Big Poetry Giveaway 2014–Winners

Phew, April is over! So much reading and writing and house staging these past few weeks. It was a treat to have my husband come down to visit for the weekend, so for a few days I forgot it was May. Making good on my giveaway now.

Originally I was planning to give two random winners either a copy of Sharon Old’s Blood, Tin, Straw or my chapbook If Tigers Do Not Come. Since I’m sure most of y’all were gunning for S.O. I’m going to give each winner both a copy of my chapbook and a famous-poet book.

The random number genie chose posts 6 and 12, so congrats to:

Allyson, who gets Sharon Olds and my little bookeroo

and Karen who will also receive said bookeroo as well as Fire Is Favorable to the Dreamer by Susan Terris


Thank you to all who visited my blog this month. It’s nice to have people find me through poetry-related searches and not just “my Birkenstocks stink real bad.” :)

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The Big Poetry Giveaway 2014!

April is National Poetry month and that means we poets are going to disappear into a dark room until May and emerge with a stack of voraciously-consumed poetry books and/or a stack of our own new poems.

Wooo! More books!

Wooo! More books!

It also means a bunch of us are giving away 2 books in a random drawing taken from the comments section of this giveaway post.

I’ll be giving away a copy of my chapbook, If Tigers Do Not Come

And, since it’s kind of Sharon Old’s fault that I became a poet, I will also give away a copy of Blood, Tin, Straw

So if you’d like to throw your hat in the ring just leave a comment below (including your name and email) before April 30, 2014. I will select two winners randomly and set these two books free to new homes!

This giveaway is curated by poet and editor Kelli Russell Agodon over at her blog, Book of Kells. If you have any questions, she’s posted an FAQ and an in-depth guide to how this whole thing works.

Thanks for participating!




Sneak peek at latest chapbook


Here’s the cover of my second chapbook, “If Tigers Do Not Come” which won the Palettes and Quills biennial contest back in 2012.  My good friend and fellow MFA-er Joy Mlozanowski created the cover design for me and two excellent poets, Dana Sonnenschein and J.P. Dancing Bear (who chose my manuscript) wrote blurbs that may well be prettier than the poems themselves :S

I’m excited to see this book getting closer to physical form, and its revived my determination to finalize the full-length manuscript order, make some more edits and get that baby out to some good presses!

White Walls=Big Canvas

No, not in the “paint a Care Bears mural on the wall” sense (do little kids even know about the Care Bears?), but in an “accessorize the heck out of the space” sense. Remember the early 2000’s when Trading Spaces was one of the “it” shows?  Did we watch, if we watched, for decorating ideas or to see which designer could best destroy a perfectly normal interior space.  Off the top of my head I can remember a black wall with bare light bulbs sticking out of it and a bedroom with a metal bar motif on the wall suggesting it was a “prison of love.”

Prickish designers aside, even the more thoughtful ones would never think of slapping white paint on the walls–and at this point in history, neither would many homeowners.  We seem to have gone through a “dark and warm” phase when it comes to paint.  I can’t exclude myself from this because I, too, fell victim to a Ralph Lauren “faux leather” finish that required bright pink paint, dark purple glaze, an expensive brush and at least two people who work quickly.  In the end my walls did indeed resemble the cordovan leather of a chaise lounge straight out of a psychiatrist’s office, but it made an already small room look like a small dungeon, especially at night.  The first time we tried to sell our house, the agent took one look and said “buy some paint.”

Ten years after the leather experiment, I’ve come to love white walls.  No other color reflects natural light quite so well.  And if you’re from the north, you probably try to stretch your daylight for as long as possible.  But that’s not the main reason I’m promoting plain-Jane white walls.


If you’re not a matchy-matchy person and have a rough time deciding between design styles (industrial, rustic, southwest, mid-century….? gah!) you CAN have it all if you pull the bulk of your crazy colors and prints from textiles and accent pieces.


And here….the rug and quilt remind me of Mexican Talavera tiles.  Probably would be overkill if the walls were a rich jewel tone, no?

But you love turquoise, I know!!!  So do I.  You want to paint the walls Robin’s egg blue.  Don’t do it, man.  You’ll regret it in a few months.

One more!!


Gorgeous Uzbek Suzani as a tablecloth :)  I love the rustic, mismatched chairs and their funky cushions.  Looks like a Turkish carpet in front of the industrial bookshelves.  The colors pop against the glowing white–yes, I’m sure Photoshop helped–and draw the eye to multiple focal points rather than blur together.

And, of course, if you change your decorating taste often, well, rhetorical question: swap out a rug or quilt?  or get out the drop cloths and blue tape and re-paint the walls to match your new style?

Hmmm?  Yeah, me too.

The (temporary?) Homestead

Perhaps I’ve been over-using the term “homestead” recently, but I think the word itself brings to mind a heartiness and self-reliance–it comforts me to think of my new digs as a place that’s stood the test of time.  And this move to the country has re-ignited my urge to be more like a modern pioneer (I specify “modern” because I don’t think I could truly extract the pleasure one gets from canning one’s own food and making one’s own flour without the convenience of things like running water and indoor plumbing).

