Cutting myself loose

I read a thing today that I thought was kind of brilliant. The gist of it was that women, at some point in their lives (different for every woman, of course) realize that they don’t have to do everything and be everything all the time. When they realize this, they stop being afraid of what will happen if they drop all the balls and become free to be exactly who they are, without apology, without caveats.

I’m not sure I’m there yet, honestly, but I think I do need to drop some balls.

I need to post on my own schedule, here, not one I’ve imposed on myself. The Sunday post and the ‘Say What’ posts need to fall by the wayside because it’s begun to feel too forced for me, to be totally honest. I love ruminating on the lit life here with you all, and I will continue to do that. I love reading and reviewing books and will continue to do that too. Just not with as much frequency. Please keep me on your radar; just know I needed to slow things down…for me.



Say What| My notebook


I’ve got something a little different for you today. I was going to post some word cluster prompts, but I thought of something a little more idiosyncratic, if that’s possible. I thought I’d let you peek into the randomness that is my writing “notes” from, oh let’s see…two days ago? See above photo!

If you’re wondering if all of these scraps and snippets of things become quality pieces of poetry or prose or…something, I’ll just tell you: no, not always. I started doing this because of something one of my all-time favorite poets, Robert Hass, said about how poems “come” to him. He said that sometimes a poem will spring from something as simple as a single word or a turn of phrase that is either musical in some way or triggers another chain of ideas or thought processes. So when a word or a phrase is used in a way that makes me happily exclaim “language!” I write it down. And in a future writing sesh, I might return to these and use them for inspiration.

What about you? What do you do to keep your writing weird? (wink)


Say What | The Tulip Flame

tulip flameI love that I follow some really cool people in the literary community on social media. Not only do I get to follow these peoples’ work, but I get the scoop on what they’re reading. Poets reading other poets and pushing the literature–it’s a beautiful thing!

A few weeks ago, I read a review of Chloe Honum’s book, The Tulip Flame and was intrigued. More than one person has said of this woman’s collection, that you can’t just read one poem. The work compels you to continue until the last page is turned. So dutifully, I purchased a copy.

I found my friends’ statements to be true.

Honum’s poems are singular in their simplicity. Linguistically, her style is deceptively minimalist ; The Tulip Flame deals with loss, grief,  self-image, and art with such astounding nuance and honesty that this reader felt the poems burgeoning, demanding not just attention, but meditation. So I read slowly, quietly over each piece, sometimes reading a poem two or three times before moving on. There is nothing contrived whatsoever about these pieces; they lay everything bare and name sadnesses in a sort of periphery–like when you you’re sitting in a dark room and can only make out the shape of an object by looking slightly away from it.

Please read this book. I’m not sure I’ve read a poet with such a quiet, desperate need to speak her healing.



This week:


flowers, poetry prompts, thrift store visits, new books and journal issues in the mail.

Also, a house I can’t seem to keep ordered or clean to save my life, restless children, pent up on rainy day after rainy day, and overtime for the hubby.

Words slide in, get folded up in, fall out of all the myriad interactions and tasks. Written words. They always appear, are suggested, or remembered at least expected moments.


Like the words of Oscar Wilde, who once said that good writers borrow and great writers steal.

My thoughts are:

I wonder if Wilde realized that it is actually impossible to “steal” another’s work (short of actually plagiarizing it, obviously), meaning that once a writer goes about trying to do what another writer has done, his individual talent and impulses and experiences and what have you kick in and what is produced is, inevitable, different. Original. A sort of subconscious dismissal and adoption happens in the act of writing, even though intentionally, you are “taking” another’s cues.

Jim Jarmusch sad a similar thing about originality and his quote is included in this great blog post by Austin Kleon. Check it out.

Is there nothing new under the sun? Write and see.



Say What | Word Cluster Prompts

peelingHere they are again! Word Cluster prompts! Without more ado–

  1. zig, lust, coastal, viscous, twenty, globe, adroit, emerald, april, stand.
  2. hurt, grey, tines, whorl, hope, three, smooth, drink, lasting, tenderly
  3. spice, over, mountain, extra, parenthetical, early, said, feature, friend


Say What | Incendiary Girls, by Kodi Scheer

When I go on trips, I make sure to put some audiobooks on my Kindle. I can’t really read in the car. Looking down at a page for longer than 20 minutes or so always makes me feel vaguely ill, but I can slip in a pair of earbuds, stare out the window, and listen to a story unfold, no problem.


