Self-promotion, blech….

In preparation for my September 17 reading at WKU, where I would prefer not to make an ass of myself, I have been designing some publicity–bookmarks, an invitation–and now must look towards a flyer that entices libraries to want me to come and read poetry for them.

Doing this requires an element of “I’m wonderful” and “listening to me is really what you need” and along with that, little voices that go “this would be clever, that profound, this will ring true, and that sounds so be here now.” I squirm. I duck my head. I laugh then hear the chuckle come to a pinched downturn and a little exhalation of air, “ugh.”

On the heels comes the combative side: “who does she think she is?” “Just wait till she does all this work and then no one responds.” Then we’ll be like, “She’s a failure” and “listening to her is better than Fox News, but so is having my toenails removed.” On and on the selves argue.

It would make sense maybe if I was a twenty-something emerging poet blazing a path for a new poetics, but I’m not. My publishing path looks more like one of those forced-air inflatable characters that rise up along the side of the road, usually in front of a local car sales lot, then fall to the ground, limp and formless until they arise again, arms shooting in the air, John Travolta (the Saturday Night Live JT) as cartoon. Publications, both laudable and so-so, usually come after months of my asking, “you like?” and hearing, “This is no reflection on the quality of your work,” but, no, they no-like-ee.

Virgina Woolf writes in A Room of One’s Own, “Think of Tennyson; think–but I need hardly multiply the instances of the undeniable, if very, unfortunate, fact that it is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him [or her]. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men [women] who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” Doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 60, though I would like to think–I DO think–that with age comes wisdom, balance, perspective. My career no longer hangs on my publishing anything. Strike that pressure off the list. I do occasionally wonder what I’m leaving my children and their children, if they’ll ever read my poems and say, “My grandmother wrote that.” Or will it be more like, “that’s cute.”

Anyway, enough, I must promote my book. I do it for Casey, for myself, for the joy of sharing ideas, a beautiful image or two, some profound thought that lifts someone else, as it lifted me, and still does. So here’s the invitation. Let the flapping in the breeze begin.

Invitation for September 17

Invitation for September 17

Trees, Ram Dass, and “The Story They Tell”

Browsing Fb this morning, I saw the following meme posted by my friend Betsy. I thought, “Yes!” and then “Tree Forms”! And then decided to share this poem, in praise of the story trees tell, and in appreciation for Ram Dass’s good decision to see everyone as a tree…..Here’s the meme, then the reading. Thanks!
RamDassQuoteHere’s the reading of “The Story They Tell Is Our Story.” I appreciate the excuse to read it and at the same time to share this so-true quotation of Ram Dass.

First two readings!

My first reading from Seeking was part of the Spalding MFA’s Festival of Writers. I read with two other poets and a pair of composers who have a new musical out. May I just say that it was fantastic!? What a great audience. And reading at the beautiful Brown Hotel overlooking the cityscape of Louisville, my old hometown, made it seem as if we were at the top of the world. in fact, I might have been walking on air afterwards.

My next reading, if anyone in BG wants to join me and Tom Hunley, is Tuesday, June 2, 8pm, at at Cloud 9 Hookah on Broadway in Bowling Green. From elegant to funky, from figurative cloud 9 to one where I imagine smoke swirling to the ceiling.

I am very grateful to Sena Naslund, who is the editor of Fleur-de-lis Press, Ellyn Lichvar, the assistant managing editor, who took such meticulous care of the poems, Jonathan who designed the cover, Maureen Morehead who wrote the introduction, Yvonne Petkus, whose painting “Braced” is now the cover of Seeking. My blurbers, Frank Steele, George Ella Lyon, Tom Hunley, Lisa Williams, and Sena Naslund, make the work sound so enticing.

Such a brilliant collective effort. Thank you!

And, I just found out that Barnes & Noble has Seeking available online, so Amazon is not the only carrier. Now I need to pull in any favors I might have lingering out there and get my kindhearted friends to write me some reviews for people who stumble onto it!

Here’s amazon….And here’s Barnes & Noble….

This is not a mother’s day poem

Although two mothers appear in this poem, it is not a mother’s day poem. And though a son is featured, it is not a poem about sons, per se. It is more of a poem about exuberance–that unbridled, lusty energy that characterizes a child, around age 5. I wrote it a long time ago about my son’s habit of leaping into my lap, all knees and elbows and pressing his face to mine, even while I (still remember) am peering around his shoulder at something else going on. He liked to make me laugh, and remaining aloof or sad or hurt or bored never got him the satisfaction that eliminating the distance between us would bring.

So on this day after Mother’s Day, I wanted to remember that capacity for joy that our children bring to us. Too often we get busy or are so tired that we can’t appreciate them. And then, who among us, hasn’t been so beaten down by work or relations that we snap or lash out at the one more thing invading our space?

Mother’s Day is full of notes of appreciation, on Facebook (these I like) and broadcast across the aisles at Kroger’s–these I can’t stand. Some male or female voice asserting, “I wouldn’t be where I am without her,” anonymous, easily said, with no ownership of what they did while she was busy making them into someone.

I’d rather see us live the appreciation on a daily basis. I’d rather see our society spend less on cards and flowers that were imported on the backs of poor mothers in Columbia, where the flower industry certainly doesn’t give a damn. I’d rather see us get reduce the soft focus, increase the numbers of brown babies in brown mothers’ arms we see on the walls in doctors’ offices (and give them some soft focus). I’d rather see my society truly understand how difficult it is to be poor or abused or ignorant and a mother. Free contraception! Free childcare! Save the easy judgment for a less-easy target.

But, as I said, this is not a poem about motherhood. It is about exuberance, don’t you think? How we need to make room for it, even when we’re tired?

Bird Colonies in My Attic

Last week, we covered a gable vent with wire mesh, our attempt to keep another family of birds from nesting in our attic crawl space. This is at the front of the house. I see from the upstairs bathroom window at the back of the house that another avian family has put down roots in the eaves, where an opening between two pieces of siding offers up a kind of private doorway. Bits of twig poke through and when the parents arrive with a flutter of braking tail feathers, the otherwise timid scrabbling sound goes wild. Within a week, the sweet little peeps are hearty shouts. “You’re back! Finally! Me first! Where’s mine?!”

So, it seems like a good occasion to share a reading of one of the poems in Seeking, called “Someone Else’s Offspring.” I hope you enjoy it.

They’re here!

The first shipment is in. Even though I can’t touch them and can only see them in this photograph, I know they’re real. I will hold one someday . . . soon (if not soon enough). Oh would that the USPS had drones up and flying!

First View

First View

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
. . .
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
. . .
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

How bold to quote Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book”!

And yet, so many of these poems come from me a mother. I care about them, the what and who they tell of, the who and what they have become.

Like my living, breathing children, I hold them up—have to restrain myself from talking-reading them till people roll their eyes—secretly, I want to brag on their successes, shift the focus from others’ poem-children to my own.

Like my living, breathing children, they wear me out, even as I scold them and tell them No, that’s not the way we do things.

They are packaged now, so beautiful, like my living, breathing children who show up on graduation day, their tassels flying, their smiles broad, their backs straight and arms open wide, ready for the life before them

It’s spring and you’re here

Welcome to my blog. I’m focusing for now on my upcoming collection of poetry, Seeking the Other Side. I hope you are a lover of good poetry, and that you might find an interest in mine! I’ve got a tab for Poetry, where you can read reviews for the collection and for my chapbook, Tree Forms. I may slide an occasional poem for you to listen to, if you have time.

Here’s “A Whisper for You.”