Kristin Bock & Lee Sharkey (via The Collected Poets Series)

Thursday is our last reading of the summer — we’re hip-high in plans for 2011 even now — which is not the worst substitute for being hip-high in the ocean by any means — and this should be a fabulous end to our third season. If you’re in the area, please come out!

Kristin Bock & Lee Sharkey Thursday, July 1, 2010, at 7:00 pm, poets Kristin Bock and Lee Sharkey will read work from their books as well as new poems. ($2-5 sliding scale.) *Please note our new starting time. Born in 1969, Kristin Bock is the author of Cloisters (Tupelo Press, 2008), which won the 2006 Tupelo Press First Book Award and the da Vinci Eye Award.  She grew up in the s … Read More

via The Collected Poets Series

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Because I’m a tinkerer…

…and because the colors were harsh, the primary blues against a white background, the black title. I liked the direction I was heading in, but I wasn’t there yet. So yes, another tweak in the design, which I find subtler and gentler on the eyes. Because it’s summer, and my eyes could use the rest.

Also because it’s summer: two terrific sales!

This week only, McSweeney’s is running its once-a-year Garage Sale — we’re talking serious discounts here. Thanks to NewPages for the info.

And, AND, Pitt Poetry Press — PITT POETRY PRESS! — has a summer sale of its own: 50% off select titles. Their list is enviable, and they’re practically giving the books away!

Thanks to Anne for posting this on Facebook.

Not that I can buy a single book — my cash-strapped status has begun to calcify. Do you know of any other book sales to taunt me with?

The Immersion Experience

Now that it’s officially summer, the word worm that has infiltrated every sound byte is “Vacation!” Even on Google’s home page today their logo has been decked out in beach togs. Frankly, that image is more than enough to leave me frothing with envy.

A couple weeks in a rented cottage on the beach, la yes, that is my ideal vacation. Perhaps because not once in my life have I experienced it.

Actually, it’s been a horrifyingly long time since we’ve experienced anything resembling a vacation at all. When I was pregnant with Aidan, we spent a weekend in New Hampshire. One weekend two summers ago. Oy, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

My beach dreams aside, for as long as I can remember, the ultimate family vacation spot has been Disney World. For my (imaginary) money, though, the new Harry Potter theme park is IT.

[The remainder of this post will be composed with a laughably fake but earnestly-meant British accent.]

I’m not a rides-person. The ferris wheel, the swings — anything that cools a hot body without attendant mortal fears — brilliant. Roller coasters, or rides that involve great heights and precipitous drops therefrom, not so much. And the waiting in hour-long lines for a 4 minute ride is inane. Just not my thing.

I read the Harry Potter books after patron upon patron at the bookstore raved about them: “You must read this!” And I tore through them. Each new book became the perfect birthday gift for my mum, who shares a birthday with Harry — in fact, most every single member of my large family fell in thrall with the series along with me.

I love the movies, too. We’ve picked up a couple on DVD at local yard sales, and so I’ve seen them many times; still I love them. Even when Ron’s acting like a jealous prat, or Hermione’s a touch too smug, or Harry’s simply clueless.

For any fan, is there anything better, more longed for than the opportunity to be a part of that world yourself? As the New York Times puts it, “Wizarding World isn’t really an attraction that you do, it’s one that you absorb.”

I love that rides aren’t the point of this park, but immersion into the world of Harry Potter itself. Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Express. That so much attention was spent on the details, getting it right. In fact, so much of the films are made via special effects, I bet this park is a revelation for the actors, too!

Vincent, who speaks the name “Harry Potter” with a high-pitched Cockney accent of his own devising, would love it. And isn’t that what vacations are about? — transport, fantasy, magic.

Vacations of any sort are as elusive as the Questing Beast; still, judging by Wizarding World’s huge success, it’s not only me who feels this way.

And even though the idea of “tourism,” essential though it is to many local economies, leaves me cold and discomfited, well, this, this, is awesome. We are going.

Er. Someday.

“With pickles for his toes and a cherry for his nose, that’s the way my story goes.”

When I woke Vincent up for preschool this morning, he was laying on top of his hands. He looked at his hands then looked at me with those morning-Puck eyes and said, “My hands are ugly.”

He woke up singing yesterday morning, and he fell asleep last night in the middle of a word in the middle of a song (“Say say old playma-a-a-…”).

Meanwhile, Aidan’s lexicon contains only the words “cat” and “hi” and “bye-bye,” the last of which was new this weekend. No “mama,” which seems unjust. No “dada,” which makes me feel better.

What marvels is not how little he speaks compared to how hyper-verbal Vincent has always been, but how, even still, Aidan clearly understands everything said to him, and, even still, is pretty ingenious about communicating what he wants.

Ingenious, that is, when he’s not just grunting/whining and strenuously pointing.

Writer’s Meme

January posted this meme on her blog, and it’s been eons since I last participated in one. If you have a blog & feel up to it, consider yourself tagged, and let me know in the comments so I can stop by & read your answers.

1. What’s the last thing you wrote?
I finished a new poem earlier this week.

2. Is it any good?
Yes. But then I always think so. Until I don’t.

3. What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
I’m not a big saver — have to keep the archives pristine for posterity’s sake, you know. But I do keep all my contributor’s copies, even the early ones, which include poems I began writing at around 19.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Poetry, natch. I also love poetry essays, poetry criticism, biographies of poets. And novels, too.

