Jasper loves eggs.

Elizabeth Warren has a dog named Bailey, who, like Jasper looks like he will be big.  She resisted the name Scarapooche suggested by a voter and went with Bailey.  Jasper is larger than expected.  We wonder about his final weight.  Already, it is clear that he could pull a small sled.  In case of the zombie apocalypse (and what other kind of apocalypse is there?) he could pull us to safety.  I want Jasper to see snow this winter, to feel himself bounding through drifts.  I can see his webbed paws floating over huge mounds of white.  Right now his great loves are eggs and digging.  His second loves are shoes and socks.  So far, we always get them out of his mouth in time.  It’s a big mouth. I miss him right now. And my husband too.

Published in: on July 17, 2018 at 8:04 am  Leave a Comment  

New York

Speaking at Columbia University at Pulitzer Hall on publishing today.  I never thought I would write those words.  After New York, back to Nebraska, then Kentucky, then Fresno, then Ohio. I like the lilt of travel, treading the footbridges that connect airplanes to airports.  In the airports, there is a flow of human travel and much unpleasant expensive food and some good food which is often hard to find. I strive not to eat in the airports. I don’t want my stomach to become a stockpile of sugary carb goodies.  When you travel, you are surrounded by people and yet are completely alone, as if you were a inside your own egg.  You and your seatmates stay in the chalk lines of your tiny pod.  I am going from one lily pad to the next but today is New York.

Published in: on July 16, 2018 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Julian Barnes, The Only Story

Julian Barnes, The Only Story is a love story, a young man’s love story.  Spoiler alert. He loves the woman his mother’s age, and they start an affair over tennis that moves into their living together in a flat.  What they don’t do is create a life together.  He lives there and goes to college.  She just lives there.  When she was married to her abusive husband with her two daughters, she played tennis, ignored the abuse as best she could and survived.  But without anything to do, she becomes an alcoholic and eventually he dumps her back to one of her two daughters and goes abroad. He manages to live a boring uneventful life never finding love again because the fleeting shadow of love he once scrambled to find eludes him.  Considering how strange human beings are, it’s amazing any of us ever find big love.  A lot of people fell in love, got married, fell out of love but manage to keep a strange coexistence together indefinitely.  I know a few couples who are inside a happy love affair, I wish all of us luck on the boat of love, the big love affairs are not easy.  This book didn’t quite do it for me.  Julian Barnes is a fantastic writer, I’ll keep thinking about it, I think it will keep haunting me, and that’s something. What if you made the wrong turn in your life and couldn’t find a good way out until it was too late?  That’s the question of this book, and that is a good question.

Published in: on June 30, 2018 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

The Lemoine Affair

I read Marcel Proust’s The Lemoine Affair, and I wanted to love it, but couldn’t.  What I love is the series of Melville House classics.  I want to own and read every one; they’re exquisite little books.  Melville House does a great job with design.  Proust’s book about a real man, Lemoine, who pretended he could make diamonds out of coal.  Lemoine escaped, but a lot of people lost money on his little scheme.   Proust crushes so many words together, his book is like a little diamond, not something you want to hang around with every day.  I’ve never understand the fascination with diamonds.  How does this expensive rock make you feel important? I’m giving Proust a rest and am on to some short stories.

Published in: on June 29, 2018 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

The Ballad of Black Tom

I read The Horror at Red Hook followed by The Ballad of Black Tom.  Lovecraft’s horror is laced with his fear of immigrants.  The Ballad is a beautiful story, almost a love story between a son and his father.  Everything the boy did was for that father, and when the father is brutally shot by a policemen, he finds a new father.  Cthulhu, Lovecraft’ s King under the Sea becomes a real person in this story, a person you fear will make an appearance.  This King, the inspiration for Alien is possessed of magical powers.  Tom too has magic.  I went on to Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts, which was too much family drama and girl drama for me.  Black Tom felt like a real character, someone I know and could meet again.  Lovecraft’s stories emphasize that we fear what we do not know, and he himself hated immigrants, Jews and Blacks.  He thought Hitler was a swell guy.  The father of modern horror, in his day was considered a kook and a racist.  Hemingway, Pound and Eliot weren’t people you’d want to hang around for long.  They were racists as well.  The writer and the writing and the divide between them.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grinding at the stump of ideas

