Letters from Writing By Writers at Tomales Bay

WXW on the hillThe Writing By Writers Conference at Tomales Bay (October 2015) was a fantastic five days of writing, learning, and working (and playing!) in community with dozens of amazing writers. Here, I share a bit of the participant experience and, mostly, as many of my notes as I could manage from my time working with Mark Doty! Enjoy. ~Kate

 

21 October 2015

 

Hello, Friend!

 

Well, I’m here. Both elated and exhausted. You, too, must know how hard it is to disengage from the ever-turning wheel of (more than) full time job-work and life-work and give yourself time—real, deep time—to do the creative work that makes you most alive: thinking, writing, wondering. Moodling, as Brenda Ueland called it. That’s what I’ve come here to do, a bit. I’ve also come to feed myself with new ideas—to over-feed, really, as though to pack these morsels away in my imagination so that they burn slowly and light my thinking and my drafts in the winter days to come. That this special time comes to me as a gift, in the form of a fellowship award, allows me some relief of daily anxieties to feel into the days that stretch before me here, days that are essential, longed for, rimmed in golden October water-light.

 

We gathered in Mark Doty’s workshop for the first time this evening, before dinner. I will be drafting new work in this generative workshop alongside fourteen other writers. We introduced ourselves. Mark asked us to say our names, and then to name one of our struggles as writers. So we shared our fears of not being good enough, of not knowing how to start (or how to end), of the thrill of finishing the first, horribly messy draft and the terror of going back into that mess. The perplexing challenging of thinking a piece is done, of having published it, even, perhaps, and then feeling a shift in our work and the desire to go back into that old piece and make it better—but how to find the way back in? We talked about our desire for more surprise in our work as well as our anxiety about exposure. Mark offered that when we write, “we confide in no one in particular but someone very attentive. If we aren’t fearing some exposure, we aren’t risking enough. The writer’s challenge is how to embrace what you are—and be good at it.”

 

Mark interwove short meditations on the practice of writing as we responded to each other’ shared our struggles. He offered different ways of seeing some common struggles. Arc, he said, doesn’t have to be so forward-moving. Arc can be simply a traveling. Arc is built out of the “technology of shift,” he said. You could see your material as a crystal, he offered, a faceted crystal, where the view in each facet offers a different way of seeing meaning. You can that crystal forever, he said. Arc is how the turning starts, how it progresses, and how it stops. Creating is an obsessive act. “You go into a private place,” Mark said, “and make an order you can bear. We writers create out of the commonest material there is. Language is shared. It has history, context…Your words are never entirely yours. Language is always in motion between people.”

 

We received our first reading assignment—an essay by Joni Tevis about the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose—and trundled up the many hills to dinner.

 

The first day finished with an evening reading by Mark Doty of work from his newest book, Deep Lane. And cake. And then lights blinking on in all the sleeping rooms and no one sleeping, just yet, but reading, writing, thinking. Moodling. Making new friends with roommates. Burning with the bright energy of being here.

 

More to come,

Kate

 

*

WXW reading

 

22 October 2015

 

Hello Dear One,

 

It was hard to sleep last night. I was so excited to be here! And to see what I would write today.

 

I woke up before sunrise, dressed quietly and slipped out into the chill morning. There is a small yoga room at the Marconi Center and I have brought my mat with me. I turned the lights on very low and opened one of the sliders onto the deck so that the scents of pine, brine and hillside cattle could drift in. I had the place to myself for a while, and then some others trickled in. I worked into my daily core and back strengthening exercises and through the stretches I learned most recently at physical therapy. Then I rolled back into savasana and did a simple breathing meditation for ten minutes. It felt good to limber up before an intense three-hour morning writing workshop.

 

I am not always good at managing time when I perform self-care like yoga, exercise and meditation…it’s hard for me to give myself permission for self-care, and then when I do make time for it, it feels so good that I struggle to go back to whatever I was doing that seemed so important—in this case, showering, which I skipped. I missed breakfast at the dining room, too, instead cramming a container of trail mix into the Writing by Writers shoulder bag and stuffing my mouth with some peanut butter pretzels I keep, hush-hush, in my room. After pouring hot water over the lavender red tea bag in my new WXW travel mug, I laced up my shoes and dashed out the door.

 

The gravel trails at the Marconi Center are nicely groomed but still a bit steep in places, so I walked as fast as I could. As I rounded a small switchback, I was relieved to see Mark striding down the path with one of the porcelain mugs from the dining room in hand, steaming—I would not be late now! I slowed my pace and we chatted a little about how delighted we were to be starting our day in such a beautiful place.

 

In workshop, we discussed the assigned reading. We talked about how, if we can push ideas of category and genre aside for a while when we’re drafting, interesting things can happen. In the Tevis essay, we saw how form and content were the same. We saw how the essay was both about a specific person’s unusual creative practices and simultaneously about creative practice at the conceptual level. We talked about recurrence, about repetition with variation. Then it was time to begin drafting.

 

But our first act of pen to paper in our drafting was not to draw words, but rather, to draw. We drew—mapped—a place that mattered to us. I drew mine first as a map, from a birds-eye view, and then as I remembered it, as though I were still standing on the point in that moment nine years ago, looking west into the setting sun. Mark called time.

 

Oh goody, I thought. Now we’ll write!

 

We did—sort of. Mark had us do a brainstorm, a simple list or cloud of words and phrases that occurred to us as we held that place in our minds. Include everything, he said. Do not self-edit.

 

To be honest, I felt a tinge of irritation. I’ve already mapped my place, I thought. I just want to write now! But: I came here to be in the passenger seat, to be in beginner’s mind, to be lead by Mark and my classmates into a place in my own practice. So I exhaled, probably clenching my teeth, and did what I was told.

 

And I am so glad I did! Without the brainstorm, I am not sure I would have began where, or perhaps how, I did in the piece that came onto the page this morning. And that starting place—a place of emotional and imaginative inquiry, of wanting to examine and ponder instead of figure out (my usual stance)—made all the difference. The rule Mark gave us when we finally did write (to draft it in present tense) may have helped, too. Mark suggests that present tense keeps us closer to the body and therefore provides a great composing process, even if the piece changes tenses during iteration and revision. Going into the senses takes the writer away from pre-formed ideas about the material and into a zone where surprise can emerge. Also, by getting closer to the body, layers of time and layers of apprehension come to coexist in the same space more freely—and this, Mark says, makes writing feel real.

 

We left class this morning with another reading assignment, a short story by Elizabeth Bishop, and a homework writing assignment. I practically ran up the hill to lunch, I was so hungry, and then I skipped the post-lunch panel to prepare for my part in the fellowship winner reading later in the afternoon. It was such a thrill to read from my new chapbook, Our Day in the Labyrinth, among beloved friends and in this place, and with people like Pam Houston, who have been such an important part of my continuously developing practice as a writer.

