Come to the Red Hen Press Anniversary! It’s a champagne party!

Today is Amy Bloom day for us here at Red Hen. She is coming to our benefit on Sunday and reading! And we are thinking about her books, her work, her language, her stories.  Every day this week, I will post an excerpt of the work of one of our presenters. Today it is Amy Bloom’s day.

If you haven’t scooped up a ticket to our event, do so now! It’s going to be sensational!

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
― Amy Bloom

“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.”
― Amy Bloom

“Everyone has two memories. The one you can tell and the one that is stuck to the underside of that, the dark, tarry smear of what happened.”
― Amy Bloom


“Some people are your family no matter when you find them, and some people are not, even if you are laid, still wet and crumpled, in their arms.”
― Amy Bloom

Every day this week, I will post an excerpt of the work of one of our presenters. Today it is Amy Bloom’s day.

“I think the most important thing in the world is being brave. I’d rather be brave than beautiful. Hell, I’d settle for acting brave. ”
― Amy Bloom

images (1)

Published in: on November 3, 2015 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

What if you are not the sum of your genes or your environment?

How long have couples been reading at night? Reading stories before you sleep.

Some people watch television before they sleep.  I like to read, and then when I sleep, the stories become part of the dreams.

We saw the film, Being Flynn which is about mental illness, homelessness and about the stories that our parents tell us and how they stick with us.  Like many people, I like to think that I am absolutely nothing like either of my parents.  I don’t know either of them so that may not be true.  But it feels true.

I love my children.  My parents gave their children away as babies.  That’s enough reason to be different.  I don’t know if there are ways that I am like my parents, and I suppose I will never find out.

In Nick Flynn’s book, he’s afraid of being like his suicidal mother, his mentally ill father.

I’ve read a lot about genes vs. environment.  If your genetic makeup isn’t good and the environment in which you were raised was controlling and crazy, then what have you got?  You have to throw out all the genes and environment and find magic out of strands of nothing.

Psychologists say it’s either genes or environment.  They are wrong. There are other ways of forming your way of flying yourself from the end of a kite string.

Published in: on October 25, 2015 at 7:53 pm  Comments (1)  

I grew up sleeping on the floor, and I slept very well there.

As a child I spent much of my young life working with horses and sheep.

I did a lot of farm work, and that stuck with me as a good way to learn about life.

In my twenties when I first slept in a bed, I was confused by why I was upon a raised platform rather than lying comfortably and safely on the floor.

I l like gardening and horses.  I still sleep quite well on the floor.

My kids grew up with beds but they can sleep quite well on the floor.

Being able to sleep on the floor and raise food and ride a horse are good skills to have in the case of wanting to live well or in case of the zombie apocalypse or event just getting left behind in the Rapture.

Stephen is on his way to Nepal where he will be staying near the monkey temple.

Our garden is beginning to rest.  We will fill the beds in January and trim the roses.  Right now the roses are fully blooming.

Published in: on October 24, 2015 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dream of poetry and warm air

When I started college, I was still sleeping on the floor or in my car.  My car was an old Ford.  There was room in the back seat for sleeping.

The summer I decided to drive West, I sold the Ford which broke down all the time and I bought a Pontiac Sunbird which had a sunroof.  It was a small car and it was hard to sleep in it, but I managed.

On the trip to Arizona, I never stopped at a restaurant or stayed in a hotel.  I slept in the car and locked the doors.

The car broke down in Texas and it was very hot.  I hitch hiked and a truck came by.  The driver took my car into town and bought me a beer.

I stayed in Arizona for a few years and finished college.  I got a different broken down car.

I remember Rita Dove, Norman Dubie, and margaritas and reading Neruda on the beach in Mexico.  It hardly ever rained. We couldn’t go out until late at night. I learned to read poetry and mostly I had a place indoors. But outdoors was warm too.  The story of my life included cacti and I love the way the dream of warm swirled through my poetry and ideas.

