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  

Most of life is more like poetry than the movies.

Poetry is tough.  You have to keep wrestling it to the ground. You have to keep wrestling in spite of the voices in your head that say what’s the point. Stop. Stop writing.  No one is going to read this anyway.  We sleep on airplanes.  We shouldn’t sleep too much in the rest of our lives or we’ll miss the moments that could be poetry.  Life is more like poetry than a movie.  In poetry, there are snippets of joy and a snippets of sadness and a lot of stuff you have no clue about but it gives you a feeling.

Movies are like eating popcorn and having fun.  Most of life is more poetry than movies.

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

We are all a red boat. Waiting.


Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Greece is full of light, blinding thick light which slants down into the waves.  I swim. At the bottom of the sea, I see plenty of fishes and once an octopus.


We eat Greek salads every day and we write. Seven days a week.


There’s an old red boat in one lonely valley which is becoming part of the earth.  It’s a large boat probably for fishing.

I swim around islands where goats climb rock walls. Patmos is full of cats. So many cats everywhere; so many kittens.  We are feeding three cats.  I make up names for them. Penelope is our main cat; she has one eye, but she’s a sweetheart so no Cyclops for her.  There’s Cheetah and Paws.

We miss Jasper, and we spend a fair bit of time on Red Hen stuff, but the machine of LA seems far away.

I wonder if I lived here or in Ireland if eventually I’d stop worrying about what everyone thinks.

We come to quiet and we write as lemons fall from trees.

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 5:29 am  Leave a Comment  

The blue spaces

In America, we seem to be living an incredible nightmare, a president we should never have elected who treads on all that’s best about this country.  Yet in spite of America’s bleak outlook, our lives go on.  In the gleaming of words of ideas, in the ripe fissures of metaphor in dresses, of skirted valentines and corn tresses, of dark thick beauty among rocks and motorcycles, we stumble through the arc of language story.  Mica on the rocks, our faces in it.  Wake up America, before it’s too late.

Published in: on May 24, 2018 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

AWP Tampa was calm. 

Didn’t see the city much, just a smudge of Tampa, the boats lined up against the water; the restaurant last night had an odd menu—raw fish and hummus, macaroni and cheese, ribs and paella.  Tampa is like that.  It’s a city of brightness and lilt, a city of dancing.  Some cities feel tight or roaring, a fierceness; some cities feel cold and damp; some feel sleepy or angry or lost, Tampa felt like a miracle of water and light.


Some of us walk through the world with blinders on, only seeing what is right in front of us. I have been in a deep soul lesson for much time, and I am striving to learn the big lessons of life, which it seems I need to be quiet to learn.


We are going to the Bay this week, a fierce growing city, not a sleepy nook of it. We are going for Allison Joseph’s reading at the Marin poetry Center and her book launch party and some meetings.  The drive to northern California is oil wells and cows, almond groves and the thick middle of California baking in the sun, wishing for rain.


Stay with those who wish you well.

Your tribe are those who see you and hear you.

Published in: on March 11, 2018 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Travels on the East Coast

I like the students at Vermont Center of Fine Arts, such enthusiasm for writing and publishing. They asked the best questions I’ve gotten from a group of students in my travels.  I stayed in a small wooden room in a large wooden house with a chaos of wires in the basement; I was pleased that there was a basement.  I miss them in California, the outer areas of the house where things are hidden.  The luminal spaces of a life.  The house had a large unfinished basement with a washer and dryer and the secrets of electricity.  There were cupboards, window boxes and a fridge with a bottle of water.  The college had a cafeteria which I never visited preferring to trudge down to the grocery store in town and bring back a salad.  I’ve been searching this trip for one food item:  A gingerbread cookie.  No luck so far.  Perhaps Tampa has good bakeries with cookies? You never know.


In Boston, I stayed near the park, as I always do.  There was the book seller dinner at Four Spoons for Thai food and then last night, I went to a grocery store for a salad.  If left alone, you can count on me not to find out the best food a city has to offer.  I like to work and to walk.  The walking and working seem to take all my time and breath.  I also don’t like eating in restaurants alone.  I miss Jasper and I miss Mark.


Speaking about publishing reminded me of what a strange business it is.  Here on the Delta plane, the airline attendants treat the first class people like royalty and the rest of us like very special people. One of the problems with independent publishing is that everyone wants to be treated like royalty or at least with respect. It’s complicated, and we are still working at improving our game.


We are in Tampa for AWP, the Red Hen staff will have a good time.  They enjoy the conference.


Published in: on March 6, 2018 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment