Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Dark Side

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Aside from Cinco de Mayo, I'm convinced it should be every poet's favorite holiday. It has all we need to stoke the fires of the bizarre poet's heart: celebrating the dead (us poets love to celebrate our dead, "Turn me into song; sing me awake."), altering of characters and personas (let us be another so that we can be ourselves! "The natural madness of the hatter."), bonfires ("Rage, rage against the dying of the light."), and lastly, a wild foray into the darkness ("We grow accustomed to the dark--").  This year, All Hallows Eve has coincided with some strange rhyming obsession that's hit me recently and hasn't stopped. Like most of my obsessions, there was nothing to do but hop on the train and hope that at some point I'd be let off eventually. So, I've given in and started writing children's poems. This one in particular if for Dimitri, my awesome four year old nephew who loves Halloween as much as I do.  What can we do, but embrace whatever new poetic device comes knocking at our door? Let it in! Let it in! Give it candy and gin! 

(*Thanks to Kaelea Ann for making it pretty and four year old friendly!)

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Big Audio Bibliophile

When I was out for my walk today, as I took this photo on the left, I was thinking of all the little changes that life offers. Not the big ones, but the little funny ones that seep into your bloodstream and become part of you before you're even aware of it, the smallest revolutions of the mind and the body. One of the many things that has altered over the past two years of my new vagabond life, is that I read almost 150% more than I did when I lived and worked in New York. I always read poetry, sometimes more than 5 books of poems a week, and I always read my favorite poetry books over and over again, nightly even, but now that I've journeyed to the outskirts, I've fallen in love with the long form again, the fiction books, the memoirs, the mysteries, the fantasies, all of it. 

Not only do I have a book that I read by my bed, but I also have a book that I'm listening to. When I take the dog for a walk into our neighbor's tree farm (Thanks, Tom!), or when I'm driving through town, or when I'm cleaning, doing the dishes, making dinner, and so on, there is very often an audio book playing in my headphones or through the speaker. My best friends back in the city like to tease me about this. I'll say, "I read this great book!", to which they'll reply, "You READ it? Or you LISTENED to it?" They want to make sure that I'm aware of the distinction, that I don't go around saying I read two novels a week, when in fact I've listened to one novel, and read the other. I understand their concern, and I very much appreciate the difference. They are each entirely independent visceral experiences. However, that doesn't discount the incredible pleasure I get from listening to a well-written unabridged novel, with a gorgeous, layered story, read by a talented multi-dimensional narrator. 

It started when I had to pack up my apartment for my sub-letter (sigh, and now the apartment is no longer mine). I had a month to go through everything I had accumulated over the twelve years I lived in Brooklyn. Papers, cocktail napkins with poems and lists, pictures, and so many shoes. So so so many shoes. A woman I worked with connected me with her friend who worked for a large publishing house. She, very very sweetly, sent me a dozen or so audio books that she had laying around the office in order to congratulate me on my decision to write full time. (Supportive strangers? I could not, I repeat, could not, live without them.) In the bunch was Jonathan Franzen's, Freedom. All 24 hours and 14 minutes of it. Read by David LeDoux. It kept me company during the sorting and the filing and the terrible throwing away. I was hooked.

I have always loved being read to. When I was little my dad would read stories and make up stories for us before we went to bed, my mom read to us all the time, and my stepdad read books to us with such talent and enthusiasm that sometimes we'd be too wound up by the story to go to bed. Oh Ramona & Beezus, Oh Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, let them go on forever. Sometimes, I think it's why I've always liked to attend poetry readings and fiction readings, so that I could hear someone reading out loud. But have you ever been to a reading where the author doesn't get it right. You think, "Wow, that's your own work, and you're not doing it justice!" I have. Now, imagine if the author reads in such a voice that the story unfolds so beautifully and smoothly that an entire eight hour drive could go by in the blink of an eye. That's how I feel about audio books.  

