I started 2024 with a series of minor but impactful health problems, but even as I am at half-power recovering from the flu, I am buoyed by today's release of my review of David Keplinger's book Ice in the wonderful Adroit Journal. The editors and creative directors there have been wonderfully supportive, and I am proud of this publication. Keplinger is a fantastic poet and a kind and compassionate human being who leads weekly mindfulness meditations (each one focusing on a selected poem and what it can teach us) through the Mindfulness Initiative at American University (MIAU). I highly recommend his new book and the meditations, even if it means a 6am start time for those of us on the West Coast.
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Friday, October 13, 2023
I am so grateful for the poets, and people, who inspire me. In choosing a new book of poetry to review, I found David Keplinger. I do not know how I had not read him before now; he has written several books and has won many prestigious awards, and has been teaching for decades. He also is a student of Tara Brach, whom I have encountered through classes taught by Rick Hanson. At this point, I am tempted to insert all sorts of links to the websites for these esteemed teachers. And I would say more about Keplinger's work, except that I want to focus that impulse instead on writing and submitting my review of Ice.
Really, though, I want to write in response to the meditation that Keplinger led this morning as part of the Mindfulness Initiative at American University (MIAU). So that is one link I will include. The meditations he leads each week include the reading and study of a poem. Today's poem was Milton's Sonnet 19: "When I consider how my light is spent..." and I am tremendously grateful both for the reflections he shared and where they led me. I am always so self-propelled to act, to be busy and "productive," when it can be very appropriate to be still and wait.November is coming, and with it Nanowrimo, which I have agreed to do with my daughter and a colleague. But is there anything that I think I have to say that warrants 50,000 words? The sky is lightening as I write, and there is one star or planet (is it Venus? I must check - see? the push to act, always) high in the sky, and very big and bright, even as the silhouette of the trees that remain surfaces against the gray horizon.
At the moment, I want only to rise before 6 every morning and meditate, to let my efforts be in sitting, in being and experiencing a deeper understanding and compassion for myself and the world, rather than in doing. Always doing.
Friday, September 1, 2023
Can you spot the errors? I don't have The Carrying here, because I listened to Ada Limón read it instead of having the book in hand. Also, I mistakenly photographed volume 1 of Plagios instead of volume 2. But otherwise, this is representative of what I have done with the last 31 days. We now return to our previously scheduled two-or-three-books-a-month program.
Thursday, August 31, 2023
I think of Heaney as old school. A poet who knew his classics, and could quote Latin, and whose poetry is is formal, but still completely human and accessible. My undergrad poetry professor was mentored by Heaney, and perhaps that's why I can always hear a voice when I read his (Heaney's) work. It's something of John Savant with an overlay of Irish accent, I think.
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
The Sealey Challenge, Day 30: Plagios/Plagerisms, vol. 2 by Ulalume González de León, translated by Terry Ehret, John Johnson and Nancy J. Morales
I am so extraordinarily fortunate to have as companions in my two poetry critique groups poets who are talented, and hard working, and kind. This past week I celebrated my birthday, and I spent a lot of the day wondering what wonderful things I had done in a past life to deserve the good friends I have in this one. If one believed such a thing. I am humbled with gratitude. All that to say that the pleasure of reading this volume of González de León's poetry in translation (with the original on the verso) was doubled by knowing two of the translators fairly well. Sixteen Rivers Press is a solid publishing collective, and I've day-dreamed about applying in the past. I really enjoyed these poems, and was surprised how much of the original language I could read without the translation, and understand and appreciate. I can't imagine how difficult it was to translate these poems. They are deceptively simple in terms of the language and provocative and profound in terms of the meaning.
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
I first saw Addonizio read in Petaluma in the 90s, & was blown away. This is a wonderful collection; I kept laughing out loud at her humor, and I'm not someone who normally laughs out loud at books. So funny, and so painfully true at the same time. Another poet whose craft I greatly admire and from whom I think I can learn a lot.
Monday, August 28, 2023
In the early 90s, a workshop teacher of mine, the generous Guy Biederman, had song the praises of Sandra Cisneros. I believe he knew her (although I could be mistaken about that - it was some time ago). Ever since then, I have had the knowledge that she was talented, but I had not read her. I hadn't even read The House on Mango Street. But I had Loose Woman on my shelf, having come by it somehow along the way, and I read it as today's title. It was interesting how this book reminded me of Corazón by Yesika Salgado and a little bit of Addonizio's Now We're Getting Somewhere. But it was the prosier pieces in Cisnero's book that I appreciated the most. The shorter-lined poems didn't do as much for me, although she certainly can play with images.