Tuesday, December 18, 2012


For your reading pleasure over the holidays and beyond, here are two interesting websites:


Maureen is a family therapist, educational consultant and a writer who lives and works in Venice, CA.  She is the author of Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children for Learning, Creativity, and Relaxation (Shambhala Publications) and, more importantly for me, The Heroine's Journey: Woman's Quest for Wholeness (Shambhala Publications), which follows the course of the female epic  that my recent book-length poems - Degrees of Laitude and the forthcoming Longevity - also attempt to track.


After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery, edited by Tom Lombardo, and published in 2008 by Santa Lucia Books, contains poems by 115 poets from 15 countries (including, from Yours Truly, "The Intemperate Zone," an excerpt from Degrees of Latitude).  This blog updates the anthology with new work by poets who appeared in it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Christmas 
As the story goes, the guy that owns this house lives north of Cincinnati , Ohio .. 
Police were constantly being called for traffic jams and accidents in the neighborhood so they asked him to shut it down during certain hours.  Instead he started charging by car load to pay off duty police to be there.. 
The guy is supposedly a real computer GEEK, and also a great decorator!
Click Below: 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I have a new template I hope you like. If you wish to comment, go to bottom of post and click on "comments" - it's as easy as that. Though it would be even easier if it said "Leave a comment" - but there you are. Thanks!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good Newses

First, the excellent South Carolina poet, former President of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and  my - I'm proud to say - friend, Susan Meyers, has won the 2012 Editor's Prize from Cider Press Review.  Her book, My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, will be published in 2013.  Don't miss it!

Second, but not second to me: my own second book-length narrative prose poem, Longevity, will be published by Four Way Books in 2015!  This is the outcome I have wished for all along for this manuscript, which is a kind of successor to the book Four Way published in 2007, Degrees of Latitude.  While not a sequel, Longevity shares with Degrees of Latitude a sensibility, some mirror characteristics - it's all about the protagonist's relationships with women, while Degrees of Latitude is mainly about  the (different) protagonist's relationships with men - and, of course, its form, a fragmentary prose poetic narrative.

I will keep you posted as I move along towards publication.  My editor has made some challenging, and exciting, suggestions for revisions, which will take some time to absorb and execute - or reject, as the case may be - and then, at her suggestion, I will work with a line editor (how rare and fortunate is that!) to ensure that the book is as clear in its intention and as finely tuned in its music as it can be.

I feel privileged and delighted to be working with Four Way again.

Hooray for Susan and Whoosh for me!  It's been a long road to this juncture: I began work on Longevity - many drafts, several titles, and 13 years ago - in 1999.  But I well remember it took Degrees of Latitude 18 years from the first stroke of the pen to the date of publication.  And - not, as Milton says, "to compare great with little" - but I think I read in the liner notes to the CD of Paradise Lost I'm listening to in the car that it took him more than 20 years from the time he conceived the poem to the date on which it was printed in 1667.  In the event, he probably wrote it, at the rate of forty lines per day, in about five years, beginning in 1663.  Nevertheless, I'm in good company!  Excellent company all around!

Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful support!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bingham Hill

Last December I received in the mail from my second cousin, John, in Andover, Connecticut a DVD made by a local high school student, Evie Murphy, for her senior project.  She told the history of the town through the biography of Joel Foote Bingham, John's and my great great uncle.  The DVD also mentioned Joel's parents, Cyrus and Abigail Foote Bingham, our great great great grandparents, who lived and raised Joel in the family homestead in Andover, where John has now lived for fifteen years, lovingly and beautifully restoring the house and surrounding acreage.

Meantime, a pen and ink portrait of Abigail had been hanging in my living room since I inherited it from my grandmother years ago.  A plain woman, it must be admitted, but with a definite family resemblance!

I had not been fully aware of my direct descent from Abigail or of the fact that she had lived on the farm and was buried in the town cemetery.  It was time to return Abigail to her own parlor!  With John's enthusiastic concurrence, I shipped the portrait to Andover, and a week or so later, last Sunday, my daughter and I took the train from Grand Central Station in New York City to New Haven, switched trains to Hartford, and arrived there in the late morning, to be picked up by John and driven the 15 miles or so to Andover, where branches of our families settled in the 17th century.  

A long continuous history of family ownership and possession.  The property has never been out of family hands since its original settlement.

The house began as a 17th century Colonial clapboard two-over-two, with a central front door. Additions were made to the back in the 18th century, and further additions over the years have resulted, after renovations, in a charming enclosed porch where we ate a delicious lunch of fresh produce from the garden - tomato aspic more delectable than anything I have ever tasted - and corn from a local farmer, prepared by John's companion, Arlene, whom he originally hired to be his landscape designer but who shortly became his life's partner.   