5. How often do you get writer’s block?
Writer’s block is a luxury I cannot afford.

6. How do you fix it?
If I sit down without an idea already in place, then I begin by reading. Reading other poems always stirs the pot.

7. Do you save everything you write?
Holy moses, no.

8. How do you feel about revision?
Essential.  Without revision, I’d never complete a first draft, which, the way I write, is actually more like the twentieth.
9. What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?
Because I tend to write so little about my husband (I write such poor love poems!), my poem, “Conservationist,” first published in Cave Wall and included in my chapbook, Hunger All Inside, is especially meaningful to me.

10. What’s everyone else’s favorite thing that you’ve written?
The poems about my sons are always popular.
11. What writing projects are you working on right now?
My first full-length MS is circulating, and, dare I say it, the poem I wrote earlier this week feels like the start of a new manuscript.
12. What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Playwriting is a completely different skill, the envisioning of scene, set, & character. I lack that vision.

I wrote a short story in my early twenties, but it was crap.

13. Do you write for a living?
No.

14. Quote something you’ve written, the first thing to pop into your mind.
“Your wings are swelled / to honeycomb, afflicted / sacs of marauding cells — ” beginning lines of my new poem, “Diagnosis: Stage IV.”

Draft of the Week, #16

Considering all my whining about time and the lack of it, you might be wondering how goes the writing? In fits and starts. I’ve managed to write two drafts so far this month, which is a nice return to form, and only one of which caused agony and gnashing of teeth.

Because it was a frustrating week of drafting that poem, a few lines a day. Not for lack of having the words, but the opportunity to work on them. The heat, humidity, general malaise…for whatever reason, my boys would not leave me alone for more than a second at a time. I’d have hid out in the bathroom if that would’ve guaranteed me some time alone. But don’t be silly — for mums of small children, solitary bathroom use is a fantasy.

By the end of that week, I was fairly frothing with pent-up angst. Then the heat snap broke and I stayed up even later than usual (because I habitually sacrifice sleep to reading/writing time — I’m delirious with fatigue even as I type) to hash out this poem. The lines were now written, but I wasn’t happy with their form on the page. Writing it piecemeal, it had come out in tercets, but tercets tend to be my go-to form, so looking at the lines and poem length, I thought I’d break it up even further and try couplets. But that didn’t work — the poem felt too aerated and strung out. Then I noticed that the poem’s turn occurred at the exact center of poem. Exact. Which was interesting for a poem about the centers of things. Which led me to split the poem into two stichic stanzas of equal length. I was so pleased with the result that I’ve already submitted it — a quicker sending-out-into-the-world for this poem, but I’d spent so much time thinking about it, more time even than I spent physically writing it, it felt done — so no draft for you to read this time, I’m afraid.

I have to admit that editors and their stricter submission guidelines have me rethinking my posting of drafts, anyway. I’m considering taking a page from Sandy’s book and, instead of temporarily posting a draft, sharing process notes like this with just a few choice lines. The advantages are that I won’t put a poem out of the running for a journal I harbor aspirations to appear in (how’s that for torturous syntax!), and I won’t have to (remember to) delete the excerpted lines; they can stay forever!

The Problem with “Motherhood”

I have no great expectations when it comes to Hollywood depictions of motherhood — especially films that deal with urban motherhood, which seems like a different breed altogether — so I didn’t find the Uma Thurman vehicle, “Motherhood,” all that awful.

Not that there’s not a lot wrong with this movie (and for funny reads on that you can go here, here, here, and here). However, I can’t find what irks me most mentioned anywhere, which makes me wonder if it’s a blind spot in my own understanding.

Specifically, how Lucas, Uma/Eliza’s youngest, the “toddler,” is handled. For one thing, he’s three. Not a toddler, but preschool age. Might seem a small thing, but there’s a world of difference developmentally.

Why is he being carried or pushed in a stroller everywhere? The boy hardly spends any time on his feet! He seems to get very little exercise, even at the park, where he went down a slide and was pushed in a swing before falling asleep in his umbrella stroller. The stroller is practically a character unto itself.

Is this an urban thing, shlepping your child everywhere in a stroller, never letting him walk on the street? Is it to keep him from darting out into traffic, to help you carry sundries from here to there?

And yet he has to be the drowsiest three year old I’ve ever seen, napping a minimum of two times throughout the day. (Could be more, but I’d have to rewatch the movie to check. Only so much I’m willing to do for accuracy’s sake.) Every child is different, but only babies nap that often, I’m sorry to say. To my everlasting dismay, Vincent actually gave up naps completely two months before turning three.

It seems to me that Lucas should be at least a year or more younger for the way he’s treated to be believable. And I don’t mean he’s babied or molly-coddled — it’s all done matter-of-factly and without drama. Eliza does not smother her kids. But Lucas is a passive lump and largely a non-presence in Eliza’s day except as another burden to bear. Which I don’t think is the message they meant to be sending.

So why didn’t they just make the character a baby? I’m wagering it’s because Lucas has one cute line — which I can’t remember (see above parenthetical) — and a baby would be too young to speak it. In every other way, the choice to write Lucas as a three year old makes no sense to me.

This is ever-so-tenuously related to writing because Eliza is a mommy blogger and a once up-and-coming “lyrical fiction” writer. The first is the only part of that equation I find plausible.

So is it just me? Am I being too picky? Does parenting in NYC require having your child surgically attached to his stroller?