Don’t Miss This Poetry Contest

Rick Lupert at Poetry Super Highway is offering a poetry contest that you might want to enter. The main prizes are cash (read below), but there are also a lot of other prizes available, including two copies of Doll God, which I am donating as a sponsor of the contest. There are lots of other books donated, too. What I love about Rick’s contests are that they aren’t to make money for a literary magazine, but to really benefit the poets themselves.

Read and ENTER. This is the best value contest around. The submission fee is $1 per poem!!! You can’t beat that. Think of the things you can buy for a buck. NOT MUCH and surely not even a large cup of coffee.

Warning: on my computer screen words do run too far to the right, but you can still get the gist of everything you need to know about the contest. I tested the links, so you can get to the entry form, etc.

Poetry Super Highway

Announcing the 2017 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest

s p o n s o r e d   b y

Angele Ellis • Ann Christine Tabaka • Clint Hirschfield • Corey Mesler • Curtis R. Smith • David C. Kopaska-Merkel • David Flynn • Ed Werstein • Elizabeth Marchitti • Ellen Sander • Emily Vieweg • Forage Poetry Forum • Hanoch Guy • Hiram Larew • Karawane, or the Temporary Death of the Bruitist • Ken Allan Dronsfield • Larry O. Bubar • “Laughing” Larry Berger • LB Sedlacek • Leilani Squire • Lone Stars Poetry Magazine • Luanne Castle • Magalena Ball • Marianne Szlyk • Marie C Lecrivain • Marsha Carow Markman • Mary Langer Thompson • Matthew Abuelo • Muddy River Poetry Review & Muddy River Books • Neil Leadbeater • Neil Meili • Poetry Contests for a Cause • Poets & Allies for Resistance • Poets Wear Prada • Rattle • Rick Lupert • Rolland Vasin • Ron Kolm • Ruth Hill • San Diego Poetry Annual • Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association • Steve Braff • Trish Lindsey Jaggers • Unlikely Books • Unlikely Books • Vincent O’Connor • Voices Israel • Winning Writers • WoollyDocIt’s our twentieth annual Poetry Contest featuring cash prizes and 48 sponsors who’ve donated 95 additional prizes.  Last year we were able to send every contest entrant a prize for participating and we’re hoping to do the same this year. (Click here for information on sponsoring this year’s contest.)

Read below for all the Entry Guidelines, The Complete Prize List, The Judges, and the 2017 Contest Calendar.

 

Entry Guidelines

  • The Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest is open to all human beings on planet Earth. (except for the three judges)
  • Enter as many poems as you like.
  • Previously published poems are eligible.
  • Poems may be of any style, length, or subject matter.
  • This contest is separate from weekly Poet of the Week consideration though submissions for Poet of the week consideration must be separate from Contest Submissions and the same poems may not be submitted for both.
  • There is a One Dollar Per Poem (US Funds Only) entry fee.
  • Poems are sent to the three contest judges with your name removed. The judges score each poem from 0-5 using quarter point intervals. (0, .25, .5, .75, 1, 1.25, 1.5, etc…)
  • Poems are sent to judges only after you fill out the Contest Entry Formand we have received your payment.

There are three easy steps to entering the contest:

STEP 1 FILL OUT THE ENTRY FORM
STEP 2 E-MAIL YOUR POEMS
Guidelines on how and where to email poems will be
displayed once you submit the contest entry form.
STEP 3 PAY THE ENTRY FEE
Guidelines on how and where to submit your $1 per poem entry
fee will be displayed once you submit the contest entry form.

Click here to go to the entry form.

Deadlines Etcetera

  • Deadline for postmarking entry fees (or paying them via PayPal or Venmo) is Saturday, September 23, 2017.
  • Regardless of when you postmark, your entry fees must be received by Wednesday, September 27, so if you’re mailing your entry fee, please account for the amount of time it will take for your it to travel between your home and Los Angeles.
  • This is a not for profit contest. All of the collected entry fees will be divided between the top three scoring poems (minus postage for mailing out additional prizes. See Prize List below)
  • Once your entry fee is received, your poems will be sent with your name removed to the three judges who will score them 0 – 5 (5 being best).
  • Your poems will not be forwarded to the judges until your entry fee is received.
  • If you have any questions or need any of the contest details clarified, please e-mail Contest@PoetrySuperHighway.com

Prizes

First Prize: 50% of the entry fees collected plus winning poem featured on the PSH

Second Prize: 30% of the entry fees collected plus winning poem featured on the PSH.

Third Prize: 20% of the entry fees collected plus winning poem featured on the PSH.

In addition, thanks to sponsors Rolland Vasin and Hiram Larew, an additional $275 will be added to the entry fees collected and divided with the above percentages among the top three scoring poets.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we are able to supplement the cash prizes with an impressive array of prizes which would be of interest to poets and writers.

The following prizes will be used to bolster first through third prize as well as distributed to other contest entrants.

Our goal is to be able to send every single person who enters the contest something.

If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor to this years contest in exchange for promotional consideration, please click HERE for the details.

