Do You Realize There Are Only 7 Weeks Left to the Year?

Egads, where has the time went?! There’s micro-time, this week, wherein:

  1. I drove to North Adams for a meeting,
  2. have my reading tonight with Kim Rogers at the Green Street Café (which I am so excited about; that and the dinner provided — Green St. has an excellent menu!),
  3. and tomorrow afternoon I’m visiting, in my capacity as local poet, a classroom of first-graders at the Smith College Campus School.

Add that to all my regular doings & whatnot with the boys, and that’s a pretty action-packed week for me.  The last item is of special note — I’m not altogether confident of being able to keep one 7 yr old’s interest, never mind a roomful of them.  I’m going to read them two poems from Hunger All Inside, “All Souls'” and “Night Visits”, and we’ll talk about Halloween and what a metaphor is.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

And, as if the reading tonight weren’t event enough, yesterday was Lance’s birthday.  He’s coming with me tonight, and our dinner will be our first without the kids since Aidan was born.  Our first night out together, alone.

Which brings me to macro-time, this year, which is almost over!  Too soon to start enumerating blessings etc., but oy! This year has slipped by me as sneakily as Vincent hiding a bread knife (a.k.a. his “sharp sword” which he needs to fight the “bad witches”) behind his back.  That Thanksgiving is a mere 2 weeks away, and you-know-what soon after, doesn’t even bear thinking about. Oy.

The Thing about Publishing.

I’m drinking coffee at my desk.  The baby’s napping, Lance took Vincent for a walk. https://i1.wp.com/www3.timeoutny.com/newyork/upstaged/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/critic.jpgAnd I’ve just noticed a couple phrases Lance scrawled on the legal pad on my desk at some point in the last day or so: “Robust incoherence” and “transcendent vacuity”.

I don’t know if he was criticizing something himself or quoting someone else in awe, but, Ouch!

I have alway felt sympathy for the pain of a bad review, hoping in a vague amorphous way not to ever experience it myself, while also thinking, A scorching by M. Kakutani or W. Logan? I should be so lucky!

But now that I have a chapbook, which actual other people who are not my mother or husband or best friends are reading, I understand those writers who avoid reading reviews, a querulous mention in PW, or tart dismissal in the back section of Poetry.

(Though again, really, I should be so lucky.)

As a poet, I’m used to not being much remarked upon or noticed (and I’m not suggesting that will change). But what I’m coming to terms with now is the very tangible fact that when you publish a collection, not just a poem or two in journals but a pile of poems all together for compare-&-contrasting, people will have opinions about it.

Obviously. I know. And yet. When your focus is writing and publishing, getting your work out there, “out there” is far away, and you’re removed from what “out there” means: strangers, who may or may not think your work is shite.

So it’s a delightful surprise when someone out there reads your work, and likes it, and then tells other people about it, an unexpected peach: “Marvelous things will happen”: Thank you so much to Sandy Longhorn for her generous post about Hunger All Inside!   Sandy’s blog has turned me on to many other poets, she’s an abundace of poet-advocacy — I’m happy to have been noticed and noted so positively.  Lucky me!

Weekend Recap, or, I am Launched!

What a whirlwind of a weekend!

Even though I was tethered to a table all day Saturday during the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, I had a grand time.  Unlike some literary festivals where folks ignore the book tables in droves, MassPo is all about poetry & poets, and poets love books, so I was able to chat with a number of interesting people, including

  • one poet who read a blog post I wrote last year about enjoying her book — what a thrill that was! I always think I’m sending these posts into the ether, so it never fails to surprise me when their subjects come upon them!  Which then makes me wish I had written more cogent & detailed posts re: my admiration in the first place.
  • two poets I know & admire from their blogs & ReadWritePoem — meeting online friends in person can be a gamble, but Carolee & Jill were every bit as wonderful & generous face to face as they are electronically.  I hope we can meet up again before too long.
  • Joan Houlihan, who is a HOOT!  I adore her.

Now I have to wait an entire year for the festival to come back around again…hopefully next October I’ll be able to participate a bit more.

*

Also this weekend, last night in fact, was my chapbook release party.  Wow.  I’m so thankful for the nice crowd of good friends that came out on a cold & wet autumn night at the tail end of a busy weekend to help me celebrate.  And I’m grateful it was a patient crowd:  I brought the boys for this first big event, and that added quite the element of unpredictability to the poetry reading!  I’m pretty sure none can say they’ve ever been to a reading like this one before…and nor will they ever again.  Look for some photographs of this singular evening soon, right here, and you’ll see what I mean!  Too bad I didn’t think to have the reading filmed for posterity — with Aidan & Vincent’s assistance, it was, um, quite a night.

