May Day

May 1, 2009

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So glad to turn the calendar page to a new month. May Day = mayday = phew, April is a wrap. I really have nothing against April usually. This time ’round though it was like deciding to have salad for lunch but using the big bowl so as not to create extra dishes. And then your fork falls in and gets slimy. So there you are, eating tasty, healthy foods with the annoying ick factor of the falling fork. That was April. Plenty of highlights all wrapped up in a lot of pain in the butt stuff.

May has started out raining but that is having no dampening effect on my enthusiasm for a new month!

Writing the Life Poetic: Author Interview

April 16, 2009

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Here’s a sparkly first for sparkly like a holiday: an author interview! My dear friend Sage has written a book. Oh yes she did! She did that while growing a baby and doing her day job writing for corporate clients. Can you imagine? I thought it would be fun to get an inside peek at her process and thoughts on poetry.

How does poetry make the world a better place to live?
I think poetry fills the gap left by the so-called objective truth that dominates our media, science and legislation. Many of us want to comprehend and communicate the complexity of human experience on a deeper, more soulful level. Poetry gives us a shared language that is more subtle, more human, and—at its best—more universally “true” than we are capable of achieving with just the facts.

How has integrating the reading and writing of poetry into your life impacted you?
I will risk sounding melodramatic in saying that poetry saved my life. I stumbled into a writing practice at an extremely vulnerable time in my early teenage years. Poetry gave me then, as it does today, a way of giving voice to feelings and ideas that felt too risky and complicated to speak out loud. There was a kind of alchemy in writing through such vulnerabilities…by welcoming them in language, I was able to transform the energies of fear, pain and loneliness into a kind of friendly camaraderie with myself. In a way, I wrote myself into a trust that I belonged in this world.

Do people need an advanced degree in creative writing in order to write poetry?
Absolutely not! Sure, poetry has its place in the classroom; but no one needs an advanced degree in creative writing to reap its rewards. What most people need is simply a proper initiation. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to offer such an initiation. My goal was that everyone who reads it come away with a sense of how to tune into the world around them through a poetic lens. Once this way of perceiving is awakened, anything is possible!

Why did you write Writing the Life Poetic?
While working with writers for the past fifteen years, I have observed that even the most creative people fear that they don’t have what it takes to write and read poetry. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to put poetry back into the hands of the people––not because they are aspiring to become the poet laureate of the United States––but because poetry is one of the great pleasures in life.”

Who is Writing the Life Poetic written for?
Practicing poets, aspiring poets, and teachers of writing in a variety of settings can use Writing the Life Poetic to write, read, and enjoy poems; it works equally well as a self-study companion or as a classroom guide. Both practical and inspirational, it will leave readers with a greater appreciation for the poetry they read and a greater sense of possibility for the poetry they write.

What sets Writing the Life Poetic apart from other poetry how-to books?

The craft of poetry has been well documented in a variety of books that offer a valuable service to serious writers striving to become competent poets. Now it’s time for a poetry book that does more than lecture from the front of the classroom. Writing the Life Poetic was written to be a contagiously fun adventure in writing. Through an entertaining mix of insights, exercises, expert guidance and encouragement, I hope to get readers excited about the possibilities of poetry––and engaged in a creative practice. Leonard Cohen says: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” My goal is that Writing the Life Poetic be the flame fueling the life well lived.

What was it like conceiving and birthing a book and a baby at the same time?
I often refer to my son Theo and Writing the Life Poetic as my multi-media twins! I found out I was pregnant with Theo about two months into the writing of the book and I was making final edits to the book in layout two weeks after he was born. It was fascinating to have two of the most potent creative processes I’ve ever experienced happening in tandem. What I learned is a great respect for the birthing journey; it is one that has completely rewritten me along the way.

I am writing a monthly column this year for The Writer Mama zine titled “The Articulate Conception” which chronicles my journey of becoming an author and a mom. Through the course of ten essays, I am exploring this double-whammy birth trajectory–from the twinkle in my eye to the bags under my eyes.

What makes a poem a poem?
This is one of my favorite questions! I’ve answered it in my book, but it’s a question that I’m answering anew every day. And that’s what I love about poetry. It’s a realm where invention is not limited entirely by definition; there is room enough for the endless possibilities of the human. Every time we try to draw a line around what a poem is, something spills over into the next frame, shifting the point of view and demanding new names: olive, token, flax, daffodil. A poem is all of these, or none of them, depending on the quality of light and how the blade in the next room stirs the night.

What do you think people’s greatest misconceptions are about poetry?
I think the three greatest stereotypes about the writing of poetry are:

  1. That one has to be a starving artist or deeply miserable to write great poetry.
  2. That reading and writing poetry are available only to an elite inner circle that shares secret, insider knowledge about the making of poems.
  3. That poetry does not fund prosperity.

I hope very much that Writing the Life Poetic helps offer alternatives to some of these attitudes and perceptions.

I’d love to conclude with a poem of yours. Would you be willing to share one?
Of course! Happy to!

Leaving Buckhorn Springs
By Sage Cohen

The farmland was an orchestra,
its ochres holding a baritone below
the soft bells of farmhouses,
altos of shadowed hills,
violins grieving the late
afternoon light. When I saw
the horses, glazed over with rain,
the battered old motorcycle parked
beside them, I pulled my car over
and silenced it on the gravel.
The rain and I were diamonds
displacing appetite with mystery.
As the horses turned toward me,
the centuries poured through
their powerful necks and my body
was the drum receiving the pulse
of history. The skin between me
and the world became the rhythm
of the rain keeping time with the sky
and into the music walked
the smallest of the horses. We stood
for many measures considering
each other, his eyes the quarter notes
of my heart’s staccato.  This symphony
of privacy and silence: this wildness
that the fence between us could not divide.