Additional Prizes:

Angele Ellis
1 Three-Book Set which includes 1 copy of “Arab on Radar” by Angele Ellis, 1 copy of the book “Spared” by Angele Ellis, and 1 copy of the book “Under the Kaufmann’s Clock” by Angele Ellis

Ann Christine Tabaka
2 copies of the book “It Is Still Morning” by Ann Christine Tabaka

Clint Hirschfield
1 copy of the anthology “2014 Pendle War Poetry Competition Selected Poems”
1 copy of the anthology “2015 Pendle War Poetry Competition Selected Poems”

Corey Mesler
coreymesler.wordpress.com
1 signed copy of the book “Opaque Melodies that Would Bug Most People” by Corey Mesler

Curtis R. Smith
www.facebook.com/ipoeticconfessions
1 copy of the book, “I, Poetic Confessions, II” by Curtis R. Smith

David C. Kopaska-Merkel
dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com
2 one-year (3 issue) digital (PDF) subscriptions to Dreams and Nightmares magazine

David Flynn
www.davidflynnbooks.com
2 copies of the book “Selected Poems” by David Flynn

Ed Werstein
1 copy of the book “Who Are We Then?” by Ed Werstein
1 copy of the book “Masquerades and Misdemeanors” by The Hartford Avenue Poets
1 copy of the “2018 Wisconsin Poets Calendar”

Elizabeth Marchitti
1 copy of the book “Growing Old Disgracefully” by Elizabeth Marchitti

Ellen Sander
www.ellensander.com
1 copy of the book “Hawthorne, a House in Bolinas” by Ellen Sander

Emily Vieweg
emilyvieweg.blogspot.com
1 copy of the chapbook “Conversations with Beethoven and Bach” by Emily Vieweg
1 copy of the chapbook “Look Where She Points” by Emily Vieweg

Forage Poetry Forum
foragepoetry.prophpbb.com
1 copy of the book “Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry” selected by William Sieghart.
1 set of “Phoenix Classic Poetry: 10 book Box Set “Phoenix Poetry: Classic Poetry – a 10-book collection including Blake, Poe, Shakespeare & Yeats”

Hanoch Guy
hanochkguypoet.com
1 copy of the book “We Pass Each Other on the Stairs:120 Real and Imaginary Encounters” by Hanoch Guy

Hiram Larew
www.facebook.com/hiramlarewpoet
$25 added to the prize pot

Karawane, or the Temporary Death of the Bruitist
karawane.homestead.com
3 copies of the magazine “Karawane, or the Temporary Death of the Bruitist” with assorted postcards designed by Fluffy Singler

Ken Allan Dronsfield
arevenantpoet.wordpress.com
2 copies of the book “The Cellaring” by Ken Allan Dronsfield

Larry O. Bubar
2 copies of the anthology “Breathe vol.1” by the Breathe Writers Group

“Laughing” Larry Berger
1 copy of the book “Instant Poetry (Just add words!)” by Lawrence Berger

LB Sedlacek
www.lbsedlacek.com
1 copy of the chapbook “Mars or Bust” by LB Sedlacek

Leilani Squire
leilanisquire.com
4 1/2 hour creativity coaching sessions

Lone Stars Poetry Magazine
1 Issue of Lone Stars Poetry Magazine

Luanne Castle
www.luannecastle.com
2 copies of the book “Doll God” by Luanne Castle

Magalena Ball
www.magdalenaball.com
1 autographed copy of the book “Unmaking Atoms” by Magdalena Ball

Marianne Szlyk
thesongis.blogspot.com
3 copies of the book “I Dream of Empathy” by Marianne Szlyk
2 copies of the The Blue Hour’s Third Anthology
1 copy of “Literature Today”

Marie C Lecrivain
www.poeticdiversity.org
1 copy of the book “Philemon’s Gambit” by Marie C Lecrivain

Marsha Carow Markman
2 copies of the anthology “If We Dance . . . A Collection of Poems” edited by Joan Wines

Mary Langer Thompson
home.earthlink.net/~ml_thompson
1 signed copy of the book “Poems in Water” by Mary Langer Thompson

Matthew Abuelo
joerussia3.wixsite.com/thenewsfactory
2 copies of the book “The News Factory” by Matthew Abuelo

Muddy River Poetry Review & Muddy River Books
www.muddyriverpoetryreview.com
1 copy of the book “Love Poems From Hell” by Zvi A. Sesling

Neil Leadbeater
2 copies of the book “Finding the River Horse” by Neil Leadbeater

Neil Meili
NeilMeili.com
2 copies of the book “Missing Leonard Cohen” by Neil Meili

Poetry Contests for a Cause
www.facebook.com/poetrycontestsforacause
1 copy of the anthology “Paw Prints in Verse: Poems about Pets” edited by Stacy Savage

Poets & Allies for Resistance
1 copy of the book “The Bottle & The Boot” by J.L Martindale & Daniel McGinn
1 copy of the book “Deed” by Rod Smith
1 copy of the book “Rise of the Trust Fall” by Mindy Nettifee
1 copy of the book “Open 24 Hours” by Suzanne Lummis

Poets Wear Prada
www.poetswearprada.com
1 $15 Gift Certificate for poetry editing services (worth 5 pages) from Poets Wear prada

Rattle
www.rattle.com
2 one-year (4-issue) subscriptions to Rattle magazine

Rick Lupert
www.poetrysuperhighway.com
1 copy of the book “Donut Famine” by Rick Lupert
1 copy of the book “Romancing the Blarney Stone” by Rick Lupert
1 copy of the book “Professor Clown on Parade” by Rick Lupert”

Rolland Vasin
$250 added to the prize pot divided by the 3 winning poets

Ron Kolm
2 copies of the book “A Change in the Weather, poems” by Ron Kolm

Ruth Hill
1 pack of 3 recent poetry journals

San Diego Poetry Annual
sandiegopoetryannual.com
1 copy of the San Diego Poetry Annual 2016-17

Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association
sfpoetry.com
2 .pdf subscriptions to “Star*Line”, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association Journal

Steve Braff
stevebraff.blogspot.com
1 signed copy of “Forty Days” by Steve Braff- a chapbook of Ekphrastic poetry inspired by the included color photographs of Joshua Tree National Park .

