Writing Goal Week #14

While I still have not written any poems along the Blossombones’ theme of Marked. I have been keeping up with the Poem-A-Day Challenge on Poetic Asides in my tribute to National Poetry Month. I’ve even posted the rough drafts on the blog for you to read, Poem #1, Poem #2, Poem #3, and Poem #4.

Writing Goal Week #14

So to continue this week, I will strive to keep on track with each new prompt from the Poem-A-Day Challenge on Poetic Asides. Feel like joining in, please do so. It’s fun to get those poetic muscles moving, even if you don’t write poetry normally. Think of it as a way to improve your blog writing and your critical thinking skills.

Happy National Poetry Month.

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Poem #4, PAD Challenge 2009

Day 4, I’m on a roll. Here’s the prompt from today. You must choose an animal and write a poem about that animal or something to do with that animal. Another rough draft:


Smooth, sharp tusk
makes my lisp more pronounced.
It’s harder to enunciate with a mouthful.
But my family and friends don’t mind
we get along well, travel and see the sights
when we can muster the strength
to drag ourselves across sheets of ice
with flippered feet and rolls of fat.
Don’t feel sad for me
I don’t need Jenny Craig
and I don’t need that thermal suit of yours.
I’ve got my own.
Besides have you seen me dance
below the ice, in the cold ocean, I’ve got
silky samba moves.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Poem #3, PAD Challenge 2009

Day 3 of the PAD Challenge and here’s Yesterday’s Prompt. The challenge is to fill in the blank of this title “The Problem With BLANK” and to make that the title of the poem. Ready to see my rough draft? Here it is:

The Problem With Blogging

To blog or not to blog?
That is a question.
I’ve heard the alarm,
buzzing in my ear all morning.
First a shower,
then get some clothes on
and head out the door for the 9-to-5

Here I sit,
hair sticking up and snarled,
fingers planted on cold keys.
Pjs wrinkled and damp with sweat.
The sun coming up behind me,
a shower forgotten.

Grammar and spelling checked,
images positioned where I want them,
an entry waiting to be published.
Just hit that orange button and
we can get on with the day
of checking comments and replying.

Stay tuned later today for the 4th poem. I’m a day behind. What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Bookish Meme

I snagged this from The Boston Bibliophile and The Bookkitten:

1. Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
I also prefer trade paperbacks because I don’t have to squint or necessarily wear my reading glasses. Sometimes its just not convenient to pull out those reading glasses on the Metro.

2. Barnes & Noble or Borders?
The B&Ns here are not that great around me, though I do like the one in Bethesda, Md., but I prefer my Borders because of the staff and the selection of books, music, and magazines. The staff is always helpful and courteous.

3. Bookmark or dog-ear?
I use a bookmark most of the time and post-it flags…I usually only dog-ear pages when I run out of post-it flags, which is a compliment to the book.

4. Amazon or brick and mortar?
Brick and mortar stores, though Amazon has its purposes, especially when I want something that is hard to find around here at a good price.

5. Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
Right now, its random because I don’t have enough shelf space. When I get my new bookcases, which have to be custom made, I will probably group by genre.

6. Keep, throw away, or sell?
I keep a majority of the books I have, though I will giveaway some on my blog as a way to pass along some great books or books that didn’t work for me, but would work for someone else. I never throw away books…I have donated some to the library system, though.

7. Keep dust jacket or toss it?
I love dust jackets.

8. Read with dust jacket or remove it?
I sometimes use the flaps as bookmarks, but I generally don’t read them until I finish the book.

9. Short story or novel?
Mostly novels, but I love short stories when they are written well.

10. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

11. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I prefer to stop when I reach a chapter break, but I won’t force myself to get there if my eyes will not stay open.

12. “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
“It was a dark and stormy night.” is perfectly ominous…foreshadowing conflict, which I need for a novel to work for me.

13. Buy or borrow?
I do a combination of both…I borrow audiobooks from the library more than books, which I get from the store and other places.

14. New or used?
I don’t discriminate when it comes to books.

15. Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?
Book reviews from bloggers, not official reviews. Recommendations and browsing are a close second.

16. Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Both, but the resolution has to fit the plot.

17. Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
M-F its afternoon through evening reading, Saturdays I prefer to read in the morning and afternoon, and Sunday its all day reading.

18. Stand-alone or series?
Again, I don’t discriminate, but the series has to be good and continue to be so to hold my attention.

19. Favorite series?
Nancy Drew or Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles

20. Favorite children’s book?
Cat in the Hat or Where the Sidewalk Never Ends

21. Favorite YA book?
Nancy Drew The Kachina Doll Mystery

22. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux or Tuxedo Park, though I can’t remember the author right now.

23. Favorite books read last year?
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Black Flies, Testimony, The Road, Mr. Thundermug, Pemberley by the Sea, Gods Behaving Badly, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, Cold Rock River, and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

24. Favorite books of all time?
The Road, Phantom of the Opera, The Vampire Lestat, Hamlet, Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights

25. What are you reading right now?
An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell and Mainline to the Heart by Clive Matson

26. What are you reading next?
The Traitor’s Wife by Susan Higginbotham

27. Favorite book to recommend to an eleven-year-old?
Nancy Drew Series

28. Favorite book to reread?
Pride & Prejudice

29. Do you ever smell books?
I do occasionally.

30. Do you ever read Primary source documents?
Sometimes. It really depends on my mood.

Naughty Neighbor by Janet Evanovich

Another audiobook by Janet Evanovich, but this one is not in the Stephanie Plum series or the Between-the-Numbers series. Naughty Neighbor is one of Evanovich’s earlier books, which have been dubbed “red-hot comedies.”

Louisa Brannigan is a nose-to-the-grindstone press secretary for an up-and-coming senator, Nolan Bishop. Louisa and her neighbor, Pete Streeter, are at odds, particularly since he callously snags her morning paper and receives phone calls at all hours. Streeter is a Hollywood screenwriter who has raised some eyebrows in the political arena and men are out to destroy his car and teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget. However, this web grows and soon Louisa becomes embroiled in Streeter’s intrigue to find a missing pig.

Readers understand that the tension between these two attractive people will eventually lead to the bedroom, but what they won’t predict is the internal struggles both of these characters have with committing to a relationship. Some of my favorite points in the book are when Louisa is arguing with herself about her feelings for Streeter. At one point, she swears she has succumbed to “romantic dementia.” Louisa is uptight and careful, while Streeter is relaxed and a risk taker. When these two get together, tension bursts into flames.

Another light read for pure entertainment value. I’d recommend this to those reading romance novels, but are interested in a more modern day tale with a touch of humor.

Stay Tuned for the ***Jill Mansell tour on April 6 and 7th***

Poem #2, PAD Challenge 2009

OK, here it is. Today’s prompt was to write an outsider poem, whether its the narrator, an inanimate object, or someone else as the outsider. This is my rough draft:


Cuddled on the recliner,
two halves of the coin–
Black on black
with white paws barely touching.
What’s it like
to be a feline sister.
Ready to curl up, bookends.
Strike and swipe claws in skin
at a pin drop.
Chunk of fur flies.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Interview With Poet Dan Albergotti

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale

by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

“Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale” by Dan Albergotti from The Boatloads.© BOA Editions, Ltd., 2008.

I’ve been working on a interview project with Deborah at 32 Poems magazine, and she kindly allowed me to interview past contributors to the magazine. We will be posting the interviews throughout the coming months, and our eighth interview posted on Deborah’s Poetry Blog of 32 Poems on March 31. I’m going to provide you with a snippet from the interview, but if you want to read the entire interview, I’ll provide you a link for that as well. For now, let me introduce to you 32 Poems contributor, Dan Albergotti :

1. Not only are you a contributor to 32 Poems, you are a professor of English at Coastal Carolina University and have a full-length collection of poems published called The Boatloads. You also have an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Literature. Do you think poets have an easier time getting published with higher credentials? Why or Why not? Also of your “hats,” which do you find most difficult to wear and why?