Of all the great new habits I've developed in my new outlaw-style of living, listening to audio books might be in the top five. It gives me more "reading time," and it deepens my appreciation for old classics I've already read. It allows me explore other genres that I might otherwise ignore, because they might be an enjoyable road trip book, or because I know the narrator is going to be good. Seriously. Who doesn't want to hear Neil Gaiman reading, Neverwhere? (I can hear him saying, "Richard Mayhew" right now.)

I know that there are people who listen to audio books because they are visually impaired, or recovering from illness, or who have trouble with the written word because of disabilities, but I would suggest that even if you are perfectly happy to read a good book in its original, beautifully designed hard cover edition, you might also want to listen to a good book, too, when you get a chance. If the narrator is solid, the power of the story will come through, if the writing is beautiful, the writing will be read to bring out the full complexity of its music. If it's read by the author, you'll get insight on not only that persons weird extraordinary brain, but also the way he or she hears things like dialogue and rhythm. Sometimes, I've read the hard copy AND listened to the audio version just so I can really focus on what the author is doing, it's an extraordinary experience. The Sun Also Rises read by William Hurt, is wonderful. Ever want to revisit Virginia Woolf's, To the Lighthouse? This is a good new way to do it.

Perhaps, and I'm not ashamed to admit this though I probably should be, I also love listening to books because sometimes my brain is just too damned loud. Don't get me wrong, I love a quiet space; that's the place I write from. I love the meditative dark that I have inside me when a real self-aware silence comes. But sometimes, when I've had  to clean out the basement or pack up an apartment, my nutty, sometimes torturous thoughts come at me so hard and fast and furious, that it's nice to be guided into someone else's story, someone else's epic imagination. In the last couple months I listened to both Dark Places, and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and, though they are both deeply disturbing, they were also incredibly well written and fiercely truthful. Cheryl Strayed's, Wild just graced my ear buds last week and it made me want to hike a million miles. Simply put, in these two years I've developed a new addiction, yet another delicious way to surround myself with words. And that sounds pretty good to me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Work: Two Years Later

It was almost two years ago to the day that I quit my sweet cushy job as the Creative Services Director for a national travel magazine in New York City. At the time, I had saved up enough money to live on for a year (or at least I hoped it would be enough for a year given the fact that I'd be paying little or no rent for a small apartment gifted to me by friends in Sonoma), and had big dreams of writing a novel, finishing the novel, publishing said novel, and then perhaps returning to New York City where I would go back to making a nice living, wearing pretty yellow heels, and working on poetry. Aren't dreams funny? Aren't they adorable? 

Despite having truly believed that I would be doing this all alone, having given up (I'm not being dramatic), on finding any viable partners in New York, or perhaps anywhere, the exact opposite turned out to be true. Five months before I left on my self-imposed writers exile to the valley I grew up in, I fell in love. He had been a friend for years and then, well, suddenly it seemed ridiculous that we hadn't been together the whole previous 6 years we had known each other. It quickly became clear that my journey to discover my inner fiction writer in silent isolation was going to transform into an entirely different kind of journey. 

Instead of spending all my time in California, I spent a lot of time in Kentucky, where my mister was working in the horse racing industry, having left New York City to follow his own vagabond dreams. Instead of locking myself in my cabin on the mountain, I now leave my office door open in our apartment (an old tobacco weigh station) in bluegrass country, so that our dog can come and go, and we can occasionally holler words of support back and forth down the hallway. Instead of shunning all my worldly possessions like some inconceivable monk of the written word, I started building a household. Instead of returning to our much-loved New York, we both decided we were marvelously contented (and a great deal more at peace) out here in the awesome nowheres. Instead of planning my life alone (and not unhappily alone mind you), we are planning a life together. All the obvious "what nexts" you might expect from a couple that fell in love in their mid-thirties and decided to runaway from the city where they made good livings are swarming around us like insistent needy bees. Instead of staying put in my little place of isolation and only writing my inner world, I've traveled extensively, verging on one big trip a month, including poetry tours that sent me all over the midwest and the northeast. In fact, I've traveled more in these two years than I did when I worked for a travel magazine.