We’re Frenching through pages, we’re thrashing along the shore, we’re grinding at the stump of ideas, we’re writing.  Each day, threading the needle and getting down to it.  Is that enough metaphors for you?  We read each other’s work, think out the storyline.  We ride the bike; yesterday it rained and we whipped along the curves leaning into the wind and wet coming back from the water.  I swam as far out in the heavy waves as I could, maybe forty minutes, and they were threatening to drown me so I turned back to the dock.  Some swims are two hours, but the writing calls me back.   When we first came here years ago, I would swim for three, four hours every day, but this is a writing retreat.  I swim seven days a week, we write seven days a week. While I swim, Mark drinks coffee, reads and writes.  The sun doesn’t set till 8:30 pm so we write until ten before we break for dinner of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.  We eat the uncomplicated Greek food and write thickly viscous stories.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Red Hen Press is not a restaurant


Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Maggie Nelson’s Bluets

I read Bluets at midnight, and crawl down the dark blue of it until I finish and fall asleep before the rooster starts in and the day opens blue.  She takes us down the rabbit hole of the color; Nelson’s like a pianist with favorite keys or a guitarist with favorite songs.  Wittgenstein threads into her obsession with blue. My favorite blue is the blue of the balls used by Lita Albuquerque in “Stellar Axis.”  She showed us the blue balls at her house, one was for sale.  There was blue on her walkway and on her fingernails.  The very blue of “Stellar Axis” was stuck to the paving stones.  Her husband goes skydiving hundreds of times a year, they are both off into the blue, like Maggie Nelson who breaks apart language and ideas like you do eggs.  We had blue eggs for a while from Aracauna chickens and green eggs from the Olive Eggers.  The judge asked, “Do you have green eggs,” and under oath, I said, “Yes and ham.” Now we have mostly Rhode Island reds and one Polish chicken named Pantalones. Maggie Nelson mixes in a mixing bowl literary theory, life, and sex, a raw mixture then cooks it up and bakes a cake like Bluets.  It’s intoxicating like climbing into morning.

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Editing is a messy world

I’ve finished a poetry book and I’m handing it over to a professional editor before I send it out.  As an editor myself, I know that I do a lot better editing books I love.  Books where I love the sand and grit and wild, the tenderness, the gravel and the smooth.  I hope this editor will love all that in my book. It feels scary though.  If they don’t like the book, it feels like they don’t like me. I edit my husband’s writing, and he seems to be completely un-worried if I don’t like the pacing of a chapter.  He just jumps in and tightens it up.  But a book of poetry like this one feels like it’s part of my eyeballs and fingertips. I’m working on another project now, I’m pretending not to care about my poetry book out there having little things done to it maybe with a screwdriver, maybe with a knife.

Published in: on June 25, 2018 at 1:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Last night around midnight, I decided to read Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.  I’d hopped around it when it first came out. But I didn’t have time to focus completely. I know everyone else has read it, but I finally had the time to dive deep. It’s breathtaking.  She swims, effortlessly it seems through falling in love, having a child, and her spouse’s gender fluidity.  The love is big, the references to literary theory numerous, but the thick waters she swims through, (sorry for the swimming reference but I am swimming 1-2 hours a day) just seem too difficult for most writers to traverse.  Adoption, addiction, her mother’s obsession with weight, a woman’s shape in the world.  I like that part very much.  The questions about how you can do this or that as a woman, as a pregnant woman.  Maggie Nelson has a towering intellect and a verbal jump rope that leaves you dizzy.  She carves a wake through privilege and sorrow, expectations and flirtations.  There are all kinds of families.  Many people have questioned her family; a great family of energy, love and wild.  I’ve been given flack about our family, but ours too is wild.  An amazing read. Maggie, Harry, Harry’s son and Iggy are sounding the gong of life. In the day, in the morning, in the middle of the night.

Published in: on June 24, 2018 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment