Writers' writing rooms. This is excellent.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
As to my non-indexing woes a few posts back, it seems that reinstalling Sitemeter does useful things. Huh.
I have another idea for a story but have absolutely no idea how I would accomplish it. A dying woman looking back over her unusual life where she lived it twice. She lost and then that loss was refound, and how she sees each life. A reverse Wonderful Life Capra maybe, or a reverse Christmas Carol. Not sure yet.
The weight of gratitude. Because getting what you actually want can be the hardest of all.
No recent poems, although watching an Einstein special the other day did give me a few vibes. It's like pulling the vibes out of the ether before they wander away. Because they do that. Much more quickly than I can grab paper to jot it down.
Have a good one.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Just under 700 words yesterday and today on the new what ever it will be. I don't want to classify too quickly, because it will be what it is. This time a lake-side rustic home, with decks. My writing is moving onto nicer real estate and decorating even. Why shouldn't I describe nice things? I am thinking glass surround living room, over looking hills by the lake.
Friday, November 21, 2008
When I was at work earlier, stuffing envelopes of all the grand things to be doing, I was totally inspired by the names I was seeing as I placed each address label on the envelope. Absolutely fascinating names. I want to post them here, but I won't of course. Not names to be embarrassed by, like some people I know that hate their name and in one case hates their parents for doing such a dastardly thing, but these names that are just living large. I want to steal these names and use them all as character names. Steal them away!! It's hard not to I will admit. My name isn't odd, or weird, or particularly interesting, occasionally queen like I would put forward ;-) although I wasn't named after her, but these names were just breathtaking. I emailed myself the names for future reference, just in case.
Now I am wondering how to use them....
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I think this blog isn't being indexed by google anymore, because the steady stream of certain searches I would get all the time dropped off the day after google said they weren't indexing everyone any more. But then given the amount of posting I have done, understandable.
In better news, if you can, pick up a copy of The Best American Short Stories 2008. The story by Kevin Brockmeier entitled The Year of Silence is so worth the price of the book. This one is the best story I have read in a while. Silence cuts out in the world for a moment, and what results is an exploration of humanity's needs and wants. With a scifi bent, but kept totally human, this telling, and this writing is just genius. I will totally check this guy's other stuff out.
I also read and was extremely impressed by Man and Wife by Katie Chase. Creepy as anything I have read in a while. I don't want to give anything away, but "wife" is a flexible description shall we say. She rides the line between reality and "ewwww call the police" so well. Subtle horror and kept that way on purpose, because then even more eek.
Have a good one! Or two, like these.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Darn, it doesn't say what I wrote. I was hoping for a cool graphic. I wrote "This is funny."
It is like a hitman coming after low word counts. Type for your lives.
In an absolutely different vein, The Group News blog asked for a link, so here it is. I started reading this blog quite a while back, and after the death of its leader, Steve Gilliard, they kept up the fight. Good stuff.
Additionally, and shallowly, I get my haircut in a few hours. I haven't been pleased with this cut, no matter how many people say it suits me. Like the colour pastel blue, people comment in a positive way every time I wear it, and I really don't like the colour much at all. Be a real colour dammit! I don't think I have anything that colour any more.
Off to my day, have a good one.
Posted by vmh at 10:16 AM
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I haven't mentioned here, because I have mentioned elsewhere, but YAY Obama win!! Thank goodness.
The reason I am bringing this here, is that not only does Obama read poetry, he has written it too.
This makes me happy. Oh so happy. Eloquent, and thoughtful. I like that a mindset such as that will be in the White House now, something that has been lacking for far too long.
Obama gets his own tag.
Go read. Amazing. Every thread I have read so far.
I couldn't do it, heck I'm not doing NaBloPoMo either, but a very excellent snap of a start for those who are doing this Seven/Seven. Now I know how I will feel if I don't do Napowrimo next time. ::is sad::
I think seven is their lucky number...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I wrote the rest of the suggestions and edits made by writing group. Now I just have to add my own corrections from the notes I took. Then do one more set of dialog, and I think I might be nearing done. Then of course, all over again, sentence edits.
