Ritual Each night at dinner, in lieu of grace, my mother lit the center candle on the table. We children were allowed two fingers of wine from the icy jug that was kept cold out on the front porch. The seven of us shared bread and casserole on our full plates and the light filled the room with luster. Each of us had a task: clear the dishes, wipe the table, snuff out the half-melted candle, its smoky trail reaching to the ceiling like fingers folding into prayer. When the washer was full, we’d stand by the sink, my mother and I, her hands plunged into the soapy water, mine holding a dish towel, removing the dripping pans from the drainer, and wiping the water away, to expose the shine. We’d stand there in the evening hour quietly perfecting every keepsake minute. Later in life, I stand in class, by the desk in front of students as we discuss short fiction, plunging into emerging themes. A daughter and mother in one story bathe together in a tub infused with herbs and bark. The same characters travel to market to gather bread, butter, and fish to prepare together later. The mother preserves the daughter’s childhood in a trunk: plaid dresses and yellowed blankets, mementos aired out and refolded again. In capital letters, I write ritual, chalk powdering the folds of my slacks. Together we learn that these acts are connective tissue that bind our muscle to bone. Though pages away, miles, or even years, we, as characters break bread, fold hands into each other’s, light the light that will unblind us. from Four Blue Eggs
“A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses [her] feeling through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t.”
E.E. Cummings (or e.e. cummings as he preferred) wrote this advice to a young poet, and my poetry teacher shared it with me when I first started writing. After 27 years, it’s still not easy, but I can’t stop, and starting next week, I will write one poem a day for 30 days.
I’ll be participating in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 project, and joining over 175 poets who’ve committed to writing 30 poems in 30 days. Four poets will join me for March, and I’m excited to get started.
We’re all inviting family, friends, and colleagues to sponsor us. It’s not a competition, but we’re all raising money for Tupelo Press, one of the best independent publishers in the country, and a great supporter of poetry. But I need a little more than a retweet or Facebook Like. Support my efforts with a donation.
By sponsoring my 30/30 efforts, you will send me vital encouragement and help the Tupelo Press continue to put more poets into print. Here’s why it matters:
- Independent literary publishers are mission-driven—they focus on publishing literature.
- Independent literary publishers provide access to the voices of entire communities.
- Independent literary publishers produce over 98% of poetry being published each year, and the majority of literature in translation and works of fiction by emerging writers.
Your sponsorship can be at any level; no amount is too small or insignificant.
- For a donation of $10, I’ll send you a personized origami box, designed with one of my poems.
- For $15, I’ll dedicate a poem to you.
- If you can support me with $30 (just $1/day), I’ll send you a signed copy of either Four Blue Eggs or Reconnaissance.
- For a donation of $60 (2 dollars a day), I’ll send you a signed copy The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory before its April 10 release date.
- Customize your donation. Birthday coming up? Need a wedding poem? New baby coming? Retirement? I’m in.
Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, for seventeen years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, which is sometimes hard to come by.
“If,” continued cummings, “at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.”
I’m very lucky indeed to have had such great support throughout my writing career. Keep it going and kick off March with me. I’ll post my first poem in just over a week. Follow my progress.
My very best,
Order my latest poetry collection Reconnaissance ahead of the release date and get advanced shipping from Homebound Publications. Official release is scheduled for April 7th.
Here’s a teaser: This “reproduction” was made in 6th grade. Pretty good for an up-and-coming art thief. Order your copy of Reconnaissance and see how the painting finds its way into the collection.