Word Perv
(noun): One who takes delight and is skilled at constructing, writing or saying naughty phrases or dialogue.
January 3, 2018

Best Books of 2017

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Last year I read 179 books and I honestly thought that was the most I could possibly read in a year. Then, at the beginning of December 2017 I realized how close I was to reading 200 books…but it would take a Herculean effort to get there as I was at 172 books read at the end of November. Could I read 28 books in 31 days? Turns out, I could as I finished 2017 with 202 books read — I read 30 books in 31 days which seems a bit insane.  Of those books 74 were books of poetry. You can see most of the books I read here (not all are listed on Goodreads). Of the 202 books I read, below are my favorites. What books made your “best of 2017” list?

Poetry

~ Blue Yodel by Ansel Elkins

~ I Don’t Need to Make a Pretty Thing by Michelle S. Reed

~ Elegy/Elk River by Michael Schmeltzer

Fiction

~ At the Water’s Edge by Sara Groen

~ The Husband’s Secret by Laine Moriarty

~ The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

~ The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

~ A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

~ The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

~ Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

~ The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins

~ Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Nonfiction

~ Happy by Alex Lemon

~ Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

~ The Going and Goodbye by Shuly Cawood

~ Hunger by Roxane Gay

~ Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Stephen King talks proudly about his rejections in his fantastic book, On Writing:

“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips I impaled on it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.” 

While I don’t have a nail or a spike for my rejections, in part because they come via email now instead of in the mail, I do have an excel spreadsheet that tracks all my submissions: poems sent, date, journal, etc. It also tracks the rejections and the acceptances.

In 2017 I submitted over 200 times. I was rejected a lot, a lot are still pending, but I also got 26 poems and a chapbook accepted for publication. 26 may not sound like a lot but to me, it is. (You can read my published poems here.)

A lot of  writers don’t want to talk about publishing – either they’re not interested in it or they don’t want to be measured against it. I understand that, and while I don’t measure my success solely in terms of publications, it is a nice way to know that my poems mean something to someone other than me. That my words connected with someone else.

So while I don’t measure myself solely based on publications, I’m going to keep submitting and hoping for publications. I’m going to keep putting myself and my writing out there. I hope you do the same.

December 21, 2017

I’m All Aflutter

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A couple of weeks ago I received the following email:

 

I happened to be with my best friend, Virginia, at the time and I nearly tackled her with a hug in my excitement. Earlier in the day we’d been decorating (and drinking wine) as she tried to get me into the holiday spirit. Needless to say, that email was the best Christmas gift I could have asked for.

Virginia & I getting festive…or maybe just drunk…

 

I’m really excited to be publishing with Flutter Press and my chapbook should come out in early 2018. It’s titled The Violence Within and it’s a collection of poems about violence toward women – by partners, by family and friends, by society, and also the violence we inflict upon ourselves. It isn’t always the easiest collection of poems to read but I do feel it’s a very necessary collection. And while it’s a bit of a heavy read I also think there’s some hope in it too.

In addition to my second chapbook getting accepted I’ve got a new poem up at Dirty Paws Poetry Review. I’m really excited my poem, We Carry, is included in their inaugural issue!  Go check it out!

December 7, 2017

Tis the Season

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I’m the rare person who doesn’t particularly like Christmas. I think I started disliking the holiday when I was married to my first husband. He had children from a previous relationship and loved Christmas. But he didn’t love doing the work related to Christmas – the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping of presents. And then the very worst part – the un-decorating, the packing away of decorations, the un-Christmasing. Most of this fell to me and I started to dislike Christmas and become resentful. (Yes, I realize this hints at larger issues in my relationship but he is my ex-husband and hindsight is 20/20 so I’m aware of this and don’t need to dwell on this or hash through all that again. I already did it in therapy.) He and I separated in September, just weeks after returning from a vacation in Paris (which is a whole other story that will not be told right now). That year, alone in our big house, I didn’t have the energy – physical or emotional – to put up a tree. The next summer I moved to the DC area and into a house with a small living room that didn’t have space for a tree. Thus began the tradition I still continue today with not putting up a tree.

This year my husband and I moved into our new house. It boasts 20′ ceilings in the living room, a fireplace, and wooden banisters throughout. Some friends were over for dinner recently and she commented, “Your house will look great at Christmas!” I then broke her heart by telling her I don’t decorate for Christmas…at all… No tree, no lights, no garland, no stockings hung by the chimney with care. Nothing.

I told another friend of my dislike of the holiday and he looked at me as if I’d just punched a kitten. I tried to explain, “It’s just stressful. And work. And overrated. And commercialized. And the goddamn Starbucks was playing Christmas music at 5am and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” I may have frightened him a bit…

By now my dislike of Christmas has grown to epic proportions. My sister teases me about it, I jokingly say “Ba humbug!” to people, and even my husband is confused by my dislike of the holiday. But it’s just not my thing. And when I walked into the office earlier this week I stumbled upon a display that promptly made me take pictures.

I do not approve of this decidedly sad, deflated penguin…

 

I am not a goddamn candy cane maker…

I approve of this.

 

But then while sitting with some of my MFA writing friends recently, working on this month’s critiques, I grabbed my notebook and pen and started writing…a Christmas poem…

 

And after writing it I had to send it to a friend:

 

 

 

While I still don’t love Christmas maybe my friend is right, maybe this cold, shriveled Grinch heart is growing.

November 24, 2017

Dolly Parton

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The other night a friend and I were talking about music, specifically the 90s music that shaped our teenage years. We laughed as we scrolled through songs, jumping from one to the next, singing out loud and reminiscing about how the songs had shaped us. Then he asked if I liked acapella music. I confirmed that I did and he pulled up this song on his phone:

This might be the most gorgeous version of this song I’ve ever heard.

I love Dolly Parton. I think she’s a beautiful person with a beautiful voice and a heart that’s bigger than her boobs. And I mean that as a compliment.

When the song finished I turned to my friend and said, “I wrote a poem that quotes that song.” He laughed and said, “Of course you did.”

I’d actually forgotten all about the poem; I wrote it a couple of years ago. But after hearing that song I pulled it up on my computer and read through it. It, like the song, is about heartbreak. And while I don’t know whatever happened to the Jolene in the song, I do know what happened to the Jolene in my poem. And now, many years later, I wish them nothing but happiness.

Jolene

“And I could easily understand how you could take my man but you don’t know what he means to me.” – from Jolene by Dolly Parton

 

We were over by then, completely

finished. We’d both been through

the five stages of grief but I

circled back to depression.

 

You asked what you could do

and I said, Come over. Hold me.

We lay in bed that night, the first

time in months, and you held

me while I cried then said,

Please don’t write about this.

I don’t want Jolene to know.

 

I’d been the one to cause

the end, I know that, but you

moved on so fast – as if

the seven years we spent together

were best remembered through

the lens of a new love.

 

You stayed the night, holding

me, breathing softly

beside me. You left

before dawn.

 

I waited eight years

to write this poem.

I hope your wife

understands.