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Showing posts from 2013

A Great October Class

I thoroughly enjoyed the October "Short Forms" class I taught. This was the first of my independent online writing classes that I taught where the assignments were designed to work for writing poetry or prose, rather than just poetry. I think that opening up the assignments in this way was a good fit for me as an instructor and for offering greater flexibility for students in terms of being able to use the class as a springboard to write what they wanted to write. At first I was thinking I could do another class running from mid-November to mid-December, but now I'm thinking that January would be a better time. I have an idea for the next class where it would also allow for both poetry and prose writing--and it would have a visual art component. The class would focus on exploring images. It would mostly be writing, but then we'd also do a piece where we worked with words in a visual way (like making cut-ups ). And I'm mulling around a collage assignment, too. I&

Comparing Web Hosts

I can't remember how many years ago it was when I first bought web hosting. It was at least ten years ago, but probably closer to fifteen. Well, this makes me feel old. Anyway...! The first web hosting service I paid for was from a tiny company run by a friend of a friend. When my account expired, I switched to GoDaddy; if I remember correctly, this was because the rates went up at the tiny company, and I got a coupon for a good deal from GoDaddy. Lately I've been researching other web hosts to see if I might switch to a smaller company, in part because I want to support indie businesses, and in part because I'm thinking about starting some different websites focused on specific topics (maybe even a specific site focused on online creative writing classes!). In looking for smaller hosting companies, I found a blog with web hosting reviews , run by a stay-at-home-dad named Jerry. These are Jerry's current top 5 picks for web hosts. I hadn't heard of any of these my


Thanks to those of you who have signed up for the October online writing class and/or helped to get the word out. Six writers have already enrolled. I'm looking forward to working with both prose and poetry this time around. Meanwhile, did you know that over the summer, I started selling t-shirts, toys, and other odds and ends on eBay? I love buying t-shirts, and in a way this has been an excuse for me to buy a bunch of t-shirts without running out of space in my dresser drawers. Here are a couple of cool shirts we've found recently. The shirt above is vintage from David Bowie's 1990 Sound + Vision tour. The shirt below is a mash-up of Dr. Who and My Little Pony. What did you do over the summer?

A Poem about Flood Damage

I wrote a series of poems a few years back when the Chehalis River in Washington state flooded and blocked Interstate 5 for days. In reading and watching news stories about the flooding in Colorado, I've thought a lot about the people there and the damage to the landscape and roadways. We drove to Boulder last year when I went to Colorado with Trish to visit her family, and it's amazing to see how Boulder Creek has become such a raging body of water. Tonight as I was thinking of this current flooding, I remembered the poems I wrote about the Chehalis. Here's one that borrows found text from a map of road closures. Closures and Restrictions Trees down. Sinkhole. Broken levee. Debris in road. Rising water. Mudslide. Several lanes washed out. Watch for mud and overflow from ditches. One lane. Local traffic only. Deep water marked with cones. Rough but passable. Bridge intact. Highway clear. Heavy traffic. Open to all cars. Open to trucks with perishable loads.

Signups Open for October 2013 Online Class

I've just set up the signup page for the first "Short Forms" writing class , to run October 1-31. Like the other independently run online writing classes I've offered, this class costs just $50. Students will complete four writing assignments over the course of the month and receive constructive, encouraging feedback from me on all four pieces. These classes have offered a lot of camaraderie and support among the writers taking the class, and I have found it a true pleasure to read the pieces as well as the comments people have shared. The assignments for the Short Forms class will allow for responses in the genre(s) of the students' choice. You can write nonfiction. You can write fiction. You can write poetry. You can write any or all of the above at any given moment! Please feel free to leave a comment below and/or email me if you have any questions. And please click here for more info and to sign up via PayPal (I can also accept payment via check--just let

New Class in the Works

I've been mulling it over for months, the idea of offering an online writing class that expands beyond focusing on poetry writing. This morning I sat down and made some notes toward planning a new class, this one suitable for both prose and poetry writing. The idea is that the class would focus on "short forms," and the assignments could work for prose or poetry: students could choose for each assignment what form they wanted to use. So you could do all fiction writing, or all nonfiction writing, or all poetry writing, or a combo. I'm thinking of having this run as a month-long class in October. More info to come very soon, and if you're interested in the idea of this class and have any thoughts/suggestions/etc about what you'd like to see in such a class, please do let me know!

