Blog Tour 2014 – Part 2


Thank you to Jeff  Vande Zande, author of American Poet for participating in the 2014 Blog Tour.  Check out his blog and read his answers to the four questions.  I appreciated his honesty and generous spirit in answering the question about his writing process.


I would encourage any of you interested in Theodore Roethke to read American Poet, A Novel.

If you are a poet or love poetry, I would encourage you to read this novel.

If you want a well built story with layers woven together in what appears a seamless effort, and dialogue that gets to the core of each character in a matter of lines, read this book.

In short, it is a small book that packs a big punch.  It is about poets, poetry, place, loss, and complicated relationships. It is about struggle on the way to understanding purpose and self.

And in parts, it is funny as hell, especially the part of the book where he describes a poetry reading.  As a poet, that chapter alone was worth buying the book for.

In case it isn’t obvious by now, I strongly recommend this small gem of a book.


In poetry,








Blog Tour 2014

I have been asked to participate in the 2014 Blog Tour by Judy Kleinberg, who is a wonderful writer and artist from Bellingham, Washington.  It has been fun to follow the trail of so many diverse writers and glimpse their writing processes.   Here are my answers to the four questions:


What am I working on?

I am currently working on two main projects. The first is creating a collection of poems for a chapbook publication.

The second is writing about my family’s experience living at Burrows Island Lighthouse in the 1950’s.   I only have one tangible memory of living there, so most of the information is being gathered from interviews with my father.  It has been a very rewarding project, in that I have gathered an unknown piece of my own history and I hope in some small way, I will be able to document a moment in the maritime history of Burrows Island Lighthouse.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

For the lighthouse writings, content is the primary thing that sets it apart. Very few people alive today have had the experience of living at a lighthouse in the Pacific Northwest, and I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to be one of them.

As far as my poetry goes, I still consider myself a beginning poet, and my work is evolving as my writing and understanding of writing improves.

My educational background includes a Master’s degree in School Counseling, which has served me well as a writer. What I learned in my counseling program was to listen, pay attention to details, be empathetic, and to find the incongruence in story.    I use these same skills every single time I write a poem.

Additionally, I had the honor to hear the story of every child, parent, and educator who walked through my door for help.   I quickly understood that few of us get to tell our story, and that even fewer people listen to our story. My poems tend to start with a personal story in search of a larger universal theme.

The other fun thing I am doing this summer is collaborating with my son to add music to my poetry readings. I send him an audio recording of me reading a poem, and he composes background music. This is our first attempt to create art together and I am thrilled he is interested!

Why do I write what I do?

I write for the joy of understanding my world a little better.

I write to be understood.

I write because it is the only way I know how to get beyond the surface of daily living and find what really matters.

I write to leave some tangible evidence I existed.

I write because it has saved me more than once.

How does my writing process work?

I am indeed a “walking around” poet as Judy Kleinberg mentioned. I am most inspired when I walk, and I try to walk daily. It is there that images and lines pop into my brain. Sometimes it happens at random times like when listening to music or washing dishes, but not as often.  It is walking that most often fires my brain to think in different ways.

Whenever ideas or lines appear in my thoughts, I quickly write them down on anything I might have available to me, which could be the gas receipt in the car or an envelope on the counter or a napkin at dinner. Recently I started using an audio recording app on my phone, so when I am walking and some brilliant line presents itself, I can get it recorded, otherwise I may lose it by the time I get back home.

I typically work in the mornings with a really good cup of coffee at an old blue desk, where I have a view of the Puget Sound. I then save the rest of the day for reading, household chores, socializing and playing.

I have tried to write every day in a journal but I am not very disciplined about it.   I also prefer to write on the computer. However, I do send handwritten letters and notes to my family and friends.

Another part of my writing practice, that I enjoy as much as writing, is reading books about writing. By pure luck, I read “How To Write” by Richard Rhodes, when I first began writing. He said two things that made a huge impression on me.  The first was that writers are people who write and the second was a gem he got from Conrad Knickerbocker, which was:  Rhodes, you apply ass to chair.   It was the advice I needed to begin.

Next up on the blog tour:

Jeff Vande Zande.  Jeff is an English Professor at Delta College in Michigan and is best known for his novel American Poet (Bottom Dog Press, 2012), which is a brilliant novel I recommend to all my writing friends. In addition to fiction he writes poetry and screenplays.

Cathy Warner. Cathy writes essays, short fiction and poetry, and is the author of Burnt Offerings, (eLectio Publishing 2014). A former pastor, she is certified as an Amherst Writers and Artists workshop leader and holds an MFA in Creative Writing.












Heirlooms in Ars Poetica


My poem “Heirlooms”, which was first published in Cirque, has been accepted in a two-step process for Ars Poetica, 2014.

Ars Poetica, now in its third year, is an event that Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton, Washington has provided our local community in honor of National Poetry Month in April.    It is a wonderful example of collaboration between the artist as writer and the artist as visual interpreter.

The process for 2014 was to submit up to three poems for jury selection.  The selected poems were then shared blind with artists from Collective Visions Gallery, and they in turn chose a poem or poems that resonated with them.   The task of the artists between now and April is to produce a visual interpretation of the poem in any medium they choose.

In April the poems and artwork will be on exhibit, with a reading on April 13th.  In addition, a beautiful book will be produced as a lasting reminder of this wonderful collaboration.

I am both honored and excited to be part of this project and can’t wait to see the finished artwork!

