Wednesday, November 17, 2010

521: some poetry things

I wanted to make a detailed post on each, but October has given way to November and soon we'll be in December and everything will have slipped past.

DA Powell was a visiting writer on campus; he met with students for manuscript conferences, was interviewed by our literary magazine, ran our thesis seminar (this was the first session we were without Ray Gonzalez, who is on leave for the rest of the semester--wishing him a swift recovery), had a reading. He went out to dinner with some of our friends in the program too, and if Tuesdays weren't my marathon days, and my pregnancy hadn't/hasn't been slowing me down, I would have gone too.

As such, I took frantic and detailed notes when he spoke to us in thesis seminar, and I meant to type them all up here, but with the double-wrist brace and my building behind-ness at school, I won't. So many good things: about submitting manuscripts, ordering manuscripts, existing within the poetic world post-first book. We dreamed a little that afternoon, though admittedly, one of our peers has her own beautiful first book, and we know she'll have an excellent second as well.

October is also the Twin Cities Book Festival, and Jean Valentine was one of the visiting speakers. I fell in love with her that morning--she's incredibly charming and sweet and patient. Meryl and I wandered around the book festival, filling up on letterpress chapbooks, dollar-books at the used book sale, buttons and fliers for upcoming readings and releases.

After we went to the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, where they were holding demonstrations on the various presses. Meryl was just starting her mentorship and is now in the thick of it, learning all kinds of wonderful things about Vandercooks and impressions and all else, leaving me quite in the dust. I have great plans to catch up post-baby, however. :)

We had a late lunch with Kristin Naca too, a fantastic poet we met at Bread Loaf.

And in October, there was lunch with the poetry collective...

And another fabulous session of Alchemy: Yoga + Poetry. We drew with pastels and came up with a word to keep with us through our practice and generally felt content and full of happiness. My cup runneth over.

Oh, and Nicole Krauss came to visit campus before attending a fancy reading series, and we discovered she was a poet before she became a novelist, which might explain why I love her work so much.

October was a beautiful month, poetry-wise. And the colors and the company and so much else.

This month has been quieter, and with six weeks and one day left until the guess date arrives, I've become better at hibernating and silence. It's certainly not a time in my life to overwhelm; we have plenty at home to shift about, including returning our living and dining room to working order after Ryan's parents kindly helped paint a fresh coat of "antique lace" on the walls and ceilings, becoming charmingly paint-flecked and back-ached.

So blessed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

520: Duluth's shore

Just a few steps from our room in Duluth, we tapped along smooth rocks and took photographs of the water splashing up. On the last day of our trip, we drove out to the peninsula and visited the sandy beach, collected a few stones, skipped some others, examined driftwood and the sparkle of firewood.

One day we'll have a daughter, and we'll each take one of her hands, and we'll show her this town where her father spent his undergraduate days, where our relationship was young and we knew the things we always knew--that we'd love each other for the rest of our lives. There are places like this, where we trace our fingers in the sand or look closely at the way the tide shifts, and we know there is belonging between our hearts, and now, between three.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

519: 31 wishes

We spent the weekend in Duluth, and my cake was my favorite: carrot cake. And it was a beautiful weekend--perfectly peaceful and cozy and I must have gazed moony-eyed at my husband and said, "I feel so content, don't you?" a half a dozen times.

I've started my 31st year, and I've been thinking about my hopes for the year ahead. Here are thirty-one of them:

