Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2012

A New Issue of My Tiny Zine

Yesterday, I did the cutting-and-pasting process of laying out issue 14 of Teeny Tiny . I'd had the written content ready for a while, but I hadn't managed to finish the zine! Well, it takes a little concentration, as I like to find a nice combo of images to go along with the writing I'm publishing, and this issue contains work from seven different writers. I used a selection of bits and pieces from two vintage issues of Hit Parader magazine from the 1950s. Have you ever seen old issues of this magazine? Basically they printed the lyrics to popular songs and then also included some profiles of pop stars and maybe some articles with tips on beauty and so on. The magazines have some fun little advertisements, especially toward the back, with illustrations that are just the right size for my zine. I also used a couple of pictures cut from a book on the solar system I bought at the thrift store some time ago to use for the greeting cards I make with images of the moon

A Second Pym Poem

I've been thinking it would be cool to write a little sequence of poems using text from Barbara Pym's novels if for no other reason than to encourage people to read her work. Usually I don't write found poems from other published creative works--I use postcards or advertisements or other work that wasn't crafted to stick around. But I just like her work so much that I'm enjoying sharing little pieces of it in poem form. Anyway! Here's a second little poem inspired by Jane and Prudence , this one from chapter 17. After a Small Dinner Party Nothing seems real, Prudence thought. Tea under the walnut tree tomorrow and then what? "Have you got something nice to read?" Jane asked. "Yes, thank you. A novel." "And you have a book of poems if your novelist should fail to charm or soothe." I am drained of all emotion, Prudence thought. "I think I'm quite ready for bed."

Poem Borrowed from Barbara Pym

When I read Barbara Pym's novels, I feel sad that she isn't alive to write more of them and that I'll one day run out of new-to-me Barbara Pym novels to read. There's something about her writing that captures the feelings and thoughts of someone who feels just a little outside of the mainstream, someone who can't help but notice the odd bits and pieces of life. (The above image is from the Barbara Pym Society home page.) Right now I'm reading her novel about two friends, Jane and Prudence , and enjoying it very much. Here's a tiny found poem I put together from just a handful of sentences from the first page of chapter one of that book. Reminiscences In excited little bursts-- "Ah, these delphiniums," sighed Jane. "And to think that we didn't appreciate wine," said Prudence. They walked on without speaking, their silence a brief tribute to their lost youth.

Long Time No Post

I was posting so regularly for a while! Well, it's hard to keep up a strong pace when you're busy grading final papers and calculating final grades and so on. Now I have a break until January 2. Maybe I'll even write some poems--I hope so! Recently, I wrote a little article about creativity and posted it at I thought it might be a good idea to try posting my work elsewhere and maybe connect with a new reader or two. Here's the link to my article on three easy ways to increase your creativity .

Spam and Powerball

My blog came up in some web searches people did for "Powerball poems" after I posted my little found poem about Powerball the other day. If only all my poems were about such heavily searched-for topics. I received another fun bit of comment-spam the other day, so here's another poem built from spam. 11.30.12 You can still look great without designer clothing. You should never pay much attention to brand names unless you're a millionaire. So anyway, to bring this full-circle: if you win Powerball, pay all the attention to brand-name fashion that you want!

A Powerball Poem

Here's another tiny found poem, this one inspired by a quote from "Debbie Baker... 60-year-old retired construction worker" published in the Boston Globe . 11.27.12 I do it for fun. One ticket. Two dollars. Quick pick. If it's meant to be, it will be. Jackpot! Five hundred million dollars.

A Found Poem from Spam

11.26.12 Ancient attire or modern garments? Hermes handbags are one thing you'll desire if you'd like to be more self-confident. The spam filter for blog comments catches a lot of garbled, mostly uninteresting stuff about various prescription medications, but now and then, something more unique comes through. I turned one long comment into the little poem above. Though I'd hoped to write at least a tiny poem every day in November, I haven't done that! But I've definitely done some poetry-writing this month, which isn't the case every month.

A Poem Starring Liza with a Z

Today Liza Minnelli was in the trending news on Google. I clicked on a story from the Washington Post and found some text for a tiny poem. 11.14.12 Liza Minnelli will be a special guest star as herself: singular sensation who has dazzled show business for decades.

A Position Waits for You

I was looking through some old photos from my collection and found one I don't remember seeing before. This is a family friend, Jane Reed. She grew up with my grandpa and was another grandma to me. I love the combo of her perfect outfit and the employment agency sign. I have to imagine that she was going for a job interview or heading to work when she cleverly decided to have this snapshot taken, but who knows? I would guess that this was taken around 1940. I may have to use a copy of this photo in a collage piece somehow. It really made me smile to find it.

