Keep on Keeping on

Writing is so much about resistance. Resisting the inner voice that tells you your work is worthless. Resisting the external voices that tell you your perspective is worthless. Resisting the easy way out of a story or essay or poem. Resisting the very human impulse to put your work off for a day, a month, a year.

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Writing is so much about persistence – persisting even after a lengthy absence. Persisting in spite of the difficulty of putting your thoughts into words that others can understand. Persisting in spite of failure to communicate your vision. Persisting in spite of rejection by others. Persisting in your belief in what is important, good, and right.

The new issue of Baltimore Review contains a poem I began ten years ago that’s been rejected more times than I can count. Like a lot of my poems, it’s trying to share the love.

If anyone (including you) tries to bury your ideas, take heart in knowing your ideas are seeds. They will rise up.

 

Why We Need Poetry Written by Women

mezzo-cammin-winter-2017Kim Bridgford, the founder of the online magazine Mezzo Cammin: A Journal of Formalist Poetry by Womenis the best kind of revolutionary: one whose actions make space for the actions of others, one whose compassion expands with knowledge, one whose own art challenges the status quo with power, grace, and accessibility.

Bridgford brought Mezzo Cammin to life in 2006, when I was a formalist poet looking for places to publish my work. At that time, believe it or not, many poets were suspicious of online publication; print was what mattered. Today, many poets realize that online publication means their poems have a wider audience, and some of the most admired literary journals publish only online.

When I first submitted work to Mezzo Cammin, Kim took the time to make revision suggestions, and later published my work in issues that came out in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, and now, in the current Winter 2017 issue. Those poems cover subjects from domestic violence to addiction to poverty to the stigma of disease. As an editor, Bridgford has been open to all subjects, no matter how “unpoetic” those subjects may seem to others. The world needs poetry written by women: to make our experiences and our visions accessible to others, to give young women poets hope, to help keep women’s voices alive.

20100327-mezzo-cammin_0491-1In addition to publishing new work by contemporary women poets working in form, Bridgford also initiated the Timeline Project, a database of women poets throughout the world. Articles for this timeline are researched and written by contributors. This important work of preserving women’s history continues — check out the Timeline if you’d like to write an article about a particular woman poet.

On Wanting, Shame, and Artistic Ambition

Reblog from Sonya Huber — wise words about how taking artistic risks (including the risk of rejection) is scary, yet safe and necessary. 

You didn’t get the grant that would have affirmed your talent and promise. You don’t have a book to hold in your hands that would make all this flailing on the page real. You have been immersed in …

Source: On Wanting, Shame, and Artistic Ambition

Winter Isn’t Coming for Me

Here in North Florida, we do get frosts and even hard freezes, but the seasonal cycle is really more like spring-summer-fall-spring.florida-winter

For most of my life, though, I’ve lived in places with real winters: snow flurries, blizzards, ice storms, freezing rain, slush, slush that freezes into lumpy ice, snow-plow piles of old snow coated in layers of urban soot.

A deep winter, like the one New England experienced in 2013 – 2014, creates a deep silence, a deep sorrow. Snow muffles sound. Wild animals perish from starvation and cold. The weather brings on internal reflection. And then, some stunning, unexpected beauty — the blood-red life of a cardinal at the feeder, the chickadees’ energetic squabbles, sharply-angles sunlight striking an ice-coated branch.

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I don’t miss winter. But, I remember its power in this poem, Sheepscot Wellspring Cemetery, just published in the enigmatic magazine, Cleaver. Don’t miss their “Ask June” advice column, and all the other great poems and stories in the December issue.

Two New Poems at Noble Gas Quarterly

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Where do poems come from? It’s an endless mystery to me, although with these two I can at least point to specific events.

Both poems were inspired by surprising, unplanned interactions with animals. In one, an owl who’d had her tree cut down hissed at me. In the other, a renegade, runaway goat showed up outside my home in Maine.

Noble Gas Quarterly, by the way, is a legit venture — not to be confused with my “ignoble gas” satire, which is totally illegit.

Art by Kmye Chan, from the cover of Issue 203.4
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5 Steps to Safe Guns on Campus

My latest piece for Bullshitist.

