Friday, April 29, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things:

Woooooooooosh! Moo Cows!

(somewhere along Hwy 441, near Milledgeville, GA)


Monday, April 25, 2011

Grad School: The Nintendo Edition

Jump! Jump!

As I go barreling (thanks, coffee) toward the end of my first year of graduate school (two classes, one portfolio, and an exam to go)...

Dodge! Dodge!

I can't help but to pause and reflect on all I've accomplished over the last ten months.

Pound a Barrel with a Mallet!

For example:

Helping students in the Writing Center became one of my favorite activities. It was extremely rewarding to watch someone come up with an idea or tell me later how they did on an essay.

I've written an annotated bibliography over a gaggle of composition theory books AND a more than 15-page paper based in said theory.

I created a Creative Writing teaching portfolio, complete with a syllabus, writing exercises, and lesson plan(s).

More of my work has been workshopped and scrutinized by classmates and professors--not a single tear was shed during the process (we'll work on after, later).

Completing 18 hours of graduate level credits makes me eligible to work as a teaching fellow in several states...and I'm only half-nervous about the prospect now...and the more confidence I have, the better--I start teaching Comp I in the Fall.

Stories have been sent out (and almost all rejected), but just knowing that my own work is being read by strangers is thrilling enough to keep me on task.

I went to Washington D.C. for AWP!

Reading literary criticism is getting easier, especially that related to Flannery O'Connor and the South. I'm catching phantom references to her work--and making my own unique observations.

Having an idea for my own creative thesis, a collection of related short stories based on a story I wrote last semester. What? I actually have an idea for my first collection?

It sounds as if I may have this thing figured long as I continue to jump, dodge, and pound the hell out of the obstacles thrown in my way!

SUPER MALLET, activate!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh Suffrage!

Quite poetic, if you stop to think about it:

(Equal Rights! Equal Duties! German election poster from 1919)

And I've been so busy these last two weeks, having survived Startling Figures: A Celebration of the Legacy of Flannery O'Connor, now I'm just trying to finish off the semester with a florish.

Hence the suffrage poster. It's loosely related to attempt at an apologia. Which, in less fancy terms, is an apology to my readers (those who will be reading my thesis, for example) in the form of an explanation as to why I write. Or what I attempt to do within in own work.

Just be confused for now, because I know I am.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

"...O that Shakespeherian Rag--"

Because I've already used parts from my favorite Eliot poem ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"), I present just a snippet (lines 121-138) of his masterwork. I mean, it's so involved he included his own footnotes...


The Wasteland
by T.S. Eliot

'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—
It's so elegant
So intelligent
'What shall I do now? What shall I do?'
'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
'With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
'What shall we ever do?'
The hot water at ten.
And if it rains, a closed car at four.
And we shall play a game of chess,
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.


(Poetry Month!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Because you are the way you are."

Dorothy Parker wore many hats: Poet. Satirist. Screenwriter. Feminist.

Although familiar with her as "an important woman" I did't read her poetry until recently (when I bought a used copy of her complete works).

(Within the company of others of the Algonquin Round Table)

Her poetry is sarcastic and beautiful. It's strong and classical, but modern at the same time. I decided to share one of her more critical of the opposite sex pieces. But she knew them well, men. So even her criticisms have a certain aspect of truth--which really makes them all the more honest.

by Dorothy Parker

They hail you as their morning star
Because you are the way you are.
If you return the sentiment,
They'll try to make you different;
And once they have you, safe and sound,
They want to change you all around.
Your moods and ways they put a curse on;
They'd make of you another person.
They cannot let you go your gait;
They influence and educate.
They'd alter all that they admired.
They make me sick, they make me tired.


(Poetry Month!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Introduction to Poetry.

I discovered poetry as a child through the world of Shel Silverstein. I distinctly remember listening to a recording of Shel and his guitar singing poems from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS.
(from the cover of the 1974 book)

Not only were the the words silly and fun, the book contained fantastic drawings/sketching that illustrated the action within the poems perfectly.

Boa Constrictor
by Shel Silverstein

Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don't like it--one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh my,
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle,
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread,
It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . .

(Poetry Month!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Janet (tries) to Read.

Once upon a time, I started a reading project.

It didn't last.

Nevertheless, I've tried to modify it.

Ironically, the reason things went array, has given me a chance to finish reading an author's complete volume of work.

Thanks, graduate school!

I realize Flannery O'Connor was "only" able to finish two novels and 32 short stories before she died from complications of lupus. But I'm still determined to read all the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (my original attempt).

EDIT: I have read all of Laura Zigman's novels (that should count for something because they're fabulous).

And I've even added a more contemporary writer on my list: Richard Bausch. The picture only shows nine books/collections--he has twenty. I've received another since this photograph was taken, which means I now have ten.

It is easy to be inspired to read (and write) when you're surrounded by others who do both.

Case in point, last month my MFA program hosted Julie Marie Wade. She won the 2010 Arts & Letters/Susan Atefat Prize in Creative Nonfiction. Not only did she read her winning essay, she also participated in an enlightening Q&A session.

