I don’t have as many online things to share this week. Maybe that means I’ve been spending more time away from the computer? No. I’ve been at the computer a lot, but I’ve spent a lot of time just working and less time “playing” I guess you could say. Although this morning has involved quite a bit of browsing in the Google app store as I continue my move to more cloud based working.
But, I have managed to attempt some poems this week. The one below is one that I’m working on as I continue to play with different forms and the alphabet:
–thanks for the comments. I’ll go revise her now
I look forward to hearing about what you guys have been working on. Feel free to share your work and/or links in comments. My work and anything you post will be taken down one week from today.
I also sent out submission packets this week and saved the names of some contests and anthologies I might be interested in submitting to in the future.
Since I’m not posting as many things to share today I think I’ll answer a question that Elizabeth posted to me: How do you pick literary magazines? I did a post titled The Puzzle: Which Poems Go Where about two years ago so I am linking to that as primary source material. That post also links to other posts where I’ve touched on the topic.
We may need to extend on this topic, but look through those sources and then feel free to add on additional questions. Let’s start a conversation.
Yesterday I caught up most of what has been fueling me in video and today I want to post some mini book reviews:
- First up was a quick and terrific read by Robert Lee Brewer. I finished his second self-published chapbook ESCAPE. Robert approaches self-publishing in the right way. Many of the individual poems were published in literary magazines first before he put together the collection. Robert also has a built in audience that warrants having an item to see so two thumbs up for Robert! I am particularly fond of the skill Robert has to shape the endings of his poems. One of my favorites was “always at a crossroads” where he starts with “you’re afraid. the wind stopped holding the flat,” and ends with “not every cornered animal bites.” Don’t you just want to know what went on between those lines? Limited edition chapbook btw if you don’t have a copy yet. Not sure how many he has left!
- Next up was the most recent novel I finished When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka. I’ve had this on my list for a while because I’d heard of how wonderful a writer Otsuka was and I’m also amazed that it wasn’t until I was about 30 years old that I ever heard there were internment camps in the US for Japanese-Americans during WWII. For an example of her writing style, “Sometimes, when he was running, he could hear it clacking against his lucky blue stone from the sea and for a moment he felt happy. His pockets were filled with good things.” I think that last sentence would make a fantastic writing prompt. Feel free to borrow.
- The second poetry book I finished is another title from Sibling Rivalry Press by Stephen S. Mills titled He do the Gay man in Different Voices. I’ve already submitted a poem (a cento) I wrote in response to the lines in this book so I can’t post it this week, but this is a book that will conjure up a response, I think. Mills is a skilled poet who writes those long lines and long poems that I always envy since I tend to do everything on the short side. Some people might say this is a very in your face book where there is sex, violence, and everything else that goes into an R rated or higher movie. But you will know that from the first few poems and yet you will read on because there is a hunger to the voices in these poems that wants to be let out. And, as one line said, “their fascination with the way color leaves.”
- Finally in my paper based reading that I’ve finished recently is the non-fiction book Power and Control in the Television Worlds of Joss Whedon by Sherry Ginn whom I may have mentioned before. She is a psychology professor where I teach and we presented together about sci-fi themes in different forms of writing. Or as one of the librarians put it – we talked about geek poems It is for Dr. Ginn that I’m working my way through revisions on my “Farscape” essay for another book for which she is the editor. Sherry has a great voice. She is able to weave her love of pop culture and academic writing into a fairly easy read. And, come on, how can you beat reading a book that critically analyzes some of my favorite shows like “Firefly” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” Well, I couldn’t!
This week I only have poetry books in my pile because I’m trying to steam through my remaining paper based books before summer’s end. Then the decision will be: do I go completely paperless for reading or not?
Taking questions, comments etc about these books and/or what you have been reading. Do you review on blogs and/or other sites? Share your links!
And – of course – READ!
I’ve been taking in so much wonderful information this week while I’ve had fewer appointments which means I have a back log of things I wanted to share and discuss so I thought I’d try to play a bit of catch up today as I have some requested blogs I want to post later this week and the first of next (and you hopefully know who you are if you have requested a topic!) So here are some mini reviews of what I have been watching and perhaps I’ll work in a reading one very very soon.
- Bag It is one of those documentaries that makes you wish you did a better job of not using as much plastic. It got me thinking: how much less oil could we use if we could somehow go back in time and use different materials for grab and go items?
- Then, if I wasn’t feeling guilty enough, came the beautifully filmed documentary The Harvest about migrant farm workers. Whereas the first documentary tells the story by using a narrator of sorts, “The Harvest,” lets the workers themselves tell the story without any voice from the film-maker except in how it is filmed.