Before our trip to see family last month, I browsed Amazon for a long time before settling on a book I kept encountering in search after search: Incendiary Girls, by Kodi Scheer. The description of this collection of short stories kind of threw me, at first. Several of the stories apparently incorporated some heavy, Kafka-esque elements of magical realism, according to the reviews, and I waffled. I love magical realism at such heights as Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Rushdie’s Midnight’s Chilldren, or even Castillo’s So Far From God. Notwithstanding, I sort of shy away from suggestions of magical realism, because it can be a very tricky thing to execute. It must be excellent or bust.

I’m happy to say that Incendiary Girls was excellent! Scheer incorporates the fantastical and the illogical in perfect balance, folding these dazzling elements into the lives of her protagonists in such a way that the reader (at least this reader!) never once had to suspend her disbelief. The many lovely and sometimes macabre implausibilities in Incendiary Girls mirror the female characters’ struggles to makes sense of some of the all-too-mundane aspects of their lives, becoming almost extensions of those difficult circumstances.

More importantly, the magical realism never once inhibits the reader’s empathy. Scheer’s stories are all of our stories, really, in that they deal with themes we can all relate to. Insecurity, fear and anxiety, loneliness, grief. More than once, I was crying. In the car! Along with my two sons in the backseat, who were OVER IT, after three hours on the road.

If you have a chance to pick up this book, I highly encourage you to do so!

Learning Patience

I’m back. Sort of.

arabica.jpgWe did some traveling last week, attended a memorial for my husband’s grandfather, who passed early in the year. We saw family, laughed, cried, ate and drank, told stories that have been told a million times and talked about things nobody had dared talk about in years. It was refreshing. Some parts of it were exhausting.

I’ve been exhausted. Mentally, emotionally. I want too much, too fast. I haven’t allowed myself time to develop and grow. And it’s bad, because the thing I’m not allowing myself is just the most important thing to have if I wish to get anywhere, meet any goals: patience.

Today, I bought Julia Cameron’s classic, The Artists Way. I plan to make my way through the 12 weeks of insights slowly. I considered inviting anybody who would join me to read along and participate in weekly online check-ins. But I think this is something I need to on my own, for me. That’s not to say that I don’t want to hear your thoughts if you choose to read it–on the contrary! Please let me know if you have read it or liked it! Let me know if you’re making progress with that work in particular or a similar work on the creative life! Hopefully, this foray will help me center myself, help me settle down, rather.

Photo credit:


Have you read much Thoreau? I haven’t read much but I did read Walden. Years ago. And some selected essays. I think it’s definitely time to re-read Walden soon, but when I think of Thoreau, I always think of a relatively obscure lecture delivered at the Concord Lyceum, in 1851: “Walking.” This lecture was later published in essay form in The Atlantic in 1862 and that has been anthologized since then.

Maybe more than any other writer, Thoreau married “wild” and “human.” He was concerned with the philosophic “natural state.” He valued reflective meandering, stripped of facades, of the artificial, that fosters creativity. “Walking” addresses all of that.

This week I’ve been quite peripatetic. Not so much “based” in varying places, but moving! Going on short adventures! 

Per·i·pa·tet·ic: (perēpəˈtedik)

adjective: peripatetic;

traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.

My doctor told me some months ago to get my ass in gear now (not her words) because “once you’re forty, your body won’t do what you want it to do” (her words). For the record, I turned 31 this month. I’ve been walking. About half an hour to an hour a day. It feels good. My body registers the good feeling, but my brain does too.

On a recent outing, I missed my turn-around spot and just kept walking because my brain was running ahead. That can happen when you’re out in the sun and have a stretch of open road in a somewhat rural spread of landscape! I thought of Thoreau and “Walking.” And it reminded me that sometimes the only way to “activate” a reading in your mind is to do! be! the thing you’re reading about! So with Thoreau’s lovely essay.

How about you? What gets you moving, literally or creatively?