Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tree sweeping

While idly thumbing through a stack of chapbooks on my desk tonight, I ran across this poem by Carl Lindner, from his chapbook Eat & Remember, reminding me of course of last Sunday's snow and our concern for the Japanese maple--which has since de-leafed. The garden is shuttered down for December's arrival. I need to bring the bay tree in, but I wanted to give it a few cold nights first. (And to figure out where to put it.) But here's the poem:

The Tree Sweeper

Bent by snow still
falling, the young
pine called him out.

He took a broom
to sweep away
the white. Minutes

drifted down.
He went on
to the spruce. All

that morning saw him
brush the needles,
dusting off the crowns,

giving the slender
trunks a shake.
As he worked, only

he could tell how,
over and over, he
lifted like a branch.

With every pass
of the broom, he kept
singing “evergreen”

to himself, low,
the way a snowflake
hums as it falls.
* * *
I printed a test copy of Undergound Singing today. Found five or six layout errors, went back & corrected those, printed fresh pages, cut the whole thing to size, stapled it together so I could hold it, turn the pages, get the sense of the thing as a book. Sent it off to the author, after e-mailing him a PDF of (my design for) the cover.

Anyone want to help cut and tie some books? I'm hoping to get all the copies mailed out before the holiday. I've been raiding the recycling bins on campus for good sturdy envelopes to re-use.
* * *
Miriam has been writing some wonderful poems. I just read a batch of them today, and I'm impressed! Best of luck with your applications, M.
* * *
Ack, I'm up too late again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Last minute last call--

--for chapbook manuscripts to be entered in the Center for Book Arts' annual competition. The deadline is December 1, and this year's judges are Sharon Dolin and Tomaz Salamun. The winning manuscript will be chosen in April 2008 and will be awarded with the publication of a beautifully designed, letterpress-printed, limited-edition chapbook printed and bound by artists at the Center for Book Arts. The edition is limited to one-hundred signed and numbered copies, ten of which are reserved for the author and the remainder of which will be offered for sale through the Center. The winning poet will also receive a cash award of $500, and a $500 honorarium for a reading, to be held at the Center in the fall of 2008. Visit the Center's web page for full details.
* * *
It's my dad's birthday. Coincidentally, tonight the tree at Rockefeller Center is illuminated. That tradition started the year he was born. Neat coincidence.
* * *
I had student conferences all day and finally headed home a bit before 7. One meeting had me nearly banging my head on my desk. An excerpt went something like this:

Student: So I paraphrased a lot of the last two pages, do I have to cite that or can I just reference it in the bib?
Me (scanning the paragraphs in question): You say here that the Church rose in power at this time. What do you think caused that?
Student: I don't know, I couldn't really understand that sentence. Should I just cut that? Do you think I need to keep that?
Me: If you don't understand what it means, then why is it the focus of your paragraph?
Student: I don't know if I really want to write about all the Crusades. Do I have to mention all of them? Should I put that here?
Me: Maybe we should look at--
Student: Where should this question go, the one where I say "But how did all of this really get started?" Should I put that here? Or here?
Me: If you--
Student: I know that my conclusion has to repeat everything in my introduction, but does that mean I have to ask it there?
Me: You don't--
Student: Do you think I should mention the Holocaust? I can't think of any other conflicts that involve religious intolerance. Where would I put the Holocaust?

And around and around we went, to the merciless beat of an agitated artery in my left temple. . .
* * *
I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kyle Dargan

Kyle Dargan's back in Lewisburg for a reading (tonight) and Q&A (tomorrow). Kyle was a June Poet back in 2002 (has it been five years?), part of an awesome group that included Meg Shevenock, Miriam Greenberg, Matthew Ladd, and some guy named Kevin Gonzalez (love you, Kevin).

Kyle's here to give the annual Drew Darrow Memorial Reading, sponsored by the Writing Center and several other folks. He'll be reading tonight in Bucknell Hall at 7:00, and giving his Q&A tomorrow at noon in the WC (I'm sorry to miss it, but I'll be at Lyco).

Kyle's first book, The Listening (Georgia 2004), won the Cave Canem Prize; the University of Georgia Press has just released his second book, Bouquet of Hungers. Here's a wee poem with a Lewisburg connection:

Letter Home I

The town’s trademarks are its streetlamps, two
Of the three orbs droop towards the earth—

Dead insects inside settle at the bottom,
Tragic pupils.

In my ambling I saw the remains
Of a barn—a gentler stop along underground rail

(So reads the sign). I always stumble
Upon these things, like the slave graves

Suffocated by dorms below Mr. Jefferson’s
University. As then, I didn’t know how to be present.

Of course I crossed Tubman, but kept on—
Anxious of what I’d see if I stared too long. Right now

There’s rain, sky left ajar, and the wind slipping
Jabs of lightning splayed within the clouds.

I miss the lanky apartment buildings,
the black-lunged streets,
my sight—through which no one images me twice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"perfectly listening"

The way geodes can be cracked to reveal ears
perfectly listening to crystal, you could crack
open this picture and find anything.

