Monday, August 31, 2015

#EveryBrilliantThing August Roundup

This year I am keeping a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant ThingHere's my post about it. 

And here is my list for AUGUST! (For September, my goal is to resume posting these daily on Twitter! We'll see. :)

Red suitcase.
Exercise ball.
Roman shades.
The Bird Girl.
Sweet and sour sauce.
Early morning walk on the trail.
Digital scrapbooking.
Fabric in the mail.
Book signed by author.
Reuseable grocery bags.
Sea bands.
Tinted moisturizer.
Walking on the beach.
Easy as Sunday morning.
First day of school.
Used book stores.
Lunch on the back porch.
Supper on the back porch.
Double-yolk egg.
Finishing a quilt.
Baby wipes.
High school football.
Fresh cantaloupe.
Cello teacher saying I'm becoming a “sturdy” player.
Rick Springfield singing Katy Perry's ROAR.
Dancing in moonlight.
Empty highway.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"There Is More Than One Way to Starve." - Sherman Alexie

Earlier this year I visited Dachau Memorial Site, just outside Munich, Germany.

Earlier this month we watched again (with son) Schindler's List.

Earlier this week I read to my son "An Indian Education" by Sherman Alexie, which is a brilliant piece and contains the sentence in the subject line.)

Yesterday I finished listening to THE OLD BROWN SUITCASE by Lilian Boraks-Nemetz, narrated by Sofia Newman (thank you, SYNC free summer audiobooks program!)

Which brings me to today, Poetry Friday. Please visit globe-trotting Sylvia at Poetry for Children for Roundup!

My offering is Part 6 of Alexie's 7-part poem "Inside Dachau" It's powerful in its straightforward simplicity, and it's helping me to find my own words as I attempt to write about how I, a white 21st century American woman, relate to to these (and other) holocausts.

6. after we are free

If I were Jewish, how would I mourn the dead?

I am Spokane. I wake.

If I were Jewish, how would I remember the past?

I am Spokane. I page through the history books.

If I were Jewish, how would I find the joy to dance?

I am Spokane. I drop a quarter into the jukebox.

If I were Jewish, how would I find time to sing?

I am Spokane. I sit at the drum with all of my cousins.

If I were Jewish, how would I fall in love?

I am Spokane. I listen to an Indian woma
n whispering.

If I were Jewish, how would I feel about ash?

I am Spokane. I offer tobacco to all of my guests.

If I were Jewish, how would I tell the stories? 

I am Spokane. I rest my hands on the podium.

If I were Jewish, how would I sleep at night?

I am Spokane. I keep the television playing until dawn.

If I were Jewish, how would I find my home?

I am Spokane. I step into the river and close my eyes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Over in the Wetlands by Caroline Starr Rose

The storm gets dressed in beautiful language and pictures in OVER IN THE WETLANDS: A Hurricane-on-the-Bayou Story by Caroline Starr Rose, illus. by Rob Dunlavey.

Welcome to the bayou, where silky mist weaves, clouds are cotton tufts, and Caroline employs powerful verbs and images to move the story forward:

crab babies scuttle
wind stirs moss like silent bells
cypress are salted with an egret flock
dark clouds snarl
egrets cower between cattails (as seen on the cover!)
marsh grass clutches
bulrushes dance
black bear shambles, whuffles


Mama gator is a swamp chauffeur.

Beautiful! I'm gifting this one to my turning-10-today nephew who was born in middle Tennessee while Katrina was pounding New Orleans. Happy Birthday, Levi!
MadiLynn, Eric, LEVI, MicaJon

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Will Have Poetry in my Life.

All summer we've been watching movies with our 15 year old -- classics, Oscar winners, personal favorites. It's been a cultural experience! And it's been hugely inspiring. And gratifying. I mean, what joy to share with someone you love a piece of art you love! And how wonderful to revisit, after so long?

One that had me smiling pretty much the entire movie was SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. 

I was inspired to create this graphic from one of my favorite movie quotes ever. Enjoy!