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Note: The piece is a satire, but what follow here is not.

The Florida state legislature will consider a bill in 2017 that would allow people to carry guns on college campuses. Currently, permitted gun owners can not carry guns on campus, but they can keep guns locked in their vehicles that are parked on college property.

In addition to being a former college student myself, I taught college students for about 20 years. The institutions where I taught include state universities in urban settings and rural settings, and private colleges in both urban and rural settings. I have friends who still teach college now.

American college campuses are hotbeds of high emotion, high stress, and high alcohol consumption. I don’t know anyone in favor of allowing guns on campus, but of course I live in my own left-wing bubble. People break laws, but still, it seems both tragic and ridiculous me that students under 21 will be forbidden to possess alcohol on campus — because they aren’t mature enough to handle it — but that under this proposed legislation, they will be allowed to possess guns. Really?

It’s this sort of insanity that makes me turn to satire.

 

Adoptee Reading Resource Features WALK AWAY

Adoptee Reading Resource, a very cool site that I’ve mentioned here before, featured WALK AWAY on its December 1 blog. I’m super-honored to be in the company of other adoptees who’ve shared their stories, their challenges, their triumphs, and their research with other adoptees around the world.

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You know you’ve come across a cool blog when the tag line comes from international award-winning author and adoptee Jeanette Winterson: “That is what literature offers — a language powerful enough to say how it is.”

Winterson was one of my very first adoptee heroes; I identified completely with her story of growing up as “the different one” in a crazy house in ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT. Why? I think it was the first book I read after learning that I was adopted that had an ungrateful adoptee as the protagonist.

As Winterson has said when asked if ORANGES is a lesbian novel, “It’s for anyone interested in what happens at the frontiers of common-sense.” So yeah, it’s not just a lesbian novel, or an adoptee novel – it’s a book about making sense out of lies. A familiar task for many adoptees.

Lots of other awesome adoptee writers are featured on Adopted Reading Resource – over 400!

Petulant Tweets Cited as New Energy Source

Scientists thought they were dreaming, but it turns out that yes, there is a brand-new gas on the block – an emission created by petulant tweets that can be converted into energy. And it just might save the world.

“We thought we’d identified all of the naturally-occurring gases,” said Dr. Han Jimson. “This one escaped our notice because of its extreme rarity – until now. Shortly after the Republican primary ramped up, a researcher at radionuclide station RN75 in Charlottesville, Virginia noticed some off-the-chart readings.”

Radionuclide station RN75 is one of 80 stations worldwide that can detect radioactive particles in the air that may originate from a nuclear blast. A series of tests confirmed the rogue gas was unique, and tracer technology located the emission source – not in a nuclear blast, but in a long series of petulant tweets.

The new gas is actually an element, and will be included in the periodic table under a new column, “Ignoble Gasses.” The “noble gases” are so-called because they do not react with other elements. The new category of “ignoble gases” reacts to anything that gets posted on the internet.

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“We’ve named it Igorge, and its symbol will be ‘Ig,’” said Dr. Hanson. “Until now, we didn’t know where the hot-air energy used in emitting petulant tweets went. Now, that mystery has been solved, too. The energy reacts with electrons in the internet of things and opinions, creating Igorge.”

Unlike 20th century experiments that sought to derive energy from pre-social media gas-bags, the petulant tweet gas Ig can be readily harnessed by a process called “air-fracking” that sucks everything we once held sacred into a vacuum, and then extracts from it whatever bullshit capitalism can sell back to us.

Some environmental activists raised concerns about air-fracking’s effect on the overall concentration of available oxygen, but officials from the incoming administration assuaged those fears. “We’re entering a period of belt-tightening to make America great again. If oxygen levels decline, the American people will adapt, as they always have. Meanwhile, Igorge exports will bring in huge amounts of profit, which will trickle down to the average Joe. Igorge will be huge, huge, huge, and everyone will be driving gold-plated limousines soon.”

Scientists say it will take several generations, however, for brain and lung capacity to shrink and adapt in response to a reduced supply of oxygen. The current generations of humans on the planet can expect to experience periodic befuddlement.

Last week, I started writing satire. Bullsitist published my first one, “Operation Keep It in Your Pants.