And still despite all of these wonderfully unexpected things, a draft of the novel did come, and then another, and now I think we're on the fifth (though it could be 15, it's terribly hard to say what you should count as a draft or a rewrite). And a new book of poems is slowly forming, as well as new essays. All this is being done while I am supporting myself for the most part with freelance work as a writer, copywriter, speaker, etc.. It's been a good two years of being a gypsy, and a great two years of being a gypsy with my male-gypsy counterpart. 

But what I'm constantly shocked by, is the sheer mountainous work of it all. This may come as a surprise. As someone who has worked for magazines, and has written three book of poems, why would I be shocked that writing full time is a lot of work, to quote a good writer friend, a "shit ton of work"? The truth is, the pure self-discipline of it, the lock yourself in your room for hours of it, the don't hate yourself for getting it wrong of it, the if I have to throw this all away I will die of it, the if you don't tell me it's good I will kill you of it, all of that part of it, the pure emotional mess and wreck and wow of it was, and is, new to me. And it's terrifying.  For as long as I've been an artist, I have never experienced the pure, brutally intense work of day to day fiction writing. It's bring you to your knees humbling. 

Still, while you're crouched at the foot of the giant hairy fiction beast, ready to cut your heart out and give up, you still have to find a way to love yourself, to say, "Oh baby, you're doing great at this. It took so and so (insert many fiction writer friends' names here) ten years to write a novel, and he/she went to Iowa!" You still have to find away to go into your dark safe (and not so safe) place and keep creating, to love the mangy thing you've created and keep nursing it until it's healthy, despite its nasty tendency to bite. 

The other surprising thing to me, (you hear mothers and fathers say this about childbirth), is that people do this all the time. People are doing it right now. Look, that person right over there is writing a novel. And that person is writing a memoir because their life is way more interesting than yours. It's happening everywhere. Oddly enough, I find that extremely comforting. Look, he's doing it too! I'm not so crazy! I had lunch with my friend, the poet, Adam Clay last week and told him that despite all the evidence to the contrary, "I really believe that I can keep making a living as a writer." To which, he smiled, patted me on the shoulder, and went off to his job as an awesome professor because that's what smart writers do. 

In truth though, I am slowly becoming a smart writer too. And the past two years has made me even smarter. I'm smarter because I'm humbler. I'm no longer saying things like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to go write like an awesome novel and like, be back in the city in a year when I'm done." You don't take a year off to write a novel. Sometimes, you have to change your whole life to write what you love, the way you want to write it. Sometimes, you have to scrape by and let money troubles and insecurity and instability and anxiety in to your life and lie down with those poisonous pests and hug them because they're part of this fantastic choice you made. It's a lot like falling in love. Sometimes, you have change all your plans to make room for the best, biggest, messiest, sweetest unknown plan of all...your one lucky real life.  

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Making Conversation

In the past few days I have come up with a new idea for a small business, I've picked every room in the house to revamp and improve, I've had so many ideas for art projects that I am having a hard time keeping them all straight. I don't know what to blame this on. I can only say I blame it on Brooklyn. After living in Brooklyn for 12 years, I think I got accustomed to leaving my small apartment in a spring dress and bag containing whatever I was reading, a notebook, and my camera (before iPhones) and meeting up with the girls for iced coffee in McCarren Park, softball games, big beers at the Turkeys Nest (or my favorite, a G&T to go), and letting the day take us wherever it wanted (even if, at times, we didn't want to go there). 

We never made plans. In fact, we hated making plans on the weekend. If we had plans, we would try and cancel. The goal was simple: stay local, stay open, and stay in touch (in case we had to split up for an hour a two). It all worked out well. For 12 years, I can say that 90% of our spring & summer weekends were a resounding success. 

