Archive for November, 2008

Madeleine L’Engle…

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

A great lady, mind, artist, heart, and inspiration  died a year ago.  At the time I wrote this for Salon.

Now, her family members have created this blog, where you can leave your thoughts and comments.



Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Wow!  My first really BAD review!

Ethelmae, who is forced to work at the bug-infested diner for stealing a single lemon drop, shares vignettes about events at the disgusting eatery. Once, the booths became so greasy, they slid outside of the restaurant into the street. The diners kept right on eating and were never heard from again. The waitresses pinch the customers, and the chocolate milk isn’t really chocolate. The narrator leads her friend to a secret room where goodbyes are banned. “Wouldn’t you like a lemon drop…. Have one. They’re delicious.” The story is confusing and further muddled by the sentence structure, e.g., “Inside the Slidy Diner, the noise is always.” While the drawings make great use of detail and color, they seem only to add to the murkiness of the narrative. It would be difficult to find an audience for this book.—Beth Cuddy, Seward Elementary School, Auburn, NY

I suppose it had to happen. Might as well happen now.

And it is some consolation that Beth Cuddy did such a poor job of reading the book she mixed up Edie (the little girl) with Ethelmae (the creepy  grill cook).  Also, she neglected to put several of the quotes in quotation marks, which makes the review itself hard to read.

If you’re going to be roundly trashed, it’s nice when the person doing the trashing reveals themselves to be a sloppy reader and writer from the jump.

Though I do wonder why SLJ didn’t fact-check the review. When I write for PW they’re sticklers.

You MUST Read!!!

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

According to Atlanta Parent, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains” is a must-read book.

This means you MUST read it.  Resistance is futile.

Come over to the dark side.


Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Not sure exactly how to feel about this one.

Simple Machines as a “science related book for kids”?

Well… I suppose a child could learn something from the book, if that child were reading pretty far above his grade level and had fairly permissive parents.

And I suppose the book counts as science if we include “the body” and theology in our definition of science.

I mean, this is pretty funny and awesome, but its also a little scary to consider how a child would have to examine his/her world if they thought of my poetry collection as a “science” text.


Friday, November 28th, 2008

My heart and mind are full of sadness and confusion.  What’s happened in Mumbai is overwhelming to me.  Not sure why this one is hitting me so hard, but please, offer what prayers you have, kind thoughts of any flavor.

Between this horrific news and the fact that  I’ve found Iowa  to be more anti-Semitic than I’ve ever seen it, aftermath of the insanity in Postville… I’m finding it hard to think straight. To quiet my rage at terrorists and Agriprocessors both.

I only hope the world is better tomorrow than today.


Best selling poetry?

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

I’m not sure how this happened, or what it means, but according to the Poetry Foundation, my poetry collection, “The Myth of the Simple Machines” is #26!!!


This craziness is made even better by the fact that my awesome  friend Paul is #19.  How fun is that?

Whirly windy…

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Okay, so it’s 9 am, and as soon as the sitter arrives (bless her) I’m jumping in the car (which is already packed) and  dashing of to a school visit north of town.

That’ll be wonderful, but interstate driving in ATL makes me nuts You never know when a truck of mattresses will overturn and make you late.

Then, soon as I’m done, I’ll race home, toss the kids in the car, wipe their faces, check to make sure we have both “nye nyes” and my license, the only true necessities to travel. (clothes and my laptop matter, but thanks to Googledocs and Target I can survive without them. Not so the nye-nyes)

We’ll rush to the airport, park in the daily lot, and somehow I will manage to get both kids, two carryons, a suitcase, and a stroller through several lots to the terminal.

Then we’ll arrive in Iowa, where we’ll be met by my wonderful in-laws, who will whisk us off to visit with the boys’ Great-Grandma in Illinois. Since she’s heading up to MN for turkey and tonight will be their only chance to see her.

When they conk out or lose their minds from crankiness (or we do) we’ll all drive back to Iowa City for a night of rest before I wake up tomorrow and do a library visit, a creative writing class for kids!

But then… then… THEN!!!

