Thursday, November 30, 2006


Tonight is the big AIDS benefit at Rouge. Some come on out---last time, Miss Universe was there. I don't think she's in town this time, but it will be a night of who's who in the DC party/benefit scene.

Things are winding down, the semester and Monday was the last Burlesque of 2006! I'm really looking forward to some down time---time to focus more on my own writing. After teaching fiction, I'm getting antsy to try my hand at short stories over the break. I really like the structure of Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder---a series of interconnecting stories. The way she explores the relationship between Nell and Tig---well, you really have to read it for yourself. I think Atwood is one of the authors who shaped me in college. I fell in love with her female characters and her strange feminism, though here, it's more muted and tangible.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Upside Down Turkey Dog

Marissa made her sticky bacon for me with turkey bacon while she's here visiting. Gobble gobble. As if there wasn't enough good food lately. Aunt Sue cooked up a storm and Mom invented Buckeye cake! Today Sandra encouraged me to get my book on the shelves of Politics and Prose so hopefully, they'll order. After Matthew Zapruder's reading tonight (which was awesome---he had a great metaphor for teaching poetry---comparing it to mechanics, of looking and tinkering with an engine. And his new book, full of poems I wish I had written. He was completely inspiring--when hearing someone else triggers so much in you, you know why you write in the first place), we took a gander at the shelves and came up empty. So she walked me back in to meet the host of the event and tell him about the steam sequence. Now I know why I call her Ms. Beasley, b/c she means business!

And here's business my way: I just sold my 100th book on my own (last night's bar shift of 3 books got me there)! Though I still feel very green as Sandra and Erica seem to know a whole bunch more about this poetry business. Job market, wonder why Maj said he wanted to plant his roots somewhere. It makes your life a whole lot simpler, knowing that you don't need to pack up your bulbs every few years and start over. Lately, I've been feeling like I've been doing a lot of skimming. Of gracing the surfacing and tasting but not lingering. Jonathan said that's life. I feel a little out of balance. I have at least two readings every month until I don't know when. And just found out I'll be reading at the KGB right after my birthday, Feb. 19th! No wonder why I'm spinning. I've also been travelling so that means less yoga so no wonder.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Dark Side of Ramona

Uh-oh, I think some of my students found my blog. Now they're all going to learn how strange/lame/human I am. I think we all fear this in a way. As artists, we have to put it out there, but simultaneously we're all a bit scared about that. Someone once told me that getting recognized is more how hard you work your own PR. I'd like to hope that's not true, but I do know one has to work at getting your stuff out there---isn't that what online dating is all about anyway? You need to put the energy out there instead of waiting for something good to come your way. Though I wonder if it is more satisfying if something good comes your way more as if by chance or accident, rather than your constant plugging away at something.

I just found out over the weekend that there is a book group somewhere in Maryland interested in reading the steam sequence and that they're going to buy 20-some copies! And invite me to come and talk to them! That made my Saturday.

And today I went to the Kennedy Center for the first time to hear the Washington Chorus---they had sponsored an elegy contest and one of my former students won third place with her fugue that she wrote and though Cristina wasn't there as she's abroad this semester, it was still so moving to see her poem published in the playbill---though the spacing was all messed up so they could get it to fit on one page---instead of the short Neruda-like sharpness down the left side of the page. Regardless, it was still wonderful.

I was fascinated by all of the body language and movement and ritual associated with a symphony and was intending to write a poem about the harpist, but instead, Ramona was baking brownies and when I went home, it became the darkest one yet. Even Jonathan was freaked out.

Though I think it is a good thing as there needs to be movement within the series---she can't sustain herself on food/sex puns forever. Sometimes the chickens need to hatch in the middle of your Betty Crocker. MMM----good thing I let Jonathan do the cooking tonight. The conservative and even keel pasta with chicken sausage as our offering for the potluck.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Good Weather

Last night Rachael Baird, a former student of mine almost made me cry before I read--it was the most meaningful introduction I have ever had and the reading was lovely. 118 people were there---mostly students I think fulfilling a reading requirement, but hopefully we didn't bore them to tears, though cousins Neil and Leslie were near the back and said, nope, they were all rapt. Though, your family will never tell you that you suck to your face so who knows :) And dinner and drinks with colleagues, and having so many current and former students there further gelled my feelings of belonging here in DC at this time (though yes, I know, one can plant their roots anywhere and flourish) and somewhere in the evening it came up that in the future GW may do away with some general education requirements (like fine arts and literature) so there may not even be a job for me in the distant future if GW's new fiscal plans go through---going to a 4 by 4 where students only take 4 classes a semester that are worth 4 credits. Of course, I can't fathom why the university would want to cut writing and literature courses and claim they are not as necessary as the three sciences that are currently required (the English students were up in arms about this). I guess this is another portrait of academia---the deciding of what is important study, and of course, we will all claim that our field is universal and essential. But for now, it's sunny and the weather here is good and I have to prepare my notes for my Kafka lecture.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Let the Poets Eat Cake!

Ramona was well received today at the Library of Congress and it was awesome reading with Bernadette Geyer and Marcela Sulak. Though, how can a reading of poems about food not go well? Afterwards we went to Pete's for lunch---a diner serving burgers and Chinese food. Most of us opted for the Vegetarian Special. Ramona was happy, though she's not yet found a place in her heart for okra.

