Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sunrays to Dispel San Diego June Gloom: Poetry Publications and Tarot Podcast News

A Year in Ink Anthology Launch Celebration

Thanks to editor Judy Reeves and Team Ink, along with 39 other authors, I have a poem coming out in the San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology. The poem, "Dropping in the eight"  is for my youngest son Nicholas and celebrates the hours I watched him skate and drop into the eight bowl so fearlessly--how do those skaters fly on out over that lip and drop into oblivion?

Here's the backdrop to the poem: Last summer while flipping through a poetry anthology when I was visiting my father, I remember thinking about how my relationship to writing poetry and my relationship to reading poetry are different. Depending on one's mood, when acting as a consumer of poetry, the interaction can range from casual (entertain me) to intense (help me understand something about the world, people, God, self). 

My husband likes to remind me that my poetry tends to be cryptic or too insular to reach someone cruising to connect. Would I convert a casual reader to poetry, I think he's getting at, if they came across one of my poems? I hope this particular poem is one that readers can relate to and enjoy. 

I'm looking forward to reading and sharing the stage with our San Diego writing community; copies of the anthology will be on sale.  Join Editor Judy Reeves and Team Ink for a celebration including food, drink, and readings from the anthology.  $5 suggested donation at the door or an unopened bottle of wine:

A Year in Ink Anthology Launch
Old Town (Cygnet) Theater 
Tuesday June 13: 7-9 pm

Whale Road Review

"Goat Milk Ice Cream" is also up in the latest issue of Whale Road Review: A Journal of Poetry and Short Prose, thanks to editor Katie Manning. Can I just say I love that metaphor--what a beautiful name (Whale Road) for the ocean and the massive gliders of the deep we get to witness spouting now and then. WWR is also currently open for submissions; check out the entire issue, full of lovely work and additional features like Pedagogy Papers and Reviews.

And I’ve also made you a sound recording of the poem if you prefer audio.

Tarot for Two Podcasts Now Live

In other forays in sound, Mary Allen and I are thrilled to have posted our first two podcasts:

Podcast 1: How does the Tarot work? (about 12 minutes long) and

And honestly, we are just getting our podcast "sea legs" so I would love any feedback you can give us about our pacing, podcast length, subjects you think we should take up for you, questions, whatever comes to mind.

Tarot Deck Makers Interview: Tarot of the Sixties

You may also have missed the latest Tarot Deck Makers Interview with historian and photojournalist William Haigwood. His Counterculture Tarot: a photo journey of the sixties is a beautiful sojourn through that particular time and the events and how they relate to the Tarot archetypes. 

Here's an excerpt from the interview: 

As I searched through my 40-year-old photos I began to find subjects that worked amazingly well as Tarot images and that also suggested, with their reference to Tarot qualities, the experiences many of us actually “lived” during that period.  The Tarot cards, all 78 of them, appeared to be silos of experience through which I could interpret many aspects of the Sixties.  Educated as a historian at Berkeley, I began to write essays that reflected on the quality of each card’s traditional meaning and how those meanings related to specific experiences of the Counterculture.

Anniversary Love

Eighteen years of marriage today and I'm so grateful we've made a house of poetry, constant motion, ocean, three children, and the love of our friends and family. I wanted to repost a link to the poem Silver Birch Press recently published. It sums up the interlacing of our love, our loves apart from one another, and our art. Dollars from my first paid poem prize went towards the artwork (a pencil drawing of Kolmer's Gulch where my husband loves to dive). Here's the poem, Kolmer's Gulch, about the reality of loving a diver, raising children, and still having something left over to witness and bring it to the page.

Transition Love

...And I want to sign off with a final dose of love going from my heart to yours...as so many of us are getting ready to witness children or loved ones graduate and move on to their next adventures. My transitions..."mansitions"....are just that, the bittersweet joy of watching my two sons and the sons of my friends, sons of my extended heart, grow and change. 

Blessings on this season of letting go... Be kind to you and yours....here's to trusting the world to receive and challenge our boys in ways that best help them continue to grow and become the best versions of themselves. 


Exception of 1) top photo of the anthology, the photos are by yours truly. 2) My youngest at Coronado skate park at rim of the eight bowl, 3) stars from the underbelly of Nikki de St. Phalle's Queen Califiia mosaic sculpture in her Magic Circle Garden in Escondido, and the last photo here is from mural art on the old Monte Rio School Gym wall at the skate park.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Poetry Meets Tarot Synchronicity: Crafting Centos and Leaning on Your Beloveds

While teaching “Election Blues: The Gift of Agency in Poetry” this spring, my poetry student Marcia Meier introduced me to the poetic form of the cento. (Marcia’s cento, drafted during our class and published in April at Writer’s Resist, can be read here: Scent of Mock Orange.)

Here’s a definition and a little background, Cento: Poetic Form, from Academy of American Poets, poets.org. In a nutshell, a cento is a poem comprised solely of a group of lines, each borrowed from a different writer.