But now, the city-dizzy weekends go on without me. And I'm in the country left to my own delirious devices. I'm coming up with plans for big creative projects and making new girl dates with new lovely girl friends. But still, the days don't quite unfold with that easy lost haze of Williamsburg when the same 15 or 20 people would meet up at the same 4 bars telling the same stories we all wanted to hear again. Most of the stories we would tell each other, would be about what would happen if we didn't live here? What would happen if we moved? How weird would that be? We would swear we'd never do it. We would promise. We would pinky-swear.

Somehow, I wandered off however. And sometimes, I must admit, it feels like I've wandered way too far from my ladies, from the 10 block radius that we called, "campus," from the late night conversations about art and fame and love fueled by concrete heat and the ever-coming-one-too-many. I miss that sense of possibility. That sense of, "It's all happening right here, right now." But we can't be everywhere at once, even if we desperately want to. 

So, today, I spent three hours chilling with a belt sander for one of the summer things I want to make pretty. And all the while, in my head, the conversation with my best ones, who are still in our little hood of Brooklyn, was continuing. Even if they couldn't hear it. Even if I wasn't talking. The conversation, the wandering the world, the exploration, the getting lost and found, the dream of living a full and awesome life, all of that was still going on and on as I missed them, and sanded, and missed them some more, and sanded. I thought, what we make, we make for each other. And that way, when we are creating, the cooing conversation with the world never stops.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Making Beautiful Things

All through the very merry month of May, I've wanted to create something beautiful. I see something and I want to make it pretty and make it do pretty things. Maybe it's the spring time, or all the brimming love in the air, but I have very much wanted to make awesome tiny things. Some poems have come and the novel is in full rewrite mode and swimming along in its creek bed quite loyally. But I want to paint something, or draw, or fix, or wax, or build, or photograph, or design, or something outside of the written word. I'm not sure why; I don't generally feel this way. Still, the way the moon is mooning and the fireflies are pointing out the darkness, I can't help but feel a twinge of excitement for whatever's going to happen next. We plug away and send the bucket down to the well and sometimes you come up with words, and sometimes you come up with something you can't name, still it's alive and wiggly. 

In the meantime, we welcome June in with a soft rainy day and a black eyed pea chili in the slow cooker. So many things to desire, so many goosebumps to get. It's a new youth coming, or a new age? Whatever it is, it's summer and peach juice, and lynchburg lemonade, and our new picnic table ready for the evenings of swoon and sour cherries. 

Maybe, it's that many of my girlfriends are pregnant this spring, and the desire to give the universe another big soul feels overwhelmingly in the air. But for now, I just want to give it a good book, and some poems, and something beautiful that I can't name yet.  

I miss California, but I am loving our home in the bluegrass too. Local baseball games and outdoor music, pool-side with new friends, and all the possibilities of making things matter enough to remember. 

I want to memorize more poems this season. I want to keep them in my pocket and my mouth. A little poem song for the summer air. What's next? What matters most is what's now: the smell of jalapeños heating up the kitchen, the green and gray of the high grass, the him in the next room, the here of this feeling. 

What was it that Papa said? (Happy Birthday, Walt Whitman!), "Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul."

All this to say, things are brimming up and over between my ears and I want to turn even my bruised up brain into a thing of beauty. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

Happy Kentucky Oaks Day!

I'm reposting this from earlier for those that follow the horses. It's the Kentucky Oaks Day and we're here in Louisville reporting live and wild. This one goes out to the ladies.

(Poem was here)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Apologies for My Tardiness

When I decided to write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month (I believe it's my 9th or 10th year?), I also agreed to take blogging for the Best American Poetry site. (I also took a nice copywriting job that takes most of my daily energy.)  So, I apologize that I'm four poems behind. I will try to make it up to the universe.

In the meantime, here are three blog posts on the BAP site:

Where You Are & Where You Live

We Require Our Animals

The Storage Unit

Also, I found this in the storage unit, and I may count it as a poem for the 21st.

