New Poems Up at Bellingham Review and Pontoon

I’m honored to have two poems published this month! “Amanda Bubble Crafts a New Creation Story” appears in Issue 71 of Bellingham Review; my thanks to former Editor-in-Chief Brenda Miller, current Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Paola Antonetta, former Managing Editor Ellie A. Rogers, and current Managing Editor Louis McLaughlin for including my poem. When you visit, please check out the gorgeous essay “He Worked as an Electrician. He Enjoyed Television. (His Obituary Was Plain.)” by Spokane poet Maya Jewell Zeller!

In addition, my poem “What Was Good about Going to Church” has been selected for this year’s issue of Pontoon, the journal of poems by Washington-state poets who submitted chapbook manuscripts to Floating Bridge Press. My thanks to everyone on the editorial committee at FBP! For the first time, Pontoon is now online, allowing wider access to readers. Here’s my poem, and here’s the first page of the Table of Contents (be sure to click through all four pages to read the whole issue). I hope you enjoy!

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Gratitude for Words of Encouragement

Joannie Stangeland’s latest collection of poetry (Ravenna Press, 2014)

Many, many thanks to Seattle poet, editor, and winemaker Joannie Stangeland for her write-up of Impossible Lessons as her Saturday Poetry Pick yesterday! Her lovely words are here.

In a wonderful coincidence, I’ve been reading her new book, In Both Hands. The poems there are haunting, replete with precise images of beauty and loss. I’m falling in love with, and going to school on, these incredible poems.

Be sure to read another recent post of Joannie’s, in which she describes her current writing projects.

AWP and the Anxiety of Non-Affiliation

On Halloween night, late, as the ghosts and zombies and fairy princesses were packing away their costumes and sinking into sugar-fogged sleep, I sat down at my computer and registered for next year’s AWP Conference. It’ll be in Seattle February 26-March 1, and since this national writing conference rotates through the Pacific Northwest only every six or so years, I don’t want to miss it. I’m excited to go to craft sessions, hear author readings, and browse the book fair that will take up two entire wings of the Seattle Convention Center.

Signing up was easy, except for one part. On the page instructing me to enter the information to be printed on my conference i.d. badge, I was asked to provide my “Affiliation.”

Now, I’ve been to a lot of professional conferences. In my two decades of teaching, I attended the MLA, the NCTE, and the CCCC:  the national conferences related to college literature, teaching English, and college composition, respectively. At all of those conferences, my “affiliation” was with either my grad school or, for the other 12 years, the community college where I was tenured. My “affiliation” was thoroughly, purely academic.

I resigned my teaching job when, the year after my son was born, I realized that I wasn’t able to manage both my full-time workload and my new full-time workload. Also, having no time to write, read, or exercise was making me crazy. Fortunate to be able to live on the income of my generous husband, I gave up my job, for a few years teaching very part time, and the past few years, not at all.

Untethering myself from academic life has taken a long time, and I’m still processing this separation between my academic identity and my personal identity. So the AWP i.d.-badge “affiliation” prompt raises the question all over again: who am I, now that I’m not connected to a school? If to “affiliate” is to “attach” to an institution as a child attaches to an adoptive parent (filium being Latin for “son”), then who is my professional family?

The prospect of leaving that line blank on my name badge is, frankly, a little terrifying. So I thought I’d ask you, blogfriends, for advice. In the comments, please list all that you think apply:

  1. “Unaffiliated.” End of story.
  2. “Free Range Poet”
  3. “Local Poet”
  4. “Poet with a Chapbook from MoonPath Press and Pretty Stoked About That”
  5. Badges? You don’t need no stinkin’ badges.
  6. “Institutionally Unattached”
  7. “Institutionally Unattached, But Don’t Back Away Like That; I’m Not Gonna Beg You for a Job”
  8. “Existentially Unattached and Kind of Anxious About It on Behalf of All Humanity”
  9. “Don’t Worry, Be AW-P”
  10. For crying out loud, Jennifer, get over yourself and enjoy the conference!
  11. “____________________” [Your suggestion here]

Your thoughts? And will I be seeing you, by any chance, in Seattle?

Cheers,
Jennifer

Words and Images Artfully Paired by Caitlin Thomson

Caitlin Thomson's WORD & IMAGE Tumblr, June 20, 2013

Caitlin Thomson’s WORD & IMAGE Tumblr, June 20, 2013

Caitlin Thomson, whom you may remember from last winter’s Blog Hop project, is doing many lovely things. Among them, she’s curating a  Tumblr site called Poem & Image that pairs short passages from poems with eye-catching images. She explains her approach, and her goal of helping to make poetry more accessible to non-poetry readers, in her new blog post titled “Poetry, Popularity, and Image.” 

