Saturday, July 27, 2013


I'm hoping to leave town tomorrow (oh God. It's today) by 10 or 11 a.m. I'm heading to Ashland, Ohio, to Ashland University for my last MFA residency. This is the one where I defend my thesis, that manuscript of poems that talk to each other.

And they do, my poems, talk to each other. They talk to each other more than they talk to me these days.

I defend my thesis the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 1, second poet. My dear friend, Sarah Freligh, defends Wednesday. She's going to set the bar high.

I know my work. I know how it came to be. I have learned so much more about poetry than I thought I could, even to know that I know nothing.

But when I stand up there in front of my committee and anyone else who chooses to witness my defense (chose an open defense despite my shy, introverted, recluse tendencies. I need my friends), how will I manage to articulate my experience? I've been writing and writing and writing toward this defense. I tend to draft things in the shower but never manage to get to paper and pen or computer soon enough to capture it. I'm a terrible public speaker.

I stutter and stumble and can't seem to get the words out around my awkwardness.

I'm going to have to perform. I'm going to have to play Elizabeth as a character or Elizabeth performing a poem. I CAN perform. I'm not wonderful, but I turn heads now and then. I surprise people because at ground level, I am mousy. Get me into a role or a poem or a persona, and I'm huge and loud.

So. That's what I'll do.

Now I just need to find time to shop for bread, cheese and produce and to finish those damned critiques that I know my classmates don't really need because they are awesome.

My lucky charm is a rap CD my daughter and two of her closest friends (well, one is her girlfriend) made for me. It's hilarious and raunchy and everything that anyone on the Ashland faculty might think is non-poetry. But these three girls invading my house at 11 p.m. or so, handing me this wonderful/terrible mix/loving me whether I'm their mama or their dear friend's mama, that's poetry. That's love. That's life. And even if I end up barfing into a bucket when I try to defend my terrible manuscript, I don't care. Because I have this CD and these beautiful girls.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

stormy weather

One of my favorite books when I was a child, a book I still read now and then, was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. It begins with Bulwer-Lytton's famous bad line, "It was a dark and stormy night." But L'Engle's book isn't bad, and that line suits the novel's tone and the main character's mood and temperament. I've always loved it. I kind of want to start or end a poem with that line, or maybe repeat that line throughout a poem having nothing to do with a dark and stormy night, experiment, see where I go, see what narratives arise.

Today, we are experiencing (more) storms. It's a dark and stormy evening. Every summer, we get storms like these, some summers the storms are fierce and damaging (like last summer). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll sneak out of July without major flooding or long-term power outages, but, manohman, the storms keep calling up their storm friends and shouting, in their drunken storm voices, "HEY! COME ON OVER! THERE'S A LOCAL BREWERY ON MUSKINGUM AVENUE. LET'S GET SHIT FACED AND RAISE SOME HELL FOR A FEW WEEKS!"

And, yes, storms talk in all caps, in case you were wondering.

I don't really mind as long as the power doesn't go out and I'm not stuck out someplace wearing flip flops that make me skate instead of walk (my father used to call flip flops "slides," which makes/made total sense to me since I always slip when I wear them in the rain. He also used to call them "chower choos," a not very funny joke he somehow made charming).

My daughter, her friends and I cut short the pre-college shopping we were doing because the sky turned octopus ink black, and the wind picked up. We're all safe indoors (though not in the same places).

It's a good evening to read more poetry, to work on my thesis defense, maybe to work on some new poems that are scuttling around in my brain. I found a last line in an Alicia Ostriker poem that I want to use as a first line in one of mine.

I guess I'm experiencing a perfectly poetic storm.