Tag Archives: poetry

50

22 Nov

On this 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination in Dallas, Texas, I offer you my poem, “The Pink Chanel Suit,” which was published in Rattle in 2011.  You can find it here.

suit

Advertisements

Updating

2 Nov

After a horrendous past two months (mysterious illness-like symptoms, numerous tests, doctor’s appointments, plus the government shutdown which assisted in preventing me from traveling to LA to receive my PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry, etc.), I am looking forward to next week, where I’ll be traveling to MA for a series of three Perugia Press-related readings to celebrate my book, The Wishing Tomb, and Gail Martin’s Begin Empty Handed, which was awarded this year’s Perugia Press Award.  If you’re near any of the places on the itinerary below, I hope you’ll come out and join us:

The Collected Poets Reading Series
w/ Gail Martin & Lori Desrosiers
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7PM
Mocha Maya’s, 47 Bridge St.
Shelburne Falls, MA

Friday, November 8 at 7:30 PM
w/ Gail Martin & Joan Barberich
The State Room
35 State Street (behind India House)
Northampton, MA

Saturday, November 9 at 7:00 PM
Salon Reading w/ Gail Martin & Frannie Lindsay
Invitation only
Watertown, MA

While in MA, I also am hoping to have a little excursion time to see Emily Dickinson’s house, the Plath archives at Smith College, and to have dinner with my sweet cousin, Hope, who lives in Boston.  I can’t wait!

*
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again: I am a list maker.  Call me OCD and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.  I love lists.  This type of list (below), however, is one of my favorites.  It’s my reading list.  I thought I would share my fall reading list with you:

Prose

After Her by Joyce Maynard  (lovely, dark, coming of age novel, which I was inspired to read after hearing this bit on NPR on the way home from teaching a class one afternoon)

The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano (this is a new release by two wonderful poets, both of whom I’ve had the pleasure of publishing in PLR)

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (recommended by my mother, who is perhaps the most widely read person I’ve ever known, except for maybe my dad, who actually reads the encyclopedias).

Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio (anyone who has known me long enough knows that I have a Kennedy-history obsession that is not limited to the assassination history.  This Nov. marks 50 years since the assassination of JFK, and this new book has been released just in time).

Poetry

Ain’t No Grave by TJ Jarrett (this is probably one of my favorite books of poetry to come out this year, and I’m in the process of reviewing it for a journal).

Begin Empty Handed by Gail Martin (this is a wonderfully crafted new book, and I’m looking forward to reading with Gail next week)!

Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky (I first read this book as an undergrad, so it’s been about eight years since I poured over its perfection.  I love this book, as does almost everyone who has read it.  I read it in tiny slivers and ruminate.  It’s best digested that way so the foreign story will unfold carefully, and not all at once).

*
I was invited to record a podcast for Arizona State University’s wonderful literary journal, Superstition Review.  My podcast consists of me reading a handful of poems that have been published in SR, included a few from my second book, The Wishing Tomb.  You can listen and read more, here.

2013 PEN Center USA Literary Awards

23 Aug
It’s official: my second collection, The Wishing Tomb, winner of the 2013 Perugia Press Award, has just been awarded the 2013 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry!
perugia10_WISHINGcoverFINALrev1_4

This year’s award recipients include Joan Didion, Lifetime Achievement Award (to be presented by none other than Harrison Ford!); Filmmaker Sonia Nassery Cole, Freedom to Write Award, Kickstarter founders Perry Chen, Charles Adler and Yancey Strickler, Award of Honor, Ramona Ausubel, fiction for her novel “Nobody Is Here Except All of Us,” Seth Rosenfeld, research nonfiction prize for “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power”; Joy Harjo, creative nonfiction for “Crazy Brave”; Mark Boal for his screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty; Danny Strong, who wins for his teleplay for HBO’s “Game Change”; Amanda Auchter in poetry for The Wishing Tomb; Philip Boehm, for translation of “An Ermine in Czernopol,” originally by Gregor von Rezzori; Michael Harmon in children’s literature for “Under the Bridge”; Ed Leibowitz for journalism for “The Takeover Artist” in Los Angeles Magazine; and Dan O’Brien for drama with “The Body of an American.”  Here’s the first official write-up in the Los Angeles Times.