I was lucky enough to spend a decent amount of time with her (dinners, coffee, and ghost hunting). What do writers talk about when they get together? Sometimes writing, learning, reading, teaching...

And I didn't feel like an Über Nerd. In fact, I felt quite the opposite.

NOW (today) I can say that I've finished her book--Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures as well as one by Bausch These Extremes. They were both so wonderful! It's just slow-going when you're writing scholarly papers and trying to write your own work as well (excuses, excuses).

"where would they carry me?"

(Self-Portrait by William Carlos William)

"Summer Song"

Wanderer moon
smiling a
faintly ironical smile
at this
brilliant, dew-moistened
summer morning,—
a detached
sleepily indifferent smile,
a wanderer's smile,—
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
where would they carry me?

(Poetry Month!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"...& all things folded in half"

I must admit I know this writer. Happily I met her this semester when she visited campus for a reading. You could say she is at least a double threat because her CNF (creative nonfiction) is amazing as well.
"Parts of Speech" by Julie Marie Wade

1) Cantaloupe; serendipitous selection; deep green of the vigorous rind

2) Salutation; coming or going, a wave is always the same

3) Curfew: I want you home with me, in bed

4) Helix, Entendre, & all things folded in half

5) Television; if you look hard enough, there’s a mirror inside

6) Circumcision, & other pilferings of the body

7) Polygon, encompassing an indeterminate number of sides

8) Sunrise: conversation piece & practical light

9) Euphemism—the one they forgot—the reason for two chairs at this table

(Poetry Month!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Dear love, I am that girl."

I actually used parts of this poem for my undergraduate graduation invitations. Seriously. I love it that much.

The Black Art
by Anne Sexton

A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.

A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.

Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious, precious.
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.

(Poetry Month!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Way Ahead of Her Time.

(short lines, slant rhymes, use of the dash...I have two copies of her complete collection--be sure to look for the one that retains HER own use of punctuation, a lot of the reprints use old, incorrect edits of her work)

(listed as poem 917)

Love — is anterior to Life —
Posterior — to Death —
Initial of Creation, and
The Exponent of Earth —


(December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886)

(Poetry Month!)


Sunday, April 3, 2011

"wishing for the present tense--"

Another poem introducted to me by one of those creative, beautiful people I'm surrounded by (Melissa, if you're nasty).

A Noun Sentence
by Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by Fady Joudah

A noun sentence, no verb
to it or in it: to the sea the scent of the bed
after making love ... a salty perfume
or a sour one. A noun sentence: my wounded joy
like the sunset at your strange windows.
My flower green like the phoenix. My heart exceeding
my need, hesitant between two doors:
entry a joke, and exit
a labyrinth. Where is my shadow—my guide amid
the crowdedness on the road to judgment day? And I
as an ancient stone of two dark colors in the city wall,
chestnut and black, a protruding insensitivity
toward my visitors and the interpretation of shadows. Wishing
for the present tense a foothold for walking behind me
or ahead of me, barefoot. Where
is my second road to the staircase of expanse? Where
is futility? Where is the road to the road?
And where are we, the marching on the footpath of the present
tense, where are we? Our talk a predicate
and a subject before the sea, and the elusive foam
of speech the dots on the letters,
wishing for the present tense a foothold.

(Poetry Month!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"--the longing that begins, and begins..."

I'm surround by a whole bushel of creative, beautiful people. And one of them made me aware of the following poem last month. Thanks Elizabeth!

by Kim Addonizio

Watching that frenzy of insects above the bush of white flowers,
bush I see everywhere on hill after hill, all I can think of
is how terrifying spring is, in its tireless, mindless replications.
Everywhere emergence: seed case, chrysalis, uterus, endless manufacturing.
And the wrapped stacks of Styrofoam cups in the grocery, lately
I can’t stand them, the shelves of canned beans and soups, freezers
of identical dinners; then the snowflake-diamond-snowflake of the rug
beneath my chair, rows of books turning their backs,
even my two feet, how they mirror each other oppresses me,
the way they fit so perfectly together, how I can nestle one big toe into the other
like little continents that have drifted; my God the unity of everything,
my hands and eyes, yours; doesn’t that frighten you sometimes, remembering
the pleasure of nakedness in fresh sheets, all the lovers there before you,
beside you, crowding you out? And the scouring griefs,
don’t look at them all or they’ll kill you, you can barely encompass your own;
I’m saying I know all about you, whoever you are, it’s spring
and it’s starting again, the longing that begins, and begins, and begins.

(Poetry Month!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

April is POETRY Month!

GOALS (from the Academy of American Poets):*Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets*Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways *Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum*Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media *Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books *Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry

How are YOU celebrating? I'm going to do so by posting snippets from my favorite poems/poets. And I figured it would be best to start with one of American's most "infamous" poems--written by Allen Gingsberg in 1955. Although I consider myself a lover and student of poetry, I didn't fall in love with this one until I saw the recent movie.

From the first part of "Howl"

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand
years. (Allen Ginsberg)

So begins April.



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