NaPoWriMo 2010

Tomorrow begins National Poetry Month. I’m psyched. I will be participating in two poetry challenges again this year.

The first is the Poetic Asides Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge with Robert Lee Brewer. I am a relative veteran of this  challenge, as I completed both the 2009 April and 2009 November challenges. I even had the honor of one of my April poems being selected in the top 150 poems (out of 25,000+)– a great morale booster!

The other challenge is one I  learned about this week from Sage Cohen, and is the Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo Challenge. I just signed the participation pledge today, and now am proudly sporting their badge on my blog.

So tune in here tomorrow, and everyday in April, for a post of my NaPoWriMo poems. Here’s to a poetic month!

In Six Words…

I always love a challenge. Lately, Reading Local: Portland has been putting up book titles on their Facebook page and asking for 6 word summaries. Brevity, that’s me, lol. 😉

Old Man and the Sea: “Man goes fishing– gets no fish.”

Gone With the Wind: “Scarlett changes her mind too late.”

The Great Gatsby: “Decadence and tragedy in East Egg.”

Powell’s in the Rain

What to do on a rainy Sunday in Portland? Well, if it happens to be your anniversary, and it is, feed the meters, then lunch with your husband at your favorite restaurant in the Pearl, followed by browsing the shelves of Powell’s. With all those books beckoning, how could I possibly leave empty handed? I held it down to a mere 4 books this time:

Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home: Life on the Page, by Lynn Freed
–I read this once several years ago, before I started publishing essays and stories of my own, now I’m ready to re-read it. I remember it making me stop and think, as well as being entertainingly written.

Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart, by Patrician Donegan
What particularly appealed to me about this book was that with each haiku is included a paragraph on its background, as well as a brief bio of the writer of the haiku.

Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, by Canfield, Hansen and Gardner
—  I am always interested in what influences people to become writers. I know I followed a circuitous enough path! This volume includes stories by ordinary writers, like myself, as well as many much more well-known, such as Ray Bradbury and George Plimpton.

and last, but not least:

Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists, By James Geary
I’ve always loved aphorisms, those short and pithy little sound bites that make you stop and think. My favorite aphorist has got to be Oscar Wilde, and I was happy to see he’s included in this book. I discovered a great little interview with author James Geary about this book on NPR:

Tammy Wynette

Occasionally, I do book reviews for Reading Local: Portland. The latest book I reviewed was Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen, by local Portland author Jimmy McDonough. The review can be read at the Reading Local: Portland website:

Mention Tammy Wynette’s name, and like me, you probably think of her most recognizable (and controversial) hit, Stand By Your Man, or of Hillary Clinton’s scathing comment about her in January 1992, while being interviewed about Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs, on 60 Minutes: “I’m not sitting here, some little woman ‘standing by my man’ like Tammy Wynette,” Hillary said.

Whether you care for her music or not, you just have to admire someone like Tammy, who rose from poverty to make her way, against all obstacles, into the totally male dominated world of country music in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Once Upon a Time

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt was to write a poem that tells a story. What could be better? I love telling stories and I love writing poetry, so when I get to combine them, it’s a real treat. And what better topic than banana slugs, that are out in full force.

It’s springtime in Portland, even if sometimes the weather can’t quite make up its mind. Last week there were snow flurries up on Pill Hill. Today is sunny (if still a bit cool). But the flowering cherries are in bloom, crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths abound, and the heather and candytuft in our yard are blooming.

Close Encounters

Once upon a time
in an old-growth forest dark and damp
there dwelt a banana slug.
One day as he inched his way
across a well-worn path
in search of water
he narrowly avoided being stepped on
by a pair of hikers
deeply engrossed in conversation.
Unperturbed, he continued on.

PAD Update

As we prepare to embark upon the 2010 Poetic Asides Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge, the results from the 2009 Challenge were finally released. Expecting in the ballpark of 5000 poems, the judges were overwhelmed last year by the outpouring of daily poetry, exceeding more than 25,000 poems submitted by more than 1000 poets. Hence the delay. I was pleased and honored to learn that one of my poems, Reverse Image,  had been selected as one of  the top 150 poems.

And the poem itself:

Reverse Image

Four thousand nine hundred

ninety nine pieces all carefully

interlocked, and still my mind catches

on the minute empty space

that should have held

the last little bit of sky.

When I penned this poem, I was remembering one day in writing group. The prompt that day had been a jigsaw puzzle, and I immediately wrote a piece about the frustration of putting together large jigsaw puzzles in my childhood, only to discover missing pieces. Robin took the exact opposite approach. She wrote about finding a single puzzle piece, and the freedom of being able to imagine the rest of the puzzle as anything  she wanted it to be. I think of my poem (and essay) as the reverse image of her essay. Robin succumbed to ovarian cancer in November 2008, but her influence lives on.