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Archive for August, 2012

First day of 9th Grade for my youngest, just past dawn tomorrow morning.

The older kid? 11th Grade.

we don’t notice any time pass 

but I do….I see the empty nest on the horizon.

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It pains me to say it. It could be un-PC. It could alienate me from some in the local poetry community. I might look bad. The doorkeepers who are published could shun me from their presses. Really, who reads my blog anyway? I am fairly sure this won’t reach the eyes of the poets involved in a recent reading I attended at The Elevens. But you never know. Maybe part of me hopes it does. Maybe some of the people who’ve been running things around here need to hear from some of the young upstarts (writing poetry since I was a child, am I an upstart?).

For a few months, I have been trying to learn more about my writing as well as the local poetry scene by attending local readings, ones in which others read their work as well as some open mics. Some of the formats include both—featured poets and an open mic.

I went to one last-Sunday-of-the-month Esselon reading in May, the first time I had read my work out loud since I was in my 20s.

Let’s start there, my 20s. My younger self. My scared self. My virgin reading voice. My childless womb. My full blood and tits and ass. My eyes. My hair. My voice that cracked. My hands that shook as I held the pages. Me, pre-Alexander Technique training, pre-marriage, pre-motherhood, pre-peri-menopause, pre-sobriety, pre-I lead a helluva lot of Shape Note songs on Tuesday nights in Northampton. Pre-me coming into my full power. Yes. Me, easy to give a push to and I’d fall over.

Sunday afternoon/evening, August 26, was the monthly last-Sunday Esselon reading, except that this reading was moved from Esselon to The Elevens. Confused yet? Okay, not such a big deal, a change of venue to a better space and time is probably just what the doctor ordered.

Let’s go back again to me in my 20s. Kent, Ohio. Brady’s Cafe. JB’s Down. Outdoors, walking around, a poem per outdoor spot. Fred Fuller Park. The Cuyahoga River. Coventry. Drinking. Cleveland Heights. Poets who are now dead. Obnoxious poets who drank too much. Bars bars bars. Men Men Men. A few women. Some lesbians. Me, shaking scared unsure. Bad poets. Good poets. All poets influenced by The Beats, no doubt about it. My boyfriends. My mentors. My friends. My dying father. My dead father. Intimidating men. Children running around. A child I loved and my best friend, her mother. All of that informs me today and all of it informs what I know to be right about poetry readings. These were my people.

But not really. Just part of me belonged. Still, I understood what worked and I got what I know to be right about poetry readings.

RULE NUMBER ONE: If you are one of the readers, do your damnedest to stay and hear everyone read. IF YOU ARE A FEATURED READER, this goes double, maybe even triple. Maybe even to infinity. If you can’t stay, let the people around you know. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful. This is not about you. This is about Poetry and every person striving to share their voice after they just sat and listened to yours.

RULE NUMBER TWO: If you announce, online (or anywhere, really) the amount of time the reading will last and how long each open mic poet gets to read, don’t change it when the poets show up. In good faith, they have put their trust in you. In good faith, they expect you, their leader and the organizer, to hold them. When you say 5-7 pm reading, 5 minute-limit for the open mic, stick to it. Do not change the time to a 3-minute, 2-poem limit because you want to be at another reading and you assume all attendees will want to be there, too. Don’t presume to read your own work if you’ve already cut everyone’s time short. You invited us. Keep the table set until everybody has gotten their portion and be sure you stay to clear the table. Kiss some ass because we just kissed yours.

Oh, also, if a reading is in a bar and you are ordering a drink? Make sure that you aren’t cutting in front of your confreres who’ve been waiting in line longer than you. Capiche? This is really the definition of Bad Form and it’s extra bad form if it is your reading series. The host or hostess drinks last.

RULE NUMBER THREE: Know each poet’s name who you are introducing. Use BOTH first and last names so the listeners can catch who the hell they are listening to. If this is your reading series and it’s time for the open mic and every featured reader was not only introduced by first and last name but also their introduction included a short bio which mentioned their published works and publishing houses as well as the fact that they have books for sale, don’t screw this part up. Naming is what poets do. Show some understanding of this.

Needless to say, I shant be attending the last Sunday Elevens readings any more.

I do like the once-a-month Tuesday Straw Dog Writers Guild readings that are held at the Elevens, at least the 2 I’ve attended.

I have been to one last-Friday-of-the-month reading at Rao’s in Amherst and I will be attending it again this coming Friday. (Spoiler Alert: I will be a featured reader (SAVE THE DATE!) in September).

