Tuesday, December 20, 2011

why tina fey is the answer

....because after a couple months of what i will fondly deem "sloth brain", her humor, intellect and lack of literary pretension has me feeling like i am a new little lamb who just discovered some very vintage louboutin heels left on my stoop.  the best part:  she doesn't take herself too seriously.  and truly, i think that is the key to everything.  in life. in writing. in all.  well done ms. fey.  you, i would like to note, are glorious.

Monday, October 24, 2011

make it better without you

the trouble with late nights, is that it really gives way to over-thought.  thinking of all the things i should be doing, or should have had the time to do during the day, but didn't.  late nights give you the space to plan all the things for tomorrow.  add a little andrew belle or boxcar rebellion and it truly makes one think: what can i do tomorrow?  what will affect change in both my writing and personal life?

i have only made a few submissions to literary journals this year.  life has happened.  time for those has gotten pushed off time and again.  doubt has crept up.  apathy waxes and wanes.  so, what is it that makes "hitting the send button" so hard?  i read for two literary journals. i recently read for a poetry contest.  i am always thrilled to see the submissions rolling in.  they inspire me.  to read more. to learn.  to be a better writer myself.  to be proactive.  but somehow, i am still staring at the growing stack of my work that needs a home (or at least an attempt at adoption) and the growing list of places i would love to submit.

what moves us to continually put ourselves out there?  what moves us, at all?  here is to tomorrow:  and the hope and motivation it may bring.  where do you find your push?

To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.
So the sea-journey goes on, and who know where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have.
                          ---Rumi, from Buoyancy

Thursday, October 20, 2011

erica reed: designer to watch

beyond thrilled i got to write a piece this month for moxy about two things i love: fashion and inspiring creatives.  erica reed, is a perfect combination.  check out my interview with her here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

colrain makes the poet grow stronger

this last weekend was remarkable. and by remarkable i mean, i had the outstanding good fortune to attend the colrain poetry manuscript conference when it traveled west (because everyone needs a respite from new england now and then).

and by outstanding good fortune i mean, whoa: to workshop in a locale that i had forgotten i loved so very much (move away from the place you have always known, and when you return, wait for it to take your breath away in a completely unexpected way).  and to actually remember why it is that i write poetry: to harness my imagination, to have the space to tell my story.

truth be told, it has been months since i have had to space to write a poem.  life happens. trying to freelance happens (the blessing and curse of having liberal arts degrees: paying for them).  what was missing, that euphoria after finishing a piece that you didn't know was there, behind all the worries, and feeding of dogs, and blah blah (or joys!) of the day-to-day.

but this weekend, i remembered.  what i want, and why, to really write.

the faculty, poets and editors jeffrey levine, ellen dore watson, and joan houlihan, carmen giménez smith, and richard greenfield, were brilliant, receptive, and basically well, just so integral in reminding all of us what we have the tools to do.  why we want to carry on.  how to write and write and write well (whether we believe in ourselves or not).

here is what i think recent mfa graduates:  if you are in a slump, or feel like you are just slothing about without a way to recall the words you loved so much, treat yourself.  go to a day class, a local workshop, an area retreat or conference.  even a reading.  find a way back to the fire.

when was the last time you wrote something you loved, in a space that you loved?

Monday, August 29, 2011

always two hours ahead: the imprint of place

i don't know about how most people transition during moves, but when i left the east coast mid-summer, i decided i wasn't going to change the clock on my mac to match my new time zone.  why?  not forgetful, but indeed, still creatively and heart-linked to that coast i thought this was one way to keep myself metaphorically tethered to the part of the country i have found most affecting in both my writing and personal life.  and you know what:  it really works.  this little digital glory gives me an instant connection, (and a little pick me up on days when i feel particularly disconnected from that part of the world).

