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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Confession Tuesday - Autograph Edition

Dear Reader:

As I hit my two week streak of making it to the Tuesday Confessional I amaze myself. I've been so hit and miss (mostly miss) lately that  this feels like a major life accomplishment. I confess that  I'm rather happy with myself for showing up to do this. Mostly because I realize that in anything we do in life, showing up is a big part of making things happen.

After work tonight I caught the Giants - Cardinals NLCS game three and was delighted by San Francisco's win. There was a very cliche MLB ad campaign a few seasons back that  said, "We Live For This."  When my team is in post season play, that is exactly  how I feel. Baseball is like poetry to me. It has the raw emotion that can sometimes change with a single pitch. It's methodical to some degree and that provides the lyrical quality. There are few things athletically that have the grace of a well turned 6-4-3 double play. But this time of year is very bittersweet because no matter how your team  fairs, it will all stop one night with one final play and the field like all the others will go dark and quiet and ultimately be blanketed by snow. And as a fan, you will be faced with no more day-to-day grind. Winter will pass agonizingly slow until finally spring comes with new hope and another season of what we live for.

Tonight, as I write this our family is also awaiting word on the birth of our first grandchild.  My daughter is at the hospital and we have been standing by our cell phones. I confess that  the close proximity to our cell phones is not really new, but the anticipation with each notice that goes off is a bit different then the usual, more casual approach. After all, I confess that  I will get scolded for missing a call because I've left my phone on vibe.

As I mentioned last confession I have once again turned to another poet to coach me on some work this fall. I was anxious to start again until it came Sunday to sending material off. Then I suddenly felt timid. Awkwardly so; like a kid who steps up in line with a baseball to have his favorite player sign it... he hands it to the player and then  just goes blank. Speechless.  Duh... what am I doing?

Being fortunate enough to be working with one of my very favorite poets is awesome, but it also makes the analogy of meeting your favorite player a pretty good metaphor.  I confess that  response to the drafts that I provided were well received. One in particular and that  makes it less awkward moving forward.

No new news yet on the arrival and it's getting  late. Could be a long night.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Confession Tuesday - Deep Breath Edition

I've missed numerous Tuesday Confessions. I confess that it has been long enough that I don't know the number of weeks and rather than scroll through my blog to count them, well I just hang my head in shame.

Many things went bad with my day yesterday and they all seemed to spiral from a singular event at work that was the result of someone's  miscalculations and as a result it meant I had to deal with a crisis that sent me home stressed out.  Then I got up this morning and added to my anxiety by thinking I had lost or misplaced my wallet. What actually happened to it  was kind of amusing as i think back on it but it too stressed me out and delayed me this morning.

You know how misery loves company....  well I drug my wife to the office today for her annual flue shot only I screwed up and  was a day early. She drove home, keeping the car and then had to pick me up after work. There is still the matter of her needing to drive in with me tomorrow so I will inconvenience her yet again.

As I sit here writing this tonight I fully recognize that I need to take a few deep breaths, Get some oxygen to my brain.

I have lots of writing to do this week and I confess that I am both anxious in a good way and apprehensive. I'll explain. I have another poet whose work I absolutely adore, that is working with me for a few weeks coaching. I've done this every couple of years in the fall and I find it beneficial. I confess while I'm always excited about this I realize this person is going to see some of my rawest work. But the idea of course is to use this a growing period. I'll talk more about this over the next couple of weeks.

On a positive note I confess I had a rejection letter overnight, Positive you say? Yes, it was positive because the letter specifically referenced things the editor really liked in a poem. That tells me it was a thoughtful read

Well, My San Francisco Giants have a playoff game in about 20 minutes from now so I need to wrap this up. I confess that I feel good about their chances to win this round and advance to the National League Championship Series. If they don't  win tonight they still have another  chance in game 5.

May the baseball God look favorably on them tonight.  ;-)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Drench me in Loneliness

Moon! Moon! I am prone before you. Pity me, and drench me in loneliness. ~ Amy Lowell

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Southern Oregonian writer Amy Miller recently asked me to join the  My Writing Process Blog Tour. Amy is the author of  several Poetry books including Botanica, Tea Before Questions, The Mechanics of Rescue and Beautiful/Brutal: Poems About Cats.  I though it might be kind of fun until I really started thinking about the questions.  Yes, each participant addresses the same four questions about their writing. Amy Blogs as Writer's Island and her Writing Process Tour post is linked here. I really did have to do some deep thinking about these.

QUESTION #1: What are you working on?

Honestly finding my way out of the forest.

I'm in the very early stages of working on a poetry manuscript themed on a ballpark that is slated for demolition. A ballpark much maligned, but one that I loved and the juxtaposition between the fans hope with its conception and what it came to symbolize. I irony of affection shown for it in it's final home-stand.

I'm toying with some other offshoots of several of the stronger poems I've written in the past - hoping to gain traction  with other themed collections as well. I'm bridging my time reworking older drafts and keeping my mind open to new poems..

