Thursday, 09.01:

Ploughshares Indie Spotlight

Mega-thanks to Kate Flaherty for including Seven Kitchens Press in the Indie Spotlight series at Ploughshares!


Several of my 7KP authors have indicated that they will be attending the AWP conference in DC this February, and I’m trying to work out a way to get the press there–sharing a book table, setting up an offsite reading. The cost of the conference registration itself is daunting. I had a couple hundred dollars set back from chapbook sales this summer but that has gone for production and mailing costs. It’s easy to imagine that the logistics would be simpler if I were still teaching–AWP is even offering free registration to adjuncts, for example, who volunteer four hours (or so I hear). But my connections are tenuous and outdated. If anyone out there knows anyone out there who might help me pull this into an actual, workable plan, I’m all ears.

Monday, 09.05:

Nearly everybody’s in the kitchen

Nearly everybody’s in the kitchen 
gathered around the island
where pitchers of sangria
and platters of pot-stickers
refill and multiply as in a parable.

:: Liz Ahl, “Life of the Party” (from Home Economics)

Thursday, 09.08:

chapbook review: Hollywood Starlet: poems by Ivy Alvarez (dancing girl press, 2015). Saddle-stapled, unpaginated.

These poems read to me like broken sonnets: there’s a recursive quality to their sound and structure, just enough slant rhyme to hint at threads of formality trailing through the poems like a trodden hem. I read this in my car on lunch break, then again at home, then again at bedtime. Familiar snippets of biography and legend, artfully lineated with close attention to voice and portraiture, plus just enough surprising imagery, all structured with a kind of ghostly, shattered formality: I really enjoyed this chapbook.

Some excerpts:

There’ll be no ovation. There’s hardly a road. / Home is a distant thought, hovering on a squall. (“What Ingrid Bergman Wanted”)

Under the bridge, a dim lagoon. / Slow notes from a saxophone / glow in the trees. The pool / becomes a black sky, fallen leaves collapsed stars. (“What Ava Gardner Delivered”)

tender leaves to sting the tongue / to wonder, a mouthful of silence (“What Jayne Mansfield Had”)

[Rebound with variegated rose-red cord.]

Friday, 09.09:

Vacation day. I have been printing and folding pages sets in a mad attempt to get 40 copies of L’s chapbook ready to ship out on Monday to the bookstore that just yesterday finalized their order. It’s partly my fault: I should have kept pressing them after their initial query, I should have tried to make sure there were a couple dozen copies on hand. But I don’t think I can accommodate an order for 40—35, maybe—even though the bookstore contact, Steven, says he wants to avoid selling out at the event. Has anyone ever sold 35 copies of their chapbook at a book launch or reading? (I don’t know.)

Found R’s old camera, the digital Canon that I kept when I gave my camera to LK. It was in a shoebox in the study closet. I just suddenly went right to it: oh, there you are, after dreaming about the camera a few nights ago and wondering where on earth I had put it. Was pretty sure it wasn’t still in my car (where it had been, in the shoebox, during a few weeks when I thought I’d try to drive around and take some photos, as I used to in Lewisburg).

Thinking, then, about the plants on the balcony and how I’ll manage to bring some in, save cuttings of others. I’m wondering about small glass jars with wire-wrapped tops that I can hang from a curtain rod?

T should be home soon; he texted that he was stopping at Jungle Jim’s. We’re going to drop by Mom’s house.


I found one of the jalapeno plants nearly defoliated the other night: here is the munching culprit. I’m amazed that such critters find their way to our second-floor balcony. I watched this eating machine take out half a leaf in the space of a few minutes, chomping at a constant pace, row after row of bites–it made me think of a typewriter, of all things, erasing a page. I couldn’t bring myself to dislodge the glutton with my finger–that single daunting thorny bit on the tail end–and so clipped the branch entire, and dropped it, muncher still munching, or perhaps pausing to consider the sensation of its sudden rushing descent to the lawn below. I wonder if it managed to find cover and food in the scraggly treeline 20 feet behind our building.

Saturday, 09.10:

chapbook review: The Divorce Suite: poems by Jose Angel Araguz (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). Hand-tied chapbook, 40 pages.

