Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Amelia Earhart

Angel Hands by Robyn Beattie
If Earhart were alive today, she’d be working on becoming the first woman on Mars…Amelia Earhart’s Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved by King, Jacobsen, Burns, and Spading (AltaMira Press, 2004)

If, like me, after writing your love poem for Amelia (see the poetry movie here, Amelia, or The Poem of Endings, melodious voice of Lori O'Hara, original arrangement on guitar by Michael Greenberg) you start reading everything you can about Amelia…you find layers of stories, some in adulation, some outlining conspiracies, but almost always without exception, looking for answers to her disappearance.

I’d prefer to stay with that first fictional burst of love: open sky, girl with the means to go where she will, unanchored, soaring.

But one ear turns to listen...though no less in love, sobered…
…By questions like those raised by the late Kathleen C. Winters in Amelia Earhart: The Turbulent Life of an American Icon (Palgrave MacMillan Trade, 2010). Winters’ unapologetic perspective as a female aviator rounds out the dream version of Amelia and asks me to consider the costs and boons of alchemical marriage (publisher Putnam) and endorsements (BeechNut) and the shoulders of power (President Roosevelt and luncheons with his wife) and the wages of bravery and charisma propelling Amelia forward along a formidable itinerary of speaking and flying engagements…

...And most especially the hidden wages of prowess, under which, Winters goes as far as to hint,  those around Amelia may have signed her off to use equipment she wasn’t fully prepared to handle, garnering praise and attention, flaws overlooked or edited, even as she flew in a field of incredibly talented women pilots (her peers, some, some would argue, ahead of her in skill and ability…)

I want, as desperately as any other girl, the means to get lift under my wings…

…and the means to come back from each flight.

Winters closes with a note Amelia left for George before her fatal flight: Please know I am quite aware of the hazards of the trip. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.

Thanks to Winters and her own risk-taking as a writer, I take time to consider the whole woman we idolized, not the one sculpted for public view. The fallible, vulnerable, risk-taking Amelia—we love you still.
Amelia Earhart
Born: July 24, 1897
Lost contact: July 2, 1937
Related links:

With gratitude for writer Kathleen C. Winters: 1949-2010; link takes you to her biography--her life as an accomplished aviator and process as a writer. Winters also wrote: Anne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady of the Air.

Photo Poem Montage for Amelia live (about the process of making Amelia, with my long time photo collaborator Robyn Beattie). Amelia is also forthcoming in November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, 2014).

Ladder to the Moon (Amelia makes it into a 3D museum show and takes Juror's Best of Show Award along with two of our other poetry movies)

Beauty to Memory (Amelia’s scarf makes it into a prose poem collaboration with Liz Brennan)

Beautiful multi-view poem by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Today in Literature, The Last Time I saw Amelia Earhart
(Thanks is due to A Room of Her Own Foundation for the link.)
Image of the comics is from my husband's massive Valiant Collection roughly from 1962-1979. Here's the wiki on this version of Valiant. This one is the February 8, 1975 issue.
The shadow plane image was taken by Robyn Beattie, and is the shadow of the sculpture plane by Monty Monty, featured in the movie as well.
How do you prefer your heroines? How much do you know about the true life of yours? Name her here if you wish...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Big Honor For Russian River Girl: Mordred’s Dream Live at Poetry Flash

Growing up on the Russian River meant…

 …hide and seek in the redwood trees, crouching in the dank amber of crushed rotting bark inside of a stump…

..the sound of canoe paddles in the hands of clumsy tourists all summer long, crescendo of misguided directions issued by paddlers facing one another, canoe spiraling, shrieks of laughter and blame prefacing the inevitable capsizing…handcuffed sixpacks of beer, bikini tops, and sunscreen swirling past…

 …mentors like Scott Kersnar (of Hot Curtain Revue) giving you a column in the Russian River News to co-write with your best friend and keeping after you both to write it…

 …teachers (thriving despite our tiny row of portables that made up Monte Rio School back then) like Marcia Napier, Jill of all trades, counseling and feeding the minds and souls of her wayward tribe of river kids…

Former Monte Rio School Mural
 …winning the Nelson 5000, slogging along Moscow Road with a string of hot, hungry kids and being handed a trophy for winning the girls’ division by a man who would become your grandfather-in-law 20 years later…
 …and last but not least, the gift and grace of a musician/wordsmith father, keeper of the dream of the All Night Polish Bakery, piano tuner by day, who gave me my first subscription, when I was a teen, to Poetry Flash.