Across the street from the house is "our" beautiful Connecticut barn.  Originally on the same plot of land, the barn was segregated from the house when the Hebron Road was built between.  

Behind the house are the wonderful fruit, vegetable and flower gardens Arlene and John have created out of a former near wilderness.  Where trees grew nearly up to the house when John arrived fifteen years ago, now tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, sweet peas, and a mouth-watering and eye-dazzling array of natural pleasures abound!  

Arlene took a picture of my daughter and me by the original front door.

Welcome home, Abigail!  We leave you leaning against the back of a lovely desk, upon which sits a photo of your sister and of your grand-daughter, Mary Perry Payne Bingham, John's and my great grandmother!  On the mantel is your photograph, from which, possibly, your portrait was drawn, and one of your prettily embroidered dress white bonnets - unfortunately, not the one you're wearing in the portrait - enclosed in a glass case.

Down the road from the farmhouse is the cemetery where you and Cyrus are buried.  Close to the road, the gravestone etchings are nearly completely worn away.   So it's lucky John is there to interpret the stones.  Who will carry on when John's time is done?  Can you reach down into the next generation to touch the mind and heart of one of your great great great great grandchildren to occupy, care for, and continue the family legacy and tradition at Bingham Hill?  

Monday, August 06, 2012

Close but no Cigar!

Longevity has been named a semi-finalist in the Washington Prize contest from Word Works.  Last year an earlier version of the manuscript won praise from the same contest, so it's making progress!  One of only twelve manuscripts passed on to the final judge, Longevity earns the honor of receiving detailed feedback from the contest, which may help it win this or another contest in the near future.

The winning manuscript, St. Rage's Vault, by B.K. Fischer will be published this coming winter.

Britannia Rules!

After winning at Wimbledon and reclaiming the Number One spot in the rankings, Roger lost his bid  for a Golden Slam by failing to win a gold medal at the Olympics against the hometown favorite, Andy Murray, at the All England Club yesterday.  It was a solid, impressive, glorious victory for Andy!  Gracious as always, Federer said not to feel sorry for him, he hadn't lost, he had WON the Silver.  Nevertheless, I was sad for him. He had worked all year with the Gold Medal as his goal.  He had that interminable semi-final match against the juiced-up, formidable del Potro on Friday - the fierce, indefatigable del Potro who went on to outmaneuver Djokovic for the Bronze!  All in all, a grand result.  Andy the first British player to win Gold since 1908!  You can't be unhappy about that!

What a great era for tennis!  Glad to be here to watch it all unfold.  On to the US Open!

Who will displace the formidable four?  Who can ever beat the Williams sisters?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sometimes a Rattlesnake

We walked past the pool in the heat of the afternoon.  A rattlesnake was leisurely swimming there.   I had planned to go in.  Nope!

Then I had a strange dream.  I lost my roller board suitcase at the station.  There were many black bags with red yarn tags like mine on the handle.  I spotted one in a group that was labeled "Anne Lauterbach."  I'm not in that group, I thought, traveling together, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E P=O=E=T=R=Y.  Next, Louis showed me his shiny new gold medal.  I'm not in that group either,  I thought, shiny new gold medal winners.  Feeling pretty low.  Like Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, after losing all his manuscripts on the train.  Or T.E. Lawrence, leaving his only manuscript copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom at Redding Station.  Gone.

Earlier, I was in the library at my childhood home, which had a name similar to the house I live in now, called Cedarside.  Suddenly, everybody was leaving.  The dog, like our dog, was lying in the middle of the living room rug, something my parents would never have allowed.  One of the maids told me to put on my nightie because I was carrying my brown linen dress, and I was naked above the waist.  I followed her in her pretty yellow uniform, bearing a tray with a box of Cheerios, up the stairs to my old bedroom, which Louis and I were sharing.  Then we were on the train into the City, amazingly close, I thought, as I looked at the upscale stores, a gorgeous mall like The Grove in Los Angeles, and I realized we were still in Westchester County.

The whole time I was carrying the brown linen dress that needs, in real life, to be shortened to do away with the hole and material thinned from too much use.

So, I thought, it's all all worn out or gone.  I'll start afresh, a brand new passport.  A new passport to poetry.   Cheers!

Not sure what that means.

By the time evening came and we looked in the pool again, the rattlesnake, too, had gone on his own sweet way.  Hooray!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blurb girl!