Teeny Tiny Travel Zines

Out of nowhere (or so it seemed), I had two people I didn't know order copies of my zine, From Dinosaur to Denver , from my Etsy shop last week. Dinosaur is a tiny 8-page zine about camping with Trish at Dinosaur National Monument on our road trip in the summer of 2012 from Seattle to Denver, where her parents live. One of the people who ordered the zine ordered five copies, which was extra-cool. This inspired me to set to work on a second Teeny Tiny Travels zine. This zine is called Seattle to Spokane to Steamboat and is about a quick trip we took in June of this year to Eastern Washington. I've finished writing and formatting the text, and now I need to print it out and do the layout for the zine. I like doing cut-and-paste layout by hand for my tiny zines. I cut out some interesting images from my piles of collage materials last night, so hopefully they'll work for the zine.

Busy, Busy, and Busy

With summer quarter starting, I've been super-busy because not only am I teaching a new theme for my Research Writing class, but I'm also teaching on Canvas instead of Blackboard. While I've been using Canvas for my indie poetry classes, this is my first time using Canvas for my college teaching, and I have a lot more material to upload, plus I need to do grading while the indie classes are ungraded. Sometimes I get frustrated because I'm so used to the Blackboard interface, but I do understand why people like Canvas because it does look more like a web page, and it's easier to embed links to different files, assignments, etc. Normally I upload my new assignments for the poetry class on Fridays, but I need to upload the fourth and final assignment for the June 21-July 21 class on Saturday this week. The final assignment involves writing a poem which uses found text, which of course is a writing exercise that's close to my heart! If you're kind enough to be

The Class Begins

Thanks to everyone who helped me get the word out about my summer poetry class. I have 11 students, and class started yesterday. The first assignment involves writing an ode/praise song. I'm looking forward to reading the poems that the students submit! Meanwhile, the weather here in Seattle has turned chilly, which isn't unusual for June. So in order to feel a little warmed up, I'm posting a photo I took earlier this month when we visited Dry Falls in Eastern Washington.

Four Spots Open in Online Poetry Class Starting June 21

To borrow a phrase from William Carlos Williams, "This is just to say" that I have four open spots remaining for the month-long poetry writing class which begins this Friday, June 21, the first day of summer. The class runs through July 21. It's a 100% online class, facilitated through the Canvas learning management system. It's also a totally independent class, operated by me and not through a school or any other program. For more info, please check out this link , and feel free to comment here or email me if you have any questions!

Back on the Fisher Price Farm

This is my favorite "group photo" I've taken so far of some Fisher Price toys. We are looking into doing some resale of vintage toys and possibly making and selling some vintage-inspired items. At first I was biased and only liked the Fisher Price I remembered from the 1970s and 1980s, but now I have to say I like some of the newer Little People stuff, too. I mean, how cute are these farm animals? The trouble with even thinking about selling toys is that even when they aren't "yours" from your childhood, it is still hard to part with something so cute.

Real Men Drive Pink Trucks

Well, maybe not "real" men, but the coolest Fisher Price men... Am I having too much fun photographing some of the vintage toys we've picked up at the thrift store? Yes, yes I am.

Robert Francis

Have you ever read any poems by Robert Francis? Here are a few on the Poetry Foundation website. I've been meaning for years to assign his work to my composition students, and finally I assigned a pair of his poems in English 101 this quarter. The other two poets the students can write about are Jane Kenyon and Cornelius Eady; I've assigned work by these poets before, and they are pretty popular with my students. I think Mr. Francis is running a distant third so far, but I also notice that the students who are writing about his poems are really enjoying them, so I think I found some of his kindred spirits (as Anne of Green Gables would say). What have you been reading lately?

Feeling Tired and a Poem about Vigorous Good Health

I've been meaning to post to this blog, but I've been very tired. Turns out that the iron stores in my body are very low. By 5pm or so, I'm pretty much done for the day lately. Well, I'm taking iron supplements and trying to eat more iron-rich foods, and hopefully I'll have rebuilt my iron supply soon; I'm being conservatively optimistic in my hopes because I've read that this can take several months! On that note, here's a poem I drafted recently about taking vitamins. Unseen Needs of the Whole Family To grow taller, to resist sickness, to miss less school, to have stronger bones and more endurance, to feel tip-top, to have good appetite and digestion, to prolong your useful years, to meet the stress and strain of life, to help build good red blood, to prevent deposits of fat in the liver, to prevent fragility of the capillaries, to promote sound nerves, to have lots of energy, to feel less depressed and lonely, to meet the dietary needs of t