The husband and I are renting  a c.1820 federal colonial in rural New Hampshire while he works at Dartmouth and I get our home in Connecticut prepped for selling.  I come up to NH for spurts to clean, cook, unload belongings and take semi-weekly breaths of clean air.


The house is bright, airy and full of period details.  Exactly the kind of house we’re looking to buy if my husband can adjust to the commute (he’s gone from taking the bus to an hour drive).  Yesterday on the way to work, a female moose trotted alongside his truck before going off into the woods.  In CT, the creature you’re most likely to encounter on the road is a 30-and-under female wearing big, designer sunglasses while looking down at her iphone……or a red-faced guy in a crisp white shirt screaming into his Bluetooth.  I’d say NH is like heaven compared to that, but I’m still trying to adjust to all the camo clothing and country music!

The property here is mostly wetlands, so not terribly ideal for our farming ideas…which aren’t extreme, mostly chickens and a couple of goats along with a sizable vegetable garden.  The concept of pulling back from a metropolitan/suburban lifestyle is so appealing to me that I, a girl with lactose intolerance, cannot wait to (gently) squeeze a tiny goat and make my own milk and cheese.

Right now I’m setting up a container garden for the hubs and establishing a compost pile from our veggie scraps and grounds from his daily K-cups–by products of the new “toy.”    Which reminds me, I need to go buy more potting mix.  More house photos to come when I’m back down south this weekend.

Chapbooks, chapbooks, chapbooks….

these little devils have been my life lately–be it working with an editor to put one into production, to sit back and let an editor put it into production (thanks dancing girl press’s Kristy!) or being asked to design a cover for a contest-winning chapbook.

My first chapbook When Surrounded By Fire has just made it’s debut at dancing girl press, an independent, mostly one-woman press out of Chicago.  I only take credit for the words–my input on the cover was basically “gimme some nature” and that she did!


My second chapbook’s existence came as a pre-holiday surprise when I learned that it had won a contest hosted every two years by Palettes and Quills, another independent press out of Rochester, NY.  I got wind of the contest through Facebook and was not in the frame of mind to enter an contest (those suckers can get expensive!), but when I read that J.P. Dancing Bear–prolific poet/editor of American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press–was judging, I decided to give it a shot.  Like the single poem contest I won  a year ago, I entered only because of the judge.  I figured if my work even made it to the final round and a poet I really REALLY admire reads my work, well, that just gives the soul a nice warm whiskey-and-Frangelico-on-a-cold-night kind of feeling.  We’re working on putting the manuscript together with blurbs and art right now–the eds are hoping to have it ready by AWP in March.  Yikes, that is NOT a lot of time, but it will be cool to have two chapbooks published before I graduate in May.

And it makes me even happier that I’m painting again.  It started as “homework”–coming up with a design for a chapbook, Rules of Night Migration by poet Pamela Gross.  Her chapbook won a contest hosted by the journal Paper Nautilus, which is headed by my fellow MFA-er, Lisa Mangini.  Lisa must have known I’d be drawn to this particular manuscript.  I fell in love with it the first time I read it and ended up with constellations and Indigo Buntings swirling around in my head.  Here’s my finished product.  I’m excited to see what it looks like in book format.

Night Migration.  Watercolor and Ink, 2013

Night Migration. Watercolor and Ink, 2013

And I’m off to not think about school and teaching and thesis crap.  No, it’s time to put the finishing touches on a new watercolor that includes a bride….and a bear :)

Reinventing the Kwaidan and other Japanese ghost stories

I’m finishing off my MFA coursework with an independent study that was dreamed up by poet and artist Dana Sonnenschein and myself.  The fact that she teaches Shakespeare and writing at SCSU made her eligible to sponsor my project, so yay for like-minded professors!

I’m flooding my brain with Japanese cultural aesthetics, ceremonial tradition, religion, written art and film.  Lots of haiku, and I love it.   The main focus of my project is  not just folklore, but ghost stories–and there are quite a few of them that were translated and collected at the turn of the 19th century.  Earless biwa players, floating heads, dishonest priests condemned to consume the dead bodies of their parish–fun stuff!

My project will be a chapbook of sorts.  Poems, free verse and in traditional Japanese form, and watercolor illustrations.  I’ve been cranking out illustrations because I am trying to utilize the Japanese aesthetic of relying on the negative space to give the painting it’s “ahhhh” feeling, or wabi sabi :)  Needless to say they don’t take quite as long as birdies with lots and lots of individual feathers!  As models I’m using my own small collection of kimekomi dolls.  If you don’t know what a kimekomi doll is, check out the process here.  Their forms are very geometric since there are no limbs or places for fabric to drape, only small grooves  where the fabric is tucked to suggest a separate segment of the body.

And I get to watch 1960’s era samurai films as homework.  The subject is so interesting to both Dana and myself that we might put together a collaborative piece of art and writing when all’s said and done.  And she is eager to get this subject added to the course catalog.  Not a bad way to finish my degree!

This could only mean one thing….

I’m taking in too much Sendak and European folklore.  It is a nice break from birds, though.  Those are disembodied heads in the other room.  They’re puppets, though, so it’s okay.  Well, maybe not if you’re afraid of dolls.  Still lots to do…but it’s got a vibe.



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