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Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Stay At Home Chemist" in Exponent II

The Fall 2010 issue of Exponent II is out! It features a poem I wrote about one of my friends, Carol Dormady, who used to be a research chemist. She did her masters in chemistry and literally measured mercury levels until she found out she was pregnant. As you may know, mercury and babies don't mix well, so Carol left her job only to start a baking business. I've been to her house to watch her make bagels, and I've also purchased her "experiments" at the Farmer's Market.

I love that Carol didn't simply bury herself in motherhood. She actively uses her knowledge of chemistry in the kitchen, helping to supplement her family income and keep her "Carol as woman" self intact and smiling.

You can download the free .pdf version of Exponent II at their website:

Happy reading! And writing!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gong Vs. Bong

I teach Freshman English at SFA. When I mention poetry, my students' eyes invariably glaze over, as if I suddenly started spouting off algorithms. Some of them visibly shudder. I see the lights in their eyes switch off.

That is one of the reasons that the trend of contemporary poetry to embrace vertigo worries me. Tony Hoagland, in his recent article "Recognition, Vertigo, and Passionate Worldliness," states that the "most prevalent poetic representation of contemporary experience is the mimesis of disorientation by non sequitur" (Poetry 441). He says all you have to do is pick up any new poetry magazine and you'll discover "the angular juxtaposition of dissonant data, dictions, and tones, without defining relations between them" (441).

To Hoagland's credit, in his article he seeks to highlight poetry that produces both the "gong of recognition" and the "bong of disorientation," poetry that both helps us understand the world we live in while simultaneously resisting and engaging the intellect of readers (437). I think this is a very tall order, but I admire poets who try.

Let me be clear. I am not against writerly texts, poetry written for other poets. I am a Joycean, after all. Ulysses so successfully engaged and resisted that I ended up taking not one, but two graduate courses trying to crack that nut. And I presented a paper at the North American Joyce Conference. I get writing for the sake of reflecting the complexities of the world we live in. But....

What kind of readership can this type of poetry generate? Poetry that embraces vertigo seems disingenuous in a way, disrespectful of a general readership, alienating at a time when more people than ever are literate and have the opportunity to become engaged in lively and mesmerizing poetry.

I love Ted Kooser's work. It is full of bright metaphors, clear and engaging ideas. He writes with great care not to put off his readers. When I read Kooser's work, I feel like he is smiling at me, giving me a gentle nod of the head as if to say, "you see what poetry can do?" He writes to make his readers comfortable, to clarify experience.

I also enjoy Naomi Shihab Nye's poetry. She has the habit of stitching together words and scenes in a non sequitur fashion, but the connections between the images are there. She respectfully steps back and allows the intelligence of her readers to work at making the connections themselves.

I'll say it again for emphasis. Capturing vertigo in contemporary poetry is interesting and perhaps cutting edge, but ultimately it is rather elitist and will only shrink the readership of poetry further.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cherry Blossom Review

The inaugural issue of Cherry Blossom Review is out! Three of my poems are included: "The Mexican Next Door," "Anne's Betrayer," and "Words Can Lie."

Here's the link:

Any thoughts, questions, comments? Feel free.

Sol Magazine

Sol Magazine also published "Nursling," as well as "On Castlerock Strand," and "Newborn."

If you follow this link, click on Spring 2010 edition:

Again, please feel free to comment! Thanks!

Dark Lady Poetry

Three of my poems, "Persimmon," "The Spanish Professor's Wife," and "Nursling" were published by Dark Lady Poetry  a few months ago. You can access them here:

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Poetry for Sanity's Sake

In the last year, I have begun writing poetry as a refuge. I have loved staying at home with my two beautiful children (most days), but I needed something to challenge me intellectually. Teaching part time at SFA has helped. I find the hours I spend away from my children help me to appreciate them even more. Also, the one or two hours I find to write every day I feel has quite literally kept me sane in the past year. Writing is a mode for venting my frustration as well as a language for expressing the deepest joys of my life.

W. H. Auden once wrote that poetry is the clear expression of mixed emotions. I have a lot of mixed emotions about being a stay-at-home mom. Many of my poems address motherhood and the pendulum of emotional experience it entails. Lately, I have tried to branch out more with poems about friends, social issues, other works of literature. I am still learning.

I am starting this blog as a place to put links to my published poetry for those who are interested. I would love to hear your comments.