Also, a  big thanks to Gary Anderson, another poet from Bainbridge Island who encouraged me to submit, and who also had a poem accepted, and Beverly Hanson, a photographer who is the 2014 Ars Poetica coordinator and has been a delight to correspond with.

In Poetry,



It Takes a Village


My poem “Finally Becoming Gaia” was just published in Clover, A Literary Rag, Vol. 6, – Winter 2013 edition.

I am always grateful when my work is selected for publication, and find myself on a writer’s high until the next rejection notice comes in.  The rejections both humble and motivate me.

So while still high at my desk this morning,  I began thinking about the “life” of this poem and was suddenly filled with gratitude for the myriad of ways a poem comes into existence at all, and how it truly “takes a village” to raise a poem.

My initial inspiration for this poem came from a common household spider that I first noticed on the mirror above my bathroom sink one morning.  What began as an ordinary day was suddenly transformed when I could not get this spider out of my head.  First while brushing my teeth, later when dressing for the day, and finally upon going to bed.  I don’t know why I felt the way I did, suddenly empathetic towards this spider, but I knew I was experiencing an unexpected shift in my view of the world and my role in it.

Much of my poetry starts this way, with routine tasks suddenly viewed through a new lens that allows language to flow and unexpected thoughts to exist, and I am always grateful when I can shape these thoughts and feelings into poems.

But I am also grateful for both the experiences and people who help move my poems forward, sometimes with intent, often without, but forward none the less.  This one small poem thanks:

1-Our friends who invited my husband and I to house sit their home in San Diego for a year in 2011. It was here that “Gaia” began, on a early fall morning while brushing my teeth.  I still remember the light that day was the color of a golden raisin with a magic I could feel.

2- The unknown woman who came up to me after I read an earlier version of this poem at the Act Theatre in Seattle in August of 2012.  She told me this particular poem resonated with her and encouraged me to keep writing.   I was new to poetry and unsure of my place in the poetry world, but decided then and there, that if  just one person connected to what I wrote,  it would be enough.

3- Sandy Kleven and Mike Burell from Cirque, A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim, who allowed me to read this poem and others, in Seattle and Bellingham in August 2012.  Their inclusiveness towards emerging writers provided me two new experiences.    The first was to participate in a poetry reading and the second was to have my first poems published in their beautiful journal.

4- The Bellingham reading at The Amadeus Project, which provided me the opportunity to meet Jennifer Bullis and Judy Kleinberg.   Much more experienced poets than I, they were kind, gracious and encouraging.   They made the effort to stay in touch, which resulted in my attending a reading by Jennifer Bullis  from her new chapbook “Impossible Lessons”  at Village Books in Bellingham.   After the reading, a number of us went out for drinks.    Sitting next to me was another generous poet, Andrew Shattuck McBride, who suggested I submit some poems to Clover, A Literary Rag.

I now realize finding a tribe you feel connected to in this solitary writing life is crucial.  I am still in the beginning stage of my writing journey and I am thankful for the people who have invited me in.  Getting a poem published is nice, but meeting people who encourage your need to write and help you on your way, makes the journey so less lonely.

5-John Willson and his poetry group at Strawberry Hill on Bainbridge Island.  John and other members of the group provided helpful feedback on ways to improve this poem,  in addition to warm tea and cookies.

6- Mary Gillilan for providing a home for this poem in Clover, A Literary Rag, and for her work in providing such a wonderful publication.

7-And to the neurons in my brain that continue to fire when I least expect it.

In poetry,


Finally Becoming Gaia

What happens when you find yourself not yourself?
When stumbling stiff from slumber you spot a spider

ice skating the mirror above your paste and brush
and half-awake imagine glowing rooms of gossamer

waiting for babies yet unborn?  So because you
are tired (or so you think) you leave her be

wondering what dream you forgot that allowed this
sharing of space.  Then later, when dressing

for the day you find she has moved to the
porcelain sink–and your first thought is not

to put her in a shroud of toilet paper down the
baby Moses river, but instead you imagine

her washing dishes in her own kitchen, and because
you are in a hurry (or so you tell yourself) you let her stay

with all eight arm-legs covered in soap. And later still,
when dusk descends and the light is soft and warm,

you find her retiring in the tub, surprised again
there is no eagerness to stomp her out,

no fear she might decide to bed with you, and in
your calm construct a bed of tissue, in case (like you)

she needs a night of peace.

The English Elms – Bloedel Reserve

Since moving to Bainbridge Island, one of my favorite places to walk is the Bloedel Reserve.   I immediately feel centered when I walk its paths and it provides me a place to slow down and reflect.

This November the English Elms in front of the Visitor Center were removed.   The day before their removal I went to say goodbye and the following poem came out of that experience.  I hope you enjoy it and that you have your own special place to find comfort and if you are so inclined, create.

In poetry,




The English Elms
Bloedel Reserve November 2013

Everything takes its leaving–tomorrow
with blades sharp    it will be the
English Elms    in a careful,
planned execution.

Before that it was the poet
not careful   or planned   at all,

and this past summer
it was the eagle with its
aerie and tree — the holy trinity
gone  when you arrived.

Yes, everything takes its leaving–
even the  Romans    with suckers of
of Ulmus procera   domesticating Britain.

But if you were lucky    you laid your hand
on a trunk    and maybe an ear    and just listened.

©  2013 by Carey Taylor