A nice surprise arrived in the mail yesterday.  In 2006, I reviewed in American Book Review a book of poems by Sandy McIntosh called The After-Death History of My Mother.  Now Marsh Hawk Press is about to publish (September 1, 2012) his Selected and New Poems, called Cemetery Chess.  An excerpt from my earlier review appears as a blurb on the back of the new book.  It reads:

"Sandy McIntosh's entertaining new volume might be mistaken, at first, for a merry romp through personal and literary history conducted by a slightly confused, well-meaning people pleaser.  His confusion begins with his bemused revelation that he has (maybe) two mothers, and continues through various other doublings (dream transformations, reincarnations, literary 'forgeries,' literary mothers both male and female, poems masquerading as prose and vice versa) to a final doubling (double-crossing) that brings with it a 'broade [sic] awaking' to reality...This is a book of elegies -- eulogies, really -- to all the literal and literary bastards who have made McIntosh an artist and (maybe) a con."

Whatever you may think of that mixed review, McIntosh seems to have liked it!

Having a review of mine excerpted for a blurb  has only happened to me once before that I know of, when I wrote an anonymous review for Publishers Weekly, back when all their reviews were anonymous, of Albert Goldbarth's Marriage and Other Science Fiction, a book I loved.  Here is the full (short) review:

Goldbarth (Original Light) has written yet another quirky, compassionate book, drawing together his many enthusiasms-for the sciences, the arts and literature-into a new and expansive universe. The writer's focus shifts constantly. His diction moves from scientific to colloquial to raunchy with the ease of time-travel. Goldbarth's subject matter, human love, also ranges in character, from sublime to ridiculous to simply ordinary: in his world, everything from cheese to causation is somehow connected. Many of the best poems in the book are sequences of 14-line stanzas. Like 17th-century meditations, they find inner life writ large in the universe, and the universe writ small in our hearts. Such poems are like Donne's, bursting at the seams with new information; but they are more than intellectual exercises meant to show off the poet's wit. Instead, Goldbarth ventures intimate, caring explorations of life at the end of the 20th century, when it is harder than ever to be sure about anything. He's like a benign big brother who believes in an underlying order and goodness-and makes us believe in it, too. (Jan.)

It's a thrill to be a blurb girl!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Diamond Jubilee Report

Then, coincidentally, Angela wrote from Wiltshire about her experience at the Jubilee:

I did go up to for the Jubilee. I did not go to the River Pageant as the weather forecast was for wet conditions, and I was glad, as it was extremely wet and everyone was soaked to the skin, very cold, and nobody saw very much. It seems almost certainly to have caused the Duke of Edinburgh's illness.

Being of a restless nature, however, I said to Val on the Sunday I am off to London to see the concert in the Mall. I got there at about 4pm and managed to find a nice spot in the crowd two thirds of the way down. Already there was a great atmosphere, large groups of families and friends. The Mall was closed to traffic and every one was picnicking on rugs or whatever in the road. Green Park was full of the Campers and had the biggest screen. There were screens all down the mall and two gigantic ones on either side of Buckingham Palace. The traffic roundabout at Victoria monument was filled with spectators and the concert stage was set high up around the monument. There were also huge screens in Trafalgar Square , Leicester Square and Hyde Park. London was really jumping. When Robbie Williams opened the concert I have never experienced anything like the roar that erupted from the Mall. It was a marvelous evening. The crowd was such fun. I caught my last train home all right and came back up the next day for the Royal Carriage procession and the balcony scene and that was lovely. This time I got right to the front by the railings around Buckingham Palace so I had an excellent view of the Balcony. All together an unforgettable experience. The following day I was totally exhausted but it was worth it.

The Royal Carriage procession is magnificent. The Queen travels in the open-topped State Landau coach so that the crowds can see her. It was built for King Edward V11 in 1902. The procession is a glorious spectacle of bands, bugles, gold brocade and breastplates of the thousand who accompany the Carriage. The Carriage was used last year for the royal wedding. Adding ceremonial grandeur to the procession was the Sovereign's Escort, provided by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. A magnificent sight in their breastplates and gold helmets with red plumes. The two Clydesdale drum horses, Mercury and Achilles led the way, trotting proudly as their riders controlled the golden reins with their feet to keep their hands free for the drumming.

The crowds in the Mall were held back from the road by barriers. Once the procession entered Buckingham Palace, the crowd started to agitate as they wanted to get the barriers taken down, so that they could get down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. The crowd control was absolutely amazing. No one knew whether it would be the top end of the Mall or the bottom end of the Mall, but some know it is never the middle part that comes down; but very gradually a section at a time was released, and when the Mall was, say, about half full with thousands of people, the row of policemen at the bottom near the statue started slowly advancing and allowing this massive crowd of a million plus to walk towards the Palace. It was scary, as it was a tightly packed crowd and there was quite a bit of pushing. Finally all the barriers were down and then all the crowds from around Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square were allowed to pour into the Mall. In addition to the Royals on the Balcony there was a big fly past of planes, a Lancaster bomber, four Spitfires, and a Hurricane and the Red Arrows. The estimated crowd was one and a half Million.