Over the years, I’ve occasionally heard this suspicion that having a good cover letter can get you “in” at magazines and presses. I just don’t buy it. Only the work matters to editors. And if a lot of people being published have degrees in creative writing, isn’t there a rival hypothesis to the idea that the degree “got them in”? Doesn’t it make sense that someone who committed two-to-four years of his of her life to study writing at a post-graduate level might just have developed abilities to the point that he or she is writing poems worthy of being published?

I do wear a lot of hats, and it’s difficult in the sense that it stretches my economy of time very thin. But I’m lucky in that every hat I wear–as writer, teacher, editor–is wonderful, so it’s hard to apply the word “difficult” to any of it. I’m blessed, really.

2. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

This will be my “J” response: Joy Division, Jack Gilbert, John Keats, Joss Whedon, Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel). I might be obsessed with the tenth letter of the alphabet.

3. When writing poetry, prose, essays, and other works do you listen to music, do you have a particular playlist for each genre you work in or does the playlist stay the same? What are the top 5 songs on that playlist? If you don’t listen to music while writing, do you have any other routines or habits?

I don’t really have any routines or playlists, but I love your question, and since you opened the door with your invitation of a “top five,” I will seize the opportunity to list my five favorite albums of all time, if for no other reason than to promote them to other people:

The Clash, London Calling

Radiohead, OK Computer

R.E.M., Murmur

Joy Division, Closer

Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane over the Sea

While these aren’t necessarily playing when I’m writing, they are all albums that I find inspiring. I remember that great moment at the 2008 Oscars when Glen Hansard, at the end of his acceptance speech for best original song, exhorted the millions watching to “Make art, make art, make art!” When I listen to these five albums, I want to make art in any way I can. And that’s always a good feeling.

4. What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?

Lately I’ve been writing in form a good bit, which is something I haven’t done in a while (all the poems in The Boatloads are free verse). But I’ve been writing new free verse poems as well. I have a very general idea of the shape that my second full-length manuscript will take based on the kinds of poems I’ve been writing. I don’t have a systematic project to fill a collection, and I tend to avoid such thoughts of larger structures when writing poems. So I’m afraid I have little more detail to provide than “I’m writing poems.”

About the Poet:

Dan Albergotti is the author of The Boatloads (BOA Editions, 2008), selected by Edward Hirsch as the winner of the 2007 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals. In 2008, his poem “What They’re Doing” was selected for Pushcart Prize XXXIII: Best of the Small Presses. A graduate of the MFA program at UNC Greensboro and former poetry editor of The Greensboro Review, Albergotti currently teaches creative writing and literature courses and edits the online journal Waccamaw at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.

Want to find out what Dan’s writing space looks like? Find out what he’s working on now, his obsessions, and much more. Check out the rest of my interview with Dan here. Please feel free to comment on the 32 Poems blog and Savvy Verse & Wit.

Also, check out this interview with Dan on How a Poem Happens.

Poem #1, PAD Challenge 2009

OK, here it is. Today’s prompt was to write about an origin, whether its the origin of a word, an idea, a place, or anything. This is my rough draft:


Swirls in the primordial soup
Scooped up by my metal spoon
Wrap around the handle
Climb up my fingers
Bore into my skin
Entwine my joints.

Calcified bone
Beneath gathered skin
Weathered like brown leather.

It started lucid
Like a sober man entering the bar after work,
But as the years passed,
Flexibility stretched to capacity
An elastic band that no longer holds,
But folds in on itself.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Poem-A-Day Challenge & Question

Ok, I’ve already warned you that this is the start of National Poetry Month! So Today is the day to decide whether you are crazy enough to join me in the Poem-A-Day challenge.

For a complete list of rules, go here to Poetic Asides.

Here’s the basics:

It runs from April 1 to April 30.

If you are interested in the eBook portion of the challenge, you must post your poems under the correct prompts at Poetic Asides, though poems can be written on days before or after the prompt day.

If you just want to complete the challenge, you must post a poem in the comments at Poetic Asides on the correct prompt for all 30 days to receive the “certificate and badge” for proud display on your blog, etc.

There is no special registration or fee for this challenge, though I’d love it if a bunch of you left your willingness to participate statement in my comments.