I just found another poetry series which happens every Friday night, 5:30-7:30, at The Thirsty Mind in South Hadley. Can’t wait to check that out.

Of course, there’s the every Tuesday night reading series at Hinge in Northampton, but as this is my yoga and Sacred Harp singing night, it’s unlikely I will make it often. Still, I hope to clear some Tuesday evening in the near future to check it out.

This sort of leaves Mondays and Wednesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays and about a hundred other venues in the Valley for me to fill with a reading of my own devising. Just like it’s high time I start my own writing workshop. You know how it is, you who flounder to be heard and seen and to define yourself both inside and against the tide.

You remember my bike n bitch tenet that there are no bad rides? Well, guess what? There are bad poetry readings.

Since the post is void of photos and is dry and boring and I know already too long, here I am. Giving the finger. Kiss my ass muthafuckacocksucka. Oh yeah.

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Happy Birthday, Annie Rose!

We moved to Amherst, Massachusetts from Kent, Ohio in August 2000. Within 2 weeks of our arrival, Annie had her 2nd birthday. That seems like forever ago.

This week, she will be entering the 9th Grade.

When my kids were just little, I remember a grandfatherly man telling me don’t blink ’cause you’ll miss it.

Annie as one of Tatania’s fairies in Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Hartsbrook School, May 2012

Happy Birthday to our dear Annie Rose!

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*this is a response, if not an outright explanation, which I had so wanted to avoid, to yesterday’s post

Lying in bed at night, the words come. Sometimes. Sometimes they are good words. Sometimes the words fit together well, bodies in motion, perfect Olympians. Maybe the sound is what holds them together: weir, withy, wattle. The time, the meaning, those can be binders, too. If I am lucky and my brain is on, the words fit together in ways that make sense to me and better yet, in ways you see that I didn’t. Peter Weir the Australian director. A withy basket, something I will never make or use. A wattle fence, woven. The book Cold Mountain which has these words in it. My friends who sang on the soundtrack. My daughter who read the book more than once, more than I did.

Repository? I just threw that in because every surface of my house is covered in clutter.

I thought of being silly. I thought of the types of poetry prompts that facilitators of workshops give out to students: use the following words in a 20-line poem: weir, withy, wattle. Use the photos: I am a rusty mermaid. I have rocks near my hands at all times. Do them separately, do them all at once.

I thought of the fun of my blog, quizzes, idiocy, random sensations floating together to meet in the language centers of my brain some nights.

Fuck it. It’s all bullshit to me. Sometimes the words come, unbidden. Sometimes they make sense. Sometimes you play with me. Sometimes you don’t. But that is what I am after. Come. Play. With. Me. With. The. Words. Of. Our. Choosing. We all win.

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weir

withy

wattle

repository

 ♥

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You have no idea how I’ve puttered around on this blog today, writing and rewriting meaningless posts about my busted rib, my pain, our travels, kinesio tape, my fuschia hair color, the ER at Emerson Hospital. The soundtrack to Moonrise Kingdom, the rainy Gogol show in VT last Thursday night, the wonders of the Alexander Technique when applied to physical pain, the movie Hannah and Her Sisters which I saw last night at the Amherst Cinema and on and on. You can hardly believe I’m real, right?

I am becoming squeamish about using the word fuck. I know it’s hard to believe. I think I heard Eugene Hutz use the word unjustifiably one too many times. I should not like to overuse the word. Can one fuck too much? No. Can one say fuck too much? Yes. I was going to title this blog post a fucking strange [poem] or something like that. Now I link almost everything onto Facebook and I am ever-more prudish about my language. But I would not overuse the word fuck, would I? I can be trusted. I will earn my use of the word; I will be fuck-worthy, I will not be fucking abusive.

This piece is odd and not so good and I wonder why I am bothering to post it. Fuck it, I guess you get the odd with the good, the good with the bad, the even with the off.

The Aquarium of Menopause

I am a membrane
I am a drum
the pink jellyfish
behind thick glass
the first thing you see at the aquarium

I am turned inside out
and overripe
asexual, a hermaphrodite
no need to spawn
in warm currents

I am pale froth
where my feet touched down
I will be sucked into a funnel
reversing course

Still, I miss the skin
that smoothed in my mouth,
your tautness at my lips

I am not this body
I am not this mind
resolutely bloodless

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I got a cracked rib

I got 2 teenage daughters

I got a roof over my head

I got my bills paid and money left over

I have sight in both of my eyes, parents who loved me

but still I got the blues sometimes

The only Bible I have is a Gideons that I bet my dad lifted from a hotel room, back in the day, like 50 years ago

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