Sunday Morning Muse Confessional

I had a more-difficult-than-usual rejection this week of my current poetry manuscript. It was from a press that I love and support and greatly admire, and the pain didn’t come from the rejection– of course I didn’t expect “x” to publish my work. But I’ve had my two previous manuscripts rejected by this press with very personal and encouraging letters. This rejection was just — a rejection. A form letter.

I feel like rejection is the PTSD for poets. It triggers all kinds of feelings. Like most seasoned poets, I try hard to accept that rejections of my poems are simply a part of the work of being a poet. I try not to take them personally and usually succeed. I am typically able to reconstruct postive feelings about myself and my work; and then, to dust it off and re-submit. But there are always going to be some rejections that really hurt.

I’ve had my share of losses, including the unbearable: I lost custody of my son when he was five. I rarely mention it, because it was such a huge loss, and it was also an enormous rejection –of me as a mother, of me as a lesbian, of me as capable of holding my own in a fight, of me as, well, me. Nothing will ever feel as bad as that. But that loss can be triggered by other losses, other rejections. Like this one. And you never know when it’s going to happen, which makes it even trickier to navigate. You just open your email . . . . and fall apart at work, or wherever you happen to be.

Fortunately, I knew what to do. I emailed a few close poetry friends and got exactly the reassurance I needed. I love that there are sites on FB to post rejections, I belong to one of these groups. It helps to be able to feel that there is nothing shameful about rejection. It is not personal. This is why it is so important to have poetry friends. You know who you are. A huge thank you! I hope I am that kind of friend to others. I hope you are too.

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Sunday Morning Muse with Speed Reading

I read entirely too fast. I’ve done this all of my life, with novels, finishing book after book in short order. I bring 5 or 6 novels with me for a week at the beach, and often buy another 1-2 while I am there. Reading fast is not always a good thing, it is costly for one thing and has left me almost buried in books wherever I live. In school I was always able to cram the night before for tests, but not always able to deeply engage with what I was reading.

My work life also enforces the habit. Working in medicine, I have to read pages and pages of other providers’ medical notes, lab reports, images, and whatnot, without much time to do more than get the gist of what is being conveyed, so I can be knowledgable enough to do my part for the patient. In a 20 minute visit. And then go on to the next patient. I am all too aware that the speed-reading approach to medicine is not good for provider or patient. We make mistakes when we don’t have enough time to think and read carefully. To listen carefully and ask questions before making decisions that affect others.

When the pressure of too-much-to-read spills over onto a Sunday, I tend to scan emails rather than reading them carefully. And I make some very dumb mistakes. For example, I fulfill orders for my press, and this week, while at work, I responded to a customer’s problem with her order, by sending an apology to a different customer, creating considerable confusion for both of us. Or when someone refers to a conversation I should remember, but actually don’t. Stupidly, instead of back-tracking or asking for clarification, I jump in with assumptions that often create discord or confusion.

A significant exception to my speed reading habit is when it comes to poetry and particularly reviewing a book of poems. When I review a book, I read slowly and carefully. I make notes. I re-read. Reviewing is teaching me the absolutete value of close reading. A lesson I sorely need to learn. To practice.

I just want to say, when it comes to everything else, I’m going to try to do better.

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Sunday Morning Muse with My April Roundup

I accomplished my two April challenges–

ONE

I wrote 30 poems, one each day, as a sonnet cycle. It was surprisingly easy to keep going, as every day I had a prompt from the previous poem. By about 4/12, I found that I didn’t have to count lines, I just wrote 14 and stopped. The form entered me. I will be working on revisions for a good while, but I’m hopeful that I have something here. The cycle starts and ends with this line:

It was a warm day in April when the coleus died.

TWO

I ate a totally plant-based diet (Vegan) for 30 days. I found it delightful. I spent more time preparing meals than usual (which I totally enjoyed), and I loved the colorful dishes, and the feeling of eating clean. I felt completely satisfied, when typically I am hungry a lot of the time. And I lost 9 pounds, which was, to be honest, one of my goals in this challenge. I’m thinking that giving up dairy (milk, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, yogurt) made the difference in having lost a few pounds. I hope it will also lower my cholesterol, which was above normal for the first time this year. I feel somewhat more energetic too. I like this enough to continue a mostly vegan diet, but will probably add eggs back in, since I get them locally from co-workers.

THREE What’s next?

I have a longer than a month goal in mind. I want to visit all of the waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula. I have a map. I’ll have to give it at least a year. This is the Sol Duc Falls.

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Sunday Morning Muse with 28 Poems and an Herb Garden

I had a bad week at work, or I should say a difficult week, since, truthfully, nothing bad actually happened. It just felt bad. Like I was driving a clunker, almost out of gas, miles from an off-ramp, behind an 18 wheeler going about 40 on a 55 mph highway. And more than just slowing me down, with me watching the little red gas pump light up on the dash, I couldn’t see what was up ahead.

