Worldwide Post Report: 2018 Part One

Time for a fun post and something simple while I’m still tackling brain fog and fatigue that makes snails look fast.

It’s been quite some time since I posted an update of my postcrossing adventures, but I’ve been getting back into the habit slowly this year and have a few new favorites to share.

For those of you new to the blog in the last year or so, postcrossing is a hobby in which you receive the address for someone in the world, write them a postcard, and when they mark that card received YOUR address gets handed off to someone else so that you can receive a card. You never know where in the world the cards will come from or who you might meet. Most people treat these as one-time interactions, but I have actually found a long term pen pal this way.

This first one is from Russia. The postcrossing project asks that all cards be written in English (unless the person you are writing to has specified they can read another language), but unfortunately this one is written IN Russian so I’m not sure what was said. The handwriting is very flowy and beautiful though! Continue reading

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Life Update the 2nd

I just realized I haven’t done a life update since March, and now it’s nearly August. This year is beating me up.

  • Hubby and I bought a new lawn mower, because the one we got when we initially bought the house has needed major repair every year. It was time to bite the bullet and we could handle a small loan for a new one, so we took on the expense.
  • With the new mower came the need for a new shed, having torn down last year the very old, very large mess of a shed originally on our property. We opted for one with just a little bit extra room for other tools, and took on that expense too.
  • In May I was driving to work when suddenly my car start shuddering horribly and would barely accelerate. I called my boss, told him I was driving straight to the mechanic while my car was still sort of working, flipped on my hazards, and hoped I’d make it the 3ish miles to the mechanic. About 2 miles in, a lovely police officer pulled me over. The first time I’ve EVER been pulled over. Did he pull me over to check on me since my car was shaking like crazy, I couldn’t get up to speed, and was obviously distressed? Nope. Pulled me over to tell me it was illegal to drive with my hazards. Even after telling him the trouble I was having he just told me not to do it again and didn’t offer to follow me the last mile to the mechanic’s or anything. Our police department here is pretty awesome, so I’m just hoping this guy was having a bad day. At least I didn’t get a ticket.
  • Back to the car… once I made it to the mechanic’s it didn’t turn back on again. One of the caps somehow came off while I was driving and flooded oil through much of the engine. It would have been thousands to fix it.
  • Much as I absolutely hated giving up my car (the only one I’ve ever had, it was only a 2002 and under 130,000 miles), it was time to buy a new car. I am fond of my new car, but still missing the old one. And certainly missing the days when I didn’t have a car payment.
  • Not long after this, my health finally gave out on me. (I know I’ve said it before, but autoimmune diseases suck, ya’ll.) I’d been having more trouble since last fall, but figured it was just a flare I couldn’t kick. I’ve spent most of this month only working half days because that’s all I could manage. Went to see my doctor and she took one look at me before asking what on earth had happened, she’d never seen me this bad. The first round of new meds didn’t work. The second round of new meds seem to be helping at least some, for which I’m grateful. But new meds and several appointments are an expense I was not prepared for, especially after taking on so many new expenses already!

Guys… I’m wiped out. I apologize for not blogging, but if I’ve learned anything from hosting three different personal blogs (trial and error) it’s that sticking to a schedule when I don’t feel up to it just makes me worse.

I’m wiped out, but my brain has taken a lot of time to reset (when it can think straight anyway). I’ve done a lot of thinking about the type of poet I want to be while I’ve been doing a lot of reading other poets. I’ve also done a lot of reflection on how my views of myself as a poet have evolved over the last few years. (And I’m sure will always evolve.)

I don’t have the words to spell it out yet, so I’ll just keep writing poems and see how it goes.

Maybe I’ll have something interesting and coherent for all of you soon. Assuming I can stay awake for more than the bare necessities and use brain power for creativity any time soon!

KidLit Love: Are You An Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko

A children’s book about Japanese poetry that isn’t haiku? Yes, please!

(I have nothing against haiku, but for Western audiences that is usually all one thinks of when hearing the words ‘Japanese poetry,’ so it’s nice to see something different.)

are you an echoThis book is part biography, part anthology of poetry.

The first half of the book answers the question “Who was Misuzu Kaneko?” We are introduced to Setsuo Yazaki, the man who rediscovered her work before it was lost to the public forever. He meets Misuzu’s younger brother who tells him the story of her short life, from childhood to marriage to motherhood and death, and the way poetry affected her throughout. A few of her poems are scattered throughout her biography, to highlight certain parts of her story.

Warning: Misuzu passed away at the age of 26 from suicide. Though this is a children’s book, it does not shy away from the fact she took her own life and this is part of the story. It is handled well and addresses the situation without embellishing or glorifying, but as a parent you may want to read it first to see if your child is ready for it and/or to be prepared for questions they may have.

The second half of this book is a selection of her poetry. Misuzu wrote 512 poems in her short life and this is a small sampling, but the poems chosen for this book are varied in subject and wonderful. The poems are presented in English and Japanese both, with furigana printed next to kanji in the Japanese printing. (If you’re a student of the Japanese language, this might be great reading practice!)

This is one of my favorites from the selection in the book (click for full size):

last year misuzu kaneko

The art for this book is awesome. It looks a little like the artist is still working on a sketch rather than presenting something perfectly painted/shaded, and I think it adds a lot of charm to the book as a whole. Toshikado Hajiri did an incredible job and I’d love to see more of his work in more books. It’s the sort of art that makes me feel warm and cozy with the book I’m holding. I spent a lot of time just enjoying the details of the illustrations after enjoying the story and poetry.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a wonderful piece of history that most Western people, children and adults alike, will not have learned, and includes beautiful poetry that demonstrates the sort of Japanese mindset in regards to life and nature that I so dearly love.

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!

Life Update

How are we nearly 1/4 of the way through 2018 already? *shakes head*

You know, it’s a simple, no-frills photo, but I feel like it fits right now. So far this year I haven’t focused that much on writing or creating. Instead I’ve spent a lot more time on knocking over those ‘tacks’ in life one by one. Those tacks have been health issues, financial problems, house repair problems, etc. Some of those tacks I have to face that I can’t knock over without the tack doing some of the work too and others I can’t knock over jussssst yet, but I’m working toward being strong enough to do so. For now I’m taking out all the little ones that I can. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Little tacks I’ve managed recently: Continue reading

KidLit Love: What Do You Do with an Idea?

How we learn to handle ideas as children will shape the way we handle ideas for the rest of our lives.

What Do You Do With An IdeaI was a bit skeptical when I first picked up “What Do You Do with an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada. I’m not sure what I expected, but I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d be happy with the result. As someone who’d like to one day make a living from the ideas in her head… it can be a touchy subject.

This book is now one of my favorites.

Mae Besom’s illustrations are an absolutely perfect accompaniment to this simple story of a child who, one day, has an idea. He’s not quite sure where it came from, why it’s there, or why he’s the one that it’s following around, but he does know that he can’t get this idea to leave him alone.What Do You Do With An Idea - Interior Pic

My favorite part of this little story is one specific point it makes: Ideas need attention.

You may not be certain you have the time to give to your idea. You may not be certain what your idea wants. But if you make friends with your idea instead of fighting its very existence, unexpected and wonderful things can happen.

Some people will laugh at you or shun you for hauling around that idea. Others will be kind, but simply not understand. In the end, the only relationship that matters is the one between you and your idea.

“I couldn’t imagine my life without it.” 
– from “What Do Your Do with an Idea”

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!

scared to submit yer poems?

Coming off of several of my own posts about the process of submitting your work (and then thankfully being accepted!) I feel like this is an awesome post to share today. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that advice to put that one odd poem in your submission. I have to remember to keep trying that.

LORENA PARKER MATEJOWSKY

I’ve been a reader for a #litmag for a  year now. If you are a writer just starting to submit, here’s a few tips from us folks behind the scenes:

  1. If the pub says send up to five poems, send five poems. Not just one or two.
  2. Best poem first.
  3. Put that one poem you feel weird about in there. You never know.
  4. Don’t be clever in the cover letter. Ever. Brief, boring and vaguely nice will suffice.
  5. I don’t care if you have never been published. We would love to be your first.
  6. Long lists of your every publication and award makes me do a little eye roll at this point in the game, which is early.

jambox

View original post 283 more words

Accepted!!

How I feel right now:
Now where’s my ocean and pretty sunset?

While also being the name of one of my favorite comedy films, today I can announce that after three years of submitting my work I have been accepted in a journal! I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Chantwood Magazine for accepting my poem “To Inari” for their 12th issue, just published today. You can go here to find this issue (and past issues) on their website.

I received the acceptance offer from the magazine just before the year rolled over to 2018. That was an awesome way to tie up an otherwise rather stressful year.

It also feels really special for this to be the poem accepted out of everything I sent out last year. It’s one of the ones dearest to my heart and has a whole lot of me mixed into the batter. In fact it’s the first poem I wrote when I sat down to begin the collection I have in mind. It’s a poem in which I definitely tried to sound like no one else but myself. So it feels really, really good to see someone else believe in it too.

I first started submitting my work toward the end of college (2009-10), but it was rather sparsely done and kind of half-heartedly. I still had my mind on being a great fantasy novelist so poetry was just a side thing I did only when the urge really gripped me. I tried submitting again in 2012-13, but again only a few things here and there. I still wasn’t very focused on writing poetry just yet.

I didn’t really start submitting my work until 2015, and only got truly serious about it in 2017, when I finally gave in with my whole brain and said to myself, “Okay, you’re a poet, let’s do this.”

My only real goal for 2018 is to write more, submit more, and dedicate myself to poetry more; that includes my own, reading the work of others, and trying to be a bit more a part of the ‘community’, either online or otherwise. I’m not entirely sure where poetry is taking me, that’s what this blog is around to document, but I think I’ve committed myself to the ride.

I’m starting 2018 with a publication. I’m thrilled and ever so grateful. My hopeful goal is to see at least one more publication credit happen this year, but that is out of my hands, so instead I’m going to do my best to write, write some more, and submit, submit, submit…

*Photo by user jill111 at Pixabay, creative commons usage

All the Things I’m Not

This post has sat in my drafts for over a year while I’ve thought about whether or not to post it. It’s been rewritten and tweaked multiple times, but I think it is time.

Let’s have a discussion. (Long post ahead.)

I am not a teacher. I don’t work for education. I don’t edit a literary journal. I have no writing degree, graduate or otherwise. And yet I am a poet.

I write this because it seems like nearly all of the poet blogs, poet bios, and poet anything I see about poets mentions at least one of those things. Teaching, editing, and fancy degrees. And these are all noble things. I am thankful to teachers and editors. We need them. Degrees of higher learning can be very beneficial. But they do not define the making of a poet.

Poetry is a notoriously low (or nearly no) paying job. There is no harm or shame in keeping a day job when you are a writer of any kind. Only the lucky few get to have “making up words” as their only job. Having a day job that has nothing to do with the written word does not discredit the writer. Having a degree in something other than language or writing, or even no degree at all, does not discredit the writer. And yet, it is easy to feel like it does. Continue reading

2017 in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 

Before charging into the next year (which better be awesome for the world in general or I might cry), I want to take a quick look back…

Books Read: 78 (goal was 87)
— for reference: I read 40 books in 2016

I read some really awesome books this year. I read poetry, picture books, fiction, and memoir mostly. I’ve especially been enjoying reading fiction novels and non-fiction comics about or set in Japan, both written by Japanese authors and authors who have visited the country. I’ve been working my way through reading fairy and folk tales from various countries as well.

I would LOVE to hear some recommendations from my readers for picture books or poetry books especially!! (My stack of to-read fiction is massive and takes longer to get through.) I am mostly restricted by what I can get through my local library for now, but please, recommend away!

Some of my favorites I read this year: Continue reading

KidLit Love: Little Red Gliding Hood

While not exactly a retelling, this book is an absolutely adorable story about not judging a person by their image or reputation and it’s filled with favorite fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters.

little red gliding hoodI’m going to admit that I picked this book up because I love figure skating. I love it now, and I especially loved it as a kid. You can keep your baseball and basketball and football… give me figure skating!

Tara Lazar wrote a very sweet story about our favorite Red. This time she’s a skating fanatic, but her skates are old and she needs new ones to keep her feet comfy and keep her safe when dancing across the ice. A competition is announced with the prize of new skates, making this the perfect opportunity for her! The problem is she needs a partner and everyone is already taken. Or are they?

little red gliding hood wolfWhile I loved the story (it didn’t feel like the author was talking down to her reader just because it was a children’s book and Red’s repeated exclamation of “Oh, slippery slush!” made me giggle more than once), I have to give a shout-out to Troy Cummings, the illustrator. All of the artwork was lovely, but the wolf! Oh my. Do you see this dapper wolf? Do you see his skating clothes? I’m in love. He reminds me of my favorite Russian skaters in the Olympics of my childhood. I can’t help it!

I recommend this one wholeheartedly. And if you speed through it the first time like I did, give it a second read and pay special note to all of the side characters, no matter how briefly mentioned. It really helps make the book.

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Maybe a favorite fairy tale retelling? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!