Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Overdue Update

I have been slacking off with my blog lately. Sigh! I've been busy with work, trying to keep up with my running (and mostly succeeding), working on grad school stuff and revisions of old poems.

I went to Stacey's reading on Sunday night. I've mentioned before that we read at Larry's. Well, there's also a monthly reading series in town called Peripatetic Poets, which attracts a slightly overlapping group of people; last year, right after I'd started going to Larry's with her, one of the organizers of Peripatetic Poets asked Stacey if she'd want to be a featured reader this year. She read with Liz James who's got a great poem in Cap City Poets. Stacey read first, and even though she seemed nervous the whole time, she did well, and people seemed to respond favorably. Then there was a break, in which most of Stacey's friends left, which I thought was rude. I mean, I know poetry reading are not everyone's cup of tea, but it just seemed rude to leave after your friend reads rather than stay for the rest of the evening, but hey, it's up to them, and I'm glad so many people came out to support her. Then Liz read. I've never heard her before, and even though I really enjoyed a couple of the poems, in general, she left me a bit cold. Maybe it's an age gap, or just a matter of preference, because she seems to have a following. Another break, then a very good open mic, at which I read for the first time since the last spring reading at Larry's. I was nervous! Strangely nervous. I read Sleeping Beauty in Love and it seemed to go over pretty well. It's weird because I really like that poem, but I feel that it doesn't quite fit with everything else I write. The interesting upshot of the whole evening though is that I was asked to be a featured reader, co-reading with Stacey, next year. I think that would be fantastic! I agreed to do it before realizing I may be clear across the country in a year, but the date we are scheduled is the weekend before Thanksgiving, so there's a good chance I'd be here anyway, and it's easy enough to make sure I am, so yeah, I'll be a featured reader November 22, 2009. Be there! Don't worry, I'll remind you closer to that date ;)

And the other exciting news is that I finally lined up my third recommendation for grad school! So I have two former college professors - one I took two creative writing classes with and considered a friend as well as a teacher, and one I took a freshman comp class and a senior year lit class with. Both MFA holders who are currently teaching at the university level, one still at BG, one elsewhere. And a current client, who is an English professor at Otterbein, but who knows me in a different context. I'll let her read my statement and my writing sample, but we've talked about the fact that it's more important to just get a current perspective on my work ethic, personality, maturity, etc. So I feel pretty good about my recommendations now.

I also wrote a lot of personal statement last weekend, but I think it's way too much of a narrative, story of my life sort of thing. I need to go back and read what exactly the schools are looking in a statement (I've saved this info already) and then revise it down to answer those questions. But at least I got something started. And I need to revise and organize my writing sample.

Okay, I'm done babbling about grad school now.

I wrote a poem Sunday after the reading, and typed it out last night, and I kinda like it, but it's not here to post at the moment. Sorry :(

Friday, September 26, 2008

another old one

Written my senior year at BG while I was taking a Psychology of Language class. I'd kind of forgotten about this poem. Actually I remembered writing it, and who it was written "about", but didn't remember much of it clearly. When I went back and read it today, I liked parts of it. This is actually a slight edit; I took out the set of lines that were really a vindictive commentary on the specific person, and made a couple of other very small changes. There were several people in my creative writing cohort who wrote a lot of very intelligent poems based in other academic disciplines (art, physics, music, chemistry, etc) and this sort of fit into that same mold, in a way, though it's got my particular penchant for the sex/romance/personal aspect as well.

Regressive Saccade

The eyes do not only move forward
when reading, but backward too,
fixating on words already seen,
an effort to comprehend. And not all words
are equal - fixation varies
according to frequency, plausibility, length.

I think of seeing you
naked when we made love,
how seldom it happened – you’d shut off
the lights, dress after, your body
still a mystery shrouded in sheets;
and how I never thought
it would work between us, but tried
anyway while you hid yourself
from me with cotton and lies.

The average time of fixation
is 200 milliseconds, but a poor reader
may take 500 or 1,000, wasting
a whole second on one unworthy
set of letters. Our duration
was one month, long enough to learn
my initial reading had been correct:
a non-word, there was no meaning.
I had performed badly on this task,
wasted time, failed to let my eyes move;
but I know that learning has occurred,
the brains tiny neurons will remember
this pattern, next time I will know better.

something old

going through some old poems from college recently and came upon this little one, which i always liked.


The greatest failing of evolution
is that human beings never developed
the ability to purr, express pure

Instead, they use looks and sounds
ambiguous, or words forced out
to clutter up moments
like teacups left on tables.

If language is the one field
in which humanity excels,
this is proof we still
have much to learn.