1. I hope my daughter's birth is gentle.
2. I hope my grandmother can meet her too: the baby will have her first name as her middle, and I would love the Marjories to meet.
3. I hope our decision for me to stay at home with baby will come more from personal freedom and not financial restraint.
4. It would be lovely to read half as many books as I did this year. I'm working towards beating last year's list of 220, which has a meager chance in 2010. Next year, I'm afraid my reading time will be limited, but I hope to not lose it all together. I love the way you can figure out when I learned I was pregnant; there was a bit of a distracted gap where not much reading went on.
5. I hope that my mother, her sister, their mother can find peace in saying good-bye to my Uncle Rob. He has lived HIV positive for over twenty years, and is now leaving this world with pancreatic cancer.
6. I hope that my younger sister finds herself on a career trajectory that contents her. She has such talent and is allowed to present it to the world in a limited capacity.
7. I also hope her summer wedding goes as she dreams and her marriage is as lucky and blessed as mine has been.
8. I hope my thesis manuscript finds its way into being a palatable book I might be able to send out to publishers one day. As of this writing, it's potential, but a delightful and neglected mess.
9. I hope Penelope's legs strengthen and she finds herself not desperately limping after her romps on Memorial Bluff and Hay Creek.
10. I hope we can get new carpet. That's been a long-time hope.
11. I hope to make tackling a thick Russian novel a winter-time tradition around here.
12. I hope to find time to continue to practice communal yoga after the baby is born, but if not, then I hope I feel confident enough to practice at home.
13. I hope my skin thickens at any reviews that might come out in connection to the chapbook. I hope I remember so much of it is individual taste.
14. I hope to break away from my own individual taste when evaluating books for awards or reviews. I hope I grow in the ability to appreciate a piece of literature outside of my own preferences, which are for lush figurative language, a clear setting, compelling characters. In poetry, I do have a fondness for lyrical and narrative both.
15. I wouldn't mind losing this pregnancy weight and then losing that PCOS weight.
16. I hope for another summer garden, this one with a new crop of asparagus and carrots.
17. I hope to find ways to rest and relax more. I hope to repair the whirlpool tub upstairs before the baby comes.
18. I hope the transition of bringing Sophie home will be smooth, that the pets, including the baby of the family Zephyr, adapt and grow to love her as much as I have the past few months.
19. Through knitting, sewing, letterpressing, etc., I hope to make art a more regular part of my life.
20. I hope to go camping in the summer, more than once.
21. I hope Ryan and I and the baby can go on a 'big trip' this summer, one that perhaps doesn't hinge on visiting family so much as going on a vacation together.
22. I hope she's healthy. And happy.
23. I hope my thesis defense in the spring will be full of strong and helpful suggestions and will indeed feel like a celebration.
24. I hope health care improves.
25. I hope the economy unslumps. I hope my loved ones are no longer battered from the consequences of a bad economy.
26. I hope to learn to identify more wildlife--both of the plant variety and the creature variety.
27. I hope to pick a classic author and read through the entire oeuvre, in order, back-to-back, marathon-style.
28. I hope to see all the organizations I support (and that, in turn, support me) continue to thrive. I hope to not see another bookstore close.
29. I hope to start the year with good thoughts and end it there as well.
30. I hope to improve my time management and goal setting.
31. I hope I am as lucky as I am now: my heart is full and blessed with a husband who startles me with his love every day, a circle of girl friends who hold me up when I am down, two sides of the family that make me feel loved and accepted, a wee chapbook that feels like the start of something good, a final year in the MFA program, a home full of books and pets and memories. I hope that blessed is a word I carry with me all year.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Some recent articles on the shifting world of books:

- New York Times: In Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks: I know some loads can be heavy, and the searchable features on electronic books are pretty amazing, but I still love that intimate contact with a book. And as an instructor in the literature and literature-related fields, I think we can stand to stick with the paper versions for some time. I know some universities have textbook rental, which is a nice, cost-efficient alternative.

- New York Times: Picture Books No Longer Staple for Children: No need to rush our minnow. She'll be inundated with all sorts of clever picture-books from our end.

- Wall Street Journal: New Libraries Technologies Dispense with Librarians: I'm grateful to read that our local librarian has spoken out against the shift. I love being able to wander through the aisles, going for one thing and coming away with another. And story hour and coming home with a stack, library days when I was little at the hat-library in Chattanooga. I want my own children to have affection for this place, their local library, and not a book-locker or a vending machine.