Jose’s work just keeps getting better. I was initially surprised to see this chapbook divided into so many sections (4), but they work. And as with the previous chapbooks, I found myself copying lines into my journal to contemplate further (“a fire striking itself alive”), (“He had a swagger talking to me then, as if on a dare to himself”), (about the pale band left when a ring is removed: “I had to wait it out”), (“marriage a thing that can disappear / like salt tossed in a broth”). I’ll be re-reading this one for a good while.


Second harvest from the one cayenne plant on the balcony: it’s already set about a dozen new green peppers since I picked the first batch of 30 in August; I’m hoping for one more flush of bloom and a final crop to set now that I’ve “relieved” the plant of all this seed-setting fruit. We’ll see. But it’s been quite a bountiful reward in return for a simple daily watering. (Cayenne you say hot peppers?)

Also potted up the slip of willow I cut from my sister’s tree last month and rooted in a bottle of water –her tree planted three or four years ago from a slip of my own willow back in Lewisburg: clone of a clone of a clone.

Spent most of yesterday printing and folding page sets, then T and I visited Mom and went out to dinner. Nice to take a break. Nice to see them getting along. What I mean is that I’m grateful that my mother sees me happy with my partner, with someone I did not expect to come into my (mid)life. 

Working today to get those page sets trimmed and sewn: all for Liz’s chapbook launch on Thursday, with enough left over–I think–to fill remaining orders. Then back to filling out orders for Alison’s and Eric’s chapbooks, and finishing proof corrections for three of the four Summer Kitchens titles, which are fixing to drop this coming week; the final title will be out as soon as I can.

All chapbooks. All the time. With a smidge of gardening wedged in here and there. As summer rolls inevitably to its close.

Thursday, 09.15:


An hour and twenty minutes to get home after getting mired in some inexplicable traffic snafu down in Loveland, a sleepy river town that’s sold out to monstrous development in the past couple of years. Anyway. I needed to cut through Loveland to get out to my grandmother’s old farmhouse, where one surviving cat still lives in the tall weeds and scrub, presumably supplementing its diet on various rodents and birds, but my sister–my dear, huge-hearted sister–insists on driving down the rutted gravel lane to regularly feed the cat. So I tried to get there. Through Loveland. And failed. And my turnaround and attempted rerouting took almost as long as the slow, gluetrappy immersion into the clusterfuck that had one car getting through a green light every two light changes. Oh, god, listen to me, such first world problems, boo hoo; I used to live in Houston, Houston, where a 90-minute commute to cover a scant 8 miles on the freeway was the daily penance for living so close to downtown. Still. I wanted to step out of the car and bash my head open on the nearest limestone outcropping. I do not do traffic well. As long as it’s moving, even creeping, I’m fine. But standing still in traffic feels like being stuck in a hot creaky elevator, but the elevator is my spine, or maybe my throat, and I can’t breathe, can’t relax, hate feeling corralled–

But: Happy 8-month anniversary to my dear Taylor. I’ve calmed down by listening to some old Indigo Girls CDs and watering the plants out on the patio. Now we can go out to a nice dinner and celebrate.

Oh, yeah: he is driving.

Saturday, 09.17:

night of the living dead

Home just before 10 and out to the deck to water plants. My zephyranthes (rain lilies) are really starting to bloom, but it’s too dark to get a good photo. Found this critter on a jalapeno leaf and brought it inside to get a closeup. I think I’ll call it Sebastian: a parasitized hornworm. All those little white rice-sized bits are wasp eggs, each a dart piercing this poor dude. They’re feeding on the caterpillar. I imagine the larvae swimming through his internal goo to emerge from his eyes or forehead, but I really don’t know the specifics. Nature can be such good, creepy fun.

I saw on Facebook this morning that Edward Albee has died (yesterday). This makes me so sad: he was such a brilliant writer. I enrolled in his playwriting course years ago at the University of Houston, and used to see Mr. Albee on campus–he was always friendly, genial, warmly encouraging of my writing (my application portfolio was poems, and when I learned that he had, early on, tried to be a poet, I was pretty smitten by the notion that I, too, might write plays someday). In class, he could be a bit chatty, but who didn’t want to hear stories about John Gielgud and Irene Worth in Tiny Alice? I stupidly hoped he might live and write forever.

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