Sunday, September 28, 2008

115: Cry of the Loon in pictures

I will ruminate on this past weekend shortly. For now, I hope you've enjoyed the above pictures, and there are many more here.

PS: There are some photos in the middle, the group one and the feet going over stones, and that is Itasca, which is the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I am sleepy and sated. Poetry and conversation: class went well tonight. I love that they just won't quiet; it's wonderful to see how advanced they are for beginners. I am lucky, I say.

This is a photo of a sunset Ryan and I witnessed this past Sunday on the drive home from Green Bay. I wanted to share it with all of you before I go to bed. That is, after I make some spinach dip and pack some clean underwear for my weekend getaway.

Happy Thursday.



Hello all:

I know I have been awfully quiet here lately, which is strange, considering my ability to post nearly every day this summer with next-to-nothing to say, and now, when my life is so rapidly changing, when I am adapting to an entirely new schedule with entirely new goals, I am struck dumb.

I was talking to my father on the phone (you see, with an hour's commute, I often find myself catching up, calling my father at his office, venting to him in ways I don't think I could to anyone else--he is in the unique position of knowing me so well, being a college professor, and wanting to write himself--plus, he is patient and can sympathize, which is often exactly what I need--not a husband who wants to resolve my issues but someone who will lean back and listen)--and I spoke to him about how I have felt very withdrawn, very vulnerable lately. It isn't a cloud of depression following me about, even if my recent posts and thoughts have been very bewilderingly woe-is-me (what am I doing here?!, more like), but I think this is wisest--the quiet standing back, the roving gaze, taking it all in. I am finding my place right now, and it's taking some time. But being quiet, letting it wash over me, I am finding how to fit into this place, and it's beginning to feel more comfortable every day.

I am writing more, which is good, and I am thinking more about my writing, which is even better. I've been thinking about language, especially language-poetry, and though I write mainly what is more often considered narrative/lyrical poetry, I want to infuse it with an awareness of the ways in which simple sounds can convey meaning just as well as a driven thread. There is poet in my cohort of first years (I feel a bit Harry Potter, calling us first years, though I wish we had seven instead of three) who is very interested in syncopation, in rhythm, in the ways in which a poem can appear on the page, in white space, and breath, and these are all things my own poems seriously lack. So I've asked her to advise me in poets to study and she's given me: Sandra Doller, Sasha Streensen, Chelsea Minnis.

This coming weekend is the final annual Cry of the Loon retreat, a regular staple for the U of MN MFAers for years. MDB is the host, and he is in phased retirement, and this is one of the things he is letting go just before he lets go of the university entirely. There is much debauchery planned, I sense, from the emails flying about the in-box, as well as pancakes and a soup night, but also plenty of wine and whiskey, so who knows what will happen? I am bringing a sleeping bag as there seem to be an abundance of double beds, and I am much talented at flailing about and snuggling, and I'm not prepared to do that with these folks just yet, since we recently met and all. It's four hours north of the Twin Cities, deep in the north woods of Minnesota, so you can expect some brilliant fall colors arriving on this blog after the weekend.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


This I say: congratulations to Bill and Angie. The two of you looked so completely, utterly happy, and that is how one must enter a marriage. (Completely, utterly, unaware. No--I'm kidding!) It was a Catholic ceremony, which means Catholic mass, and she comes from a farming community, which means a receiving line out to the next county, and two hours later we were laundering our shirts due to the sweat, but the company was phenomenal, the music wonderful (the bride sang and oh, we were so glad she did, and her harpist was our harpist, as Cheryl Murphy is in the Irish folk band with my father), and BJ chugged a beer from a rubber chicken. What more could an evening need? Oh, yes. Groomsmen with glittery wings.

And a few more: here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Photos: from our Alaskan honeymoon, August 2007, taken by my husband

Sometimes being in the silence is what the body wants.

I have never felt so intensely emotionally wrought, wonky, what-have-you, as I feel this autumn. There is a push-pull internal voice, a bully that can really twang at my organs, tell me the wrongness of something that seems so heartfully right.

I think, to find some kind of peace, I am going to have to build a routine. More so than already--more so than Mondays are submission days, Tuesdays are cleaning the house days, Wednesdays are those long days marching between buildings. I haven't gotten to Thursdays, though I know I teach, and Fridays are on again, off again, so it shouldn't even count. What I mean is: wake at nine and face the computer. Write. Find another regular pocket of the day to sit somewhere new, to absorb the geography, to write again. This is what these three years are about, yes?

Not reading novels from the discard pile! I must stop that naughty habit. Part of me feels that is the easy thing to do, that I can turn to those pages instead of the essays on the line break, or to reading Paul Celan's poetry. I'm afraid that if I am not fully present, I will be wasting the experience. But my mind can wander while reading books I know are destined for the mailbox and my friends' bookshelves. It is permissible.

I am forgetting the importance of these three years. It's time to commit.

I think so much about this journey is about adjustment, about reigning in the emotions. I know the same was true when I left to attend undergraduate school, and again the intensity of teaching for the first time, the first full time job. Change makes me weep in private in the bathrooms of this world, I think.

I wrote in my writing notebook last weekend Wednesday: "I shouldn't have begun to allow myself to unravel that sense of unbelonging or unworthiness--I have let it sour, let it knock me off kilter. I stutter when I face the page. I stumble. My brain feels clunky, like I could knock against something good, a turn of phrase that tastes like a fresh raspberry. I've lost my rhythm because I've lost my confidence. Perhaps I need to hole myself up in that 'poetry room' (the guest bedroom, the second bedroom, the former dumping ground and storage room) and read good things."

So here I am. Beginning routine.