Ada's for April 22nd

(Poem was here)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

That Also Happened to Me: Second Leg of the Tour

I am now officially the little sister of Michael Robins and Adam Clay. After reading the first blog post, they teased me incessantly about how I just talked about myself. Then, I said to Michael that I would give him my password and he could blog about the trip, too. He laughed and said, “I would destroy your blog from the inside out,” just like an older brother would say. 

We have become a weird poetry family made up of late nights in small towns and car rides through America and cherry mash and cheap hotels and invisible tattoos. I will try, and undoubtedly fail, to explain what happened during the “Discovering the Mysteries of the Midwest Poetry Tour.” (I just made that up.) This is by far my longest blog post. It will never happen again.

* Chicago, IL

Arriving in Chicago on my 36th birthday, we went straight to Big Star and had tacos and margaritas. Michael came. Adam was there. (See guys, how I am mentioning you?). It wasn’t their birthdays at all. I met Michael’s lovely wife and his smiling daughter and we said things like, “Getting the band back together!” and "Another margarita, please!"

Adam and I then went to do a classroom visit at DePaul University. Mark Turcotte is an old friend that I just met. We talked to a full classroom of budding poets and the world of poetry and magic. They were about as wide-eyed as owls and talked about how to make a book and rivers and changes.

Then, after dinner with Joel Craig, Adam and I went to read at Danny’s Tavern—my new favorite bar in all of Chicago—with Nate Slawson (my first favorite owl). The rooms was dark and everyone looked wonderful. I was having wine and we sold books and Nate’s and Adam’s readings were moving and swaying. Two boys came up who had driven two hours for the reading. We liked them. We like Chicago.

* Kansas City, MO

The next day, Michael and Adam and I (see, there you guys are again), flew to Kansas City. Michael was bored. Adam sat reading his own book. I was hungry. We sat in the back row and Michael is not good at crosswords. And who knew that besom was the word for a broom made out of twigs? 

Fresh (not so fresh) off the plane, we headed straight to Arthur Bryants in our Avenger that would be our touring vehicle. Suddenly, all the work I had done to stay fit was undone by the pulled pork sandwich and the beer. But it was worth it.

We walked around Kansas City. All the men had their shirts off. It was sunny and Kansas City was much more vibrant than I remembered.

We went to meet Jordan Stempleman, whose book, No, Not Today, is out from Magic Helicopter Press, at the reading series he curates, “A Common Sense Reading Series.” It was in a white gallery with strange art on the walls that was about sex and repression and cultural constructs (that’s what I thought anyway), and we read our poems and people came out and we felt excited about life. Here's Jordan introducing us.

We went to Grinders afterwards with poets and furniture makers and Jordan and I talked about death for a long time, specifically this text, Philippe Ariés Western Attitudes Toward Death From the Middle Ages to the Present. This was over a fried goat cheese salad.

In the morning, we toured the Nelson-Atkins Gallery and talked about art and Michael and Adam made me laugh and bumped my head on a bookshelf. I was hungry here too. Our favorites were the Bill Viola film, the Cornell box, the Rauchenberg, and the Giacometti. Jordan and his two lovely children joined us. 

They went off to see the mummy, and we had lunch with the powerhouse Hadara Bar-Nadav whose new book, The Frame Called Ruin, will be out in October from New Issues

We want to go back to Kansas City soon and see some baseball and have more barbecue. This is a true story.

* Maryville, MO

Michael drove us to Maryville, MO where we had to pick up some books I had shipped from Milkweed Editions, because I had already sold out! (That sounds better than it was, I hardly packed any.) We went to a little local bar where later we found out TC Boyle had also wandered in to when he was visiting Northwest Missouri State University

John Gallaher was a good and funny host who told us he was no longer writing poems. I don’t think that will last. But if it does, he'll make more kinds of art.

