I am delighted to be sharing a reading venue with poets Meredith Clark and Lynne Ellis for this event. We will be reading on Saturday, April 6th from 5:00 – 5:45 PM, at Dick and Jane’s Spot in downtown Ellensburg, Washington.
If you are interested in hearing poems about the passage of time, impermanence and memory, come on down and say hi. I’d love to see you.
We all read together in January at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop where I had the opportunity to hear Melissa read from her new chapbook-RUPTURE, LIGHT.
RUPTURE, LIGHT is a book filled with poems that speak both to the personal and universal. The poems in this collection take us on a journey through the worlds of pregnancy, children, and marriage, and with this poet’s keen eye, helps us see both the transitory nature of the domestic scenes and their continued ability for rebirth: It turns out life is a will/an overfed bulb/that can be forced to bloom again/and again.
Hope is never forsaken in these poems, but as a keen observer the poet lets us know that all we love is leaving us: In the graveyard,/the snow softens the stones/while we walk, idle talk about how/we’ll be buried//You want to live forever/in the canyon we love,/your skin and bone/become sugar pine/and chaparral.
Reeser is a poet who tells us head on: there is one grief/inside of everything. And in the end, this ability to not shy away, is the very thing that allows the love of all she holds dear, to be gathered close with exquisite care, where there is nothing left to do but take it/tender in my hands,/try to soothe/its hunger.
I highly recommend you put RUPTURE, LIGHTon your poetry reading list and if you are in Portland catch Melissa reading at Cardinal Club on March 29th/5:30-6:30 PM.
In these dark long days I have been thinking of the people I and others have lost as we enter this holiday season. I think of my Aunt Trudy when I hang her home-made Christmas ornaments on my tree.
I think of my grandfather when I search the night sky for Santa and his sleigh and my grandmother who played board games with me on Christmas morning.
I think of my step-mother and her glorious tree.
I think of friends and family who have lost husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends— and my wish for each and everyone of us is that we take care of each other this holiday season.
May we be kind. May we be present. May we help each other as best we can and may we not forget those who have moved into the light of a new existence.
As I have been reflecting this month, I kept thinking about a Facebook post from a woman who lost her husband this past year. She posted a picture of a garland of gingerbread men they had made together last Christmas. Acknowledgement of both her loss and her love for this man.
When I was in my 20’s, I shared a number of Christmas celebrations with this woman and her husband and their extended family. And in that loving family I obtained through marriage, I learned my first grown-up lessons about unconditional love and the importance of celebrating each other and the season.
And as happens with me, a poem began to emerge from these reflections that I am now sharing with you. May you all find peace and love as we enter a new year.
Like blackberry brambles the soul has seasons
when its leaves grow scarce.
Even then, a smallish body will find shelter there,
deer mouse chittering, or the tiny wren, piping its song.
For what, if not that singing, does the soul dare
a new season’s greening?
Hello friends. It has been awhile since I posted here and I’ve missed my days of scheduled writing and updates. But truth be told, I have been taking care of myself in what has been a period of jackhammer days, both literally and figuratively.
As many of you know, I moved back to Portland last summer and in an either brilliant or insane move purchased a 1947 home which was in need of some major renovations. Today this blog is being written from my new office. Outside my office window my contractor is jackhammering away the basement foundation in order to install an egress window. It is noisy. It is dirty. I am hoping the house does not collapse and the new earthquake retrofit holds. In the meantime, I am visualizing a beautiful finished basement that is light-filled and has a second bathroom.
Also during this time, a family member died, another family member had colon-cancer surgery, and an adult child moved back home. I had something die in the chimney and for a week flies flew out of the fireplace like bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.
And while I haven’t been writing much, I did travel to Iceland and Ireland, have been invited to poetry readings to read from my new book, and I organized a poetry event in the small town where I graduated from high school and invited Finnish poet Gary Anderson to come read with me.
Last week I hiked seven miles up the Salmon River trail on the southwestern flank of Mt. Hood with old friends, and I’ve been reading and cooking more than usual—all things that anchor me during this fallow writing port-of-call.
So while my world is being disassembled and reconstructed I have complete faith the one thing that will remain intact (even if it is silent for now) is my poetry, because I can feel the seeds beginning to germinate, and a gentle push of green carrying a word or a line up through the dark with a story to tell.
But for now I am reading the poetry of Bethany Reid, who is a poet friend from Edmonds, Washington. Her new collection Body My House(Goldfish Press Seattle) is a collection that as author Priscilla Long so aptly conveys: are poems to read and reread, and to savor. I recommend you check her out.
My next gig is in Portland at “Another Read Through” on November 29th— a lovely neighborhood book store in North Portland. I will be reading with two of my favorite poets Christianne Balk and Kristin Berger, and we would love to have you come down and hear us read.
As I have mentioned before, my new book of poetry The Lure of Impermanence came out in July. I included in this collection a poem called 9 to 5. I wrote this poem when the #MeToo movement had just begun its groundswell.
Today, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in jail for sexual assault and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is currently being scrutinized for a number of behaviors with women that are at best disturbing. And these are just a few of so, so many more stories just like them.