First and foremost, I want to thank each and every one of you for your support over these past few years.  It has meant so incredibly much to me.  The last two years have been strenuous and difficult to say the least, and even a five minute phone call from some at one time or another has made all of the difference.

Here’s the kicker: PEN Center USA will be giving out “swag bags” at the awards dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel in October.  They are requesting 500 copies of The Wishing Tomb to include in these bags.  However, Perugia Press, which is currently celebrating its 16th Anniversary, is a smaller press, and 500 additional copies is a lot to give away for free, even to such a prestigious event such as the PEN Center Awards.  Perugia Press, as a result, is holding a fundraiser to help offset the costs of sending so many copies of my book to the awards festival.

How you can help: Here is the link to the information about the Perugia Press Fundraiser to send The Wishing Tomb to the 2013 PEN Center USA Literary Awards Festival.  Any amount will help, if you can.  The cost to Perugia is $5/book, so even $25 will add up.  I dislike asking for donations in general, but I think it’s important to get not only my work out there, but to have a smaller press represented on a national scale.  Let’s get poetry in the hands of the 500 attendees!

Thank you, again, for your support and encouragement.  I hope you can help send this book to the PEN Center USA Literary Awards Festival this October!  If you have any questions, please contact me!

Summer Reading

18 Jun

I realized that it hasn’t been since I did my post on my top 20 books of poetry for National Poetry Month that I’ve talked about what I’m reading/what I recommend reading.  As this is summer and as this blog is titled “Books & Baubles,” I think it is the appropriate time to talk about my summer reading list.

I love reading lists — I think it’s the literary voyeur (or just the voyeur) in me that like peeking in other people’s shelves (selves) to see what books they’re devouring at any given moment.  I think summer reading lists are the best because they often include “light reading” (and what this “light reading” may be varies, of course, from Stephen King to Anna Maxted) if the one doing the reading is being honest.  I want to be honest: I am reading these books (and yes, some haven’t been started, yet, but are on the near-horizon) and I am not ashamed in the least of what my summer reading list entails.  There is no War and Peace.  I’m not kidding myself.  There is no way that I will read a heavy text when it’s 100 degrees outside.  Nope.  Not going to happen.

What I am reading (listed from top to bottom):

Summer reading

Summer reading

Something From The Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America  by Laura Shapiro

I love this book!  It’s a culinary history of sorts of 1950s American “cuisine.”  It focuses its attention on the rise of packaged food items, corporate food writing and advertising, home cooks and their unwillingness to chuck traditional methods for meals from a can or a box, and the incredibly role of Poppy Cannon.

Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds

This won the Pulitzer for Poetry and is a book of poetry by the force that is Sharon Olds.  Need I say more?

Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife by Anne Fogarty (Author) and Rosemary Feitelberg (Introduction)

If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I’m on a bit of a 1950s vintage kick.  This book was released in 1959 and re-released in 2007 with the Feitelberg introduction.  Wife Dressing influenced a decade of style, social mores, and thinking about well, wife dressing.  As “quaint” as some of the advice may be in this book, there are some excellent reminders about body image, not comparing yourself to anyone else (especially fashion models), and dressing for your body type, not your fantasy body type.

The Exchange by Sophie Cabot Black

I haven’t started this book, yet (it was recently released by Graywolf), but I am a huge Sophie Cabot Black fan and I can’t wait to read her newest collection of poems.  If you haven’t read her second book, The Descent, you must run out and do so.  That collection has inspired me in immeasurable ways.

