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Stories From the Edge of Blindness

In 2002, Retinitis Pigmentosa changed my life. This is my story of a slow approach to darkness.

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poets

Barren Magazine

Barren Magazine has exploded onto the literary scene with a creative force that is unstoppable.  In just three issues, they have published some of the best contemporary poetry, fiction and non fiction, I have ever read,  by some of my very favorite writers.  It is an absolute honor for me that, editor Jason Ramsey, chose one of my poems to sit alongside so much beautiful writing.

It is made even more meaningful by the fact that he chose a poem inspired by my friend, Bojana, an immensely talented poet and writer.  This is for you, Gorgeous Lady!

You can read my poem here.  Read the whole issue, and the first two.  You will be blown away.

Best of the Net

I got an amazing surprise last night!  My dark little poem, “Stiff Trigger” has been nominated, by editors Kendall and Christina Bell from Chantarelle’s Notebook, for  Best of the Net!  This is a huge honor and I am so grateful.

 

Stiff Trigger

 If I used a razor, I would warm the blade,
delighting in the comfort of tepid steel,
and watch life pool in crevices on the floor.

If I took pills, I’d lay them across my palm,
sacrament for a wanting tongue,
penance doused in bitterness,
tugging on my eyelids with welcome force.

If I used a gun, it would be an antique,
with gilded barrels and a stiff trigger,
a relic of ravaged lives held gently to my lips.

 

*first published in Chantarelle’s Notebook
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pedestals of Glass

It feels a bit strange to be dropping in, posting a bit of poetry and curling back into my solitude, but here I am doing just that.  Although I have been missing all of the amazing writing and support that comes from this strange and wonderful WP world, I am taking some much needed time to immerse myself in collections of poetry, by wonderful writers such as Steve Denehan (just started reading his collection and you should too), and trying to get inspired to write my own collection, while continuing to learn more about the craft of writing poetry.

All of that said, I can’t resist a challenge and even during my hiatus, I can’t keep myself away from Visual Verse and TLT.  This month’s Visual Verse image was very provocative and brought about some gorgeous writing from some of my favorite contemporary writers.  If you are interested in reading my contribution to the challenge, you can do so here.

If you haven’t participated in Visual Verse, give it a go next month.  It is super fun!

Exercise

I have become a big fan of writing exercises, particularly ekphrastic ones.  I think that these exercises keep me on my toes, get my blood flowing when all I feel is lumpy and stagnant.  I like to be challenged as a writer, to be pushed into directions I may not go on my own.  Sometimes, amazing things happen.  Sometimes, the results are wholly uninspired.  But, no matter what, I am writing and even if I only end up with morsels from the exercises, I have words from which to build things that may have remained closeted and dusty.  The exercises also help to harness my focus and get me back to working on my collection (which feels like a herculean task, most of the time).  For prolific writers, these exercises may seem silly, but for those like me, who embody the roots of procrastination, I think they are a wonderful tool. Continue reading “Exercise”

A Poem in Foxglove Journal

I am thrilled to have my poem, “Reluctant Diver”, in Foxglove Journal today.  My huge thanks go out to editor Elizabeth Gibson!

Beware the Adjective

I have had the good fortune, in my writing life, of having mentors who chose to share parcels of writing advice that I keep with me as I travel this crazy path I have chosen.  I know I will have more wisdom imparted to me as the years pass, that I will seek it out from other writers and editors.  I have realized that, although being a writer is such an isolated act, we cannot do it alone or completely without guidance.  We all have our own writing process and practice, our individual voices, but we also need each other.  I thought I would write some posts and share some of the things that have been passed on to me; spread the proverbial wealth.  The things I share may be things that are obvious to most, but maybe there is someone who will read this and benefit, someone like me, who didn’t take the traditional writing education route.

In 2015, I started writing (poetry) seriously, after a very long dry spell, and decided to start sending my work out into the world again.  I had been pretty prolific in my early 20’s, writing a lot and sending my work out a lot, even getting a few things published, but then I stopped and 20 years went by.  When I began the process of researching magazines and journals, I looked for places that were open to emerging writers and had the good fortune of finding a journal with a poetry editor who would change my writing life.  Heather was the first editor to whom I submitted after my long hiatus, and to my absolute joy and surprise, she accepted 3 of my poems for publication.  We formed a friendship and she went on to start her own journal and to publish more of my poems, but she didn’t accept everything I sent her.

