Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To get to writing again (some advice for the both of us)

This summer I worked as a PMT/ Positive, Teacher, Motivator, a title I found to be fancy for a camp counselor. Before the camp started, I thought I'd have a ton of time to be creative, to read, to write, to get back in touch with myself, to get in touch with my inner child. And now as the summer has ended, I've found, I was wrong about the writing and reading part, but right about the inner child, and the getting back in touch with myself. Working with 5-6 year old's is wonderfully exhausting, I give all of my kudos to year-round elementary school teachers. With less than a week left until classes begin, and until my regular teaching schedule resumes, I am trying to get back to writing, but not without feeling like an octopus with a few missing legs. Writing takes a rhythm, a dedication, an ability to shoot out ink at distractions, and I felt like I needed some advice. We can all use advice, even when we think we know the answers, it's good to gain/ re-gain perspective on the dance of it all. Here is what I found.(Sarah Monguso's advice from Fodder) What Henry Miller had to say can apply to us all. "When you can't create, you can work..." This part reminds to keep editing and submitting in mind or to read others' work, edit others' work, be a part of a writing workshop. And to "forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing." And especially, "Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it." Body Language Cheat Sheet for Writers? Yes! This body language list is helpful. How often do we fall into how we imagine others to move vs. how others actually move? And there are so many basic patterns to the way people behave, react, etc. We're all unique, but so the same. (Body Language) Last reminder: revisit John Steinbeck's advice. It can apply across the genres. I particually like: "If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Googled myself and found this

Thanks to the lovely artist who made this. I found it on It's a small literary world we live in. I am constantly thinking of collaborating with a visual artist to make a fun poetry comic... this has inspired me to think harder on the effort.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflections of Studio in the Woods

In May of 2010, I went on a field writing seminar to Louisiana. I have been thinking about the trip as of late because it's been almost exactly two years since I was there, and one of my co-worker's, Matt Decker, (check out his travel blog here: is on a road trip with his father, and his posts reminded me of my time down south.
As part of the travel writing seminar, the group kept daily journals. I recently pulled mine off the shelf and found myself reflecting on notes that I took at A Studio in the Woods in New Orleans. Some of my notes from the trip made it into several essays and poems, but some of what I jotted down stayed just as is: notes in a journal. I thought I'd share my notes/ journal scribblings from my day at Studio in the Woods here, not to allow them to take on another form, but simply to transcribe and to share my experience.
We were in a young forest that used to be a sugar cane plantation in the 1800's. Forests sometimes mature between 200-500 years. Our guide, David Baker, led us on a nature walk and he explained how the owners of Studio in the Woods were told they needed to eradicate the invasive plants, specifically the Chinese Privat Plant, the plant is like a shrub. Invasive species decrease growth rates of other plants... he explained how Hurricane Katrina, when removed from a sociological perspective will be good for nature as forests adapt to the category 3 (and above) storms in 20-25 years-- Katrina defoliated the canopy and broke it up.
(An Illustration from AD: New Orleans After the Deluge... a wonderful Graphic Novel by Josh Neufeld) The Hurricane flooded the city, not man, because the winds broke the levee, not men. Though others argue that it was the builder's fault. By focusing on the sociological perspective of Katrina, we overlooked the ecological perspective of the importance of the storm. When big trees go down in a storm, the canopy is removed and the trees are competitive. When the canopy is closed, the trees don't grow, they just hang out.
After our walk, we sat with Louisiana Poet Laurette, Darrell Bourque, and listened to him give a talk and a writing workshop. We listened to music by Dr. Michael White, a jazz musician and intellectual, who composed a song while at Studio in the Woods, he played music and the birds responded to the music, which helped him to compose "Dictation from God." I couldn't find the song online, but here is a taste of Dr. Michael White's Music. While sitting outdoors, surrounded by nature, Bourque asked us to consider Inscape---> What does it mean? What happens on the inside? Search for it in poetry, he said. More notes from his talk: Art & Science are related to one another: we are fated to be hardwired OR we are constantly in flux (ourselves, our cells, are telling us to be a bird or snake or something we are not).
(Picture by: Rosie Music) Poems are between imagining and analyzing. Locate a story and piece in the world you know (language that can be held onto)---> later it has to become more than language---> it has to live. Always look for divergence in your written work, move from the experiential world into the intelligences--->find whether you fly or slither. A meditation on death: How do you paint nothing? Paint life.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Typewriter Thursday