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson

I am so excited about this book!  I’m a Plathophile and literally own every book written by or about Plath.  This book is exciting because it focuses on Plath’s life before Ted Hughes, which I think adds much to her narrative.  While the Plath-Hughes drama is interesting, I think that story is a bit played out.  This book also illuminates her early beginnings in terms of childhood and young adult traumas and mental illness.

Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder

This is another excellent Plath text and one that entirely focuses on Plath’s pre-Ted life.  What I love about this book is that not only is it about Plath’s Mademoiselle summer and subsequent breakdown, but it also offers the vintage-loving reader an insight into early 1950s American life in New York and the issues that plagued young, college-age women during this decade.

Inferno by Dan Brown

Don’t judge me!  This is my official “light summer reading” and I’m loving it.  I have actually read several Dan Brown novels (Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code), but this one is by far the best and the most intelligent.  I felt that, in particular, The DaVinci Code was written on an eighth grade level.  In contrast, I applaud Brown’s use of exceptionally high vocabulary, artistic and literary references in his latest novel.   Inferno uses Dante’s famous work as the backdrop to this fast-paced mystery, which to a literary-lover such as myself, I find especially intriguing.  I also hope that people who have never read Dante will now be inspired to do so.  It’s amazing sometimes what pop fiction can do to the average reader.

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

This is a fabulous eBay find for me as it is the original 1950 edition.  The book itself is in very good shape (I don’t think anyone even cooked out of it, it would seem).  I actually purchased two of these — one to keep and one to use.  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I recently posted a photo of one of the recipes I used out of this cookbook — blueberry muffins.  This might seem an easy from-scratch recipe, and the use of shortening might scare you (and gentle reader, shortening is NOT lard — it’s solidified vegetable oil that actually has less transfat and calories than butter), but with the added fresh blueberries, these were the best muffins I’ve ever made.

MM Personal: from the Private Archives of Marilyn Monroe

MM Personal: from the Private Archives of Marilyn Monroe

This book by Lois Banner (photographs by Anderson) is another one of my summer indulgent reads and if you’re a MM fan, you’ll love it.  It features numerous photographs of Monroe’s letters, receipts, telegrams, cosmetics, clothing, etc. and wonderful stories to accompany each item.  I just watched HBO’s documentary, “Love, Marilyn,” last night, so this is a perfect time to flip through this book.  It’s a gorgeous coffee table book and perfect for any Marilyn aficionado.

Five Points: A Journal of Literature & Art, vol. 15. no. 1 & 2

Five Points: A Journal of Literature & Art, vol. 15. no. 1 & 2

When I went to Atlanta last month to read from my books at Charis Books, my friend Julie (who I also read with) had this waiting for me on the guest bed, all tied up with a little bow.  It was a wonderful house guest gift!  This double-issue journal reads like a who’s who of contemporary writing: Kim Addonizio, Madison Smart Bell, Billy Collins, Barbara Hamby, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Alice Hoffman, David Kirby, Thomas Lux, James May, Sharon Olds, Tom Perrotta, Elizabeth Spencer, Elizabeth Spires, and more.  I don’t see it on the Five Points website, yet, so I don’t how you can get a copy of it.  Julie got a copy at a literary event and I’m so thrilled to add it to my collection.

What’s on your shelf this summer?

The BIG Poetry Giveway 2013: Winners!

16 May

Back in April, I participated in the Big Poetry Giveaway (more about this here) as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month.

The winners were chosen using an online randomizer (random.org, to be exact).  Drumroll…

Daniela Olszewska will receive a copy of Katie Ford’s wonderful book, DepositionJeannine Hall Gailey will receive a signed copy of my second book of poems, The Wishing Tomb.  If you are one of these winners, please contact me with your mailing address so I can send you your book!

Thank you so much to all who entered!  As this was my first year participating, there were a LOT more who entered that I expected.  I look forward to doing this again next year!