It's interesting how I know which suggestions I will use almost immediately, and those I don't warm to at all. I don't want to make this a romance story, which it isn't at all. Just because people can find love doesn't necessarily mean you need to show graphic sex. The story is about the world ending, not someone getting laid. (Of course you know it happens, but still) Some suggestions lead toward that romance style. Eurgh. I don't want to write what I know I can't write, I would rather work on those things I need to improve and can see the light. I don't like beating my head on walls. No win there. I want subtlety even if the story isn't. I want the images to unfold with some amount of nuance. If you are writing of a harsh person, or one with harsh deeds, I'm not convinced you can't do that without refinement. I dunno. Still learning here. I will keep it all in mind.
Maybe at some point I might even get to the Napowrimo poems to edit. Now that I am in editing mode. There is great satisfaction in that. Joy and glee in the writing, satisfaction in the editing.
Have a good one. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
First set of edits on Ch. 3 and 4 done. Better now. I will get through the first set then move to the second, and then do another pass of my own.
An hour and a half can pass in a soft blink when you aren't paying attention. ::blinks::
Now back to reading American Hardcore which I have been reading on and off all day. A reminder of my younger days around Detroit. (20 years+ can pass in a blink which I am still not used to btw) Aww youth. Always wondered what happened to some of these people. Some dead, some lawyers, interesting mix of endings! It wasn't just me that fell out of it in 86. Seems everyone else did too. I moved away and didn't have a car, so I couldn't take part. Seems it all fell apart.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Today is the first day I felt I had a right to update here. It has been a while for multiple reasons. Too many to count. Anyhow, I started editing into the story the changes suggested by my now-defunct writing group (until the end of a semester supposedly). I got several sections done on Don't Make Me Dance All Night. This made me very happy. I love watching the tightening of a story, how it grows from within and blooms out. The first section that I was pretty happy with to start is better now. I get to fix it.
Interesting too is how the story is seen by others, and the suggestions they offer. Some I like and help so much with the improvement, and some just don't feel right for the story. They would be great for another story, but not this one.
Oh, and one word edited on a poem. I thought of Joyce, and his back and forth with words over a day or a morning. That is so funny. I wish I had his words. There is a line in a song I love, Road to Joy by Bright Eyes, "well I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice but failures always sounded better..lets fuck it up boys, make some noise." I get that completely.
Have a good one.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I want to be invited for a very long time to this guy's library. Wow.
From Wikipedia, "Walker's personal library occupies 3,600 square feet and features artifacts and models of space exploration, cryptography and James Bond films"
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
From Slate by way of some one else, forgotten now for the numerous tabs: Sarah Palin's poetry. Her and other recent non-poet poets ought to get together and have a slam. Not in the political arena, but in the poetry arena.
In this corner, for Alaska, Saaaarrrrraaaahhhh Paaalllliiinnnn....
Monday, September 29, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When you see this, post another Buffy quote in your blog. Let's see how long this can go on.
From All The Way
BUFFY: Sorry about the party.
XANDER: Aah, don't worry about it.
ANYA: It gave me more time to plan the bridal shower. Where do we order obscenely muscular male strippers?
ANYA: Well, I'm kidding, geez.
(Xander exits. Anya mouths at Buffy, "we'll talk," and exits too.)
Posted by vmh at 4:16 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Obituaries and remembrances are always a little unfair, because the person can't answer back. I don't think they are actually about the person being talked about, they are about the person writing it. I have seen some beautiful accounts from the friends and colleagues of Reginald Shepherd in the last few days. My blog has gotten several hits from those searches, from people trying to find out more about both him and his effect. I suspect his effect is larger than he knew, which makes me sad, that he didn't know. I hope he did.
But there were those of us he never knew, who lurked around his blogs, who read his words, who read his poems that he had an effect upon. I love his poetry. His words so often touched on a truth whose reach went beyond his words. He spoke his life just as truthfully. His pains and sorrow, his joys and his great intellect. His essays (which sadly sat on my Amazon wish list for far too long, purchased just after his death I will guiltily admit) that I have read online are ones I need to go back to. Each sentence hammers away at truth as he saw it. I have to take his essays one sentence at a time. He made people want to reach further.
I didn't know him, although I was tempted to email him once or twice. I only commented on his blog a few times, and it gives me a thrill and a chill that he checked out my blog once.
