Sunday, March 26, 2006

Packing (also Unpacking)

I'm in the middle of these things, of unearthing these reminders of myself. The places I've been, the people who mattered to me then and now, old letters, old photographs, the treasures and the junk. Of sorting through what to take with me and what to throw out, what stays in the archive and what will be lost or what has already been lost.

Right now I'm listening to Kasey Chambers. I think Jillian was the one who got me into her. It was over a trip to Lancaster County visiting her family. I found those pictures too. "If I'm not here in the morning...I'll learn to live in a new town, but my heart is staying here..." a random lyric. This morning one of my former students emailed me---she was only in my class for a few weeks before getting sick and having to head back home--she's reading the class books and writing. I found Maj's letter, the one that says: "I don't know much about the big city. I decided long ago that I would stay in one place and make a garden, nothing big, no ambitions for expansion. I would come to know that ground as intimately as I could, never think of it as mine and serve the work." I think of all the moving and cultivating. All the gardens we tend and then pass on to the next gardeners. I like the idea of working and leaving. John is leaving me one of his plants that won't make the move with him. My new place has places to hang hanging plants outside my door. I'm really excited about that. The more I think about it, the more I like adjuncting and bartending. It's really good for now and maybe it will be enough for a while. All I can do is what I can do. We all can.

Last night Jonathan said something that made me think: humans are not meant for the state of the world as it is---how life is full of frenzy that it hasn't been before---with all the work and technology. The emphasis on the now. He's been spending a lot of time in the office and wondering the worth of that kind of life, of 12 hour work days. I don't know. Maybe it's always been this way, maybe all "modern" societies seem too modern and we all think of the past as utopia. I think back to Maj, that simple philosophy of not being overly ambitious, of tending a small plot and planting roots that are strong enough for others to carry the seeds of your labor and replant them in their far away soil. Maj closed his letter saying Shine Shine Carly. The afternoon light comes quietly through my blinds. It is glorious.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Now you get to smile pretty for the camera

For those of you attending Burlesque on Monday -- wear something pretty. A photographer from The Washingtonian will be there taking pictures for an upcoming article on the DC literary scene.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Real P

I’m still not 100% happy with the pictures. Luckily I have an artist friend who has some free time to drive down from Youngstown and take some photos. Last night at dinner I got some great advice from fellow poets. It’s your book, you have to be happy with it. Don’t feel like you have to do anything any way but yours. The popular photo is the last one, but I’m not thrilled with it. I think I can do better. And since I will probably have a lot of books around, I want to make sure I’m stunning. As Reb says, you won’t always be hot. Act now. And it will mean more knowing that Billy took the pictures---he’s going to be a famous artist one day and I’ll be able to say I knew him when we were just kids who talked big in a loft that no longer exists in Youngstown.

Last night we (see the No Tell in Church post) all read sexy poems in church and said words that don’t usually get said in church. My word was pussy. And I know people are cringing now, just that I said it, wrote it, and used it in a poem. My mom said that wasn’t one of her favorites. My father would say it’s not what a professional poet would do. And while I agree most of the time that one should use tact and think of her reputation, I think about what would happen if we stopped writing what was real to us and if we always thought of the censor before the writing. What I learned from a panel of erotic and sexual writing at AWP was that sex is real and it should be talked about and written about. No, I’m not going to start writing sex poems or sex scenes and certainly not here---I am a nice Jewish girl after all, though one who feels comfortable saying the p word every once in a while. Though not too much. Notice the P and not the word here J. Some of my favorite lines from my students’ work are peppered with these words: when making love turns to fucking, I ask (blank) if she’s been S-L-U-Tin’ it up, (blank) drinks a 40 and (blank) writes a poem. It’s empowering to be able to say these things and it makes writing (and life) real.

After the reading, I was too hot and bothered to do work so I watched a whole bunch of #1 Single starring Lisa Loeb who everyone says I look like: she still rocks pigtails at 37 and so I know I can still get away with it. Today I’m going to wear them to yoga and the orthodontist. And I’m not going to care how old people think I am or if I’m acting my age. Today I’m keepin’ it real.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Why is This Night Different than Tuesday Night?

Virtual Haggadah: Poetry Workshop
Wednesday, March 22, 7:30-9:00 pm
$10, $7 Discounted Member Price
Instructor: Carly Sachs

Let the work of the artists exhibited in the Gallery spark your own creative writing! In a guided workshop, respond to the art in your own words. There will be an opportunity to share your poem at a reading in April (see below).

Carly Sachs is a creative writing professor at George Washington University.

Virtual Haggadah: Poetry Reading with Josh Weiner, Jane Shore, and Faye Moskowitz
Monday, April 17, 6:30 pm FREE
Hear original poetry based upon the artwork of the “Different Nights” exhibit echoing through the Gallery. Enjoy wine and cheese before the Screening Room.

for more info:

No Tell at Church

Yes, this is 100% Kosher!!!

Tuesday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Grace Church Poetry Coffeehouse, 1041 Wisconsin Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC

Readers include:

Kim Roberts is the author of a book of poems, The Wishbone Galaxy, and editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, an on-line journal and resource bank serving the greater Washington DC region ( She has published poems in the US, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, and France, in journals beginning with every letter of the alphabet. She has been a writer in residence at ten artist colonies.