Top 20 Books of Poetry

28 Apr

National Poetry Month is coming to an end and I couldn’t let it end without posting my Top 20 favorite books of poetry of all time.  These are books that I’ve returned to again and again, books that have helped me through some rough patches in my life, books that have inspired me to look at poetry in a new way, books that have formed me, books that I have said, “you must read this” to complete strangers.

My Top 20 Books of Poetry

My Top 20 Books of Poetry

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

This is a no-brainer.  I have been a Plath devotee for going on 15 years now and I’ve read this book no less than a dozen times.  Quiz me on it. Go ahead — ask me anything.

Cusp by Jennifer Grotz

Not only is the cover of this book gorgeous, but the poems inside are simply stunning.  I love how Grotz takes the reader on journeys from Texas to France.  Favorite poem: “Kiss of Judas.”  Fun fact: Grotz was my third reader for my undergrad creative honors thesis at the Univ. of Houston in 2006.

Ordinary Things by Jean Valentine

I love Valentine’s poems because of their strangeness and brevity.  Her word economy inspires me again and again.  This is my favorite book by her.  Favorite poem: “After Elegies.”

What the Living Do by Marie Howe

It doesn’t get better than this book by Marie Howe.  This book makes me weep and has inspired me in innumerable ways.  I turned to this book again and again when writing The Glass Crib and helped me come to terms via writing with the death of my brother when I was 16.  Favorite poem: “For Three Days.”

What is this thing called love by Kim Addonizio

This is such a smart, sexy book by a smart, sexy poet.  Favorite poem: “What Was.”

Deposition by Katie Ford

The Catholic girl in me loves how Ford dissects Christian narratives (Catholic ones, primarily) and weaves them with narratives of trauma.  Her fragmented writing helped me move from clear, straightforward narrative to a wilder, broken lyric.  Favorite poem: “The Shroud of Turin.”

Forth a Raven by Christina Davis

I love this book for many of the same reasons why I love Katie Ford’s book (and really, Jean Valentine’s).  Her poems are tiny, fragmented, but have a dazzling attention to detail.  Favorite poem: “Forth a Raven.”

Broken Helix by Dina Ben-Lev

My friend Matthew Siegel turned me on to this (out-of-print) book/poet when I was at Houston and I’m so very thankful.  No one else I know has ever heard of her, which is a shame.  This is the only full-length collection she’s done, and that was back in 1997.  It focuses on her search for identity as an adopted person, which, of course, if you know me, you can easily see the draw.  You can still find used copies of this book on Amazon or ebay for anywhere form $10-$40.  Favorite poem: “The Adopted Daughter’s Lucky Loop.”

Indeed I Was Pleased With The World by Mary Ruefle

Who doesn’t love the weirdness and lyricism of Mary Ruefle? This is by far my favorite book of poems by her.  Favorite poem: “Kiss of the Sun.”

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

This book has been touted so many times, but if you’ve never heard of it, get thee to a bookstore right now! Turner’s work centers on his experiences in the US Army in Iraq and Bosnia.  This is a book of grit and no other book (except maybe Neon Vernacular from Yusef Komumyakaa) discusses war or a solder’s life better.  Favorite poem: “What Every Soldier Should Know.”

The Subsequent Blues by Gary Copeland Lilley

No one I know has ever heard of Lilley, and that’s a shame.  This is actually my husband’s book, which he bought at AWP in New York several years ago after hearing Kim Addonizio read from it.  This book is dark, witty, important, and just plain amazing.  Favorite poem: “Prayer to Saint James Byrd of Jasper, Texas.”

Sad Little Breathing Machine by Matthea Harvey

My friend Halli and I were Matthea Harvey groupies in college.  We took her Forms of Poetry class at Houston and fell in love with her way of looking at the possibilities of language and poetry.  This book is genius and if you’re trying to move yourself forward in writing, this will do the trick.  This is another book that helped me break out of my boring, staid narrative form.  Favorite poem: “Not So Much Miniature As Far Away.”

