She had to beg for underwear.

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Don’t try to convince other people that your way is right. In my first marriage, my ex had two guy friends who were married to these women who were completely squished. Stomped. Walked on. Walked over. Walked around.

I remember we were over at this guy’s house we’ll call Jimmy. I wanted to go out with the wife and get pizza while the men were going to stay with the kids, and my ex said, Sure, Jimmy and I can watch the kids and give them a bath.

It turns out Jimmy had never been left alone with his children let alone give them a bath. My ex had to do the bathing and getting them into the jammies. Jimmy gave his wife $5 a week spending money and sometimes he asked for it back. He did all the grocery shopping. He was a marathon runner and they were super Christian so they had this idea that he should be able to do anything he wanted and she should have to just bow to his wishes.

The other guy was Mormon. His wife had to beg for underwear. I think I gave her some of mine at one point. She was a beautiful blond girl and they lived in, you guessed it, Utah.

Here is the funny thing: At the time, neither of these women seemed particularly unhappy. Sure they complained a bit, but don’t we all? They were in their twenties, they thought they were in love and they were living out their lifelong dream. A male had asked for their hand in marriage. They now had a husband and children. They were inside the right story doing God’s will. They were inside the story they had always aspired to be in.

I wanted to tell them that they were wrong, that they were actually miserable, that begging for panties was a bad thing. My ex agreed with me that this treatment was wrong, but even in our idiocy then, and it does amaze me looking back to think of what we did not see, even then, we knew that pointing out to someone who is happy with her life that you would hate her life is not helping to make her life better. Both those women eventually grew up and left those men. In their own time. Having too much information dumped on at once just gives you more than you can process.

I know a couple women now who I want to walk up to and say something. I want to say, Every time he takes a trip without you and leaves you behind, take a trip of your own and leave him behind. Go out in the world, get the job you dream of. Fix up the house the way you want it to be. Cook the food you like. Take time to take care of yourself: Get a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, a facial, a new hairstyle, flying lessons, trapeze lessons, go fishing, go ice fishing, never let a man be the hero of your life. Be a hero in your own life.

But I don’t. Because being a hero requires finding the hero in yourself. I am a hero, I left the cult when I felt God rising in me. I cannot give you hero. You have to find that for yourself.

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday-Saturday in Chicago!

Chicago, Here we Come!

6:00 pm

Nicelle Davis and Kate Gale!

I’m excited about going to Chicago. I need to get out, see the world, travel, visit all the capital cities, be expelled from them one by one. Just like Casanova! My friend, the poet Nicelle Davis and I are going to Chicago for three days, at least I’m going for three days. I have to get back on Easter because 4/20 is Mark’s birthday! And we have to go out for sushi etc.

Nicelle and I are speaking at a conference on poetics, and then, Red Hen meetings and this reading at the Seminary Coop. The other thing that I am planning for Chicago involves going to the Russian Tea Time. I’ve had some good times there over the years, drinking flights of vodka and eating borscht. I really like Russian food, and at the Russian Tea Time, they also have all different kinds of vodka—horseradish is my favorite.

The Goldilocks Zone tour is going well, and it does go on and on. I can see why authors like doing the whole tour in six weeks of hard travel. Because I teach, I can’t do a six week tour. I am doing an eighteen month tour for GZ and my fall release book Echo Light and working around my teaching schedule and Red Hen meetings/travel.

The reading is exciting, but all this travel is just a tad bit exhausting. As soon as I get home, I pack for the next trip, I drop off my clothes at the cleaners and I get ready to go again.

