To see the announcement for my poetry book, Sparrow, selected by poet Dorianne Laux for the Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize at Writers & Books, go to

You can find a review by Kathleen Kirk at EIL:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

she lived

I can't resist putting up a poem by the inimitable Lucille Clifton. This is from The Book of Light.

she lived

after he died
what really happened is
she watched the days
bundle into thousands,
watched every act become
the history of others,
every bed more
but even as the eyes of lovers
strained toward the milky young
she walked away
from the hole in the ground
deciding to live. and she lived.

And here's a link to her obituary in The Washington Post:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

For Lucille Clifton (1937-2010)

I woke up this morning and discovered that poet Lucille Clifton had died
I found her books on my shelf and sat reading about hips, about uteruses

and about sons and daughters and Malcolm X, about Lazarus
I read Lucille’s wonderful poems and meanwhile the sun
came up a bright gold jewel at the top of a snowcapped mountain
one time in 1992 I believe it was
Lucille Clifton visited my university and I drove her to the airport
I bought her breakfast, eggs and toast and jam
something I have thought about from time to time
she told me about her six children and how
she didn’t like to be blamed for their shortcomings
and so wouldn’t take any credit for their successes
I told her I was thinking about adopting a baby but was afraid and she said
girl if you want a baby you go right ahead and get yourself one
but don’t think it’s going to solve anything
you will still have to write your poems and maybe even more

of them just to atone

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I wanted to give you a link to the very cool journal that I use. It's called "The Everyman's Journal" and comes from Lee Valley.

Now, how do I convince my students to join me in writing every day? Can't anyone be as obsessive-compulsive about writing as I am?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I've been messing around with poems about the heart. Here's one.

In My Dream of the Heart

In my dream of the heart,
the heart comes with a holy GPS
that tells it where next
to go. Heart buys a bus ticket
to a better place, a rest stop
for the broken hearted,
for the disheartened, for anyone
who knows heart ache.
There's no hurt in this dream
of the heart, no secret hates
waiting to prey, no haven
for the heartless. All night long
heart rides, heart-felt
and full-hearted, foolhearted.

Monday, February 8, 2010


After a visit with a student the other day, I found myself thinking of this quote. What if the very things that seem to keep us from writing, were really meant as challenges to drive us to the pen? Okay, so writers are perverse. I'm going to survive this, and I'm going to write about it.

"The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point he is in business." -John Barrymore

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Today My Heart

Today my heart is a tabby cat
curled under a bed.

Gray window, gray sky, gray
rain falling. One white bird --

wings shimmering
like a promise of light.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Maybe remembering isn't what matters.
Our minds let go of the details, or latch on
to the smallest of them. Was it ever
meant to make sense? Who remembers
which story we told ten years ago?
Ten minutes ago? Go ahead, measure it
in decades, in centuries. You told
your mother that story. You woke
from a dream of her, she put her hand
on your arm. Tell it again, she said.
You had a feeling then, like standing
on the beach and the sand
pulling out from under your feet.
A feeling the world existed in more
than one dimension. We tell the same stories,
all of us, over and over, like runners
covering the same track, or pianists
practicing the same song, the same chord,
the same old, same old scales -- Every Good Boy
Does Fine. And what you would give (years from now)
to hear her tell it one more time?

I just spent an hour revising and posting a poem that I posted last month -- nice concrete demonstration of how we tell the same stories, all of us, over and over. But at least you get a new picture.