I created the class, “Election Blues,” to help me break through the stunned quiet enveloping me after the election. When Marcia suggested centos, I felt immediate relief. I could draw on the strength and power of other writers to “get back home.” That day, I grabbed the volumes within arm’s reach off my bookshelf, women I admire and love (with the exception of WCW—he appears in only one of the centos):

Audre Lord
Kay Ryan
Ruth Thompson
Joy Harjo
Colleen J. McElroy
Emily Dickinson
Maxine Hong Kingston
Bhanu Kapil
Sylvia Plath
Joan Swift
Malinda Markham
William Carlos Williams

Because I was simultaneously teaching a Tarot writing class, I instinctively used Tarot reading principles as I began the process of making my centos.

When reading Tarot cards, you usually start by focusing on a question of the heart, shuffling the cards, and choosing cards blind (meaning the cards remain face down while you are choosing so the images are hidden until you begin the reading).

When drafting centos, I used the randomly selected volumes of poetry as my “deck.” I focused on one person related to the election at a time, put my hand on my heart, and opened to the mix of emotions I was feeling. Each time I let the book in my hand fall open and let my eye fall on a line.

Once I had copied down roughly ten lines, one from each volume for each person I was writing a cento for, I brought my writer self to bear on rearranging the lines into a meaningful order that best reflected my various states of love, gratitude, fear, and concern.

I was surprised by the richness and seeming appropriateness of the images and lines that fell, though after having worked with the Tarot for so  long, I was prepared for synchronicity. Poetry, like Tarot, works powerfully by association and context, so when you plug in a question or a focus for a Tarot reading, or you plug in a title or person as the focus for a cento, the associations boomerang back to that central question, person, or title, causing us to look deeper.

Of course you can argue that any random group of lines can be made to mean one thing in one context and something entirely different in another, but it didn’t stop me from trying the form and enjoying the inadvertent “reading.” I hope that beyond speaking privately and specifically to me, just as a Tarot reading would, the centos still work as poems on their own. You’ll have to let me know.

I’m honored that five in the series, “A Thank You Letter to Barack Obama,” “An Open Letter to Donald Trump, “ “An Iris for Hillary,” “Emerald Dream, For Michelle Obama,” and “Ghost Ribs, For Melania Trump” have been chosen by Nicelle Davis for an event in Venice, “Poetry Postcards at Beyond Baroque: write your political concerns to representatives.” The event is hosted by Nicelle Davis, Armine Iknadossian, and Quentin Ring; please do join us if you are in the area this coming Sunday, April 30, from 1-4. Our generous hosts print up the poems and provide a space for folks to gather, address postcards, pen messages to representatives, and read a little poetry aloud. Here’s the Facebook link to “Poetry postcards at Beyond Baroque.”

Hall and Pryputniewicz blockprint
In case you can’t make it to be with us this weekend,  I’ve recorded three of the centos, “A Thank you Letter to Barack Obama,” "An Open Letter to Donald Trump," and "An Iris for Hillary," as MP3s you can access from my Events page on my main site.

Next time you find yourself poetically blocked or lost I hope you’ll try writing a cento. Take your beloveds down off the bookshelf and lean on their strength! Or set the arrow of your intention and curiosity along any line: humor, love, spirituality, sport fishing—you name it—and see which harvest of poetry lines your deck of books brings you.

Related links:

I’ll be participating in the Ten Thousand Waves reading at the Museum of Women in Liberty Station, organized by Katya Williamson; I hope you’ll join us! Here’s the description from the flier.

Ten Thousand Waves: Come join us for an afternoon of original prose and poetry. We hope to inspire, raise awareness, comfort, entertain, and enjoy each other’s company.

4:30-6:30 on May 13th
Women’s Museum, Liberty Station
2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16
92106, SD
Admission: $5

Losing Joan Swift:

In early March, I was heartbroken to learn that the gifted poet Joan Swift passed away (pictured here on the back jacket of The Dark Path of Our Names, photo by Mary Randlett, 1985). I can’t begin to express my gratitude for Swift's poetry. I first encountered her work as an undergraduate student at UC Davis in one of Sandra McPherson’s seminars. What a blessing to have been unwittingly working with Joan’s lines to create the centos in January and February.

If you wish to attend a memorial celebration and reading for Joan Swift, here's a link to an event posted by Poets and Writers, a May 16, 2017 event in Seattle. 

Here’s a link to a selection of poems by Swift that we ran at The Fertile Source in 2010. And  also up at the Fertile Source,  a 2010 Interview with Joan Swift

Here's a link to another  beautiful poem by Swift, "Sometimes a Lake" posted by Poetry Northwest in January of this year and another posted by Jennifer Flenniken at The Far Field: "Listening to My Bones." 

I will write more about Joan’s work in a future post. My love and deepest condolences to her family.