In my dream life, I get enough sleep and I’m not doing quite so many things. I like the idea of eight or nine hours of sleep a night. I’d be like a new woman. Not that the woman I am isn’t fantastic enough, but I would be even more fantastic with a lot more sleep. Ah well, that’s what the summer is for. Sleep, writing and dreaming.
April 17 at 6:00 pm – Seminary Co-Op, Chicago IL with Nicelle Davis
April 23 at 7:00 pm – Diesel, A Bookstore, Brentwood CA with Rex Wilder
April 24 at 7:30 pm – Mrs. Dalloways, Berkeley CA with Douglas Kearney and Peter Kline
May 5 at 7:00 pm – City Lights, San Francisco CA with Peggy Shumaker and Douglas Kearney
May 13 at 6:30 pm – Annenberg Beach House, Santa Monica CA with Kim Dower, Ron Koertge and Jim Tilley
June 18 at 7:30 pm – The Press Club, Portland OR with Ursula K. Le Guin
August 17 at 5:00 pm – Busboys and Poets, Washington DC with Douglas Kearney and Michelle Chan Brown
September 10 at 7:00 pm – New England College, Henniker NH
September 13 time TBD – Poets House, New York NY with Nicelle Davis and Gregory Orr
October 23 at 4:00 pm – UCSC Living Writers event, Santa Cruz CA with Andrew Lam
November 13 time TBD – Colorado College, Colorado Springs CO
November 20 time TBD – Wayne State College, Wayne NE

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Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Hilary Clinton, can she be president?

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I want to see Hilary elected, and I hope that she runs in 2016. But it will take more than my wanting her to win for that to happen. She is an amazing fund raiser especially in NY which is the most important place in America to be able to raise money. And women love her, but she is going to have to get some men to vote in her favor as well.

Let’s talk about why there are men who hate Hilary. Men fear women who have power. A woman with power is a monster to most men. The monster is the woman who might actually wield power. A significant percentage of men in America do not respect women. Laugh at women. They assume the men should be in charge of where the family lives, how the house looks, how much their wife drinks or whether she is allowed to drink at all, what her last name is. They control the money. To make the little women happy, they give the little women money to shop; they buy them a dress or shoes.

Hilary is not a little woman. She does not wait for men to tell her what she can and cannot do. She moves forward with her convictions. And that is frightening to men.

England can elect Margaret Thatcher; Germany can elect Angela Merkl, even India has had a woman head of state. But not America where the men like little women who stay in the background.

Hilary stands for whatever is most frightening to men. She does not pretend to be small. She does not pretend to be the background. She does not become invisible.

Here is why I think all women should vote for Hilary and men as well. Hilary might be able to make change happen. Obama has not been able to stop any wars, improve education or help us on our way toward more jobs and better lives. I believe in Hilary.

People say Hilary wants power. Men want power all the time and nobody faults them for it. But if a woman wants power, it is frightening to men who want to believe they can control the world. Hilary represents power in skirts, and for most men that is the most frightening kind of power.

I can’t imagine anyone in my husband’s family voting for Hilary. His family are Republicans and/or they believe that men are the boss of things. I generally equate Republicans with wanting the men to be n charge; the wife’s “job” is to cook, take care of the house etc.

Some people would say that Hilary’s problem isn’t men hating her. It’s Hilary herself. But, I disagree. Being a stepmother has issues because you enter a story of the evil stepmother and it can be difficult to extract yourself. The British have the story of Queen Elizabeth I and the story of Queen Victoria, so a woman prime minister can enter the story of a powerful woman who turns a country into an empire. Hilary enters the story of a woman with serpents for hair. America has no glorious female monarchs whose story she can enter. But, she can enter the story of us. We, the women of America, like Hilary have raised children. We don’t leave our children. We only leave our spouses if we must. We do our best to raise a family, while working and we want to fly. We want full personhood. That’s an American wish. To walk tall in the world, to do what is right, not to be a bully, to understand and appreciate the beauty of the world. I think Hilary wants all of that too. I wish her the best in 2016. I believe that she has the force and stamina to win the presidency and I wish her the very best.

Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

LA Times Book Festival, something for everyone, celebrities, poetry, books, food

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Celebrities are our royalty, so they play out the story of our age. Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris are getting a divorce. An amicable divorce.

