficult to hear. His voice was faint, even miked, and the help- yourself refrigerators of pop off to the left went into heavy humming mode so that I was about to check to see if their doors were open. The open mics were fab. My talk will be posted on the It's About Time website in the next few days.

I didn't get feedback on my talk last night because I'd thought the reading began at 7, but it started at 7:30, so I had to sneak out at the end of the last open mic to get home in time to sleep enough to be able to get up at 4:45 this morning to steer a long, long boat with four very experienced rowers in it, all of whom, sans me, will compete at Head of the Charles Regatta next month. A very technical race, I am assured, with eight bridges you cannot pass another boat under and many opportunities to run into other boats, capsize, and generally freak the heck out. I'm told its a race that frazzles the most experienced coxswains. So I'm satisfied that they are telling me the truth when they, Sara and Julia, the coaches, say that I'm progressing well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I woke up thinking numinous omnibus would be a good title. Sometimes I wake up thinking there is too much dog hair on the stairs.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Abecedarious One

Additionally, and because I care
Be especially brazen about expressing whatever
Causes your blood pressure to sky rocket,
Doubtless due to your deep heart and
Earnest wishing for everything to be okay
Forgetting that in these times everything is
Garishly not fine and what they want you to forget
Has tipped hellishly into the time we should all
Invade the streets of anytown, your town, Georgetown.
Justice, babies, we are so far behind that ball, but
Keep the faith as we used to say in the bad old
Lazy 60’s when we thought we were
Matriculating to the Age of Aquarius,
Never mind our knee jerk counterculturalism that
Operated to close minds like the author of Alley Oop’s,
Parents', people of differing opinions and etcetera.
Question: what do you want to do with your
Rambling, ramshackle righteousness?
Someone must step up and save us.
Truthfully, we don’t have much time. Things are
Urgent. More urgent than even the daily emails from
Various groups that want your money
Will worry you with, not willing to lose
Your dollars through their yammering. Ah for a
Zeus to rain down thunderbolts, jar us awake.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

For You, Fellow Paddler, And For Me

This from Kenneth Koch, who continues, in "The Art of Poetry"

To look at a poem again of course causes anxiety
In many cases, but that pain a writer must learn to endure,
For without it he will be like a chicken that never knows what
it is doing
And goes feathering and fluttering through life. When one
finds the poem
Inadequate, then one must revise, and this can be very hard
Indeed. For the original "inspiration" is not there. Some
poets never master the
Art of doing this, and remain "minor" or almost nothing at
Such have my sympathy but not my praise. My sympathy
Such work is difficult, and most persons accomplish nothing
In the course of their lives; ...

Let your language be delectable always, and fresh and true.

-Kenneth Koch

I'm thinking about revision, about talking about it in front of people, calling on Koch and Denise Levertov and Stephen Dunn and Jane Hirschfield, who I believe will help me to frame what I want to say, and give me some punchy quotations. I'm also reading poems and marking them with yellow post-it notes. Whether or not I will use any of the poems or many of the quotes I don't yet know. I'm circling around the idea of revision, bumping into thoughts and projects as I go, knowing that as I think and don't think and read and write some sort of sensible sounding or helpful theme will arrive and I will follow it around until I have something coherent to say, rather like a dog turning around and around to flatten its bed before lying down.

Kenneth Koch delights me - his high toned mock formality covering a deep seriousness.

Friday, September 01, 2006