The crowd was kind and attentive. We read in a style we call the round robin, but I think we should call it the “Tornado!” This is where one person reads a poem, then the next person reads a poem that connects in someway with the first poem, then the next person does the same. The marvelous thing about reading this way, is that you really get to hear how contemporary poems are speaking to each other. How, even work that is in different styles is still in conversation, still probing at the truth in the same ways. I loved it. We read that way for the rest of the trip.

We ate a truck stop in the morning. My pancake was very big. After that, I wasn’t hungry anymore.

* Pit Stops

On the way to Lincoln, we stopped in Hamburg, IA to have a milkshake at Stoner Drug. I had some of Adam’s milkshake (though this is a picture of Michael's milkshake. They’ve been around for 116 years.

Then, there was the Lewis and Clark museum where the main thing we learned about was the big dog named Seaman they took with them. It was pretty though, even though it had strange signs. Under this buffalo it said, “Buffalo—the Indians four-legged department store.”

* Lincoln, NE

We arrived and immediately had beer. There were too many beers to choose from and even Adam (who is our resident beer expert) had a hard time deciding. Then, we joined our lovely hosts, Kate & Derek, who fed us and brought us to the Clean Part Reading Series where Jeff Allesandrelli and Trey Moody introduced us. There were 65 people there and we felt very warm and happy.

There was a late night game of pool where a new friend gave me the line, “the nicest pie,” and I used it in a poem. Joshua Ware bet me $20 I wouldn’t be back to Lincoln, NE in the next 10 years. I’m going to prove him wrong.

There was brunch in the morning where we laughed non-stop and I over-shared about my novel. Then, after so many days on the road with two boys, I joked that it felt like I lived here:

* Omaha, NE

We sang some songs in the car that you will never know about. We pretended we would all start smoking and never leave Nebraska. We saw a lot of roadkill. We saw some birds we liked. Because it was April first, which marked the first day of National Poetry Month, we pulled over at the Dundee Dell and had bloody marys with bacon in them, and wrote our poems.

We went to Jackson Street Booksellers, and Antiquarium Records, and lunch, and a bar, and I said, “Happy National Poetry Month!” And Michael shook his head and said, “Ada, Ada, Ada, don’t you know that National Poetry Month is a fake holiday made up by Hallmark?”

We perform for 15 minutes a day. Michael pointed that out. Just 15 minutes a day, that’s all we ask.

We met Natasha Kessler who hosts the Strange Machine Reading Series, and Dylan who read his poems for us, and we read poems, and the boys wanted very badly to get tattoos of Nebraska, but they were thwarted by a closing tattoo parlor. This tattoo still might happen.

* Iowa

In the morning, we had stopped in Des Moines and had pastries and coffee and we were starting to get a little tired. Then, I slept in the backseat and we arrived in Iowa City where we went to Prairie Lights bookstore. Each of us found our books on the shelves and we liked that oh so very much. We met a young woman while standing in the poetry section, and she knew my work, and we felt lifted. Also, I bought too many books.

* Galesburg, IL

The best part about Galesburg, IL is a woman named Beth Marzoni. She hosted us and I am now obsessed with her. Super funny and smart and just all around awesome. Maybe the worst part about Galesburg, IL is the trains, or not the trains, but the sound of the trains (we didn't sleep too well for the sounds in our ears). 

But here in Galesburg, is where we closed out our tour to a large crowd, large book sales, and a super sad large-hearted goodbye to our tour. Oh sigh, goodbye to the fun and romance of the road! 

We were so punchy at the end of the night (the end of the tour), that we could hardly remember all the stories to tell Beth, and at one point, Adam was describing something and I said, "Oh right, that happened to me too." 

On the way to Chicago, we picked up the cutest hitch hiker, well we knew her and got to hear all about her projects with the Knox Writers' House. It's an awesome project and if you ever get an email or a call from Emily Oliver asking to record you, do it!

I already miss my touring partners, but luckily I will have their poems. We're each writing a poem a day, and I am fortunate to be getting their poems via email. Next, all we need is to plan a west coast tour. 

