Friday, January 30, 2009

Finally, An Explanation!

This video was sent to me by my friends at the Missouri Women's Leadership Coalition. The best explanation of the current financial crisis I've ever seen--and hilarious!

Silly Money

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate: Arts Are Important for the Obama Administration

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate: Arts Are Important for the Obama Administration

This article of Denise Low's that ran in The Kansas City Star (reprinted in Denise's blog) makes very pertinent points about the importance of the arts, especially now. Denise is the state of Kansas' poet laureate and a long-time activist for the arts herself.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Past and More Poetry (What Else?)

I had an e-mail from one of those classmate/reunion websites today about one of the girls I went to high school with--Manhattan, KS, High School. It’s been very odd, but after many years of having no contact with anyone I went to high school with, in the past year I’ve wound up back in touch with three of them, two girls in the class before me and a guy from my class who I dated in my junior year. That’s been very interesting, seeing how we’ve all changed with the years. Now, I hear about Jeanie, but not in any way that I can let her know how to contact me. I knew her better than the other two girls since she was in my class and we were in most of the same activities. I find myself wondering how her life has turned out.

I’m probably trying to get away from all the things I need to do. I need to do press releases and a million other things for Tercera Página, the Latino Writers Collective’s third annual reading series—and I will; I’ve just been distracted by writing major grants for LWC and for The Writers Place and other things like that. I also need to decide what poem I’m going to read for Palabra Pura’s Special Edition: “One Poem Festival” at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. It’s an AWP off-site event that Francisco Aragón is curating.

I’ve talked with wonderful, supportive husband, Ben, about it. He says I have two choices—go with a poem that’s good with audiences or go with an “AWP poem.” I ask, “What’s an AWP poem?” (Can you tell I’m just not sophisticated, even after all these years?) He says, “It’s a poem that gets pulled out to impress people with your literariness.” Well, that makes it easy! I don’t have any of those. I took a different road from that one a long time ago when I decided I wanted my work to be accessible to any reasonably literate reader. So I’ll probably be a bust as far as AWP is concerned. Francisco’s another matter—he has higher standards than that, I believe.

I would really like to read a poem that I think is one of my best, but it’s also one of my longest. I’m not like my friend, Joe, who writes 15-page poems sometimes. Long for me is 3-4 pages. But I have never read this poem because I don’t think long poems go over as well with audiences—it’s too hard to keep it all in your head while you’re listening—and this poem deserves full concentration. So once again, I see, I’ve decided not to read “Considering Oceans.”

I’ve got about 500 poems, so this could be a long process. I’ll put it in my unconscious while I work on Tercera Página, which will run from March 4-May 15 and feature a student performance of a cultural piece with original poetry, drama, dance, and music, Gloria Vando headlining a reading with LWC members, Sandra Cisneros in both a public reading at the Central Library and an event with students at the Plaza Library, all culminating with the launch of the LWC fiction anthology, which is one of those things taking extra time and attention right now.

To work, Linda! Adelante!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Today's been a good day for me. I wrote a new poem. And I can feel others rumbling around inside. I tend to write poetry in spurts--one poem will lead to more until for some reason I stop. Then I'll have a time that poetry's just not coming so that's when I revise and polish what I've written.

Other writing--novel, short story, nonfiction--is very different for me. When I'm in a non-poetry project, I set regular times and work on it daily. Sometimes it comes like poetry in spurts for which I'm grateful. Sometimes I sit and squeeze out words. Usually, it's something between the two. I warm up and manage to write what I planned and maybe a little extra. Poetry never seems to work that way for me.

The real work for me in poetry is all the revision I do. And of course, that's what really makes the poem. My friend, Jose Faus, is always reading something he's just written at a reading. I never read a poem until it's been through that long process of multiple revisions. Joe laughs at me about it. (Probably justifiably.)

But today it looks as if I'm moving back into a poetry period, always a happy time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Books of Note

I recently read for review (in Galatea Resurrects) Linda Hogan's new book of poetry, Rounding the Human, by Linda Hogan (Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, 2008). It's a remarkable work by a remarkable poet. I read it once for pleasure and twice more closely for review. Now that it's been couple of months since I wrote the review, I've gone back to reread it again to learn from it. It's truly one of those books that you find more and more in each time you open its pages.

I've also just read Cristina Henriquez's unbelievably good first novel, The World in Half (Riverhead Books, 2009), which is coming out later this year. I had not been familiar with her work, other than a short story I had read in a literary magazine a while back. This is a beautiful and poignant book that combines geology, Alzheimer's, tragic star-crossed love, coming-of-age, and a search for a never-known father into one seamless whole that echoes in the heart and mind long after finishing the book and putting it away. Her characters live, and with all their flaws, we care about them and long for them to make the right decisions in their lives. Panama comes to life as vividly as one of the characters and impacts all of them. This is a young writer with great talent. I can't wait to see where she will go with it.

It's Friday, and everything still looks wonderful out there in the world. President Obama has rescinded the orders to torture and once again the United States is living up to its promise and ideals in that regard. Tough choices ahead for that man and for us. May we all choose wisely. May we all choose with both minds and hearts.

Auspicious Beginnings

I plan to use this blog to discuss writing, my own and that of others, but I also want to look at society and politics. I’m, of course, not a member of the art-for-art’s-sake-only-and-if-it-has-something-to-say-it’s-no-good party. As I said at the opening program of The Writers Place in 1992, we as writers have a responsibility to show our society both the what-is that’s going wrong and the what-could-be that would make things right. We are the torch-bearers who must point out the dangers and light the way into a better future. Even in poems about “little” everyday things.

Enough of that for now. I’m a happy woman as I begin this blog. We’ve just inaugurated a new president, and I believe that Barack Obama is the right person at the right time for the United States. More hope on the political front than I’ve had for many years. (Though, of course, that’s not true since I always hope. I’m the Queen of Hope. Hope is life = my mantra.) Also, I just had a call from the Missouri Arts Council and it looks as if the two major grants I just wrote and turned in for comments will probably be funded. That means that the Latino Writers Collective will have an even bigger, more ambitious reading series to follow this year’s. My book, Heart’s Migration, is beautifully designed and typeset and has a gorgeous cover. Many thanks to my great publisher, Luis J. Rodriguez (no relation) of Tia Chucha Press and his great designer, Jane Brunette. Most of all, Virgil Suarez has just sent a lovely blurb for the cover of the book.

Heart's Migration by Linda Rodriguez is a generous, gorgeous book of poetry. It's the kind of beautiful book that comes along every once in a long while, to keep the reader the perfect company. It's courageous, unflinching in its voice and tradition. You read a poem the likes of "My Daughter's Nightmares," and you feel the pangs of familial love and responsibility. Rather quickly at the start of this book you feel like you are invited in, taken into a landscape of vivid image and memorable detail, such is the vibrant tapestry of this book. This is a gifted, capable poet who takes pride in making a lasting human connection. I praise her voice and her passion!

Virgil Suarez, author of 90 Miles: New & Selected Poems, University of Pittsburg Press.

I’m happy that this will go on my book cover and, we hope, convince reviewers and potential buyers to give it a try. But most of all, I’m happy because I respect Virgil as a wonderful poet himself, so just knowing that he liked my work this much sends me flying. It’s much the way I felt after reading on Luis’ blog “the phenomenal poetry of Linda Rodriguez.” Because aside from his work as publisher, community developer and anti-gang activist, Luis is a great writer himself. However, since he’s publishing the book, he’s got a vested interest of sorts.

Anyway, much to be happy about in my universe. I have a loving husband and terrific kids, and I do believe that 2009 is going to be my year!

Queen of Hope, remember?