 

As we all filed out of the fellowship reading for a short break before dinner, the writer Steve Almond, one of the conference faculty, stopped me to say that he liked what I read—which made me *so* happy, because I love Steve’s writing! I have read and taught (or taught from) a number of his craft essays, and I recently enjoyed his newest short story collection, My Life in Heavy Metal, on Audible—Steve reads it himself and does a great job! We walked slowly up the hill and talked about independent teaching and process and the need for more authentic love and empathy in the world. I gave Steve a copy of my chapbook and was able to snag one of his DIY books (“my drug-deal books,” Steve calls them), a charming little back-to-back of two books under one cover, one a collection of short/flash fiction, the other a mini-collection of short craft essays.

 

It was a true delight to connect with Steve—and to enjoy, an hour later, dinner with him and two of my fellow Davis alums, Melanie Thorne (author of the novel Hand Me Down) and Alex Russell, fiction writer and leader of a unique creative writing program, with support from Sacramento Poetry Center, for at-risk youth. We talked marriage and kids (Melanie and I are kidless, Alex has an 18-month [-ish] old, and Steve has three kids) and art-making and getting by and vegetarianism and corn allergies and sourdough bread making. Mostly we just laughed.

 

And then we traipsed back down the two hills to the main hall where Greg Glazner read what I thought was a killer selection of new poems rooted in history, family and water (the lack thereof, then and now) followed by an insanely funny essay about taking a fly ball to the…yeah…at a River Cats game. Then Lidia Yuknavitch read a new essay, “Woven,” that knocked all our socks off. I hadn’t been sold on Lidia’s work when I arrived at the conference—I’d only read her newest book, On the Small Backs of Children, without knowing much about her or her previous work. I didn’t love it (that’s for another discussion), but man, I was hook-line-and-sinker into “Woven.” I bought Chronology of Water—which folks in the know say I should have read first—and am thirty pages in and really like it. Perhaps it will change my perspective on Small Backs, and if it does, that raises other interesting aesthetic questions…again, for another time!

 

Then it was dessert and back up the hill and reading and writing by flashlight until I fell asleep.

 

Ciao for now—

Kate

 

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WXW tree trunk top of hill time's fingerprint

 

23 October 2015

 

Hi Darlin’—

 

I don’t know what did it, but I slept like a baby last night. And I needed it, too! I skipped yoga and exercises and stretching and meditating this morning because I overslept a little. I still missed breakfast! My mind started wandering into and around my draft as soon as I woke up. What a treat, to be able to let it.

 

In class today, Mark talked about inviting formal and rhetorical shifts like those we see in the Bishop story (changes in point of view and mode of address, word play, radical tone and tense shifts, etc.) into our own work, and then using these moments as points of departure into deeper engagement with our material.

 

We did some more in-class writing with this in mind and then discussed our experiences. Some of the thoughts that came up:

 

Authority rises out of acknowledging what is excluded. The more you know about your material, the better. Why you know and don’t ultimately include certain elements pressurizes the writing in a powerful way.

 

When you are drafting new work, suspend your will to achieve closure and your desire to please an audience.

 

Sometimes we keep ourselves from knowing things. Sometimes we need to write away from things to write back into them. Sometimes putting a draft away for awhile allows us to shift our perspective on the material enough to see what it’s really about.

 

When we change tense in our drafting, we change our relationship to the perception of knowledge. This is also true of point of view shifts.

 

Emotions and experience are marbled. They are never just one thing.

 

Many of these ideas recurred in today’s afternoon panel, the basic topic of which was how to make language from experiences that feel beyond our outside language. Mark said these spaces are “breaches into which knowledge other than language can enter. The poetic spirit is to give voice to an in the silence. Poetry draws a circle around these open spaces so people can see within them.”

 

After the panel, we had some free time, which I spent working on one of my email newsletters and walking up on the highest hill, where I could enjoy the view and get a few phone calls out at the same time. And then I just stayed up there for a while and listed to the cows lowing and rested my eyes on the rings in the tree trunks used as part of the old Marconi Station structure and…moodled. The evening closed with a hilarious reading by Steve Almond and new work read by Dorothy Allison.

 

And then it was back to our rooms for more reading assignments (ours, this time: Terry Tempest Williams) and writing assignments. Though it’s probably not prudent all the time, there is a certain seductive, electrical energy I am feeling from staying up an hour or two past my usual bedtime to read and write.

 

Until tomorrow,

Kate

 

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WXW UCD alums

24 October 2015

 

Hello, Fellow Word Artist:

 

Started this morning with the health routine again. It felt good to get back to it. I needed to ready myself; today will be a long day, and tonight, I suspect, I may stay up very late, as it will be my last chance to do so in this cocoon of gorgeous land and light and every-meal-is-prepared-by-someone-else-and-even-my-bed-gets-magically-made-while-I-am-in-workshop-ness.

 

All of us in Mark’s class have several pages of new words at this point. Mark took a few minutes at the beginning of class to talk about “patience in waiting for meaning to emerge. One wants to preserve in the work a feeling of spontaneous speech. Allow evidence of the process of coming to knowledge remain in the text.” Over time, he told us, as a piece “becomes less for you, you can see what’s needed and not needed for the reader” and make revisions based on this. Mark is continually revising. Even books that have been out for twenty years appear, when they are reprinted, with slight variations. A word may be struck for a decade and then reappear in a later edition. Even when he reads from his newest book, he’s still fiddling with it. This felt very freeing for me, a perfectionist!

 

We discussed the night’s reading and then used techniques we drew out of it to do some more writing in class. We went (up the hills) to lunch. We went (down the hills again) to the main hall for readings by Naomi Williams and UC Davis Director of Creative Writing, Lucy Corin. (At her reading, Lucy made a comment about “organizing meaning versus distributing it” and this connected to much of what we’d been discussing in class.) And then we walked out on the patio and ate oysters (so many oysters!) and drank chilled white wines and looked at the sun on the water between the trees and talked. We snapped photos (the one above: a crew of UC Davis MA program alums from across the years, with Pam Houston and Lucy Corin). And then there was music coming from inside the hall—Greg Glazner and one of his bands—and soon we were dancing and singing along. And when we were laughing and thirsty and all sweating a little, the band quieted down and Pam Houston read us the opening to her book-in-progress, a piece about her beloved ranch in the High San Juan Mountains in Colorado (a place I have been) and about how we make place and how place makes us. (For those lucky enough to have been at last month’s TrueStory reading in Sacramento, you heard this same lovely piece. It was just as good the second time!)