Writing Exercises for Found Poems

A couple weeks ago, in putting together a little zine on writing poems which use found/borrowed text, I happened upon some fun writing exercises. Here's one on writing "found or headline poems" by William Stafford and Stephen Dunning. Here's a list of 93 poetic experiments to try , compiled by Charles Bernstein. And here's a "word mover" tool from ReadWriteThink which uses Flash to let you move found words around to create your own poems; it lets you save/export the poems you create, too. I need to take some photos of my zine--it's called Found It! --and list it on my Etsy shop . Well, I need to do about a zillion other things, too, starting with catching up on the grading (I'm teaching one English 100 class and two English 101 classes this quarter) that I promised myself I'd catch up on this morning...

An Interview with a Poet and a Resource for Publishing Poetry

Since November of 2012, I've been working on a little project called With Five Questions, a blog where I post five-question interviews with writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and more. I occasionally do other sorts of posts, too, but the majority of the posts are interviews. I conduct the interviews over email, and it's always fun to see the responses people come up with to the questions I've written for them. The other day, I posted one of my very favorite interviews, with Laura-Marie Taylor , a poet in Sacramento who has been making zines for many years. I hope you'll check it out. If you're at all interested in zines, I think you'll appreciate Laura-Marie's; they are thoughtfully written and carefully made. If you're a poet looking for places to publish your work, I happened upon a listing the other day for The Poetry Market Ezine , which is a free email newsletter with lists of magazine publishers who are accepting submissions of poetry. I remember re

New Poetry Class to Start on the Summer Solstice

I've just uploaded the information about the next online poetry class I'm offering. It starts on June 21 and runs through July 21. I've compiled a new set of four assignments, so if you're currently taking my April class, you'd be doing all different assignments if you were to enroll in the summer class. I chose assignments for the class that have potential for reflecting a summery theme, but of course I welcome content on all sorts of topics. I just thought some writers might enjoy the idea of writing about summertime. As ever, I hope you'll help me in spreading the word about the class, and please do let me know if you have any questions. Many, many thanks!

A Line or Two

One of my online writer friends, Rebeka, wrote an interesting post today about a famous two-line poem by Ezra Pound . In a way, poems like Pound's are sort of the English language version of haiku: concise and image-focused. You get a clear sense of action/emotion from just a handful of words. Writing very, very short poems like this can be a great writing exercise. Can you condense an observation or experience down into just two or three lines? Or what about stringing a series of very tiny poems together to form a short sequence? I'm also reminded of Laura-Marie , a poet who sometimes shapes poems by writing just one line a day until the lines add up into a poem that feels finished. I know I've written about similar (if not the very same!) writing exercises before, but that's because I think they work. :)

A Belated Greeting for National Poetry Month

In my world, it's always a poetry month, but I do appreciate that people place more emphasis on poetry during April, "the cruelest month" and National Poetry Month. My online poetry workshop has started, and I'm enjoying it very much--it's a great group of students! I need to get organized around another workshop; I'm thinking of starting a new one in June. I wish I could say I've been writing a lot of poetry myself, but lately it's just a line here and there, no completed poems. Really I've been busy with teaching my indie class along with my three classes at the college. Plus I've been trying to walk more. Has your April gotten off to a good start?

A Sample of My Collage Materials

I bought a little stack of vintage Hit Parader magazines on eBay some months ago, and I've been enjoying using them for collages. They aren't image-heavy, but they have plenty of bits of text to experiment with; I've used lines of text on my collaged greeting cards and also for found poems. The magazine used to publish the texts of popular song lyrics. There are some cool tiny images, especially in the ads in the back. Anyway, I've shared pictures that show of the results of me cutting up these magazines (collages, poems, etc!), but I can't remember ever posting a photo that shows an original "whole," so here's the cover of a 1953 issue of Hit Parader . I have another issue with Lucille Ball on the cover, and I haven't figured out the best thing to do with it yet.

Handling Criticism as a Writer or Artist

I've been feeling a bit under the weather. But I did have an article appear online recently that I thought might interest some of the readers of this blog. It's a little reflective piece on how to handle criticism . We've all had difficult feedback (and we'll all have plenty more!), and I hope the ideas in the article are helpful to someone somewhere. If you have other suggestions about what's helped you in this area, please do share in a comment on this post if you have a moment.