But they are going to continue to be good parents and get along for the sake of Apple and Moses. That is the future of divorce. Making it work for the children. The whole thing where you ruin the children’s future in the process of the divorce is wrong. But it still happens every day. People hire a lawyer, go to war with their ex and in the process, their children’s lives are trashed.

Mickey Rooney said, People are always asking me if I’m short. Since my last divorce, I’m short about $100,000.” Of course, that’s a laughable amount in today’s market where people walk away from millions when they get divorced.

Paltrow is committed to making a lot of money off her celebrity. She has an online business called Goop. Goop sells really overpriced stuff like $350 pillows as People magazine points out. Our pillows don’t really match anything but we got them at the Home store for a lot less than $30. I also like their note that besides making money off the little people in America who think they can look like her by doing the little Tracy exercises and eating the special foods. If I were a celebrity, I would look like a million dollars too. I do like it when celebrities like Paltrow complain about how hard it is to be a celebrity mother. How hard is it to pay the bills and make it all work if you don’t have Paltrow’s money? What if you are a poet running a non profit, now I am going to bet that is a lot harder than Paltrow’s life. I am very close to my people, the people who do the work for me. On the other hand, I love Paltrow in movies, I’m over the moon about her performances even when she’s cheating on Matt Damon I still love watching her. I wish her the best with her amicable split. And Chris is a rock star so he will be fine.

If you could change anything you wanted to about your spouse, what would you change?

Most people who have been married for more than a few years, have something they would change. Divorce happens when there are too many things you want to change.

I don’t have a long list of things I would change about my spouse, but I am always seeing other people’s marriages and thinking how I would change their spouse. I would roll up my sleeves and start in with the training.
Here are the rules:
1. I am not required to cook. You can cook or we can order takeout or I can cook if I feel like it.
2. I do the laundry if I feel like it (which in my case I do)
3. I can wear whatever I want to and I can wear makeup or not as I wish. Ditto for jewelry, garter belts, high heels, suits, jackets.
4. Unless I am an alcoholic, you can’t tell me that I am not allowed to have a second drink because you women shouldn’t have more than one drink because you don’t like women to have fun.
5. When I choose to cook, you eat your food and be nice even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly.
6. We both need to be nice to the in laws. We don’t have to love them but we have to play nice.
7. Raising the kids is the hard part. One parent is usually more permissive than the other; just roll with it and do your best to negotiate. Don’t expect me to be a perfect parent; that is not going to happen.
8. When you want to yell, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if it is worth getting yourself into a position where I’m not going to want to speak to you for a long while?
9. Hygiene: Bathe every day and brush your teeth twice a week, and do the man scaping.
10. Clean up after yourself and keep the house cleaned up behind you.
11. Be a man and fix stuff. You don’t have to be a plumber and an electrician, but you need to be able to replace a water heater, the garbage disposal, a faucet, build a book shelf, put in water pipes in the back yard, plant a tree, build a fence, bury a dead dog, change a tire etc.
12. Treat me as well as you did when you were first in love.

Kate Gale on running an indie press and her Festival of Books favorites


Annenberg Auditorium

11:00 a.m. Poetry: Forms of Consolation: Traditional and Experimental Poetics
(Conversation 1111)
Kate Gale
Jessica Piazza
Elizabeth Robinson
Lynn Xu

I don’t know what we will say about this subject, but it will be good!

And Doug Kearney is reading at the poetry stage at 3:30 pm!

And Saturday night I am reading at Beyond Baroque! you should come!

12 April, Saturday – 8:00 PM

“ROY MASH writes a deliciously engaging and clever sort of object poem. With an exhilarating precision, his poems uncover
those illuminating perceptions that lie buried beneath the commonplace.” – Steve Kowit.

KATE GALE is the author of
several poetry collections, including Mating Season (2004) and Fishers of Men (2000) and The Goldilocks Zone, 2014.

She is the founder and managing editor of Red Hen Press and editor of the
Los Angeles Review.

London Book Fair was amazing.