Stubborn by Jean Gallagher

This book is so important to me and gave me great inspiration for the writing of my first book, The Glass Crib.  Gallagher’s book creates interesting narratives that focus on Christian symbology, art, mysticism, and theology.  Favorite poem: “Stigmata.”

The Descent by Sophie Cabot Black

I’ve read this book at least half a dozen times and each time I discover something new.  I think that this is an important book due to the way it uncovers the human spirit in terms of nature, psyche, faith, damage, renewal.  The cover of the book actually inspired one of my own poems, “The Wounded Angel, 1903,” which appeared in The Glass Crib and on Poetry Daily in 2007.  Favorite poem: “Done For.”

The First Four Books of Poems by Louise Gluck

The essential Gluck.  I bought this after reading it in June 2005, when I was a fellow at the Bucknell Younger Poets Seminar at Bucknell University.  Consider it a primer.  If you’re a new poet, or a scholar of Gluck, it’s a fantastic resource.  Favorite poem: “The Egg.”

Some Ether by Nick Flynn

Like Matthea Harvey, my friend and I were Nick Flynn dorks as well in college.  I took two classes with him as an undergrad and during that time, I bought this book.  I really think I’ve read this book around 10 times.  It was inspiring to me because it helped me understand how to weave personal narrative without being melodramatic and how to break a line in an interesting way.  I think everyone needs to have this book.  Favorite poem: “My Mother Contemplating Her Gun.”

Song by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

BPK is awesome.  That is all.  And she’s the kindest soul I’ve ever met.  My love for her is unending.  Favorite poem: “Song.”

Trouble in Mind by Lucie Brock Broido

Claudia Rankine turned me on to Broido when I was her undergrad thesis advisee at UH and I’m eternally grateful.  This book helped me, in many ways like Flynn’s did, understand line breaks and form, but also how to build a broken lyric narrative.  Favorite poem: “The Halo That Would Not Light.”  That poem kills me.

To the Place of Trumpets by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

This book is long out of print, alas, but when my friend Matthew Siegel told me about it (and had his own copy), I dashed to Amazon.com used and ebay to find my own copy.  I got it for around $30, but I’ve seen people selling it for upwards of $800.  I highly, highly recommend this book, Kelly’s first, and in some ways like it better than Song.  Favorite poem: “Doing Laundry on Sunday.”

The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forche

There are so many reasons why this is one of my favorite books of all time.  It’s important for how it tackles the intersection of culture and politics, but tender in its discussion of human love.  While “The Colonel” (in this book) is one of my favorite poems in the world, I would have to say that my actual favorite poem in this book is “For the Stranger.”

Poetry Month: Voices Seasonal Reading Series

15 Apr

National Poetry Month has been slow-to-no going for me thus far due to unforeseen circumstances (a family illness and the recent stabbing spree at the campus where I teach), but things are gradually getting better and I hope to make a turnaround this month, soon.

Despite everything that’s been going on, I have one Poetry Month-related event to announce: I will be one of the featured readers this coming weekend, Saturday, April 20, at the Voices Seasonal Reading Series (curated by poet Clare Martin).  As this event will be in Lafayette, LA (at Carpe Diem! Gelato – Espresso Bar, 7PM), I will be reading from my newest book of poetry, The Wishing Tomb, which is a book of New Orleans-inspired poems, (and a little from my first book, The Glass Crib).

 

 

 

I will be reading with Michael Allen Zell, whose first novel Errata was named a Times-Picayune Top 10 Book of 2012.  He was a finalist for the 2011 Calvino Prize, finalist for the 2010 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition, and was nominated for the 2012 Best American Short Stories.

If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you!  I will also be signing/selling copies of my book at the event.  If you can’t make it, you can get a copy of The Wishing Tomb here or a copy of The Glass Crib here.  Also: don’t forget to enter The Big Poetry Giveaway for National Poetry Month — I’m giving away a signed copy of The Wishing Tomb as well as a copy of Katie Ford’s Deposition.  Details here.