This weekend I am off to LitFuse in Tieton, Washington. Dorianne Laux, who wrote the introduction to my new book, Sparrow, is among the featured poets. Here’s a poem, which I’ve cut and pasted from The Poetry Foundation.



Someone spoke to me last night,
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor —
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn’t elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That’s how it is sometimes —
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you’re just too tired to open it.
Dorianne Laux, “Dust” from What We Carry. Copyright © 1994 by Dorianne Laux. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: What We Carry (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1994)

Dorianne Laux

The Potting Shed

P1040152This past weekend my husband and I traveled to Leavenworth to spend a couple days with his brothers and three of their cousins (the “girl cousins,” as they called themselves). Spending all of my time around 20-somethings and 14-year-olds, as I seem to these days, it was a treat for me to be the youngest. (“Our new cousin!” I was called, although Bruce and I have been married 28 years.) We arrived late, as getting our daughter Annie moved to Western (WWU) was a priority, and we left early, as our youngest had doings we needed to attend to. But it was splendid.

I promised to post some pictures of my writing cabin, inside and out. I have spent 5 hours out here this morning. Now it’s time for a shower and a trip to Bellingham (Annie forgot to take a raincoat). Tonight, I drive to Chehalis to spend some time with Mom. Having written this morning, I know I’m anchored, like a plant, sinking roots into soil. I’ll be back Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, here’s a poem from Rumi. Whatever you’re doing this morning, be inspired!

This being human is a guesthouse,
every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably,
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thoughts, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-Merlana Jelal-uddin Rumi

P1040153fall winter 2012 013P1050034

Writer’s Block

penI visited Aerogramme Writers’ Studio today to take a look at their feature on Writer’s Block. Not that I’m suffering. I just spent two days in Chehalis, however, and then Sunday waylaid me with its usual demands. So, no writing for three days. And that meant that this morning was hard. Finally, I turned the quarter-hour glass upside down and told myself that surely, SURELY I could read aloud from the manuscript for 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes!

Two hours later, I had made it through the first fifty pages of my manuscript, and I had rewritten several pages of a later chapter.

I left my desk with an assignment to rewrite this line: Pearl gathered her courage. What the hell does that mean? What did I mean when I wrote it down?

Meanwhile, here’s Aerogramme’s quote from writer Jennifer Egan. Click on the link above to read the quotes from 11 other writers.

“I haven’t had trouble with writer’s block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly. My first drafts are filled with lurching, clichéd writing, outright flailing around. Writing that doesn’t have a good voice or any voice. But then there will be good moments. It seems writer’s block is often a dislike of writing badly and waiting for writing better to happen.” ― Jennifer Egan

We’ve been having a bout of spectacular weather, lightning and thunder, a brief power outage. Lots of rain. It makes a fine sound on the roof, nice to write by.  Especially to write very badly.

Another Soccer Mom Poem…

Emma’s team, 2011

And so school begins. Emma is in high school now,  my only kid playing soccer this fall. We’re getting Annie outfitted to leave for WWU on Sept. 19th. I am writing every morning.

Meanwhile, I have 302 postcard addresses, only 31 of which I have sent postcards to. So even though August was postcard poetry month, I’m thinking I will keep the postcards going a while longer. Here’s a recent poem:

Sitting in my car, watching my daughter’s soccer practice,
I eat a plum. When I was a child,
we had three varieties of plum in our orchard–
purple, a reddish orange one, and a yellow, the sweetest.
One fall evening we came home from church,
all of us crammed into the Buick station wagon,
and our headlights caught the eyes of a family of raccoons
perched in the plum tree. Of course the yellow plum,
that sweet tree. The girls run across the soccer field.
Sun slants from the horizon, its rays catching
in my daughter’s curls.