- Since this list is leaning towards the “let’s try to change the world” theme I always watched the two episodes of Cold Chain Mission where Ewan McGregor continues his Unicef work by showing the cold chain of custody needed to get vaccines into some of the hardest to reach areas. Ewan, he is still totally a MAN in the best way.
- Then if you were going for some fiction and thoughts on storytelling with a point how about the indie film Spork which had a wonderful “Napoleon Dynamite” feel to it but from a more female perspective. If you don’t come away a little bit in love with the girl named Spork than you might have to be Sam on Season 6 of “Supernatural” (yep still watching it) and wonder if you have a soul.
- And how do we think? How about some Nova Science Now about the brain?
- Or how about how we think about things such as the color of skin in Nat Geo’s Skin?
- You could also watch a bit more satire about some of the ways we think in the film Visioneers
- Or maybe hope for some magic in Ondine which wasn’t the best movie I’ve every seen but started really, really well. Maybe I wanted some kind of “perfect” ending?
- Speaking of magicians, and on a sillier note, there is the British film Magicians from the comedy team Mitchell and Webb whose “OMG did I just laugh at that” BBC show Peep Show will be coming back with some more episodes (I’ve seen all the old ones so hurry up guys!)
- And on a completely unrelated note we watched the first season of Hollywood Treasure on Netflix which is like “Pawn Stars” but with movie memorabilia. If you had told me it originally had aired on the SyFy channel I’d have been like – what?
That only leaves a few items on my recently watched list that I wanted to mention and/or discuss with you guys. I’ll round out a few more next week I think. Hoping tomorrow to do a quote blog which I haven’t done in quite some time and then Friday we’ll have our regular share day where perhaps I can mention some of the books I’m dying to do some mini-reviews on.
I’m also considering making one day a week a question day. Maybe Tuesday? Would you guys be interested in that? You could suggest topics and/or I could pick one and we’d just post it and take questions? Let me know what you think and/or if you have any shows and/or movies to discuss.
I LOVE to make lists. Even as a kid that was one of my favorite hobbies. Yep. My geekdom goes way back!
So how fitting that perhaps I’ll make a list of the seven reasons why I decided to read and review the book Tastes Like Human: The Shark Guys’ Book of Bitingly Funny Lists
- Reason One – They asked. Yep. They sent me an email and I was impressed with their website and web presence so I said: sure I’d read the book and consider it for a review.
- Reason Two – I already explained this one: I’m a sucker for lists already so why not review a book of lists?
- Reason Three – Snarky. I enjoy a good bit of snark. In fact I was told by a poetry professor early in my graduate career that some of my poems came across as snarky as if that is a bad thing? Well, it can be, and there were a few lists that I cringed at a bit, but I appreciate that they “went there.” Have to risk something if you want to be a writer who stands out.
- Reason Four – On page 27 (I was reading this on Smashwords and then later I downloaded it to my Kindle Fire because I wanted to see how easy it was to transfer a .mobi file from my computer to Kindle via USB and it was pretty easy. What was I so scared of with that?) there is a Douglas Adams reference. You can’t go wrong with a Douglas Adams reference or even 42 of them
- Reason Five – The list of Astrology and Serial Killers showes research and humor. I think this would be a fun example for my composition students.
- Reason Six – The lists about the best college majors and what you learn in college are so close to my heart that they should be a type of gospel.
- Reason Seven – Oh the rants about things like ATM and elevator etiquette were so true that I wrote a poem called “Grocery Store Etiquette.” Inspiration is the highest compliment I can pay.
On a technical standpoint I think I’d have liked a few pictures and/or some more white space around the lists for ease of reading and maybe they were a little hard on the librarians early on (or maybe that is just my love of libraries coming through), but otherwise this was a fun read and at $2.99 on Kindle it would make a fun little gift and/or purchase for yourself when you need something to read while someone is standing far too close to you in the elevator.
What do I have to measure up from last week?
- On the healthier lifestyle front I think I did fairly well. I’m not weighing or keeping a food journal/exercise log except mentally. I am noting that I feel smaller (LOL) and that is enough for me right now as well as the fact that my Saturday jog check in noted I am up to 10 minutes without stopping which is up from last week’s 8. This week I play to have at least one day where I try upping my interval speeds (jog 2.9 from 2.8/walk 2.0 from 1.8 on the treadmill) and one day where I up my other interval from 4 min jog/2 min walk to 5 min jog and 2 min walk. This will up my overall time spent jogging. So onward work in progress.
- I worked in some wonderful time watching films and documentaries. I’m going to go back to some old ones on my list like the fact that I finally watched Rango and then the next day a documentary called Rango and ILM: Perfect Asymetry that discussed the process of making the film. Considering one of the episodes of “Farscape” that I’m discussing in my critical essay (still waiting on one of my readers before I did back into revisions) is called “John Quixote” makes me love how worlds overlap. If you don’t know at all what I am talking about watch Rango and/or Google Don Quixote references!
