Monday, June 24, 2013

Mosquito zombies

An unexpected side effect of reading Carrie Ryan's fabulous YA zombie trilogy (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, etc.): This morning I counted 27 mosquitoes clinging in wait to my screen door. I thought, they're like zombies! They're milling about waiting to devour me. I understand that mosquitoes might be more commonly compared to vampires, as they drink blood, but come on. The milling about in relentless droves? Definitely zombies.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Poem of the Week

Poem of the Week:
Jennifer Perrine                     
Jennifer Perrine                    

A Theory of Violence   

              -after New Delhi, after Steubenville

Under the surface of this winter lake,
I can still hear him say you're on thin ice
now, my heel grabbed, dragged into the opaque
murk of moments--woman raped on a bus;

girl plunged into oblivion, taken
on a tour of coaches' homes, local bars,
backseats of cars, the sour godforsaken
expression on each classmate's face; the dark,

the common route home, faint footfalls behind.
How many times have I bloodied my fist
against this frozen expanse to remind
myself there is another side, hope-kissed,

full of breath? I howl. The water begs, drown,
its hand pressing tight, muffling every sound.

-Jennifer Perrine 

Used by permission.  
Jennifer Perrine's first collection of poems, The Body Is No Machine (New Issues), won the 2008 Devil's Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry. Her second book, In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press), received the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. In 2014, she will serve as a member of the U.S. Arts and Culture Delegation to Cuba. Perrine teaches in the English department and directs the Women's and Gender Studies program at Drake University.

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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.    


Thursday, June 20, 2013

World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day.

A family can lose everything in one minute: that's all it takes for your world to turn on its head. The UN Refugee Agency today is asking people to take one minute to help those who've had to seek refuge. Follow the link.

From Syrian woman who sought refuge in Turkey: "I miss everything about Syria. Even the air..."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Transition time


I once heard nonfiction writer Tracy Kidder describe starting research on a new book as "jumping off a cliff." You go from a subject on which you've become an expert to one about which you really have no idea. You are, actually, the place your reader will be: interested enough to know more, but not thoroughly knowledgeable. Later, when you're up to your eyeballs in research, you'll have to remember what the starting stage feels like so you can define the terms your reader will need to know. For now, though, there's the general feeling of "ack!" (That's a professional term.) How will I ever learn all this? How will I ever write it? Can't I go back to my original subject that I know so well (because I just wrote a book on it)?

Yup, it's transition time. My novel is off in the hands of test readers. The school year is ending. We're packing up our stuff to move across town. I've promised myself to stick to short projects for the summer: articles, short stories, some poetry. (The start of which each generally contain their own mini "ack!" as I settle into a new subject.) I'm combing the Writer's Market, trying to remind myself to see the positive (all the possibilities!) rather than the uncertainty.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Race in six words

How do writing, teaching, and social justice intersect? In different ways, daily. Here's an example that had me clicking down the page and wishing I was in a comp or creative writing classroom, just to hear the stories my students would write. Can you write an essay in 6 words about your experience with race?

Check out The Race Card Project

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Loneliest Creature on Earth: 52 Hertz

Here is an excellent radio piece to capture your imagination. A man in the Navy listening for subs caught a frequency he didn't recognize. A marine biologist identified it as a whale, but the sound was all wrong. No other whale made that sound, which meant that, when he called out, no other whales responded. Ever. Year after year. The story has captured the minds of poets, scientists, a filmmaker, and plenty of everyday people. This link here also offers the back story behind the piece. Namely, how do you make a radio story about a whale who sings at a frequency too low for most radios to play? Enjoy.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Poem of the Week

(Do you ever read a poem and wish it was a sestina? This one has that repetitive, mysterious, circular nature to it that just makes me long for that form.)

Poem of the Week: Amaranth Borsuk

Amaranth Borsuk              
Character Anatomy  
Few things the hand wished language could
do, given up on dialect's downward spiral:
words so readily betray things they're meant
to represent.

Words tasted like other things. Type refused
to look machined, showed the strokes that
unbalanced, grew spurs against stress, each
swash, spine, shoulder, tail a fresh mark of
the hand that had no hand in it.

Arms broken, tissue mangled, the hand was
ready to try body's cant: a disappearing text,
past and future pressed into skin's plies.
Grammar's ultimate loss: surface, each
nanosecond, dead and reborn in microscopic

Take take take take take -- that's how body
ensures its own survival. The hand couldn't
trust it long enough to decipher its cipher:
empty vessel with hands. The body had false
papers, could not be identified, clearly could
not represent. It didn't look like the pictures
anymore, would only sit still to be counted,
so the hand learned to trust numbers --
observable, firm -- needed something to
count on without fingers or toes now that
fingers and toes were gone. Fingers and toes
wouldn't cut it.

-Amaranth Borsuk   
Used by permission. 
From Handiwork: Poems, Slope Editions, 2012. 
Amaranth Borsuk is the author of Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012); Tonal Saw (The Song Cave, 2010), a chapbook; and, with programmer Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012). She has a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and recently served as Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT. She currently teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Poem of the Week

Poem of the Week: Michelle Regalado Deatrick

Michelle Deatrick 
For My Daughter 
When I sweat in a Midwest January
....and wish to God it was a hot flash but know 
it's greenhouse gasses--read the news:
....Uranium seas rained on by iodine skies--
Sunday drives, see the Kalamazoo shimmer 
....spills of bitumen, kills of brown trout, 
dioxin wells irrigate the emerald fields,
....farmhouses where fracking flames 
flow from kitchen taps--I think of you then, grown
....old long after I'm gone, and wonder what you'll remember-- 
that day last September, cold apples
....and clear water, the still-sweet grass, and the paper 
plates, the plastic cups, how we threw away
....the whole green and generous world 
.....................................................and left you there.
-Michelle Regalado Deatrick 
Used by permission.  
Originally appeared in subTerrain's "Our Dying Planet" print issue (#63, Winter, 2013) and was a Finalist for the 2013 Split This Rock contest.  
Michelle Regalado Deatrick was the Winner of the 2012 Chautauqua Poetry Contest; she has been a fellow at Ragdale, VCCA, and MacDowell. Her work appears in the American Literary Review, subTerrain, Best New American Voices and many other publications. An advocate for environmental issues and small farm rights, Michelle lives on an eighty-acre farm and native prairie, teaches poetry workshops for the University of Michigan's Lifelong Learning Institute, and is Communications Director for the Michigan Small Farm Council.More of Michelle's writing can be found at

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!
If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.