Lucille Clifton

Poetry is where I go to think.

About life and stuff.

I love this,

By Lucille Clifton which makes me think of childhood in poverty and hard dirt, rocks and no shoes. Singing of shoes, dreaming of shoes. Fields full of stones in which we would try to gather rocks spring after spring but still the rocks grew out of the soil and we built fences to divide us from ourselves in the other fields. The apples were hard green when we ate them and our stomachs sour and painful, but we ate the apples green and the fish when they were still small and sucked on straw and picked up rocks and that was another time when I spoke another language.

I remember meeting Lucille Clifton and how kind she was to Mark and to me and how she told us that she liked Red Hen very much and that what we were doing was a good thing.  She was a kind and good woman and a poet of ferocity and genius and I miss her.

mulberry fields


they thought the field was wasting

and so they gathered the marker rocks and stones and

piled them into a barn    they say that the rocks were shaped

some of them scratched with triangles and other forms    they

must have been trying to invent some new language they say

the rocks went to build that wall there guarding the manor and

some few were used for the state house

crops refused to grow

i say the stones marked an old tongue and it was called eternity

and pointed toward the river    i say that after that collection

no pillow in the big house dreamed    i say that somewhere under

here moulders one called alice whose great grandson is old now

too and refuses to talk about slavery    i say that at the

masters table only one plate is set for supper    i say no seed

can flourish on this ground once planted then forsaken    wild

berries warm a field of bones

bloom how you must i say

Published in: on August 30, 2015 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  


The lessons of this week have been many.

Of thinking first.

Of continuing to think on all this and forgetting nothing.

I am full of gratitude for what I have learned and will continue to learn.

The greatest lesson is love.

Many people reached out to me with both love and forgiveness and for that I am deeply grateful.

The lessons of this week will sink in over the coming months and I hope that I will never be the same person again.

Poetry is where I started.

To poetry, I return.


The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo…

And in short, I was afraid.

Published in: on August 29, 2015 at 8:27 pm  Comments (2)  

Hello to you, community of readers, writers, and beyond

On Monday of this week, I wrote a misguided attempt at satire using base stereotypes. My rush to defend AWP lacked careful thought, hurting those on all sides. I am truly sorry for my words and the hurt I have caused. It was never my intention to dismiss anyone or their concerns, or to cause anger or pain. I am humbled by the knowledge I have gained by those who have read and spoken out about this piece.

It has been recommended by many that I not write this personal message, that I let my initial retraction stand in its place. But I did not become a writer to stay silent. I was raised in—and escaped from—a cult that enforced child abuse, silence, and ignorance upon its members, and I have since dedicated my life to diversity in publishing, to making voices heard that were not heard before. I am grateful for the calls for action, for diversity, for underrepresented voices, for empowerment.

What I can do is tell you how truly dedicated I am to diversity. This is not an empty promise, but a record of twenty years of publishing that reflects this dedication and lifelong mission; a record that stands not for itself, but pushes me forward into projects already in the making to improve and expand on this diversity. I have read your comments, and I am learning, striving to be better, to change, to more fully understand the weight that words can have. Moving forward, I will do my best to make sure my words always reflect and advocate for marginalized voices in the literary community.

I acknowledge that the allegations of prejudice against AWP are issues that need to be addressed. Institutional prejudice needs to be addressed worldwide, countrywide, and perhaps especially in the literary community, where our words mean so much, and spread so far. AWP is not perfect in this vein, but it has made significant efforts to rectify these issues by increasing its diversity of panelists, of panel choosers, of its accessibility to people with disabilities. AWP is a big name with a small staff, working tirelessly for its members to create a conference where all voices and people can be seen and heard. Change is not overnight, it is a process of continuous attempts to break patterns, to acknowledge often overlooked perspectives, to listen, learn, and grow. AWP is attempting to grow as quickly as it can. I, too, am pushing myself to keep learning and growing.

