My Writerly Life

Hello. I’m ashamed that I’ve waited so long to blog, BUT I HAVE BEEN REALLY BUSY. My work as a poet has taken a new turn: In August, I published a new book, NIGHT TRAVELS, which is selling well and getting good reviews; I’ve been writing a lot, 3-4 poems a week, and going in some new directions, and doing a lot of poetry readings (3 or more a month). I also will be releasing a fresher version of a book I wrote in 2006: BLOOD AND BONE, RIVER AND STONE: MEMOIRS OF LEWIS COUNTY.  “Night Travels” has gotten people interested in my other writings; this should be out in April. And finally, I’ve been publishing in journals a lot.

One of the cool things with “Night Travels” is that my publishers made a book trailer, complete with music, images, and words; it will be available shortly on my publications page of this website.

I feel like I’m learning so much as I write. I belong to a very private, by invitation only, small group of wonderful writers; we bring our poems and critique them. All of us are very different poets, so we bring fresh, alternate eyes to the works; I have made a great deal of progress in my work with these interactions. Just for fun, I’ve been trying poems in some more traditional forms, such as the sestina and the villanelle. It’s hard, but wonderful. I’ve especially enjoyed the sestina: getting into the box has been my way of getting out of the box. What it’s done with its formal requirements is help me reach a goal I set for myself for 2017: to dig deeper, develop content and theme more. I have, in the back of my head (because after my old book is re-released in five months or so, I don’t want to write towards another book right now: I’m exhausted), a thought of writing a collection of sestinas–maybe a chapbook. I don’t know; I haven’t given it a lot of thought, and I don’t want to be writing in only one form right now. I’m enjoying my freedom right now.

I’ve also taken up a new hobby for when I’m worn out from writing: painting with acrylics. I’m certainly a novice, and just learning on my own by doing, and looking at other works; I really enjoy it. I love the feel of a brush full of paint and pulling it across the canvas. And every picture is different; I never–well, usually never–know what I’m going to do until I start putting paint on the canvas. And I love the mess. I do work with brushes, but I also really like painting with a palette knife. I’m contemplating trying painting with my fingers and seeing what happens. But I think that’s down the road a bit. I’ve got a knife work going on right now.

But fear not: I am first a poet, through and through; I have no interest in becoming a professional painter. But I may take a class at a gallery and studio in town, just to learn some basic techniques. I have to say I also like acrylics better that colored pencil drawing, although learning to do that taught me a lot about combining colors.

Finally, I have taken up musical composition again. A local priest and friend of mine asked me if I would do a music setting for chorus of the Kyrie. I was hesitant, but then agreed. And I’m glad I did: I wrote an eclectic 40 measure choral setting that will be performed in the second Sunday of Advent. Early in December, I need to go to a rehearsal and see how it’s going, although the choir director and organist likes it and seems to  have it well in hand. It’s clearly modern though, so I’m preparing for a possible stoning when it’s performed. I will say that even though it’s modern, it’s still lyrical, so I think things will be OK. And the congregation doesn’t have to sing along. That’s a relief, for them, AND for me.

So 2017 has been an eventful year for me. I haven’t set my goals for 2018 yet, but one of them will be BLOG REGULARLY. And I know I’ll take a working vacation in Tennessee in March. For some reason, I find Tennessee a very refreshing place to write. I stay with friends; during the day they work, and I have the house all to myself. I walk, I play with the cats, I drink coffee, I write for a few hours, and then I spend the rest of the time before Jim and Hannah get home reading. I go often enough that I have some clothes down there so I really don’t have to worry much about packing. And what I do pack, I ship down there; I don’t want to deal with checking luggage for a flight.

By now you must be bored to tears. I apologize. I’ll try to do better. And I wish all of you happiness and joy in the upcoming holidays.

You know (this is kind of odd), I’ve just been walking around since October saying to myself, “I’m happy. I’m happy.” And I am, even when I write death poems. Go figure.

One more thing: if you want, visit me on Facebook. It’s a good place to have conversations. I do not, however, post poems on FB, due to issues with publication.



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