I myself only saw the Jubilee on TV: the service at St. Paul’s, the procession back to Buckingham Palace, and the scene on the Balcony.  There were clips from the night before; the fireworks at the end of the concert were thrilling.  I love to think of Angela’s being in that crowd.  Of course, I looked for her in the crowd at Buckingham Palace, too, but I didn’t see her.  Wouldn’t that have been fun?

I felt sad for Prince Philip that he couldn’t accompany the Queen on this wonderful occasion, and sad for her, too, walking alone down the aisle at St. Paul’s.  She suddenly looked so vulnerable, so human, so small.  But it was also my favorite moment: as she walked close behind the Mayor of London in a straight line down the middle of the aisle, she sort of suddenly veered off to the side momentarily and had to correct her course back to the middle.  I found it so touching. 

God Save the Queen.

Empty Nests

My friend Pamela lives in Bedfordshire, England, where she volunteers with the Tree Register of the British Isles, identifying specimen trees around the country.  She and I met onboard the wonderful little cruise ship Explorer (since, tragically gone down to the bottom of the Southern Sea) on our 1999 “expedition” to the Antarctic Peninsula.  Pamela and I and two other English women, from Wiltshire, Angela and Val, formed fast, long-lasting friendships on the high (and I do mean high!) South Atlantic seas.  Birds were a big part of the adventure: gulls, King, Adelie, and other kinds of penguins, the glorious, endangered albatrosses soaring or sitting, large and white and gentle on their hilltop nests. 

Pamela recently wrote me the following sad bird story:

My daughter Anne and her husband bought me a miniature camera last Xmas and we set it up in a nest-box very close to my window - a Blue-tit built its nest (in full view of its 'audience').  She laid 8  eggs and then incubated them for about ten days, being fed by her doting mate. Then the weather turned colder and wetter and stayed like that for most of April.  In the midst of all the very bad weather the babies were born - all 8 survived and we watched and watched as the parents desperately tried to find enough caterpillars.

We put out meal-worms.  We are always told not to interfere, but Nature can be so very cruel.  The parents’ calendar brain told them that day 15 was the day the babies should fledge, so they stopped going into the nest-box, just taunted the babies with food from the hole and the babies just scrambled over each other to try and get something to eat.  They gradually got weaker and weaker, and eventually they succumbed to the cold and the wet and starvation.

My son-in-law came over and we took the little dead babies out; they were so tiny I couldn't believe it. I actually weighed them (there were only 7. I dare not think what happened to number 8, unless he was the strongest and managed to escape).  Anyway, they weighed just one and a half ounces - not one of them  - ALL SEVEN - only weighed that much or, in other words, approximately A QUARTER OF AN OUNCE EACH - all their little feathers were in place and their little eyes had opened.  They are always filming inside nest-boxes on TV, but I’m not sure having these cameras set up is a very good idea.

I’m happy to report a different story: I went out to look yesterday at the tunnel nest in our outdoor shower room, and those baby birds, who had been looking like Pamela’s birds, tiny, feathered, and with open but glazed-looking eyes, were gone!  We had thought we were going to have to clean out that nest ourselves, as Pamela did, but we had a happier ending!  Fledglings!  Hooray!


Congratulations to Sarah Gridley for winning the Omnidawn Open Book Contest for her manuscript Loom.   

Sarah Gridley is the author of two books of poetry: Weather Eye Open (2005) and Green is the Orator (2010), both from the University of California Press. She is an assistant professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.  

The judge was Carl Phillips.

Ra-fa! Ra-fa!

I was worried there for a few hours.  When the Men's Finals match at the French Open was suspended because of rain, a different but similar rain to the one we were simultaneously experiencing here at home, Rafa was down one game (1-2) in the fourth set.  He was two sets up, but the momentum had shifted to Djokovic, the conditions were soggy, and the rain was getting, not just onto, but under Rafa's skin.

I haven't actually seen the close of the match, because for some wrong-headed reason having to do with profits and the general public, NBC didn't carry the championship this morning, and the Tennis Channel is playing everything else.  But I will see it!  I love to watch Nadal whip Djokovic, who has to be the most intensely angry, off-putting competitor we've seen since Jimmy Connors.

So Rafa  has denied Djokovic his (maybe) only chance to join the elite two - Don Budge and Rod Laver - who have held all four Championship titles in a single year.  Plus, Nadal becomes the only man in tennis history to have won seven French Open titles, surpassing Bjorn Borg's six, and with no reason to believe he can't continue to pile up numbers on clay and elsewhere.  Way to go, Rafa!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Full House!