Trish Lindsey Jaggers
www.facebook.com/trishlindseyjaggers
1 signed copy of the book “Holonym: a collection of poems” by Trish Lindsey Jaggers

Unlikely Books
www.unlikelystories.org/unlikely-books
2 copies of the book “Ghazals 1-59 and Other Poems” by Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt
2 copies of the book “Scorpions” by Joel Chace
2 copies of the book “brain : storm” by Michelle Greenblatt (2nd edition)
2 copies of the book “Soy solo palabras but wish to be a city” by León De la Rosa & Gui.ra.ga7 (2nd edition)
2 copies of the book “My Hands Were Clean” by Tom Bradley (2nd Edition)”

Vincent O’Connor
vinceoconnor.com
1 copy of the book “Mouthful of Forevers” by Clementine Von Radics
1 copy of the book “Thirty-Three Minnesota Poets” edited by Monica and Emilio DeGrazia”

Voices Israel
2 copies of the anthology “A Second Decade of Poems from Voices Israel”

Winning Writers
winningwriters.com
2 free entries to the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest (value $12 each)

WoollyDoc
www.woollydoc.com
1 purple velvet covered WoollyDoc pocket journal
1 spotted velboa covered WoollyDoc pocket journal
1 canvas covered WoollyDoc pocket journal

.

Meet Your Judges

  • Ben Britton (Exeter, United Kingdom)
    Ben Britton is a poet and short fiction writer currently living in Exeter, in the UK. He was brought up in London, and would like to think that as a youth he roamed through the disquiet of the city at ease. But instead he was brought up in suburbia (and not the gothic kind either). He alternates his time between writing, sleeping, and attempting to study literature and film at uni.
  • J.P. Grasser (Salt Lake City, Utah)
    A 2017-2019 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, J.P. Grasser attended Sewanee: The University of the South and received his M.F.A. in poetry from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently a doctoral student in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where he teaches undergraduate writing and serves as Managing Editor for Quarterly West. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, Best New Poets 2015 (selected by Tracy K. Smith), The Cincinnati Review, Meridian, The New Criterion, Ninth Letter Online, and West Branch Wired, among others.
  • Jo Angela Edwins (Florence, South Carolina)
    Jo Angela Edwins teaches creative writing, American literature, and composition at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. She has published poems in a variety of venues including Calyx, Sojourn, New South, and Adanna. She is the 2014 recipient of the Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship Poetry Prize from the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Her chapbook, Play, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.

2017 Contest Calendar

  • July 5: Contest begins
  • July 10-16: Judges featured as Poets of the Week
  • July 23, 2:00 pm (pacific)PSH Live Judges Event: Live broadcast where Judges will have the chance to read poems and discuss the contest and you can call in live and ask them questions. Click here for more info. and to tune in.
  • September 23: Final deadline for contest entries. (Entry fees must be received by PayPal or Venmo, or postmarked by September 23 or they’ll be returned.)
  • September 29: Judges deadline for returning scored poems.
  • October 6: Second round scoring deadline (in the event of tied scores.)
  • October 82pm (pacific) PSH Live Event: “Winners Announced” in a special broadcast. Listen to it live and if any of the winners happen to be listening, they’ll be invited to call in and read their winning entries live on the air..
  • October 9-15: Contest Winners featured as Poets of the Week.

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Filed under Doll God, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing, Writing contest

The Trick the Cat Learned

I’m writing this between Canada Day (this past Saturday) and Independence Day (tomorrow). Happy belated and future celebrations, y’all, you guys, youse, you’uns, and however you pronounce that direct address in Canada.

A brief update on Perry today. Since he was on his own for whoever-knows-how-long, he doesn’t like me to touch his head or his back, and he spends some of his time under the bed (and the rest on the bed or in his cat tree), but he is certainly learning his lessons well because I taught him a trick.

He’s pretty sweet, isn’t he?!

Here he is on the bed (that has lots of layers of covers on because of the deworming). By the way, today is dose #2.

So is Perry feral or not? My guess is that a lot of people would have automatically classified him as feral, but that he was somewhere on the continuum between socialized and feral–and that with some effort he is moving over toward the socialized side. It’s nice that he likes to lie on the bed with me to watch TV, likes to play with me, and taps my hand with his paw every time I ask.

I am reading the 2nd set of galleys for Kin Types. With an uptick in work lately and spending time with Perry, I stopped writing again. Ugh. I need to find a routine that works. Maybe writing in the bedroom with Perry? But that would be ignoring him!

68 Comments

Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Kin Types, Lifestyle, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing, Writing Talk

Is It Really a Choice Between Twitter and Poetry?

In April, for Poetry Month, the LA Times ran an OP-ED by Lori Anne Ferrell, who is the director of Claremont Graduate University’s Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and Kate Tufts Discovery Award. These are giants in the world of poetry awards. Ferrell’s piece argues that poetry is complex and cannot be reduced. She argues that we should all find a poem that startles us with its “lasting truths.” She wants us to put our favorite poems in our pockets. She speaks very well for poetry and for the month of poetry.

You can read the article here: A Book of Poetry That’s Worth $100,000, And So Much More

Near the end of the short piece, Ferrell suggests something she calls revolutionary: that we quit Twitter and send a poem to someone we disagree with. She thinks poetry will span the divide between us. What she seems to hope for is akin to what I felt Tony Walsh did in his poem “This is The Place” about Manchester.

At first, I took her quite literally. Yeah, I should stop wasting so much time on the internet. On Twitter, yes, but also Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even WordPress. Maybe not Goodreads ;). After all, it makes sense, right? Every minute spent online is a minute that could be spent reading a poem or sending someone else a poem.

But then I wondered who I would send a poem to and it led me to think about the difference between Ferrell’s life and mine. She is a humanities professor on campus at a graduate university. I work at home and live a split personality existence, helping run our business and writing creatively.

