The Poetry Circus is tomorrow afternoon!

It’s going to be amazing.  People keep asking me what do if it rains.  Oh my fellow Californians, here’s a thought for you,

bring an umbrella! And we’ll be singing in the rain.

See you there!

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 2:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Duct tape is essential for road trips

I got my laptop back last night.  I had cleared the trash emails from Verizon so I only had 650 emails to answer.The reason it took so long is the part was on the East Coast and that part of the country is under so much snow that shipping is bogged down. We’re way out here on the West Coast.

Out here, I’m thinking of doing the spring grooming for our dog.  I think I did a good job not losing my mind without the laptop.  It wasn’t easy.

Our son Stephen is going to Death Valley today, then driving up to Yosemite. Then up into Washington visiting national parks.  For this trip, he’s bringing the essentials.  A sleeping bag, tent, lantern, cook stove and an extra roll of duct tape and some bungee cords to keep the car together.  He has one whole box of books.  And a lot of music and a guitar.

I have a device that does scans of my laptop now and it has a little signal that comes up and says, “No threats found.”   Good to know.  I didn’t want it to come and say, “Orange Alert!”    Who wants to be alert all the time?  Writers do.

Mark and I are reading the new Ian McEwan book, The Children Act.  I like it so far.  I have a line up of books I need to read next and that’s not counting Red Hen reading and grad school writers.  But reading is a good place to swim around.  Story swim is good day or night.jkl 015

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

You might be a bit crazy.

Cognitive distortion is when what you see might not be true.

Catastrophizing is such a great word, and I have to admit, I do it all the time. As of today, I haven’t had a laptop for two weeks. I keep telling Mark, If I don’t get a laptop by tomorrow, the world is going to end.

Somehow he doesn’t really hear me. I tell him if I don’t have email again soon, I’m going to shave my head. Every day he tells me, you still have your hair.

Mark doesn’t think of everything that goes wrong as catastrophe. He believes that a lot of things can actually be fixed.

Why does one catastrophize instead of thinking rationally? Because it seems rational to you when you’re doing it. When you’re getting crazy, the craziness spins logically for you.

The other cognitive distortion that I’m so fond of is when there is a big gap between how you see yourself and how others see you. You think you’re a loser but everyone else sees a competent person.

You think you’re super important, others don’t quite see that. You think you’re brilliant, others say you’re average.

Of course, along with that is the cognitive distortion where you jump to conclusions.

Let me assure you, all of these cognitive distoritions are what make a character interesting. If you make a character who is completely mentally healthy, who cares? What you need to rock it, is some people who are screwed up.

When you get ready to write your next novel, think cognitive distortion.

Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Alice in Wonderland

We are going to see Alice in Wonderland this Friday at Disney Hall

We all have our own Alice memories. We all know the rabbit hole, and writers think they know it best. But really, anyone who has ever done some serious thinking knows about it.

Alice in Wonderland

1. You shouldn’t follow random rabbits rushing about.
2. If you do, you might find yourself somewhere unusual.
3. Once you find yourself shrinking or expanding, you should remember that it’s not real. You are not as important as they say you are. You are not as insignificant as they say you are.
4. If someone seems mad, they probably are.
5. You should try to be on time, but if you are not on time, you probably will still get tea.
6. Making hats used to make people mad. It was because of the toxins in the hat. If you are going to make hats, be careful about the ingredients.
7. Cats cannot be trusted.
8. If someone smiles all the time so that even their grin hangs in the air when they aren’t there, they probably are dishonest.
9. It is fatal not to finish a thing.
10. Dive as deeply as you can into life, get wet, the magic happens in the deep places.

Published in: on February 24, 2015 at 5:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Living poetry with grace like Carl Phillips

There are a few people who live their lives with grace, and I like being around those people. I like learning about living with compassion and grace and integrity. I missed Carl Phillips at the Kingsley/Kate Tufts judging. He’s one of those people. He has strong opinions that he states clearly, and he’s both eloquent and wise, but you feel that you are in the presence of someone who also listens to others.

Lots of people think they are smart and know more than you do, and they could be right. But, that’s a different thing from actually being a person who walks around with grace.

Some people are too much of a pushover, and that’s not good either. Being too much of a Buddhist means that people might walk all over you. Of course, the great thing about being all Zen might be that you don’t care if they walk over you, but others might care.

I think that I did learn something from being around Carl. I learned to not be afraid to speak my mind. I learned that what you love in poetry is yours and if someone else doesn’t love it, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. I learned to read the poetry out loud and hear the music. I already knew that in a way, but I needed to hear it again.

If you think you’re better than other people, you’re probably wrong. Someone else might just be a beginner. Wait, listen, all this wisdom is coming towards you.

Published in: on February 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Judging Poetry prize

All day Kingsley/Kate Tufts poetry

What we found when we went there, language, story, dreams, uncoiled imaginative spaces.

Stephen Burt doesn’t think much of people who write blogs.

Poetry is Balkanized. Poetry exists in a subculture. In a tiny world. Almost everyone reads poetry at some time in their life, but reading /collecting books of poetry? Looking forward to the next poetry book by Anne Carson? Well, that means you’re probably a poet or an aspiring poet.

People who write poetry are the main audience for poetry.

We are going to the president of CGU’s house for dinner.

Poetry should never make you feel unimportant; other poets should never make you feel small or ignorant.

You’re carving language in the smoky jazz of your own world of the imagination. There is always someone who thinks they know so much more than you do. They could be right, but it doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that you are looking up. It’s all sky. There is no roof. It’s all sky and stars.

Published in: on February 21, 2015 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

I’m in Whittier.

One week without a laptop. Without email.

Even unplugged, I can still think. Breathe. Function.

