Jun 20 2013

My New Chapbook, Before the Snow Moon

(If you'd like to buy a copy of Before the Snow Moon, you'll find it at Nicola's Books and Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, at Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan, and at the Nines Gallery in Holland, Michigan. Or, contact me. And it's also available on Amazon.) I'm superstitious about writing about my own poems, especially before they've been released to the world, so here are some of the nice things poets have written about the poems in Before the Snow Moon. Artists Melanie Boyle and Read more [...]

Jun 6 2013

Susana Allen Hunter’s Improvisational Quilts

Standing among Susana Allen Hunter's quilts, on loan from The Henry Ford Museum, at the Grand Rapids [Michigan] Art Museum the other day, I felt waves of admiration and gratitude and poignancy. Each "improvisational quilt"—as Hunter's patchwork quilts have been dubbed—has a palette I want to work with, somehow, even though I'm a writer and my medium is words. Many of the quilts, which do indeed as their curator notes feel "abstract, asymmetrical, and modern," are mildly frayed, a reminder that Read more [...]

May 16 2013

Blue and Green: What It Smells and Sounds Like

You can see that the sun was shining on my head, hot but not too. Here's what you can't see: the clean coppery aroma* of last summer's leaves, pale brown and beginning to curl up from their flattened spots under the gone snow. As for the soundtrack, it was peaceful without being silent, another kind of antidote. In the background, like some sort of sonic under-painting, the roar of Lake Michigan's surf penetrated the whole scene even though the freshwater sea itself was hidden Read more [...]

May 10 2013

Wallace Stevens: “There are a lot of things one ought to do”

When is the last time you walked up to a shelf of books—in your house or somewhere else—randomly pulled one off the shelf, opened it up, and began reading? It had been a rather long time for me when I found this the other morning, in a beautiful, archival edition of Wallace Stevens's poems and prose. I'm guessing anyone who's ever felt thwarted by a house overflowing with family energy will get a kick out of these two short letters, written in the 1920s, when Stevens was Read more [...]

Apr 27 2013

Gary Snyder on Remaining Unprepared

There is no substitute for presence. - Gary Snyder, April 24, 2013 Sometimes you have to silence your "this is not sensible" voice in order to find the forage you most need. Wednesday, despite being scheduled to give an evening poetry reading in downtown Grand Rapids, I drove from Saugatuck to Ann Arbor to hear Gary Snyder deliver the Hopwood Lecture. Huge wet snowflakes and a ferocious north wind pushed hard against me as I made my way across the University of Michigan's campus Read more [...]

Apr 26 2013

Woodland Wildflowers in the Saugatuck Dunes

I found a patch of blooming round-lobed hepatica the other day in the still-rather-brown-all-over Saugatuck Dunes. To give you a sense of how tiny these spring ephemerals are, that's a part of a red oak leaf behind the blossoms. Hepatica are usually the first bits of purple I find in the woods around here each April, opening a full month before the violets. A couple of weeks ago, I found one hepatica bud open on a warm day, but the buds have been closed up tight in the cool weather since. They're Read more [...]

Apr 20 2013

Keith Taylor’s New Chapbook

This winter I saw an exhibit of Ellsworth Kelly's plant lithographs. Large scale and deceptively simple, they felt to me to be nearly perfect art because they seemed to embody, not just the physical being of the various botanical specimens, but a certain person's encounter with them in a certain moment. I walked around the gallery from print to print, several times. Each visit with each print turned up new details. I've been responding to Keith Taylor's newest chapbook of poems Read more [...]

Apr 5 2013

Analog Clocks

Analog clocks—I love them. I photographed these last weekend. Anybody recognize them? When you look at the hands and face of an analog clock you're looking at the past, present, and future, at once: a half day, so to speak, at least a kind of map of a half day. The hands (which are really more like arms) sweep around the face (which has its features, when it has them—numerals or dashes or, say, songbirds—arranged around the outside edge). In comparison, the little lit green Read more [...]

Mar 22 2013

Blackout Poetry in Rural Michigan

The other evening, on my way out of a middle-school basketball game, several towns southeast of home, I was stopped in my tracks by a wall arrayed with taped-up book pages, each one, blacked over, line by line, except for a bright scatter of words, a kind of reverse highlighting. Even from a distance, it looked interesting. "I wonder if they know about Mary Ruefle!" I exclaimed to my husband and daughter as we walked up to take a closer look. Mary, who's now quite well known for Read more [...]

Mar 14 2013

The Next Big Thing: We Live Here

Thank you Holly Wren Spaulding for tagging me in this community effort to talk about our book projects with each other. This set of questions is all over the web right now, with answers from people who are working on books. It's not the easiest thing in the world to write about your own writing. See what you think about how I've done. I've tagged Patricia Clark and Libby Wagner. They'll be answering the questions too. Holly is a poem whisperer, the real deal. Along with making Read more [...]