Day Two…morning and an essay by Elizabeth Dodd

I found coffee this morning, and discovered much to my pleasure, that Ashland is a very “run-able” little city.

Breakfast for me was the consumption of this essay by Elizabeth Dodd.

I am focusing in my solitude on methods to slow down my writing process, to improve within my writing routine, the savory flavor of letting ideas ruminate and cure before spilling them on the page. I need to become a distance runner as a poet instead of a sprinter.

How to slow my mind down? How to wait for the great poem, instead of settling for the onslaught of fast ideas?

Working on a mini-presentation for tomorrow’s workshop on the tense and time travel through light in the poetry of Mark Strand.



Maya, Maya, and more Maya…Please!

Here is a link to an interview with Maya Angelou. I am always struck by the humility of her writing and her answers to interview questions. Maya quintessentially demonstrates the quiet, steely strength in humility.

I learned in this interview that Ms. Angelou writes from a hotel room. There’s an idea! I need to move to a city with a Hyatt. The hotel rooms in my little town are less luxurious and probably less clean than my house after the teenager has had a Funyon party with five of his stinkiest friends.

Quietness. Humility. Don’t force words. Don’t strangle truth. Don’t forget who you are and that to love is a greater thing than to write about love. I think that is what Maya’s poetry exudes in lesson-form. The rest is just beautiful.



The writer is first and foremost in relationship, just not with many of the current surrounding preoccupations. Sometimes relationships suffer because of this. The writer spends all morning in pajamas with unkept hair contemplating Thomas Merton as the “popular” crowd bounces by in the latest Athleta jogging pants on their way to some popular place. They are talking about dog parks and how Heaven is real. It’s impossible to keep up with buzz words and passing fancies and drive-through profoundness.

This sounds like snobbery. Oh it isn’t! I love Athleta and I have a closet full of yoga pants. After I write this post, I will head upstairs put on said jogging pants and do my hair so I can go out in public for a few hours of shopping or lunching or exercising. But the truth is, these last few months have been among the most clear in my life in terms of My Writing Life, and one truth which has pressed upon me and saddened me is that attaining my writing goals means I have to give up some of my relationships.

In the garden of my life, in order to keep the prize plants blooming best, I have to weed out the less integral seedlings. This is not a value judgement, just a reality. If a friendship drains me, I have to cut it. If I have invested many hours attending Bible studies and circles and committees and I have not seen relationships bloom, perhaps that is because I am not supposed to be there in the first place.

No more time for friends who don’t ever say anything intelligent or interesting to me even if it is because they doubt my intelligence while grossly misjudging their own. My guess is this happens to poets alot, and I include this post to make us all, as poets and writers, feel more “normal” about social mazes and ladders we cannot climb if we want to stay true to ourselves.

I don’t choose to forego the climb because I don’t know about Athleta. Or because I am not pretty. I am. Or because I can’t speed-read Francis Chan.

The diet of the writer must be carefully selected. The environment must be pared -down, immaculately constructed, and deliberately set. My relationships right now offer me much less noise, but much more beautiful sound. Keeping busy is treading water. This is flying.


New Submissions

Yesterday, I endured the tedium of going through the collection of poems on my hard drive (for many of these poems the DELETE button would be a mercy-killing but I can’t help but hope for them). I selected four poems to submit to a new online literary journal which is affiliated with my former graduate school.

Speaking of graduate school….today I am going to click the appropriate boxes and accept an offer from Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, to enter the MFA Poetry program this summer.

I look forward to connecting with other poets at the two-week residency and to working toward the goal of a masters degree. Most of all, I look forward to growth and improvement as a writer.

No man is an island. John Donne was right. No writer is an island either. To publish a manuscript of poems will require hours each day of solitude, but let’s face it, when we writers are with our non-writer friends, we are always reaching out to them from our islands, our writer-worlds. We need a community of other writers, other “weirdo’s,” to affirm that we are indeed doing what we are supposed to do with our time and our lives.

Besides, revision not  only loves company, it must have company, a community to tell us our word-choice is suspect, our crafting of the poetic line is mish-mash, our concept is limping along on too many crutches.

Let the critiques begin!