Until then, it's oh so pretty in the bluegrass and oh so very good to be home. 

P.S. Michael & Adam--I'm sure I forgot so much, but know this, I miss! 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Ada's for April 1st!

(Poem was here.)

National Poetry Month!

In the beginning I swore I wouldn't do this this year. I have a novel to finish. And jobs to both get and do. I'm on the road (Omaha, NE!) on poetry tour with Adam Clay and Michael Robins and I said, "No way, I can't do that poem a day thing this year. No way." Then, this morning, when they got up early and said, "Oh, I have to go write a poem," I sat there and thought about all the poems I wanted to write and even though I stood stubborn against it, here I am: One poem in. 

Here are the things to know about the poems we will be posting (Jason is in this year, though Jen is not, unfortunately): 1. These are VERY rough drafts. You'll see typos and bad puns, and wrong spellings, and wrong poems, but we take them down and start to edit as soon as the month is over. Sometimes ever sooner. 2. If you want to comment, you're welcome to! But please read number one above. These are rough and wild and unkempt. 

So, to all those who are in it to win it this April, happy poetry writing! As my friend Nicole says, "Be good, don't smoke, write poems." 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Let the Poetry Games Begin: First Leg of the Tour

When Adam Clay & Michael Robins asked me to be a part of their tour for their wonderful new books, I was happy to accept. I thought, "I'll just cancel later." But I didn't and I'm so glad I didn't. It's funny when poets tour, it's like accountants touring, only our records of events aren't as extensive or frugal.  

The day we arrived in New York, it was 70 degrees and gorgeous, Trish and I walked past my old building at NYU, where I went to graduate school, and talked about the past and the now, and the past again. I even had to take a tourist photo in Washington Square Park. We laughed about how when I first arrived in 1999, I kept asking people, "Where's the NYU campus?"

Later, after West Village wine and sun in big windows where big things happen, we went to Le Poisson Rouge and read our poems and talked about New York and how amazing it was and then we were tired and took cabs and fell asleep on couches and woke up with the crazy idea to do it all over again.

The next night, we read to a very small crowd (2 of my very dear friends to be exact) at Unnameable Books. We decided everyone should read something. So we all read, even the bookstore owner, and we drank wine, and laughed about poetry and the crowds it draws.

Then, there was outside in Williamsburg, where Kaelea and I pretended it was London and had filled each other in on our messy lovely lives. Heather joined us. The mood was festive. We waltzed to Pete's Candy Store, where a large and lively crowd was waiting and it made me happy. It felt like walking into the palm of someone's hand. Or the prettiest part of someone's heart.

Then, after late night music in a Brooklyn honky tonk with peanut shells on the floor and old friends, we drove out of midtown, still alive, though a bit more ragged than we had arrived, all the way to Providence. (Though, it was St. Patties day, so we stopped in Mystic, CT to have a guinness at the Harp and Hound.)

Providence was quieter and simpler and kind. First a great reading at Ada Books (I don't own it, but I'd like to). A nice crowd came out and there we were just barely arriving as the reading began, happy to be aliving and thriving. Here's Adam reading and doing things.

Then, I went to dinner with my friend's parents and suddenly New York seemed years away and there was such a sweetness in my mind, I had the idea to keep it there forever. 

Next, full of an overwhelming, but delicious brunch that negated any gym attendance I had done during the week, we drove to Amherst to visit Emily Dickinson's grave and paid homage and it felt so appropriate. A few things I didn't know about Ms. Dickinson: 1. Her room was large and full of light and she looked out on trees and meadows 2. She had a large dog named Carlo and together they went for long walks and thought about things. “You ask of my Companions. Hills – sir – and the Sundown, and a Dog large as myself, that my Father bought me."

I felt very moved by being in her house, in her room, staring at her little bed. Twice I was moved to tears, but I was brought back to reality by thinking the house smelled oddly like pizza.

