“Kinds of water drown us.” – Anne Carson

It’s been too long since I’ve read something that jolted me alive again.  I love book club, and I truly appreciate the work that I have to do with each book, but sometimes I want to read something that jolts me a bit more.  So I’ve begun re-reading Anne Carson, and I’m currently digging through her collection Plainwater.

To read Anne Carson is to read about love, and I think she has helped me figure out why I continually write love poems.  (And of course, to write about love is to write about death, every poem is about death, but that’s an entirely different discussion for another time).  I don’t understand love.  Yes, I have loved.  It would be hurtful and lying to say otherwise.  Still, there is something about the way Carson describes love– as a void and the opposite of a void.  As fire and water.  As complete loneliness because you have seen your other half and it is still removed– there is a body in the way, no matter how much you love the body.  Maybe her love is really obsession, and it’s a good thing that I haven’t found it yet.  But Carson writes about love as though she has been through the fire and survived but is still smoldering and might yet succumb to her wounds. But hasn’t yet.  And how glorious the burn.  It’s the almost-but-not-quite that’s so alluring to me.

I don’t have a satisfactory summation and conclusion to this.  My thoughts move like the microclimates of Seattle.  Because this morning it was sunny and clear with a cool breeze, now it’s grey and brooding.  Always in flux. Tonight may be clear and warm, may be stormy and wet.  I want and I don’t-want.


Tea and Friends

I’m starting to really love going to Kuan Yin for meetings.  It’s always the same girl behind the counter and she’s always friendly but not in a chipper way.  The tea smells wonderful, and after a day of drinking coffee and keeping myself awake at work, Lemon Verbena is perfect.  There’s something about meeting at a Place that makes things feel more productive for me.  Perhaps it’s the glass table tops, or the way other people’s conversations spill around the corners of your own.

Most recently I met with the wonderful Carrie Purcell to talk about her book. (I can’t wait to hold it in my hands when it comes out, because I’m sure the finished collection will find a home.)  I haven’t worked with a collection in a long time, so it was wonderful to look at arcs and lyric lines and themes again.  It was a long meeting, and I came home both exhausted and exhilarated.  Carrie also helped me think through a few things, and I think I am very lucky to have met her.

The Poetry Northwest release party was a wonderful affair, and I got to see not only old friends, but some new ones as well.  I met Abby volunteering for the Hugo House a while back and everyone should read her blogging for the Hugo House and say hi to her, or to girls you think might be her.  (There was a confusing evening where I insisted to a girl that she’d just been to Iceland and that she knew me.  She used to take the bus with me, she was not the girl I knew, but it took me a day for the faces and names to click properly…. more on that story if you want it.)  It was nice to talk to her and not have to juggle a ticket basket and stacks of programs, though that was fun too.  The night was full of music and a bit of reading and people I throughly enjoy.

I return to tutoring tomorrow, and then a weekend of volunteering at the Hugo House and dinner with my family (house) and family (blood).  It’s raining again, and my legs are still vividly bruised from climbing, but these are things that aren’t problems.  So I bruise easily, so it’s wet outside.  It isn’t going to stop me.

(Photo borrowed from my Scottish friend, I hope he doesn’t mind.  It’s a funny time difference, so I can’t exactly call him to ask.)

This makes me happy

Amy Wilson’s work makes me smile.  It’s also Amy who makes me smile.  She recently did an installation ( that I wish I’d been able to go see.  One of the frustrating things about art for me (and the very large scale sculpture work that I used to do) was that I didn’t know what to do with it after creating it.  There’s the obvious “I’m going to sell this to someone who loves it” but when it comes down to it, the sculpture I did was student work that I was emotionally attached to and would have been  upset to simply pitch, but no one was about to buy it or want it forever.   I’m not saying Amy’s work is like that (I am the proud owner of a book/drawing that hangs above my bed), but I’d imagine the large tarp would be a bit difficult to place in a home or gallery for an extended amount of time.  So instead, Amy decided: tote bags!  She’s selling them, as she makes them, from her store here: I just let my sculptures be destroyed by the winter in my mom’s back yard, very Andy Goldsworthy inspired but I suspect everyone wasn’t too keen on pieces of plaster flaking over the grass.  Tote bags seem like a much better solution.

Keep an eye out for the next round of tote bags… Amy said she’ll be putting them up this Wednesday (the 19th) at 4 pm.  That’s 4 pm EST, for all of you West Coast readers. And Mountain Time.  And perhaps overseas?  Everyone could use a tote bag.  Everyone could use more art in their life.  Amy makes this possible.  Go Amy, go!


I’ve been told many of my entries here are sad.  I don’t think that’s true, I think it’s just the opposite- they are perhaps a bit too gushy about my love affair with Seattle. So, I love Seattle. That’s out-of-the-way for this post.

I now work just an easy walk from the downtown library, and I have to say I’m stacking up books I keep meaning to get to, but the active life of sun-outside, live-music, and in general social-occasions keep tempting me away.  The past few days have given me a chance to dive back into pages, and I’m glad for the return (though my body might be unhappy–getting too deep into a book on a very sunny day means I’m sunburnt in odd patches….)

One of the books I’m working my through is Inger Christensen’s It, translated by Susanna Nied.  Anne Carson wrote the introduction, and the best I can liken it to is strolling along a beach looking for sea glass.  Most of it, so far, is nice but sort of repetitive.  Phrases return and return, and I find myself skimming along for a while.  And then there’s a glittering smoothness, transparent bright green against the round pebbles and waves and I am brought sharply back to the page.  Can a projects intent be to be shoreline with small moments of gleaming treasure?  I think so.  If it were all at the same pitch, that pitch would lose its urgency and resonance.

Reading It I am struck not only by the repetition and the sharp glittering moments, but also by the odd lack of specificity.  The book is making me take more chances with my own work and I am allowing myself to leave more details out.  I’m working on a collection titled snowheart at the moment, and I don’t know that it’ll ever make it into anyone’s hands but my own.  And I’m ok with that, it is just something I have to put together, to see how the pages butt up against each other.  I need to submit work out again, I need to look into fellowships, but first I need to pause and re-evaluate what exactly I have and where I am going with it.  I am learning to slow down.

I find I keep writing love poems these days, which is to say, I think I’ve always written love poems.  The difference here is that I’m not feeling indebted to adhere to the truth of a love affair.  The longing was part of it//because the truth was never part of it//because the truth is never part of it

I don’t know how much truth there is to love, to longing.  I find I long for the story of longing, for the unobtainable love, more than the thing directly in front of me. So snowheart is dealing with that, or attempting to.  It’s a bit narcissistic, a bit confessionalist, and a whole lot of lying.  But if I find it does get at a larger truth, then maybe it will be shopped around.  For now, I’m retreating into my own journals and not worried about it.