By the way, Son's favorite movie of the summer so far: The Shawshank Redemption.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sharing my Summer Poem Swap Lovelies!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup. 
I'm delighted to share with you a bounty of summer loveliness from my Summer Poem Swap poet-sisters Heidi Mordhorst, Margaret Simon, Donna Smith, Jone McCulloch and Joy Acey! THANK YOU, ALL. And to The Poem Swap Queen herself, Tabatha Yeatts, mwah!

from Donna, a poem-puzzle inspired by our Baby Tiger Encounter with Boris!

from Heidi, a jar to keep my #EveryBrilliantThings! So thoughtful!

from Jone, a short poem (of course), which I love... and YES, we're allowed to revise!
Love these summer-kiss-ery beginnings. :)

from Margaret, an inspiring "One child" poem (I will write my own soon, and put it next to Margaret's in this sweet little notebook she gave me!)

from Joy, poetry & paint to celebrate the desert experience of summer! (Little did she know one of my works in progress is set in Death Valley National Park during July!)

And now, because I can't help myself, a little poem that uses a picture I took earlier this year at Jekyll Island and borrows a line from each of their poems! Thank you, ladies!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Poems for Old Poets

I'm excited to share with you today two books by Alabama poets who have been writing for decades! And neither is afraid to write about old age or old poets or what life is like in their current chapter.

Isn't that marvelous? I hope to be just like them someday.

So, first, from Betty Spence, a lovely Mobile poet I've been lucky enough to meet a few time and publish in Birmingham Arts Journal: TRACES OF PRESENCE by Betty Spence . Here's one of my favorite poems in the book:

The Richer for It
- after May Sarton, "Coming into Eighty"

I think I shall live to be eighty-something --
I've seen how loath old poets are to leave.
stick-figures in wind-puffed sleeves
staring down an ocean of words unsaid
languishing for want of naming things
to others and themselves.

I've seen them piping like shore birds
on finding half-buried in the sand
a bottle thrown into a river at flood stage,
a bottle, for all I know, bearing the words:
Write the vision, make it plain.

For all the times time has hurried me
I think I shall live to worry time along.
Already half-past the wakefulness of noon,
I'd like to live to sleep-in, sleep off poems,
live until lines in my face story forth,

love long enough to give away whatever
to whomever I please and be the richer for it.
I'll say goodbye but once -- and that at the gate.
You can, if you like, watch me out of sight.

-- Betty Spence

Next, the latest book offering from our current Alabama Poet Laureate, Andrew Glaze, who is still writing in his 90s! (And to think, I wrote a poem for him entitled "I Want to be Eighty-Five," and here he is a decade later, still naming things and chasing down words.)

His new book, OVERHEARD IN A DRUGSTORE by Andrew Glaze includes a poem he wrote for me called "Climbing the Sky," and it makes me feel so tender and grateful that I can hardly talk about it (though I did try at the release event this past Sunday -- see pic below of me and Andy!). But there's another poem on the theme that I'd like to share with you today.

Old Poet

Clouds don't come at him any more
seething inside with green fire nor
does the skin of lovers often proclaim,
like a trumpet, fearful surprises.
And where are the river-roads that once he attended,
the quarrels that whistled around him like bullets,
the streaming tracks that swept him along come midnight
with the gift of a single mountain lantern?

Wherefrom are the words that used to hurt,
that hurt now twice as often, --
and were are the friends he loved enough to wish
he might give them a bit of his time on earth.
Also, old man, why can't left encounter right
anymore for a battle?
And where are the rattling snare drums of daylight?

Why do there not canter up these days
poems that stamp the hoof,
and offer the bridle, so he must clamber top-side
the saddle, and set himself to thunder off,
not caring to guess where the gallop goes,
or by what fork of the road,
or by what fork of the road.

-  Andrew Glaze
and finally, May Sarton's title poem from her book COMING INTO EIGHTY:

Coming into Eighty

Coming into eighty
I slow my ship down
For a safe landing.
It has been battered,
One sail torn, the rudder
Sometimes wobbly.
We are hardly a glorious sight.
It has been a long voyage
Through time, travail and triumph,
Eighty years
Of learning what to be
And how to become it.

One day the ship will decompose
And then what will become of me?
Only a breath
Gone into nothingness
Or a spirit of air and fire
Set free?
Who knows?