- I also dug in to some reading this weekend and last week during bits of the conference. I finished two books on my Kindle: Moon Women by Pamela Duncan which is just a terrific southern read and Lori A May’s Low-Residency MFA Handbook which I’m actually quoted in a few times! Woot This is a terrific resource that combines interviews with alumni, current students, faculty and directors of low-residency MFA programs to really get into the meat of what the programs individually offer. Speaking of my Kindle Fire real quick. When I went to pick out a new book to read after these I found it frustrating to use my wishlist because it doesn’t necessarily show you that there is a kindle edition unless you SAVED it as that. You actually have to go to the main website (not even mobile) to get a good view of all editions of a book. Seems like a slight design flaw? Or am I just extra picky?
- But who am I to speak of flaws? I love that this new review of An Amateur Marriage by Kathleen Kirk in “Prick of the Spindle” mentions some that still show up in my chapbook. DOH! This is why i’m not a copy-editor I love her review though. It has fun with the book and is honest. That is all I can ask for in a review.
So has anyone else been keeping track of anything? Any other reflection that you are working on? I’m getting ready to dig back into the few drafts I wrote last week to work on revisions and I have those few new ideas that need some tender love and attention. Here is to Monday! Let’s celebrate it for a change
We made it! It is Friday. Thanks for those of you who read through my blogs this week. I had a lot of fun connecting my professional life with my writing life this week. I actually drafted some poems during this week as well! I’m continuing to work on my abecedarian project so the poem I’m sharing this week was inspired by that project and the conversations I heard around me from working teachers/writers/parents etc. I was working on another project with poems about a painter that I thought would be a chapbook. I realized last week, however, that I really only had about 10 poems I really liked in that “series” and that the newer material I had been creating for the last few months just wasn’t engaging me so I have folded that series into my 3rd poetry collection manuscript and one made its way into the abc project. Ya just never know where they are going to go!
–And now to dig into the revisions
As always I want you to share your work in progress via link or posting directly as I take down any works posted a week from today (including mine). And, of course, you don’t have to be working in poetry.
Here are some additional items to share:
- I’ll be part of a three person publishing panel and book signing at City Light Books on July 21st at 2pm if you know anyone in the area of Sylva, NC.
- One of the online lit mags I’m reading right now is Diverse Voices Quarterly. Love their new format. Easier to read online.
- I’m also reading Handful of Dust in which I have a poem. If any of my Summer Institute friends from the writing project stop by they might recognize that poem as I workshopped it with some of them last summer.
- Sort of reading, but more listening, how about Natalie Merchant singing old poems for a TedTalk?
I’m sure I’ll have more to share next week when I’m mostly free of obligations except the writing which is, mostly, a joy Oh, and submitting some more work. I did submit two sets of poems this week. Yay!
One of the items I worked on this week was originally produced while I was an MFA student. It was my critical/seminar essay titled: Is it Over? Finding Poetic Closure. I have it out to a reader after a lengthy revision.
I thought, however, that the title was also fitting to close out the four day Teacher Research Conference that I attended at UNCC this week. I’m not sure I have even come close to digesting all the terrific conversations I’ve had. I wrote a blog each day this week, tying them to regular topics discussed here. Monday it was thinking about balance (health, life etc), Tuesday I focused in on the connections we make that perhaps try to pull us towards some kind of final equilibrium/balance/sense of closure (with some TV watching reviews worked in). And yesterday I worked some book reviews while discussing the particularly online connections that we make. I’m still getting back to a few comments as well, but I’m glad that several people have kept up with me this week as I went through this second summer of professional development for a career in teaching.
One thing I found myself thinking about today as I tied up loose ends on remaining projects (and a new poem draft that was really recycling an old poem!) was how I’ve been (off and on) unsure about my career choice as a teacher. To work in academics is to be constantly seeking and questioning. When, like a writing life, do you shut off from all of it? Can you? I’ve been trying to decide where to take my career next. I’ve felt scattered, but it came to me today that this isn’t unlike how I felt in my first years working as a claims adjuster.
Everyday there was always a new type of claim to handle, or a new topic to discover. Sometimes that became too much and I doubted myself. I wanted to be “good” and thus successful. Becoming a “good” teacher takes time and I’ll never stop learning. I think I realized at the end of today that I need to cut myself a little bit of slack.
I don’t think I’ve made a final decision about whether or not I’ll continue on with my education or continue trying to publish academically versus creatively, but the conversations I had this week gave me insights into how other educators feel at different grade levels and different job classes about these same issues.
I can’t thank the participants from this week enough for those opportunity. And maybe, next time, I’ll have more to say – a better voice in the conversation