 It means so much to me today to have Mordred’s Dream featured on Poetry Flash’s website. The poem is forthcoming in November Butterfly (November 2014, Saddle Road Press).

The image featured here is from the poetry micro-movie Robyn Beattie and I made of Mordred’s Dream with gratitude for Michael Greenberg (recording studio), Lori O’Hara on flute (that’s Telemann’s Sonata in F Major she’s playing for us) and the voice of Ben Greenberg.

Photo by Robyn Beattie
I was recovering from a cold the day we went to record; though I managed barely to get through Guinevere’s Corridor, when Michael’s son Ben Greenberg happened to pass through the house that day, we grabbed him and asked him if he’d just give a read through. I’m indebted—he did a beautiful job as Mordred.

Additional notes:

Poetry Flash rescheduled our cancelled June 2014 reading (power outage on the block) for November 11, 2014 at Moe's Bookstore at 7:30 p.m. I will announce it again closer to then, and also see my Events page for updates...sure to be an exciting time, as the book comes out November 1, and once again I will be honored to be reading alongside Ruth Thompson and Michelle Wing.

Photo by Lisa Rizzo
Other heartening news: Thumbelina, which recently appeared on the Lithomobilus platform used by Zoetic Press, has been nominated by NonBinary Review for the Sundance Press Publications Best of the Net anthology. Here is a link to the open letter from the editors, in which they give excerpts from nominees from the Fairytale Issue and discuss why they chose the work: NonBinary Review. And here is a link to the poetry micro-movie we made for Thumbelina and a link to the free app at Zoetic Press where  you can get NonBinary Review's Fairytale issue (iOS 7, compatible with ipad).

With love and gratitude for all the river kids I grew up with, and all the teachers and parents keeping an eye out on us all the best they could (even as we did our best to dodge them most of the time). What do you remember about growing up on the river?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

November Butterflies: First Proof, The Female Hanged One, and Balboa Park Haiku

“Like the Fool, which signified doing what you sensed was best, even if other people thought it foolish, the Hanged Man indicates being who you are, even if others think you have it backwards.” Rachel Pollack, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot

 “You write poetry all day! I’ve seen you! What chore are you going to do?” says my-eight-year-old, chortling as I dive for him across the bed. We’ve reinstated the job chart (which had fallen behind the fridge, releasing all parties from responsibility for the last six months). Clearly, vacuuming the living room tapped him; he refuses to take his socks to his sock drawer and throws a half dozen balled-up pairs at me one by one.
I wouldn’t say I write poetry all day, but I’m delighted he thinks I do. Daily for years a little scribbling occurs between matching socks, pulling hair out of shower drains, and juggling three sibling triage with feeding and watering all household persons and pets.

Here’s Ruth Thompson of Saddle Road Press in Hilo, holding in her hands like a newborn, proof: the first 3-D copy of November Butterfly, cover design by Don Mitchell and photograph on book’s cover by my long-time photo-poem montage collaborator Robyn Beattie. I love the blues and the browns of the image, the way Don chose to echo the blue heart-seam of the cocooned figure with blue lettering. The back is lovely too—a future reveal I can’t wait to share.

Early reactions to the cover startled me almost as much as early comments on some of the poems; I’m a poetry wallflower, a bit late to the sharing game. How to respond to reactions to work finally loosed to the public? I’m as vulnerable as the next writer—most of us want blessings (though we probably grow more under siege).
“It’s so…dark,” said one of my friends when she first saw the cover. I laughed a little, then said, “Well…the book itself is dark in places, but overall, we hope it errs on the side of light and love through adversity.” She asked me to explain the cover image choice (which rightly so, involves a constellation of artistic ideas, impulses, and behind the scenes conversations and negotiations you trust and appreciate because final decisions are made by those with the talent to make them).

