Friday, July 31, 2009

Last day of work

I'm reading (and loving) Lisa Ciccarello’s chapbook "At Night, The Dead" as part of the first Read Write Poem "virtual book tour". Several people will be reviewing the chapbook on their respective blogs; my review will appear here on September 3rd.

Also, just playing on the new fabulously redesigned Read Write Poem site today. Go check it out!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grad School Preparations

I have now packed the following:

Six boxes of books (then I ran out of boxes)

everything that was previously under my bed (well, ok, I threw out a good bit of it)

a box of small pictures frames, interspersed with scarves for cushioning

the contents of my desk so I can get rid of it

I’ve also gone through my front closet and thrown things out, given things away, and gotten the rest of it organized. I even put all my hats, gloves, etc in two little plastic tubs.

I’m making gradual progress. I am also increasingly nervous, about the physical details of the move, the prospect of living with a roommate for the first time in three years, and mostly about the program. I’m second-guessing my creative abilities, and my intellectual ones, and I am anxious to just get in there and challenge myself. Oddly, the one thing I’m not questioning is the one thing that everyone else seems to think I should be most nervous about, and that’s teaching; instead, I’m really looking forward to it. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that, but I’m really excited to teach!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ghazal - "Nothing"

You know I love ghazals, and there was a post on Poetic Asides about them the other day, so I wrote one off the cuff that evening and thought I'd toss it up here since I haven't posted much poetry recently. I changed one line from the version I posted here (You can read the post about the form and a few other people's submissions as well).

I loved her four years and took away nothing
but memories and photos that add up to nothing.

In Ohio, it is hard not to love summer, the bright green
of grass, the brightness of bodies wearing next to nothing.

We were both eighteen, bare-legged on a summer night,
sweet smell of cornsilk, so faint as to be almost nothing.

An apartment without air conditioning. Open windows
all night long. Two bodies sweating. I would change nothing.

Sun and moon love earth the way I loved her, the only way
they know how: offering themselves, asking nothing.

It has been ten years since she left. Still when I drink wine,
I wonder what I should have done differently. The answer: nothing.

With all this time to think, Emily has realized
that without both love and loss, life is worth nothing.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Possible beginning of a poem, or just a random bit of thought.


Two shoeboxes full of photographs
a flip book of evolution, a novel
in glossy 3x5s and 4x6s, main characters
and minor, some who’ve died and some
who’ve disappeared, a poor white
station wagon and my baby sister
in a stained dress playing on a bare
floor, friendships and tourist attractions
and yellow fields and red brick,
dogs I remember and cats I’ve forgotten

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make it new

Attended a really great open mic event tonight (at Urban Spirit coffeeshop, on Long Street, for any Columbus people reading - it's absolutely worth checking out! More slam-oriented than the Poetry Forum, but very supportive of all different voices, and filled with talent!) And I was noticing that a lot of poems dealt with similar themes and/or sounded similar to other poems I've heard or read before, so I was just thinking about how to make things new, and how hard that is. The easiest things to say are the ones that have already been said, but are they the only ones?

Is there an end of newness, a limit to the number of new things a poet can say, a finite number of new ways to say them? Is it like a relationship, where it loses the excitement after awhile? Or is there a way to keep the spark going, to make a commitment, to marry the work. I, Emily Anderson, take you, poetry, to be my partner….. I feel a bit like that’s the commitment I’m making by going into an MFA program; I’m saying “yes, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is the career I want to have. For richer and for poorer…” (mostly poorer – poets, even with university jobs, aren’t known to be wealthy). That’s scary, that commitment. And we all know I don’t do well with commitment. But maybe I can change. Maybe I'm ready.

Monday, July 13, 2009

perfect (from this weekend)

(I wasn't online at home at the time I wrote this, Saturday afternoon, but thought I'd post it now)

it’s raining today, a steady, cooling, soaking rain, with some light thunder, the day after I noticed how low the river was and how sad the mudflats looked in the center of it. I felt a little guilty for wanting nothing but sunshine this summer, and now we’re getting rain on a day when I had no outdoor activities at all planned. again, it is perfect. perfect, perfect, perfect. overwhelmingly so, and scarily so, and I just want to live up to it all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Reasons I like riding the bus:

1) seeing the pregnant mom with three young children and being glad it's not me

2) accidentally eavesdropping on a cell phone conversation and realizing that I still understand more Spanish than I thought I did

3) not having to drive, or think, or pay attention to anything for a little while. feeling like i'm "supposed" to be just reading or daydreaming or playing games on my cell phone.

4) no parking hassles

5) no parking tickets

6) relinquishing control and my obsession with being on time

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Reading Part 3

Yesterday was a deliciously book-filled day. After work, I walked up to the library. I returned Autobiography of Red; I'd meant to re-read it carefully, but after re-reading a few sections, I decided not to. While I appreciate that it's a very smart, very unique book, and while the story did stick with me, the poetry of it, the language of it, didn't really connect with me. So I returned one book and picked up four more, including Czeslaw Milosz's Selected Poems which I absolutely love, then I took the bus up to Clintonville to spend my gift certificate at Areopagitica Book Store. Oh, I love that place! It's a used bookstore, in all the best ways: it smells of old books, it's usually empty, you can stumble across all kinds of hidden gems, and the proprietors lurk quietly and can tell you where anything in the store is. I got there right around 6:00, only to see on the sign that they are supposed to close at 6:00 on Mondays. The door was still open and the shelf of clearance books still on the sidewalk, so I walked in and asked if they closed at 6:00 and the man behind the desk said he'd decided to stay open that evening. So I wandered a bit, picked up Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet (which I've read before but need to own) and The Delicacy and Strength of Lace, letters between James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko, and I ordered a copy of A Wild Perfection (the collection of James Wright's letter that I have from the library right now). I've always enjoyed James Wright's poetry, but reading the letters is just so interesting; I'm maybe a third of the way through the book and there are so many things I'd like to go back to read again and think about.

Then I had a nice coffee break with Sam, then went home, had a veggie chili dog and a spinach salad for dinner, then read and read some more. I am so in love with Milosz! If there is one critique I could make of my assigned reading in college, it is the almost complete lack of poetry in translation. I never read Neruda or Paz or Akhmatova in college; I've discovered all of them later, through friends or my own reading. I did read and fall in love with Rilke (thank you, John Wylam, for including one of the Elegies in the English 205 course packet), but his is the only translated poetry I remember reading in college. Anyway, Milosz is wonderful: poignant and smart and visual and just altogether lovely. So I read a bit of that, then I finished the novel I started last week: The Shadow Lines, by Amitav Ghosh. The second half was better than the first. The whole novel jumps around frequently in time, all through the childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood of the narrator; it can be confusing, especially early on until the reader gets a handle on the basics of what happened when and where. By the second section, one plot point has been resolved and the reader has a decent grasp on the overall arc of the story, so the second half reads easier than the first. I enjoyed the book, and it's a worthwhile read, but not super-outstanding.

I need to write. I want to write. I get ideas for poems, but I am embroiled in some strange sort of conflict with myself over actually sitting down to write them. I think on one hand, I want to save my writing for once I get to grad school, as though I'm afraid if I write a lot this summer, I won't have anything to say in the fall. On the other, I feel like I really should get into the habit of writing, but I'm dragging my feet against that obligation; I don't respond well to pressure or obligations, and telling me I "should" or "have to" do something is one of the best ways to keep me from doing it.