(Adorable Image By: Rebekka Seale)
I have just finished reading a batch of my students' argument in media papers that focused on the power of Internet and news, copyright laws, gaming, and all things electronic/ technological advancement, and after reading their words (funny I am reflecting here as this blog comes in the E-format), I got to thinking about writing on a typewriter, and how different their papers would be if we were focusing on media in the 70's, how much more would have gone into ignoring the backspace as much as possible (for fear of running out of correction tape). I also got to thinking about how much I love looking at typewriters: they remind me of animated creatures somehow. So after getting to thinking, I got to collecting (as I do) images of those now nostalgic mechanical devices, and I'd like to share them here, and my stories that go with them. This Cake album is one that stands out to me. I remember when I first got the Comfort Eagle cd, my sister sang along to this song with me, in a rather loud way. My favorite line was, of course, the first line. (This album also has the "We Are Building a Religion" song that my mom thought was "too weird" and turned off in a polite manner one day when we were driving together.)
A few weekends ago, I went to a wedding, and since my boyfriend was a groomsman, I had some free time to wander in an antique store, I fell upon these beauties (but thought $50 something was too much... oh the Eastern Shore in Maryland). I bought some gifts there, however, and I couldn't hold them all, so I asked if I could stack them on the cash register while I continued to look, and the very eccentric cashier told me, "Please do. I like piles." YES. Thrift stores and antique stores really do rely upon piles, and there is an art to it, the same way words sound like they are piling when being typed. And now some really great illustrations/photos (in no particular order)
Image from: A WHOLE AMAZING SITE... dedicated to typewriters.
Image by: Emily. Her work is so dreamy.
Image of how I may feel typing to all of you out there... friendly strangers though, I hope.
Found on We Heart It. This is good advice that I need to follow more often, we all should, even if it's just one line a day, and on that note:
(Image from ecojotter thoughts.) Ps. I am sure I will have another Typewriter Thursday as there are just too many fabulous images out there.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Found Poetry

The other day, my boyfriend and I were taking a walk through Blohm Park, as we made our way across a bridge, we saw the little lovely bit of graffiti above... what is poet illogic? I have so many ideas.
This poem relates to poet illogic... somehow: (From Hello Poetry) I'll Robot Make by: Francis Scudellari ...As my illogic breaks, I'll robot make/ to be this soul's chamber,/ robbing a piecemeal joy from misfit toys/ tossed out for fine tuning/ by toddlers cheery mad to gorge on fads./ I'll take their T-Rex head,/with droopy lids that wink as if to drink/the world's wide-shallow stares... For the full version go HERE
My eyes are always open to poetry especially in April, but now that it's May, I'm sad as National Poetry Month is behind us, but I'm happy for found poetry, always, always. Check Out: The Found Poetry Review. Thanks Andrea Beltran at Poet Tree for sharing. The Found Poetry Review is awesome in its mission and the things it does: as it defines and shares Found Poetry and all interpretations of such.
A literary tattoo project? Yes! Skin= Collected tattoos that tell stories. (Thanks for sharing Kim Brown!) Yes, let's look for it: poetry is out there, everywhere: on our bodies, on trains, on the sidewalk. It makes our lives more fulfilling even when we don't realize.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shady Side Review: Spring 2012 Issue Released!

(Cover Art by: Mihai Coman)

In March of 2009, I went to Nico's Recovery Room, in an ambiguous location in Pittsburgh, with my friends/ grad school colleagues. We went in for a beer and found a bar filled with characters. One man that stands out in my memory was wearing a large American flag baseball cap; the hat sat somewhat crookedly on his head, and tufts of hair shot out. As we walked from the bar area to the area with booths, non-fiction editor, Amy Holwerda, swears she heard a drunk woman lean over to her husband and say, "Honey, she looks like a librarian..." as I passed by. I was flattered to be considered anything but a broke grad student. That evening turned night, we all,Amy, Sarah, and I, sat in a green ripped up booth, and decided we wanted to create a literary magazine. Amazingly three years have passed since then, and we've stuck together, and maintained the same passion we started out with -- our poetry editor, Athena Pappas, who later joined us, adds to that passion.

With the Spring 2012 issue, our roots, once created in a hole in the wall, remain. We do have a tree logo after all... making it hard for roots to change, yet we've grown, and we have reached out from our original mission of publishing work that explores the world of "the other side of the tracks" in a hypothetical sense to work that explores the other side of the world, the other side of love, the other side of strangers, the other side of language. This issue strikes me as an issue that has both international and national focuses. We've added a visual art component to the magazine, and our first featured artist is photographer, Mihai Coman, whose work explores a cross-cultural perspective. Poetry features Kimberly Brown, Alissa Fleck, Steven Good, Richard Peabody, John McKernan, and Maressa Whitehead. Fiction features Anne Fowler, Ellen Mcgrath Smith, Vincent Rendoni, and Alex Reisler. Non-fiction features Robert Isenberg. Fiction Editor and Designer, Sarah Grubb, has outdone herself on putting together this one, go ahead, see for yourself. READ IT!