In the meantime, I have another reading this Wednesday night, with the ferociously talented Kimberley Ann Rogers…this time sans children.  Because we all could use a night off from time to time.

Digging out from Under.

Have I ever neglected my blog this long before?  Apologies!  At last I have my beloved iBook back — well, a refurbished clone of my beloved, actually, but it will most certainly do — and I’m so backed up and behind that I’m simply choking out here in the weeds.

It was an interesting couple weeks without a computer.  I didn’t care for it.  I read some novels I’d been meaning to read (The Magicians — enjoyable, despite the protagonist being a bit of a whiner; The Codex — same author, also fun, again despite a lackluster protagonist; The Anthologist — I loved this: the poet-curmudgeon-narrator really grew on me, the po-biz barbs were well-shot, and Baker has some true insights into form; now reading Freddy & Fredericka, which I resisted, though I love Mark Helprin, because I have a hard time sympathizing with privileged characters, but I’m glad I gave in because I’m being swept up).

And of course I read tons of poetryThen, Something (Tupelo’s fall books, so different from each other, are so great in their various ways: Pat Fargnoli’s Then, Something gorgeously meditative, Joan Houlihan’s The Us strange, new, yet accessible, and the lush language of Jennifer Militello’s Flinch of Song).

So far, so good.  However, being cut off from my computer meant being cut off from my poems, all the things I hadn’t yet printed out in hard copies, my manuscript-in-process, the revisions I was working on.  In short, my writing was stymied.  I didn’t write a single new poem during my sojourn in laptop-limbo.  No Draft of the Week this week, I’m afraid.

That said, I still shuffled around with the print-out of the MS I had, and came up with an organization and order and even section breaks that please me, and spent most of last night working on the computer adjusting the file, and just printed out the new version a little while ago.  Flipping through it in its little black spring binder, table of contents and all, is almost as delicious as my chocolate birthday cake.

Yes, I’m a year older now, with vastly more wrinkles.  The sweetest, smilingest part of the day: the boys’ birthday card to me, as dictated by Vincent and transcribed by Lance: “Happy Birthday to the best old Mommie we’ve ever had.  We’re going to share your birthday cake.”  And we did.

Lastly, if you’ve been waiting and wondering, I just received word tonight:  Hunger All Inside shipped today! So look for your copies to arrive in the mail next week — hooray!  If you didn’t order and would like to, you can either go here to order from Finishing Line Press, or contact me directly at mgauthier [dot] hunger [at] gmail [dot] com.  That goes also if you’d like an autographed copy.  I’ve picked out a proper writing implement and am practicing my signature even as I type…

Moses Supposes a Rose is a Rose is a Rose.

I’ve had a lot more visitors here than usual.  While I hoped they came by to check out my chapbook (which is now available for pre-order…) (HA!), based on their Google searches, they arrive in search of Gene Kelly.

At first I was distracted, wondering what it is I’m missing out on, that suddenly so many are looking for Gene Kelly.  What’s happening?

But then I felt badly that folks ended up here just because I mentioned earlier this year how much I adore him.  Thus I feel duty-bound to provide more for their troubles.  Below is one of the best song & dance sequences ever, from “Singin’ in the Rain”: “Moses Supposes”, with Donald O’Connor, one of the only dancers that could keep up with Gene without breaking a sweat.

And, if you listen to the words, well, it’s all pure poetry.

Good Advice.

Mea culpa for the blog silence.  I’m enduring a computer crisis, as well as preparing for the imminent prepublication sale of my chapbook (hooray!) — not a good time for my laptop to shuffle off this mortal coil.  Anyway, whilst I deal with that, I just had to share this quote my husband clipped out of the New York Times:  it’s from a commencement address given at the College of Mount Vincent by the playwright John Patrick Shanley:

Not to bring up something upsetting, but when you leave here today, you may go through a period of unemployment. My suggestion is this: Enjoy the unemployment. Have a second cup of coffee. Go to the park. Read Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman loved being unemployed. I don’t believe he ever did a day’s work in his life. As you may know, he was a poet. If a lot of time goes by and you continue to be unemployed, you may want to consider announcing to all appropriate parties that you have become a poet.

Countdown to NaPoWriMo.

March is now more than halfway through — NaPoWriMo will be here in a mere 13 days! I’m a little light-headed just thinking about it.