Also if you are interested in writing poems over a 30-day period for the month, you can check out NaPoWriMo.

Need some help with poetry writing, there is a great sale going on at Writer’s Digest for all the poetry writing books they have. 20% off. Check it out, here.


On a side note, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

Do any of you bloggers read poetry books and review them?

How often do you review them?

Or do you want to review poetry collections?

I’ve been thinking about making a list and posting it somewhere on this blog to collect the site names and contact information of bloggers interested in reviewing poetry books.

If you want to be on this list, please email me your URL, name, and preferred contact information.

Reading With Jehanne Dubrow & Richard Blanco

On March 29, I had the opportunity to take in some contemporary poetry from two exceptional poets, Jehanne Dubrow and Richard Blanco, at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md. Part of the draw for me was to put a face, poetry, and personality of Jehanne Dubrow to the emails we exchanged as part of her 32 Poems Blog interview.

Sunil Freeman, The Writer’s Center’s Assistant Director, introduced the poet, and shed light on Jehanne Dubrow’s well-traveled life and her studies regarding the Holocaust.

Jehanne Dubrow read first and read from her latest book, The Hardship Point, which I picked up at the reading and Jehanne graciously signed for me.

The first section of The Hardship Point explains her personal myth, a retelling of what it means to be Jewish. The poems read from this section included “The Diplomat’s Daughter,” “In Vincenza,” and “Bargaining With the Wolf.” (I assume if I get the titles wrong, someone will tell me–LOL) “The Diplomat’s Daughter” goes over the good and bad of being a diplomat brat as Jehanne calls it. “In Vincenza” described a feeling of homelessness and always feeling like a visitor. “Bargaining with the Wolf” revisits childhood fears.

The second portion of the book examines Poland from a post-Holocaust point of view. Jehanne discussed how she is obsessed with sonnets, and some of them are in a Hackeresque style. “Isaac’s Synagogue” provides readers with a different view of Auschwitz as an adult compared to her childhood view of the infamous location. The most poignant of the poems in this section for me was “Souvenier,” which describes these figurines sold in Poland and how they depict the worst stereotypes of Jews, like weighing gold on a scale.

The final portion of her book deals with reconciling her views of Poland, and she attempted to write about her time in Nebraska, only to discover the poem was actually about Poland.

Finally, she read some of her latest poems from her forthcoming third book, Stateside, which examines what it means to be a military wife. Some of these poems have the best titles: “Nonessential Equipment,” “Against War Movies,” “Swimtest,” and “Navy Housing.”

Richard Blanco, who for a long time denied his Cuban heritage, renaming himself Richard, discussed his poems and his efforts to reconcile the ethnic disconnect he felt between his heritage and his American life. Sprinkled with humor throughout his explanations of each poem, audience members surely could see the nuggets of truth behind his quips about that struggle. Blanco is well published and some of his work appears in the Bread Loaf Anthology. He read from his first book, City of One Hundred Fires, and described himself as a reluctant Cuban. I picked up this book at the reading as well, and had Blanco sign it for me.

The first poem he read talked about his need to change his name to Richard, and one of my favorite lines was about how he wanted to wear a pinky ring like Richard Dawson and become all-American. “Mango 61” explored the Cuban equivalent to numerology, while “Mother Picking Produce” highlighted his epiphany as a youngster that his mother was human and made mistakes, but did the best she could.

I only have one word to describe “Shaving”: WOW. A fantastic poem from a son to a father. “Havanasis” is an interesting retelling of the creation story in Genesis where God creates Cuba out of chaos and the conga beat begins in the background.

The next book Blanco read from begins with a variety of travel poems and narrators looking for home. Other poems in this book examine the links between memories and places. His poems provide a great look at the struggles of immigrants entering the United States and reconciling their cultural heritage with their new culture.

I wish I had “live” pictures to show you of Jehanne Dubrow and Richard Blanco reading, but the battery on the camera died and it just didn’t happen. My hubby did get the nifty shot of the podium and of Sunil Freeman introducing Jehanne, but none of the poets reading.

The hubby did get a chance to take one shot with my camera phone of the old typewriters in the room, so I thought I would share that with you as well.