Thursday, November 30, 2006

I remember writing poems

Poem: "Yes" by Catherine Doty, from Momentum. Copyright Cavan Kerry Press. Reprinted with permission. (that is to say, Garrison Keillor has her permission. I copied Catherine Doty's poem off my Writer's Almanac email. People are writing poems every day, just not me.)

It's about the blood
banging in the body,
and the brain
lolling in its bed
like a happy baby.
At your touch, the nerve,
that volatile spook tree,
vibrates. The lungs
take up their work
with a giddy vigor.
Tremors in the joints
and tympani,
dust storms
in the canister of sugar.
The coil of ribs
heats up, begins
to glow. Come

-Catherine Doty

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In arctic Seattle, waiting for the next blizzard to barrel through
what is there to do but dance dance revolution?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

  • Happy Thanksmas from Scooter, Age 18

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Radish King rules! (I work with middle school students. This is how I roll.)

If you missed Rebecca Loudon's reading Monday night on the blackout stage at Hugo House, I am sorry for you. She's a poet's poet boys and girls.

In other news, I am swamped with too many commitments, too little in the way of organizational skills, in addition to which (IS it okay to begin and end a sentence with prepositional phrases? I did not go to Catholic school and so am flummoxed by all grammatical issues) I am in the midst of grieving for no lake rides at 5:30 am Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. If you have made your way through that last sentence and are still with me, you must be avoiding what you have to do today too.

I'm off to edit my craft talk essay for the It's About Time's website, off to teach 5th and 6th graders in Kirkland, off to prepare for the parent volunteer meeting for the 8th grade short story book project, off to email a teacher about coming to his classes to prep for an elementary poetry assembly, off to work on class books for three different classes, off to prepare a sequence of lessons that will parallel and enhance kids' experience of reading a book about the Bosnian war, off to oh gawd lie down and whimper in a corner, but just for five or six seconds.

My mother is having a shunt installed this morning so she can get chemo weekly beginning today for the tumor on her eye. If chemo doesn't show signs of stopping the cancer after a month, she'll have radiation treatments. Gilda said there's always something. Bless your eyes, ears, feet, hands, brain, heart, life, life, life.

Writing reminds me to breathe. Writing returns me to being here. Here. Here. Yes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Love Coconuts
Mixed Up World

Jim is downstairs trying out rings for his new phone, has just discovered he can record his own, plays back, "Hey Jim, answer your phone," in his voice.

Rumsfeld is out, and, as Jon Stewart said Thursday night, "the democrats are going to fix everything that's wrong with the world." I'm ready.

This evening I am going to Hugo House to hear Rebecca Loudon read and to buy Radish King, her exciting new book. I already have Radish King, the matchbook, which really is a matchbook, very very very red, with Radish King printed in black on the outside, "Poems that Burn" printed inside, facing the matches. I'm terrifically excited to read Radish King, the book.