For years, we hosed mud, twigs, leaf bits and bird from the column in the carport where she liked to build her nest, up against the wall and protected from wind, weather, dog and cat, but not from human beings who didn't like the mess she made.  We sprayed the nest daily, hourly, obsessively, to keep her from building, rebuilding, rebuilding and rebuilding.  We ended up each summer with a mass of debris at the base of the column, but at last, angry and triumphant, no bird, no nest, no eggs, no babies.

This year, finally, for no particular reason (age, compassion, laziness, despair), we relented.  She made her nest in peace and returned to find it whole, not in wet and dribbling pieces.  I use the pronoun because I have yet to determine what kind of bird we're talking about here.  Some say she is a swallow, but I don't think so.   She has a pale yellow breast, a tuft at the back of her head (or he does, perhaps), and not a forked, or an especially long tail.

Then she disappeared.  We thought she had abandoned the nest.   The column was too high for us to see if she had laid any eggs.  We waited.   One day we found part of an eggshell on the driveway.  We saw a little movement above the sides of the nest.  The mother came back.  The father came back.  They perched on the laundry line, on the edge of the roof, in the branches of the trees across the driveway, leaving white streaks of droppings on the blacktop as they flew back and forth to feed their chicks.  Three chicks who, two weeks later, are climbing all over each other in the nest and flapping their wings, or sitting together, hearts beating, two of them facing out, the other facing in.

We're watching, expecting them to fledge any day.  Hoping they won't fall.  Expecting them to fly away.  We feel like, I believe the expression is, empty-nesters!

Meantime, we discovered in the outdoor shower room we use for storage that another bird of another breed unknown to me has tunneled a nest into the pine straw that filled an overturned terra cotta pot.  We found it because one day, when we opened the door, the bird darted past us!   Peering into the tunnel, one day we saw eggs, one day we saw three tiny bodies that looked like slugs, then the slugs grew feathers, beaks and faces, we could see their three hearts beating.  Now we haven't seen the mother bird for days and days, once again we think she's gone for good and the babies not moving, but, indeed, they seem to be growing, eyes open now, and in different positions each time we go to look.  We're keeping the cat inside.  We're hopeful the chicks will survive.

Not to mention the babe in the nest on the column at the end of the terrace outside our bedroom, a beak and a ball of fluff I can see if I stand on the two-step ladder.

And to think we deprived ourselves of this anxiety and adventure for all those years!  City folk finding our way into the country.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Shelf Unbound Makes a Splash!

Shelf Unbound, the literary brainstorm of publisher Margaret Brown, is an online magazine devoted to the fruits of independent publishing.  The magazine features excerpts, summaries, and reviews of nonfiction, fiction both long and short, and poetry, in a gorgeous format.  Its excellent editorial and artistic quality rivals the best magazines to be found anywhere (I'm thinking The New Yorker).  I read the magazine with pencil and mouse to hand, in case I need (as I always do) to write down a piece of useful information or go to Amazon (linked) to buy a recommended book or visit a website to which also Shelf Unbound provides a link.  I cannot recommend this fine literary review more highly.  Authors may advertise their books in its beautiful pages.  Readers may subscribe for free.

Meantime, in the June/July issue, there is two-page spread featuring an excerpt from my introduction to Splash! Great Writing About Swimming, and a sidebar with my recommendations for five top swimming stories.   Check it out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Hatitude Show

Twenty-five women gathered at Chef Bob's Café on Simkins Street in Edgefield, South Carolina on Tuesday, May 22nd, for a ladies' lunch and hat show presented by fashion expert, Sissy Brodie of Aiken.

Everyone wore a hat.  Everyone enjoyed a delicious luncheon consisting of tomato bisque, two kinds of quiche, sliced ham, chicken tenders, applewood smoked bacon, salad, fruit, green beans, collard greens, buttermilk biscuits, corn bread, chocolate banana pudding, warm peach cobbler, and a mini crème brulée at every place.  Everyone chatted happily.  Everyone listened enthralled as Sissy regaled us with stories, reminisced about her mentor Ida Stewart, who was the head of cosmetics at Estée Lauder and Mrs. Lauder's right hand woman, and offered inexpensive and sophisticated ideas for dressing hats, wearing hats, maintaining hats, and traveling in style and comfort.

Here are a few of the beautiful hats on display!

The event was so much fun we've decided to do it again, perhaps over the Holidays, when Sissy can instruct us in the wearing of winter hats and furs, adding tips for making the Holidays even merrier!

Read My Review!

My short review of Patrick Donnelly's beautiful new book, Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, can be found at Amazon.com

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Authors Den Profile Completed

I have completed the first iteration of an author's page at Authors Den. Check it out!

Longevity Reaches POL Semi-Finals!