I have, however, kept my commitment to write a poem a day all of April, and now I have 28 sonnets sitting on 28 pages, pretty as you please, waiting for the revisions to begin. Writing is the joy, the reward. Of course there were some very disappointing rejections to swallow, and, I’m afraid, more of those to come soon. I’m usually pretty tolerant of rejections, but I have to admit that when slight faith didn’t make the long list for the Suk prize, it stung. It’s been out for almost a year now, and it feels like its run is over without really getting out of the starting gate. Lord, I’m full of corny metaphors today.

It’s a cool sunny April day on the peninsula and my cats love me. I’m signing off now, to go outside to plant a container garden on the front porch.

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Sunday Morning Muse with a Subliminal Message

There is a new review up at The Poetry Cafe!

Sublime Subliminal by Rena Priest was a finalist for the Floating Bridge Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her book interested me because of her wondrous ability to play with senses. Smell a small taste of her sounds below:

The drunken monkey of truth
says, “It’s too late for you
to never tell me you love me.”
But I’ve already tasted in your kiss,
the pixels of lightning
you keep in your lips.


Read the review here:

Buy this chapbook from Floating Bridge Press! 

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Sunday Morning Muse, with a Poem from “slight faith”

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Sunday Morning Muse is Poetry Month with a Vegan Twist

I took this week off from work and have spent most of it writing poems, writing poetry reviews, setting up a new website for publishing poetry chapbook reviews, submitting poems, writing poems. Sort of a trial run for retirement. I can’t wait to have more time to write, more control over my schedule, more reading, writing, reviewing poetry.

For the something-ith year (10th I think) I am writing a poem-a-day for April. After a couple of poems, I realized that I am writing a sonnet cycle. I am excited about this!

I’m also doing a 30 day Vegan challenge this month, and having the time at home has resulted in spending a lot of time in the kitchen, my second favorite thing to do.

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Sunday Morning Muse with a Full Plate of Delicious Poetry

Last year in June, Molly Spencer, who is (among other amazing things) a poetry editor for The Rumpus asked me if I would write a review of Julie Wade’s Same Sexy Marriage. I thought, “why me?” at the time, having no purchase whatsoever in the book review world. But then the experience was transformative, for which I am immensely grateful. I have written (and published!) a review of a book of poetry every month since the first one. Although, I guess I should also count the practice runs: the reviews I’ve posted on Amazon and Goodreads, and here on my blog. I guess I was preparing for “the second career.”

I keep telling people (read, telling myself) that I am going to retire next January. One way to move gracefully into retirement, particularly from a long career in a job that I have always had a love/hate relationship with, is to already have moved on into the next phase.

Some of the next phase is already in motion. Writing poems has been part of my life for many years. I’ve edited and published and promoted lesbian/bi/trans poetry as a joint venture with Mary Meriam at Headmistress Press since 2013. I will be so happy to have more time for both of these projects.

And yet, it seems that I want to go overboard. So, the new project that I am adding to the plate is thepoetrycafe.online . . . a meeting place where poetry chapbooks are reviewed. The site is set up; it has an email address; the first chapbook review of Each Wild Thing’s Consent, by Lauren Davis has been published; I have a pile of chapbooks that were the inspiration for this project sitting on my desk, like cats asking for a treat; and I’ve already received a couple of chapbooks in the mail!

I still intend to keep up this blog and read others’ poetry blogs; being part of a poetry-blogging community been a life raft for me over the past year . . . although my attention might drift from time to time.

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Moving in!

The Poetry Cafe

I have already gotten a terrific response to The Poetry Cafe Project. It seems there are a lot of chapbooks looking for a sweet home review!

If you missed my review of Lauren Davis’ chapbook, “Each Wild Thing’s Consent,” I strongly recommend that you read it RIGHT NOW! 

Ok, now that you’re back, I want to open up the cafe to chapbooks!

I don’t promise to review your chapbook, but I promise to read it. I will list every chapbook I receive. Please mail chapbooks to me at:

The Poetry Cafe
60 Shipview Ln
Sequim, WA

If you prefer to inquire first, email me at: risa@thepoetrycafe.online

I will also be looking for reviewers soon. If you have an idea for a chapbook review, please email me for instructions at risa@thepoetrycafe.online.

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Sunday Morning Musings AND a New Website (Exciting!)

I’ve created a new website which I will be launching soon! Announcing (ta da!)

The Poetry Cafe” . . . a meeting place where poetry chapbooks are reviewed. It’s currently under construction at: https://thepoetrycafe.online

My intention is to write and publish reviews of poetry chapbooks. So,

  1. If you have a chapbook you’d like for me to review, please mail it to me at:

Risa Denenberg
60 Shipview Ln
Sequim, WA 98382

and

2) I’d love to publish contributor reviews! If you’d like to write a poetry chapbook review, you will find instructions on how to submit once the site goes live.

. . . and as for musings, I uncovered this list of things I jotted down somewhere that I thought I wanted to write about. It’s an interesting list, showing a certain frame of mind I may have been in at the time:

  • suicide notes, particularly Jumpers
  • earthquakes specifically “the big one”
  • Cosmology: constellations, seyfirt galaxies, singularities,  gravitational waves
  • Dementia, aphasia, amnesia, failures of memory
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