Friday, November 10, 2006

WET WET WET WET and COLD rowing this morning out of the UW boathouse - very exciting and nerve waggling - so much to think about, so many fast rowers, fast talking coxswains, millfoil around the edges, wind, rain, currents. We rigged our boats outside in the dark and lost no nuts no bolts and I am only short one wrench, 7/16". First time ever I would be coxing through the cut into Lake Union to the University Bridge and the coaches weren't going out with us in launches, just three long skinny boats with 8 rowers in each, three drenched coxswains pledging to meet by the houseboats the south side of the bay during warm up, being blown while waiting for the other two boats towards the houseboats, an opportunity, sure, to see inside, but at risk of boat and rowers not a terrific idea. I've lived around these bodies of water, even been on these bodies of water in motor boats, in sailboats, but never at the controls of any boat before this morning. The entrance to the cut from Portage Bay is deceptive, I was too far north, might have been winged by a motorboat had there been motorboats other than coach launches and police boats out at 6:30 in the morning on a gloomy windy, rainy morning. A police boat whizzed past as we warmed up through the cut gifting us with wake from where you'd expect it and many directions other than that direction due to the narrowness, the cement walls. I urged the rowers to swing through it and they kept their swings long through the water though every instinct says hunker NOW! On the way back through the cut time two two men in an outrigger canoe paddling their buns off decided to angle right (excuse me, starboard) in front of us - I steered port, kept the rowers on the power, figured I'd have steering challenges equal to or more frazzling on Sunday, so this was practice. Second time through the cut I moved us closer to the wall, oar blades within 6 feet of the wall which had seemed impossibly close first time through. I will be working to keep the long view on race day, working to sound calm in the boat, which apparently I do, partly because I have the novice's naivete about what to be freaked out about, partly because I spend many of my days in classrooms full of middle school kids, so what is there to phase me? Nobody that I know of was muttering "fart" or farting for that matter this morning, nor were they passing notes or drowsing. For Sunday my mantra is to settle down and steer - safety first, counting second, motivational speechifying a far back third. Who knew I would find this an exciting, frightening skill to learn and apply? Who ever thought to find me in the stern of a boat, feet underwater, in hypothermia conditions, concentrating with all my attention, enjoying myself. Certainly not anyone I went skiing with in my twenties when clothing did not keep the cold and wet at bay and when, in the video that will be shown as I ask admittance at the pearly gates (hold your breath for that one, god believers,) I pounded the snow with my sodden gloves and yelled obcenities at the mountain because I had fallen again, had to take my gloves off again, had snow down my back again, and was frigging freezing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I am Grateful for Sixth Graders

Recipe for Peace

assemble justice and experience,
compassion and hope in large bowl

mix until well blended

sift perseverance over these;
fold in half of your forgiveness.

add determination by teaspoonfuls
until mixture holds together

fold in second half forgiveness

bake until hope bubbles to the top
drizzle with affection

serve garnished with joy.

-Laura Gamache
in 6th grade classroom
(I am older than 11)

Recipe for P.P. (Peace Pie)

First, have a mixing bowl ready. Show some love by sprinkling it all around the bowl. In the inside, take all the hatred, anger and jealousy and beat it to dust. Share what you’ve learned about forgiveness and friendship to replace the hatred, anger and jealousy. Sprinkle a half pint of loyalty on the inside. Let it sit cold for 10 min. by pouring little cups of cold, solid and straight beauty. After that, put it in the microwave for 10 min. at 360°F so it can pop up like popcorn. Take it out of the microwave and let it sit on the windowsill with the window up.
Now let the fresh smell of peace pie fill the world with peace.
F.Y.I. Don’t eat it!

-K.T., age 11

Peace Like Water

2 cups of love that’s what you will
need maybe 3 cups I don’t know, you
need a lot, maybe 5 or 6, I don’t
know. You can try, but I know you
will need belief in yourself and
others. Like I said, I don’t know.
The more you add, the more you
get because that’s how peace works.
Maybe some things you don’t add,
some things you will, but I know it
will be good, it always is. You
will need help, friendship and more.
You can add all you want, but
remember if you add bad things
it will not be peace. So beware if
you love something that’s bad, it will
not be peace.

-S.R., age 11

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's a good thing that babies don't understand the concept of "clumsiness," or else they'd never learn to walk.
-Alan Ziegler, The Writing Workshop Vol. 1

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reading highlights of ten important books
in the lastest AAP Review, I come upon
Floyd Skloot, the Helen Keller of our age,
his poetry a triumph of will over infirmity,
but isn't that how it is for most of us?

Saw Stephan King last night at Benaroya Hall, a special event for Seattle Arts & Lectures. When he walked on stage the bulk of the audience rose to their feet with cheers and thunderous applause. He gauged his audience, he tilted back his head and he delivered: naughty swear words and references to TV shows. He worked the room like a lounge comic, talked about writers as "famous people", generally played to the lowest common denominator to guffaws and applause. "Don't be a snob," said my husband at one point.

King was horrifying.