Remica L. Bingham, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. She has attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops and is a Cave Canem fellow. She recently completed her first book of poetry entitled Conversion. In addition to other journals, her work has been featured in 5 AM, PMS, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast and is forthcoming in Essence. She is the recipient of the 2005 Hughes, Diop, Knight Poetry Award and was nominated for a 2006 Pushcart Prize. She is the Writing Competency Coordinator at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Maureen Thorson's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Hat, LIT, and Unpleasant Event Schedule. Her chapbook, Novelty Act, is available from Ugly Duckling Presse.

Christy J. Zink is an assistant professor of writing at The George Washington University. Her work has appeared in such publications as American Literary Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and The Washington Post. She has received fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

Carly Sachs teaches creative writing at George Washington University. Her first book of poems, the steam sequence will be published by the Washington Writers Publishing House in Fall 2006. With Reb Livingston, she curates the Burlesque Poetry Hour at Bar Rouge in Washington, DC.

Ravi Shankar, founding editor of the international journal of the arts Drunken Boat and poet-in-residence at Central Connecticut State, has published a book of poems, Instrumentality (Cherry Grove), named a finalist for the 2005 Connecticut Book Awards. He has appeared as a commentator on NPR, written poems, reviews and essays for such publications as The Paris Review, Fulcrum and Poets & Writers, and read his work in many places, including the Asia Society and the National Arts Club. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he is currently editing an anthology of contemporary Arab and Asian poetry.

Reb Livingston is the co-editor of No Tell Motel and the anthology The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel. Her online chapbook, Pterodactyls Soar Again, is forthcoming from the Whole Coconut Chapbook Series. Her poems have recently appeared or will soon in Best American Poetry 2006, Coconut and MiPOesias.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm So Vain

Afterall, I was named after Carly I was gone for 10 days and all I have are pictures of myself (book jacket photo). One of the reasons is that we took all the vacation pics on Jonathan's camera and that's sans present at the moment. Besides, do you really want to see cacti up close and personal? So friends and family, another plea to help me find the right look for the book:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bye Bye Blog for 10 Days!!!

It's difficult being gracious. Last night I was able to get things back into perspective. Chris Abani read from his poetry and prose and I was shook---to the core. He read a poem about a jazz singer singing only to you and somehow last night, I kind of felt that, not that he was reading only to me, but he was reading to individuals, not a collective audience. There was an intimacy and a closeness. It was one of those eye opening readings in which you realize or re-realize why you write, why you have chosen this vocation. I seriously urge you all to google him and discover what I can't possibly convey here.

I guess what I mean about gracious is more being contented, of breathing in the moment, and those of you who know me well, know that I am a horrible Buddhist. I try and fail, frustrate and fluster until I gasp. Last night I listened to Jonathan breathe while asleep, my hand across his side. And I fell back asleep to that rhythm--I needed reminded that it is as simple as breath, one foot in front of the other, take in each moment. He is teaching me the joys of imperfection--of crumbs on the table, clothes haphazard on the floor, of not worrying about the unmades and undones. For the first time in a while I wrote a poem using the word I (meaning myself), and a poem in which he made an appearance. And just last week I had told my students that I hadn't written a love poem in a long time. It's far from perfect and probably a bit sappy, but it was necessary.

Today the apartment has been cleaned by my lovely cleaning lady and smells of oranges! I went to the Mustard Seed and came back with some new duds for Austin and Arizona (all gift certificates and selling back my vintage discards)! And now packing and yoga at 5:15! So this will be my last post before vacation. Make sure you check out the pics of the Alimentum reading from a while back. I'm posting the one of me reading b/c I'm quite a humble ham. Ramona likes the flowers in my hair and she's also looking forward to an adventure out west!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Betsey Johnson meets the Pleasure Place

So the same woman who sold me my fancy Betsey Johnson dress also sold me a garter made of candy at the Pleasure Place. Relax, It's for Reb's pajama party at AWP! I mean I have to do better than that tie thing from over the summer. This got me thinking to the duality of the human nature, those sweet contrasts and conflicts, the opposites and unexpecteds. From fancy formal to funky fettish. How do we make sense of these rhythms. Today in class we read Paul Celan's Death Fugue and Alice Fulton's Everyone Knows the World is Ending. I asked my students how we make sense of "black milk" of the human mind, of death, of the Holocaust. How repetition moves us through a narrative. The way when we encounter the same thing, how it has evolved and changed. How do we explain something beyond our comprehension? I'm still grappling with these questions---though I wonder if a mystery is sometimes better left unsolved.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Belated Belly B-Day

This picture is also posted on the Marrakesh site: It's funnier there b/c everyone else has some destination---but us, we're the odd literati :). Also in case you wondered how to spell Raydiance...unless Iyviampe, is another code for something. I'm beginning to worry about this girl. Who now has 3 names I'm aware of. And yes, there were men at my party, but apparently Marrakesh believes only females make literature pleasant...don't you agree?