How we invisibly connect in this medium might not be that much different than in former times pre interweb. Readers usually read alone, and reading on the internet doesn't change that. The effect is the same, only with better lighting. But if it hadn't been for the internet, I wouldn't have found Mr. Shepherd. I can't remember exactly how, which saddens me too, but I did, thank goodness. I shared him on my other blog, I shared him at writing group, and I shared his poetry at my book group. My favourite of his poems is "For My Mother in Lieu of Mourning".
This poem touched me first, and has continued to do so for multiple reason. Both personally and poetically. He spoke of his rollercoaster battles in multiple places, online and off, but that won't be what we remember. I will remember that he had the strength to battle, and the strength of his words. He wrote to live forever. I suspect that won't be an issue.
I am thankful that I encountered him, but the world is dimmer for his passing. Read him, and relight the world.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
RIP indeed. A sad day for poetry and for anyone who has read his most beautiful words.. Reginald Shepherd was a very good man who lived his life fully, even when the light didn't shine.
I am really saddened by this. Damn.
Monday, September 08, 2008
By Tillie Olsen, who is from here. It's funny, I knew she was but I hadn't connected her name to her books. Context is everything as they say. As is location.
This book is fascinating. And particularly resonant today. Her description of the fight to write, and Kafka's and Woolf, Conrad and James. Those portions are the reason I will be purchasing this book, after I return it to the library. ETA: just did.
All the silences... I have been known to note that the best stories are the untold ones, the silent ones that are held close. I don't wholly believe that, but on some days, some part of me does.
Have a great evening.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
The interwebs are a dangerous place. I stumbled upon a link to Google sites, and now I have a ton of ideas about linking wayward posts, and things ::am vague::. I did have an idea about the story I am writing being online, virtual with links, and photos, and maps and other interactive stuff. Not sure I am up to that level, but ideas abound.
Just what I need, more projects. Can I purchase some time? That would be an amazing Google feature. And you know one day, when they own the earth, they will have conquered time. That app will be on its way. It had better be free.
Monday, August 25, 2008
::tidies up Don't Make Me Dance All Night for writing group on Friday::
::Hears "Put it in scene"::
::knows this:: ::laughs::
I wonder if I should send the MP3 that has been so inspirational. I hope I have the guts to dance at the end of the world. Because really, any other way would just be sad. Dance for the life you had. That is totally worthy.
Recent purchases: The Maytrees by Annie Dillard. I have yet to read anything by her except The Writing Life, so I thought it was time.
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies because I love the premise. POW camp during the Second World War in Wales. Friendship tale. I did not know there were POW camps in Wales. Assuming that is true, really neat idea.
John Ashbury's Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror. I figured I should read more of him than I have found online. Can't wait! Skimming I found the best first line: "Once I let a guy blow me." That dear readers is starting a poem with gusto. He might have backed away from the experience (2nd line) but not enough not to write about it. That is a poet. So much info in that line. "Once", historical and never since but also in a contemplative state of mind. "I let" totally in control, "guy" the reveal... "blow me". End stopping on the reveal. Period. Short statement of fact.
I think I mentioned this already, but Mary Kinzie's A Poet's Guide to Poetry. Still enjoying.
Have a great day. I have to go tidy this story.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Was at Barnes and Nobles tonight and picked up A Poet's Guide to Poetry by Mary Kinzie. Wished I had picked it up on Amazon first though. Cheaper.
I am only about 15 pages in and so far I am quite impressed. I think she has been reading PFFA. Seriously ... despite of course the time line issue. The same outlook on craft and commitment to the work of poetry. Read read read is her motto it seems too. I am looking forward to the rest. I think it will be slow going, but that is just how it will be.
Between this and my new housecoat, red, and quite fluffy, I am quite the snug little not-bug.
Have a good one.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
::is scheduling for writing group::
You don't know how happy this makes me. Really and truly, to sound like a 14 year old in love. I should add sparkles. And love hearts and Mrs.... signatures. And it isn't just the mango margaritas either. Though that does add a texture that isn't found on the page.
Two more vignettes have made their way off my hand. This makes me happy too. In some ways to write is to disappear into a room of one's own, and sometimes that is an especially nice feeling. The place is figurative, the feeling literal.
I write this while Word is opening, because my Word program is cranky, and old, and you really can't push it around. I think it gets tired sometimes. It isn't used as often as it should be, so it doesn't really have me as an excuse.