Poets Out Loud (Fordham University) has announced the winners of its 2011-2012 Prizes. The POL Prize was won by Amy Sara Carroll for her interesting-sounding book, FANNIE+FREDDIE/The Sentimentality of Post-9-11 Pornography! The POL Editor's Prize went to Nicholas Hundley for The Revolver in the Hive. The prizes were awarded by Claudia Rankine, the final judge, and Elizabeth Frost, the series editor. There were six finalists. My book-length narrative poem, Longevity, was named one of nineteen semi-finalists, along with Eric Pankey's manuscript, Dismantling the Angel. Longevity tells the story of a woman's journey past the age when her mother died onto the path of what it means to be a sister.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Amazing, Entertaining Greenbrier

The Greenbrier Resort in the mountains at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is a most luxurious, charming, outlandish, vast and entertaining place, a cruise ship, as my daughter called it, a grown-up Disneyworld, a kind of verdant Las Vegas for addictless adults. The place is about the wonderful spa, the traditional afternoon tea, the bunker built in the Cold War as a fallout shelter for Congress, The place is about golf, of course, tennis, of course, not the bowling alley, though there is one, nor the casino, recently added by the local West Virginia boy made billionaire, who bought the place for $42 million and then spent a fortune reinvigorating and re-imagining it into the fantasy place it is today. He put in a basement casino, shops, restaurants, turned it into even more of a cruise ship than it was before. I think it once had dignity. Now it has pizazz. The place is not about the pool, which I had all to myself for three days running. Built in 1912, a hundred years ago, even before the hotel itself was completed, it is long, slim, tiled in tiny hand-laid one-inch tiles. Its first coach and lifeguard was Charles Norelius, an Olympic contender, who trained his daughter Martha here. She went on at age 15 to win a 1924 Gold medal in the 400-yard freestyle, and then repeated the feat in 1928. Thrown out of the AAU in 1929 and stripped of 5 of her medals because she gave an exhibition in Miami in which professional swimmers also took part, she turned pro and won a big award in Canada soon after, met her first husband, had two kids with him, remarried, had three kids with him, and died in St. Louis at the age of 47 following a gall bladder operation. Her father outlived her. They wrote a book together called Swimming. The pool is 80 meters long, 52 laps to the mile. About 1/3 of the way along its length, measured from the shallow 3-feet-deep end, it quite precipitously drops down to 8 feet deep, and at the deep end it goes to 9 feet. Swimming over that drop-off makes you feel as if you were taking off in an airplane, or that you were the airplane, rising in the air. But the place is not about the pool. It’s about the whole history of the place. The arrival of the first white settler in 1778. The sulphur springs. The establishment of a summer resort in the 19th century. The acquisition of the property by the C&O railroad in 1910 to establish a destination because its railroad ran past it. Its use as a military hospital during World War II. The revamping by the famous interior decorator,Dorothy "Never be afraid of color" Draper, in 1948. The building of the bunker in the late 1950s and early 1960s under cover of adding a new wing. The abandonment of the bunker in 1992, after it was outed by the Washington Post. The near bankruptcy in the Great Recession just past. The place is about the décor. No surface has gone untouched by clashing color combinations and incompatible patterns. The result is exhilarating, crazy, and delightful! Floors of black and white marble tile laid on the diagonal, of course, elaborate chintz drapes and matching or contrasting or completely unrelated upholstery, striped walls of white and hunter green or pink or aqua or yellow, walls stenciled or papered with cabbage roses and rhododendron, enormous Czech crystal chandeliers, very dramatic, some would say - some did and do say - vulgar, very vulgar. But the Greenbrier takes its décor very seriously: it's really one of its main attractions. Draper's partner and successor, Carleton Varney, has an office at the Greenbrier and comes down frequently to make changes large and small. Here is the symbolic fact: the Greenbrier has 20 full-time upholsters on staff! This weekend the place was about my sister and me. We had some serious bonding to do and we had a wonderful time doing it.

Poem Wins Honorable Mention

My poem, "Poem on a Line from a City Child," has won Honorable Mention in the Poetry Society of South Carolina's Peter Pan Contest, judged by Tara Powell. Wonderful poet and friend Starkey Flythe won the Beatrice Ravenel Prize for his poem, "Jr. League Cookbook," judged by Sandra Beasley. Ed Madden, distinguished South Carolina poet and teacher, won two prizes, The Forum Prize for "Before the Viewing" and the William Gilmore Simms Prize for "That Day." Carol Furtwangler, who runs the Piccolo Spoleto Poetry series in Charleston, won the JohnH. Bennett Prize for "Single House," judged by Worthy Evans, and Kit Loney won the John Robert Doyle Jr. Prize for "Dragonskins," judged by Tara Powell. Congratulations to us all!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Good News for Me, Myself and Eye!

