Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Get the lead(ing) out

The line-spacing in Word 2007 is not friendly for poets. By default, Word adds extra space between each line, and even more space whenever you press ENTER.
The new Writer's Guide video shows how you can fix or avoid this.
Better yet, we shot the video at a letterpress studio. Type everywhere! Way too much fun!
Take a look, let me know whether it helps, and feel free to pass the link along.
If you want to see some of the other episodes in the series, they're listed over on the right side of this blog. If you have topics you'd like me to cover, please send them my way.
And mind your p's and q's.

Monday, September 21, 2009


A ton of Merlot grapes looks like this. That was Saturday's work.

On Sunday, we tackled half a ton of Chardonnay.

Jamie feeding the crusher.

Chardonnay juice pouring out of the press.

Need a couple new blocks for the press? Having a woodshop right there is handy, especially when the winemaker knows how to use the tools.

Grape cake.

Big Basin #1 is almost full.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The third time is not charming

Where have I been?

I've been spending time with the sequestered kitty, the cone-of-shame kitty, the "I ate a watch band and had my third major surgery" kitty, the "I'm lonely" kitty, the kitty who wants to be carried around the house, the kitty who must stay in the basement bathroom shower stall (complete with little basket, litter box, and food bowls) until his stitches come out.

Sorry, no photos. But you get the picture.

Last night, a terrifically fun reading at Bookworm Exchange.

Today, crushing about a ton of Merlot grapes. I hope the rain stops before we start. And I'll try to have pictures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another health-care reform bill

Tired of all the scare ads, I think I've come up with a health-care bill solution. It isn't reform. It's just a baby step to appease those elected officials who oppose a public option.

Let's take away their public options.

Let's pass a bill that takes away the insurance coverage currently available to Congress. They're public officials, so that plan is on some level tax-payer funded and public. Let them shop for, purchase, and pay for the private insurance that they so loudly tout.

And the bill will take away their Medicare, now and in the future. That's a public option, too.

I think it's time for the esteemed members of Congress to put their money where their mouths are.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Poems in a series

Over on Jeannine Blogs, Jeannine Hall Gailey talks about, and asks about, writing poems in a series.

This is a favorite subject of mine, and here is the response that I posted:

Thanks for bringing this up. (I sent my essay on it in to P&W, although that's a long shot.)

I've realized that most of my poems that I'm working on right now are thematic but not actually a series (no necessary ordering). And right now I'm having trouble finding a solid rhythm in any of my projects, which is uncomfortable for me. Even when I'm coming up with some intriguing one-off ideas, it's still uncomfortable.

For fitting those one-offs into a collection, I've heard a few ideas to try: Find the thread that holds them together (chances are there is some overarching abstract idea that each of these poems is expressing in a different way). Then you can retitle the poems to fit your theme, or you can divide the poems into sections and use the section titles to bring in the theme. Okay, I'm out of ideas for now.

Finally, I proposed a session on writing poems in a series to Winter Wheat, and the response was positive. So this is even more on my mind than usual.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ready? Set!

Set type?

Set line spacing?

Coming soon: A new video, shot at the Montford Press, showing you how to get the line-spacing you want (for poems) in Microsoft Word 2007.

There is so much fun stuff to look at.

It's type candy.

Ack! Narrative anxiety

I am struggling with this idea of narrative poetry—or narration in a poem—or just writing a poem.

After taking Karen Finnefrock's class and reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, I'm doing a lot of generative writing. I love the generative writing, but I end up with this long, rambling mess of images and memories. That's the point, to go and see where it takes me and hopefully end up with some new, surprising stuff.

But it's the long, rambling aspect of it that worries me. It doesn't feel like a poem.

Yes, this is before any revising—and yes, any of this work will most likely see much revising. But I can't shake this feeling that I'm really just telling a story in a very linear way. Maybe that's okay, but I don't think it's the poem I want to write.

How do you tell a story in a poem?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

But does it come with a matching handbag?

Lately, I've been reading poems by Katrina Roberts. Although her tone or her voice or her approach shift and evolve between her books, she manages to be cerebral and tactile at the same time--and a little surreal, with a lot of depth. It's wonderful.

Because I am me, I'm doubting my own work and thinking my poems are too simple, too plain. At the same time, I'm reading
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. And she is telling me not to doubt, and I am telling myself that my voice is my voice. (Doubts, like gnats or mosquitoes.)

But isn't it fun to experiment with other people's voices? Like trying on the scarlet dress with the slit all the way up the thigh and matching stiletto heels? Or spending the weekend in different town and imagining that you really live there?

It's good to stretch, see how else my words can sound, what other words I can find, how I can evolve. It's also a little bit scary (although it isn't like I need to show anyone my attempts).

How do you stretch? And how do you swat those doubts away?

And what is the cat eating now?