The experience of Terroir: my first real poetry reading

Terroir was lovely and also hard. I am both happy that I did it and happy that it is over.


The presentation on publishing was actually far easier than the reading. For the presentation, everyone there had come because they were genuinely interested and because I have been publishing for so long talking about it felt very easy and natural. People were engaged and asked wonderful questions. We could have gone on long after our time was up.


The reading was a bit of a different story. First of all I was paired up with a very nice novelist whose book was an entirely different style than my writing. So the people that he drew in were probably not my general crowd. Also I had imagined us alternating each reading one poem at a time so that I wouldn’t have to fill a full half hour in a row. But as he had written a novel that clearly wasn’t going to work.


He went first and read a section from his novel and then answered some questions. There was a good discussion but I could tell from the topics discussed my very feminine, very nature focused book might not be a hit in this crowd. Then it was my turn. I read for maybe 15 minutes and asked if anyone had comments or questions.


A woman who had been quite complementary and adoring of the pervious readers very gritty and city scape laden book asked me if I thought that it was a bit indulgent for writers to write about lessons learned from nature. She said it seemed to her like the easy way out in writing and she was frustrated by so much of a focus on nature in general.


We had all just come from a key note address where the poet laureate of Oregon had also focused very much on the value of nature on writing and how important it was.  


I did my best to respond well, to be honest and defend myself and my work without being defensive. Others in the room also came to my and nature writing’s defense, which was much appreciated. But after a bit of distance I found it very comical that 1. I was paired up to read with someone who writes for basically the exact opposite audience as I do, and 2. That I happen to have the one outspoken anti nature poetry reader in the entire world sitting in my very first reading.


But, like I said, it was a great experience and I now know more about what I do and do not want in a public poetry reading experience. Lessons learned and skin thickened is always a good thing.

more words more truth

I realized the other day that part of why I love poetry is how it is honest, painfully so sometimes, but also gives so little actual information. I can be as sneaky and secretive as I like in a poem while still feeling that the honesty and truth is there.

So I made a plan to try to start writing more. More realness. More words themselves, but also more truth without the hiding.

So what do I want to say?


1.     The lilacs are blooming, it feels like they come and go so quickly, so I will try to savor this small moment with them.

2.     I have been more fragile lately. Starting out closer to the edge, so it takes less to make me fall over it.

3.     My amazing daughter is officially registered for Kindergarten and I am delighted and afraid and excited to see all the things she will become. Mostly I think I worry about her having to become acquainted with some of the cruelties of this world before I want her to. I know she will have to know one day, but I wish that day wasn’t now.

4.     We did an amazing amount of gardening yesterday. It was lovely and also way too much and I am tiered. I have a hard time resting when I need to. I want the people around me to tell me to rest so that I can do so without feeling any guilt. Truthfully there should be no guilt regardless of anyone’s permission. But I am where I am. And so I start from here.

5.     It feels different carrying a boy than it did a girl. I am more aware of my own emotions because the last thing this world needs is another man who grew acquainted with rage so early.


I enjoy lists. They make it feel so much more manageable. Perhaps this will catch on.

Terroir Writing Festival

Hello friends and sorry to have been so quiet for so long.

I wanted to let you know that I will be presenting a workshop at the Terroir Writing Festival in McMinnville Oregon on April 20th of this year. Moriah of the Blue Hour and I will be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of choosing to publish with a small or medium sized publishing house versus one of the larger publishers.

I will also be doing a small poetry reading and be signing books.

More info on the festival can be found here


work in progress: swimming lessons

Swimming lessons

I sit and watch
My sweet, innocent
Daughter at swimming lessons
And I think of all the other
Sweet innocent daughters

In cages
And alone

The collective
is heartbroken
And outraged
and so we do what we
Know how to do,
Make calls
write letters

Good things.
But not enough.

And we try to separate our small lives
And emotions
From the collective grief

We try to still laugh
Because we have that choice.
The option of turning away.

I sit in metal bleachers
In a hot room smelling of
Chlorine while young women
Teach my daughter to swim.
While others care for her
Gently and attentively.
While a lifeguard looks on
Never far away.

I do not worry for her well being.

She looks over periodically
To make sure I am there
And still watching.

How is it possible
That we are here
Instead of there.