Maybe you, like me, work from home. Maybe you don’t and you have a vast network of coworkers. If you work from home, you don’t see too many people on a regular basis. But you might correspond and communicate regularly using the internet and even social media.  If you have coworkers, but unlike Ferrell, don’t work in a field that automatically values poetry or novels or painting or photography (whatever your art, there are commonalities between them all), you still might find the need to communicate online with others who do.

So why would you quit your “Twitter feed”? Or WordPress or Facebook or whatever forum you most value? I sure don’t want to be that isolated. I want to talk to people about what I care about.

And as for sending a poem to someone: Since the postal service is a declining service, most people will choose email to send a poem. Last time I checked, emails were part of our online world.

NEVERTHELESS,

It is true that reading well-written poetry and prose adds a richness to our lives that we can’t get from Twitter. And it doesn’t provoke anxiety in the same way either. (Don’t tell me social media doesn’t give you anxiety, at least some of the time).

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Perry took his first dose of deworming medicine a week ago. He takes the 2nd dose in another week. In the meantime, he’s shut up in a bedroom with a view of birds, lizards, snakes, and bunnies. Although I still don’t pet him, if I reach out my “paw” to him, he reciprocates by touching it with his own paw. Then he gets excited and stretches and rolls on his back.

Look at how his paw pads have changed in the past two months!

 It’s been so hot in Arizona (up to 120.8 one day) that he must be so relieved to be inside in the air conditioning and with a clean water bowl.

Writing was set aside for the past week so that I could focus on all the work I needed to do for Perry on top of my regular work. But I hope to be #amwriting this week! What do you plan to do for yourself this week?

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Essay, National Poetry Month, Poetry, Reading, social media, Writing

The Real Story of Tiny and Catharina

 

baby Tiny

Teeny Tiny: last summer

 

Remember Tiny the magpie? And the love of his life, Tina? And remember Catharina who patiently observed the pair and reported on their goings-on? Check out the story here if you missed that post.

After writing about Catharina and Tiny, I wondered what was going on with Tiny and Tina and would periodically email Catharina to find out.  You might have wondered yourself how they were faring.

Now you can read the whole story of Tiny and Tina and of Catharina, too, in Fly Wings, Fly High!.What you might not realize is that Catharina had a stroke (at quite a young age) and began her recovery around the time that young Tiny was trying to learn how to deal with his screwed-up wing.

MY REVIEW

Catherine Lind’s narrative about her recovery from a stroke is threaded with the story of a wild magpie Lind observes struggling to fly with a deformed wing. Tiny, as Lind names the bird that lives in her yard, works very hard at learning to fly. Lind is inspired as she watches Tiny for months as he keeps trying to fly–first a few feet, then from a little “jungle gym” Lind creates for him, and then to the apple tree to eat the fruit.

Lind finds that Tiny is ever hopeful and persistent. When he tries to land, he isn’t graceful and crashes over and over. Each time, he picks himself up and tries again. He is never downhearted, and he never gives up. But it’s not so easy for Lind who has always prided herself on her skill with words. They are her livelihood and her portal to the world. When the stroke knocks out half her vocabulary in both English and Swedish, she can only communicate by speaking a combination of both languages. Sometimes it seems as if she will never recover.

Watching Tiny’s determination and good spirits, Lind decides to follow his lead and work intensely on her skills by singing, hand exercises, and eventually, telling elaborate stories aloud about Tiny and his life. Reading Fly Wings, Fly High! taught me a great deal about what it is like to experience a stroke, and I was comforted and intrigued by the extraordinary tale of Tiny, whose influence on Lind’s life has been enormous. My life has been enriched by reading this charming story told by a very talented storyteller.

MORE INFO

Catharina’s book is short, like a novella—either a very short novel or a long short story. It’s available in paperback or for Kindle.

 

I so enjoyed the loving detail of the natural world and the animals found within. When I was a kid I loved books that paid attention to this world (Gene Stratton Porter and Louisa May Alcott both managed this accomplishment at times), but I’ve moved away from it as an adult. What a wonderful experience to inhabit that world again.

Additionally, learning about the effects of a stroke from the inside out was fascinating; I’ve never read anything quite like Catharina’s experience.

###

Yesterday I washed sweet Perry’s bedding and a hairball fell onto the floor. It had WORMS coming out of it. Right after we began fostering him I took his poo to the vet and paid $ to have it tested at the lab. Must have been at a certain point in the life cycle where it doesn’t show up because this hairball is just jammed with worms. I am being so nice to you not to show it to you. Heh. My stomach is still heaving a little. But imagine how bad his tummy has hurt all this time!

I did work on the galleys for Kin Types. That was fun, but a little difficult with my cataracts. Sigh.

48 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Cats and Other Animals, Family history, Inspiration, Kin Types, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Reading, Writing, Writing Talk

How Do I Feel At “The End”?

Generally I am a fan of lyrical memoir and lyrical poetry. Give me metaphors and gorgeous descriptions. Give me something to admire in the way words bounce  off each other and give me a sense of the glorious art of language.

This is not Becky Galli’s memoir. Rethinking Possible, Rebecca Faye Smith Galli’s memoir, is told in a voice that is hers: direct, focused, prepared, smart, communicative, tough, and with a spark of humor.

Becky’s memoir is a must read. Becky’s memoir touched my heart, and I have a hard time writing about it. It’s not like writing about a beautiful artful book. It’s writing about someone’s heart and soul right out there on paper.

Becky’s memoir will be going to film. I wonder who will play Becky.

Becky is a competitive type-A personality, driven to be perfect and nearly reaching it. But God has other plans for her life than what she has envisioned or set up in her personal PowerPoint presentation (metaphor).

In literature, I have never seen a person’s life so beset by one tragedy after another, except in war literature. And yet Becky was prepared for this—prepared by the best. Her pastor father was a marvelous mentor to other pastors, a newspaper columnist, and a clear thinker. He shielded Becky throughout her  upbringing with the strength of his wonderful advice.

That’s why, when I turned the page and encountered a chapter entitled “Farewell to My Father,” I burst completely and utterly into tears. I’m sure the gardener thought I had lost it as he was watching TV nearby.

I could provide you the litany of losses in Becky’s life, but really, what is the point. Please, in this one case at least, take my word for it and read the book.

I travelled through the darkest days with Becky in this book and at the end I am not sad. Amazed, certainly. Gobsmacked, for sure. I am not sad because watching how Becky’s family was transformed has left me in awe of what family is and can be.

I can’t write about this book without tearing up, but I also can’t wait to see that movie when it eventually happens!

 

39 Comments

Filed under Book promotion, Book Review, Books, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Memoir

Goodreads No Social Media Time Suck

Are you a reader? I suspect if you’re a blog reader then you do consider yourself to be a reader.

And if you’re a reader, are you on Goodreads? If you are, great. If you haven’t done so already, FRIEND me here:

Then read the list below and tell me what else I missed that Goodreads offers to readers.

If you’re not yet on Goodreads, let me tell you what I like about it. It can be a very social media. You can choose to join lots of groups and chat about all kinds of books and book issues.  If you don’t find the group you want, you can create and moderate one.

But if you don’t want to be that social, you can choose your comfort level—anywhere from social butterfly to recluse.

What else can you do on Goodreads

  • When you hear about a book you want to read in the future, you can add it to your to-read list.
  • Your own personal reading lists will keep you organized. At any time, you can look up what you have already read and see which books you are “currently reading,” but have forgotten about (I’ve misplaced the book or forgotten I was in the middle of one on Kindle—don’t ask). Organization can be by genre.
  • Book reviews by other Goodreads readers will give you an idea if you want to read a book or not.
  • Your own book reviews will remind you later of what you liked or didn’t like—and allow you to interact with others about any book you choose. They will also reward a writer whose book you really appreciated. If you already leave book reviews on Amazon, you can post the exact same review both places.
  • Friends will send you book recommendations.
  • Take a reading challenge.
  • Follow your favorite blogs through Goodreads.
  • When you’re busy, you can just ignore Goodreads; it won’t mind.
  • Book giveaways are super easy to enter, and you have a good chance of winning. How do I know? I have won!
  • You can follow or friend writers and correspond with them through public questions or personal messages.
  • Occasionally there are book-related gigs available.
  • Need a quote? Find them here.
  • Quizzes, author pages, and creative writing opportunities are on Goodreads.

Those of you already on the site, what do you like best about Goodreads?

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Kin Types had an original release date of June 23, 2017, but I got an email from the publisher. They are running five weeks behind. So don’t look for your copy until the end of July or first week of August! I’m so sorry for the delay. !@#$%^&*()

In the better news category, Doll God was reviewed by an academic critic in a print journal Pleiades Book Review 14:2.

Christine Butterworth-McDermott:  “Dolls, Freaks, Art: American Poets Creating a New Mythology.”

Butterworth-McDermott’s article is a feminist reading of Doll God. I love how she connected with the doll and fairy tale poems in the book. She also reviews two other books, by Susan Swartwout and Denise Alvarez, in the same piece. At the end, she says, “Readers should read and reread the works of Castle, Swartwout, and Alvarez, finding new ways of looking at the world each time.”

Since I haven’t been writing lately I started Diane Lockward’s poetry craft book, The Crafty Poet III am writing a few very rough drafts based on exercises in the book. It’s a good way to get started again.

I like my books and flowers in large quantity!

 

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Review, Books, Kin Types, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Introducing Rebecca Faye Smith Galli, Author of Rethinking Possible: A Memoir of Resilience

Meet Rebecca Faye Smith Galli, the author of Rethinking Possible (She Writes Press, June 2017), a memoir that is Galli’s response to living in the wake of extraordinary losses.

Becky (I need to call her by the name I know her by) and I met a few years ago in writing workshops in the Stanford University online writing certificate program where we were cohorts in the creative nonfiction track. In class and in her column and blog, Becky inspires. Although I have read parts of Becky’s story, I am eager to read Rethinking Possible and to learn more about Becky’s unique life and her strength and determination.

Here is a brief bio from Rethinking Possible‘s press kit that sums up why Becky is perfectly positioned to write a story about extraordinary loss, grief, and resilience.

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli was born into a family
that valued the power of having a plan. Her 1960s
southern upbringing was idyllic—even enviable. But
life does not always go according to plan, and when
her 17-year-old brother died in a waterskiing accident,
the slow unraveling of her perfect family began.
There was her son’s degenerative, undiagnosed
disease and subsequent death; her daughter’s autism
diagnosis; her separation; and then, nine days after
the divorce was final, the onset of the transverse
myelitis that would leave Galli paralyzed from the
waist down. Despite such devastating tragedy, Galli
maintained her belief in family, in faith, in loving
unconditionally, and in learning to not only accept,
but also embrace a life that had veered down a path
far different from the one she had envisioned.

Look at that sunny smile on Becky’s face. And those gold boots! Wowza!

I pre-ordered Becky’s book a couple of months ago, but Friday Amazon wrote and asked me if I still wanted it. UM, YES!!!! So I hope it will be arriving soon! In the meantime, I asked Becky some questions that had been on my mind while she’s been working on the book.

*Writing a memoir means that the writer has to put herself back into the events she is writing about. Many writers find this very challenging emotionally. As you wrote about so many losses that you have experienced, did you consciously protect yourself in some way during the writing process? How did you cope with reliving the losses?

You are so right. The pain was intense, often relived more than once through the edits. Two things helped me:

 Structure: When I wrote about deep loss in the early stages, I would block off two to three days on my calendar and binge write. I prepared healthy meals ahead (tuna salad, grilled chicken, and tons of boiled eggs), stocked up on my favorite not-so-healthy snacks (Lance cheese crackers, Reese’s® peanut butter cups, and peanut M&M’s), and made sure I had plenty of water, coffee, and green tea. I took breaks, often setting alarms to make sure I got out of the house to walk the dog, grab the mail, or sit on the deck for a change of scenery.

Support: My sister was my anchor. She knew my writing schedule and exactly what I was writing about each day. I would check in with her in the morning and then ask her to call me at the end of the day. She would often help me remember details or give me her point of view about the same scene. Counting on her call and hearing her voice helped me time-block the intensity. It’s amazing what we can endure when we know it is for a finite period of time.

***

*You and I met in the writing program at Stanford. We learned that memoir is both the retelling of the experience and the reflection upon that experience: “What does it mean to me? What did I learn from it? How did it shape who I am today?” So how does reflection figure into Rethinking Possible? What form does it take and how much a part of the book is it?

Reflection is key to the book; in fact, it is baked in its message of “rethinking possible.” Through the years, I’d found comfort and inspiration from many sources so I decided to begin each chapter with a quote, inviting reflection relevant to the chapter’s topic.

Then, the reader witnesses the transformation of “character Becky” through her own self-reflection. After each loss, she reacts, revolts, and is unwilling to accept the unwanted realities about herself or the circumstances that she is facing. She was raised to be a winner, a competitor. She did not like to lose. Through each challenge, the reader sees her stubbornness, her self-absorption, even her arrogant self-righteousness. They also see her pain, her bold questioning, and unvarnished self-doubts:

Why me?

Why my brother?

Why my child?

Why my divorce?

Have I become unlovable?

Yet, she does not give up.

Her stubbornness becomes a steadfast determination as she pursues the closely-knit family life she experienced before her brother’s death. Through this honest self-reflection she discovers how to rethink what’s possible, accepting not only the circumstance, but what she has learned about herself.

Without reflection, an assessment of “what is” based on “what was,” we limit our perspective, our capacity to grow, and our ability to fully engage in “rethinking” what is possible.

***

*Did you do any research for writing your book? Since it’s your own story you are telling, did it all come “from your head,” or was it necessary to read and look up information?

I relied heavily on my father’s book, Sit Down, God. . . I’m Angry for the details about my brother’s death. His vivid descriptions time-warped me back to the scene, but my memory had to kick in to recall my twenty-year-old mindset. After Matthew’s seizures, I began keeping a journal. It was the only way I could capture my spinning thoughts and put them to rest. Then in 1997, six months after my paralysis, a friend introduced me to the latest craze—the internet. Shortly after that, I reconnected with a high school friend through email who wanted an update on my life and my adjustments to paralysis. Our exchanges created an email journal that documented nearly twenty years of experiences and reflections and were the basis for my newspaper column career. Still, I googled for details like the make/model of car we loaded up and packed for vacation when I was six years old, song lyrics, and the exact kind of workout gear I sported in 1981.

***

*Through reading your thought-provoking columns and blog, I see you as a woman of strong Christian faith who was very influenced by her pastor father. Do you think your book speaks to others who have experienced losses who are not themselves religious or who come from other religious traditions?

Great question! I do! The philosophy that, “Life can be good, no matter what,” is based on a commitment to find the good in our circumstance. Again, that takes tremendous and sustained effort. For me, my faith is my fuel. My belief system sustains me, grounds me, and gives me a confidence that there will always be something to hope for. However, no matter what your belief system, we must first accept our circumstance before we can “rethink” what is possible in it. Resilient living depends on it.

***

*Do you have hopes or goals for what readers will take away from reading Rethinking Possible? 

I hope Rethinking Possible will offer encouragement and hope to those who have loved deeply and lost dearly. At its core, I think resilience translates into a foundation of hope. Yet hope is a tricky emotion. It can be wonderfully sustaining, but it can also be exhausting.

In my book, I talk about the benefit of pursuing parallel paths after loss, especially when the future is uncertain. Sometimes it’s helpful to pursue hope and reality at the same time. Often what we hope for just isn’t possible. The key to resilience, at least for me, is to temper hope with reality. In essence, resilience is a process of constantly rethinking what is possible after we have accepted a new reality.

I truly believe that life can be good, no matter what. However, “can” is the most important word. After significant losses, it often takes tremendous and sustained effort to find hope within a newly-defined reality. After reading Rethinking Possible, I’d love for the reader to feel like it’s worth the effort.

***

From what I have read of Becky’s writing, the reader will definitely feel that it’s worth the effort to read Rethinking Possible.

You can join Becky for her Thoughtful Thursdays where she shares what’s inspired her to stay positive that week.

She’s on social media as @chairwriter.

Rethinking Possible can be ordered on Kindle right now and the paperback will ship starting on June 9.

 

 

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Filed under Book promotion, Books, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Memoir, Memoir writing theory, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing Talk

Book Trailer Decisions

Although I never had a book trailer for Doll God, I’ve since read that they are important because readers, like most people today, are used to videos and to receiving information in that format. So I am trying one for Kin Types.

I hope you enjoy it. It’s only 53 seconds long and you can either listen to the music or keep your volume off.

Do you regularly watch book trailers? If you’re a writer with a published book or books, have you used book trailers?

Unless you are experienced at making videos, it takes a lot of time to make a short little video about your book. Rather than waste time learning step by step, I asked my daughter who already makes memory video albums for people to make the video for me. I sent her links to book trailers and book trailer articles, old family photos, and the manuscript itself. After the video was completed, I learned a few things from her.

There are a lot of decisions that go into making a book trailer. The length is one thing. Sometimes short is best: if you keep it under 60 seconds you can share it on Instagram.  It’s also more likely to be watched. But you can’t put too much into 60 seconds.

A mistake some authors make is to try to give a complete synopsis of the book in the trailer, so she opted to give a flavor of Kin Types instead.

You have to make sure the music fits the book.

Do you want a narrator or just written text or do you want to showcase your own reading from the book? My daughter thought that for a short video, simplicity was best and used written text. That way, people don’t have to listen to the video if they are at work or otherwise unable to listen to audio without disturbing others.

###

In case you are wondering how Perry, our unsocialized foster cat, is doing, I can tell you that he loves to play with Hot Pursuit, a game that spins a furry mouse on a stick. He’s also interested in the robot fish in a bowl of water, but Hot Pursuit is his passion. He eats Wellness chicken pate out of a bowl I hold in my hand and his nose and whispers nuzzle my hand. He sniffs and licks my fingers. But he still doesn’t want me to reach out and touch him. One day I touched his haunch, and he flinched and jumped back. Then he lay back down and tentatively touched my hand with his paw. Sometimes he lies in a cat bed on a bench in the sun and sometimes he sleeps underneath the bench or under the footstool. He’s only done two naughty things, which is pretty good considering that he is quite young. He chewed the tag off the lamp’s electrical cord. I hope he knows cords are bad to touch. He also peed on a pile of clean laundry I left lying in his territory. Oops.

Hope your week is a beauty!

 

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Filed under Book promotion, Books, Doll God, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, History, Kin Types, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

The Place of Poetry: Tony Walsh Understands

Can we think about the place of poetry in our world? After listening to (watching, also) Tony Walsh share his stunning occasional poem “This is The Place,” I do wonder what people think about the importance of poetry (an occasional poem is written for an occasion). Not that many hours after the tragic bombing outside the Manchester Arena, poet Walsh recited a poem that gripped me with its significance and intensity.  Listen here if you have not yet had the opportunity.

Notice how his rhythm and, yes, rhymes, work to fire up the pride and hometown love of the people of Manchester. The poem takes the power away from the terrorist, away from those who want to harm our civilization, and gives it to the people of Manchester (and in a way to all of us for our hometowns). This is one of the powers of poetry: that it can allow us to assert our own power.

Poetry is power. Poetry is political. Poetry is today, this minute, right now.

But do people understand that? Maybe I’m imagining it. Because I looked at a different youtube clip of the same event and look at the comments from people! They are a mean, small-minded crowd, waiting to be thrown more and more red meat. Wait for it: the coliseums will be built.

Most of the comments on that clip are hideous. They completely miss it all.

But all is not lost. These commenters seem to understand.

What IS the place of poetry in our world?

 

* If the tone of commenting changes on any of these that will change the story, of course.

My prayers are with Manchester and, in fact, with us all.

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Filed under Poetry, Poetry reading, Writing Talk

One Wacky Western Landmark

For years, whenever I traveled on the 202 freeway loop and saw a strange wedding cake shaped structure in the distance I wondered about it. Then the gardener saw a program on TV where the place was identified as Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights. I googled the castle and discovered that there were tours of the property. When we decided we wanted to go check it out, I found that I needed to book the tour many months in advance. So about nine months ago I bought the $15 tickets for two. In the amount of time it takes to develop a full human baby, the gardener and I finally were allowed to visit and learn about Tovrea Castle.

Our tour group traveled across the property and up to the castle in two golf carts driven by our two orange-attired docents, each named Nancy. I’m not sure if the tour guides have to be called Nancy or if it was a coincidence they were both named Nancy. (OK, I’m kidding).

The castle and acreage are now in the middle of the city with industrial and commercial zoning all around. It’s not far from Sky Harbor Airport either, and I saw several planes overhead. Other people on my tour saw roadrunners, squirrels, and a jackrabbit with big ears, but I didn’t catch a glimpse of anything with a heartbeat outside of our tour.

What looked like a castle from afar actually wasn’t that large up close. The entire building is about 5,000 square feet, and that includes the basement, which is the largest floor. The second and third floors have small hotel rooms. We were not allowed to go up there, but were told that there is only one bathroom per floor. On a 360 degree iPad tour, the rooms looked quite nice and ready for move in. I might call the architectural style cheesy, but maybe I just don’t appreciate it properly. The light fixtures and other accessories were all in the art deco style, which is definitely a style I like very much.

The castle is painted in its original colors. The front door was remarkable for its plainness. From every floor of the building it is possible to get a 360 degree view of Phoenix.

The bannister is made of terrazo and the columns marble. Terrazo is a compound of granite and concrete.

Before the castle was ever built, F.L. and Lizzie Warner established a homestead on 160 acres in 1907. They built their house (no longer in existence) on a rocky knoll, overlooking . . . desert. Scrub is what I call it. Eventually they added to their property and when Lizzie (after F.L. died) sold the property to Alessio Carraro in 1928 there was a total of 277 acres.

Carraro was an Italian immigrant who made a fortune in the sheet metal business in San Francisco. In 1928 he moved to Arizona, wanting to develop a desert resort and luxury housing subdivision. The “castle” was built as a hotel and completed in 1930. Because of the Great Depression, Carraro had to sell the property in 1931 at a great loss to get cash. Maybe he also sold because his wife refused to move to the desert. Or maybe it was another reason . . . .

While Carraro owned the property, a lot of construction was completed. He hired a Russian gardener, called Mokta, who built an enormous cactus garden. The garden still exists, in a way, but some of the sahuaros (the sentinels of the Sonoran Desert) are dead or dying, and it does not look as rich and thickly planted as shown in the old photographs. What my gardener noticed (that was not mentioned by the tour guides) was that in the old days the property was completely irrigated, whereas today it is not. Even sahuaros need some water, I guess.

Mokta, Carraro, and Carraro’s son Leo planted over 500 species of cactus and lined the property with white river rock from the Salt River. They also created two concrete-lined pools, a horseshoe area, and a game court (for a game that was a combination of bocce and pool).

At this point, the history of Carraro and the “castle” meets the history of the Tovrea family.

Edward Ambrose (“E.A.”) Tovrea was born in Illinois in 1861 and moved to Kansas at the age of 10 where he worked on a cattle ranch. He started a freight company that transported goods between western states and eventually settled in Arizona where he built and owned butcher shops throughout the state, founding the Arizona Packing Company, later known as the Tovrea Packing Company.

In 1931, E.A. and his second wife, Della, purchased the castle with 44 acres from Alessio Carraro. Now this is not part of the official story, but I found it online and maybe it’s the real reason Carrara had to sell the property:

Carraro’s dream of a resort hotel and a subdivision of fine homes ended a few months later. For some time, Carraro had tried unsuccessfully to buy 40 acres adjacent to his land that would serve as an important buffer between his property and a stockyard and meat packing plant. When the acreage finally was sold, it went not to Carraro, but to the owner of the nearby packing company E. A. Tovrea.

Tovrea promptly put up sheep pens on the land. That was it for Carraro, who figured few people would be interested in buying a nice home next to a flock of sheep. In June, 1931, Carraro accepted an offer from a real estate agent for the hotel and much of the property. Unknown to him was that the buyer was Della Tovrea.

What rotten luck. I’ve seen photos of the descendents of Carrara and Tovrea together in a friendly manner, but this must have been such a blow to Carrara.

That stockyard came to be part of the Tovrea Stockyards. Can you imagine the smell in the heat of the summer?

E.A. passed away within a year, leaving behind a son who took over the family businesses. Della Tovrea resided in the castle until her death in 1969. During the time the property was owned by the Tovreas, features added to the gardens include a large concrete patio just east of the castle, a rose garden, an aviary, and a reflecting pool. The pool reflected an enormous sahuaro. The sahuaro is now a skeleton only 1/3 its original height.

There are a lot of small outbuildings on the property, but most are completely falling apart.  The well house is one of the few that still stands. You can see it below.

Near the well house is the dovecote which is completely fallen apart. The dovecote was to keep pigeons to feed the many workers.

Another outbuilding was a little kennel for the dogs. It was just a large free-standing cage. The guide explained that this was built for the protection of the dogs because of the dangerous predators in the area. Hello! So the dogs are inside this cage the size of a small bathroom and the bobcats, mountain lions, javelina, coyotes, and God knows what else, are LUNGING at them from the outside. How many dogs ended up with heart attacks?!

Della Tovrea was a very important person in the Arizona Democratic Party and the only woman representative for Arizona at the 1936 convention.  In her later years, she began sleeping in the kitchen. I have no idea why she slept in the kitchen. She had developed a fear of being locked in her huge bank-type vault in the basement by burglars and had had the lock disabled. One night while she slept just feet away from her beautiful blue kitchen sink two burglars did break in and force her to take them around the house pointing out the valuables. There are two different stories about how a bullet hole was made in the kitchen ceiling that night. In one version, a burglar shot his gun. In another version, it was Della herself and her old Colt. When the men left in their pink Cadillac (no relation to Mary Kay or Elvis, to my knowledge), she had no way (in 1969!) to contact the police or the caretakers who lived in a cottage on the grounds and had to make her way to their house in the pouring rain. She died two months later, possibly of pneumonia.

The cast of characters in the story of Tovrea Castle would make for a picaresque novel, to be sure, and I think Della was the greatest piece of work of all. I have a soft spot, though, for Carrara who was a dreamer who repurposed creatively (the blue sink might have come from elsewhere, as did the maple floors and other features of the building and grounds). He took risks and couldn’t withstand the machinations of “bottom line Tovrea,” as I like to think of him.

Today the basement is a tiny museum of Carraro Heights. The ceiling is the bird’s nest style (with hidden eggs throughout). And there are tunnels leading outside.

The Boy Scouts made and installed green ladder stairs around the property. These are views far away and up close.

In 1993, the Castle and the 44 acre Cactus Gardens were purchased from the Tovrea Family Estate by the City of Phoenix which now maintains the National Register of Historic Places property and runs the tours. But at some point somebody else must have run tours here because in the basement there is an old sign.

When I asked why it’s necessary to buy tickets so many months in advance, the tour guides explained to me that they don’t have enough docents. I’d almost swear the one lady looked at me pointedly and hopefully at that moment.

The thing is that while the combination of history and garden and architecture was great fun for both the gardener and me, the desert leaves me cold (you know what I mean). I can’t blame Carrara’s wife for not budging from San Francisco. Are you KIDDING me? What was he thinking? We probably lucked out and got the last beautiful weather for the next three months or so. From now on it will be HOT.

On the other hand, plenty of people love the desert. Identify yourself right now!

And, like Tevye (I like musical theatre references), I can always repeat on the other hand: have you ever seen a bluer sky than ours?

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Filed under Essay, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, History, Lifestyle, Liminality, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing