Happy New Year!

Last New Years I spent in the hospital with newborn Aidan watching a “Project Runway” marathon. In other words, an awesome start. (I haven’t seen any real programs to speak of since. And I happen to like hospital food!)

As kids grow they get ever so much more complicated and harder to please and make more and more demands on your time.  Even so, I have a good life. Lucky to have vivacious & creative boys who are by & large hale & healthy.

My husband’s laid off, and as for me, well, you know poetry has never been famous for its money-making attributes. Even so, I have a good life. Lucky to be with a man who values literature & the written word & my poetry universe.

This year has been, creatively & personally, my most  productive & fruitful up till now — my only wish for next year is more of the same. Blessings to you all in the new year!

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One Year Ago:

Christmas-time last year we were otherwise occupied.

Aidan Revello Gauthier, 4 days old, January 1, 2009.

Tomorrow Aidan turns one. Oh my. And today the blog turns two. Vincent wasn’t yet two when I began it. Time’s wingèd chariot is fueled by the adrenaline-kick of children!

Happy Birthday, Aidan!

The Storm that Wasn’t.

Out here in the western part of the state we didn’t get so much as a stray snowflake from the so-called blizzard.  We already have a foot of snow on the ground, so I’m not exactly complaining, but it was a surprise to wake up to nothing when I was expecting at least a foot more.

Definitely for the best, however. Last storm we bartered a loaf of fresh-baked bread for our neighbor snow-blowing our driveway.  But I didn’t have enough flour or time to bake this weekend. That came today. And check out that loaf on the right — an experiment, cinnamon raisin. I don’t know about the nutritional value, but seriously, nothing beats the taste of home-made bread.

So I didn’t bake bread, I didn’t shovel snow, and I certainly didn’t do any of the reading and writing I’d been hankering for.  And yet somehow the weekend is gone.  The one poetry task I finished was a grant application. Maybe that’s where my head was: between choosing the poems, filling out the forms, writing up the artist résumé, printing it all up in duplicate, and then waiting in line at the post office — the Christmas season not being the ideal time to have to mail non-xmas items — it took a while. That, at least, is done.

We did watch a DVD Saturday night, “Julie & Julia”, and it was wonderful, I don’t think I stopped smiling throughout the entire movie. Julia Child’s small memoir, My Life in France, is now at the top of my reading list.

But I made the mistake of then Googling Julie Powell, the author of the memoir Julie & Julia (which I haven’t read) which inspired the film, because heavens, Amy Adams is just so darn likable! Not that I mistook a movie for the true story, but I was curious. The movie kind of charts two artists discovering their medium, and I was interested in seeing what Julie Powell was up to lately. Julia, well, nothing new there.

And it turns out that Julie Powell has a new memoir out, Cleaving, which explores a less savory side of food, butchery, as well as detailing the troubles of her marriage. None of which I ever wanted to know.  Which is why I don’t read memoirs.

So now I’m endeavoring to forget everything I read online — not that I read much, one article informed plenty. One of the biggest delights of the movie is its depiction of two truly loving marriages, it was incredibly cockle-warming, and that’s what I’d rather hold on to. It’s winter, and cold enough, blizzard or no.

My Winter List.

I’m working on a rather ambitiously tall stack of books from my reading list, and picked up two novels, Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin and Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees, from the library.  Which I haven’t even opened yet because of the magnificent richness of poetry books I’m reading:

Book Cover Goes Here

I won a free copy of Blood Almanac from Sandy Longhorn’s blog.  I’ve been enjoying the vivid sense of place these poems evoke, a place very different from New England, but not altogether alien to me: my grandparents were Georgia share-croppers, and I recognize them in some of poems early in the book. Justin Evans, who won the other copy Sandy was offering, wrote a great review here, but I hope to write an appreciation some time soon. I love that its three sections are true delineations, encompass three very different kinds of poems, and admire the ease of each tonal shift.

One of the other titles I’ve been slowly flipping through is Intaglio, by Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis. I had read a few of her poems online, and sent out a call to my poet friends to borrow a copy.  Happy me, Kim had one & sent it my way, to keep! Very fortunate, considering how long it’s taking me to read.  Her style is so different from mine, so expansive and exuberant, it’s like stepping into bright lights whenever I open the book. Hopefully I’ll learn a thing or two.

Not the last book in my leaning Pisa of a pile, but the last one I’ll mention today, is The Narcoleptic Yard, by Charity Ketz.  I admit it, I wanted this one purely for its cover, which perfectly captures the scene from the poem, “Shroud”, from which the book draws its title: “Something // seams the air — what flies between // invents the narcopleptic yard, the wavering / catechism, the bugs // the buds’ red — The air / frills with shirring.”  I haven’t spent enough time with this one to really get a handle on the poems themselves, but I like what I’ve read so far.

Draft of the Week, #10.

Did you know there’s going to be a partial lunar eclipse on December 31, 2009? I was already working on this poem yesterday when I read this — there are amazing websites that list all the upcoming celestial happenings, and run graphics that show you what the sky/moon/sun will look like during the event.  Because these events always seem to happen at ungodly hours on cloudy nights.

Lots of Collected Poets Series doings right now, keeping me ultra-busy — check out our excitingly full slate for next year — but I hold out hope that I’ll still fulfill Mary’s “3 New Poems before 2010” challenge — and I received a welcome extra boost yesterday in the form of an acceptance from The MacGuffin.  The last couple weeks have seen many long-awaited rejections, a couple personal & encouraging, the rest little form slips.  Sigh. Thus this acceptance has taken on greater significance by virtue of (presumably) being the last word on the matter this year. And this is the 4th NaPoWriMo 2009 poem to be taken so far, nice assurance that the angst was worth it.

This poem will stay up the usual couple days, and then [poof!]:

[poof!]

Stripped-down Christmas.

In a confluence of my more austere tendencies and financial necessity, we are celebrating a present-free Christmas this year.  You heard me: present-free.

Fortunately the boys are both young enough that we can do this without their feeling deprived — they don’t yet associate Christmas with loot. Par example:  It snowed this past weekend, and on Sunday, Vincent and I went for a walk into town. Passing by a group of people on the far side of a parking lot, Vincent spontaneously called out to them, “Happy Christmas!”

Christmas to him means snow, lights, songs. Last year, Aidan’s birth and the bookstore’s closing completely eclipsed the holidays. Works for me.  I’m thrilled to extend this utopia another year.

However, if you’re looking for an idea or two, or a budget-conscious reward for yourself, take note of these awesome offers from Tupelo Press:

  • Discover brilliant new voices and enjoy some old favorites with the 2010 Subscription Series.  Nine books for $99! The 2010 Series features stunning new works by Polina Barskova (translated by Ilya Kaminsky), Michael Chitwood, John Cross, Rebecca Dunham, Megan Snyder-Camp, Gary Soto, Stacey Waite, Ellen Doré Watson, and Martha Zwieg.
  • Visit the website to take advantage of these holiday offers during the month of December:
    • Buy One / Get One Offer on Select Titles. Use Promo Code: DECBOGO
    • 25% Off Your Total Book Order. Use Promo Code: DEC25


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Keep your favorite small presses and literary journals in mind during the holiday season this year — they need your support now more than ever.

I am well aware that a new Draft of the Week is overdue. Our household is under seige from the common cold — whose symptoms are not any less grievous, especially for the boys, however common they may be — but I’ve got something brewing, and hope to post it later on this week.  Hope being rather key.