Hello out there! Here is a link to see "The Writing Life," where I share cool stuff, including a featured writing -- Kansas Poet Laureate Kevin Rabas this month, a writing prompt (this month focused on saying hello and goodbye to what we welcome and release with the year), and a writing tip ("Read like a maniac" this month, and always always). There are also updates to what I'm up to, including upcoming in-person (in Emporia, Kansas) and video-conferenced workshops on "Blogging for Your Soul and Audience," a perfect workshop if you have a blog or are considering starting one [...] Read More
What impressed me first was his sestina, a very challenging kind of poem he wrote after hanging with a bunch of us fellow state poets laureate at a lingering dinner at a Concord, New Hampshire Holiday Inn restaurant. A dozen of us gathered from Louisiana to Texas for the Poets & Politics conference to first travel around the small state, giving readings with local poets, then present together for conference-goers. The only problem was, that aside from the conference organizers, there were only a handful of conference-goers. We filled the open space with getting to know each other, and those [...] Read More
When Jen Scovell-Parker and Shon Parker, professors at McNally Smith College of Music, got the email December 14th that the college was closing in a week and they wouldn’t be receiving their next paycheck, they leapt into action on behalf of the effected 600 or so students. Shon, a vocalist, arranger, and educator, is also a chef, so when the college immediately shut down the cafeteria — the only source of meals for students, most of whom had little deposable income by the end of the semester — he took over the cafeteria kitchen with help from Chris, the kitchen [...] Read More
I thought it was a bust, but the boon just hadn't happened yet. We wanted 100,000 snow geese, but just saw a handful of eagles, and 100 swans, still beautiful and magnificent, but after years of considering the long drive to the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge to catch the snow geese in migration, I was a little disappointed. Where were the geese? Somewhere for sure, but not where we were. Eagle in the tree Until they were. Nearing an oxbow to cross the Missouri river into Nebraska, then turn left and go south back to Kansas, right [...] Read More
Ding Dong, luna moth at your door. I've learned over the years that it's never a mistake to drive around with a bookstore in a rolling suitcase just in case, and that's especially true when there's a new book in the house (and car). Everyday Magic, landing under the UPS tree in a big pile as if dropped by a passing spaceship, is stepping out and waving its friendly arms at people. In the last few days, I've hauled over two dozen books (and they're big and heavy, over 400 pages each) to the post office to mail, [...] Read More
A growing pile of old quilts has been staring at me for months, and in the last week, I finally succumbed to the call of the fabric. You see, these quilts held us and our history for so many years, and to see them tattering away without a fight was just wrong. Yet for a long time, I couldn't figure out what to do to mend the torn squares or disintegrating borders of color and texture. Some might say to toss quilts with dozens of tears in them, but each quilt, just like each life, has its own story. Woody [...] Read More
Neil, bottom left, last Hanukkah In memory of Neil Salkind, who died today. We sat at a small table in La Prima Tassa on a spring day filtering sunshine across our table, sipping tea and updating each other on our children. “Hey Pal, the thing is,” Neil said, “I want them to be happy. My job is simply to love them. That's what we do as parents: we love them and want them to be happy.” I had just been inventorying my long list of anxieties about my kids when Neil's words stopped me in my [...] Read More
It's almost balmy although this late afternoon is quickly tipping toward dusk. The leaves are strangely still attached to trees around town but mostly in clumps the cold snap, hard rain, or big wind haven't yet tipped over. Although we bought a frozen turkey to begin thawing for Thanksgiving, here I am sitting on the front porch with only a light sweater over my yoga clothes. It's an unusual autumn moment, but also oddly sweet in its spaciousness and quiet. One of my and maybe your ongoing problems with fall as well as spring -- especially in these regions where [...] Read More
At breakfast at the Swedish Country Inn in Lindsborg, Kansas, someone said she liked my tiny gold Dala horse necklace. It took me a moment to realize that the C'hai -- the Jewish symbol for life, luck, the auspicious number 18, and also the Hebrew letter C'hai -- looks just a little like the Swedish Dala horse, a symbol of Swedish hospitality. I explained the C'hai to her, then dug into some Swedish meatballs, pickled herring, and rye bread. Ken and I having decided to spend some time in this charming town after a gig in equally lovely Glasco, Kansas, [...] Read More
Another visit, another time to sort tools It started with gerunds, a grammatical term for verbs that end in "ing." To write directly and precisely, writers are supposed to avoid gerunds, Uncle Ron read in a tiny newspaper article that he clipped and sent to me. He wrote me that when next we met, we needed to get to the bottom of this gerund business. That was well over 30 years ago, and get to the bottom we did, along with picking up what we found at the bottom and tossing it back and forth over [...] Read More
Buy Your Own Copy of Everyday Magic -- This Blog As a Book!
This blog is a book --Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous -- published by Meadowlark Press. This beautiful book, complete with beautiful art throughout by publisher Tracy Million Simmons, can be yours for $24.99. Please consider purchasing the book through the publisher to support small presses supporting authors like me. Meadowlark Press. Meadowlark Books is an Emporia, Kansas, based publisher, coming from the same town as famous newspaper publisher William Allen White. The publisher's site shares this perspective:
We live in exciting times for authors and all artists, an era of democratization of the arts. No longer will books/music/artwork be something selected by the few and passed down to the masses. The people--our readers--will choose for themselves.