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All these people in the book business and interested in how books are made. And buying and selling rights of books.

On the flight back, we flew New Zealand Air which had some pretty bad food and was on the way to Aukland. The guy in our row is flying from London to Los Angeles then to Aukland. The big problem with New Zealand Air is not the sardine seats or the bad food, it’s the fact that the plane has no air. You’re thinking, you are kidding. Not. I’m not kidding. The AC is at the back of the plane where they serve food, but where the passengers are, no AC.

Mark went to Foyles to shop for books. We went out last night for the best Indian food we’ve had since the last time we were in London. This made all the Indian food we ever have in Los Angeles taste like it’s cardboard. I had a whole fish and I am crazy for restaurants that serve whole fish. There is this place in Pasadena called Shiro’s that serves whole catfish. I love the catfish. I probably was formerly fish and that’s why I like fish. I like fresh oysters, oyster shooters and oyster Rockfellers. I am not fond of fried oysters, but if there are no other oysters, I’ll roll. I have to leave for Chicago on Wednesday. In Chicago, I know exactly what we are going out for. Russian food. I’m looking forward to getting home for a few days. Seeing the dogs.

I seriously doubt that I will have any oysters in the near future, but I like to think about them. We arrive late tonight in LA. My question is just how many miles can I run tomorrow? If I can run, I can clear my head.

Published in: on April 10, 2014 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  



Let’s go through the details.
1. They have television on the plane.
2. They do not have food unless you buy it and there is nothing worth buying. If I had known this, I would have brought a sandwich.
3. I’m watching this movie called Ruby Sparks about this guy who is a writer and he creates a girl. Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas are in it, also Paul Dano who I love, and it’s kind of intense. A really good movie.
4. I had an hour layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. They try to get you to shop.
5. They made me check my luggage because they said it was too heavy.
6. They give you Icelandic water.
7. It takes seven hours to fly from Seattle to Iceland.
8. They do not have electrical outlets on this plane but they do have places to plug in iPhones.
9. I can’t wait to get to London and see Mark.
10. Seattle is a rainy city. London will be cold as well, but I’ll be with Mark.

One of the big questions in a relationship is how many people do you need? I have a friend whose husband wants it to be just the two of them, but my friend likes to hang with her girlfriends. She likes to go out with her husband, but at home, she likes to do her own thing. I have friends who seem to want to have a huge group of people around all the time. I personally like a balance. I adore time alone with my daughter, time alone with my husband, time with my son, and I like it when the whole family is around. What I wouldn’t like is having one of those relationships where you hardly ever your see your spouse. I like having time even though it’s hard to say what we do with that time. We almost never go to the movies even though we love the movies, we’re usually too tired. Or we don’t really have enough time that we aren’t doing a thousand things. At the same time.

Right now, what I want to do is figure out our garden. Because of the drought, I assume that we will pay our arms and our legs for water so I want to make the garden a bit more friendly to a no water little situation. We want a courtyard garden. Then I want to write a story about someone who doesn’t actually want to garden but wants the whole yard to be magical and so they stand around the garden and dream and finally, reluctantly, they start to make something. I think that all stories start with a desire for change and then resistance to change and then maybe the drama of change itself. I’ll come up with some really good parts of the story to add tension, maybe an affair with the landscape architect who turns out to be Antonio Banderas.

I think the most important questions to figure out before you get too deeply into a relationship:
1. Do you need to go to church? Do you need the partner to go to church?
2. Do you like to travel?
3. Do you like to save money or just spend it all as you go along?
4. Are you ambitious? Do you need your partner to be ambitious?
5. Do you like to spend a lot of time alone with one person?
6. Do you need a lot of people around? How often?
7. On vacations do you like to be around a lot of people or just your partner? My sister-in-law and my brother-in-law were in Hawaii in a big resort hotel and in the morning some guide person took people on a walk. They had a great time. We would first of all not be at the resort hotel, we’d be staying at a shack on the beach, then we would never go on a guided tour with other people. We go on vacations to get away from other people.
8. How do you feel about the in-laws? If you don’t like them, is it okay with your partner if you see them on a very limited basis?
9. Do you have an inner life? Do you have a life of your own?
10. Do you know how to stick up for yourself?
11. Do you believe in talking out problems screaming? When is it okay to scream?
12. My husband and I would not have gotten married if our life together was not going to work for the children and if they couldn’t be at our wedding, but some people say good bye to the children. They walk away and make a new life with their spouse. If you are starting at the beginning, you have to start there, do you want to have children? That’s a big question. Do you want children?
13. Do you both have the same dreams?

