I might be spending every day with my hands in the guts of the computers at work as thunderstorms continue to wreak havoc on our network, but otherwise I’m having a great week!
I received notification today that Cave Wall has accepted 2 poems for issue 5, Winter/Spring 2009 — hurrah! I love this poetry journal, so while any acceptance is cause for a gleeful (temporary) ego-trip, this is especially thrilling for me — hurrah! hurrah!
The editor, Rhett Iseman Trull, is also a wonderful poet, and was selected this year to be in the anthology Best New Poets 2008.
Vincent looks mostly like his dad, except for around his eyes. This baby seems to have my profile, poor dear. You might scoff, but you actually can tell quite a lot from an ultrasound.
The ultrasound went much swifter than I expected — when I was pregnant with Vincent I remember it taking upwards of an hour. Vincent was fascinated and only slightly restless, and what a show the baby put on for us, wriggling around like a fish. Everything looks great and normal, so I’ve opted not to have the amnio.
And the news that (a teeny-tiny percentage of) you have been waiting for: it’s a boy. Unquestionably. And unsurprisingly — this will be Lance’s fourth son — he only makes boys!
[End of Baby Bulletin. Regular programming will resume presently.]
I have at long last customized my picture in the header above — what you see now is the actual honest-to-goodness Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls, right down the street from us. Or, in Vincent’s nomenclature, simply “The Waterfalls.” I took this photo just before twilight, “bug time”, this evening.
Also of great excitement tonight is the appearance of a gigantic tractor, a big digger, parked just outside our door — construction is beginning on our street on Monday, so I guess in front of our building seemed as good a spot to park it as any. Vincent is just beside himself, he thinks it’s his now.
And lastly I wanted to spotlight Laura Rodley’s beautiful new chapbook, now available for pre-order on Finishing Line Press. Laura’s about the dearest poet I know — buy her book!
We experimented with play-doh today. Overall a success: Vincent did not eat it, and nothing disastrous happened. Vincent is tremendously proud of his “ice cream”, though it looks more like poop to me. All about perspective, as usual.
It was a busy weekend of work. We hosted the novelist Galaxy Craze at the bookstore on Saturday. What fun! She’s my age, with a 4 yr old son and a 3 month old daughter, and several of her friends attended with their children, in particular an adorable set of 4 month old twin girls. It was a total baby-fest! Galaxy gave her reading with her daughter in her lap, while the mother of the twins nursed one in hers.
Could you imagine a more complete mingling of art and family?
After the reading, we talked pregnancy and parenting and birthing. I’ve been getting over a cold, so I refrained from baby-cuddling, kept my grabby hands to myself. But there was something so joyful about having so many young children cavorting about the bookshop, about conversation among a circle of creative parents.
It reminded me: when Vincent was 7 months old, we attended a New England booksellers’ trade show, where we met Jonathan Safran Foer. Jonathan also has a son about the same age as Vincent. I’m a big fan of Jonathan’s novels, and thought I should engage him in conversation about them, being a conscientious bookseller and all, but the last thing he was interested in talking about was his books. Vincent was being his most adorable self, cuddled on my shoulder in a sling, sucking his thumb. Jonathan admired him to a most pleasing degree, showed me pictures of his son (also adorable), and we compared baby notes. It was bizarre and tremendous — given the time, we could have talked all day. Seriously. All day. About our kids.
So is it like this for all new parents, writers and all? You might publish books to great acclaim, but these new beings, they’re amazing, and that’s got nothing to do with you, you’re just the lucky caretaker. And that’s the most interesting thing right now, nothing else compares. Not that you don’t continue to do what you do, which is what you are, a writer. But what you are has expanded in the most wonderful way.
Anyway, I don’t want to give short shrift to Galaxy the writer: I especially loved her new novel, maybe because the main character is a 14 yr old girl, an age I find crushingly hard, and the centerpiece of the story is an intense friendship between 2 girls that, while I can’t relate to the particulars, is definitely spot on. I hope she’ll find many readers!
I seem to be one of the last people in the universe to have heard about this (thank you, Janis!), but in the off-chance that I’m not alone in the dark, if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon you must check this out: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day (who played Vi, one of the potentials, in the last season of Buffy), and Nathan Fillion, who has perfected the art of the smarmy, this is another wonderful foray into the world of superpower musicals for Whedon. The third, and I think, final episode goes up tomorrow, and I think that the episodes will only be up for a limited time, so watch it while you can!
Last weekend was incredibly full: fun and hijinks with Galway Kinnell and Cinnamon the Horse within days of each other! Can you see how frighteningly fearless Vincent is and why I lay awake at night?
The pictures below are of the Collected Poets Series reading with Galway. Directly below, his grandchildren perform with him. Then, there’s Lea Banks, CPS’s founder & impresario, with Tim Mayo, poet, previous CPS reader, and committee member. Finally, there’s me, Lea, and poet Susie Patlove. All of the pictures were taken by Laura Rodley, who is a wonderful poet in her own right, and whose chapbook is now available for pre-order at Finishing Line Press! But more on that later…
I feel very fatigued this week (or, as Bugs Bunny would say, “fa-ti-gewd”), but I think I’ve finished the revisions on my new poem. I think. I’m going to live with it a little while longer without touching it, and then see how I feel.
In the meantime, because I don’t have enough brainpower or energy to actually write anything, I’ll tell you about the great poetry list Louisiana State University Press has coming up in the fall. LSU can always be counted on to publish a solid poetry list — it’s actually all I order from their catalog for the store. This fall, their list includes:
Figure Studies, by Claudia Emerson, whose last book, Late Wife, won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
Whirl is King: Poems from a Life List, by Brendan Galvin, “gathers forty-three of his bird poems about herons, owls, shorebirds, warblers, raptors, wrens, and other exotic visitors blown in by wind and storm.”
Myself Painting, by Clarence Major.
The Snow’s Music, by Floyd Skloot.
Time and the Tilting Earth, by Miller Williams.
But I must say, it’s a good thing I’m already familiar with these poets, because the excerpts of poems LSU included in the catalog were not exactly impressive. The books themselves look to be excellently designed, however.
My general malaise probably also has to do with the kind of stasis a bunch of my submissions are currently suffering through. All this waiting can be exhausting.
Bookslut has a wonderful commentary up on one of my favorite books of all-time: A Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin. Besides being a magical story gorgeously told, this book seriously altered the trajectory of my life. The article on Bookslut by Barbara J. King is far more articulate than I’ll ever be.
Galway’s reading last night was indeed packed, and in fact we had to turn people away at the door because we’d reached our maximum capacity. Some folks had wisely come very early to stand in line, but the tardy were out of luck. The Collected Poets Series committee works really hard to present these free poetry readings, so while we’re sad anybody missed out, I think it’s great when an overflow crowd shows up for poetry!
Galway read wonderfully, of course, and shared the “stage” with his 2 grandchildren for one poem as they provided the refrain — “Ha ha! Ha ha!” I think it was. They did a great job. He took a break about halfway through to take questions, preferring that a reading end on poetry, not poetry chatter. He was funny, self-deprecating, and once again displayed his proclivity for endless revision: as he read one poem, he stopped, trying to decide which version to read, the one on the page or the one in the margins. He decided, when he was done, that he probably had read us the lesser “revisioning.” I can’t imagine many writers confessing that!
He closed, as I will this post, with this short poem:
Whatever happens. Whatever what is is what
I want. Only that. But that.
This Sunday, July 6th, at 7:00pm, the Collected Poets Series is sponsoring a special reading with the poet Galway Kinnell. He will read from his work at Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge Street, Shelburne Falls, MA.
Galway Kinnell has received the Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Frost Medal, and a MacArthur Fellowship. In the nomination for the 2003 National Book Award, the judges called Kinnell “America’s preeminent visionary” whose work “greets each new age with rapture and abundance [and] sets him at the table with his mentors: Rilke, Whitman, Frost.”
Kinnell’s volumes of poetry include Strong Is Your Hold; Imperfect Thirst; When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone, Selected Poems; The Past; Mortal Acts, Mortal Words; The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World: Poems 1946-64; The Book of Nightmares; Body Rags; Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock; What a Kingdom It Was; and many others. He is the editor of The Essential Whitman. He has also published translations of works by Yves Bonnefoy, Yvan Goll, and François Villon, and Rainer Maria Rilke.
He is renowned as an especially sensuous poet and moving reader. By giving public readings since 1960, Kinnell has been influential in making the poetry reading a part of our cultural life. Galway Kinnell has served as the State Poet of Vermont, and was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University for 25 years. He is currently a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. He lives in Vermont.
I’ve heard Galway read twice before, and he is simply tremendous, and so generous with his time. This is sure to be a standing-room-only event, so get there early!