Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Found on HuffPost Teen

I didn't even know HuffPost had a page geared toward teens, but you learn something every day. I enjoyed their list of things teens on Twitter can't live without. Here's another found poem inspired by trending topics on the web.

10.31.12

It's been a hard week.
Good things I can't live without:
music, friends, movies,
my hairdryer, and my parents.
I feel grateful for cereal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trending Tanka 2

A found poem culled from the "trending now" news blog on Yahoo.

10.30.12

Though not all photos
of this hurricane are real,
the internet is a great place.
Many cute dogs and cats
find fame on the internet.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trending Tanka

A found poem culled from trending searches and news on Google.

10.29.2012

Tone turns ominous
at The Weather Channel
on TV and Twitter
as Hurricane Sandy barrels
toward the Eastern seaboard

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Colors

Here are a couple of photos I took when we went to the Arboretum last week. As Trish pointed out, it's a little odd walking there because you hear so much traffic noise while you're surrounded by trees, but I guess that's Seattle!

Friday, October 26, 2012

75 Essays: Done!

Today I finished grading the last of the first set of 75 essays I needed to grade for my three classes this quarter. I have two English 101 classes and one English 100 class. The English 101 students were analyzing photos; they could pick from this gallery I created using images from Flickr Commons (a very cool collection of photos from libraries, archives, and other institutions all over the world). I change up the gallery a bit from quarter to quarter as this helps eliminate plagiarism and makes the reading/grading process more fun for me as I get to read and think about different images.

So the students got me thinking about photos, and as a result, I remembered to take my camera along when Trish and I went to the Arboretum for a little walk this afternoon. But then I forgot the camera in her truck when we got home, and she's asleep, so I'll have to post photos of autumn leaves in Seattle some other time.

I'm still waiting for my books to arrive from Lulu. They shipped via media mail, which I guess means that they've been riding along in the slow lane in the back of some ancient mail truck? I really need them to arrive in time for the Short Run small press fest next weekend, and I thought I ordered them in plenty of time. They should turn up sometime this week, hopefully tomorrow or Monday!

Oh, and speaking of Short Run, I mounted some collages to have for sale there, too. I focused on ones with comic book images since a lot of the vendors are comics artists. It would be a pretty great thrill to happen to sell a collage. I've sold greeting cards and magnets which incorporate collage work but never just a collage itself as a piece of art.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Think Smaller for One Dollar

I published an eight-page, single-sheet zine called Small Is Beautiful and shared copies with the participants in the workshop I taught at Write on the Sound earlier this month. The zine is subtitled "ideas for writing and publishing," and it contains ideas for four writing exercises as well as a few leads for publishing short poems and prose pieces. Basically, it's meant as a little bit of inspiration for those times when writing seems big and daunting, and it would help to remember that even the longest poems and novels came together one line at a time.

If you'd like a copy of the zine, I'll send one your way for just one dollar via PayPal (shipping cost included in the $1).

Oh, and here's one more picture of the zines in a vintage Kraft cheese box just because I only scored this box earlier this week, and I like it! Did you know processed American cheese used to come in wooden boxes?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Poem about Corn

I was reminded the other day of the documentary, King Corn, which in turn got me thinking about some poems I've been working on, inspired by found text from a 1970s-era children's nonfiction book I found at the thrift store. I have a handful of poems in this series so far and hope to write more. The poems take up different topics about how different foods and consumer products are made. Here's one about the many uses of corn. Corn is pretty wonderful when you think about it, controversies about corn syrup and ethanol and cattle feed aside...

Some of the Wonders of Corn

Corn belongs to the family
of grasses. We make its stalk
into paper. We make its cob

into ink and cloth. We use corn oil
in food and soap. Corn starch
helps seal our stamps and envelopes.

We drink alcohol made from corn
and when we heat tiny kernels,
they blow up. Corn is truly

amazing when it pops.