I wrote all that on the plane. Now I’m in London so tired I could bite someone or punch someone and Mark is handy.

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 2:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Pulling the MFA Rankings? it is a joke

So all of you who have emailed me about this and talked with me about it over drinks in the last week, officially, it is a joke.

Obviously many people think Seth Abramson is a joke.

Others think attending MFA programs is a joke.

Or being a poet at all.

And by 3 pm this afternoon, when it sets in that I am eight hours off my time clock and still hard at work here at the London Book Fair, I am going to think the whole publishing industry is a joke.

But Alicia Stallings is reading with our writers tonight at Book and Kitchen Shop in and I can’t wait to hear her.

My opinion on the MFA report from Poets and Writers. If you like it and it is helpful, read it. If not, then don’t.

I love reading P and W but I don’t read romances or listen to Rush because I don’t want to.

Poets and Writers is working for writers.

Published in: on April 8, 2014 at 5:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Poets & Writers magazine will cease publication of the so-called ranking of MFA programs.

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Poets & Writers magazine will cease publication of the so-called ranking of MFA programs.

This was posted on Best American Poetry on April 1st. Is it an April Fool’s joke? I wish I knew.

The MFA programs and AWP have been critical for years of Seth Abramson’s methods which involve ranking the MFA programs by taking polls online of prospective people who would like to attend these programs. Many MFA program directors believe that the rankings are not helpful in recruiting potential writers. I’ve never been too wound up in the whole controversy because I think that you should choose an MFA program based on the faculty, not the rankings.
The question is whether this is for real or is it a very odd joke?

“Upon receiving an audit report from the International Association of Survey Research Scientists, Poets & Writers magazine will cease publication of the so-called ranking of MFA programs. The rankings had become a fall staple of the magazine. “We’ve come to recognize that the rankings are not just misleading, they’re harmful,” Jason Terry, a P&W senior director said. “What can I say? We have egg on our face. We regret that they may have influenced MFA program applicants to spend money on applying to programs for which they were ill-suited.”
The audit was undertaken on the IASRS’s own initiative. Senior Research Analyst Melanie Cornbluth. (PhD, JD, MBA) explained that the audit was difficult to conduct because, “Poets & Writers had none of the raw underlying data we typically examine. They could not produce the qualifications of the research team. They had no demographic information on those who responded to survey questions so it is impossible to tell how age, geographic location, marital status, income, and such may have influenced one’s reasons for applying to one program over another. We had our job cut out for us.”

Though the IASR report was two years in the making, the findings were never in doubt. Raj Singh (MStat), the senior analyst in charge of examining the data, said, “On the one hand, they made my job very easy! Everyone knows that a publication should never, never report findings of click-on Web surveys. These pseudo-polls all suffer from the same problem: the individuals choose themselves to take part in the poll. And in this particular case, one had to go through hoops to participate,” by which he meant that they had to join Facebook and find their way to particular page and apply to be admitted to a group. “I tried to get in,” says Singh, “just so I could have a look at what they’re doing. No luck.”

According to Singh, self-selected surveys by definition do not represent the target population. “There is no way that the ranking reflects the opinions of the full community of MFA hopefuls. And who made the cockamamie decision to rely solely on the opinions of those who have never set foot in an MFA classroom to evaluate MFA programs? No serious editorial enterprise should have touched this so-called research with a ten-foot pole.”