 

And then the sun dipped low and we walked on hot tired feet (up the hills) to dinner, which was loud and raucous even though some folks trekked into Point Reyes Station to eat—all of us now so friendly and goofy with each other.

 

And then? You guessed it—back down the hills, this time for the open mic reading and hot cocoa in the main hall. And the open mic rocked. I think it went on for an hour and a half, maybe a little more. Almost everyone—maybe, in fact, everyone—came, including the conference faculty, and no one left early. Everyone got cheered on the walk to and back from the podium. Everyone who wished to be was heard. Witnessed in the practice of writing, of being a writer.

 

And here I am now, (up the very same hills) in my room, finishing the last reading assignment (Anne Carson) and at last transcribing my seven longhand pages into my laptop, and starting to move the parts around. I have to distill what turns out to be about four and a half typed pages to no more than two pages to read in class tomorrow. Ah, cutting. It’s by your sharp edges that I know Mark has walked as around a corner in the composing process: from generating, adding, asking into a different kind of asking that operates through shaping, condensing, stripping away.

 

It will be some time before I go to sleep.

 

So for now, I must bid goodnight,

Kate

 

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WXW w Mark Doty

25 October 2015

 

Good Morning, Friend,

 

Workshop has just finished and the clock is about to strike noon. We spent this morning, three hours, sharing the drafts we wrote and wrote and wrote, and—last night—began to revise. Almost all of us chose to share. Hearing fourteen strong and true drafts…nothing inspires me to keep writing, keep teaching writing, like that.

 

Okay, almost nothing. You know what else is driving me, today, hard and fast into the future of my writing practice? What Mark has taught us.

 

I did not come to Writing by Writers at Tomales Bay expecting any particular thing in Mark’s workshop; I simply love his writing (I love it so much I am continuously teaching it, in whole and in part) and I knew whatever he was selling, I wanted that. But as I think back now, I see I did have an expectation: I thought he’d create a space in which we’d draft new work, and that I’d come away with a handful of new drafts to keep working on when I got home. And he did give us that—we wrote, and I have an exciting draft to keep playing with.

 

What I got on top of all that, and for which I am so grateful to Mark Doty (that’s him and me in a fangirl snapshot up there!): A fundamental transformation of my thinking about what drafting new work is. About what the process is. About what it means to really explore and more concrete ways for doing so. I am more aware now of how I rush to close down my drafts—the first potential meaning glitters in them, and I start chasing that thing, and I chase it down and down the page even as I write the piece for the first time. You see, I want so badly to know what it all means.

 

Some of my drafts have surprised me in the last year or two. I could not before name why. And now, I can: The pieces I have written most recently often have not followed this path of progression through limitation while I draft their first versions. Instead, I have written them laterally, if you will, and through that lateral movement, found other sources of propulsion and other places toward which to race in and through them in their initial formation. In other words, my work surprised me, and gave me a hunger for more of that surprise.

 

Pam wrote about how we make place and place makes us. The same thing can be said about us and our work. This is not a new idea. It’s one I revisit now because this shift in my understanding of drafting also offers me, Kate Asche the person, another opportunity to remake my way of assembling meaning in all aspects of life.

 

During the Friday afternoon panel, I wrote a note in my journal that’s not totally legible. I was trying to capture something Mark Doty said. Something like, “Beauty is what we wish for and what we are and what is in between.” Elsewhere in the panel he said, “How can you become the person who can write this thing?”

 

That’s what I’m chasing how: How to become, to be continually becoming, the person who can write work that surprises me more and more.

 

The person who can live her life that way.

 

I’ll be home soon. Much love,

Kate

 

 

 

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Our Day in the Labyrinth is Out! & A Few Spots Left to Write With Kate This Fall (Starting 10/8)

Friends,

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce my chapbook, Our Day in the Labyrinth, is finally here!

Selected from a pool of 289 entries, the collection is now out from the very wonderful folks at Finishing Line Press and Kentucky. I could not have produced this collection without my students, colleagues, mentors and friends in the Sacramento and Davis literary communities, and I offer my sincerest gratitude to all who helped these poems find their way!

Please join me for the launch party and reading on November 6, and/or for other upcoming events! (To RSVP to the launch Facebook event, click here.)

kate w labyrinth

Want to write with me this fall?

There are a couple of spots left in my fall workshop that starts Friday, October 9. The fall topic is Three Energies: A Poetry (and Poetic Craft Skills Useful in All Genres) Workshop. Full details are on my website at kateasche.com/workshops. Contact me ASAP at asche (dot) kate (at) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to join the fun!

Yours in writing,

Kate

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October 8, 2015 · 12:11 pm

Sub Party 11/19! & Mark Your Calendar for Your Day in the Labyrinth…

Friends and Writers,

I hope these beautiful fall breezes are stirring your imagination for autumnal writing. I can’t wait for this fall, which is–for me–going to be a whirlwind (to continue with weather references) of lit mag submitting and chapbook readings and celebrations.

I’d love for you to join me in this fun!

First up: Saturday, September 19, join me at Studio J in Midtown Sacramento for a Sub Party! Only $40 gets you fun, friends working alongside you, and frank answers from Janna and me to any and all your submitting/publishing questions! More info here!

Next, mark your calendar for the launch reading and party (emphasis on party) for my first poetry collection, the chapbook Our Day in the Labyrinth, on Friday, November 6! You won’t want to miss this delightful evening featuring an unconventional reading with performances by four other terrific, beloved local poets, plus other surprises…

Below, I include highlights from my still-evolving fall and winter mini-tour of readings and talks. Updates will appear regularly on kateasche.com/readings-events/.

I look forward to being with you in and around writing this fall!

xoxo

Kate

**

Join Kate this fall and winter as she celebrates the release of her first poetry collection, the chapbook Our Day in the Labyrinth, with a series of readings, events and other appearances!

Don’t miss the launch party for

Our Day in the Labyrinth!

Friday, November 6 ~ 7:30 p.m.

Sacramento Poetry Center (25th and R)

Join Kate and her friends and family, mentors and students, and other loved ones from our area writing community for an evening of poems, book sales and signings, and–mostly–snacks and sweets, drinks, and fellowship! There will be surprises. Don’t miss it!