Something Old Something New

After looking at some of my older work, I felt inspired to do some new collages with hay(na)ku, so this afternoon, I took out a little stack of 3x5 cards which I had started but not finished as collage pieces, and I added text to three of them. All of the text comes from a vintage issue of Hit Parader magazine I bought on eBay last year. Here's one of the images... And it turns out that I did more of those hay(na)ku collages back in 2010 than I remembered. I got to looking at my Flickr photostream and found quite a few. I added three new collages that I made today, tagged all the old ones, and put everything together into a hay(na)ku set on Flickr .

Hay(na)ku: Samples to Read and Guidelines to Write

I happened to find a post today where someone linked to my blog as a place to find examples of poems in the hay(na)ku form. I decided to go back and label all the posts where I posted poems in that form--I did a series of collage pieces in 2010 which incorporated tiny poems using the hay(na)ku structure. Here's a link to the hay(na)ku poems I've posted. Looking at them makes me want to return to the form; it's fun, and it works well as a way to experiment with small bits of found text. If you want to write a hay(na)ku, the rules are simple: the first line has one word, the second line two words, and the third line three words. I also like to do sequences where I reverse the word count in some of the stanzas, alternating 1-2-3 and 3-2-1 patterns. The form was created by a contemporary poet named Eileen Tabios, who does a lot of cool projects, including editing Galatea Resurrects , a great collections of reviews of small press books.

A Springtime Poem I Wrote Years Ago

I saw some crocuses blooming yesterday, and they reminded me of a poem I wrote many years ago. I'm not sure exactly when I wrote this--I'm guessing 15 years ago. I can say for sure that this poem appeared in Bellowing Ark , a local literary magazine (which the Bellowing Ark website tells me is now defunct). Well then, here's a poem I wrote in the spring when I was in my 20s. On an Errand I found the cupboard far from bare but lacking important ingredients for banana muffins: wheat flour and baking powder. So I drove to the grocery store, pausing twice at four-way stops and once more to look (no cars were behind me) at the tidy row of crocuses, purple and white, beside the cemetery.

The Cabbage by Ruth Stone

The students in my English 100 classes recently submitted their essays about reading and interpreting poetry. They had three poems to choose from--in the essay they just needed to write about one poem and how their interpretation of that poem developed over time. (I thank Nancy Kennedy for the framework of this assignment; she gave it to me many years ago now.) I try to change up the selection of poems for this assignment, and this quarter I assigned "The Cabbage" by Ruth Stone for the first time. The full text of the poem is available here on . I think the students enjoyed this poem. Rereading it again I find it's a good example of a poem that makes interesting use of "you" rather than "I" for its voice; I think this can be hard to pull off. This poem would be a good basis for a writing exercise in which you write a piece in the second-person voice. Ruth Stone also has a great poem about having a burger at McDonald's, but it doesn'

At the Library and Niedecker on a Wall

Do you ever go to the library to get some work done? I'm not sure if it's more effective or not, but I've felt less than productive lately, so I thought it was worth a try. I did actually get five pages of work done, so that's something. After this little break, I'm hoping to finish three more pages. Meanwhile, check out this poem by Lorine Niedecker that someone painted on a brick wall. Photo by Andy Wallman. OK, three more pages...!

Thanks for Sharing (on #tumblr and elsewhere!)

A few bloggers have posted about my online poetry class recently, and I wanted to say thank you. Beach Sloth wrote about my class on Blogger and also put the posting on tumblr , which is cool because my friends Katie and Suzanne and Chad reblogged it. I really enjoy Beach Sloth's writing, and I hope you have a chance to check out one of the posts from this creative writer who spends a lot of time reading and writing about contemporary poetry and prose by indie authors. Eileen Tabios mentions the class in part of a post about the tiny chapbook I published of her tiny book , Novel Chatelaine . By the way, Eileen is looking for tiny books as part of her new project, Sit With Moi, so be sure to check it out and maybe even make a small book to send her! She always does a great job of sharing her projects through photos, blog posts, and more. Thanks also to Reading Renee for her post about the class, and to Bethany Reid for mentioning my blog as part of a "poetry blog hop&qu

Experience Music Project

On Thursday, I visited the EMP for the first time ever. I'd like to say that I've already written a poem about Kurt Cobain's cardigan sweater and fragments of a guitar that Jimi Hendrix destroyed because he wanted to sacrifice something he loved, but I've been catching up on work rather than writing. By the way, if you ever visit the EMP, be sure to buy your tickets online because the price is $5 cheaper per ticket that way, $15 instead of $20. It's weird seeing all the stuff about Nirvana in a museum because it feels like seeing an exhibit about your neighbors who suddenly became famous. There are Polaroids and other photos that band members and their friends took; you see these young guys sitting on their friends' couches, etc. There are handwritten set lists, and lyrics on notebook paper in ballpoint pen. There's a drawing of Ronald Reagan that Kurt Cobain drew in art class as a teenager. It feels like an exhibit about people you know--former students o