Somber, but lightened, we walked to see her grave. We left presents and large-hearted sighs.

We were called back to the life of flesh and bone and had this giant pretzel, and sat in the sun, and talked. 

That night, we joined the amazing Chris Janke and folks at his awesome place, the Rendezvous or "The Voo." We loved it. It made us all say, "We could live in Turner Falls!" and we almost moved there. Then, we didn't. But we still might. 

In the morning, fueled up by another great meal, we drove to more graves of writers and took pictures and thought about words. Michael said, "Don't cemeteries make you want to lie down and sleep forever?" And we laughed. And it did.

We arrived in Boston and paid tribute to Bukowski and then to join the warmest, sweetest crowd you could ask for. We read in round-robin style and everyone seemed to enjoy it. At least they TOLD us they did. Then, wine was had and old friends toasted and laughed. 

We hit the road early with Emily Dickinson in tow. She was small enough to carry, like taking all sorts of magic with us in our bags and in our hair.  

We came home to our loves and our lives and mine was so awesome. I forgot how much I loved it in the bluegrass in the spring. The week went fast: runs on the old country road, hikes in the country, crockpot cooking and nights out with friends, and there is a deep resounding pleasure to being and to being with one another. 

Now, one more day home, and we hit the road again, books in our suitcases, and a little more knowledge as to what we're really in for. I'm sad to leave, but happy to be reunited with my bandmates. Michael and Adam are true gentlemen and when you travel with true gentleman poets, you're just bound to have great and weird adventures along the way.

"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." Patti Smith

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Radio Radio! (I wanted to name our dog radio, but he wouldn't let me)

I just had the pleasure of being on the radio with some of my favorite people. Nicole Callihan asked me to join a group of New York women writers for WBAI's celebration of International Working Women's Day. The writers were, Kristin Dombek, Sanjana Nair, Stephanie Hopkins and myself. In case you missed it or wanted to see a couple of the poems I read, here you go:

From Sharks in the Rivers:

Sharks in the Rivers (
Widening Road
The Same Thing
City of Skin (Page vs. Stage YouTube)

New Poems:

Downhearted (Here, in Guernica and audio version)
During the Impossible Age of Everyone (Forthcoming from Catch Up)

It was fun to read poems. It's always fun to read poems. I never get tired of it. Which is a good thing considering that this month launches an extensive tour. Gearing up for going on the road soon.  

Heeeereee weeeee goooooo!

March 14, 2012
Le Poisson Rouge, 7PM
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
158 Bleecker St.
New York City, NY

March 15, 2012
Unnameable Books
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
600 Vanderbilt Ave.
Brooklyn, NY

March 16, 2012
Pete’s Candy Store, 7:30PM
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
709 Lorimer St.
Brooklyn, NY

March 17, 2012
Ada Books
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
717 Westminster St. 
Providence, RI

March 18, 2012
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
78 Third St.
Turner Falls, MA

March 19, 2012
Small Animal Project, 8PM
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
186 1/2 Hampshire St.

March 28, 2012 (My Birthday)
Danny’s Reading Series
1951 W Dickens St.
Chicago, IL

March 29, 2012
Common Sense Reading Series
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
Kansas City, MO

March 30, 2012
Northwest Missouri State University
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
800 University Dr. 
Maryville, MO

March 31, 2012
Clean Part Reading Series
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
Drift Station Gallery
1746 “N” St.
Lincoln, NE

April 1, 2012
Strange Machine #8, 7:30PM
With Michael Robins & Adam Clay
Gallery 72-2709 Leavenworth St.
Omaha, NE

April 22, 2012
World Series of Poetry 
With Melissa Stein, Robin Ekiss, Troy Jollimore, Dead Rader, and more!
Mill Valley Library
Mill Valley, CA

April 27, 2012
St. Helena High School
1401 Grayson Ave.
St. Helena, CA

July 30, 2012
Sarabande Reading Series
With James Allen Hall
21 C
Louisville, KY