 


Other Fall 2015/Winter 2016 Readings & Events

 

Sunday, October 18, 2015 ~ Coffee & Poets ~ 5:00 p.m. @ Naked Lounge (11th & H) in Sacramento

Kate will interview poet, translator and novelist William O’Daly on this innovative podcast produced by NSAA. Join in the conversation! Listen to archived episodes here and here.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015 ~ Fellowship Winners’ Reading at Writing X Writers at Tomales Bay ~ 3:45 – 5:30 p.m. @ Buck Hall

Open to the public. Reading takes place at the Marconi Conference Center, in Buck Hall. Email Kate at kate (at) kateasche (dot) com in advance if you plan to come, and she can give you info on parking, etc.

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Friday, November 6, 2015 ~ LAUNCH PARTY!! See the red text above for details!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 ~ Barkin’ Dog Poetry Reading Series ~ 6:00 p.m. @ the Barkin’ Dog Grill in Modesto

Kate will read with another poet (TBA) at this delightful series curated by Gillian Wegener

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Sunday, January 24, 2016 ~ Mosaic of Voices ~ 2:00 p.m. @ Avid Reader at Tower in Sacramento

Kate will read with Sacramento Poet Laureate Jeff Knorr at this much-loved series curated by Nancy Aide Gonzalez.

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TBA: Reading at Why There Are Words ~ Second Thursdays ~ 7:00 p.m. @ Studio 333 in Sausalito

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TBA: Reading at Poetry Night in Davis ~ First and Third Thursdays ~ 8:00 p.m. @ John Natsoulas Gallery

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TODAY is your last chance to pre-order Our Day in the Labyrinth *and* get a fine art postcard broadside!

Friends and Writers,
I am offering a special gift to those who pre-order Our Day in the Labyrinth by the end of TODAY: A one-time print run postcard broadside sent to you, with a hand-written thank you from me! Please reserve your copy via online pre-order today (just click here)! $12.49 plus $2.99 shipping. Or, I can take orders directly and have the press ship them to you. Please email me at kate (at) kateasche (dot) com to arrange!

But what *is* a broadside, anyway? A broadside is a short bit of literature–a quote or a poem–designed on the page to be displayed as a visual work; the text is often paired with a visual image. These postcard broadsides are printed on acid-free archival bamboo fiber paper with archival gallery ink. The are delightfully miniature, perfect for your fridge or bulletin board!
Here are two LOW-RESOLUTION samples of the several designs I will be creating:
Hand Song FINAL copy

 

 

 

Lily 1 copy2

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to experience some more poems from the chapbook, check out these links (and consider ordering a copy of the Summer 2015 Colorado Review, and read my poem “Incoming” there! It’s also in the chapbook):

To hear the poem, “Know/Don’t Know” at The Missouri Review website, click here. (This poem was a finalist for the 2011 Audio Contest at The Missouri Review.)
To hear Kate’s poems published in Quiddity International Literary Journal (Volume 6.2 – Fall/Winter 2013) click here for “Hook Jaw and Bone” (featured in the chapbook) and here for “Eye.” (Thanks to Chris Alford and Epiclesis for recording!)

To hear Kate’s poem “Small Animals,” published in RHINO Poetry 2012, click here

To read Kate’s poem “Flame,” published in the Winter 2013 issue of The Summerset Review, click here.

To see work from Issue 110 of Confrontation, in which Kate was published, click here. To read Kate’s poem from that issue, “Hand Song,” click here: Hand Song by Kate Asche.

Thank you for your support of poetry!

xo

Kate

 

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Our Day in the Labyrinth: Kate’s First Poetry Collection! (& Postcard Broadsides & Some Musings on the Necessity of Literary Community)

Friends and Writers,KA-bookcover-final

 

As you may have heard, this spring, I’m celebrating the selection of my first poetry collection for publication–that lovely book over there to the right! It’s set to come out in September 2015.

The best way to show your support for my poetry, and for the independent press publishing it (the amazing Finishing Line Press in Georgetown, Kentucky), is to order a copy during advance sales.

Please reserve your copy via online pre-order today (just click here)! $12.49 plus $2.99 shipping. Or, Kate can take orders directly and have the press ship them to you. Please email Kate at kate (at) kateasche (dot) com to arrange!

Kate is offering a special gift to those who pre-order the chapbook: A one-time print run postcard broadside sent to you, with a hand-written thank you from Kate! A broadside is a short bit of literature–a quote or a poem–designed on the page to be displayed as a visual work; the text is often paired with a visual image.

These postcard broadsides will be delightfully miniature. Featuring work from Our Day in the Labyrinth plus some surprises, they will make wonderful additions to any fridge, bulletin board, etc. Postcard broadsides will be mailed in early fall, in advance of the book’s shipping date, to all who pre-order. (If you have already pre-ordered, then rejoice–you’ll be getting one!) If you’ve seen Kate’s broadsides, you know they are beautifully designed and pair the poems with powerful photographic images. (Click here and scroll down to see two examples.)

And lastly, who doesn’t love a sneak peek? If you’d like to experience some poems from the chapbook, check out these links (and consider ordering a copy of the Summer 2015 Colorado Review when it comes out, and read my poem “Incoming” there! It’s also in the chapbook):

To hear the poem, “Know/Don’t Know” at The Missouri Review website, click here. (This poem was a finalist for the 2011 Audio Contest at The Missouri Review.)
To hear Kate’s poems published in Quiddity International Literary Journal (Volume 6.2 – Fall/Winter 2013) click here for “Hook Jaw and Bone” (featured in the chapbook) and here for “Eye.” (Thanks to Chris Alford and Epiclesis for recording!)

To hear Kate’s poem “Small Animals,” published in RHINO Poetry 2012, click here

To read Kate’s poem “Flame,” published in the Winter 2013 issue of The Summerset Review, click here.

To see work from Issue 110 of Confrontation, in which Kate was published, click here. To read Kate’s poem from that issue, “Hand Song,” click here: Hand Song by Kate Asche.

 

This beautiful chapbook bids me take a moment to muse on the importance of literary community.

 

So here we go: This book contains poems written over a period of ten years (most of them are from the last six years, but “Hand Song” comes out of my graduate school thesis). In that span of time, I have written with, and learned from, hundreds–literally! hundreds–of other writers. The title poem is one that I drafted at a Sacramento Poetry Center Spring Conference a couple of years back, in the workshop of Thomas Centolella. Several of the poems were drafted in classes (or while the participants were in classes) when I coordinated The Tomales Bay Workshops under the direction of Pam Houston, who has been a great supporter of my work (check out what’s happening workshop-wise at Tomales Bay these days!).

And, more than half of the drafts were first written in Amherst Writers and Artists-method groups, including my own workshops, taught at the former ThinkHouse Collective and now at Studio J (my light-filled new teaching space headed up by champion-in-chief to many, Janna Maron). One of the greatest debts of gratitude I owe as I celebrate my book today is that which I owe to my students, who are also my friends and my first, and often best, readers. Without the writers who gather around my workshop table each week, I would not be the writer I am today, and I would not have produced this body of work. It is through your commitment to writing, my friends, and through your material, intellectual and spiritual support of writing in community that I, too, am able to write. Thank you for giving me the gift of a creative home.