Published in: on October 23, 2015 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Steve is off to Nepal for another big adventure.

Our event at Boston Court last night was a big success.   Nicelle’s play went off well and she’s going to be performing again on November 4th at the Edison, so come along to see that. Just being at the Edison is pretty fantastic and seeing a performance there is doubly so, and this promises to be a good one.

I’m still jet lagged but getting back on the running, writing, catching up on sleep.

I’m interested in how events change your world view.  You realize that you are alone.

Then you realize that’s wrong.  You are not alone.  Once you know that you are not alone then no matter what gets thrown at you, that fact remains.  Someone’s got your back.   Hold on to that someone is what I say.

Published in: on October 22, 2015 at 7:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nicelle Davis is bringing Caliban to Pasadena Wednesday night at 7 pm

Lufthansa has film suggestions:  The Thurgood Marshall movie or Magic Mike XXL.  Do those two movies sum up America? I don’t think so.  My seatmate says she has seen the great parts of the U.S:   Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, now Los Angeles.  I asked whether she wants to go to the South; she says that she has heard nothing good about the South or Texas.  In line a guy told me the best parts of the U.S. are the national parks; he is renting a camper van and taking his kids to see them.

Lufthansa overbooked the flight; they got me a seat at the last minute all packed into the middle, but at least I am getting back to Los Angeles.  It was a good book fair, a lot of interest in our titles: things are cooking and being around the Akashic staff is always a jolt.  They’re professional and smart and kind and I really like them.   Frankfurt was very cold this time, but I feel good about this year’s book fair.  A lot of buzz about the Hen books.  The petri dish coming to life.

Walking/thinking time.  I think about love and how big it is, and hesitancy and how it slows you down.  I’m going to read Crime and Punishment again.  I’m familiar with punishment.  When I was growing up, there was a lot of it, and I was used to it, and the thing about punishment is that it doesn’t usually last forever.  The whole time you are being punished, you know that it will stop at some point, and you have that to look forward to and you can think about the morning when you’ll wake up, and it will be over. For Hester Prynne, there was no morning.  When Hester Prynne sewed on the A, it was with tiny stitches.  Many tiny stitches.

Many times the punishment when I was a kid was no dinner.  When I arrived at the New Mexico conference this summer, I hadn’t eaten all day, and the others had dinner, but not me.  I sat watching them eat, and it was weirdly strange remembering that curiously empty feeling, I had as a kid like I was floating. When you’re a kid, and you don’t get food for a day or two, your whole body feels like it’s made out of glass, you’re pretty sure someone could see right through you, or they could put their hands right through you.  You could become glass and eventually you would have had no substance at all.    The less I eat, the more I remember being transparent.

What I have that Hester Prynne did not have.  Friends.  Well, she had Arthur Dimmesdale, but he wasn’t a very good friend, now was he?  He was the kind of person who would let people laugh at you for being a smoker and then sneak around the corner for a smoke.  I love the Scarlet Letter.

I have friends who love me and who I love so I am not living with Pearl in the forest.  I have a son and a daughter, a family, friends.  Having people to love makes life worthwhile.  There is love and there are those who carry wood and water.  And that brings us to Caliban.  I’ve been Caliban,  the expendable one who carries wood and water.

Caliban, the ultimate outsider, is neither male nor female, fish nor fowl.  Caliban, who exists in limbo, is the subject of Nicelle Davis’ play which will be at Boston Court this Wednesday.

In Hades, there is still great theater, some say better theater than Heaven.

Published in: on October 17, 2015 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Random Thoughts

Al Jazeera covers world issues: the El Nino in California, mudslides on the Grapevine, fighting in Israel, the million refugees arriving in Germany, the cheating on World soccer.  These are not all equal concerns, yet they are presented one after another as if they are being served up in same size portions.  New York and California are important in world news. I look forward to going home to my loved ones and I am grateful that I have people who love me.

