Of mice and men and trying again

Gheyn-muisjeWhen we last left our heroine, it was mid-March and she was going to try to post once a week going forward. But, as Robert Burns said, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley…,” and my plans went pretty agley for a few months.

However, I’m willing to try again. I think it will take a bit to get back to once-a-week, as I’m under deadline for a couple of writing projects (including a rewrite of a paper on animals and uplift…which is fun, but totally off-topic for this blog), but I will promise to be here more regularly, as lots of exciting things are coming up.

Speaking of which, the one thing I want to do in this post is encourage poets, especially people who haven’t tried this before, to join the August Poetry Postcard Festival this year. As long-time readers know, this event has made August my fave month. It’s a truly freeing experience as a writer, and as a human being – well, I love getting mail (who doesn’t?) and getting see the work of some truly phenomenal poets. If you’d like to know more about the experience:

  • Here’s where you sign up
  • Here’s a blog post ruminating on last year’s fest
  • You can find one of Paul Nelson’s lovely mini-essays on the effect of writing poetry this way – freely, spontaneously, and with the internal editor set to “off” – here
  • And a guest blog post by Paul on postcard poems, the origin of this event, and why it matters

Wood Mouse
I’m really looking forward to this year’s fest. I hope you’ll join the community, too –

Ina

Slacking…and a kitten

1024px-RELAXED_CATIt’s a pity that the use of the term “slacking” has gotten so…well, slack, since it regained popularity in the late 70s/early 80s. But for lack of a better term, I’ll use it here: I have been slacking on this blog. There’s a lot of things behind said slacking, some Inevitable Life Stuff (ILS, should be a thing), some personal angst, some real life health issues.

Being in the process of recommitting to creative writing (long story, I’ll tell it once I can have a sense of humor about it), I’m hoping to post once a week and keep it up until even my mighty pen can’t cut through the crises that will pile up (because ILS, you know?). And for my first post of2015, what better than to start with World Poetry Day?

Someone who has not been slacking, poetically or otherwise, is lovely Linda Hofke, who wrote a better post than I could about the day today. So I’m just going to link to it here with no further comment:

http://lind-guistics.blogspot.de/2015/03/world-poetry-day-2015-is-today.html

And to make sure your World Poetry Day goes well, here is a kitten, slacking1024px-Wikipedians_cat:

On the links once more

Pebble Beach Golf Links, hole 7I think it says something about me as a writer (or as a person) that I find it more interesting to read about other writers than to write about my life or the writing process. I’m once again in possession of articles about writing that I feel much more obligated to share with other writers than whatever is going on in my own life, writing or otherwise.

I used to read a poem at the end of each biology section when I was a TA. Part of me thought I was crazy, but another part of my recognized the way that good poems work, with parts that each contribute to a larger whole, rather like a human body. And when you have a classroom full of premedical students, well, that just seems like an obvious audience. Glad to say that if I was crazy, I was also not alone: Maybe poetry and science aren’t so far apart after all

Cadena de barco para anclado

Kepayo, cc 3 license

I love Billy Collins – he’s not my fave poet laureate (that honor still goes to Ted Kooser) but I do like his lightness of touch and his ability to speak to basic human conditions. There’s a lovely little interview with him in the Washington Post. What I happened to love best were his thoughts on memorizing poetry; my mother made me memorize many, many poems (a lot of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems, which I’m afraid have been permanently embedded in my brain, leaving less room for what I’ve done with my car keys or whether I checked out 6 or 7 library books), and I think he’s right about what a gift that is.

An interview with the poetry coordinator of the Geraldine Dodge Foundation, Michele Russo, caught my eye for a couple of reasons. She calls herself more of a hobbyist poet but I recognize many of the signs of having a worthwhile job while still writing some, including joining workshops just to get oneself writing. If you don’t know about the Foundation and/or want to read a charming interview, this is a lovely read for you.

Broad chain closeup

Kepayo, cc 2 license

And last but definitely not least, we move away from poetry. This blog is followed by several people who are “self-published” or “indie published.” A letter by Roger Sutton (editor in chief at The Horn Book) about why he doesn’t review self-published books has been making the rounds on FB and twitter, and I’m curious…what do you all think about his reasons for not reviewing these books? (Here’s what Ron Charles of the WaPo thinks). He says that this is not nearly as much of a problem in other genres of self-published books as it is in children’s lit – do you think that’s right? Do you think we’re missing things by these books not being reviewed, and if so, what?

Only three more, I promise

Okay, I actually have three more links that I really want to share:

Lear Table and Chair 3Right Hand Pointing’s Issue 77 is, as promised, hilarious. The poem by Matthew Allen Thompson alone just made my evening.

Page 12 plum - Abundance, Burbank, German Prune, October Purple.jpg

Creative Bloomings has a lovely interview with a poet who has joined us in the past at inourbooks.com, Pearl Ketover Prilik (aka “Dr. Pearl”). I enjoyed reading it, and I also liked seeing how Pearl has built her creative writing over the time since we spoke with her. Plus it includes one of my favorite poems by Dr. Pearl: “Girls In Plum Sweaters.”