For her own journal, she would occasionally put out a themed call for submissions, and one of those themes was mental illness. In response, I wrote a poem about depression, which I felt was full of rich description and feeling.  She rejected it.  I can’t deny I was a bit surprised, but because I was fortunate to have become friends with Heather, she gave me a critique, and along with it a piece of advice that I will never forget.  She told me that a mentor of hers had offered up this phrase, “Beware the adjective”.

I was slightly horrified.  She wanted me to what?  To strip the adjectives from my poem?  But, the adjectives were what made the poem come alive…..or so I thought. I went back to my poem, and with much hesitation, took out the adjectives.  As I rewrote the piece and figured out how to say what I wanted without relying on adjectives, I saw the poem come to life and take on a sense of motion that the adjectives had actually slowed.

In usual form, I went wild with this new information and proceeded to strip adjectives from all of my poems, rewriting like mad.  It was actually fun and exciting to see how my poetry changed, but I had to get my feet back on the ground  and realize that Heather wasn’t suggesting I completely strip the adjectives from my poetry, just tread carefully around them.  Adjectives can be great when used sparingly in poems, but they can also get in the way of what a poem is really trying to say.

The poem she rejected is called, “Peach Pit Heart” and the revised version, relieved of the burden of (some of) its adjectives, was later published in Literary Juice, and again recently on Morality Park.

I am still working on my relationship with adjectives, but, “Beware the Adjective”, is something I will forever have in my writing arsenal.  If it seems too harsh, perhaps, “tread lightly around the adjective” will work better for you.

 

Epic Summer Issue of Sheila – Na – Gig

I am thrilled to have 2 of my poems in the Epic Summer Issue of Sheila -Na – Gig.  My huge thanks go out to Editor Hayley Haugen!

This is a huge an amazing issue with so many wonderful poets and poems.  There are also a ton of submission opportunities at SNG that all poets should check out!!!!

Poetry is Where I’m From

It seems only fitting to end National Poetry Month by re-visiting an incredible poetic adventure and challenge that I had the good fortune to be a part of.  It was a journey of words, histories, friendship, illumination, trust and absolute beauty; an exercise that showed just how powerful poetry can be. It was inspired by Brooke, a woman who weaves magic into everything she writes, and who invited others to find the magic within themselves, through poetry.  What could be cooler than that?

The extraordinary poems were written by, Brooke, Tom, Wulf, Bojana, Tanya, Miriam, Brad, Elizabeth, Steve,  and Kim

The adventure began with this poem from
George Ella Lyon.

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded–
leaf-fall from the family tree

 

Poetry Crush

My husband knows that I am madly in love with him and he also understands that every once in a while, I develop a poetry crush.  I can’t help it.

I discovered Jonathan Humble’s poetry last year, through some amazing poetry journals.  Every time I came across one of his poems, I held my breath and took in every word, as if each one was a gift.  His writing is achingly beautiful, steeped in melancholy and introspection, but as I read more of his work, I found out that it can also be  whimsical, satirical  and sweet.  His writing voice has immense range, and no matter what he is writing, he has an incredible power of language.  I know that, like me, once you start reading his poetry, you will develop a poetry crush of your own.

“Then it Rains”  and Invitation to Move On, are two of my favorite of Jonathan’s poems.  Read them, and then listen to him read them, and then read them again and again.  They are exquisite.

Then It Rains

You ask on my behalf to rise and leave,
to dress without the hindrance
of bootlace worms returning at our feet.

In vain we anticipate permission from spiders
who watch in shadows, spinning webs
that constrain all action.

Standing, squatting, sitting, we are opposed,
resisted. We are tangled marionettes,
linked with quantum string, each responding
with confused counter movement.

Blink my dears; so many eyes feel the tension
of our unseen bonds. These rainmaker thoughts,
connected across a web of reverberating nonsense
and countless coils, speak to me with jaded explanations;

there are no options again today. So you tell me
that we have to stay and wait.
And I have to listen. So I listen.
Then it rains.

~Jonathan Humble

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