I have lost confidence in the ability of the news to report in any unbiased manner and therefore I am more often than not left to my own judgment and experience by which to consider stories reported in the media.
And what my experience considers is that I personally know girls and women who have been abused by boyfriends, family members and spouses.
What I do know is that I was carried to a bedroom by a man who was much older than me when I was barely of legal age and stoned on marijuana. A man who held a position of respect in the community.
What I do know is I am shaking as I write that last sentence because I recall that night as vividly as if it were today. Only it wasn’t today. It was 45 years ago.
What I do know is that I told no one. What I do know is that I was ashamed.
What I do know is that I am someone’s mother, wife, daughter and friend and none of them knew. What I do know is I am not sure I want them to know now.
What I do know is that all women deserve the simple right to be respected and have control of what happens to her body and if I could ask anything of you it would be to consider the women you love. Consider their experience. Because it is possible that the people who love her most, don’t know the dark places she has been afraid to shed the light on. Because to do so is to expose herself to being rejected, silenced, not believed or worst yet blamed.
And until history proves it unnecessary, may we all slash, slash, slash, this roughshod blazing path.
Today I am sitting in my back yard at a picnic table writing this blog. I am looking at the back of my new/old house that was built in 1947 and was advertised as a Cape Cod when we purchased it a month ago. The clatter from the windows is grating as I watch a man push and pull a large industrial sander over the old oak floors in a desperate attempt to salvage them. He has told me he can make them beautiful and for a small fortune, I have decided to believe him.
I have been counting down the days this project would begin because once it is finished, I can sleep in a real bed and unplug the blow up one I have been sleeping on for three months. Once the floors are done, I can sit on a sofa and not a fold-up outdoor bistro chair. Once the floors are done, I can set up a “real” office and get back to my writing schedule, submit poems, and pay bills, at my neatly organized desk and not at a picnic table with a tote bag for a file cabinet. Once the floors are done, I can have people over for dinner inside the house and I can binge watch Netflix.
But in the meantime, I wait and look up at the large Italian Plum tree in front of me with its purple-blue-skinned fruit hanging thick on old branches. I listen to the Scrub Jay in the spent lilac, the sound of a distant lawn mower, the words in Romanian I do not understand coming from the back bedroom, the whine of a small Fed-Ex plane overhead, the neighbor next door watering his potted plants.
And I wait. For the house to be a bit closer to finished, for my new book of poems, The Lure of Impermanence (Cirque Press) to have its final edit and to not forget a line from a poem in my new book—
Sometimes it’s important to stop—
to imagine a brush filled with Prussian blue
its earthy taste on your tongue
to see a night more richlycolored than day
I am honored to have been invited to read at this event hosted by Nancy Woods, who I first met through Cirque Journal readings in Portland. She is the author of “Hooked on Antifreeze” and has a great sense of humor. I will be reading my poetry, and while most of my poems are not as funny as Nancy’s stories, it should be a good time with good people in a great venue. If you are out and about in Portland, stop on by.
It has been awhile since I have written a blog post. I signed up to blog once a week at the beginning of the year, and have failed miserably to meet my goal.
So, what have I been doing these past three months? Well, I attended a ten-week poetry workshop, wrote poems, researched writing programs, read twelve books, travelled to Nashville, and sold my house. And, as if that were not enough, two weeks ago, as I was packing up my kitchen I was notified that Cirque Press out of Anchorage, Alaska is ready to move forward with publication of my first book of poems, which caused me to dance around my empty home in absolute delight.
Endings and beginnings seem to be a constant theme in my life. Since I was a child, I have moved every few years. Even as a young girl I remember the allure a new place had on me. In equal measure, I also had feelings of homesickness connected with leaving, which left me feeling conflicted.
I still love new adventures, and by nature I am a flexible and curious person who is not afraid to try something new. But I also know, with each new adventure and opportunity my heart gets broken a bit each time, because I am always open to attach myself to the people I meet or the landscape I walk on, and by caring for both, I allow myself to experience what can be the beautiful paradox of heartbreak.
At the end of this week, I head to California for a few weeks of reflection, then back to the Pacific Northwest to begin the search for another home. I have already begun scouting out a new writing community in the Portland area, but I have no intent to leave the community I have made here. The roads that take us to each other will just be different and not even necessarily longer, especially when you factor in bridges and ferry rides!
As I have been reflecting about what I will gain in this move, and what I will miss, I wrote the following poem. As Dorothy told the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
When I was fifteen, I began collecting poems in a handmade journal my mother made for me. The journal has been tucked away for over 40 years in a beautiful, wooden, “hope chest” my Grandfather made for me.
A hope chest, when I was growing up, was a place to primarily collect household linens, such as embroidered pillow cases, in anticipation of becoming married someday, and having a dowry of sorts to begin that marriage.
I never filled mine with household linens. Instead, I chose journals, memento’s, love letters, and a dried corsage or two.
I seemed to know in my fifteen year old heart, it was poetry that I would stay married to the longest.