Two Useful Etsy Links

Today I had my first-ever Etsy sale, for a copy of Small Is Beautiful . It was pretty exciting to get the sale notification email, even to just sell one tiny zine. I'm new to selling on Etsy , so it may be that everybody else already knows about the two links below, but I found out about both of them this week and thought I'd share them as a way to offer a couple of tips for new Etsy sellers. There's an Etsy community on reddit , where you can post two "shameless plugs" about your own products a day. You can also ask questions and have discussions with other Etsy users. It's fun to see what products people are sharing and give "up votes" to the stuff you like. I also learned about a site called Etsy on Sale which has tools to manage promotions for your Etsy shop--they give the option to put just one category of items in your shop on sale, rather than the shop-wide promotion you can do through Etsy itself. People can also see your items on the Ets

Letter to Emily Dickinson #novpad

The prompt for today's poem-a-day challenge from the Poetic Asides blog asks that you talk back to a poet who is no longer living . I got to thinking about Emily Dickinson's "letter to the world / that never wrote to me," and here's my poem... The World Writes Back to Emily Dickinson You said I never wrote you yet you told of all the notes I left anonymously, stealing across the grass to your father's door-- I sent you books and ships and whistling trains and more. I sent your sister-in-law, specially as messenger for my letters declaring myself to you. Every day you received word from me-- it was our secret that you knew I loved and still love you.

A Small Collage about Forever

After many hours of commenting on essay drafts, I took a break last night and worked on some collage while Trish worked on some knitting. All this with The Simpsons on TV in the background, so you might say that all is right with the world. The text and central image are from old comic books, and the background is from magazine paper.

A Poem a Day #novpad

I've been following the November poem a day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer's blog, Poetic Asides . I have some friends who are doing National Novel Writing Month, but I don't know anyone personally who is doing this poetry challenge (unless some of my friends are holding out on telling me!), so I've been searching with the #novpad hashtag on Twitter to see how some poets I've never met before are faring in their attempts to write a poem each day this month. So far, the poem I like best of the four I've been working on for the first four days of November is the poem from the prompt on November 1 to write a "matches" poem. In my brainstorming, I got to thinking about The Match Game , and here's the poem I wrote. In the Late 20th Century When game shows played for hours in syndication on late-night TV, we knew this as forever, a party where everyone was tipsy long before we arrived to share the end of our evening with Brett Somers and Charles Ne


Here are some samples of the magnets I've been making. I probably sold 20 of them at the Short Run small press fest today, but I need a better display for them. Right now I display them on a couple of vintage metal cans. I need like a metal sheet or something. Anyway, it's hard to get a good photo of them since they are so tiny and because of how the glass marbles reflect light, but so it goes. If you want to make your own magnets, here's a good magnet-making tutorial . The author of the tutorial uses a special silicone glue, but I've always used Elmer's white glue, and it works well. Glue sticks don't work well for this project, by the way. Also, the author doesn't use cardstock backings for her magnets, but I highly recommend using cardstock as I think you get a clearer, smoother image (and the black magnet doesn't show through the sometimes thin magazine paper). I often use stickers instead of magazine paper for these, and stickers work GREAT--thi

Poem about Popular Images

Here's a found poem about the top ten images downloaded over the last week from the photography site, Shutterstock . 11.2.12 Holiday labels. Floppy disks. Pixel people. Gold glitter backgrounds. Pink roses. Pink lingerie. Human resources icons. If you have a suggestion for any websites for me to look at for inspiration for writing more of these little poems based on trending news, searches, downloads, etc, please let me know. I think it's more fun to vary the sites rather than just use the trending searches on Google.

Poem about Zsa Zsa Gabor's House

Here's my fourth poem inspired by trending searches/news/topics online, this one via Yahoo's "Buzz Index." By the way, if you want to buy Zsa Zsa's house, you can get it for just under 15 million bucks. Yikes. 11.1.12 Zsa Zsa Gabor's house keeps busy while it waits to sell, doubling as the house of a Hollywood producer in a film about Iran.

Found on HuffPost Teen

I didn't even know HuffPost had a page geared toward teens, but you learn something every day. I enjoyed their list of things teens on Twitter can't live without . Here's another found poem inspired by trending topics on the web. 10.31.12 It's been a hard week. Good things I can't live without: music, friends, movies, my hairdryer, and my parents. I feel grateful for cereal.

