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, March 30, 2011

Parker Palmer

"I pay a steep price when I live a divided life--feeling fraudulent, anxious about being found out, and depressed by the fact that I am denying my own selfhood. The people around me pay a price as well, for now they walk on ground made unstable by my dividedness. How can I affirm another's identity when I deny my own? How can I trust another's integrity when I defy my own? A fault line runs down the middle of my life, and whenever it cracks open--divorcing my words and actions from the truth I hold within--things around me get shaky and start to fall apart." (Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness, page 5)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Late March

Spring break. Last year, my daughter Annie had appendicitis this week, and then I came down with the flu. This year, Annie had her first car accident (just a fender bender, and no one was hurt, thank goodness), and her sister Pearl has the flu. Lots of good stuff going on, too. I had dinner out with a dear friend, I met with my friend Margaret to do some more planning on a class tentatively titled "Writing as a Spiritual Journey" that we hope to teach next fall, and I gave a poetry reading at Elizabeth House in West Seattle, honoring International Women's Month. I read poems about being a mom. Here's one (published in Pearl 41, Fall/Winter 2009).


Late March and the earth has turned us
toward the sun. Tulips wreck
dark order of beds. For a week,

this month I turn fifty, I think I'm pregnant,
either that, or it's finally menopause.
Either way, I'm in awe of beginnings.

My twelve-year-old daughter
wants clothes that will make her popular.
She wants to meet her favorite

TV stars. She wants a boyfriend.
I want for her the same things,
to love, to be loved. Outside

my bedroom window an apple tree
bends under its burden of white blossoms.
It's only an ornamental,

not that it knows or cares. It steps
through its days bravely as any bride.
That ignorant. That fragrant.

Monday, March 21, 2011


"To dare is to momentarily lose one's footing. Not to dare is to lose oneself."

-Soren Kierkegaard

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bearers of Possibility

I found this passage in a Writer's Chronicle article by Scott Nadelson, and it jumped out at me because of the minor character exercises and papers (in literature classes) that I've always found so liberating for students. It made me wonder (again) what I've learned from the apparently minor characters in my own world:

"...minor characters are the bearers of possibility, but they also bring into relief the impossibility of knowing what will come, the unavoidable mystery and uncertainty of living."

Minor characters are, after all, the heroes of their own stories.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grace Paley

I just came across this video and have to share it -- one of my all-time favorite writers and teachers.

What's It Like?

The assignment was to write ten metaphors or similes, about anything. Here are a few of mine that had promise.

1. He stooped over his desk, all right angles like a geometry equation.
2. Her memory sags, an old clothesline.
3. She held onto the book like a driver gripping a steering wheel.
4. Every morning he picked up his pen and fell to work, as faithful as a piano student practicing scales.
5. She handed back our papers with the enthusiasm of an aerobics instructor.
6. The conversation flitted from here to there and back again, a flock of nuthatches looking for the best seeds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Keeps Me Going

I wrote this in an exercise (actually, 2, one on sound) with my Creative Nonfiction students:


This quarter I've had twenty muses. They drift onto campus from every corner of Snohomish County, wearing lots of black, black with stripes, or black hooded sweatshirts with silk-screened skulls. They wear green and blue and purple. Their hair is short and pointy, shortish and purple, shaved off entirely; their hair is long and straight or long and curly, hanging in their eyes or tucked behind an ear. They are somber. They glower. They crack up, giggling. Their pens scritch across the pages of their notebooks, they loop and jot and wiggle. Mornings are my most creative time of day, the time when I'm wildest, when I'm my very least linear, jazzed on caffeine, ready to tear into my own writing with the zeal of an Old Testament prophet. But because of my twenty muses who I know are waiting for me in Gray Wolf 376, at 10:55 I grab my books and roll sheets and pens, and I race to class.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"The inexhaustible power of words."

Because it came up in the comments (thanks, Carolynne!), I want to share a link to this video of Charles Wright, from a PBS profile:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

John Haines, 1924-2011

"Good benches and chairs, as well as poems, come from roots. A man who has mistaken his life and who does not believe in what he is doing, who wishes he were somewhere else, doing another thing, is not likely to build good chairs nor to grow good turnips."