For a survey to be credible, every member of the population under study must have an equal chance to participate. “To begin with,” says Singh, “It is well documented that Facebook use is in decline among the under-30 set. An already corrupt process would become more so going forward.”

Despite the flaws, the rankings were taken seriously by gullible applicants. Alex Pawlowski, an MFA student who left a lucrative job as a financial analyst in Manhattan to attend a highly ranked program in the mid-west, regrets the move, which he says was spurred by the rankings. “I should have stayed in NYC,” says Pawlowski. “I could have kept my job and gotten an MFA.”

The ranking’s sole measure of a program’s success at job placement is whether graduates find teaching positions. “But I never wanted to teach,” says Elon Yousefzadeh. “I began my MFA program working in arts administration and that’s where I’ve stayed.” Yousefzadeh attended a full-time program in NYC that conducts classes at night, making it possible for working students to keep their jobs. “My program doesn’t even appear at the top half of the ranking yet I know it is highly competitive and highly regarded nation-wide.”

MFA program heads around the country expressed their satisfaction in P & W’s decision to drop the controversial rankings. “It is always heartening and a little unexpected when an organization does the right thing,” said Peter Wrigley of Comiskey College in Chicago. BFU’s Jeanne Moreau, a tireless critic of the rankings system, said she believes her efforts were vindicated.

It’s no secret that we’ve objected to the ranking from the start. We’re delighted that P & W has come to the recognition that the ranking issue caused more harm than could possibly be justified by the wished-for publicity, even bad publicity, that helps sell copies of magazines.”

Is this for real? I wish someone at P and W would speak up and tell us.

Good times so far at the London Book Fair. We had pub food last night. What I really want is Indian food.

The list of things I should be doing:

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Working on my mind: Reading Poetry Magazine, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Nation, reading a couple really important prose books every year, couple of poetry books a week, and of course, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and all the important literary blogs of which this is an incomplete list.

1. The Rest Is Noise
2. Huff Post
3. Slate
4. Salon
5. HTML Giant
6. Long Reads
7. NPR
8. The Millions
9. Rumpus
10. NY Review of Books
11. The Awl
12. Paris Review
13. Public Space
Okay, then I should work on my body. That means running 40-60 miles/week, going to the gym twice a week, yoga, Pilates, situps.

I should also work at a regular job that keeps me indoors.
I should read some of the more intelligent glossy magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair, O, More, the ones where we send Red Hen books for reviews and where we do pitches.

Between the reading, the running, the gym, the travel for Red Hen, I need to do my own writing. I need to spend ten-twenty hours a week writing. It’s hard to have enough time to actually get done what you need to. And there is the other problem that I can’t seem to avoid. I need sleep. I try to avoid it, and I’ve tried to convince myself that I can get by on less sleep, but this really isn’t true. I do need sleep.

The biggest problem of being a creative person is that you have this whole other job to do that you often are not getting paid for and which does not yield immediate results. If you get enough sleep, you feel better, if you exercise, eventually, you see results, but if you write or paint or act in plays, you are involved in a non market activity that doesn’t even make you sexier. In fact, it might mean you’re spending more time sitting.

Being a writer is complicated because it’s hard to sustain a writing life, but it’s also very simple. You don’t need complicated tools. You need to read and be willing to quiet down and think and then you just do it. The editing takes work though and it’s harder than first drafts for most people.

I love the international book fairs because when you are there, you are aware of how much more other people in other countries read than we do. Americans need to read more and think more. Plus, London is an exciting city. It feels like being in the thicket of culture. Kim says she gets sick of NY. I am ready to come home by the end, but I never get sick of NY. I love being somewhere that I can feel a wild heartthrob of energy. I like to think that the sun is large and the sunlight thick and the ideas bubbling around us. I live in a world of ideas and in that world, I like the fire. Books matter. At the London Book Fair, I’ll be in a world where books are alive.

Published in: on April 6, 2014 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

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