this all begs to question:  how much does place play a role in our writing?  for me, an immense amount.  so much so that when i was applying to graduate schools, chatham university's travel writing program won my attentions, simply because i know how moved i am (always) by place.  and while i inevitably didn't elect to attend that program, i couldn't have asked for a better city to begin to fuel my writing then of course first, nyc, and second boston.

when i was living in the east, i found myself romanticizing and ruminating over the climate and landscape of the west.  i daydreamed about my mountains back home, the way the dry heat felt on summer mornings, and the smell of chile and incense during the fall.  and while i grew up among this landscape, it was another climate that brought all that inspiration into focus.  does long-worn place have to steep before it finds us?  i guess so.  now that i am back, i see much with fresh eyes, but am not driven to write and think about it the way i was when removed.  meanwhile i find the east in all i write.

what places inspire you?  what place has the biggest imprint in your writing (or regular) life?

Friday, July 15, 2011

big booty bread company

how can you not love a city with bakeries like this: big booty bread company.

for those of you who know me well, you will understand when i tell you: ny is always with me.  here now, pretty much my favorite thing to do is walk and walk (and walk some more).  because you never know what kind of poems are going to be formed through the streets.  oh, and the bakeries! nothing to do with words, except maybe:  unexplainably delicious, heavenly, earth-shattering.  you know, words that tingle in your mouth.

bottom line: every time i visit i am moved to write in a way that cannot be explained.  every moment feels the need to be captured, and truth be told, my favorite poems were written here.  the ones i kind of want to carry, so they are always close.  the ones that i want to farm out to the avett brothers so they will mold them into song.

brooklyn just, feels like home.

and, check out this: 826 NYC.

their writing space for young people fronts as a the brooklyn superhero supply company.  if you are in the area, and love writing and teaching, stop by.  or better yet, volunteer.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

freud in brooklyn

here is what i know: i wandered into one of my favorite local indie bookstores today and was pretty much in distress when i saw that they have recently filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. i mean what is a girl to do (especially of the book-loving variety) if all the bookstores go the way of the furby (remember that creepy toy?)  i mean, it is one thing if a hamster/owl robot hybrid gets the um, old heave-ho, but walk-in, non-chain bookstores?  you know, where people actually have book knowledge (and by book knowledge i don't mean stare at me blankly and wander/sneak away).  and they actually root for the sustained literacy of say, america.

listen: i know technology is fancy and convenient and that booksellers like amazon are the bomb.com, BUT, isn't there something kind of amazing about walking into a store (yes, lift your head up from texting while you walk in and you will be amazed at what you see!) where you can pick up a book, hold it in your hand (papercuts are rare) and say, share it with your child, or leaf through it, or you know, support the local economy?

i wandered over to the poetry section (championship! no blank stare when i said "poetry"), totally used to seeing an area that perhaps used to house, let's say, enough room for perhaps, i don't know, thumbelina?  and i almost passed out.  (disclaimer: i am about to get very book-nerd here).  they had local authors. obscure authors. chapbooks. indie lit.  mainstream (very little) lit.  it.was.amazing.  and i thought, whoa, and this place (which also carries rare books, and antiquarian books), is in trouble?  kind of blows my mind a little bit (hence the soap box).

i know that indie bookstores can be a bit more expensive, but isn't the saying always, "you get what you pay for"?  for me, the value is in the selection, the promotion of writers (like me and so many of my friends) and the quality of the overall experience.  so, all this to say, please support your local libraries (remember those? check this out: www.geekthelibrary.org/) and booksellers.  maybe not every time you buy a book if you can't stomach that idea, but often.  library + indie bookseller combo =less than what you'd spend at a chain, or online.

here are a few of my other favorite booksellers.  check them out if you are in my area, or they are in yours.

bookworks, albuquerque
collected works, santa fe
malaprop's, asheville
the bookshelf, thomasville
grolier poetry bookshop, cambridge
harvard book store, cambridge
st. mark's bookshop, lower east side, nyc

where are your favorite book shops?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

national flip flop day

umm, who doesn't love wearing flips and quenching this wicked hotness called summertime (especially in the south) with a free smoothie? while helping to support a good cause?