And of course, there is my husband, whose beautiful photograph adorns the cover and whose patience, creative way of being and commitment are present in every line.

With deep gratitude, yours in writing,

Kate

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A Bouquet of Spring (and Summer) Local Writing Conferences 2015

Friends,

Spring is definitely in the air! The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing en masse around my baby Indio mandarinquat and Mexican lime trees and their buds, and the days are lengthening, filling me with energy to write! I hope you, too, are feeling the call of your own words.

There are so many wonderful opportunities to connect with other writers this spring. Here is a sampling of the best writing conferences in our area in the next few months. The first two are in April–so get your calendars ready! (I am pleased to be a featured speaker at the Sacramento Poetry Conference and I hope to see you there!)

Also: Though the conference is in October, the scholarship deadline for Writing by Writers Workshop @ Tomales Bay is May 1. The lineup of workshop leaders this year is insanely good–Dorothy Allison, Steve Almond, Mark Doty, Joy Harjo, Pam Houston and Lidia Yuknavitch…having worked to support Dorothy, Mark, Joy and Pam in the past (when UC Davis offered the conference at Tomales), I can tell you, these are amazing writers and generous-spirited people. I’d recommend applying for the workshop–and for a scholarship, if the price tag is tough for you.

Happy writing!

~Kate

 

Our Life Stories Conference ~ Saturday, April 18, 8:30-4:30

See the wonderful conference schedule and speaker bios here!
Saturday, April 12, 2014
8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Cosumnes River College
8401 Center Parkway, Sacramento, CA

Conference Fee – $35.00 (Includes morning refreshments, lunch, workshops, and materials)
Registration Deadline: April 3, 2014. Space is limited.
Late Registration Fees (After April 4): $40

**

Sacramento Poetry Center Annual Spring Conference ~ Saturday, April 25, 8:30 – 4:00

See the fabulous workshop leader lineup (including yours truly!) and the day’s schedule at sacramentopoetrycenter.org!

I am pleased to announce that I have been asked to present, and will be offering my Lectio Divina: Reading into Writing Workshop again! If you missed this opportunity in March, do join us! The drafts that come out of this process are fantastic. (Even if you did come in March, join me again–the readings will be different!)

Sacramento Poetry Center at 1719 25th Street
All events $40 (Includes access to all three sessions for talks AND all readings AND lunch)
Pay at the door or send check to: SPC 1719 25th Street Sacramento, CA 95816

**

Gold Rush Writers Conference ~ May 1-3

Come join the ninth annual Gold Rush Writers Conference, May 1, 2, & 3, at the historic Leger Hotel in picturesque Mokelumne Hill where writing professionals will guide you to a publishing bonanza through a series of panels, specialty talks, workshops and celebrity lectures. Go one-on-one with successful poets, novelists, biographers, memoirists and short story writers.
The conference includes a picnic supper in a Victorian garden Friday evening, as well sa Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch.

$160 (early) or $180. For schedule and speaker information, head to goldrushwriters.com.

**

SummerWords: The American River College Creative Writing Colloquium ~ May 28-31

$95 ~ View program presenter bios and schedule, and buy your tickets here!

Join American River College’s vibrant and accomplished creative writing faculty for three days and nights of workshops, panels, and readings featuring a keynote reading by nationally acclaimed poet Carolyn Forché.  Click the links at the left for more information or click below to purchase tickets. Sponsored by The Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation and the American River College Foundation.

**

Annual Conference on Creative Writing at University of the Pacific ~ May 29-31

An information packed three-day conference at the University of the Pacific’s beautiful main campus May 29-31, 2015. Details and registration here. Various pricing options available.

LITERARY AGENTS AND PUBLISHERS AVAILABLE FOR PITCH SESSIONS!

HELP WITH BOOK MANUSCRIPTS WILL BE AVAILABLE!

Interactive workshops and presentations will cover all aspects and genres of creative writing, from brainstorming techniques to submitting work for publication, writing creative nonfiction articles for publication to writing children’s books, murder mysteries, science fiction, and westerns.

**

Amherst Writers and Artists Festival of Writing ~ July 11

9:30am – 6:00pm
Pacific School of Religion
1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley

Register and view schedule and workshop leaders/offerings here.

Come write with other writers in a supportive environment. The all-day event will feature writing workshops, a reception, and a talk with Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) founder Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and With Others and How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice.

With the insight that “everyone is born with creative genius,” Schneider created the AWA method more than thirty years ago to provide a safe, encouraging environment for writing.

The Festival is open to all – no experience necessary. Morning and afternoon writing workshops will be led by experienced AWA method-trained workshop facilitators.

Take advantage of many nearby options during the lunch hour, or bring your own lunch and eat on the beautiful PSR campus.

A late afternoon reception with Pat Schneider will offer an opportunity for participants to meet and talk. The Festival will culminate in a keynote speech by Schneider in Pacific School of Religion’s Bade Museum.

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30/30 Project Final Roundup (with Poems and Gratitude!)

Hello Friends,

It’s hard to believe my running mates and I made it through this crazy poetry writing marathon! I want to give a last shout out to Carol Willette Bachofner, Mackenzie Carignan, Sarah A. Chavez, Ryder Collins, Clare Louise Harmon, Patty Joslyn, and Carlene Kucharczyk. These truly inspiring writers made it happen every day, and because I knew they’d be showing up, I showed up, too. Every day! For them, for me, and for you.  Read their full bios by clicking here.

Thank you to Lynne, Carrie, Helen, Cece, Connie, Amy, Ana, Rich, Kate, Cinamon, Lisa and Julie for joining me in the Desire as Purpose fundraiser workshop on 3/29! Your participation generated $240 for Tupelo Press! Thank you also to Shelley Blanton-Stroud, Susan Flynn, Kristen Lee, Doug Asche, Maggie Cullen and Carol Darlington for generously donating to Tupelo Press since the last roundup, on behalf of my month-long poetry writing “marathon”! And, thank you to the six people who registered for my private workshops in the month of March; on *your* behalf, I will be donating $120 to Tupelo!

Friends, with your generosity and help, we have to date raised over **$1000** for Tupelo Press–and I know a couple of donations are still working their way through accounting. THANK YOU, on behalf of Tupelo Press and poetry and my own writing practice, for your support of independent literary arts and artists!

I want to share with you a favorite poem from each of us on the March “running” team from the final days. You’ll find these below. Enjoy!