I will continue to champion diversity in publishing. I will continue to champion marginalized writers, students, teachers, publishers, organizations, writers, and readers. I will continue to write. I am grateful for the patience, forgiveness, and support I have received from so many. I am grateful for the passion, anger, and calls to action that I have received from so many. I am grateful to have learned so much from all of you, and I intend to translate this learning into action.

Thank you for reading,
Kate Gale

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm  Comments (2)  

AWP is Us – Update 8/26/15

I apologize for this post and the hurt it caused. Red Hen Press values inclusiveness and diversity in publishing. Our Mission: “Red Hen Press is committed to publishing works of literary excellence, supporting diversity, and promoting literacy in our local schools. We seek a community of readers and writers who are actively engaged in the essential human practice known as literature.”

We continuously strive to make sure the books we publish are by a wide diversity of authors of all walks of life, of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, and religious beliefs. We honor transparency as a way to improve the publishing world and we honor your right to criticize.

I thank the writing and reading community for your passion and commitment to change and diversity. I look forward to hearing more from all of you in the next couple of months on how Red Hen can continue to be a partner with authors in the publishing world and an ally to diversity in the community.

Published in: on August 26, 2015 at 10:50 am  Comments (2)  

Back from Vegas

We played ball in the pool for hours.

We didn’t win any money, but we don’t lose money either.

We stayed at the Rio.

We visited with my uncle and aunt who met us there. There was wine and national parks.

We slept.

It was very hot.

When we drove home through the desert; the car sweltered along the highway.

Even birds could not breathe.

In the pool, the balls kept bouncing.


A bikini contest.

Buckets of beers.

A hazy thick spongy light coming through the waterfalls.

Molly and I zinging the ball back and forth.

Men crowded around poker tables.

Vegas has a thick strange smell.

It was very good to see my uncle and aunt, George and Hildy.

It is very good to be home for the first time in two weeks.

Published in: on August 23, 2015 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Measure your health by the numbers, but use the right numbers

“I’m amazingly healthy,” the woman said beaming as she lowered herself onto the couch.  My friend is an acupuncturist and she stared at the large woman.  “My Kaiser doctor told me!” she continued. “My numbers are perfect.”

I smiled at this story. My mother-in-law, also a good hundred pounds overweight, says the same thing.  “I’m perfectly healthy. I get a one hundred percent score from my Kaiser doctor!” I stare at her like a cow stares at an oncoming train, like really? and my sister-in-law Claire gives me the “shut your dirty mouth” look. Claire explains that with the proper medication to control blood pressure, diabetes and knee pain, my mother-in-law’s numbers are fine and she can continue eating and drinking as if she were not overweight and suffering from diabetes.

She’s in her eighties and still possessed of her faculties so many people would applaud her for that, and I think it’s great to still be reading and driving in your eighties. But I would argue that Kaiser doctors and perhaps other doctors as well do us a disservice by not being honest with us.

My own health by the numbers:  I started with Kaiser in 1989.  By 2009, I’d gained forty pounds in twenty short years . No one said a word.  I’ve lost fifteen pounds and have another fifteen or twenty to go.  My doctor never mentions my weight loss.

Last year I got a step counter in October. For 2014, my average daily steps were around 9000.  This year, I’ve got it up to 11,500 and I hope to bring it to 12,000 plus. Those numbers represent taking every opportunity to walk.

Walking and losing weight, I feel better, I have more energy and I can fit into my clothes which is always nice.  But doctors are interested in the numbers that can be created by the use of medications rather than the numbers we can create ourselves.  We all need to walk more, swim more, move our bodies, stay light on our feet, stretch, dance. We have only this one body. We should enjoy living in it.  Scale obsession isn’t healthy but the scale is one way of telling you whether you are within a healthy range.  If lions were chasing you, could you run a mile?  For most of us, the answer should be yes.   Note to self: Lions can run up to 50 mph. Zebras can run 40 mph.  God must favor lions. Still, the point is, running a mile is a good thing to be able to do if necessary.

Published in: on August 20, 2015 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

New book coming out with Red Hen called 52 Men by Louise Wareham.