Lastly, continuing on the “I’m not talking about that NoCar poet laureate thingy” tradition, there’s a nice article in the NYT from a few days ago talking about the wide variety of poet laureates (and the requirements to become one) around the US. [Note to self: if this is an ambition, need to move to a state where every third person is not a poet]

So now I really am going to give the links a break for a while. Back to regularly scheduled programming. Unless you have a link to something really great which we really ought to share. In which case, drop me a line or tell me about it in the comments. Otherwise, this is it. Really. I can stop any time.
A garden party (taken from life) (HS85-10-8754)

Some Good Reads (and a kitten)

I don’t like creating posts that are “just” links. Over the last few days though, some confluence of good friends and good fortune has provided me with a variety of links to articles which were all, in their own way, really interesting. At least, in my humble opinion. So I figured, share the good stuff with our lovely readers. Thus:

Birth of the poetDear Editor, Dear Writer, Please Stop! A funny, reasonably concise summary of things writers wish editors wouldn’t do and vice versa. Some nice advice here.

Betty Adcock: of poets laureat I swore – I SWORE – I wasn’t going to say a word about the North Carolina governor’s appointment (and subsequent self-dis-appointment) of Valerie Macon as the state’s poet laureate. But Betty Adcock says so clearly what needed to be said that I thought, in case you weren’t already bored to death of the whole story, that this link (which  Ed Madden brought to Facebook) was worth passing on.

Best New Poets has their 2014 list of 50 best new poets out. A few of them I’ve read and loved (Corey Miller’s “Willow Lake Mine” is phenomenal, and while I haven’t read the Benjamin Goldberg poem mentioned, what I have read of his work is phenomenal), which I’m hoping is a good sign for this collection.

CascdiaIf you’re in Cascadia (as a NoCal gal, it’s unclear whether I count, but I thrive healthwise in Seattle. If it weren’t for my sun-loving spouse we’d be up there now. Of course, he’d say if it weren’t for his fog-head wife, we’d be in SoCal, so it’s always something…), the dates for the Cascadia Poetry Festival have been set. I know a few people who’ve gone and who loved it, so if you’re a Cascadian, this might be just what you need to refresh your spirit and meet other writers.

And in case links weren’t enough to make your day, well, here is a kitten:

Kitti cat

A kitten.

 

 

How I learned to love August (and you can, too!)

I am not a summer person. My version of the book would start “Now is the summer of our discontent.” I’m sure that there’s some deep seated reason for it…or maybe it’s just that I don’t like being hot all the time.California Desert Landscape 35

And of all the summer months, I used to think of August as the worst. The dregs of summer. The scrapings of the sunshine barrel. The flowers are blown; the grass is wilted; vacation is over but school hasn’t started. Everything is weary and jaded.

Two years ago, I discovered the August Poetry Postcard Fest. And lo! Now August is my favorite, favorite month – not just of summer, but of the year. Postcard AlbumSeriously, I think it edges out December, and that’s going some. It’s the combination of getting personal mail (I mean, it doesn’t get more personal than a poem written by a real person that your eyes see before ANYONE else’s)  and poetry! Amazing, personal, varied, creative poetry.

If you want to join the fun, it’s not too late. You can sign up until this Friday (July 26th), so just click THIS LINK and ask to be added to the mailing list. I guarantee that as a writer (even if you don’t think of yourself as a poet) this will be one of those experiences you’ll never forget.

See you there:) ~ ina

Blog Tour Continues!

I want to introduce you to two of my writer friends, whose blogs are “next-stops” on our blog tour:

Theresa_MunroeFirst, novelist TA Monroe: Theresa is one of the writers I’ve met on Facebook, and our FB friendship is one that’s very meaningful for me. She works really hard – really, really, really hard – on making her writing not just good, but great. Her book, Another Place on the Planet was one of the first ebooks I ever bought. A new edition is out and can be found on Amazon through this link:  Another Place on the Planet.

Her official bio: T.A. Munroe lives just outside of Phoenix, AZ with her husband, two cats and one very active puppy. She’s been telling herself stories all her life, but has only been writing them down for the past six or so. Another Place on the Planet is her first novel. Its sequel, Places Bright and Dark is scheduled for release in September.

Please check out her blog, where her “tour date” is currently being held, to find out all about this writer’s process: TA Monroe.

We’ll also be meeting the second writer I’ve asked to be on this tour: poet Daniel Ari. danielariDaniel is one of my few FB writer friends that I’ve met in “real” life: after hoping to get to meet him for years, I finally got to read with him and several of his friends at a gallery show, and what a lovely event it was! He’s a phenomenal poet (he won an early contest here on inourbooks) .Some day I’ll have to talk about their involvement in the best mother’s day present I think I’ve had: my husband surprised me with a trip to see them – I won’t say more now because it deserves a whole blog post. Let’s just say it was wonderful and amazing and relaxing (and I am NOT a relaxed chick, let me tell you).

Daniel’s official bio (which will tell you all you need to know about why I think he’s great):

Daniel Ari married poetry in 1987. Today the relationship is intimate and subtle like the flavor of vichyssoise. A poet, copywriter, teacher and performer, Daniel deeply loves words and is awed at their power, but he still needs help spelling vichyssoise. His forthcoming book One Way to Ask pairs poems in an original poetry form called queron with illustrations by 60 different artists. He has recently published poems and essays in Poet’s Market (2014 and 2015), Writer’s Digest, carte blanche, Flapperhouse, and elsewhere. He would submit poems to a journal, if one existed, called Vichyssoise.

Please check out Daniel’s blog Fights With Poems to check out his entry on his poetic and artistic process. And please top by his collaborative poetry and creativity blog, IMUNURI, to which I am going to be a contributor (if you can’t hear the 10,000 gleeful and excited exclamation points, just insert them in your imagination).

I hope you enjoy these two great writers as much as I do.

ina