Big Poetry Giveaway 2015

It’s back again, a wonderful way to meet poet bloggers and win cool new poetry books! Kelli Russell Agodon is hosting a book giveaway on her blog The Book of Kells, and I’m taking part (again).

If you’re new to Being Poetry, may I suggest that you look at what I posted on March 31 to learn what this blog is all about, and how you and I might walk towards a more poetry-filled life together.

This year I have three books to give away! Hooray for more poetry. All you need to do to win is leave a comment and I’ll randomly draw winners during the first week in May. Then, I just send you a new book of poetry to enjoy.

Ftravelerirst book:

My own, Pause Traveler.

Pause, Traveler is a journey through the dark heart of the American landscape, from New York City to Alaska. These poems search for redemption in the most unlikely places: Circus World Museum, an Iceworm Festival, a frozen gas station in Alaska. Traversing the difficult terrain of damaged relationships and misplaced affection, this collection finds hope in the fractured beauty of the world.

laundrySecond book:

Steam Laundry by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell (and a press-mate and friend)

Steam Laundry is a novel in poems based on the true story of Sarah Ellen Gibson, a miner’s wife during the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes. Her journey began as she followed her husband to Dawson City, Yukon Territory in 1898. She stayed there three years as the town’s boom and her marriage burned out. In 1903, she left her husband and sons to start over in Fairbanks, Alaska with another man. Based on archival research and incorporating historical documents and photographs, the poems approach the past through the ghosts of correspondence.

kooserThird book:

Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser, who served as United States Poet Laureate (2004–2006), is a poet who works toward clarity and accessibility, so that each distinctive poem appears to be as fresh and bright and spontaneous as a good watercolor painting. He is a haiku-like imagist who imbues his poems with “tender wisdom,” and draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life.

Good luck, everyone!

A Year in Poetry (or what did I read this year?)


So, at the end of 2013, it occurred to me that the giant stack of poetry books on the top of my bookshelves awaiting their turn was getting slightly dangerous. In case of tectonic instability, one might possibly have an issue with an avalanche of poetry. So, I set myself a task. “Self,” I said, “You should read a poetry collection each week in 2014 and thereby deplete this stack.” Excellent idea! Except for this to work, I would have to not purchase any new poetry collections during the year. And we all know that idea is complete folly.

So, 2014 is drawing to a close, and yes, I have read a collection each week, but I have also purchased many a fetching new book. And so, I still have a stack of unread books on the top of my poetry bookshelves. Another year’s worth of reading undoubtedly. And because reading a collection each was invigorating, edifying, and just plain fun, I shall continue.

Here is 2014’s treasure (in alpha order):

  • Abide by Jake Adam York
  • Animal Eye by Paisley Rekdal
  • As Is by James Galvin
  • Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by William Stafford
  • Blue Hour by Carolyn Forché
  • Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson
  • Bough Down by Karen Green
  • Break the Glass by Jean Valentine
  • Burn This House by Kelly Davio
  • Dangerous Goods by Sean Hill
  • Day Unto Day by Martha Collins
  • Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower by Sarah Lindsay
  • Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
  • Elegy Owed by Bob Hicok
  • Eva-Mary by Linda McCarriston
  • Every Riven Thing by Christian Wiman
  • Fall Higher by Dean Young
  • Fireproofing the Woods by Katy McKinney
  • Gabriel by Edward Hirsch
  • Glass Armonica by Rebecca Dunham
  • Headwaters by Ellen Bryant Voigt
  • Heredities by J. Michael Martinez
  • Holy Heathen Rhapsody by Pattiann Rogers
  • Human Chain by Seamus Heaney
  • I Think Again of Those Ancient Chinese Poets by Tom Sexton
  • In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison
  • Incarnadine by Mary Syzbist
  • Interpretive Work by Elizabeth Bradfield
  • Lie Awake Lake by Beckian Frtiz Goldberg
  • Many Parishes by Adrian Koesters
  • On the Spectrum of All Possible Deaths by Lucia Perillo
  • Once in the West by Christian Wiman
  • One Above & One Below by Erin Belieu
  • Praise by Robert Hass
  • Sailing by Ravens by Holly Hughes
  • Spacecraft Voyager 1  by Alice Oswald
  • Stolen Air – Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam (translated by Christian Wiman)
  • The Boss by Victoria Chang
  • The Earth Avails by Mark Wunderlich
  • The Exchange by Sophie Cabot Black
  • The Game of Boxes by Catherine Barnett
  • The Infinitesimals by Laura Kasischke
  • The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe
  • The Miniature Room by Rebecca Dunham
  • The Moon Before Morning by WS Merwin
  • The Plum Flower Dance by Afaa Michael Weaver
  • The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems by Olena Kalytiak Davis
  • The Widening Spell of the Leaves by Larry Levis
  • Through the Second Skin by Derek Sheffield
  • To the Place of Trumpets by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
  • What the Living Do by Marie Howe
  • Without by Donald Hall

By the way, if you add in all of the fiction and non-fiction that I read this year, the tally is 101. I did spend an inordinate amount of time on cross-country plane flights, and since I don’t sleep well on planes (or overnight in airports), I plowed through quite a few more books this year than last.

Here’s to 2015, another year of magnificent poetry! Thank you, poets!

Even More Faith

The Quest2015 Prompt today from Seth Godin: Who would miss you if you were gone? If you didn’t show up to work, didn’t send out that newsletter, didn’t make that sales call, didn’t tweet that tweet… who would miss it? How does your answer shape how you’ll live out 2015?

Who would miss me if I were gone? If I didn’t show up for work? Let’s talk about my true work, not my myriad shifting day gigs. My true work, the work with notebook and pen, from blank page to poem.

The muse would miss me, for if I have learned anything at all as a writer, it is that you must be faithful to the muse (whatever he, she, or it represents for you). Sit at the desk each day so that when inspiration hits, I am there, ready. Work on my craft so that when I have something important to say, I have the facility to do so. Read other poets, revise my work, stumble along with my drafts and my notebook and my love of this arcane discipline.

And who is the audience for these poems? Would they miss them if I didn’t write them? That is a darker question. More people read my blog than read my poems. But the poems… is it too much to hope that I might give to someone else the same satisfaction I feel when I read a good poem, that frisson of pleasure at just the right words chosen, the sound and meaning marrying? Is it too much to hope that a person might read one of my poems and feel the deep resonance that I often experience while reading – the sense of being known, of a shared experience, of connection?

Perhaps the truest answer is that I would miss myself if I did not do this work of writing each day. Writing is the way that I process the world, celebrate and mourn, observe and preserve. I listen to the siskins swirl through the alder grove. I get down on my hands and knees to look more closely at the patterns of rime on the grass, the ice in its concentric dream waves. I catch scent of the cold night air on my dog’s fur as she snuggles against me, frosted paws tattooing my arm. And then, in my notebook, I put it all down. As Diane Ackerman wrote, “Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.” Let me dip my pen in time.

Image credit: Even More Faith by Jeanie Tomanek