read more about national flip flop day and how you can reap ALL the benefits (charitable and palatable) of this phenomenal idea here.

as for me, my rainbows, my dollar dollars, and my love of the glorious smoothie can't wait for friday.  free smoothie, folks. free!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

panera: it does a sloth good

well thank goodness for panera. or any place outside of my hotel room for that matter. when living in a hotel i do NOT recommend trying to write or work from inside that space. what really happens is that you sloth around in your pjs and watch "man v. food" marathons in the semi-darkness all day.  why get dressed, just to watch cable?

here is my top five list on how NOT to be a productive member of society (eh, writer) while living in a hotel:

1. as mentioned above, never get dressed of course, until absolutely necessary. wikipedia "necessary" to determine what that truly means.

2.  don't open the curtains in the hotel room.  sunlight is very detrimental to slothing. and it determines time of day, which could cause unhealthy and immediate shock.

3.  obviously don't leave the hotel room if you can avoid doing so.  why do bears hibernate?  you don't see them leaving the cave (but i guess they aren't generally poets either. nor do they require an income).

4.  eat only what you can microwave or add milk to.  the brain is totally hinged on microwaves, right?

5. try to lay on the couch as much as possible.  studies show that exercise increases productivity immensely.

holy wow.  thank goodness i got out of there before becoming a complete noodle.  and the proof is in my latte: my brain, after leaving my cozy hotel hovel, is now back to fully functioning mode.  phew.  it doesn't hurt that the sun is shining (though not completely nuclear) and i am around actual humans (instead of dogs with human characteristics).  who knew light and socialization were so key to survival?

what else is the key to survival: mint water, pirate's booty, fruit, and for me, a visit here, where i am going to gatsby like it is 1909. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

reading through montgomery

yesterday my friend kristin had the brilliant idea of chatting about her summer reading list.  inspired by her picks (and passion for lit), and having spent the last week driving across the country and then back again, i couldn't wait to make a list of my own.  especially for the next month that i will be spending in montgomery, alabama.  here are my choices for the next few weeks (and beyond if i get swept away by all the museums i have to explore here):

1. Please Look After Mom, by Kyung-Sook Shin.  I mentioned this book a few weeks ago, and have been excited to read it since I first spotted it in the New York Times Book Review email that I get every week.  Love that it is written by both a South Korean and a female.

2. One Last Good Time, by Michael Kardos.  I am reviewing this collection of short stories for the Santa Fe Writers Project, and am about half done.  So far such interesting prose, and creative style.  Kind of reminds me of Karen Russell, with some of its surreality.

3. No one belongs here more than you. Stories by Miranda July.  I picked this up in St. Marks a few months ago, and think I kind of fell in love with it, before I even opened the cover.

4. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë.  In my first semester of grad school in NY I kind of fell in love with the Brontë sisters. Again.  And while I read this long ago, I feel like it needs another fresh read.  Because um, why not re-read one of the greatest novels of all time?

5. Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz.  After many debates as to what our dogs can understand (I swear my dogs know exactly what I am saying and purposely do the opposite when they are feeling fiesty) and can't understand, I am hoping this book gives some great insight (and fuel for my side of the argument).

6. Thirteen Departures From the Moon, poetry by Deema K. Shehabi.  I mentioned this book a few months ago also, and now that I have a bit of time, am really gonna dig into it.  It looks amazing.

7. more New York Stories, edited by Constance Rosenblum.  Picked this up last time I was in the city.  Thought reading about NYC while I am not there would help make me miss it less?  From the "Best of the City"section of the New York Times, this collection is witty and fun.  And memorable.

8.  The Girl in The Flammable Skirt, by Aimee Bender.  Short stories by Aimee Bender.  What could be better?  Truly?

Check out Kristin's list here!

And for more great suggestions check out NPR's Indie Bookseller Reading List.

What are you excited about reading this summer?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

kimchi makes the heart grow fonder

so, what else is great about may besides the ribbons tied to the may pole?  and memorial day?   definitely honoring those who are of asian or pacific heritage.  my two favorites: my husband and sister-in-law.  check out her bilingual bookstore here: bubu books.  she carries chinese, vietnamese, japanese and korean children's books in her catalog.

all my bias of the heart aside, also check out this new novel from korean author kyung-sook shin, please look after mom. i just ordered it from amazon. beyond excited to read it. also, check out one of my new favorite magazines, KoreaAm.

who influences you this month?

to learn more about asian-pacific heritage month, or to get to some amazing events, visit: http://asianpacificheritage.gov/.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

half a minute of grace

so, i have been out of touch for a minute or two.  but i have intended to mention this film for the last month.  now that poetry month has come and gone, don't dismiss the words kick boarding around in your brain, that you long to write down on that napkin next to you during lunch (but kinda feel silly with everyone watching).  write 'em down. and then if you need a little inspiration, ever, watch this move trailer: "Poetry".

i was so thrilled to see that this was a south korean film, and even more moved by the grace the trailer exudes. it took my breath away.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

back to letters

and while it wasn't the most holiday appropriate film choice, we watched letters from iwo jima today.  and wept. a lot. the sadness is practically insurmountable if you really take into account not only the moments from that time, that week, even the day of the attack, and examine both sides.  but also, if you look at it from just the human perspective.  the way each side, each man, felt at the end of each day, apart from their homes and families, their loves and lives.  the way each hand held a pen one moment, writing letters home, then next moment holding a different kind of pin.  and so it comes back to letters today.  the way they, in this instance, have provided us with a way into the hearts of minds of so many that nothing else could have ever done.  no retelling, no recollection could have ever come close to capturing.

the lesson this day for me:  never lose sight of the worth of words, fully spelled and written in long-hand (or even typed might do).  never hold them too close, nor let them stray too far.  stars and compass needles. words are always a way back to who we were, who we want to be, who we want to be near.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

what rhymes with war?

last fall, while my mr. was overseas, i began working on a project (both for myself and for my last graduate school component: teaching a seminar) that dug into women and their poetic perspectives on war, specific to contemporary conflicts (last 20 years or so). i was surprised by how few women's perspectives i found. more than a little surprised really. more like disheartened. however,during my search i came across four books that affected me more than i can say:

Stateside by Jehanne Dubrow
Clamor by Elyse Fenton
Get Some by Sonja Yelich
Ruin by Roberta Lowing

these poetry collections are, how can i aptly describe them, powerful, moving, brilliant and at moments terrifying. what is most apparent is the way they process the journey: of being overseas, of remaining on the shore in wait, and of living through the conflicts in an incredible way. and while i don't necessarily recommend immersing yourself in a project like this if your loved ones are currently involved in one of the on-going conflicts (bad idea), i do recommend all of these as phenomenal.

read my Santa Fe Writer's Project review of Stateside here. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

would we still write letters? send them in the post?

"Within seven weeks of the President's death, Jacqueline Kennedy received more than 800,000 condolence letters. Two years later, the volume of correspondence would exceed 1.5 million letters. For the next forty-six years, the letters would remain essentially untouched".

deeply affected by this, i started to think. if faced with a similar horrific event, how would our nation react? reading an article about this text the point was raised: given this age of technology would americans write? would they walk their tears and distress to the mailbox, or would social media prevail? would the nation tweet, text, facebook their grief? and if so, what does that say for us? for the future of writing? for the future of the human connection? what does that say about how we live? not to be morose, but if we don't have time for letters, cards, postcards, handwritten moments shared with those we care about, what do we have time for?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

a kennedy, a reminder, a poet?