Trending Tanka 2

A found poem culled from the "trending now" news blog on Yahoo. 10.30.12 Though not all photos of this hurricane are real, the internet is a great place. Many cute dogs and cats find fame on the internet.

Trending Tanka

A found poem culled from trending searches and news on Google. 10.29.2012 Tone turns ominous at The Weather Channel on TV and Twitter as Hurricane Sandy barrels toward the Eastern seaboard

Fall Colors

Here are a couple of photos I took when we went to the Arboretum last week. As Trish pointed out, it's a little odd walking there because you hear so much traffic noise while you're surrounded by trees, but I guess that's Seattle!

75 Essays: Done!

Today I finished grading the last of the first set of 75 essays I needed to grade for my three classes this quarter. I have two English 101 classes and one English 100 class. The English 101 students were analyzing photos; they could pick from this gallery I created using images from Flickr Commons (a very cool collection of photos from libraries, archives, and other institutions all over the world). I change up the gallery a bit from quarter to quarter as this helps eliminate plagiarism and makes the reading/grading process more fun for me as I get to read and think about different images. So the students got me thinking about photos, and as a result, I remembered to take my camera along when Trish and I went to the Arboretum for a little walk this afternoon. But then I forgot the camera in her truck when we got home, and she's asleep, so I'll have to post photos of autumn leaves in Seattle some other time. I'm still waiting for my books to arrive from Lulu. They shipp

Think Smaller for One Dollar

I published an eight-page, single-sheet zine called Small Is Beautiful and shared copies with the participants in the workshop I taught at Write on the Sound earlier this month. The zine is subtitled "ideas for writing and publishing," and it contains ideas for four writing exercises as well as a few leads for publishing short poems and prose pieces. Basically, it's meant as a little bit of inspiration for those times when writing seems big and daunting, and it would help to remember that even the longest poems and novels came together one line at a time. If you'd like a copy of the zine, I'll send one your way for just one dollar via PayPal (shipping cost included in the $1). Oh, and here's one more picture of the zines in a vintage Kraft cheese box just because I only scored this box earlier this week, and I like it! Did you know processed American cheese used to come in wooden boxes?

A Poem about Corn

I was reminded the other day of the documentary, King Corn , which in turn got me thinking about some poems I've been working on, inspired by found text from a 1970s-era children's nonfiction book I found at the thrift store. I have a handful of poems in this series so far and hope to write more. The poems take up different topics about how different foods and consumer products are made. Here's one about the many uses of corn. Corn is pretty wonderful when you think about it, controversies about corn syrup and ethanol and cattle feed aside... Some of the Wonders of Corn Corn belongs to the family of grasses. We make its stalk into paper. We make its cob into ink and cloth. We use corn oil in food and soap. Corn starch helps seal our stamps and envelopes. We drink alcohol made from corn and when we heat tiny kernels, they blow up. Corn is truly amazing when it pops. P.S. If you haven't seen King Corn and are at all interested in how food is grown in the U.S. and

The Teeny Tiny Woman

I've told this story before when I've given readings, but I realized that I've never posted to this blog about why I gave the name Teeny Tiny to my zine and small press. When I was little, one of my favorite stories was the story of the teeny tiny woman. The story was in a collection of children's stories; I think it was part of a set of something like four volumes, but I can't remember for sure. (The books my brother and I had when we were kids must be stored in a box in his attic; I know we couldn't have gotten rid of them.) I remember my mom reading me the story, and also I remember paging through the collection of stories and looking at the other stories in sort of a passing way but then returning to the story of the teeny tiny woman and her teeny tiny cat. For a long time, I thought the title of the story was The Teeny Tiny Woman, but it was actually published as Teeny-Tiny Tale by Jan Sukus. Not long ago, my friend Sandy found a copy of the book that

A Collage with a Squirrel

I haven't made many collages lately, so the other night I took out a glue stick, a pair of scissors, some 3x5 cards, and one children's magazine from the 1970s and one comic book from a few years ago. I worked on two little collages, the one posted above and an unfinished one with a cool drawing of a helicopter from the children's mag glued down for the background but nothing else so far. Initially I was going to let the quizzical-looking man in the illustration have the speech bubble, but then it seemed best for the squirrel to speak instead. I think I was inspired to include the squirrel (and have it appear larger than the man) because my dad has been at odds with squirrels for several months now as they ate up a good portion of the corn in his garden this year, and they continue to bury peanuts all over his yard and then dig holes all over the place as they try and find the peanuts again. (If you're reading this and you're my dad's neighbor lady who has

It's Hard to Write a Poem about Amelia Earhart

Yesterday I took out a couple of old magazines from my collage materials stash to use for a writing exercise for a guest lecture I was giving on poetry for a colleague's intro to literature class at Edmonds CC. I asked students to write short found poems as described in this writing exercise I posted about not long ago. I gave each student a random page I'd torn from an issue of Better Homes & Gardens to use as the source text for his/her poem. Before class started, I had time to look at another magazine I'd brought, and I wrote down a few lines. Last night and this morning, I edited the lines a bit. When I was in grad school, I tried to write a poem about Amelia Earhart, and it didn't turn out well at all. Maybe this could become a poem I like better. Amelia Earhart in National Geographic With propellers for buttons she designed clothing for Macy's. When its engines start, she said an airplane sounds like poetry.

Goodbye, Summer

It's sunny this morning as I look out the window, but it's supposed to return to heavy rain later. I guess we have to admit that the long, long summer is finally over. It was the perfect Seattle summer for me--sunny, but not too hot. I took the picture above at Lopez Island in June. The Spencer Spit state campground there is great: you can camp right at the beach. Not that I can say I'm a real camper, but hey, I did stay at two different campgrounds this summer. I started working on some poems inspired by camping/backcountry hiking manuals and really should return to working on them. Here's one of those poems. Thanks to NAP for originally publishing it. Sharing Your Gear You plan to walk together at the same pace, but what if you get separated? Carry gear you can use by yourself just in case--the person with the tent has poles and all; the person with soup has a pot. Before you marry your skillet to your partner's stove commit to staying together the l

Publishing a Book on Lulu

I've been wanting to combine the texts of my two chapbooks of poems inspired by craigslist ads ( I Meant to Say and Take It ) into a longer book for quite some time now. I was going to do it in a more zine/book arts way, but then I thought, hey, why not experiment with It was a pretty smooth process for a non-designer such as myself. I mean, I like to make collages, but I'm no expert in design software, etc. Once you choose the size of book you want, you can download a Word template and paste in your text. Then they have book cover templates, and the process of working with the template was like an extended version of the template-maneuvering I do when I have postcards printed with Vistaprint. Lulu gives you text and cover proofs to download, and I felt comfortable with the layout process. In fact, when I had a little problem converting my Word document to a PDF file with the page size I needed, the Lulu interface converted my file for me. Anyway, after some h

Six Poems, Two Places

Earlier this week I went to the launch party for T(our) Magazine . The editors of T(our) do a nice job of building gay/straight alliances at the same time as they seek out poems and prose from writers from Seattle and beyond. The magazine is available in print and online: the individual pieces from the debut issue are available here . There are four poems of mine , from a larger series I've been working on for a few years, poems which borrow found text from biographies and old gossip magazine articles about Dusty Springfield as well as 1930s-1950s Hollywood stars like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Lizabeth Scott. Also, two of my poems about bees and beekeeping just went online in Camroc Press Review . The first poem has its start in found text from sections from beekeeping manuals about the anatomy of bees, and the second is about the way honeybees are shipped north from California to beekeepers in Washington state. I continue to read Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems

Emily Dickinson on Autumn

I've decided to read Thomas H. Johnson's edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson from cover to cover. I've read many of the poems before (of course!), but I've never read the complete book, front to back. I started reading this morning, and I happened upon a perfect poem for the coming of fall, which begins, " The morns are meeker than they were... " The poem is nice example of the use of personification, too, and I like how she breaks the rhyme pattern a bit at the end with "on." And after reading this poem, will you be able to think about colorful maple leaves again without thinking of them as a brightly colored scarf?

Thinking Small

I've been working on my presentation for the Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds. My workshop is called "Small Is Beautiful: From Postcards to Mini-Zines," and here's the description from the conference catalog: "Intriguing writing comes in small packages, from lines printed on coffee cups to forms like flash fiction and haiku. 'Think smaller' with ideas for experimenting with prompts that call for easy-to-manage bits and pieces of writing, and consider trying smaller-format projects to showcase your work such as printing postcards, making zines by hand, and sending tweets." We'll be writing poems or short prose pieces made up of a single sentence, and I think we'll also write postcard-sized pieces. An example of a single-sentence poem I like quite a lot is Emily Dickinson's poem about a railway train ("I like to see it lap the miles...).

Finding Haiku

I was thinking it might be nice to post writing exercises/ideas on my blog. For starters, here's a quick exercise to try with any text(s) on hand. Using what Jack Kerouac called the "American Haiku type... Simple 3-line poems... free of all poetic trickery" (see his Book of Haikus edited by Regina Weinreich), draw out three short lines from any text to shape a tiny poem. The only "rule" is that all three lines need to come directly from the text (or texts) you set aside to use for this exercise. Don't worry about syllables or writing a poem that feels finished. Just look for interesting images, ear-catching phrases, and so on. Try drawing lines from a newspaper article or magazine ad or travel folder or cereal box or textbook or piece of junk mail... When I give this exercise to students, I also give them a page or two from a magazine to use as a source text. It usually helps to limit yourself to a specific range of text--it's a good challenge to see

Bee Novel

As I was browsing the shelves at the Couth Buzzard bookshop before participating in a reading/performance there last Saturday, I found the book Generation A by Douglas Coupland. I've read several of his novels, but I didn't realize he'd written a novel that has to do with the demise of bees. I'll probably start reading it when I finish the novel I'm currently reading, Third Girl from the Left by Martha Southgate. Other books I've been reading lately are collections of poems by Tim Dlugos and Marie Ponsot.

Twenty Bee Poems

I thought I was stalled out at nineteen poems about honeybees, and then I finished a twentieth one. I've been working on these poems since sometime around March 2011 when I first knew that Trish was going to start beekeeping. So it isn't a speedy project, but it's one that means a lot to me. The poem I wrote today is about the commercially kept bees who are trucked around the country to pollinate various crops. If you haven't heard about this practice, check out this article from 2009 from Discover : Who Killed All Those Bees? We Did .

Three Poems Online in NAP

Three of my poems utilizing bits of text from books on backcountry hiking/camping just went online in NAP , a lit mag edited by Chad Redden. Thanks, Chad! I need to return to working on this series, I think, especially with hiking/camping season upon us.

Collage with a Piece of a Poem

This collage doesn't quite have a poem in it, or maybe it's just a micro-poem made of a single couplet. I haven't had much luck in directly combining poetry and collage, but now and then the intersections seem more direct as in this piece.

From a Thrift Score

I found a fun children's nonfiction book at the thrift store recently, an illustrated paperback from the 1970s with explanations about different everyday things like foods, metals, modes of transportation, etc. The book is supposedly about "How Things Are Made," but the little essays on different topics give all sorts of facts about their subjects. I'm not sure yet if these essays will inspire a whole series of found poems, but I've been working on a couple of poems so far, and here's one... Untarnished Carbon plus iron plus chromium and maybe some nickel? Stainless steel. It takes a high polish and can resist rust and acid. Kitchen knives, door knobs, golf club heads and fishing gear? Stainless steel. We also use it for mirrors when glass is too fragile.

Science-Inspired Art

Stacey Printz, a choreographer who has created work inspired by honeybees, directed me to this article from the San Francisco Chronicle which discusses her bee-related piece as well as some other pieces inspired by scientific topics (like string theory). I sent Stacey an email last week, and she sent a friendly reply and said she'd be glad to answer some questions. I think the best idea might be to think of writing some bee essays in the size/format of my Teeny Tiny zine as this seems like the most low-key and fun way for me to go about a project.

A Long-Neglected Task, and Some Research

I've been meaning to add a page to my website with links to published nonfiction clips, and I finally did this last night. It's a pretty simple page , but hey, I'm pretty simplistic in my web-design skills. This morning, I sent a query to a publication I haven't written for before, and we'll see how that goes. But if you never send a query, nothing new ever happens. I haven't sent a query in ages. The gig with EDGE fell into my lap via a craigslist ad; I didn't have to query--I only had to answer the ad. I'm looking at different ideas for writing about bees and conceptualizing these ideas as article-sized pieces, so I'm also trying to think of possible markets for these articles. A weird thing about nonfiction contrasted with poetry is that with nonfiction you can actually conceive of a market for your work whereas with poetry it's more that you write the poem and see if maybe later it seems like it might be a fit for a certain magazine where may

New and Improved?

Since I started this blog, I've only posted poems, but lately I've been writing a little nonfiction again, and I thought I'd expand the scope of the content that I post here. I used to write and publish nonfiction articles and reviews pretty regularly, and I've been getting into that again as I've written four reviews for an online publication called EDGE, most recently this review of Don Quixote at Pacific Northwest Ballet. I also have an idea for a larger nonfiction project about honeybees, which would combine personal experience with research and interviews, and maybe a road trip or two for good measure (gotta get out and visit some of the honeybees of the western states). In talking about the project with my friend Mimi, she suggested I consider looking at the ways that bees have inspired art projects, and this morning I happened upon a project someone wrote about a few years ago called the Honeybee Ballet . Well, I think there could be an article or two to wr