Greet us at landfall
The old ship and me,
But we can’t stay anchored.
Soon we must set sail
On the last mysterious voyage
Everybody takes
Toward death.
Without my ship there,
Wish me well.

- May Sarton

Andrew Glaze & me at book launch Aug. 16, 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gone Fishin' & Other Beach-y Magic

Last week we took a quick trip to Orange Beach, Alabama, to hang out with the kids, enjoy some seafood and do a little fishing!

a view from the back of the boat GETAWAY a
we cruised out from Orange Beach early-early 
onto the Gulf of Mexico for five hours of fishing. 

Sportsman Marina at dusk

Paul took this one of us at the pier: Eric, me, Daniel, Amalee
(who was the Queen of Fishing! She caught the first fish, the only one of us t
o catch 2 on 1 pole, and  she hauled in the biggest fish!)

Paul and me at the seashore

Boys are never too old to dig a big beach hole (and play in it!) 

Fish! Mostly white snapper and one lonely Spanish mackerel (we also caught red snapper and triggerfish but had to throw those back, since the season is over).
Deckhand Thad did a great job for us!

Sneak Peek of some lyrics from "Beach Trip" (it's a love song!):

"Anyway I'm still looking out into the night
Listening to music thinkin bout you while I write rhymes
I can see a bunch of people on the beach with flashlights
Looking for treasure, but I found mine"

Friday, August 7, 2015

On Poetry & Dancing

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tabatha at a favorite blog of mine The Opposite of Indifference for Roundup.
Audrey Hepburn

This past week I read a fascinating book called DANCERS ON DANCING, edited by Cynthia Lyle. It's an out-of-print book (1979), and it includes exclusive interviews with ballet dancers, modern dancers, and choreographers. I learned so much about the dancing world! Dancer go into the profession like any other athlete - knowing their dancing time is limited. And basically to be a dancer is to be someone who experiences pain -- and dances through the pain. I'm interested to find out where these dancers are now, 30+ years later.

Throughout the book I was reminded again of how all art is essentially the same. Today I'd like to share quotes from the book the resonated with the writer in me... and then I'll share a dance poem!

When things aren't going so well...
"The only solution is to find a way to get back into my dancing, just to do that as well as I can and enjoy it. Then I'm all right again. Then I can keep going. There are always friends saying, "You know, you really should be doing this role. Why aren't you doing it?" And sometimes I start to think, "Yes, I should be doing it." But I'm not doing it. And I can get so confused by what I want and don't have that I forget what I do have. That isn't everything, but it's good enough."
 - Martine van Hamel

On moodiness...
"Dancers are very neurotic people. We are either depressed or very happy. We are always at either one extreme or the other. Frustration before I get onstage often brings out frustration onstage. We like to dance; when we don't dance, we get depressed. If we do a bad performance, it's hard to forget. We are always striving for perfection, which we know we will never attain. A dancer is a creature of moods. The happiest times for me are when I'm performing."
- Ted Kivitt

On strengths and weaknesses...
"I have a very soft and limber back, which makes it very difficult to pirouette. I always have trouble with pirouettes; it's my biggest hangup. But since I passed thirty, I look at it in a different way. I don't dream about doing ten pirouettes because I'm not capable of doing that many. I have learned to accept both my strongest and my weakest points. My strongest point is that I have a very good sustained elevation for jumping, which for a male dancer is very important. I try not to show off. Instead of trying to do eight pirouettes I do three, but I try to make them very clean and very definite. I work on my weak points, but I don't take chances and I don't get mad. I know my limitations and I try to work with them, not to resent them."
- Ivan Nagy

On criticism....
"One thing an artist can't do is judge himself or herself objectively. It's impossible -- mirrors and pictures don't do it for you. Somebody else has to judge you. And then it has to be a great eye to do you justice, to do the most for you by criticizing you, by keeping you in your place and yet challenging you too.... You struggle to improve them every day and to assert what is already good. It's a process that never ends. I personally think it's the only way of existing."
- Violette Verdy

found at

On competitiveness....
"I think it is healthy to be competitive with yourself, but not against each other."
- Arthur Mitchell

