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, May 30, 2012

So...what falls down...

I had this idea to post every day -- for at least a while -- and share a picture each day. I also want to move to a new site, Word Press or Author's Guild. But I think I might postpone that decision a while longer.

This afternoon, I am at my college, sitting at my desk, grading essay quizzes and discussion boards, trying to get caught up with my classes. But my brain is racing. I'm reminded of something my mom said, Sunday night as we settled down for her first night at the retirement community. "I still read, but I start thinking instead and I don't remember anything I'm reading."

Even if it's chaos, I want to be fully present with all that's going on in my life right now. That means getting my daughters through the last few weeks of school (choir concerts and field trips, classes, Emma's grades), getting my students through these final two weeks, and my mom...and writing...and...  Well, there's always going to be the writing.

Here's a picture. It must be from about 1965, as that's my brother Eric (the redhead) standing beside Mom. This barn -- the "new barn" when I was a kid -- fell down in 1985.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Honeycomb

Reading a line from an old book, I remember biting into a honeycomb.
I was very young. The honeycomb was crunchy and sweet.
The honey dripped down my chin and over my fingers.
All my life I have been searching to find it again,
that particular, peculiar combination, an essence
of beauty distilled in my mouth.
I hold the book at arm's length. I squint at it, pondering.
Try holding it at different angles.
It's small, and pale in color, though not the color of honey.
It smells of the bookshelf I stole it from,
from where I plucked it out from the rapacious past,
from a row of my father's books. I say that I stole it
because I am attempting to create an analogy
to someone stealing honey from a beehive,
a man in a bee veil, or a black bear.
But I am not in the woods, not in a field
among beeboxes. I'm standing at my father's bookshelves
where he will not stand again, and I take down a book.
Though I read hungrily, no stings assault me,
and if there is a taste in my mouth, it is salt and not sweet.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moving Day

"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ― Siddhārtha Gautama

This weekend we're moving my mother off the farm -- out of the house she was born in almost 80 years ago -- and into a retirement community. I'm taking my notebook and pen with me. And a camera. I'll have more to tell you sometime next week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Discussion

I've spent years of my life wrestling with Hawthorne, so I think I can do a pretty good job sharing my passion. You're invited.

Book Discussion: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

When: Wed, May 23, 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Where: Everett Public Library, Main Library Auditorium,  2702 Hoyt Avenue, Everett, WA 98201 (map)

Description: Everett Community College professor Bethany Reid will discuss Nathaniel Hawthorne's undisputed classic, The Scarlet Letter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I know it's not the usual sort of thing that I post, but I simply want to go on record as saying that this is an amazing, mind-blowing show. I can't believe it didn't find an audience.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When Life Happens

I have one million things going on in my life, but from five until seven this morning, I sat in my cabin and drank coffee and wrote. I typed!

Today I'm sending my poetry manuscript with changes to Writers & Books. Tomorrow morning I'm driving to Oregon with my friend Carla (and 45 student papers) for the Compose Writers Conference at Clackamas Community College. (That's a lot of C's.) This is my second poetry event this week, by the way. The first was an interview with a colleague's 20th century American literature class (they asked great questions that made me want to hole up somewhere and write more poems).

This coming Wednesday evening, 7 p.m., I'm giving a lecture on The Scarlet Letter at the Everett Public Library.

Oh, and my mom is moving Memorial Day Weekend.

When I catch my breath, I'll let you know more. As I tell my students -- when life happens, writers get to say, "I will survive this, and I will write about it."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe." Peter de Vries

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Writing Cabin

I keep forgetting to upload the new snapshots, but the cabin is 99% finished, and I moved in yesterday. This morning I was like a little kid at Christmas, awake at 5:30 and eager to get the day rolling. It felt a little like waking at a campground -- a beautiful blue day already, my cup of coffee, birdsong. True, I get up every morning and write, but getting up this morning and writing? It felt ... as if I'd been blessed, which is exactly what I have been. I can't believe my good fortune. Twenty-seven years of marriage and my husband still has a few surprises up his sleeve.

As I've said here before, in my writing career I have often felt like the Lone Ranger, without Tonto and the cool horses. Teaching, mom-ing, trying to be a good daughter -- I get so overwhelmed and I feel that no one cares if I write my poems and books, or not. What's the point of writing one more poem? One more scene? Who is really waiting with bated breath to read any of it?

That is not, of course, true. (In my better moments, I've always known it isn't true.) The cabin is like a big old symbol sitting in my backyard: my writing is appreciated; it is supported. (Thank you, Bruce!)

"The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little stardust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched." -Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Becoming the Novelist

Becoming the Novelist

Agatha Christie wrote in the bath.
I could do that, you think to yourself.
Though what you really mean is, 
you could take a bath.
Imagining bath, you can't really imagine
paper and pen. You imagine submersion.
You imagine only your nose and mouth
peeping out. You imagine candles.
And maybe Agatha Christie's biographer
didn't mean writing with paper and pen.
Maybe he only meant that she thought
while bathing, building the plot
in her head as she soaked.
First Poirot with his fastidious moustaches,
or Miss Marple having tea.
Then the corpse. Then the clues stacked
one by one like wafers of soap,
or like towels, waiting for her to step out
and dry off, to reach only then
for her writing tablet. It's messy,
this business of becoming the novelist.
It's sopping. You have to climb
from the tub, holding your head steady
so the details don't drain away.
You have to dry off your body
which has become merely the vehicle
for getting your head soaked in plot,
in setting and character and perspective.
And then you have to walk from the tub
to the keyboard. You have to sit down.
You have to lower your hands to the keys
because, finally, it's not the bath
but the wriitng that makes the book.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"We are here to add to the sum of human goodness"

My friend, ceramics maestro Thom Lee, posted this poem from Josephine Hart beside his pottery show at the Russell Day Gallery at EvCC. (To read the review in The Clipper, go here -- Thom is one of those people who is constantly adding to the sum of human goodness in the world.

We are here to add to the sum of human goodness
in the world:
to prove that the thing exists.
And no matter how futile each act
of courage, kindness, self-sacrifice or grace,
it still proves the thing exists.
Each act adds to the fund,
not only because evil flourishes
and is most indefensively defended,
but because goodness is no longer a respectable aim in life.
the hound of hell, envy, has driven it from the house.

-Josephine Hart

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Rebirth" by Carolynne Harris

I'm pleased to share this poem by my friend Carolynne Harris. In the copy she shared with me, her lines were more creatively spaced on the page, but blogspot doesn't cooperate when I try to do the same. I have, however, kept my formatting true to her original stanzas.


Across Clark Creek
women walk a winding trail.
A shroud of morning fog hovers
on Puyallup Sacred Ground.

Plump, ripe blackberries
satisfy Alaskan appetites.

A roaring open fire holds
large Green River rocks.

Women shed
They enter the igloo-like
sweatlodge backwards.

A circle hollowed
in the hard packed earthen floor
holds firey rocks.

The Sweatlodge door is closed.

Cedar, sage and water
on smoking rocks–
makes fragrant steam.

Outside a circle forms
around the fire.
A holy sharing circle.
Women meditate alone

The sun breaks
through the fog.
The great Mount Rainier
rises from the earth.
Song birds sing.
A hawk circles.
A kitten cuddles with a child.
A frog chants.
The fire crackles.

Prayerful songs within
fill ears without.

The sweatlodge door is opened.

Women emerge as from the womb.

                By Carolynne Harris