Monday, September 15, 2008

After the Storm

The remnants of Hurrican Ike came through Central Ohio yesterday. It's quite a mess, but I feel very lucky to be here and not on the coast where it caused more serious damage. We got no rain, just wind gusts of up to 75 miles an hour. Trees, branches, chimneys, power lines, etc down all over the place. Over 260,000 people without power. I worked yesterday until 5:00; the worst of the wind came through between 4 and 5, I think, but it was still insane walking home. My skin was coated in dirt and debris by the time I'd walked six blocks. I had to cross to the opposite side of the street twice because there were power lines down on the sidewalk. Everyone was sitting on porches calling out greetings and warnings to the people walking by; a little old man told me to go home, I said I was on my way.

Amazingly, my building never lost power. I'd left windows open, and the wind had slammed doors shut and blown papers around and scared poor Lucky. He met me at the door with his tail all uncurled and a very unhappy look on his face, but everything was intact, and we walked out to make sure nothing had fallen on my car, and it too was fine. One of the trees out front is split into three pieces, one standing upright, one fallen toward the sidewalk, one fallen backward onto the brick privacy wall we used to climb last summer.

I was getting ready for work this morning when I got a call from one of my bosses. Our office has no power, so I got to stay home. I took Lucky for a long walk and surveyed the mess in the neighborhood, then I came up to Cup o' Joe, and am going to try to get some work done on grad school applications. I think I came up with a third recommender this weekend; I'll have to ask her, but I think it'll work. She's a client of mine now, and although she doesn't know my writing, she is an English professor, and she can speak about my personality and work ethic and my current self; my other recommenders are college professors from my undergrad, so that's been quite awhile.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008
for Tom

I woke this morning not knowing why
I had one of your songs in my head, and not
a song I ever really liked. It wasn’t about me.

I walked my dog this clear, chilly morning
singing to myself. I could have been
your Valentine, now I’m just a tale to tell.

I was almost your wife. I didn’t like
your songs, but I tried to be supportive.
I remember waking seven years ago,

today, to your panicked voice on the phone.
Turn on the radio (we didn’t own a television),
turn on the radio, something’s happened.

I sat alone on your scratchy plaid couch
in the wood-paneled apartment above
the pizza shop, and I listened to true fear

in the voices of the reporters, shock,
and something more like excitement than sorrow;
it was the biggest day of their lives, the type of thing

they’d been trained for. I was not prepared
when I finally saw the footage that night
subtitled above the bar. I walked outside

into the dark, let the wind blow through me.
You followed me, and held me, and even though
I knew I didn’t love you, I clung to whatever it was

you offered me, a man’s arms, a promise
of stability, a shared place in the world, shelter
from the wind and the debris.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In a Supermarket in Columbus, Ohio

I thought of this for some reason when I was driving today.... I thought of that first trip to the grocery store when I'd first moved out of my ex's apartment, and I thought of Ginsberg's poem of course, because how many other poems are there about supermarkets? It doesn't really relate to his, except in the title and first line. It might want to relate more to it, but for now, here's a beginning....

In a Supermarket in Columbus, Ohio

What thoughts I have tonight of my former selves
as I wander these aisles alone, nearly in tears
because I can not find the raisins in this labyrinth
of chilled air, bright lights, and preservatives
I can not pronounce. Grief is green and bitter
at this stage, my first shopping trip for one
in five years. My mind puckers at the sourness
as I walk past the things I only ever bought for him.

I am free now to buy only what I like, to lose myself
in reading labels. I am shivering, too skinny
in a skirt and sleeveless blouse, sandals rubbing
my heels raw. I am lonely, yet I am shopping
at midnight so I'll be alone. In time I know I will
blossom again, fill out this new life, taste sweetness
and, if I am lucky, tenderness.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Balance (or, My Sunday To Do List)

Wash the dishes that are starting to stink
piled beside the sink so neatly. Fold
and hang the clean clothes littering the linen chest.
Get outside, run 7 miles, don't forget
to drink a lot of water. Shower, eat, write,
don't ignore your friends.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The list

This is of course subject to change, but I wanted to put it out here in writing. I have read and researched a bazillion grad programs, put together a list of about 30 that appealed to me in different ways, did some comparisons, some more research, and narrowed it to 18 earlier this week, and now I finally have a list of 12. There are a few here I'm not married to trying, and there may be a few I've eliminated that I could be convinced to giving another look, but right now, here is my list of 12, in alphabetical order by state......

Colorado State
Columbia College, Chicago
Cleveland State (NEOMFA)
Penn State
West Virginia University

A couple of big names - Indiana and Michigan. Several solid programs that aren't quite as "top tier" - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, Penn, Colorado, SDSU. A couple of lesser knowns - WVU, Columbia (both of which appeal immensely to me on a purely intuitive level). And two new programs - the NEOMFA is a joint program through Cleveland State, which has for awhile had a fairly solid MA with creative writing emphasis, Akron, Kent, and Youngstown, so it's new but getting some good buzz. The other new program is at UC San Diego - no one seems to know much about it, and it's one of the ones I'm not totally sold on. It's on my semi-short list because of the location more than anything else.

Thoughts? Anyone?