We ended up talking about (surprise surprise) the poetry scene in DC and how there are so many venues for poetry but that we don't mix that well. There's the more formal readings at LOC and the Folger and then the university readings, the slam scene, the avant garde, the northern Virginia, the question was, should we have less readings or how can we work to help each other out rather than thinning out the scene b/c we all agreed how vibrant DC is. (I had no idea I'd be agreeing with that after first moving here from NYC). And of course, time and the amount of work vs. the amount of financial support for it all is a huge factor. Anyone have any ideas?

What I do know, is that we are lucky---lucky to have all of this and hopefully, like today, we'll have our cake and eat it too! (you can get these cakes at Cake Love---the Magnolia of DC)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Where can you find me this week

Here's where you can find me:

On Tuesday, November 14, "Delicious Poems about Food" will be read at the Library of Congress by guest poets Carly Sachs, author of THE STEAM SEQUENCE, Marcela Sulak, translator of MAY by Czech poet Karel Hynek Macha, and Bernadette Geyer, author of WHAT REMAINS.

The reading will be held from noon-1 p.m. in the Pickford Theater, 3rd floor, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., SE. It is free, and tickets are not required.
Capitol South on the Blue and Orange lines is the nearest Metro stop.

For any last-minute information, please call 707-0362.

And also new poems on MiPO!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Shift in Energy

My psychic energy was working double time last night at the bar! Some guy ordered a gin and tonic and then disappeared on his cell phone for an hour or so and I thought, I wonder if he's going to come back and pay for his drink. Right after I thought that, he came back. Then I started talking about Kitty Victorian and the DC Burlesque scene to a guy at the bar and then in walks Kitty. Then this guy came up to the bar and I thought, here comes trouble, and sure enough Shannon and I broke up a fight (well, more Shannon). I usually play good cop. Then it was time to close and I was hoping the people in the booth would leave and just as I thought that, they got up and left!

Yesterday I was feeling a bit down or overwhelmed with everything---perhaps it was the weather and class was really low energy and then I fell down the stairs (no one saw, luckily) but I took it pretty metaphorically. But like Rob always says in yoga, sometimes you need to fall to learn. (And on a side note, mom's going to do yoga with me when she comes to visit!) And now today it's sunny and my flower guy was there so I have some yellow daisies and orange lillies! And I'm actually feeling less crazy, though perhaps b/c I finished my Jenny Moore application which I'll drop off tomorrow and new poems were accepted by MiPO and I have the new Justin Timberlake CD! Publication, flowers, and hip hop---three ingredients for a happy poet!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pen Is Envy

Tonight I went to a talk at Borders with Margaret Atwood and some guy from Book Expo who interviewed her. I think I would have liked it much better if she actually read, but the conversation was interesting because I came to know her a bit better. She's much funnier and much more real than I had expected---what most fascinated me is how she taught writing in the Arctic Circle for Inuit women---she doesn't just have feminist themes in her work, but she does the work of feminism. I had forgotten how good it felt to go to a reading by myself. Though right away, I ran into two former students and got to hear all about what's new with them (both taking more writing classes!). Now, when we have the Creative Writing Major/Minor dinners, I'll have former students so that is super exciting. And what was even more exciting was telling Margaret Atwood how her line "Pen is Envy" had become an inside joke with Gillian from Dr. Winebrenner's class while she was signing my book. She gave me her "best"---which I suppose one has to do when there's about 200 people in line. Oh, how I long to write best (actually I don't) and so I end up trying to scrawl these crazy things in people's books. Maybe I'll write Pen is Envy and all my Best when I sign the next round!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Why I Was so MIA from being online This Weekend

Jonathan surprised me on Friday by taking me to a mysterious location (Harper's Ferry) but I didn't know it until I saw the sign on the highway. We had a relaxing time and stayed at a cute bed and breakfast that was actually more like someone's home---this couple around our age who seemed to have a real estate empire. He restored and rebuilt and she sold...and he made blueberry and wild rice (separate) pancakes.

It was nice to slow down a little and walk in the woods. The ground was covered in these beautiful yellow leaves and I love it when the air has a bit of a bite to it, but it's still sunny even though you need a winter jacket. On Saturday we went to the Breaux Vineyards and found some great wines---a Merlot and a late harvest and I got this great shirt that says "wine diva" on it and so I wore that to Rouge.

I also had my tarot cards read and I can say that good things are in store. I'm not sure how much I really do believe, but good news is always nice to hear.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I think I have blog block---I honestly don't have anything particularly exciting. I did have a mystery meeting on Tuesday which could perhaps lead to something interesting and poetic, but I will leave you in suspense lest I jinx it. I've really just been trying to focus on the present and was delighted to find a thank you note from one of my former students for writing him a study abroad letter of rec. In Jan. he'll be off to study in Ghana! And then met with another one of my former students who will be introducing me at my GW reading. I'm very excited for this and the dinner with other faculty and Anna and my introducers b/c this will be the first dinner that students can have with the readers. That was one of the things I loved about Kent. And this morning I made Peanutbutter Brownies for class---the final in class poetry reading and to kick off ZZ Packer's Brownies. Yes, I am that cheesy! Or should I say chocolate-y!