Have a lovely evening.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Things have been in flux since vacation with both visitors and business meetings. I haven't gotten as much writing done as I would have liked because of that. Time of one's own. I have been getting small bits done on the ever growing short story. Seems that time allowable is time spent. My daughter's clarinet lessons have provided an hour of uninterrupted time, so bits are written. I remember when my kids used to have speech class, the same thing happened. An hour of time. No distractions. The thing is even when I have time, looming possible interruptions are interruptions. Kinda like have a beeper that could go off anytime; it might not but the potential is there. I never liked beepers. The time needs to be non-interruptible time. I know I should learn another process, but heh...time.
It should help when the kids get back to school, and I get back to my regular work schedule. We shall see. Plus writing group is going to start up again, and that is always inspiring.
I wonder why the font is different here. Maybe blogger changed again.
Have a great day.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
::peers around carefully::
I decided the other day that guest bloggers might help me get writing done on this blog. Ha.
In other non news I am back from vacation. I have been for a week now, but time keeps getting away from me.
We were here in mid-Ontario, that Ontarians call "up North"::
In more current news, I am planning a lunch picnic because I can.
I also just opened a Word document (they open slowly on my computer) so I am typing this. You can see how long this takes. Which should be exact timing for the children to wake. Such is.
Have a great one!
Posted by vmh at 9:02 AM
Friday, July 18, 2008
One would never know it by my posting frequency, but I have been around. Except in about 3 hours we will be leaving on vacation. And I doubt the wilds of Ontario will have wifi.
Don't break the intartubes while I am gone, but if you do, definitely send me the links so I can catch up later.
Have a good one.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
From Geeks are Sexy. I think the wind would take out most things beforehand. I hadn't considered the shadow of it as it eclipsed the sun's light. Will need to revise, and add. I also didn't think it would take a whole day to surround the earth. I thought it would be almost immediate.
Also, may be going to the town of my "haven't worked on it in a while" story. I have mixed feelings, because it is entirely possible I don't want to know what the real one looks like, because what if it is wrong!? I have the town laid out in my head nicely thank you, so I kinda don't want to know. But I am sure I will take notes anyway.
Have a great fourth! Boom boom.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I don't hear this poem in my head as lyrically as Eliot seems to read it, but veryvery cool. My reading of it isn't the standard, of course. From Choriamb:
The anesthetized line, too sing songy but the I am no prophet line is just as I hear it. Now I want to hear him read it without the music.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I wish the value this blog had on Blogshares were real dollars. I would be richrich!
$1,033,958.31 when I just checked. Rich! Amusing what they play there. My value has skyrocketed since I have been purchased, and since the last time I looked. Hell, I am not cheap! But willing to sell.
Now horrible segue, back to Li-Young Lee. I think I am falling behind again.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Does anyone else write with earworms buzzing around? This new story I am writing is being powered by this earworm. If I am thinking of this song, singing away in my mind, the story just rides along nicely. When the song is off, so is the story. Interesting.
Luckily, it is a helluva song.
I only wrote about a page or so yesterday, but the theme that was sneaking around, appearing to not want be captured, tidied itself up nicely with a pretty dress and maybe even high heels (I didn't look down), and brought itself around just where I needed it to be.
That felt great.
It's like it knows when it will be needed, and waited patiently for it to occur to me.
Writers, always the last to know.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I had fallen a few days behind on the NaPoReMo, but did catch up. Li-Young Lee. The posts are over at PFFA. There are some interesting poets (several of whom I have never heard) being talked about over there. Neat stuff.
I got a very tiny little bit of writing done yesterday on my end of the world story. What I want to do with this, and what I am capable of doing with this might be very far apart at this moment. I will continue to force those two together. Writing in a vise. Hahaha. Anyway. Um.
I had a moment of a poem the other day, but then it was gone. Butterfly nets and vises, the tools of the trade. Or something commensurate with that.
Have a great day. I might even write!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I'm back from Vancouver and had a fabulous time.
Falling: The Code
N is lying in bed listening to apples fall. Tried to find a pattern or code, but didn't. A nod to Shakespeare's Hamlet with "even as I sleep, and dream, I know". But finally I decided that apples were not apples, but commentary on falling wisdom and failings. This is an ominously political poem. The sharp sonics of the letters p, t, dr, st are sharp and striking not unlike the thunks of the apples falling. Or bodies falling.