Some men are already angry about it.  Angry because this character dates men and throws them away.  Women are supposed to long for comfort, to weep, to wish, to pine, to wait by the phone.  Our girl sallies off to the next date. She washes her hair and starts all over again.  She will survive.  She’s energetic. She’s sassy. She’s on to the next one.  She dates Jonathan Franzen, Michael Stipes, Lou Reed.  She’s unstoppable, somewhat unstable, but dishy and cool.  Lots of men don’t like smart; they like sweet. They don’t like a witty roil and tumble as much as fumble with their trousers in the dark.  And speaking of the dark, this girl comes across as both brilliant and wounded and that might scare men too.  Women will love this book; it’s already a buzz.  Women like other women with power in their fingertips.  In the author photo, Louise Wareham wears boots. And boots as we know, are made for walking.

Published in: on August 19, 2015 at 8:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Harvard Club, or/the Further Adventures…

August 17th, 2015

I had a lovely lunch at the Harvard Club with Ben Bolger and we overlooked the Boston Harbor where boats flecked the water.  The salmon was good as was the gazpacho, but they had these macaroons that were ridiculous they were so good.  I could have eaten a whole handful of those. Before that I met our film agent.  Before that I flew from NY to Boston and before that I took the midnight plane from Albuquerque to New York and on that plane my seatmate gave me some sleeping pills which I took and they helped me sleep on the plane.  As I fell asleep, I realized that if a white man especially an older white man had given me sleeping pills, I would have been creeped out and not taken them.  But this guy worked for the FBI and was a good looking young African American guy so he seemed trustworthy. I contemplated why all this was as I fell asleep.

I have two nights in NY. Tomorrow is going to be a spectacular Bryant park reading.

Published in: on August 18, 2015 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

I have much to learn

By the time I take the midnight plane to NY, I will have been at the Albuquerque airport for nearly eight hours.  I put Tobi and Molly on their plane six hours ago.  I will then fly to Boston.

During my airport time, I have had one bowl of soup, one bottle of water. I have watched a thunderstorm and the sun setting.  I have caught up on all my email. I have made notes from the Retreat and made plans for the book I am finishing.  I have slept and waked and I am ready to sleep again.

If Mark were in an airport for eight hours he would read and write.  I usually don’t.  I like to work and get things done but airports don’t feel conducive to creative work although I can write pretty well on trains.  I am taking a train from Boston to NY tomorrow and from NY to DC on Wednesday so who knows, I may write then.

The AROHO Retreat was both wonderful and exhausting.  Seeing my friends Darlene and Tracey and Bhanu is always a very happy experience.  Meeting with Joy Castro was inspiring.  I’ve ordered her other books on Amazon and I can’t wait to read them. Leigh Haber from O Magazine reminding us that she’s really a book lover just like us, that was great.

There are also odd bits that happen that make you smile.  Last night sitting on the porch with Janet Fitch she told me that the vodka she brought to the Retreat, Stoli was much better than the Ketel One I had brought. It’s good to know.

In case you think you know stuff, there is always someone to tell you that you really don’t.  I like that.  There are very few subjects that I am expert on, so I have a lot to learn.  Right now, I wish I could learn how to sleep well on planes.

Published in: on August 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last day at Ghost Ranch

We are wholly magic at this point.

We walk in beauty.

I walked Box Canyon to the rim of the water and put my legs and feet in the waterfall.

Tobi and Molly walked up into the mouth of the canyon.

The sun rose over the towering mesas and it was very hot.

Then women began undressing and there were naked women.

Thunder and lightning began.

When males are about, the female body changes.

As a result of observation, everything is changed, even a particle of light in the double slit experiment.

The female body without the male is glorious.

The female body with the male gaze sees itself as flawed.

Thunder cascaded over the red cliffs.

The air was immediately cool.

There were those who danced.

There were those who wrote.

There were those who hiked to Chimney Rock, the lovers of men.

There were those who hiked to Box Canyon, the lovers of women.

There were those who lay on blankets and watched the stars, the lovers of stars.

There were those who read, the lovers of books.

There were those who swam in the lake, the lovers of water.

There were those who entered story, the lovers of magic.

Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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