Determined to make her see, I tried again. “Obviously, for the cocoon image…right?…something transformed, about to emerge.” She pointed out it looked like a shroud, as in for the dead.
I tried a third time. “It’s also a nod to the Tarot, a female Hanged One, if you will.” Which, I realized as I said it, sounded potentially just as dark as a death shroud to someone unfamiliar with the Tarot and thus unfamiliar with the gift implied in The Hanged One. The card asks the querent who finds herself in the context of seemingly crucifying circumstances (or forced stasis) to dig for the patience and ability to use all senses and forms of sight to get her bearings. To come to know herself more deeply in the night mirror afforded her so she can be prepared when the period of “stuckness” clears.

Angeles Arrien (1940-2014) who remains one of my favorites when it comes to interpretations for the Thoth deck, states, “The Hanged Man is the pattern breaker… In order to break limiting patterns, it is often necessary to take a distinctly different posture, or stance.” On the page introducing The Hanged One, Arrien quotes Alan Cohen: “The world would have you agree with its dismal dream of limitation. But the light would have you soar like the eagle of your sacred visions.” (Quotes taken from Arrien's Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols, Arcus Publishing Company, 1993.)
The MotherPeace deck calls this card, Artemis, Hanged One, using a female-centered image, describing Artemis as one who “had a sanctuary in Arcadia in Ancient Greece where the cypress was sacred to her and where it still represents resurrection.” A part of the self dies, or leaves, but returns illuminated with new insight in a shaman-type initiation. (Quote taken from Vicki Noble's MotherPeace: A Way to the Goddess Through Myth, Art and Tarot, Harper San Francisco, 1994). 
I’ll be curious to hear reactions to the cover image we chose for November Butterfly once the poems have been considered alongside the image. My wish: that the cover inspire some intrigue, enough to welcome you in to see for yourself. Let me know what you think. I’m also curious to hear from other writers and writers-to-be…What did you hope to convey in your own book’s cover image? If you have a book in you, what image do you see on your future book’s cover and why?

 Regardless, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t celebrating the book’s arrival…every chance I get.
As I did on this magical evening with my cousin Sarah (blogged about her earlier on Feral Mom here in a mini-review of one of her performances) visiting us from San Francisco. At dusk, on our way to Liberty Station’s First Friday Gallery walk and reception (every first Friday night of the month—wine, cheese, art, stellar conversation), we stopped by Balboa Park, winding past the live play in session in the butterfly garden, which resulted of course in a handful of haiku (I'm still enjoying the camaraderie of the writers in the Haiku Room converging to share haiku daily):

In Zoro Garden

Thespians crown nudists’ stage

Shakespeare midst cocoons

We strolled past the fountain, taking the bridge across the road to the rows of roses, where for the first time I discovered the cactus garden:

Tree tall aloes furl

Dusty cantaloupe green limbs

Like Sendak’s Wild Things


Not far from a tiny sign for a variety of rose called The Dark Lady, The Sugar Moon roses
won me over almost as much as the thought of their juxtaposition (dark muse, saccharine bloom):


Sugar Moon roses

Rim cactus garden, lunar

Silt lips, fuschia throats.


At Liberty Station, my cousin bought earrings and we spent time talking to Jill G. Hall at Inspirations Gallery  about one of her mosaic plates that incorporated a tiny three dimensional figure of Marilyn Monroe (I've included a close-up of the round assemblage here, added July 22, 2014). The Gallery is right next to the Ink Spot (where I teach Beginning Blogging for San Diego Writers, Ink).
Jill G. Hall Assemblage Some Like it Hot
 I will be teaching an Intermediate Blogging course starting Tuesday evenings September 16, 2014 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Topics we explore include finding one's blogging tribe and growing the network, choosing one's blogging mask, revisiting blogging habits, post titles, tags and variations, social media, vlogging (video blogging), and blog tours.

I’ll post a link to the course description when it goes live at SDWI but in the meantime, pass it on—we don’t just brainstorm--we write actual posts and create community as we go. Visit my teaching page for testimonials and links to the blogs of bloggers I’ve been blessed to work with in the past…

…Such as Lisa Rizzo, poet behind Poet Teacher Seeks World, blogging about the blog mask she made with me at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico: Discovering Ourselves, Memories of Making a Blog Mask.