Last week, Caitlin did me the honor of choosing a passage from my poem “Ten Great Gifts for the Woman Who Has Nothing” to present with a luminous seascape image. Thank you, Caitlin, for your thoughtful work with my, and everyone else’s, words.

OMG! My Chapbook! It’s Here!

Today I came home to a huge carton on my doorstep. From CreateSpace. Could it be–already?

Yes, Dear Readers. Yes it is.

My chapbook!

The front cover. Remember all that fuss over which of Mark's photos to use? (Yeah, me neither.)

The front cover. Remember all that fuss over which of Mark’s photos to use? (Yeah, me neither.)

I am, as you might guess, giddy. It is 43 pages of poems, elegantly arranged over 58 pages, Oreo-cookied between one of the loveliest photos ever taken of fall leaves in the Methow River and three of the most embarrassingly glowing blurbs ever to grace a back cover. I can hardly believe it.

I’m profoundly grateful to Lana Hechtman Ayers, editor and publisher of MoonPath Press in Kingston, WA for inviting me, exactly one year ago today, to submit my manuscript for her to consider publishing; for her artfully selecting and shaping the poems into sequence; and for her meticulous care and patience throughout the process of editing and producing the chapbook. I thank Tonya Namura, too, for designing the cover so beautifully and laying out the text. This is my dream come true!

And my thanks to you, Dear Readers, for your enthusiasm and encouragement about this project. It’s been fantastic to be able to share this great news with you throughout the process. I’ll post details soon about getting copies of the chapbook into your hands.

Cheers,
Jennifer

NaPoWriMo, Day … oh, dear.

Moving right along.

Today’s poem is prompted by Danielle Mitchell at Litnivorous (motto: “You Are What You Read”). In addition to offering brief prompts this month, she also has a full menu of very detailed writing exercises (see the menu bar at the top of the Home page) that fascinate me. My poem below responds to Prompt #7, Exercise #1. Thank you, Danielle, for this enjoyable workout of my “brain’s weirdness muscles.” And also, for the word “vodka.”

***

TO ONE WHO ESCAPED

This was the last time you would tell them
the water of their core aquarium did not meet
your requirement for prismatic frequencies.
Though they wooed you in Catalán, in Cantonese,
and Klingon, you inflected them back to themselves
in images of fizz and fenestration.

For a while, you tried your weirdest
to parlay their assertions into factual acres.
Your curiosity percolated like verdure.
Fluffed, it met with temporary merit.
But—peekaboo!—you found it impossible
to combobulate the spacious into something capable.

They wanted you to believe belief was everything
(the u-turns in the hairpins, the whirl of repentance).
At length, tremblingly, they offered you
a majestic ceramic and its liquid aphrodisiac.
But they weren’t prepared for the convergence
of your fineries. Or for the way you shouldered
that stoneware—so demure, so periodic.

When their methods uncornered the dribble
of their trial, you triumphed by splintering
the vodka of their maroon. Shhh… They want
you to believe your professed beliefs
are really true. Just because you’re pronoid
doesn’t mean they’re not favoring you.

Even though I’ve been negligent about posting lately, I have been catching up on my blog reading. During this week of holy days, one poem I keep going back to is my Chicago poet-friend Marilyn Cavicchia’s “Maybe the Rosemary.” In this piece, she sneaks up on the sacred in the shoes of her young children. She used that quietly brilliant stealth last week, too, in her magnificent poem “In the Beginning, There Was”–so please click back to her home page to enjoy that one, as well (I’m looking at *you*, Mr. Abu).
Happy Passover, Happy Easter, peace to you, peace to all, “cage free.”

Marilyn Rauch Cavicchia

Time to write about religion now,
after buying bananas and escarole,
after passing up a rosemary plant
that was blooming, which I have
never seen, which sent me on a
whole series of associations
(gardens, my mother, whose name
was Rosemary; she was a pilgrim
in the garden, always a transplant
and always seeking something—
blooming vigor, a pleasant surprise
brought about by her own two hands:
Oops! Look at that—this thing I have
tended, not even knowing for sure what
it was, is now exploding in splendor.)
But anyway, I was buying onions
and carrots, basil and bread,
showing Betty, my daughter,
how the eggs we buy are cage free,
certified humane. I was cringing
at my ostentatiousness, how I
justify myself out loud, and my
children were fighting, mainly
Joseph, my son, relentlessly
needling Betty because he is
smaller and knows he is smaller.
They both…

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