Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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't seem to be available online, alas.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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.

Lorrine Niedecker poem

OK, three more pages...!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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" she's participating in.

Someone emailed me recently and asked if I still have space in the class. Yes! I have four students signed up and am hoping to find eight more. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

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 or old friends from school.

It's pretty bittersweet going to the EMP because you celebrate talent and recognize loss at the same time.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

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.


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!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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!

Oscar Wilde 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 inspiration!)

By the way, this photo comes from the Flickr Commons collection of the George Eastman House. If you haven't browsed the Flickr Commons before, be sure to check it out--lots of great photos from archives all over the world.

Friday, February 8, 2013

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 and experienced online teacher, Amanda makes online learning a friendly, easy experience. For more about Amanda and to read samples of her published work, see

Students will write four poems over the course of one month (April 1-30) and receive constructive feedback from the instructor as well as other students. We'll also read a variety of published poetry and do freewriting exercises each week to generate ideas for poems. Students will receive instruction in free verse poetry, with emphasis on techniques like imagery, line breaks, repetition, and voice.

Limit of 12 students. Cost: $50. To sign up for this class, please use the following link to submit payment via PayPal:

Note: When submitting payment, please indicate if you prefer to use a different email address for your participation in the class than the email attached to your PayPal account.


If you'd tell anyone who might be interested about this class and/or if you're willing to share this info via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc, I'd be very grateful! Also, if anyone has questions, please do send me an email (or feel free to comment on this blog post).