I plan to work with another poet this fall on some poems possibly for the ballpark project. Hoping to find my way out of that forest I mentioned.  I've found that it is helpful for me to get some coaching from someone whose poetic voice resonates well with me. It's a little like a therapist seeing another therapist. We all need a head-check at times if nothing else, just to know things are working.

QUESTION #2: How does your voice differ with others of it's genre?

Enough, I hope. This is always a fear of mine.  Make it different, change things up Take the refrigerator  and lay it on the side... think about it differently and hope your readers will see something different.

I believe poets especially are expected to think outside the box. So that's whee it has to start. Finding some originality in your craft.  Part of it is your voice. Getting comfortable in your own skin. Feeling it is safe to take ownership of your voice. A distinctive voice, playing with the tone, the language... putting the "ive" on create.

I tend to bring a big tool box to my craft. I like to use sarcasm, humor, seriousness. Go dark or light sometimes within the same poem. I love art that is has dissonance.  I especially like the abstract but you are more likely to see it sprinkled in my work then overtaking it.

QUESTION #3: Why do I write what I do?  

It happens. Just happens. I've found it works far better to let the ideas come to you than to pick specific things to pursue.  When I've tried to guide the conversation with the poem - things seem forced. I am rarely happy with the outcome. Once I've started on something that has come to me
I try above all else to let the poem say what it wants. I can fine tune in rewrite but it's best if it follows the path of least resistance. The process should be like water and flow downhill to the conclusion.

QUESTION #4 How does your writing process work? 

Sometimes I find it helpful to write with background noise. It can be music. I have a couple of play lists I will write to Spotify.  Sometime I use a program that simulate noise in a coffee shop or just use white noise to drown out distractions and things that would interrupt me.

The biggest help has been my writing studio. I can better control the the climate, the noise, interruptions, lighting, etc. I used to tell myself I could write anywhere, and I could, but the quality of writing sitting in the room with television on really did suffer.

Sometimes I will start on paper, usually in my journal then take it to my laptop to refine. I prefer writing with a fountain pen. Seriously, I feel more creative with one in my hand. I mostly use one on my 9-5 job as well.

Poems on rare occasion will come together quickly - but most of the time the process is more like a fine wine aging and the poems will not be seen anytime soon in the real world.


I was to tag a couple other writes that I wanted to join us on the blog  tour. Unfortunately so many on my list it seems have already participated or did not have blogs (seriously?)

Fortunately one of the first that I thought of was Jessica Smith.  Of those I tagged, I heard back from Jessica and she was delighted to participate. She will join us next Thursday.

In the meantime, here is Jessica's Bio:

Jessica Smith, Founding Editor of Foursquare and name magazines, serves as the Librarian for Indian Springs School, where she curates the Indian Springs School Visiting Writers Series. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, she received her B.A. in English and Comparative Literature: Language Theory, M.A. in Comparative Literature, and M.L.S. from SUNY Buffalo, where she participated in the Poetics Program. She is the author of numerous chapbooks including mnemotechnics (above/ground 2013) and two full-length books of poetry, Organic Furniture Cellar (Outside Voices 2006) and Life-List (Chax Press 2015).

Jessica Blogs at Looktouch

Books Incarnate

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confession Tuesday - Fallen Away Confessor Edition

Dear Reader:

I feel like a fallen away Confessor. I've not been really good about Confession Tuesday lately. I suppose that's where my confession should start.

I confess that  I feel like I should be in bed right now. I came down with a cold yesterday and it was full blown today. The sniffles, chest  congestion, that burning  feeling in your chest and a cough that gives me a headache. When I cough like this I feel like my brain is being battered around inside my skull.

I confess that Diabetic Tussin sucks. It advertises on the package no sugar, no alcohol, no Sorbitol, no fructose and gluten free. I has nothing in it to give it any kind of flavor - and that would be okay if I feel like it was doing me any good. But no, it taste crappy and I don't feel any better for using it.

I'm in a pretty crappy mood to. My wife has maintained for years I do not do sick well. I will acknowledge I get pretty grumpy.

Historically I have often denied sickness as long as I could. I resist  taking a break and work through it. The past few years I have had chest colds the have settled in my lungs and have really knocked me down. Because if this, I tend now to take these kind of things much more seriously.

I confess that I want to be writing tonight and yet I will forgo it because I'm pretty sure I'm just not going to get into it. I never like going long without writing.  Writing keeps my mood balanced. I like getting lost in my writing.

I think I am going to call it a night and go read a couple poems from a book I just pulled out of my book case. Forms of Intercession by Jayne Pupek.  That will be my concession for not writing tonight. Then head to bed a bit early.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mag 237: Snow Blindness

The shear delight in soft white.
A burst of morning on my horizon.
Dangling, delicate, delicious.
Woven  intricacies of light and space.
I am lost in the bright blight of colorlessness.
Entranced in my own snow blizzard

Michael Allyn Wells

Mag 237