- Lynda Hull, "Invisible Gestures" (from Ghost Money)

[photo: lamp, 8/21/07]

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One of a kind

People ask, Why don't you sell your quilts? The answer is that we're usually working on a quilt intended for someone. We plan to sell more of our smaller quilts--the minis (usually less than 20 inches square) and wall quilts (usually around 40 inches square), but right now R is working on a full-sized commissioned quilt and I'm toggling between two projects that I hope to complete before May. Meanwhile, here's this: a "Honeycomb" pattern, completely pieced and quilted by hand, that I finished in mid-October. I've enjoyed seeing it on our project wall, but I always knew I would let it go if presented with the right offer. Enjoy the purty pictures and read on for more information on this unique wall quilt, or check back another day when I'm not screwing up the courage to be so self-promotional and have returned to my general ramblings.

Dimensions are 27.5 inches wide by 31 inches tall. The center medallion is paper-pieced using the English paper-piece method (fabric pieces are individually basted onto small hexagonal papers then sewn together into an overall pattern) (I was actually piecing this at AWP in Atlanta), then hand-appliqued onto the navy border fabric. The red binding is hand-sewn. Most of the medallion fabrics are vintage, and there is some slight variation in tone, especially in the red and yellow. I hand-quilted a scrolling border in the blue frame, and the medallion is hand-quilted in a "row outline" stitch (see backing photo for a clearer idea of this). This quilt is dated and signed by me, and is one of a kind; I don't plan on making another.

This quilt is for sale. The price is $75. E-mail me if you're interested.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Snow Day

It was snowing when we woke up this morning--heavy, wet flakes falling fast--and it's continued throughout the day. We've taken turns going out with a broom to knock the snow from the Japanese maple in the back yard (it still has most of its leaves, and we're afraid some branches might break from the weight). A lovely sight, really, but I hope the roads are navigable in the morning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Night Ride Home

It's dark before I leave campus to drive home over our little mountains. On my morning commute, I'm usually rushing and don't have time to pull over, aim the camera at the sugar maples flaring into near-levitating masses of butterscotch yellow. The red maples are nearly finished--just a few clutches of leaves burning now--and the thornless honey locusts, such a screaming yellow a few days ago in the rain, are nearly denuded. Fog in the mountains nearly every morning--some days I literally drive through a cloud or two--and a bit of snow yesterday, not enough to stick but just a foretaste of what's to come. On the drive home, I pointed the camera unsteadily at some oncoming headlights and came up with this shot.
* * *
From Gary Soto's poem, "At the All-Night Cafe":
America is at work. There is the splotch of blue neon
Behind the left leg, renegade line in the right eye.
* * *
My copy of Jill Rosser's new book, Foiled Again, arrived yesterday at the office. It's the winner of this year's New Criterion Prize. Looking forward to reading it over the holiday.
* * *
This afternoon we sorted through clothes and cleaned out two bags full (including several jackets) to donate to a campus clothing drive. I can actually find my winter shirts now (and my gloves and scarf)!
* * *
R just came back from the grocery with a surprise for me: a zygocactus, loaded with salmon buds. Very nice! We are doing some attic cleaning tomorrow, and today bought a couple of plant lights for the shelves I use to start seedlings in late winter. This afternoon, in the garden, I saw that one of our hostas had ripe seed pods, so I picked them to bring inside. As the pods dry, they'll split along three seams and open, revealing the black seeds all tucked in neat rows. The hosta's seed apparatus looks a bit like a maple seed (i.e., somewhat winged), but it's much smaller and very thin. I've had good success with planting them, and the seedlings grow to blooming size within two or three years.
* * *

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Boarding House
The blind man draws his curtains for the night
and goes to bed, leaving a burning light

above the bathroom mirror. Through the wall,
he hears the deaf man walking down the hall

in his squeaky shoes to see if there’s a light
under the blind man’s door, and all is right.

: Ted Kooser, Sure Signs (1980)

* * *

Meeting with poetry students all day. I dashed over to the library for a prepackaged turkey sandwich. Checked my mailbox on the way back and there were my copies of the new West Branch. Great cover art by Jeff Cohen. Four lead-off poems by Rebecca Dunham. This is the issue I edited last spring; I'll undoubtedly brag some more about it over the next couple of weeks.
* * *

I had a very nice breakfast last week with Robin Becker, the day after her reading at Bucknell. We're hatching a plan. More news soon.
* * *

Next week: Thanksgiving break. I'll be putting Harry's chapbook together and catching up on essay grading.
* * *

So nice to hear from Miriam.

[photo: boxwood shadow]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just last week

the sumac was so vivid. Now it's almost gone: rained down.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Giving books: 8

also, not pictured: Howard Moss' Rules of Sleep & Connie Voisine's Cathedral of the North.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Giving books: 6

also, not pictured: Dennis Nurkse's Voices Over Water & James Tate's The Lost Pilot.