Two tatted gang memebers in the Starbucks waiting for their girlfriends to get coffee.

Reading grad school stories a lot of yesterday. One story about a girl who doesn’t like men with long hair. They seem scary. Really?

We are going to a place called Phlight for dinner, a couple professors and me and maybe Red Hen author Jessica Piazza, maybe Douglas Kearney, not sure. I like clever names for restaurants. There’s a bar I like in Long Beach called District Wine. That’s quite clever. If I owned a restaurant, it would have a tequila tasting room, and the place would be called Zorros. I would have the movie Zorro playing above the bar, like the Bubba Gump Shrimp place has Forrest Gump. I wonder if the actors make money every time you buy a shrimp.

If I spend too much time with people, I keep giving myself away and then I’m not sure if I’m still there or if I’m all over the street with tread tires on my back.

I count the days until my next day alone. Then I gather. I write in those slices of creative dreaming space/time like the breakfast air you breathe when you wake and you smell coffee and there’s bacon.

Our yard is buckets of jasmine. The oregano is coming up well. Blood orange blossoms cover the tree. We have a poet’s bench in our yard. The succulent gardens are doing well, but best of all, our roses are blooming.

I’m reading The Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert who I met last summer in Nebraska. There’s how good looking we all need to be to get through our life and then there’s Rebecca, who is kicking it out of the park in the looks department. Like my friend Susie, Rebecca could make a bishop kick in a stained glass window. She’s married too. At the time, I mostly thought that her husband must look at her every day and think, how the hell did I get so lucky? But this book is in fact, quite amazing. My favorite book to date about the jazz era was Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje. I like Rebecca’s book, because you get to walk around and see the mother and the jazz era and Chicago through a child’s eyes and she walks around in the crawlspaces of life, the under porch places, and from there you can always look up and see under people’s skirts, and who doesn’t want that. I like the women leaning into each other and kissing while the music goes on, and then they start making music too.

My legs and ankles hurt, and I can’t wear heels.

I have this dinner to go to.

The trees here in Whittier are blooming pink.

Published in: on February 19, 2015 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

What kind of love are you looking for? What kind of love are you walking around inside?

What kind of love are you looking for? What kind of love are you walking around inside of?

There’s squirrel love and there’s nut love; there’s small love and there’s big love. There’s ugly love and there’s sweet love.

I love you, she said to me. I do. I love you.

This, I said, indicating strike marks to my neck and shoulders, to my legs and buttocks, this, I say, is not love. I say, this is not love.

I love you, she says, you just don’t see it the way I do. I see love from a different angle. You don’t s see the love I’m seeing.

I don’t see the love you’re seeing.

Love is what you make of it.

Love is a big thing you walk around in.

Listen to me, you think you now all about love, but you don’t. I loved your father for a short while, but long enough to have your sister, then you.

I want a big love to walk around, to play a flute in, to sing a song in, to play the gong in, to dance a jig in, to roll about in, to climb a tree in, I want the kind of love that made the fish come out of the sea, that made us all come down out of the trees and start making love on the beaches.

Who the Lord loves, he punishes.

I’m reinventing love. Look up. Don’t you see? We have no roof. It’s just sky and stars.

Published in: on February 18, 2015 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

What do you do without your devices?

My laptop is in the shop. It’s been out of service for a week, and I miss it. We’re watching Surrogates and it’s reminding me how dependent we are on machines. It’s good to be able to live without email, and without machines. We used to be able live without machines, and we lived very well. Facebook is easy to live without, who needs it? Facebook doesn’t enhance my life or communication, but I count on being able to send and receive email.

It would be great for us as humans to be able to lie without our devices. Real communication is when you actually see someone and have a conversation, maybe a drink, maybe a meal.

On Thursday, I am going a reading at Whittier College. Tomorrow, I have a meeting at USC.

I’m taking a little break from running; but I’ll be back at it by Thursday or Friday. I wnt to Pilates today and the gym and thought about when it became so important for us to all work out all the time. Bette Davis didn’t have to do Pilates. She didn’t work out with weights, and you can bet that Marilyn Monroe didn’t either. I met these two girls today; they told me that they plan to look good in bikinis this summer and they’re planning to do Pilates every day for three months so they can bear to be seen in public. The fact is that all three of them look pretty good now. They were lovely girls, with short skirts and nice legs. One was a bit on the chunky side, but they were fine. Not one of them looked like she have the least bit of trouble having a partner, going dancing, or getting a job. But they all felt they needed something else. I do too. Why can’t we be okay with ourselves?

We live in a world where we’re all not quite good enough. Get your move one, girl. Don’t you want to look wonderful?

Published in: on February 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ran a marathon yesterday, still recovering

Yesterday’s marathon was a bit strenous, but I think I’ll do one again next year. Actually during the whole marathon I kept thinking that maybe this one would be my last marathon.

The jasmine is in a rocket of bloom now.

It really was quite stressful, that marathon. Around mile six, my right knee kind of gave up, I kept going to see what it would feel like at mile eight.

Paso Robles is a nice town; there are a lot of nice restaurants and I like the town square.

By mile fourteen, it felt much worse, but Mark met me at the end with ice for it and the ice helped the swelling.

We stayed at the Paso Robles Inn which has large trees with arms reaching for the sky.

The champagne after the marathon helped deaden the pain and then our hotel had a sulfur bath which was great, and Mark got us tacos. I really think tacos are the perfect post marathon dinner.

My legs are sore; they feel like they’ve been run over.

Tomorrow I’m having breakfast with Percival Everett and today I’m finishng a piece for The Guardian, and I’m looking forward meeting the woman who assigned me this piece when we go to London for the Book Fair.

This weekend is the Kingsley Tufts judging. Always good to have a day for a poetry swarm.

Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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