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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Broadside of "The Poet is the Priest of the Invisible" Available from The Peasandcues Press

About a year ago Joseph Green, a fine poet and also, with his wife Marquita, a broadside-creating wizard, asked if they might use one of my poems for a limited-edition broadside. Needless to say, I was very honored and excited by this invitation.

The hard part for me was coming up with a poem that was not only appropriately short (14 lines is about right; I didn't want Joe losing his eyesight typesetting a 30-line poem), but also one that I like enough to have it committed to a beautiful piece of art. In the end, I asked him if he would please use "The Poet is the Priest of the Invisible," a poem that appeared earlier this year in The Kenyon Review Online. Joe thought it a fine choice.

Joe and Marquita began working on my broadside this past summer. I received regular updates from them about the typesetting and artwork. When I learned the artwork was going to be a man's hand holding a lug wrench, I was particularly pleased.

Joe and Marquita live in Longview, WA, but Joe has a son living in Seattle, so I was lucky enough to visit with him and receive in person my twenty copies while we sipped sparkling pomegranate juice in my living room and talked about music, childrearing, future projects (including an accordion book of his pool poems, one of which I provided a link to above), and mushrooms, among other things.

If you'd like one of these limited-edition gems, you can order them for $25.00 each from The Peasandcues Press, 930 Cascade Drive, Longview, WA 98632. Joseph and Marquita can also be contacted at

My sincere gratitude goes out to Joseph & Marquita for offering this broadside at a reasonable price "because it deserves to be seen."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Congratulations to Eduardo Corral, Winner of a 2011 Whiting Award

While you're patiently waiting for his first book, Border with Violin, to appear (it won the 2010 Yale Series of Younger Poets), you can read his online chapbook, The Border Triptych.

Bravo, Eduardo!! $50,000!! Not too shabby.

Monday, October 24, 2011


This one by way of Megan Snyder-Camp Lehman ...


A summer Taos sunset in your hand.
The weight of a small child’s fist,
a girl, resisting sleep as she sleeps.
The shape of a chicken angel’s egg.
Eros’s lovely clefted backside
in velvet. Fleshy
as a horse’s lazy, lower lip.
A faraway fragrance:
juniper in gin, that slow gin
What God saw on the eighth day, and ate, and said of it—
way good. The woody stone we worry-gnaw when death’s near,
when we’re toothless again as babies,
trying to keep a great thought small.

Deborah Slicer

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mid-Quarter with Avocados, Peaches, & Tomatoes ...

It's the middle of the term where I teach at Bellevue College, so that means:

in my college composition class students are presenting in their Powerpoint slide shows about food poems such as Terrence Hayes' "The Avocado," Li-Young Lee's "From Blossoms," and Pablo Neruda's "Ode to the Tomato." The presentations have been amazing so far; they have taught me well how it pays to look deeply into a piece of writing and to grapple with how the images coalesce to make a thematic statement ... leaving the reader not only more informed on a subject (the abolitionist movement, for instance), but more able to forge connections between things as seemingly remote as an avocado and a slave, or a strawberry and the dark hands of the farm worker who picked that red fruit so you could eat it with your morning bowl of cereal.

I never cease to be amazed at how well they do on these poetry presentations. I wish I could invite the entire campus to come and see what they're up to--how successfully they bring these poems-on-the-page to life. Their slides are full of fresh peaches, beckoning strawberries, bright green apples. And their bulleted lists reflect the close reading they've done to get to the poem's heart.

It's so gratifying to watch and listen as they bring poetry to life, forging a silent thing into it a full-blown sensory experience, their voices (or the poet's) booming out with the words of the poem, then the images brought to life on the screen, and sometimes a chance to hold a pomegranate, or a mango, or a plantain in our hands as they explain its significance in their presented poem.


this also means that in my Advanced Composition class my students are reading Michael Pollan's Food Rules, choosing a rule or cluster of related rules and writing a paper that either supports or refutes that rule. Paper topics include: the case for growing your own food (or buying it direct from a farmer), the case for eating an Asian or other traditional diet, the case for not eating foods that contain unpronounceable artificial ingredients.

It's a busy time, but also in many ways the sweet spot--mid-quarter--when we are starting to get to know each other, to feel more like a community than a bunch of disparate individuals sitting in a room together.

