Two Poems in FIELD’s Fall Issue (#93)

I am delighted to say that FIELD’s Fall Issue (#93) is just out and contains two of my poems, “Muskoxen” and “Long Day”.

“Muskoxen” begins:

Flummox of insects
none of their nevermind,
Arctic shadowcaster cold
yeah and-ers [..]

and “Long Day” starts out with:

The triumph of the day: that the old dog
made it 12 hours without peeing in the house,
success in her success at staying asleep,
certainly no success in the 12 hours ’til I made it home, […]

You can pick up issues of FIELD at your more poetry-enabled bookstores, get an online copy, or order direct from Oberlin College Press, and I hope you do. You can read a couple sample poems from this and past issues on the OC Press website also.

In other exciting news about this issue, the symposium this fall is on the, as the editors put it, “strange, commanding genius” of Russell Edson, If you’ve never read Edson’s prose poems, you must. The vast majority of people who do are hooked, and are thrilled they now know his worlds exist to be visited. Poems discussed include two of my favorites, “The Fall” and “Counting Sheep”, with symposium essays by Dennish Schmitz, Charles Simic, Lee Upton, Jon Loomis, B.K. Fischer, and others.


“Magnitude and bond”

For this month’s Famous People poem, Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Paul Robeson” and “Of Robert Frost” (because just one Gwendolyn Brooks poem at a time isn’t enough. Also I’ve missed a few of this supposed-to-be monthly series).

I had to wake up super early last Sunday morning, which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but when my radio came on it happened to wake me up with the sound of Gwendolyn Brooks’ amazing voice, and then I didn’t mind so much. (A BBC show not currently available online, alas). Her delightful presence and dynamic reading voice even on old somewhat scratchy recordings is just phenomenal—I would have loved to hear her in person.

Here she is reading her most-anthologized poem “We Real Cool” (and explaining that she sort of wishes she were also known for writing other poems) so you have a taste.

Brooks wrote about regular people (“Gay Chaps at the Bar“, “The Bean Eaters” for e.g.) with great compassion and insight, and she wrote about some famous people too with her remarkable precision and verve. Here are two, “Paul Robeson” and “Of Robert Frost“. They’re both short portraits, focused, the Frost poem’s lines lines long but with short, blunt sentences, with the wonderful detail of his eyebrows “neither too far up nor down.” The Robeson lines and sentences contract and swell, and wind up on one of my favorite phrases in Brooks’ poems, “we are each others’ / magnitude and bond.”

(After reading “Paul Robeson” you will undoubtedly want to revel in his famous voice a while. Here he is singing for workers at the in-progress Sydney Opera House, and here being interviewed about civil rights.)

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Summer Book Bingo (Blackout!) Book Reviews

Last week I finished the last square on the Seattle Public Library’s Summer Book Bingo card and turned it in with one whole reading day to spare! A delightful summer of both more and different reading than I’d have done without that impetus.




Plus! apparently I have a 1 in 197 chance at winning that prize the SPL and Seattle Arts & Lectures folks will be drawing for this Tuesday— season tickets to SAL + a library of books by the speakers. (And 218 bingos are in for the drawing for a gift certificate to a local bookstore.) It is such a delight to be living in such a book-centric city.

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Here’s a quick rundown on the books I read, rated ◊ to ◊◊◊◊◊ (more, of course, is better): Continue reading

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New poem “Leaf Blower” in The Human Journal

I am delighted to see my brand-new poem “Leaf Blower” published in The Human Journal’s Crime Issue (Issue 5), hot off the press.

The poem begins:

I watch the manager next door
where older, poorer people have to live,
just stand and blow the dust around, and hate him some.

Head over to The Human to read the whole thing


p.s. A Summer Book Bingo update: “No I can’t hang out with you today, I have to finish my bingo card” is something I am saying nowadays — 7 more books to finish before Labor Day!



Poetry Suggestions for Summer Book Bingo

As promised, a list of a few suggestions for poetry collections that satisfy the Seattle Public Library & Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Summer Book Bingo squares:

You Finish Reading in a Day

Geography III, Elizabeth Bishop — only 10 poems, and some of her best. (Also works for Published Year You Were Born if you were born in 1976.) “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”

Woodnote, Christine Deavel —an utterly lovely book. It brings you right in and doesn’t let you go, in ways you possibly don’t expect. Also works for Local Author; she is co-owner of Open Books in Wallingford. “caraway     caraway”.

From Your Childhood

Shel Silverstein — “listen to the mustn’ts, child”. Continue reading

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Book Bingo NW

The theme for my 2015 is totally clear: Reading.

Books, bookstores, book contests, books books books. Hot on the heels of the Independent Bookstore Day challenge came Summer Book Bingo, the Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures’ totally awesome summer reading program for adults.

Get a Bingo, get entered for a gift certificate from a bookstore. Do a Blackout, get entered for a chance at season tickets to Seattle Arts & Lectures’ next season and books by all the speakers. Deadline: Labor Day.



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Father Time and Mother Earth / A Marriage on the Rocks

For this month’s look at a poem about a famous person, James Merrill’s “The Broken Home

I love this sonnet sequence, James Merrill’s elegant, rueful, beautiful take on his childhood and his parents. This is a different angle on a famous person poem than the others I’ve pointed to so far this year, since Merrill is talking about himself and his family rather than a far-off celebrity, but since his father was the Merrill of Merrill Lynch and since the poet himself is one of the 20th century biggies, it counts.

I first heard “The Broken Home”, rather than read it, Continue reading

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Bookstore Day Addendum

Just back from the Seattle Independent Bookstore Day Grand Champions fete at Elliott Bay. They gave us crowns! And cake. And our stamped passports back, which delighted everyone. It was great fun to meet other Bookstore Day adventurers and compare routes and bookstore notes. Grand Champs total was 42, and an additional 117 made it to three or more stores. Clearly, Seattle readers rock.

Grand Champs

Most of the 42 (photo credit University Bookstore)

2015 -05-16 Grand Champs party at Elliott Bay

Already looking forward to next year’s fun. (And all the books  in between…)

Not Knowing vs Knowing

I picked up the novel The Martian by Andy Weir at our first Independent Bookstore Day stop, and the sum total of what I knew about it before buying it was:

  • The cover is orange.
  • I’ve seen people really engrossed in it on the bus.
  • I’ve seen it on several bookstores’ Staff Recommends shelves.
  • It has something to do with an astronaut left behind on Mars.
  • The first chapter begins:


I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.


And then I spent a whole Saturday (that I hadn’t intended to spend reading) not being able to put it down. Could NOT put it down. Had other things to do. Should have been doing them. Didn’t. Couldn’t put it down.

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Independent Bookstore Day Adventures

Oh what a glorious day we had yesterday! My mother and I met the Seattle Independent Bookstore Day Challenge and went to all 17 participating stores, got a fabulous haul of books, and had a blast all day long.


Proof! (with a funny note from Phinney Books who momentarily caused PANIC when I thought we’d forgotten to get a stamp from them and that they were already closed. But no, they had extended hours yesterday, and we had only gone one store on so we rushed back – turns out they had stamped it, just in the wrong place. Phew! And hey what’s a Challenge without a little adrenaline rush somewhere. I did have a receipt so probably could have proved our visit with that, but I wanted a complete passport and no chance of a technicality problem!

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