A Sporadic Interlude.

Aidan is sleeping, and Vincent is thoroughly absorbed in cutting newspaper into itty-bitty pieces with his little scissors — one of a few sporadic interludes of quiet time I manage each day.

It could end at any second, though — we have squirrels running around in our ceilings, between the 2nd & 3rd floors, egads they make a racket, and now one of them is crying, I think it could be hurt. That’s what it sounds like, anyway. And the sound is totally wigging Vincent out.

Because I’m not working, I haven’t purchased any books for a while, but because my entire book collection is now out of storage, I have plenty to read, so many books I forgot I owned. The stack most in use at the moment is the small one in the living room, comprised of:

  • Fanatic Heart, by Deborah Pope (Louisiana State University Press, 1992). A kindred spirit, many poems about her son. “Firstborn”, the long poem that opens her third section, is a stunner.
  • World’s Tallest Disaster, by Cate Marvin (Sarabande, 2001). I’ve had an advanced reader’s copy of this forever, but it was tucked away in a box.
  • Cusp, by Jennifer Grotz (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin, 2003). “Not This Raw Fluttering” is a poem to post for sure come spring.
  • Unrelenting Readers: The New Poet-Critics, edited by Paul M. Hedeen and D.G. Myers (Story Line Press, 2004). I’ve read this before, but I’ve been hankering for prose on poetry, and this fits the bill.
  • Grace, Fallen From, by Marianne Boruch (Wesleyan University Press, 2008). One of my last purchases from the bookshop. Hardcover! — but completely worth it.
  • Crocus, by Karin Gottshall (Fordham University Press, 2007). Also part of that last purchase. One of my favorite poetry books in a while. Poem to come.

Good Times.

My little Mr. Magoo.
My little Mr. Magoo.

Emma commented below something to the effect that she doesn’t know how I do it all.  And my reply is, I don’t.  The lion’s share of my time right now is spent taking care of Aidan and Vincent.  I’ve taken notes for poems, actually read some books of poems, but I haven’t even picked up the novel I began reading while I was in the hospital.  I try to keep the apartment neat, for my own sanity, but actual cleaning, well, housekeeping was never my strong suit.  I don’t answer the phone — that’s what voicemail is for.  It’s frigidly cold, so we hardly go out but for necessities.  Simply put, if there’s something you tend to do on a daily basis, I probably don’t.

And all that is just fine, exactly as it should be, because these early baby days are fleeting, and Vincent is growing by leaps and bounds, and all too soon these boys who give me barely a second’s rest won’t want me around, will roll their eyes at me and mutter, “Whatever.”  I may be bleary-eyed and irritable, but that doesn’t keep me from smothering those little heads with kisses while I can.

In preparation for the poetry-writing-drought that was inevitable after Aidan’s birth, I sent out many submissions, or what I consider many, a few months ago.  If I’m not writing, I at least want a bunch of my poems out there!  Last week was particularly trying on the home front, but I’m happy to say that  poetry-wise I’ve had a string of good luck.  So I’m not complaining.  But more on that later.

From Not for Mothers Only:.

From Not for Mothers Only:  Contemporary Poems on Child-Getting & Child-Rearing, edited by Catherine Wagner & Rebecca Wolff:


Now the irises rage light, spiked tongues
at the hospital window

Inside the body’s solarium light shrinks
to cold flat stone

How I would like to just unravel

Through glass, cut leaves curl like fingers
in my throat

I once wished to take myself apart

There is no space between us: body caught in my body

There is the voice telling me there are many ways to give birth

The lesson chalked on the sidewalk like a missing
body these lines the surgeon sketches —

to save her, cut here and here and here

— Nicole Cooley


By some inauguration day minor miracle, both of my boys stopped crying long enough for me to hear the actual swearing-in of our new president, and while I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable, to bear in mind that President Barack Obama is a man, a good, intellectual, thoughtful man, but still a man, one who’s entering office at the worst of times, I can’t help but feel elated, as if that Mighty Mouse theme song is now the new order of things: “Here I come to save the daaay!”

How moving the benediction, and Elizabeth Alexander’s poem! Thanks to Wom-Po, here are links to an article with the poem’s text and video footage of the reading itself — I don’t think the text is lineated properly, being merely centered in paragraphs, but I’d need to get a glance at the poem in Alexander’s actual hands to know for sure (we’ll get our chance — Graywolf Press will publish the poem as a chapbook in February).  But I’m a text-based visual sort, so it’s nice to read it for myself, however provisional the line-breaks or format.  And the article itself is worth reading, too.

What a day. Tomorrow, reason and reality will return. But today, we praise, and hope, and celebrate!

Collected Poets Series, Jan. Edition.

Our first event of 2009, and it promises to be an exciting night — c-section or no, you can bet I’m not missing this!

On Thursday, Jan. 8, at 7:30 p.m., the Collected Poets Series presents Art & Poetry in Motion: Jeffrey Levine, prizewinning poet and editor, whose latest collection is Rumor of Cortez, and Patrick Donnelly, author of The Charge, will read from their work, along with an art opening by painter Liz Hawkes deNiord.

Jeffrey Levine

Jeffrey Levine‘s first book of poetry, Mortal, Everlasting, won the Transcontinental Poetry Award from Pavement Saw Press in 2001, and his second book, Rumor of Cortez, (Red Hen Press, 2005) was nominated for a 2005 LA Times Book Award in Poetry. Twelve times nominated for a Pushcart Prize, he has won the Larry Levis Poetry Award from Missouri Review, the James Hearst Poetry Award from North American Review, the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize, the Kestrel Poetry Prize, and most recently, the 2007 American Literary Review and the Ekphrasis Awards. Levine is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press, an award winning, not-for-profit independent literary press with offices in the Berkshires.

Patrick Donnelly

Patrick Donnelly‘s collection of poems is The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003), about which Gregory Orr wrote “. . . everything he writes is suffused with tenderness and intelligence, lucidity and courage.” He is an Associate Editor at Four Way Books, and has taught writing at Colby College, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and elsewhere. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Slate Magazine, and many other reviews. With Stephen D. Miller he has translated classical Japanese poetry and drama, and their translations have appeared in numerous literary journals. He lives in South Deerfield, MA.

Liz Hawkes deNiord is a painter from Westminster West, VT. She teaches art at the local high school in Brattleboro. Her color infused, textured, abstract works roam inner and outer landscapes through paintings, sculpture, prints, and design. Liz is the founder of LHD Design. She shows her work both locally and regionally.

To read selections from the poets’ work, please visit the Collected Poets Series website.

Momentary Calm.

"I must hold that baby!" says our Monkey boy.

Last Sunday I got further than I’ve ever managed on the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle, primarily because I spent the day working on it as I huffed through contractions, unable to concentrate on anything beyond the Sunday paper.

This Sunday, I’ve haven’t had the time to read more than a section or two of the paper, never mind the crossword puzzle.  It’s a whole new world.  I have five siblings! — I am now convinced, after just a week with a mere 2 children, that my mum has some secret Superpower, or vast reserves of extraordinary patience at the very least.  Seriously.

This blog is now a year old, and quite the bewildering year it’s been.  Very little about it has turned out as I, quite reasonably, expected.  Aidan was a complete surprise, as was the bookstore closing.  The topography of my life has changed in nearly every way imaginable, and I don’t think I’ve fully come to grips with that.  The unmoored feeling persists, and writing time harder to come by than ever.

But oh my, that new baby smell is intoxicating!  And Vincent, when he’s not regressing and making me cry, kisses his new brother’s head with the sweetest enthusiasm.