As of this week, the fluid in my right eye is gone and I can see very clearly. While the doctor says that once AMD has gone wet it never reverts to dry, at least now I have no symptoms. No treatments! He will check every month. He smiled. I've never had a doctor look visibly happy to see improvement like this. It was very sweet. By the way, he says my theory about luteinizing protein (see blog of January 30, 2012) is, you should pardon the expression, all wet.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nadal Triumphs (Whew!)!

Nadal beat Djokovic at Monte Carlo! Lifetime record 17-14. At Monte Carlo, Nadal has held the championship for eight straight years. Go Rafa!

Advanced Style

Not long ago, my friend Connie sent me this video trailer for a new documentary and book called Advanced Style. The women involved are all of a certain age, if not more so, all of them New Yorkers, all of them defiant of time and the tides. Their bold views of elder-fashion and their attitudes toward life are so vibrant and inspiring, we should all take a lesson or five from their bonnets and their brains. Don't miss this. It's a treasure. The right side bar on the UTube page lets you watch more in-depth interviews, which are addictive! These women are fabulous! I used to want to grow old like Margaret Rutherford, dotty and invincible, but these women give invincible a whole new meaning, and they are anything but dotty. New role models. To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, this is what 70-90 looks like! For those interested in what's happening right now, try First Comes Fashion. It's up to the minute!

Red Balloons in Bunches!

"Red Balloon Rising" has shown up on two additional blogs: Heather W. Gibson's Tigergroves blog and at Buzzwriters In addition, another small poem called "Glee Club" has been published in Jasper: The Word on Columbia Arts, a new monthly magazine devoted to the promotion and support of Columbia, South Carolina, artists and art lovers. The March/April 2012 issue is dedicated to women artists. "Glee Club" was selected by poet Ed Madden, winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize in 2007 and the Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship in 2010. Thanks, Ed!
Glee Club/ For Stan (1941-1976)/ You are the tenor singing inside me,/ making a silence beside the song,/ calling it harmony, making a charm/ to hang on my jingling bracelet of longing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Red Balloon Rising Goes Viral!

My little poem, "Red Balloon Rising," has gone viral! Originally published in Pleiades 31.1, it was recently picked up by David Lose on his blog, In the Meantime, and then again distributed by Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry project to newspapers across the country. It has been picked up (so far) by the Enunclaw Courier Herald in Enumclaw, Washington, the Covington and Maple Valley Reporter in Tucker, Georgia, the Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier Herald,in Sumner,Washington and the Edgefield Advertiser in Edgefield,South Carolina. This has never happened to me before. What a wonderful thing, to have a little poem like this achieve such a life of its own. And kudos to Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry that makes poems available to newspapers every Monday. Poems used to be a regular feature of small and big town newspapers all over the nation. It's nice to see them there again.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Kate Winslet calls it "utterly brilliant," Tatum O'Neal says it's "completely inspirational" and Isaac Mizrahi dubs it "hilarious and moving...as engaging as any fiction." It is GUTS, Kristen Johnston's searing and uproarious memoir of her addiction and recovery. You will remember Kristen's performance as the alien Sally in 3rd Rock from the Sun, her first hit TV series with John Lithgow. Currently she is starring in the TVLand sitcom The Exes (Wednesdays, 10:30PM). I recommend the show and I recommend the book, which is terrifying and funny and profoundly honest.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I've discovered a new singing group you might want to check out. It's an indie rock group - you'd have thought I'd care? - from Los Angeles called Grouplove, and they're terrific. If I do say so myself. The one woman in the group, singer Hannah Hooper, is my second cousin once-remived, her grandfather having been my father's first cousin and dear friend. They recorded a CD in 2011 called Never Trust a Happy Song. I'm promoting it! Several of the songs really get you tapping your feet and singing along, and there is not one clunker. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

You can now follow this blog at my Amazon Author Page and at Goodreads - I've also updated my Author's Page at Red Room and at the New York Quarterly - Thanks for your support.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

I'll be in New York the middle of this month to do a reading with other New York Quarterly writers at Cornelia St. Café on MONDAY, MARCH 19 AT 6PM. Visit my website for details:

My husband, Leonard Todd, also has a website, and a new blog. I invite you to visit him. He will be talking about his projects, his process, his progress, and talking to other writers about theirs.

Update on my eye condition. The first injection worked miracles. Gone is the circle and spot in the middle of my right eye. Pictures show that the swelling of the macula is much reduced. I was given a second injection. If the eye continues to make progress, I may not have to continue treatments after, perhaps, one more. This is very good news.

In other matters, I have now spent $350 in submission fees since the first of the year. At this rate, if I win $1000 and publication of my new manuscript, I will have spent 1/3 of the proceeds in getting there. And, of course, the process is ongoing. I will likely spend all the winnings before they materialize, assuming I win one of these contests. Not complaining, exactly, just saying - that's show biz!

I spent a good weekend with my daughter and her family. We went to the mountains. The kids loved sledding and playing in the snow. But I say, that is the last time i don a pair of ski pants. I'm done. No more ice and snow, no more cold weather, no more winter. Unless there's a really good reason. Never say never.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Be careful what you wish for. I've always said I'd rather lose my eyesight than my hearing - I'm in good company, because so said also Millay and Montaigne.

But, I didn't imagine God would listen. I'm lucky, however. I have macular degeneration in both eyes, but as of about 2 weeks ago, the right eye went from "dry" to "wet." Wet is worse, but treatable. Dry AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) consists of an accumulation of cottage-cheese like clumps in the eye, called dreusen (spelling may not be correct). Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow into the retina, lifting the macula away from the back of the eye. In addition, these blood vessels are weak and fragile, and they leak. The end result is that you go blind in the middle of your eye or eyes, making it difficult to impossible to read, drive, see faces or anything else directly in front of you. Once one eye goes, it is more likely the other will also.

But it can be treated - with a cancer drug that shrinks the blood vessels and stops them from leaking. I got my first treatment last Thursday. First, of course, they have to shine these really bright, bright lights in your eyes to determine the condition of the macula. I would not make a good torture victim. I'd tell them anything as soon as they threatened me with those bright lights. Then, for the treatment, they shoot the drug into the eye with a NEEDLE.

It sounds worse than it is, to tell the truth. They numb the eye, first, and cleanse it. Then they clamp it open. The needle is so thin and so close to the eyeball you can't really see it. But the IDEA is the thing. I'm sure my blood pressure went through the sky. I was told not to swim for four days afterwards, while I was on anti-biotic drops, and not to rub my eye. Not easy for me, either thing.

I'm fine. But I have to have this treatment once a month for the foreseeable future. If anyone has experience with this condition, I certainly would be grateful for advice and counsel. I do all the things I'm supposed to do. I take Lutein, I eat eggs and leafy green vegetables. I exercise. I get plenty of sleep. I eat a low-salt diet. But I'll tell you, I think there is a connection between all my ailments, and I'll tell you what it is.

There is a protein released by the brain, called luteinizing protein. It helps in the manufacture of testosterone, and testosterone (along with estrogen) helps strengthen bones. I have low testosterone levels and a condition they are now medicalizing as osteopenia, precursor to osteoarthritis. Osteocalcin, on the other hand, is a protein produced by the bone cells that inhibits, or regulates, production of testosterone. I bet I have higher levels of osteocalcin and lower levels of luteinizing hormone. The low lutein levels could explain my macular degeneration, perhaps. Of course, they've only done studies in mice, which resemble the systems in male humans. The systems of female humans work differently, and they haven't studied those, of course. So only time will tell. if I ask to be tested for these two proteins, can that even be done?

Plus, Nadal lost to Djokovic in the "epic final" of the Australian Open - the longest Grand Slam singles final in the history of pro tennis in the open era, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5. Poor Rafa. I wish I'd seen it, but, then again, I'm glad I didn't. It makes me sad. I was never sad when Nadal beat Federer, or vice versa, because they were such fine rivals. That rivalry seems to be past now. They were gentlemen. They took the game for what it is, even though they were always intensely earnest. They kept their sense of proportion, grace, and humor. But Djokovic, I dunno. There's something about him. Ripping his shirt open, the primal scream. So unseemly! So naked! I wonder if he had an erection. (Bobby Darin used to get an erection when he sang.) But then, I'm a prude. I didn't like Elvis either, or Mick Jagger, at the time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My manuscript, whose name has changed several times as I revised it, and continue to revise, reached the finals in the National Poetry Series for 2011.

Getting closer to publication by the process of elimination! That's the way Jason Shinder used to think about rejection - so helpful. If you don't know Jason's poems, especially Among Women and Stupid Hope, do not walk, run, to your nearest bookstore or online.

Spent the month of October in California visiting my daughter and her family. Rented a studio through Vacation Rentals by Owner (vrbo.com), which I highly recommend. Wrote and swam almost every day. Discovered two important things: (1) as much as I love visiting, I would not want to live in California, and (2) I do not have to see my adorable grandchildren every single day in order to be happy! Not (as I had thought it would be) absolutely without question ridiculously obviously necessary.

I'm going to try to be more present on this blog with news and info. I'm going to try to be a better person.

Until then ... Happy 2012! May we all, and I do mean all, find peace and prosperity in the days ahead.

Re-elect Obama! Please!