Then I will be done, and I will be delighted to hunker down and spend a week in Iowa City, wandering and noshing and sipping and chatting with some of my favorite people in the world.

I will go see my old friend Dustin play slide guitar at the Sanctuary with my darling Sonya. I will work on Penny Dreadful at the Java House.  I will eat something yummy at the Motley Cow. I will pick up a Nutcracker pizza from the Wedge. I will stop by Hillel and rant about something at Jerry. I’ll have a drink at the Foxhead for the sake of old (dark) times. And I’ll sit at the kitchen table with my mother-in-law and catch up. And of course I’ll take the boys all over, and show them my Iowa City.

But first… first… first  the highway, and the airport.

Wish me luck!

On art and poverty…

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Okay, so last night was the National Book Awards, and on twitter (and facebook), everyone seemed to be heading down to Wall Street for the gala bash.  I was GREEN with envy.  I quite like to wear gowns.

Grubby jeans or vintage gowns and fake sparkles. I really see no point in anything in between.

Business casual. Meh.

But the point of this post is not my predilicition for Goodwill finery, it’s that Ron Hogan was there (tweeting), and so there’s a wrap-up on Galleycat today, that includes a fun little interview with Salvatore Scibona (I cannot repost as the dumb viddler isn’t working).

But in that interview, Salvatore talks about something I LOVE, the fact that economic downturn is sort of affirming for creative types.  I’ve avoided discussion of this topic myself until now, because it tends to make people (especially people who’ve just lost a packet on the market, or maybe their homes) itchy, but it’s true, and I kind of delight in it.

See, to pursue a writing life, to really make literature and art the center of things, you have to accept a certain amount of uncertainty, poverty, etc.  You decide you’ll be a waitress forever, and never own a fancy handbag. You live in a studio apartment, eat cheap.  Ideally, you do this (not because you’re selfish and singleminded, but) because you’re choosing to prioritize art and social commentary and intelligent community and the life of the mind BEFORE  handbags.

You are choosing to value a different economy, buy stock in a different market.

Then, when the handbag market fails, and the mutual funds of artistic merit are still rock solid, you get to feel like you invested well!

(I suppose this is a little the way fundamentalists will get to feel at the pearly gates, if it turns out that sex and booze WERE bad, and heaven IS awesome. But that’s a conversation for another day.)

Of course, the flip side is that a lot of artistic types don’t think about stability at all, and that’s problematic for me.  As someone with kids, I no longer allow myself the “Oh, heck! Who needs groceries? I’m going to go to the bar and have an EXPERIENCE!” decisionmaking process. I can no longer spend my life savings on books and time to write.

But there’s a middle path, a way to choose art AND  stability, both.  To not concern yourself with wealth. To seek out enough financial security that you don’t fret daily, but also not get caught up in the pursuit of big houses and fancy cars. And as we get older, most of the writers I know are living those kinds of lives.  Balancing frugality with experience, to maximize the focus on art.

Let’s just say that I don’t know a single writer who’s ever speculated in anything but their own work. I don’t know a single poet who bought a house they couldn’t afford.

Because poets KNOW they can’t afford much.

In case you didn’t know…

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

I’m a mom. And now, thanks to Sondra, I’m a  happy, healthy, hip mom!

I absolutely love talking about parenting. I know a lot of people don’t agree with everything I think, so I try not to rant too hard about parenting too often.  It’s just  so close to the bone for so many of us. (and boring for everyone else)   But this was fun!

And in fact, my feelings about google-parenting and Purell are something of a preview… for the novel I’m writing. Watch out overly neurotic mommies… I’m coming for YOU!

Thanks, Sondra!

Kinda funny…

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Slidy Diner just got this great little review at the Kid Lit Kit blog, over at Scholastic.

I hadn’t conceived of the book as especially pie-referential, but I’ll take it!

After all, I LOVE pie, and the Hamburg Inn #2 (the diner that inspired the book) is FAMOUS for its  pie shake.

Do not ask me what a pie shake is.  if you cannot figure that out for yourself, I have no use for you.