Published in: on October 16, 2015 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Listening to Miles Davis play “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” in a Frankfurt hotel room.  I have been working on opera and eating plums.  There’s a jazz to life that I never want to forget.  The way plums are sweet and Miles music whispers .  The way snowflakes float down and here in Germany, there are so many red leaves singing down onto the pavement.

“They asked me how I knew, my true love was true. Smoke gets in your eyes.”

Published in: on October 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gratitude in Germany in spite of the cold

I am grateful for my family, for living in a world of books, for the many people I know who are working to make the world a better place.

Often we spend time thinking about what makes us angry in the world and that can be a pretty long list. Once you’re better informed, better read, have listened to good podcasts, you know even more problems to be angry about.  I am angry about all those issues as well.  I want the world to be a better place, a kinder place, a place without bullying or racism, without mean girls or thug boys, without weird undercurrents or waves that engulf us.  Here in Frankfurt, I hear how terrible it is to live in Belarus, about the fighting in Israel, the drought in California, the ongoing violence in Syria.

One of the paradoxes of being human is that we are deeply concerned about the wrongs in the world, and we do whatever we can to solve those problems, while at the same time, we can experience gratitude for the good parts of our lives and joy for those who love us.

I am happy that I have wonderful kids, and that my husband loves me.  I’m happy about this book I’m reading.   I bought a Ben Loory book at the Book Soup store LAX.  Stories for the Nightime and Some for the Day.  There’s one story about this guy who writes a poem which he self publishes, 14,000 copies, and a lot of people like the poem, others dislike it.  The poem makes him famous and he attracts a pretty reporter who he marries.  Years into his marriage, he writes another poem which he hides in a drawer.  I think the point is that what poets want is happiness and if you had that, you wouldn’t have to write any more poems or you wouldn’t want to get the poems published, you’d be okay with being an invisible poet if you were a visible person.  What we want is to be visible to someone.  That’s a bit of happiness.

I want the world to be a better place, and I will do what I can, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for the good things in my life.  I’m grateful for those who love me and for the red leaves falling out of the cool air in the moist German air.  I need to learn how to order beer in German.  Goal for next Frankfurt Book Fair.

Published in: on October 12, 2015 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Too much champagne


Getty flowers…

I like honeysuckle, so when we moved here, I planted some in front and back.  One area was gravel, then the honeysuckle started.  It spread.  I thought about the honeysuckle and then jasmine came to mind.  The way jasmine fills the air, sweet and tangled.  So I planted some jasmine and it started growing along the wall and then into the honeysuckle.  What I thought about the following summer was how happy bougainvillea made me when I first moved to Los Angeles and saw it growing up bridges and walls and next to freeways, then I wanted some pink bougainvillea in our yard, so I put it next to the honeysuckle which was already laced in with the jasmine.  After it got going, I remembered something important; I really like purple.  That’s when I got a purple bougainvillea and planted it next to the pink one, and then it was fantastic.  The pink and purple started mixing and climbing all over the tree, and from one side of the house, the pink and purple bougainvillea are climbing high up into the trees.  Then we had this bouquet someone gave me with a curly willow stem that started putting out roots.  I couldn’t bear throwing it away.  It had these baby roots, so thin and tender and wet.  I took it out into the back yard and stuck it into the ground.  We now have a very tall curly willow tree.  I planted a schefflera tree which we had in a pot, and it is tall and flowering.  There was also a baby orange tree and now it is big. Then we planted a fig tree, then an empress tree, our yard is tiny; it’s not big enough for a pool or a gazebo. It’s like a postage stamp all over run with trees and flowers.  Flowers want light and space so they keep climbing up, taking over the sky.  We don’t have a gardener; it’s all running wild.   Soon there will be a birthday party for Tobi.  Maybe even with cake.  I remember Tobi at her first birthday, sinking her entire face into the cake.  Too much cake, too many flowers, too much life.  Too much champagne, but that’s all in the past.  Now, there’s no champagne. Flowers. I think about flowers.

Published in: on October 9, 2015 at 10:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,977 other followers