P.S. If you haven't seen King Corn and are at all interested in how food is grown in the U.S. and how corn production and use has changed over the years, I highly recommend this movie. The filmmakers take an engaging, personal approach to their subject.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Teeny Tiny Woman

I've told this story before when I've given readings, but I realized that I've never posted to this blog about why I gave the name Teeny Tiny to my zine and small press.

When I was little, one of my favorite stories was the story of the teeny tiny woman. The story was in a collection of children's stories; I think it was part of a set of something like four volumes, but I can't remember for sure. (The books my brother and I had when we were kids must be stored in a box in his attic; I know we couldn't have gotten rid of them.) I remember my mom reading me the story, and also I remember paging through the collection of stories and looking at the other stories in sort of a passing way but then returning to the story of the teeny tiny woman and her teeny tiny cat.

For a long time, I thought the title of the story was The Teeny Tiny Woman, but it was actually published as Teeny-Tiny Tale by Jan Sukus. Not long ago, my friend Sandy found a copy of the book that had belonged to her sons and gave it to me. I'd come upon other versions of the story over the years, including one by the wonderful children's author Tomie DePaola, but I'd never found the one with the illustrations I remembered until Sandy gave me her sons' copy of the book. Thanks, Sandy!

I did a little searching online, and there are some great scans from the book on this blog about vintage kids' books, to give you an idea of the illustrations. They remind me a little of the illustrations of Ellen Raskin, whose work I would come to love when I was in elementary school.

This page shares an interesting version of the entire story as part of a collection of English fairy tales. In the version I remember, the woman found the bone in front of a doghouse, not in a graveyard. Otherwise, though, this is the story I loved, with its many repetitions of "teeny tiny."

I chose the name for my zine because, of course, I started Teeny Tiny Press with the idea of making a little zine with eight pages folded from a single sheet of paper. It couldn't be a much teenier or tinier publishing project, I felt. But I also liked the idea of the teeny tiny woman shouting back in her loudest teeny tiny voice; it seemed like an apt metaphor for my efforts to send my poems into the wide, loud world.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Collage with a Squirrel

I haven't made many collages lately, so the other night I took out a glue stick, a pair of scissors, some 3x5 cards, and one children's magazine from the 1970s and one comic book from a few years ago. I worked on two little collages, the one posted above and an unfinished one with a cool drawing of a helicopter from the children's mag glued down for the background but nothing else so far.

Initially I was going to let the quizzical-looking man in the illustration have the speech bubble, but then it seemed best for the squirrel to speak instead. I think I was inspired to include the squirrel (and have it appear larger than the man) because my dad has been at odds with squirrels for several months now as they ate up a good portion of the corn in his garden this year, and they continue to bury peanuts all over his yard and then dig holes all over the place as they try and find the peanuts again. (If you're reading this and you're my dad's neighbor lady who has been feeding the squirrels all those peanuts, please stop!)

By the way, this collage also draws inspiration from a technique I learned from my friend (and collage teacher!) Wendy. You cut an image from a magazine that covers the entire surface (the base or substrate) that you're using for your collage (in this case, an index card), and then you just add one thing to that background. So I started with the tree/green background, and then I added the guy. In a class I took with Wendy, we'd just stop there: one background image, and just one thing glued on top of it. For this collage, I added two more things, one at a time: the squirrel and then the speech bubble. I like this slow approach to making a collage.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Hard to Write a Poem about Amelia Earhart

Yesterday I took out a couple of old magazines from my collage materials stash to use for a writing exercise for a guest lecture I was giving on poetry for a colleague's intro to literature class at Edmonds CC. I asked students to write short found poems as described in this writing exercise I posted about not long ago. I gave each student a random page I'd torn from an issue of Better Homes & Gardens to use as the source text for his/her poem.

Before class started, I had time to look at another magazine I'd brought, and I wrote down a few lines. Last night and this morning, I edited the lines a bit. When I was in grad school, I tried to write a poem about Amelia Earhart, and it didn't turn out well at all. Maybe this could become a poem I like better.

Amelia Earhart in National Geographic

With propellers for buttons
she designed clothing for Macy's.

When its engines start, she said
an airplane sounds like poetry.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Goodbye, Summer

It's sunny this morning as I look out the window, but it's supposed to return to heavy rain later. I guess we have to admit that the long, long summer is finally over. It was the perfect Seattle summer for me--sunny, but not too hot. I took the picture above at Lopez Island in June. The Spencer Spit state campground there is great: you can camp right at the beach. Not that I can say I'm a real camper, but hey, I did stay at two different campgrounds this summer.

I started working on some poems inspired by camping/backcountry hiking manuals and really should return to working on them. Here's one of those poems. Thanks to NAP for originally publishing it.

Sharing Your Gear

You plan to walk together
at the same pace, but what if

you get separated? Carry gear
you can use by yourself

just in case--the person with the tent
has poles and all; the person

with soup has a pot. Before you marry
your skillet to your partner's stove

commit to staying together
the length of the trip.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Publishing a Book on Lulu

I've been wanting to combine the texts of my two chapbooks of poems inspired by craigslist ads (I Meant to Say and Take It) into a longer book for quite some time now. I was going to do it in a more zine/book arts way, but then I thought, hey, why not experiment with Lulu.com?

It was a pretty smooth process for a non-designer such as myself. I mean, I like to make collages, but I'm no expert in design software, etc. Once you choose the size of book you want, you can download a Word template and paste in your text. Then they have book cover templates, and the process of working with the template was like an extended version of the template-maneuvering I do when I have postcards printed with Vistaprint. Lulu gives you text and cover proofs to download, and I felt comfortable with the layout process. In fact, when I had a little problem converting my Word document to a PDF file with the page size I needed, the Lulu interface converted my file for me.

Anyway, after some hours of tinkering (which included proofreading, etc), I completed a 42-page book and ordered some copies, so we'll see how they turn out! If they look good, I'd be glad to offer a special sale for friends of this tiny blog...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Six Poems, Two Places

Earlier this week I went to the launch party for T(our) Magazine. The editors of T(our) do a nice job of building gay/straight alliances at the same time as they seek out poems and prose from writers from Seattle and beyond. The magazine is available in print and online: the individual pieces from the debut issue are available here. There are four poems of mine, from a larger series I've been working on for a few years, poems which borrow found text from biographies and old gossip magazine articles about Dusty Springfield as well as 1930s-1950s Hollywood stars like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Lizabeth Scott.

Also, two of my poems about bees and beekeeping just went online in Camroc Press Review. The first poem has its start in found text from sections from beekeeping manuals about the anatomy of bees, and the second is about the way honeybees are shipped north from California to beekeepers in Washington state.

I continue to read Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems as I have time; it's just been hard to find time as I've had a lot of grading to do this week! I hope to post again soon regarding some of the mentions of bees in Dickinson's poetry.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Emily Dickinson on Autumn

I've decided to read Thomas H. Johnson's edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson from cover to cover. I've read many of the poems before (of course!), but I've never read the complete book, front to back. I started reading this morning, and I happened upon a perfect poem for the coming of fall, which begins, "The morns are meeker than they were..."

The poem is nice example of the use of personification, too, and I like how she breaks the rhyme pattern a bit at the end with "on." And after reading this poem, will you be able to think about colorful maple leaves again without thinking of them as a brightly colored scarf?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thinking Small

I've been working on my presentation for the Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds. My workshop is called "Small Is Beautiful: From Postcards to Mini-Zines," and here's the description from the conference catalog: "Intriguing writing comes in small packages, from lines printed on coffee cups to forms like flash fiction and haiku. 'Think smaller' with ideas for experimenting with prompts that call for easy-to-manage bits and pieces of writing, and consider trying smaller-format projects to showcase your work such as printing postcards, making zines by hand, and sending tweets."

We'll be writing poems or short prose pieces made up of a single sentence, and I think we'll also write postcard-sized pieces. An example of a single-sentence poem I like quite a lot is Emily Dickinson's poem about a railway train ("I like to see it lap the miles...).