Additional notes:

In preparation for November Butterfly’s November 1 release, I’m working slowly on updating my website: 

Under Print you’ll now find extended blurbs about the book.

And thank you a thousand-fold for putting up with my exuberance about the book coming out...I wouldn't be here without the love and support of everyone reading here! In gratitude, one final quote from Dylan Thomas:

My one and noble heart has witnesses / In all love's countries...from "When All My Five and Country Senses Sees" (Dylan Thomas)...


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When a Poet Marries a Triathlete...

...She will get a carbon fiber bicycle in lieu of an engagement ring…

She will love it…

She will immortalize, in a poem: bicycle, fiancĂ©e, and grueling joy of keeping up on back-road rides…

She will fiercely grieve that functional engagement ring when it is stolen from garage fourteen years later (July 2014)…

She will be forced to settle on a silver lining: bicycle lives on in poem…

Dragonfly, the poem based on the 200 EMS Kestrel my husband gave me when we got engaged, is forthcoming in November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, November 1, 2014) and was originally published in The Art of Bicycling: A Treasury of Poems (Breakaway Books, 2005), edited by former Bicycling Magazine editor Justin Daniel Belmont. It opens like this:



In lieu of the ring, a carbon fiber frame.

You had it custom done, turned it for me

In the sun outside our one-room flat,

This way: violet green, that: honey red….


…heartsick about it, but what can you do. The thief couldn’t have known it doubled as an engagement ring. Beach-combing, as if in response to the vacuum left by the bike, my husband nets seven left-foot fins and a plastic woman fire-fighter, salty, stacked and gloved (the figure, I mean).
When I take morning tea and my notebook out to the back patio, I find her planted with ginormous plastic boots on the table, fire-hose she lost to the sea supplanted by a colored pencil (it turns out, by my youngest son). You don’t have to tell my little guy twice: regardless of gender, you can fight a fire, write a poem, or survive a screaming descent from the saddle of a bicycle and live to bear and/or raise children.
Been there? Have a high octane partner? Survived a few adventures out of your comfort zone? How do you converge and thrive? Would love to know... 

Poetry News and related links:

Soundings East arrived today in the mail with the winning entry for the 2014 Claire Keyes Poetry Awards: Amy Pence, winner, for “The Lives of Composers,” “A Sensuous Proposal,” and “Naked City.” Runners-up: yours truly, for “Black Angel: Scripted, Never Shot” and Scott Withiam, for “Garish.” To order a copy, visit Salem State University’s website. Poems were chosen by Joan Houlihan. Additionally, Soundings East Editors selected poems by Judith Barrington,
Elton Glaser, and Bill Turley. Next reading period for submissions is Sept 1, 2014 to April 1, 2015.

Thumbelina was nominated as one of six poems for the Sundress Publications Best of the Net Anthology to represent Zoetic Press and The NonBinary Review (thanks to Allie Marini Batts). To read the issue in which Thumbelina appears, visit Zoetic Press to download the free app.
Or view the accompanying poetry movie Thumbelina (features the photography of Robyn Beattie, Stephen Pryputniewicz on keyboard, and some exquisite stills by artists Victoria Ayres, Genevieve and Raymond Barnhart, David Best, Max Fuller, Ned Kahn, and Ron Rodgers). Or follow The NonBinary Review on Facebook for links they'll be posting to supplementary artwork and videos to accompany the Fairytale issue. They are still taking Frankenstein submissions for the next couple of weeks.

Related post about The Art of Bicycling on the blog Better Living Through Beowulf:
Imagination Unleashed: Children on Bikes by Robin Bates

A few bicycle haiku I wrote for the haiku room:
My bicycle, My Chariot and the Angel Tree: Writing Despite Chaos

Related posts on marriage:

Some Mother: Abalone vs. Coffee

Feral Wife: Two Chainsaws, the Ocean, and an Untended Husband

Car Tantrums, Non-Parental Observers and the Cops

Why Every Wife Could Use Her Own Hmong Tribe (and a Thundershirt)