Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Let us remember those who have given their time working for peace.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Three Cups of Tea

I'm about halfway through this book. Although the writing itself isn't very strong, I think, I am drawn into the story. I've long been interested in the idea that people can get hooked on something and doggedly pursue it. In this case, it's schools for Pakistani children, and Greg Mortenson, at least in this telling, is amazing, no... heroic in overcoming the obstacles. I don't know what the recent controversy over this book is about, so I'll look into that a bit when I finish.
I remember thinking about people's fixations when I worked a 4-H fundraiser at a dog show some years ago. I was a food vendor, so there was a lot of down time, and I watched with curiosity. Each dog represented incredible commitments of time and expense, and as I observed them and their owners perform that day, I was imagining what our communities would be like if we could somehow tap into that motivation.
In Three Cups of Tea, one man is doing that, and, also high on the marvelous scale, the story gives Americans a glimpse into the world that our government invests much focus on.
What if all that power could be trained on helping communities fulfill their self-determined potential, instead of selling weapons and making war?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Chapbook

I'm thrilled to have in hand my new chapbook from Kattywompus Press. The look and feel of the book is terrific. It was a pleasure to work with a press so conscientious, and so excited about the project.
These poems are inspired by two artists. Larry Towell is a photojournalist whose sensitive and unflinching images chronicle human suffering, joy and tenderness. James Turrell's sculptures work with natural and man-made light to create spaces that invite us in to challenge perception and engage in reflection. I was moved by their philosophical outlooks and poetic ways of speaking. It was a pleasure to spend time with their work and words.
I will be reading from this slender collection in Youngstown, Ohio; Appleton, Wisconsin; and Buffalo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rain, rain, rain

It seems we often are confronted with the complications of water. Here, a snowy winter has turned to a wet spring - flooding north and south of us, and the ground dangerously saturated. Overnight a sinkhole opened on a main thoroughfare from an antiquated, collapsed brick sewer line.
Time can feel like this too - so much or so little - the semester's squeeze and thirst, and now the expanse of summer and so many possible projects. I'm sure my list couldn't be completed by ten women in ten summers, but the imagination runs wild. Much of what I'd like to do is outside. This summer's goal is to brighten the face of the house. Fresh paint on the shutters and porch, and a newly designed and planted flower garden curving up the front walk. I got a baby lilac in before the last heavy rains.
But I have things to do inside as well. I want to send out a new chapbook manuscript, and write, and read, and paint a few rooms upstairs.
Unlike the robin who has tried several times to build a nest on a too-narrow ledge on my porch, I hope to complete a few tasks. I like having many things started, but too much starting over is hard on the spirit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The poems of Nin Andrews

I wrote this paper for a conference on gender in literature. I have been a fan of Nin and her poetry for a long time, and it was fun to take a concentrated look. As I was reading the paper, I got the usual glazed-over look from people sitting in a room, listening to paper after paper. But this essay is packed with excerpts of Nin's poems, and pretty soon they were sitting up and smiling in anticipation, like they'd had a shot of espresso and a bit of smelling salts. Thank you to Gently Read Literature for including it in this month's offerings.
Since I know Nin, and have heard her read many times, part of the delight of reading her work is hearing her voice in my head. She's had a remarkable life, and her imagination is good at what it does. More than that is her insight, her empathy and sensitivity. I always come away from our conversations with an idea for a better way to be.
Karen Schubert: “Everything Stuck to Her Skin”: Considerations of Gender in the Poetry of Nin Andrews

New poems up at Jenny

I was completely wowed by the class act release party of Jenny, now on its second issue. The place was packed - 150 people by some estimates. The students were confident and prepared, and the readers were terrific. Projected images of both issues made a compelling visual backdrop. A chance auction and Jenny t-shirts made fund raising fun. A well choreographed night. Kudos to Chris Barzak, who has more energy and commitment than any person I know, for providing a space for all this creativity to take place, and for being a steady presence to make sure it continues into the future.
One strength of the journal is its bridging of art and creative writing, particularly, but not limited to, the Youngstown State programs. I think one thing that makes Youngstown such an engaging place to live is the artistic charge. Check out the edgy, intriguing images. Jenny

Reading at the historic Ward Bakery

I strung Christmas lights along the dark hallway, thinking no one would find us. But they came from all over - Cleveland, Oberlin, Akron, Kent and all points Youngstown. It was good to see so many friends, and to meet people I've only seen on Facebook. Five hours of readings sounds long, but each person brought a distinct and dynamic voice, and most stayed after their group read to hear more. The table was creaking with their books. There is nothing more pleasurable than spending a day with people who love the written word.
Thank you to everyone who helped set up, especially Nikki, for making runs for more chairs and other essentials, and for manning the book table. Thanks to Tony and Tracy for hanging the stage curtain to absorb some of the sound bounce. It made an elegant backdrop. And thank you to the readers who made the day so meaningful.
There have been requests to do it next spring. Let's plan on it.
Here are this year's readers.

Noon * Fallen City Workshop
Rosalind Ansevin, Bill Koch, Dorothea Polite, Doug Weissen, Juanita Hall, Neno Perrotta

12:30 * Penguin Review
Colleen Clayton-Dippolito, Kelly Bancroft, Jim Hain, Caitlyn Ryan

1:00 * NEOMFA/YSU students and alumni
Dawson Steeber, Karen Kotrba, Evaline Abram-Diroll, Satya Palaparty

2:00 * Friends of Karen
Chris Meyers, Andrew Rihn, Eric Anderson, Lacie Semenovich, Jordan Shaver, John Burroughs, Steve Thomas, Robert C. Noble, Christina Brooks, Steve Brightman, Dianne Borsenik, Lori Wald Compton, Judith Monsour, Shelley Chernin, T.M. Göttl

3:30 * NEOMFA/YSU faculty
Robert Miltner, Melodie Provencher, Karen Kotrba, Karen Schubert, Will Greenway, Mindi Kirchner-Greenway, Craig Paulenich