last night i started watching The Kennedys miniseries that began last week.  forever fascinated by their family since i first watched JFK in middle-school, my intrigue has peaked again.  obviously this current biopic series has taken some historical liberties (otherwise why the snub by the history channel?), but i am still fascinated.  especially in the wake of yesterday's budget-crisis catastrophe (disappointment).  and especially given my own foray into the political world during college and after (i favor poetics over politics. all the slyvia plath in the world couldn't make me as disheartened as politics can). so what pleasant surprise did i stumble upon last night in the wee hours?  this: caroline kennedy a poet?  just released, her collection She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems.  now i have no idea what her poetic eye is like, or even if she wrote any of the text in this anthology, but how could i not order it?  so i did.  and i am excited.  kennedy verse?  could be amazing.  interested?  check out this story on abc news: 'She Walks in Beauty' Poems Selected by Caroline Kennedy

loved that she said this (which i read on galleycat):   

“One of the reasons why I worked on this book is because so many people think of poetry as a solitary art form; one poet writing alone and the reader far away. But, I think what we all see here today is that poetry can really be of value for a community … And since poems are meant to be heard, reading a poem really starts a conversation.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

april showers bring poems, flowers

it is hard to believe it is already april.  and while i love to see the azaleas in full bloom, and the blush of spring everywhere, i can't get over how fast the months pass us by. in celebration of poetry month, aside from trying to write and write and write, i thought i would mention some poetry collections that i think everyone should pick up right now! so what's on your bookshelf now, the poems you can't put down?  here are some of the books taking over my office, that i am making my way through:

Souvenirs of a Shrunken World by Holly Iglesias
No Rattling of Sabers: An Anthology of Israeli War Poetry translations by Esther Raizen
Thirteen Departures From the Moon by Deema K. Shehabi
You & Yours by Naomi Shihab Nye
Wreckage by Ha Jin

i guess much of what i read is influenced by where my mind is these days. still wondering where the end to all this international conflict lies, i am still heavily influenced by war poetry.  still heavily influenced by the way these conflicts affect all of us, and will always affect us.  perhaps reading through the way others have approached battle and conflict, grief, destruction, redemption, and the joy that can follow the end of war time eras, gives fuel and hope? shadows of understanding?

it's april! here's to celebrating spring blooms and life and poetry.

Monday, March 21, 2011

got bombshell?

soo, my piece on lily burana, author, editor and founder of the traveling burlesque project, operation bombshell, is here:  http://moxymag.com/2011/03/operation-bombshell/.  i am among some really amazing female writers there, including fellow lesley alums kristin and kali.  read their work. read moxy.  celebrate strong females.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

what boys like, short stories by amy jones

i recently stumbled upon the opportunity to start reviewing books for the santa fe writer's project (which i have long admired), and thus have in my hands now, for this purpose, a collection of short stories by amy jones.  what way to describe it so far?  gritty intelligence perhaps.  uniquely extended prose.  what stikes me the most (and is inspiring me in a a profound way) is the way she turns images into new reality. epic poems even.  the last story, just read, links two significant events: kurt cobain's death and the central character's sister's disappearance.  this parallelism is kind of genius.  and while these stories often have an edge to them, i can't get over how brilliant they are.  seriously brilliant.  half-way through.  can't read fast enough.  if you are curious, support indie publishing house biblioasis, and pick up the book:  what boys like and other stories, by amy jones.  full review to follow soon.....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

rain in spain falling on the plain

Given the torrential downpour taking hold outside, I thought I would take some time to finally set up my blog.  While I won't be posting daily, I will be updating periodically as my writing and projects change and evolve.  Or even I suppose, as the mood strikes me.  Look for my new Moxy Magazine profile on writer, editor and founder of Operation Bombshell, Lily Burana (www.lilyburana.com), next week.  She is ridiculously outstanding in all she does.

And if you haven't read it yet, pick up a copy of You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.  No really.  I mean it.  Read it.  It is fan.tas.tic.