One More Valentine

Here's a poem I wrote for Trish some time ago, and I think it's a good fit for Valentine's Day. This was published in Sinister Wisdom last year, and the editors kindly nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. Learning You said the Greeks said "know thyself" and "all things in moderation" and I agree it may be best to know me moderately, a woman who loves cookies, movies, Converse hi- and low-tops, books, cats, cardigan sweaters and--immoderately--you. Know me deeply and there's the mire of things I'm still learning. You know how I thought I didn't want kids? I've learned it was only that I'd never known any nor any adult who could surprise me into imagining myself with a family. I hope everyone enjoys the day. We're planning to go to the Experience Music Project to finally see the Nirvana exhibit!

What Is Your Favorite Poem for Valentine's Day?

In thinking about Valentine's Day and choosing a love poem that I especially like, "The Shampoo" by Elizabeth Bishop comes to mind. Here's the text of the poem, courtesy of an image from The Young Radicals . Anyone have poems that come to mind around Valentine's Day? Please do share if you have a moment!

Twenty-Five Percent!

My April poetry class is one-fourth of the way full, which is very exciting. I think this idea to run an indie online class came just in time because my computer crashed last night--if the class fills, it should cover about half the price of a new computer. The computer crashed just after I finished writing the budget proposal for Between the Lines for the 2013-14 school year; unfortunately I wasn't able to email the proposal in time, so I'll have a little rewriting to do later today. Oh, and I have 50 essay drafts to comment on, too. I'm borrowing a computer at this moment, but of course the other big item on my to-do list for today is to buy a computer! Meanwhile, if there's a poet in your life who might like a unique Valentine's Day gift, why not sign him or her up for an online class ? As Oscar Wilde said, "Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing." (I struggle with self-promotion, so I thought I'd turn to Oscar Wilde for inspira

Online Writing Class for National Poetry Month

I've decided to offer a 100% online poetry class for National Poetry Month this year. I've been wanting to put together a free-standing online class for quite a while now, and I'm finally giving it a try! As most of you know, I teach online every quarter at Edmonds Community College, so I have a lot of experience in the distance learning format. The difference, of course, is that this class is completely independent of any college or other educational program. Below is a description of the class and information on how to register. * Celebrate National Poetry Month by treating yourself to an affordable online poetry writing class with a helpful, down-to-earth instructor. Learn to write poems from the comfort of your home through a supportive, accessible online workshop. No previous experience with poetry writing or online classes required. The course instructor, Amanda Laughtland, is a published poet with an MFA in English from the University of Washington. A trained

Inspiration for Writers

I wrote an article called "You Already Know How to Write" with the hopes of publishing it on a blog I follow, but the editor felt the piece was too writing-specific for her site. So I decided to post it on EzineArticles. Especially after my experience with the proofreading article circulating online, I thought it would be fun to see if other writers decide to share the article from the EzineArticles site. Here's a link to the article, if you'd like to read my thoughts on acknowledging the writing you do and self-identifying as a writer . By the way, if you are a writer and/or visual artist based in the greater Seattle area, you are invited to submit to Between the Lines , the annual student-edited literary/arts magazine of Edmonds Community College. I'm the faculty adviser for the magazine; the students make all the editorial decisions! The magazine includes a mix of student work and work from local writers and artists. Feel free to ask me if you'd like more

Who Doesn't Like Proofreading?

So I've been writing some little articles to post on, a website which hosts all sorts of content on all sorts of topics. The site gets good traffic, so it's a way to share my work and hopefully encourage people to check out other projects of mine online (like this blog or my Etsy shop , etc). I've written four articles so far. With the first three, I haven't received any feedback beyond a Facebook "like" or two. Now with the fourth article, I've received two emails in one night from people I've never met, and both of the people are telling me how helpful the article is. Go figure. It's an article about five strategies for proofreading your own work , based on ideas I've suggested to students (and probably most--if not all--of these ideas were suggested to me at one time or another by other writing teachers). I do think the strategies are useful, so maybe I've provided a public service to the writers of the world by pulli