Are You Writing a Book? Seeking Blog Hop Participants

Hello, friends, followers, likers, and lurkers …

The fabulous poet and blogger Jennifer Bullis, whom I “met” during last year’s NaPoWriMo, recently tagged me for a project called Blog Hop: The Next Big Thing. This is intended for those of us who have books we’re working on, shopping around, or getting ready to publish. It’s open to writers of poetry and prose, and chapbooks count — that’s what I’ll be highlighting in my own Next Big Thing post, on February 12.

In addition to answering a few interview questions, each participant is supposed to tag three to five writers to participate as well. That’s where you come in.

I know that many or most of you with whom I cross paths in the blogosphere, and especially through Open Link Night, are writers. What I don’t know is which of you have a book in the works. If that’s you, please let me know in the comments here.

Also, here’s a little “honor system” request: I believe the spirit of the exercise is that we’re calling attention to writers with whom we’ve had some interaction so that we’re saying, “Here are these great writers I know, and they’re going to tell you what they’re working on.” So I’d like to prioritize people with whom I’ve exchanged comments in the past — or at least, mutual “likes.”

I think everything should be pretty clear from Jennifer’s post (thanks again for tagging me, Jennifer!), but I can answer any questions you might have.

If I end up with more than five potential “taggees,” I’ll think of another way to highlight the writers I’m not able to include in this project.

OK … Tag — you’re it?


Please Be My Poetry Professor

I totally bailed on a free, online poetry class I signed up for. I just … I’m busy. We all are, so I’ll spare you the details. Breathless accounts of other people’s busy days are almost never interesting, except to the person giving them.

It also just wasn’t the right class for me, in that it was modern and contemporary poetry, with most of its emphasis, by far, on “modern.” Generally, what you think of as “modern” is really “contemporary.” I have only recently learned this, and used to be mystified by exhibits of modern art in which most of the works were from the ‘50s.

Anyway, what I really need is some type of impetus to read contemporary poetry. I love William Carlos Williams, but I feel like I’ve been gazing at that red wheelbarrow long enough. Where I need a lot more depth is with great poets who are still among us or who are only recently deceased.

But here’s the problem … I’m scared to read those living greats. Why? Because I’m not as good as they are, I’ll never get those genius grants or be Norton anthologized or be poet laureate, I don’t even have an MFA, and also, HOLY %^*#, THAT ONE IS YOUNGER THAN ME. (That last one comes up more and more lately – I am now markedly older than most Olympic athletes, too.)

I’ve shaken off my previous heebie jeebies about reading any living poets at all. Now that I have a good number of publishing credits (is there ever really a good number?), I can be genuinely happy when a writing friend gets whatever brass ring they were going for, and I can genuinely enjoy their work, rather than fretting over whether it’s better than mine. But those are the poets whom I would consider to be in my circle and achieving at roughly the same level as I am.

When it comes to those acknowledged living greats, those sine qua nons and ne plus ultras who still walk among us – and thus, rob me of the one slight advantage I have over many other great poets – I still have a terrible, and very petty, block.

So … Leave me a comment. If I can ever get over myself, what great living poet should I read, and why? And can you relate to anything I said here? (I’m not the only one … right?)


A Slimy Poem for Open Link Night


Under the raspberries
under the mint
under the leaves,

a kingdom is growing,
moving, crossing
slick trails like swords
of wet dominion.

Under the tent tarp
under our heads
under our dreams,

a whole world
is sleeping with us,
unseen in the cool
and the damp,

mouthparts always
chewing on something,
be it memory or plan.





A word about Open Link Night: This takes place each Tuesday afternoon/evening/night at dVerse, a website by and for poets. You post a poem on your blog, and then you add a link on the dVerse site, and then you get lots and lots of new visitors (and of course, you visit other poets, too). Thanks again, Anna, for letting me know about it!


NaPoWriMo, Day 25: A Cento (Which Doesn’t Mean it Has 100 Lines)

How Long the Years Grow

Into the dangerous world I leapt,
like strings of broken lyres.

Again, when have I ever not loved?

I summon you now,
the happy genius of my household,
from a kingdom that bullies, and hectors, and swears.

And within the pane-lit windows,
the ghosts swarm.

Skin remembers how long the years grow.
Let’s ask a poet with no way of knowing:

Did I have to be born?

With many, many thanks to the following poets:

William BlakeThomas HardyDerek WalcottMay Sarton, William Carlos Williams, Philip Freneau, Bill Knott, Rae Armantrout, Naomi Shihab Nye, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Mattathias (as translated by David Rosenberg).

OK, putting in the links took longer than writing the poem …

A cento is a poem made entirely of lines borrowed from other poems. For mine, I went to and navigated to their index of poems appropriate for various holidays. I grabbed a line from one poem for each holiday listed there. I did this mostly in order, except that I flipped Chanukah and Christmas because the line I found for Chanukah was an especially killer ending, and I just didn’t like the poem as much without the flip in the last two lines. I also made a few changes to punctuation and such, where needed for sense.

I had fun with this. Was it … cento-riffic? Maybe. Maybe it was.

Oh, and also, P.S.: I forgot to say thank you, thank you here to Vince Gotera for featuring one of my poems from a few days back, on his blog, The Man with the Blue Guitar. I was honored and thrilled, and you should visit him posthaste!