First: I was so sorry to hear of the passing of the truly great poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly. I never met her in person (though reports of her kindness and generosity are widespread) but her poetry was an important discovery for me years ago and definitely an influence on my own work. Her combination of darkness, morality, and surrealism – especially in Song – are unsurpassed. If you have never read her work, see the title poem from that book, Song, here.
I meant to post this morning but the internet had been shut down by a hacker attack. It reminds me of the limits and vulnerability of online communities, our writing, and our communication. Security on the web – especially in web services – is still mostly pretty easy to hack, and it’s difficult to defend against all types of hacks (DDoS attacks are simple to perform, hard to stop.)
Kathleen Kirk compares and contrasts a poem of mine from Field Guide to the End of the World with a poem from Donna Vorreyer’s Every Love Story is an Apocalypse here, “The Bounce and the Chaos” . An interesting and thoughtful discussion of two poems whose subjects – human relationships and electromagnetism – are very similar.
As I’m also currently working on a review of Dana Levin’s Banana Palace, another apocalyptic collection, and recently read Render: An Apocalypse by Nick Flynn and Rebecca Gayle Howell, I was thinking of our current obsession with apocalypse in the news, in pop culture, in weather reporting. The last time I saw so much apocalypse in the poetry zeitgeist was back in the 1920’s, what with Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and Yeats’ “The Second Coming.” I even noticed the theme in children’s movies – not the teen dystopias like Maze Runner/The Giver/Hunger Games/Divergent stuff, but the children’s stuff, like, every “Ice Age” movie is another version of the characters facing an apocalypse, the latest caused by asteroids. Think of what people were about to face in the twenties – a huge stock market crash, the second World War, arguably more horrifying than the first, the Great Depression. A decimation. They could not have known what was coming, but perhaps they sensed this. What do you think accounts for our current obsession – the movies, the television shows (the latest – “No Tomorrow” – has another asteroid destroys the earth plot), the novels and poems of imagining beyond the end of the world. I know that my own personal medical crises – first of the brain, in the discovery of brain lesions a few years ago and their effects, like memory and motor skill problems, and this year, being diagnosed – not once, but twice, in six months, with metastasized cancer in my liver – definitely spurs thoughts of afterlife, survival, luck, the spirit versus the body. With Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s death, my thoughts drift to how a poet survives beyond reach of her physical person, her short lifespan. Her three books continue to be taught and loved, and that is a kind of immortality and grace.
Thank you to Melanie at the Teabird book blog for this kind review of Field Guide to the End of the World. http://teabird17.blogspot.com/2016/10/field-guide-to-end-of-world-by-jeannine.html
I’m also hoping for a friendly crowd at tomorrow night’s Hugo House event at the Pine Box, where I’m participating in a crazy-scary contest-reading sort of thing – you can read more about it here.
And please put October 29th on your calendar for my updated reading/reception at Open Books for Field Guide to the End of the World. Apocalypse-related costumes welcomes. Cupcakes and sparkling drinks provided! Put on your poetry-apocalypse shoes and come party!
There were three days of storms from a typhoon in the Pacific that came through over the weekend. They caused water spouts/tornadoes in coastal Oregon, some downed trees and power outages, but we were not hit as hard as they had predicted. So Thursday night, we watched the weather and bought water and found our flashlights; there was a mild storm, no big deal. Friday was windier and wetter, we waited anxiously for updates on the historic Saturday storm – when it would start, where it would hit the hardest. Saturday was the day we were supposed to get the “historic” storm, so dangerous we were told not to go out of our houses. There was a bit of heavy rain at 6:30 PM, but not much else. (I was supposed to have an artist date with a friend, a poetry group, and have my reading/reception at Open Books on Saturday – none of which happened. We rescheduled the Open Books reading/reception til October 29th due to this weather event. Oh well – hope to see some of you at 4 PM on October 29th – it’ll be more spooky as it’ll be Halloween weekend!) So we took a trip to downtown Seattle during a rainless, wind-less lull on Saturday and took this picture of the ferry boat and ferris wheel, checked out the work at SAM’s newly relocated gallery of local artist’s work (right behind the gift shop – so cool!), checked out Pike Place market (still plenty of tourists there) and we visited Open Books and bought some books! And here are my books on their shelf! Always cheering!
So that is how I spent my weekend. I felt so tired and frustrated and stressed out from the over-reaction to possible – but not actual – disaster that the weather people made me feel. (Just like the first poem in Field Guide to the End of the World, “Introduction to Disaster Preparedness” – ironic!) It reminded me of how I’ve been buffeted by medical news this year; in February, a random hospital stay resulted in the news that I had metastasized cancer in my liver. Many tests and doctors later, a group of liver specialists told me that the tumors were benign adenomas. A month later, I was told I definitely had a rare terminal cancer called carcinoid. Now my endocrinologists think that might wrong and are arguing with the liver oncologist about it. The stress and anxiety have been worse than any symptoms I’ve had. I’m tired of the ups and downs of both weather and medical reports. (Plus, I’m having nightmares about Trump every night.) I just want to sleep all the time as a result. Or maybe that’s just a beginning of fall thing?
On the plus side, I’m thankful for a few pieces of good news. Here’s a new review of Field Guide to the End of the World from Everything Distills into Reading (thank you!!🙂
And I have a poem in the new issue of North American Review called “Repeton in Winter.” I was very excited because I love North American Review!
Here’s the first poem from Field Guide to the End of the World. So apropos!
Introduction to Disaster Preparedness
While you told me about the bee colony collapse
caused by cell phones or maybe Monsanto and their magic poisons
I was thinking about a friend who said they found a lump
and another friend finishing chemo and waiting for a scan
and a third who said my hair is a disaster and she meant the layers
would take forever to grow out. My house is a disaster, she says, my yard, my outfit.
When you told me my son is autistic I thought of his bright eyes
and beautiful tears. It’s not the life you planned. How our minds
and bodies spin apart, like hives of bees confused about whom to follow,
flying further and further out to discover – what? That they’d flown
too far and now are frozen, flightless. How many hives abandoned.
We cannot sleep too far from disaster zones. I saw a tornado once
in my own front yard, and slept through hurricanes, knelt during earthquakes.
Did I pray, did I ask for something then? I only held my breath.
When later asked, Are you okay? I said, Everything is temporary.
Apocalyptic Storms and Rescheduling my Open Books Reading, Seattle Review of Books review of Field Guide, and More!
Every weather report has been crying apocalypse as a series of storms brought on by a waning Pacific typhoon has hit the Pacific Northwest. We’ve been lucky in our new home – no power outages, merely a few flickers, no downed trees. I haven’t watched this much weather news in a while.
In the intersection of apocalyptic poetry and apocalyptic weather, my poetry reading/reception for Field Guide to the End of the World – the last one I’m doing in Seattle – was supposed to be this Saturday afternoon at Open Books. It’s now been rescheduled to October 29th at the same time, 4-6 PM. Hope to see you there! It will be spooky appropriate fun for Halloween weekend!
A big thank you to Seattle Review of Books and Paul Constant, who were kind enough to do a review of Field Guide to the End of the World – local press is always an unexpected happy thing. I was excited that the book’s cover was briefly on the home page of Seattle Weekly! You can read it here at Seattle Review of Books!
Pumpkins, Politics, New Reviews of Field Guide, Dark Reading Recs, and Rainy Day Reception at Open Books
Welcome to October 2016, pumpkin and politics season! The politics is giving me a stomach ache, so I’m going to focus on the pumpkins. We raced out in any small blip in the rainy weather to look for pumpkins, local squash, and other seasonal beauty. I kind of love pumpkin patches, even when they’re not that sincere. And here is a hummingbird on my back tree for good measure.
A new review of Field Guide to the End of the World appeared today at the 5 Minutes for Books blog – one of the nice things said about the book was it was “the best book I have read in a long time in any genre.” So kind!
And Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit recommends dark reads for October at Book Bloggers International – including The Robot Scientist’s Daughter and Field Guide to the End of the World! Check in out! Thanks Serena!
Today we have some sun, but the upcoming weather report says we have a week of rain, storms, and wind ahead. I have an online class visit tomorrow, then a writer friend coming over Thursday, and the Open Books reception for Field Guide to the End of the World on Saturday afternoon (starting at 4 PM!) I’d say on a cold, rainy day, there’s nothing like going into a bookshop like Open Books, seeing friends, maybe eating a few gluten-free cupcakes – so if you’re looking for something to do this Saturday, I hope to see you there! There will be a short reading of appropriately spooky poems, a book signing, but mostly celebrating!