During long moments of silence
and wonder about the bruised bodies,
the terror of diving through air, and
think I'll go tomorrow
to find the newly fallen, but they
all look alike lying there
While I was gone on vacation I was pondering getting back to the poems, hoping they wouldn't just be about hair or fruit, and this one happily brought me back. I am very pleased to hear this of his voice.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Just got back from Vancouver, and I had a very splendid time.
As I was checking out my bloglines I happened upon a link to Jenny's Journey. A new blog requesting any info from anyone who knows anything about or has any experience with the symptoms this young girl is experiencing. I suggested they check out NORD, but thought posting the link here might be fruitful. I know that how words spread on the internet can be a beautiful thing, so please go and check it out. I know from experience that not knowing what is happening to your child is torture. So I am doing this to help them help her.
I will return to Lee's poetry very soon.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I am killing every character in this new story. Part of the story so, cool not just me killing my darlings. I seemingly like to kill off characters. Maybe I will leave an astronaut or someone floating around the earth. I am amused by this idea. Not sure if I should be, but I am.
Also, as the world shuts down in this story, the Daily Show will continue broadcasting. I literally laughed out loud when I realized this was to be so. Because they might just do that. I love that show. Anyhoo...
Other news. Rob's idea here is brilliant. I haven't decided what book of poems yet, but will. I have a few days. I will have no intartube connection from the 5-11 of June, so I will bunch up a few, and then catch up later. I have done Napowrimo, Nablopomo (wins for funniest sounding!) and now NaPoReMo. I am definitely cranking out the Na...mos. Ha.
Have a great evening. I am off to kill Barbara Sue. The fact that her initials are BS amuses me even more. Chuckling here. Don't mind me....
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I have to say that finding and discovering characters is relatively easy for me. They just appear. I came up with an idea for a story, that takes several character's views of an event. Poof, I had 11 characters vying for my attention. I have already figured out their approach to the event, how they will deal. This I think will stretch me, because I almost might find writing their voices challenging. They are very different, but I hope their voices don't blend and blur. It will involve some research too (which I love) because they live all over the globe. I am going global!!
I think I have a title too, but that may change.
I have written no poetry except for a few blibs and blabs since April. No surprise, but I have been reading more.
Mostly the classics. My son is addicted to the game Age of Mythology, and because of the actual content in that game, he has been talking mythology non stop. We have been researching all those gods and goddesses which got me reading the classics I already had. Which were not enough. I picked up a copy of The Longman Anthology of World Literature, Volume A: The Ancient World for $4.35 used. Perfect condition I might add. Anyway, I have been drilling through the centuries. I am preferring the Greeks I have to say. Although the beauty of Gilgamesh is unsurpassed, even by today's standards. Or a fabulous translation. Either way, excellent. And now I want to learn Cuneiform script, not that I know a thing about it. But it worked for them.
Have a good evening.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Not a poem, but an observation. I am always boggled when I find a new blog to read, someone who is writing astounding things, and when I click the Sub blog button to add it to my Bloglines, I discover no one else is reading that person. Boggled. The one thing about the intarwebs, is that they are so vast, so wide, that huge voices can't be found easily. But that is the joy of the intartubes, is that those voices are out there waiting to be discovered. Well maybe not waiting, because they are going about their business, but then they are found.
Oh, and a note about writing group the other day. It was *so* helpful. I got pointers on POV on the story. I sent chapter 2. I need to tweak my POV because it was bobbling between third person omniscient and third person limited. As the writing has gone on now (for too long, something I have learned about myself), it has changed, and the earlier versions really show the noobiness of the writing. And some of the chunkier rewrites show the difference too. That is obviously a good thing, but it does require checking out the old. I think I have learned that I need to plop it all down in a timelier fashion than I have. If only that the threads stay together, and the story doesn't become repetitive because it has taken so long, and I have to reremember for myself. The reader doesn't need to see that.
Anyway I am very grateful for these critiques, because otherwise I would never get out of my head. I saw a comment the other day elsewhere, speaking about how writing for this person is like translation. To get it from what is in her head, to words on the page. Like translating mediums. That would be me. L commented about a specific bit of dialog, and I said that Trapper was thinking this and this, already clear in my mind. That is what I need to add. The story is already there, and I just need to use words now to get it on the page.
I am avoiding today's poem if that isn't obvious ;-) Have a great one.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Happy St Patrick's day.
One of my musical regrets, was that we passed up the chance to see The Pogues in Ann Arbor 1986-7-8? because we had no money. As it turned out, MacGowen was unable to continue to sing that evening, so it probably worked out for the best.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
- Rape or abuse, or sex without a plot.
- Gore or violence for their own sake.
- Gratuitous character death; we want 'little deaths' not snuff.
- Racist or homophobic fiction.
- Sex with minors.
- Bestiality, though werewolf sex is acceptable.
I am so amused by the inclusion of the last item of unacceptable submissions for a new online magazine.
My god, for all that is holy, no poetry, that would be horrible! LOL
Friday, February 29, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I have a lot to learn.
I have new links to add to my Bloglines now.
As to the AWP, just being there and being able to be there, being a good enough writer to be there, and for one's hard work to be recognized by peers, should count for a lot.
Off to the many links I have found.
Monday, February 11, 2008
How to Live in the Heartland by Twyla Hansen (damn, she did a 9 Mile Prairie poem, that is what I had planned on writing about one day, not that I won't, but still ;-)
School of the Arts by Mark Doty
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
The Jane Austen Book Club
Last two for book club. Question, are all book clubs becoming clubs that read books about book groups? I have a feeling tis so.
I was going to get another book of poetry, by Asian poets, but I knew this bunch would be enough for a while. That one is next up, next up! Given my absolutely microscopically slow reading pace lately, that might be a while.
Have a good one!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
If I lived in Edinburgh, I would have a much more active poetry life. I would go to all the Grog events!! Mostly I am saying, "Damn!"
In other news, I have been busy. I haven't been writing, but I have been busy. I would suggest a correlation, but that would be presumptuous.
I read a poem this morning. It has been resonating all day. Interesting way to start the day, with those resonations. It changes your day. It added a little kindness where there may have been a frustration.
That was good. Have a great evening.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
I find almost everything written by Verlyn Klinkenborg enlightening. Like today's article in the NYTimes here.
I love the lilt of timbre of his writing. Especially this bit:
I have grown used to the idea that nearly everything around me in nature happens unobserved and unrecorded. A snowy winter sometimes retains a transcript, but even those are rare.
I think this is partly what art touches upon, the unobserved that becomes observed by art. Poetry takes a moment, and makes it observable. It shines the light on the hidden, on the unknown.
I am continuing to be fascinated by the in between. The jump between the moment and the word. The place that isn't anything, but is the fuel for the thing. The moment the mark is made, those wings that are the transcript. That place that is indeed ephemeral. It ceases almost immediately, but the transcript remains. Inspiration is like this. The fuel of the word. But invisible.
I love this mystery, the unknown component to the known. This juxtaposition of light and dark, learning and leaning forward to look to the newly known.
Have a great day.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Valentines by Ted Kooser
I was pleased to see this collection come out. For the last few years, I have received the postcard valentines that Kooser has sent out. Last year’s had a comment on the bottom saying that it would be the last. Once again, the bandwagons I find end shortly after I find them.
So I picked up a copy happy to see them collected, most of which I hadn’t read before. I would occasionally stumble across some of the Valentines pinned up at a local used bookstore, so I had a chance to read a few more. Several have been included in other books. But for the most part I had read very few.
The book is illustrated by Robert Hanna, a local artist. The drawings are very sweet, and definitely work with the poems. A successful pairing. They take nothing away, and are not obvious. Mostly, as Kooser notes, drawings of his workspace, and areas surrounding his home. But the question I had after a quick first perusal was “Who is the dog?” There is a drawing of a cute, presumably black and white dog inked in to many of the drawings. How this connects to the romantic hero that is proclaimed by the poems amuses me, maybe a little too much. The ol’ dog. I won’t comment on any metaphorical meaning there. Yet I am still curious.
There is a short introduction entitled “Author's Note”, mostly a description of the manner in which the poems were written and sent. Kooser wants the poems to be fun, and I think they are. He definitely succeeds in that. He doesn’t think they will have much literary merit, but that is still to be decided. Some are very seemingly revealing, of a man grappling with growing older, watching the younger woman, sometimes they perhaps even watching him. He isn’t out of the game yet. Writing a poem for 2500 women is an enlivening task. It takes some confidence to do so, I would think both professionally, and personally.
The first poem he wrote, Pocket Poem, really does invite us to know him, and maybe as an invitation to his poetry, for the long haul, how a poet might want the reader to know his poems. “If this comes creased and creased again and soiled / as if I’d opened it a thousand times…” Really, what poet wouldn’t want a reader to do such things? Poetic ambition is clear. He wants to reach his reader and respond. Both as a valentine for love, and a poem for the reader. They are inseparable like the childlike hope giving a construction paper valentine made with "careful" hands. Handing your heart over is always scary. Handing your poem, your “special art” over is too.
Several of the early poems are set at home, domestic images, ironing boards, Formica tabletops, celery hearts and kitchen stools. The heart is definitely at home. The narrator might look out to the valentines outside, and several poems are outside of the walls of home, but they point back to the hearth. In In a Light Late Winter Wind, he notes that “valentines / over the snow – dark red / like the deep – running, veinous blood / of the married, returning / again and again to the steady heart.” These really aren’t for us.
From this point on, the poems really stretch to the world. Friends are noted, “maps of the world” explored, more freely maybe. “Seas pour to the stars.” I suspect as the mailing list grew, so would thoughts of who exactly these women were. So many, those 2600! One poem is even called Inventory. “I stick out my old man’s chest, / throw back my pigeon shoulders, and tremble a little...”
I would have trembled too, having that many people watch me. At a reading once, Kooser noted a poem he had just written, about lapping up the milk of fame.
I think, Splitting an Order might be my favorite. The last unknown one for me, as I learned about the Valentines for the next at his reading I went to, and it really captures a domestic happy moment of a long together couple. Maybe the most romantic of them all.
I have tucked the Valentines I received into the pages for the poems. The pages bend over the postcards. Intent.
Then we get to the newest and last poem, unpublished until now. The Hog-Nosed Snake. For his wife, who allowed the first poem. Nice circle.
I won’t speak to the sexual imagery of this last poem, stiff snakes indeed, but maybe such things were romantically noted all along, because again, 2600 women + 1. Or I think correctly, 1 + 2600 We are the dark ladies, shadowed behind the postcards. I think in the end, they were all for the 1. We just got to go along for the ride. Yet we viewers, receivers of these Valentines, weren’t taken lightly and that is always clear. “A moment is enough for me.” I am glad for this gift "buttered with light".
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Love children and how they are handled, or Hamlet's dilemma which is kind of a cool way of looking at it.
Given how Lolita was treated and manipulated by popular culture, maybe Nabokov didn't want Laura treated the same way. I could understand that. Putting myself in his shoes, I think of how I would feel if someone found writings I didn't want public. I sympathize with that. But this is Nabokov, not me, and I would love to read whatever it was. Nice literary controversy. Like the writer's strike, it makes me happy that sort of thing is getting wider exposure, for people who wouldn't notice otherwise.
In other news I have scheduled a few things that I am going to do. A certain poem that I workshopped for writing group, I am going to actually think about submitting it. Maybe. We shall see. I'm not brave. I get what Dmitri is feeling. Be brave enough to make the right decision, when you don't know what that is.
A certain willingness to let it fly and see what happens is freeing of course, and [insert screams of doubt] then you will never know if you don't.
Have a great Sunday!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I picked up Ted Kooser's Valentines yesterday. I will review at some point shortly. Happily I now have a place to tuck the previous valentines he sent me. (Kooser tag) Yes, I was one of those 2500 women to have been mailed a valentine from him. So amusing. What a list! Go him! LOL
Hmm, I was just looking for A New Potato, that I know I have somewhere, but it isn't where I thought. I may have to dig deeper. Heh, like potato digging.
Have a good one!
Thursday, January 10, 2008
"i love it i love it every time every time"
Never had a google search find my journal, first hit, with something like this! Even above Wikis and Youtubevision. I am so amused.
Usually it is Smarties boxes, and little girl's dressers. And by typing this I have doomed myself. And poets of course. It makes me think I should just write the name of every poet EVAR and get my google rating up over a 3. Not that I would of course, but still.
This amuses me greatly. Enough even to use the zombie tag, something I save for special occasions.
Have a great evening!