Let the chilly weather arrive--I will be cozy with a pile of essays about how to nourish and sustain ourselves as individuals, while also eating in a way that is just and sustaining for all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Presenting January Gill O'Neil

I was lucky enough to get to hear/meet poet January Gill O'Neil yesterday afternoon at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. Her first full-length collection, Underlife, appeared from CavanKerry Press in 2009, and was a finalist for both the Foreward and Patterson Poetry Prizes. Underlife is filled with poems at times sumptuous, risky, funny, playful, sexy, food-ful, and wise. Here's one to whet your appetite:

Nothing Fancy

I am from hush puppies & barbecue
from chitlins & fatbacks
hog maws & hog jaws & grits & scrapple.
Outside stands a dogwood tree we have let
overgrow from laziness
& a driveway cracked
with blades of grass.
I am from Rosemary & Stanley,
the last model in the series.
Around our house honeysuckle blesses the air,
seasons the heat of summer into a main dish.'
I am a plum black garnish to the day.
Wafts of smoke from pots on the stove
steam the kitchen.
Salt & Pepper stand at attention
next to the potholders on the counter.
Dinner is ready--no time for parsley.

Monday, October 10, 2011

At Long Last: A Little Office

I am not sure I've ever shared this with my blog audience, but no time like the present:

I do not have an office.

That's right, you heard it here first.

What I have is a desk (I got it for free) next to my son's keyboard.

What i have is a small space in my bedroom, where my husband also has his study (aka our bed).

This is a photo of my study:

I pride myself on being able to write anywhere--in my car, on buses, in museums and cafes, during meetings, and waiting in line, but ... but ... since I've just turned 50 and I'm at work on a 4th book ... I think it's time to legitimize my profession as a writer.

Because my son is afraid of monsters, we have an empty room off the kitchen. Instead of hanging out/sleeping in there, he bunks with his sister in the tiny room near our bedroom. Yes, a spare room.

Where to start? My sister said "Google Home Office Design," so I did:

I don't think so.

This one's kinda cute.

Too stark.

Too modern.Too living-room.

Kinda nice!
This last one feels the most like me--I like the natural wicker, the hassock (though that might be a pipe dream--I need back support?), and there's something inviting about the white and natural browns.


I'm taking a trip to Goodwill this week to see what I can find used (wicker??). Then, where to: Ikea? Office Depot?

Stay tuned as The Little Office evolves.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

File Under These Should be Illegal, or at Least a Controlled Substance

These should not be legal. I repeat: anything this delicious, accessible, gooey and gloppy with fat and sugar, easy to swallow, and patently bad for you should not be available without a license, a prescription, or at least a note from your mother.

How could something so bad, bad, bad for you taste so good, good, good?

Because humans are programmed to LOVE, crave, and seek copious amounts of fat and sugar. Mrs. Paleo would have eaten these until she keeled over in glutted, glorious sugar-buzz bliss.

Who can blame her?

But Mrs. Paleo wouldn't have stumbled upon a Krispy Kreme tree or bush. She was too busy picking berries and hunting down mastodons. There were no Krispy Kreme stores in Paleo-Land.

Only we the lucky of the 21st century, only we get stuck having to resist Krispy Kremes day in and day out.

No fair.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bravo, Bravo Tomas Transtromer

translation by Patty Crane

A blue light
is streaming out from my clothes.
Jingling tambourines of ice.
I close my eyes.
There is a soundless world
there is a crack
where the dead
are smuggled over the border.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Rain hazes a street cart's green umbrella
but not its apples, heaped in paper cartons,
dry under cling film. The apple man,

who shirrs his mouth as though eating tart fruit,
exhibits four like racehorses at auction:
Blacktwig, Holland, Crimson King, Salome.

I tried one and its cold grain jolted memory:
a hill where meager apples fell so bruised
that locals wondered why we scooped them up,

my friend and I, in matching navy blazers.
One bite and I heard her laughter toll,
free as school's out, her face flushed in late sun.

I asked the apple merchant for another,
jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows,
having more life than stillness, telling us,

uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast
but for themselves, and building strength to fly
at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl,

whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table.
Fruit-stand vendor, master of Northern Spies,
let a loose apple teach me how to spin

at random, burn in light and rave in shadows.
Bring me a Winesap like the one Eve tasted,
savored and shared, and asked for more.

No fool, she knew that beauty strikes just once,
hard, never in comfort. For that bitter fruit,
tasting of earth and song, I'd risk exile.

The air is bland here. I would forfeit mist
for hail, put on a robe of dandelions,
and run out, broken, to weep and curse — for joy.

--Grace Schulman