And, if reading this poetry moves you, THERE IS STILL TIME TO DONATE IN MY NAME! Head over to the 30/30 Project website to read all of our daily poems, our bios, and to *donate*! Want a gift in thanks for your donation? Check out my special 30/30 Project webpage and view what I have on offer, including the below one-of-a-kind gratitude poems and also the below limited edition broadsides–check out last week’s roundup to view samples of these!

Here’s to poetry!

Kate

**

Here is the final poem I wrote for the project, a found poem using lines from poems each of us wrote during the month. Enjoy!

KA30

**

Nest / by Carlene Kucharczyk

(composed of lines from 30/30 poems by Kate, Claire, Carol, Patty, Mackenzie, Ryder, Sarah, and me)

When we lived as birds,
I ate baby animals—

pink flaking flesh,
they were delicious.

We danced all winter,
swing and sway. I wanted

to know the silence
as ours alone, feel it entirely.

We’ll never have
that recipe again. But maybe

it’s not the empty pan,
this one bowl—

I am hardly ready
to be buried.

**

No Luxury / by Carol Willette Bachofner

Poetry is no luxury.
It is the insect bite
on the inner thigh
that swells and reddens
like fire and pulse.

Poetry is first sex,
hard member into soft
pushing away the pure
door to reveal a new home
furnished with big chairs.

Poetry comes hard
as childbirth, bloody
wet words gushing out,
falling to the mattress
and wailing for a breath.

Poetry is no luxury
at all. It must be hunted
down, dragged over the hearth
and eaten raw.

**

You think you know my secrets / by Ryder Collins

What secrets do you know besides angry mu shu? Besides the relatives to avoid and the relatives to suck up to? The ones that have condos and timeshares we could use before the babies pop? Do you know the secret words or the secret flowers to blend with secret herbs to give me as tea so that I birth all daughters? Do you know my regrets? I can list them for you: I regret OkCupid, I regret my ex, I regret being mean to the one man who rode me up a hill on the back of his bicycle, I regret sleeping with his slut friend. You probably know all this. I miss my pit bull; I regret putting her down. She was a fighter more than me even. She had cancer all over and used her leg tumor as a headrest. You want to be my headrest. You want to be my tumor even. You want to be inside me, but, tallman, you are too tall. Your bicycle’s too short for your legs, and you never ever offered me a lift up a hill over a bridge after midnight. You never kissed me on that hill. I never said I would call you. I called him, though. Over and over & over that hill that bridge that moonlight those kisses I called.

**

MC27

**

I Still See You In My Dreams / by Sarah A. Chavez

You wouldn’t remember this,
but the night you knocked
on the front door of my mom’s place,
just half past midnight: Docs muddy,
pants stained, a crumpled paper
grocery sack carrying the shreds
of shirt left after they cut it
off your chest in ER, (a souvenir
you said) I washed your hair
in the kitchen sink.

And because you don’t remember this,
you won’t remember how we tipped
the chair against the edge of counter top,
propped with an old edition
of the Webster’s dictionary shoved
under the front legs – fitting
considering the ways words
had always carried us.

And because you don’t remember that,
you won’t remember you closed
your eyes, while I ran the water
until it was warm, used a cup
to wet your hair, just the way
my mom used to when I was a kid,
placing my hand at your hairline,
making sure to shield your eyes.

The shampoo smelled of lilacs,
the scent intensifying while steadying
your head with my fingers, my thumbs
rubbed circles over your scalp. Foam
building suds dripped down
my wrists, skated through your hair.
You kept your hands folded
in your lap until I pressed
closer to the counter to turn back on
the water, fill the cup once more.

I wish you remembered this:
as I leaned in to rinse
the remaining lather, your eyes
still closed you unfolded your hands,
wrapped palms to my hips, pulled me
down onto your lap, the weight of both
our bodies balanced precariously
on those two shuddering legs.
You never opened your eyes.
Just rested your cheek
against my breast. Silent.

And that is how we stay
forever in my memory.

**

CLH27

**

the Eve of my Larry’s Birth Day / by Patty Joslyn

Later, I will tell you about the things
that keep me here
it’s a long list
no order
names
places
smells
moments
and life times.

Tiny things like sesame seeds.
Big ones like you.

A bowl of polished abalone
shines in the sun
I remember there is nothing
I really need
except your hand in mine.

 

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30/30 Project Week 3 Roundup (With Poems!) & There’s a Space for You in this Sunday’s $20 Fundraiser Workshop!

Hello Friends,

It’s hard to believe my running mates and I are already in the final stretch of our month-long, daily-poem-writing marathon!

Thank you to Julie Woodside for generously donating this week to Tupelo Press on behalf of my month-long poetry writing “marathon”! Julie kept the energy going and donated since the last round-up.

I want to share with you a favorite poem from each of us on the March “running” team this week. You’ll find these below. Enjoy!

Want to support Tupelo Press and Kate’s “run” while boosting your own writing practice? Join Kate *THIS* Sunday, March 29, for a $20 one-day fundraiser workshop! DESIRE AS PURPOSE: A CHARACTER-BUILDING WORKSHOP (all genres) is offered in partnership with Shut Up & Write! – Sacramento. Join the event at the SU&W!-Sac Meetup Group or email Kate directly at asche (dot) kate (at) gmail (dot) com. Space is limited and as of this posting, half the spots are filled. Full description is also on Kate’s 30/30 Project webpage.

And, if reading this poetry moves you, head over to the 30/30 Project website to read all of our daily poems, our bios, and to *donate*! Want a gift in thanks for your donation? Check out my special 30/30 Project webpage and view what I have on offer, including the below one-of-a-kind gratitude poems and also the below limited edition broadsides–check out last week’s roundup to view samples of these!

Here’s to poetry!

Kate

**

KA21

**

RC20

**

CLH21

**

Dear Carole, I Wait To Stop Feeling Hungry / by Sarah A. Chavez

You once said eating with me
made you nervous:
I can see you counting calories
when you dish out food.
But what you really saw
was my mental resistance not to count,
not to see exactly where that food
would end up when I didn’t exercise.
It has been exhausting trying
to undo what had been done
for so many years and all
I wanted was to get to the point
where I could just say,
Fuck it and eat.

My mother counted calories,
constantly cycled through new diets,
pinched the fat of her belly,
refusing to look in the mirror.
She drank nothing but chocolate powder
and ice for months, then made nothing
but dry tuna patties and tomato slices.
The tuna water squeezed from the slit
in the broken seal, the pink flesh
plopped on a plate. Her hands soft & facile
making little mounds and placing them
on the dry nonstick frying pan,
my job to smash with a spatula
and turn over.

Our real diet was inconsistency.
It was who knows what will come today –
Pepsi and candy for breakfast, no more
than one cookie after lunch,
boxed Mac n’ Cheese, Hamburger Helper,
canned green beans,
these in any combination for dinner.

And I find myself here again
keeping track, except this time
it’s not about calories or pounds,
it’s about the consistency
of desire – the desire to stop desiring
all the time. It is distracting.
I sit down to write and every line
is an item from my pantry,
what food might be in walking distance:
peanuts, candy corn, Wheat Thins,
apples, Dove chocolates,
kale chips, left over pizza.

Each new tried food is logged
and cataloged, to determine
which will sustain me the longest,
make my stomach cease its endless
desire to be filled:
Plain bagel with peanut butter – 7:45 a.m.,
Hungry again at 9.
Egg and cheese on English muffin – 8:15 a.m.
Hungry again at 10:45.
Black coffee with each, thirsty again
after each mug drains.

**

CK22

 

**

Here lies / by Carol Willette Bachofner

Ezra, man of distinction in his day.
Here he is with his wife, Amelia
together forever under this stand
of birch, he on the left, she on the right
as they lay in their four-poster
fifty years. Are they happy now
that no plowing needs doing, no dishes
to wash by hand in cold water? Children
three plots east and west of them,
all but four never saw sunlight, gone
too quick for names. Here’s Junior
dead at 22 in the war, Eliza his twin
of heartbreak a month after him. Maryann
gone to influenza at 18 months, pretty red hair
damp against her pale face as she coughed
her last, Mama, Papa. Jacob at 15, drowned
in the pond out back of the house. You
told him not to dive. No one knows
the solitary meals you shared, holding
on to each other for fear of going crazy.
Here you both lie, sorrows like ghosts
over this place. Here you are. Hello.

**

MC22

**

enough / by Patty Joslyn

How much is enough?

Ten gallons
five hundred
half a stick of butter
two cups of sugar

the smell of your buttons stored in a tin box?

How much does wind weigh
your last breath
my thoughts of missing you?

Never enough.

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30/30 Project Week 2 Roundup (with Poems!)

Hello Friends,

This round up is coming a smidge late, due to some logistical factors outside of my control. But that doesn’t mean the poems won’t be delicious!

Thank you to Jennifer Basye Sander, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Barb Barnes, Dawn (and Carly) Wessale, Ellen Johnson, Pat Nichol and Raquel Ruiz for generously donating to Tupelo Press on behalf of my month-long poetry writing “marathon”! These are the folks who have donated since the last round-up.

I want to share with you a favorite poem from each of us on the March “running” team this week. Enjoy!

And, if reading this poetry moves you, head over to the 30/30 Project website to read all of our daily poems, our bios, and to *donate*! Want a gift in thanks for your donation? Check out my special 30/30 project webpage and view what I have on offer, including the below one-of-a-kind gratitude poems and also the below limited edition broadsides !

Here’s to poetry!

Kate

**

One-of-a-kind Gratitude Poems~Kate’s gift to donors!

Would you like to receive, or to commission for a loved one, a new poem, written especially for you? Inquire to Kate directly at asche(dot)kate(at)gmail(dot)com to get the ball rolling for this donor gift! Here’s a sample:

Hands / by Kate Asche

(a poem in gratitude to Kathy, who supports Tupelo Press)

her hands work the dirt behind the house
into it her hands travel tomato seeds & squash
seeds for basil & Italian parsley
her hands mound soil neatly & carry water
her hands pull weeds, tender ones & cutting ones
her hands move in the chaos of shadows
her fingers twist & grasp red worlds, striped green worlds
galaxies of flowering thyme
she tastes what her hands have given her
she feels the tickle of juice on her lip
in its mineral sweetness: the flavor of her own blood
someday, too, her bones

 

Limited Edition Broadsides~Kate’s gift to donors!

Choose from these three designs! These low-res previews, for web viewing only, don’t show the lusciousness of these limited edition prints, produced using archival inks on sustainably manufactured bamboo fiber papers. Additional poems and/or alternate designs are available. Inquire to Kate directly at asche(dot)kate(at)gmail(dot)com!

Kate broadside draft 2 72dpi Kate broadside Smallest Room final 72dpi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**

Now, for my favorite selections from this week’s poems! Enjoy~

KA14

**

these little girls smash / by Ryder Collins

these little girls say, we know a way to tell if you have cancer
these little girls say, hold your hand in front of your face
these little girls say, your fate is marshmallows; your fate is chubby bunny
these little girls say, we get you, Gothel

these little girls climb into my hair

& when i go to sleep, bits of me fall off
small bits like skin cells & eyelashes, corneas & nosehairs
thumbs & pinky fingers

when i wake up
sometimes
i cannot button my buttons
i see double sometimes
sometimes my ear is pointed
sometimes my knees are janky creaking
like someone stole my ligaments or stretched them across the ceiling

& this little girl says, do you know you’re in a fairy tale

my hands are rampions; my tongue’s a rose thorn

this little girl says, look

this little girl holds her hand to my face

this little girl says, look again

 

**

 

Leaving Ken / by Patty Joslyn

Does anyone remember burning
their Barbie doll’s hair for the kink
it created

While Ken Carson lounged about
in his Bermuda shorts
skin tan and unblemished
all the while eyeballing the younger sister
Skipper innocently watching every move
the two of them made until Jazzie the cousin
arrived on the scene
a pink sports car
a palace of her own

I sawed off the heels of Barbie’s
shoes with a metal nail file (ruining it in the process)
allowing her to run
not walk into the arms of another
leaving Ken so he no longer have to worry
about messing up his hair or getting his white slacks dirty

The problems with me and Barbie
were plentiful and fanciful
and being her hair never did grow back
I gave her to my younger sister
who used the hard plastic body
to hit me on the head more than once
until our mother said enough that’s the end of that
as she took Barbie out with the other trash

That night I slept with a hairless Midge
hidden under my down pillow
and fell asleep with a smirk on my face

**

 

Dear Carole, Today I learned / by Sarah A. Chavez

that like humans, birds have
four-chambered hearts.
Can you imagine? In those tiny,
frail-boned bodies with feathers that float
right off in a healthy breeze.

That’s me as a bird, you’d said
one day on our drive home
from Food Maxx when I almost hit
a fat, slow, low-flying pigeon that ignored
the two thousand pounds of sun-hot, black metal
careening across the parking lot
as it focused in on a shiny
bag of Ruffles.

Stupid bird, I’d said. Get the fuck
outta the way before I hit you.

You’d hit me if I was a bird, you said.

You’re not a bird, I said, adjusting
the rearview mirror, checking
the bags in the back hadn’t tipped.

But if I was? you pushed. I’m fat and slow
and you’d just hit the fucking gas
and my fat bird body would splat
across your windshield. Dead.

Your fat bird body would probably
crack the windshield, I said, looking
right and left to merge
into Shaw Ave.’s midday traffic.
At least your bird death
cost me two hundred dollars.

You didn’t laugh.

Look it’s just Darwinism.
The slow get hit. But the smart?
They don’t. So what,
if you’re a fat, slow bird? You are
also a smart bird
who’d reason out waiting
till the death machine passed.
That’s when – when the only thing moving
across the parking lot is a dry wind
meandering through the Valley –
you’d tottle that round bird body
on its toothpick pegs
over to that shiny chip bag.
As a bird, you would have had it all.

**

 

Ode to Shoulders / by Carlene Kucharczyk

I love them. Two tall tents
side by side. A fire in between
and a little north. The fire
is your mouth. It burns,
it smolders, I kiss you,
pour water on it. It is easy
to love a man from the back,
the shoulders representative
of the body. My own, thin,
even when I am not (praise).
Not so obviously sexual
as the cunt, the cock.
Leading the body or held
back in repose. Shoulders,
lend me your grace, let you
stand for the whole.

**

 

CLH11

**

 

MC15

**

Ghost / by Carol Willette Bachofner

1. inhabits my house like wallpaper, just underneath the new paint   2. no chain-dragger, she is elegant on the back stairs, holding her daughter’s hand for fear she may trip, make unnecessary noise to disturb us   3. she waits in the window of the front parlor, worries still about her husband, lost at sea  4. is this how it works, ghosts unable to find each other?  5. she wears black on holidays, her daughter too, though there is that red ribbon in her hair always  6. she warms to my smile, knows I am not afraid, knows I welcome them here  7. as if I had the right to decide who comes and goes 8. Last night she seemed unusually sad, crossing the room from the hallway with a slower step, a pinched look on her face  9. I decide to reach out to her, take her foggy arm to steady her gait  10. she fades at my touch and is gone until just before dawn 11. when I wake to a certain presence near my bed  12. it is her daughter who stirs me with a sigh  13. mother standing behind with a look that says to me   14. it’s fine that you are here in my house.

 

 

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30/30 Project Week 1 Roundup (with Poems!)

Hello Friends,

It’s been a manic week of poetry writing over here in my world! Thank you to Kathy Les and R.J. McComish & Peter Brown for breaking the ice and being the first to donate to Tupelo Press on behalf of my month-long poetry writing “marathon”!

I want to share with you a favorite poem from each of us on the March “running” team this week. Enjoy!

And, if reading this poetry moves you, head over to the 30/30 Project website to read all of our daily poems, our bios, and to *donate*! Want a gift in thanks for your donation? Check out my special 30/30 project webpage and view what I have on offer.

Here’s to poetry!

Kate

 

**

KA1

 

**

I Knew it Would Be Back / by Patty Joslyn

the feather I found
while walking
alongside the crashing ocean
was as black as my mood

I held it close to my face to remind me
of things familiar and lost

my own darkness complete
as was the feather

I slipped the silken barb into my trouser pocket
then turned to scare off the lone vulture
who turned its beaked face sideways to stare at me
I knew it would be back
for the eyes of the gray-white-gray gull

who can resist this shine

the caaaawww
woke me to the sound coming from my own throat
the ragged grief that had escaped

I knew the feather wasn’t mine to keep

my empty pocket
was what I’d be carrying home

 

**

 

At the End, a glosa variation / by Carol Willette Bachofner

— for Robin Williams, with 4 lines from Whitman

It’s hard to know who’s watching
so I stay in character until the weight
of the mask starts killing me, sucking my marrow.
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me.

I watch the others, the hawks in the audience
or on the streets, where brass stars
in the sidewalk make false promises about us
He complains of my gab and my loitering,

this one hawk, the one with poison
on his beak. He swoops to peck
at my neck, but today I manage to hide.
I too am untamed, I too am untranslatable

I tell him. We are alike, we are dark
and prone to loneliness, have pierced
hearts, exist on our own carrion. I sound
my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.

But he persists, circling day after day, waiting
just waiting for me to relax, to let go
a little. His yellow eye sees everything I am.
His blood-tipped beak opens and closes for me.

 

**

 

Miscarriage, December 2001 / by Sarah A. Chavez

The wind penetrates,
grips my ovaries,
purls the animal tissue
around in its spiny fingers
until dry,
they crumble
like winter husks
in the hands
of young boys.
I know
when I open
my legs,
only flecks
of frail bark will scatter
to the earth.

 

**

 

CLH5

**

 

I Could Go On Singing / by Carlene Kucharczyk

The dogs with wavering eyes
walk through the mud and past
the tamaracks. What song will be sung
tonight by all of us here on earth
in one surprising chorus—soft
or biting—voices all in lift?

The sound. It is enough to ruin.
Earth with only its songs. Tough.
Important. Sharp and cool. Left
with only night and wanting
to stay open. It is late, there is
no time for talking. Nothing to hear

but cruel music. We have known:
nothing stays open. The frogs
go on chirping. The swings go creaking.
The clouds swim past and give a hiss.
A wolf howls and you think:
I could go on, I could go on singing.

 

**

 

in the basement pipes tube the floors/in the basement no one knows / by Ryder Collins

the sex that becomes the cigarettes that becomes Bette Davis that becomes Now Voyager that becomes now voyeur

your spectacle looks like a hat

your spectator becomes you miss

your big hat mint julep spectacle-spectator kentuckies you & there were never supposed to be horses & there are no pearls to clutch

the mens are watching. the mens subdued. the mens form a basement. the mens imperiled. the wolves they gone. in the woods. the mens are alone & the little girls have hoods. the little girls have baskets

the baskets hide things from basements. pokey things. like mangled wire hangers, curtain rods, pick axes, barbed wire

this park you take them to is like woods bereft of wolves. again. the wolves are gone. these men
stagger; these men chloroform. it is in them to gas mask;
it is always in them to laughing gas

& then pull teeth.

 

**

 

welter / by Mackenzie Carignan

for Violet

she will have been
the multitude
scroll of fractal cloud, wisp
the lift
tossed from glitter-skin folds
the place
to the softest cusp of arms
the reconciliation
how we couldn’t go there anymore
the smallest explosions imaginable
slate blue like the corners of ocean
the curve
alive and strings and bare and open
the scrutiny
she is the slightest form of day
the cleanest version of immersion
she will fall into you
the sphere
the storm
the space you didn’t know you had between your thoughts

 

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