Thanks Sage! You and your book are an inspiration. Want to be inspired? You can get a copy of Writing  the Life Poetic here and learn more about it here.

Forgotten eggs

April 10, 2009

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I wrote a note to remember to hard-boil eggs to decorate. I compared two sets of instructions for the “perfect” results. I put eggs in the pot, cold water over the eggs. I turned on the stove. I checked them once or twice as they neared a boil. Then I forgot them. For 15 minutes give or take. I didn’t actually remember them until I went back to the kitchen for water and had a moment of shock. There were the eggs jumping around at full boil. For 15 minutes. Or maybe longer. I wouldn’t know. I forgot.

I wonder if I made rubber? I wonder where my sharp-as-a-tack memory went. I wonder what these lapses foreshadow. After all, I’m not that old. Sigh.

Upstairs Downstairs

April 9, 2009

Well, hello there. It might seem from my rather conspicuous absence that I have forgotten I have a blog. Actually, the lack of blogging has been nagging me like the way that little voice inside your head pipes up when you’re contemplating eating ice cream for dinner. I just haven’t felt very blog-y.

In an effort to break the “another day, another no post” that has become all too routine, I decided I had to post before I could have lunch. And I’m hungry. So there it is then. Time to blog!  Time to share the big ta da and fruits of much organization labor over the past couple weeks.

Behold, the closet.

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Yes, this is the closet that was so jammed with stuff that I couldn’t find anything, never mind actually get past opening the door.

The baker’s rack came to the rescue. Nestled inside the space, it houses so much in lovely order and there is still room for the industrial file cabinet that holds the many files I seem to produce on a regular basis. I can see and find everything in an instant.

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Throughout the weeding and sorting process there were many a “so that’s where that went” and “why do I have this?” moments. What hasn’t been recycled or donated has gone into storage in the basement.

Now the basement seems to be multiplying with stuff. For every box I bring down there, four seem to grow. It’s packed again … just like last year at this time even though it’s been cleaned out twice meantime. How is that possible? Guess I know what my “once the rain stops but before it gets sweltering” spring/summer project will be.

Funniest April fool’s comment

April 1, 2009

On call with a client today … a client who is also a friend …

Me: Are you doing any April fool’s jokes?

Tanya: Are you kidding? My whole life’s a joke.

Both: hysterical laughter; business at hand quickly forgotten.

Pin cushions go corporate

April 1, 2009

Back in January I tried out a pattern for square pin cushions. Cutting fabric for 3 took hardly more time than for 1 so I figured I’d make several knowing that Miss K would want one (just because she always wants one of any new thing I make, and then I find it months later forgotten in a drawer) and I’d want one, and there would be one to give away.

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The one to give away went speedy quick to my friend Lauri who has redefined the pin cushion’s role. It’s not just for home sewing anymore …

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That’s the frog pin cushion right at home in her office. Her company recently moved in to new digs and she didn’t want to mar the walls by tacking up pages while working on projects that need a big picture view. So she hung ribbon and is using pins to affix the pages. How clever is that?

Happiness is …

March 25, 2009

… a restocked supply of bubbly water (will maybe last a week)

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… baseball games (of the little league kind)

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… fresh flowers (is there a word more fun than ranunculus?)

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Photo op

March 18, 2009

You’d think that having both of your sisters in town would result in quite a collection of fabulous photographs of the hip aunts and their adorable niece.

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But no.

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Apparently we are avoiding the paparazzi these days!

Ghost in the toilet and fly in my coffee

March 13, 2009

The upstairs toilet began flushing itself every 10 minutes or so yesterday. A very confused fly who went in the wrong direction when the screen door was open to the very welcome sun, panicked and tried to drink my coffee. An “add sparkle” client assignment has mysteriously grown in word count and now I have to figure out how to put it on a diet without losing the glitter. All in the next hour.

But that’s OK because it’s Friday and I have:

:: a huge glass of sparkling water

:: a new cup of coffee with cream

:: plans for sushi and tapas (but not in the same evening)

:: my sisters to hang out with

:: sun pouring through the house

:: fabric cut out and ready to go

:: nails painted Vixen

:: first baseball practice for Miss K to look forward to

:: more aprons to make (this one is for my very cute mom)

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You could do a party around that

March 12, 2009

I seem to amass large quantities of bits and pieces despite my best efforts to pare down and simplify. A handful of green Chinese takeout-style containers? Better keep that. The cute set of 12 footed dessert dishes. Better keep that. The bottles that once housed Italian sparkling water that have a great shape? Keepers for sure.

Why? Well because you could do a party around that. Those words come out of my mouth anytime I critically target the bits and pieces for the recycle bin. And when friends are clearing out cupboards.

One friend asked if I was planning a party after I exclaimed over a mismatched set of white plates big enough to serve as platters. Hmmm, not at the moment. But I might. And if I did those mismatched plates could become the central backdrop of, say, a dessert party where everything is dressed in white to make the colorful cakes and treats stand out.

Or those bottles …

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Imagine them parading down the center of a brunch buffet, filled with colorful juices (thanks Donna!).

I suspect that the collection will continue to build, so I should probably concentrate on snappy storage solutions.