On finding your purpose...
"There's a period that dancers have to go through, I think, in which you just have to get out on stage and try anything, because the way you should move hasn't crystallized yet."
-Judith Jamison

On advice for young dancers...
"I go into colleges and tell them all to forget it, because I think that a little discouragement is the most I can do to help them. They should know what they're getting into. And I've always believed that unless somebody really has a very big need to dance and feels absolutely driven and has some kind of a real dream about it, he shouldn't take up people's time.... So I think it's best to tell them the worst."
- Paul Taylor

On the role of the critic...
"The critics should build audiences; instead they destroy them by writing disparaging reviews with a narrow outlook. It's very serious, when your economics depends on your audiences."
-Murray Louis

On fame...
"For me, I've done the work. That's enough. What I feel is enough. I don't like getting the applause and adulation."
-Anna Sokolow

also by Rumi! You can buy this one at Etsy's Raw Art Letterpress.

On why we love what we love...
"You hear a piece of music, and you've never heard anything quite like it. But you're drawn to it. Why? Because you sense the truth in it. The same in painting. Art presents the truth in many ways."
-Anna Sokolow

On where art comes from...
"All these dances come from my stomach - that is the creation point. I don't understand why dancers call one piece "Flower," the next dance "Storm," the next dance "Untitled." If there is only one creation point, and from that all dances come, why they have to make up other titles with their minds? That's very stupid to me. That is like decorating."
-Kei Takei

Now for my single, solitary dance poem! It's from a series of historical women poems I wrote and is included in my book of poems THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS.

Audrey Hepburn at the Dance Studio

Born for arabesque and cabriole,
I could not pirouette my way

through the occupation, could only
perform in my mind pique turns

and side leaps while I scratched
dirt with fingers, unearthed

tulip bulbs and ground them
to flour. Between loaves

my bones began to wither
and crack, hunger dissolving

the fine arches of my feet,
the graceful curve of calf.

When the war ended I stumbled
into a different dream.

And for all it’s given me
and all I’ve become, I’d trade it

for this mirror, this bar,
one night on some great stage,

my body fluid as sunlight
breaking over a field of wheat.

- Irene Latham

Monday, August 3, 2015

A "Wild Horses" Adventure for my WILD Year

wall of Marguerite Henry books
at Chincoteague Museum
Back in January I selected "wild" as my One Little Word for 2015. This whole year so far I've really been focused on "returning to a natural state." This has meant a lot of time alone (thinking, pondering, allowing myself to be the quiet, introverted soul I am) as well as time adventuring and trying new things.

This past week I was able to both adventure and return to my natural state when I visited with two of my writing friends the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague for the annual Pony Penning Week. This is something I've wanted to do ever since wee horse-loving me read the books by Maguerite Henry. How many times over the years have I dreamed myself on those islands?! And this year, I DID IT.

Not only were we able to get up close and personal with the ponies in their pens (awaiting the annual Pony Swim), we also got to see one lone stallion Rainbow Warrior who by chance or firemen's choice (not sure which), was left on the island.

Here are some friends feasting on hay. One thing I learned was that the ponies' bloated look is due to the vast amount of salt in their diets. They drink twice as much water as regular ponies to help compensate!

...a view through the slats of one of the foals to be auctioned off. (No, I didn't buy one! But that was a dream of mine when I was younger!)

If I had bought one, it might have been this one: (by the way, see that "12" brand on her mother's flank? That indicates the year she first came in for roundup.)

And here is Rainbow Warrior, in all his solitary glory... story is (according to Captain Dan, who took us on an amazing sunset cruise around the island), he lost his mares to a younger male, and since then, he's been on his own. He looked pretty content with no worries about other stallions while all the others were penned up. :) Thanks, Sheila, for the great pic!

For a story about what's happening in the next picture, visit Pat Weaver's blog!

One of the treasures I brought home from the trip was this gorgeous photography book IN THE HERD by Jayne M. Silberman (who signed a book for me!). What a gorgeous keepsake. And now I shall write some pony poems....

And finally, here we all are in front of the paddocks. Great trip, ladies. Thank you!