Last year, with one child & a full-time job, I managed 12 days / 12 poems before I petered out. Of those 12 poems, 11 were keepers (and 10 will appear in my first chapbook, Hunger All Inside, which has been accepted by Finishing Line Press and will be out this fall — I’ll post more information as it becomes available). To my mind, that’s a pretty successful ratio.

This year, no job, but the family has grown by one, and he’s little, needy, & unpredictable. Plus Vincent is home with me full-time. So I’ve been trying to formulate a game plan to help me commit to another go at NaPoWriMo. Because there’s something about joining with an entire community of poets to write a poem a day, all these poets who have lives just as full, getting those drafts done, every day, that’s tremendously energizing, and also makes the prospect less daunting.

One thing that would help would be for me to rethink my concept of a draft. As I’ve mentioned, my rough drafts aren’t all that rough — I revise line by line, incorporating those revisions while I write, so by the time I finish a first draft, it could be considered more like a 10th or 20th draft! And it’s not a speedy process, which makes coming up with a draft a day a big challenge.

But on a purely practical level, getting Vincent back into daycare for a few hours a couple days a week would be a positive thing for both of us — he really misses his friends. So that is the #1 destination of my Dorothy Prize money! I figure that paying for Vincent to be taken care of so that I can have time to write should be a big enough inducement to using that time well, because I’ve never had that opportunity before. NaPoWriMo? Bring it on!

Lea Banks, All of Me: The Launch!

Lea's new chapbook of poems, <i>All of Me</i>!

Tonight was the official launch of my dear friend Lea’s debut chapbook, All of Me, published by Shelburne Falls’ own Booksmyth Press, a.k.a. that one-woman phenom, Maureen Moore. (And isn’t that cover art, Daphne, by Lilliana Pereira, just amazing?)

We were early, so Vincent & Lance ended up departing for the short walk home before the party really picked up, but not before Vincent scarfed down some cookies & milk.

It was a wildly successful evening (i.e., many books were sold!) with new friends & old in enthusiastic attendance. There was a generous table of food that Lea spent a good deal of time making & none eating (though her Beautiful Daughter Sarah so thoughtfully [and forcefully] put a plate together for her after the crowds had left)(though the chocolate bites of heaven were gone by then, alas). (I had only one of the chocolates, I swear.) Court Photographer Laura Rodley (who has her own chapbook coming out in October) took the lion’s share of pictures, of which I hope I’ll be able to post more later this week, but here are a couple in the meantime:

The Grand Dame Herself.
The Grand Dame Herself.
Me (looking at least 10 lbs <i>lighter</i> than my nearly-7-months-pregnant belly <i>feels</i>) & the Beautiful Sarah
Me (looking at least 10 lbs lighter than my nearly-7-months-pregnant belly feels) & The Divine Sarah

I only wish I’d had more time to hang out with all my poet-friends. Our day-jobs & lives keep us from meeting up except at these special events, so we never get to really talk for long. But what fun it was to see each other & support each other & chat, in whatever time we manage to eke out.

Now it’s to bed I go — but I’ll leave you with a wee excerpt, from “Aubade”, by Lea Banks:

Your mouth, a grand entrance.
Your cordial curls longer,
golder than mine. Splashing
you with a shine of warm

brandy, honey in the back
of our throat. One throat, one
gold above me an aureole
worn like a victor over flesh.

Enough to break a poor mother’s heart.

It’s taken me a few days to process, deal, & forgive, but the story is this:

I came home from work on Sunday to find that my darling husband had given our precious son a haircut. And not just any haircut, but….a mullet!

He cut my precious baby boy’s soft blond curls & transformed him into a miniature 1980’s power balladeer. Marriages have foundered for less.

Clearly I could not let this stand, could not subject my boy to the ridicule & shame, so I was forced to take scissors in hand and cut his hair myself. The results are not bad, hair-wise, but oh, my baby is gone, and a little Christopher Robin-boy stands in his stead.

Only with better hair, I promise.

Is there a poem for this?

*

It’s textbook rush season, so I don’t have the time to write it out, but I haven’t forgotten about my forthcoming-poetry-books round-up. I’m stockpiling catalogs, or ripping pages from otherwise uninteresting catalogs, and will start posting the ones that interest me most soon.

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And I forgot to mention–I learned that my chapbook manuscript was a semi-finalist in a contest–this on its very first foray out into the dark dark world! Hurrah!

Are there other breeds besides poets who can find encouragement in so little?