Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I started reading the neglected Brontë today, Anne, and when I googled her for details, I found out she died on this day 165 years ago. Coincidence!

I decided to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because months ago I started a long biography of the Brontes, and thought it would be worth reading Anne before going any further, having read the other sisters. I’m a big fan Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, less of Emily’s Wuthering Heights, which is a bit of an eye-roller. I do like Emily’s poems, though.

I’m enjoying Anne. Here we have a scoured hearth, and a weak but sufficient fire, enough for a single woman escaping a dreary past with hot tea, a small income and a mended dress. 

And we’ve got looooong sentences that don’t skimp on punctuation. As in the sentence with 19 commas and one semi-colon on p. 8: 
“Nothing told me then, that she, a few years hence, would be the wife of one - entirely unknown to me as yet, but destined, hereafter, to become a closer friend than even herself, more intimate than that unmannerly lad of seventeen, by whom I was collared in the passage, on coming down, and wellnigh jerked off my equilibrium, and who, in correction for his impudence, received a resounding whack over the sconce, which, however, sustained no serious injury from the infliction; as, besides being more than commonly thick, it was protected by a redundant shock of short, reddish curls, that my mother called auburn.”

Or the one on p. 14, also with 19 commas, which is even longer and squeezes in 2 semi-colons:
“Her hair was raven black, and disposed in long glossy ringlets, a style of coiffure rather unusual these days, but always graceful and becoming; her complexion was clear and pale; her eyes I could not see, for being bent upon her prayer-book they were concealed by their drooping lids and long black lashes, but the brows above were expressive and well defined, the forehead was lofty and intellectual, the nose, a perfect aquiline, and the features in general, unexceptional - only there was a slight hollowness about the cheeks and eyes, and the lips, though firmly formed, were a little too thin, a little too firmly compressed, and had something about them that betokened, I thought no very soft or amiable temper, and I said in my heart - “I would rather admire you from this distance, fair lady, than be the partner of your home.” 

What more could an unsung heroine ask for. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I don't even know who this bitterness is for

The week in review

Disliked: The 30C heat 
Liked: The storm that snuffed it

Watched: Mud with Matthew McConaughey
Saw: A sharp #2 

Reading: The Hare with Amber Eyes
Listened to: Sufjan Stevens’ “Illinoise” 

Learned: The word moue
Forgot: Also unbroken glass can cut you

Bought: St. Peter’s B-List for my folks
Threw out: pounds of magazines, plundered for collage many times over

Realized: There are 2 kinds of weather - white & red wine weather
Dreamed: Went with my entire office on a working trip to Sardinia, where I had the obscure assignment of writing about a piece of coal that erases unpleasant odors.

Ate: Licorice
Drank: Tonic water 

Laughed at: Celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves
Cried about: The struggle to shed bitterness

Fail: Emptied the bio-garbage into the plastic recycling container
Victory: A set IKEA desk drawers (=3 hours)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

blog tour

I was invited to participate in this tour by Drew Myron, poet and publicist. Drew keeps a gorgeous blog at Off the Page. Thank you, Drew.

1. What are you working on?
I’m working on the amplification of moonlight and a kind of belligerent mind-cinema. There’s a baseball backstop I felt very sorry for as a child and I’m trying to make it up to it. One day not long ago I saw a squat cream-colored ceramic bowl that I wanted to be more than anything, and I am working on that. 

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?
It’s less famous. 

3. Why do you write?
I don’t think too much else is really worth the time, even though my e-wastebasket is wadded with sorrow. For me writing is a way to escape my body, my looks, my circumstances, the stupid desk I am sitting at. Even my fate is not safe. 

4. What is your writing process?
I wish I knew. I take small bites because I have a full time job, two kids and a dog that demands walking. I am also a chain worrier. I try not to get too distracted, though distraction entertains. 

Mostly I read and let that inspire me. Poetry, prose, sentences, the dictionary. Besides reading, I like misreading because reading madman where it says madam reveals another possible world. 

The tour now noodles on with Kathleen Kirk. According to the rules, I should tag two people, but since Kathleen is a poet, editor, wife, mother, neighbor and all around interesting person, I am counting her as two. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


which element are you 
which layer of the sun are you
which surgeon general’s warning are you
which obsolete technology are you
which boob shape are you
which insect are you
which of the 10 commandments are you
which shade of eyeshadow are you
which corporation are you
which junkyard dog are you
which noun are you
which hair gel are you
which serial killer are you
which household cleaning product are you 
which first world problem are you 
which b-list celebrity are you
which circle of hell are you
which expletive are you

Thursday, May 08, 2014


I’ll be off yodeling in Switzerland this weekend, the land I hate to love. I complain often about the country that separates us from Italy with its overpriced everything and inconvenient currency. But whenever I arrive it’s so amazingly gorgeous that I chide myself for being petty. Anyway,

Not to miss Mother’s Day! Here’s a photo from 1996 that says motherhood is not an endless feast of cuteness and bubbling good moods. It is also isolation, doubt and enormous, eternal inconvenience. Rather like Switzerland. (That baby is also gorgeous.)

Escape into Life was kind enough to include one of my poems, Dear Scum, in a poetry feature this month on motherhood. The poem was a reaction to a pornographic letter and drawings a disgruntled schoolmate of my then 8- or 9-year old daughter left on our doorstep. Certainly exercised my motherly outrage that day, week, month and pretty much year. There! I broke the “don’t-explain-your-work rule.” You'll live.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

I interview myself about what I’ve been reading

What are you reading?
The Son by Phillip Meyer. One cover blurb says “Remarkable,” and a remarkable thing is when sitting at my desk with the book in my peripheral vision I keep trying to grab the cloud on the cover. It looks like a tissue I wadded up and left there.

Why are you reading this book? 
A ex-colleague recommended it to me, and our tastes overlap, at least in the areas of masculine voice preferences and depraved violence. 

What is The Son about? 
It’s kind of like the song ‘I’m My Own Grandpa,’ but with Texas vegetation and hostages. 

What genre is it? 
Family Saga - Revisionist History - Adventure - Stockholm Syndrome - Cowboys & Indians & Mexicans

And what did you read before starting The Son
The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell, whom I have mixed up many a time with J.G. Ballard. Two Different Guys

What kind of book is that? 
It’s a Demise of the Empire story about a ragtag bundle o’ Brits in India who suffer an extreme lack of self-awareness, in addition to cholera. 

Did you like it? 
I admired it. Despite the poor defenses portrayed, every sentence was built like a tank. I wouldn’t call it gripping. There are some good characters, without there being too much character development.

Whom would you recommend this book to?
Hoarders, zombie-genre fans, creative cooks.

Friday, May 02, 2014

A little smoking all night

After weeks of sunshine we finally got our rain and wind. With everything gone wet and green, the wind is like a big swirling and mixing. I love the sound and the blur. They mowed the grass at the park, too, without raking, so it’s a great mush over there, an olfactory munchie. 

Anyway, thank whatever it’s Friday. I’ve got some poems up at Right Hand Pointing in an issue of just three poets. Very happy to be included - I almost didn’t submit. On the last or second to last day I said oh just go ahead and was so lucky. 

One rarely reads about one’s own voice in writing, so it was good to read the editor’s take: "(she) is wry; she tells it slant. Her poems are on their way somewhere. They will cast you a sidelong glance and a half-smile, before passing on."
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