3 Questions for Joan Logghe

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line?
That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

Breath, sense, visual effect, and attention to the last word all influence my lines.
Short lines make me extremely antsy and nervous, except for Neruda’s Odes which I adore.
I read them as long lines, they just look short.  A high school student suggested that maybe
he made his poems long and skinny like Chile.

I like to write and to read fast, and the long line is working with me.  Maybe this is a Back East
line or a Biblical line, though I am not much of a Bible reader.  More likely the Whitman/Ginsberg line
and these two I read a lot more.

If I see a line much longer than others, I will tame it back in, get rid of extraneous words.
I feel as if it is a rogue line, an alert that I am being off, and wordy.

I also want the poem to look like something on the page, a vessel.  Having line lengths
fairly uniform helps me edit the poem into shape, and hopefully be more selective after
the initial instinctive writing of the poem.  I don’t typically count syllables (except haiku
when I am being compulsive and I really dig it).   Maybe I should count.
Maybe I will.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human
body? Or between your writing and your body?

I can sit and write for long periods of time.  I just got an electric typewriter back in my life and
I am so happy as it has always been my favorite way to write especially in the middle of the
night.  It has a physical aspect for me, and was how I trained as a young girl on an Olivetti.
I like the sounds a typewriter makes and seeing the words in print right away.

Some days I sit and write and it seems timeless, so I guess my body and time are linked.
But there is the obvious conflict always.
If I am writing I want to take a walk.  If I am swimming I want to be writing.
I am always wanting to do the opposite.

I also feel that the body holds in its memory things that are of use in my writing.
For example, I teach a lot and use many of  the same poems over and over.  They
then get into me and when I am writing, come through in various ways.  A phrase
of Rilke or a poem by Linda Gregg have infused me.  They become physical in that
I know them, I don’t own them but they own me, and they leak into my writing.

I personally sense the relation between physicality and poetic form.  By reading and learning poems in a form, such as pantoum, ghazal, or haiku, I feel as if I have the templates in my body.  Then, when I need to write something that emotionally or rhythmically fits those templates, I have them internalized and I’m physically prepared to write in a form.
The hearing of a phrase in my head, which is meta-physical and the recognition of the form the words want to take can come very sweetly and simply.  The forms are waiting inside my body.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

Right now, you caught me in an extremely happy place.  I dislike not working and that was my reality for many years.  Now I have just about the perfect amount of work, but I know that will change.  When it does, talk to me, and I will have plenty to kvetch about.

I do dislike the big deal about fame and being nationally known.  I have made my place locally, work in my community, and feel that Santa Fe is, while not exactly my Paris, at least my Left Bank.  I dislike snobbery, competition and what a friend calls the corporate model.  Poems that are so abstract and so much smarter than I am make me want to weep.

I dislike people who say they don’t like and don’t get poetry.  Then I have to give them my speech about not finding their poetry soul-mate, someone who speaks their language, just as in music  they may hate classical and love reggae, or  in painting love Van Gogh and not get Roethko.  I don’t want to give my speech.  Or how about on an airplane?  If you say you’re a poet they look at you with such pity and ask if you have anything published.

I guess don’t get me started.  But I have looked at ways to be happy within my chosen field and avoid the bitterness.  Poetry has been very very good to me.  Considering. Everything about poetry.
I could have done well in advertising.

Where I Like To Write by Ana Consuelo Matiella

Ana Consuelo Matiella

Where I like to write in Portland…   When I look for a restaurant to write in I have to goldilocks the chairs.  Every where I go, because of my scoliosis, I goldilocks the chairs. So in Portland I like to write at the Petite Provence on Alberta because their chairs are just right. They are the groovy kind, French bistro-like, woven out of black and white plastic on a rattan frame.  I ride my bike in the morning rain and claim the corner table where I can look up and see pastry.  The wait staff already knows me and one of them, calls me Honey.

Polly Summar’s Recipe for Writers: Pimentah

“Springtime always makes me think of “pimentah” cheese sandwiches. Buy the Ciolo
brand at Whole Foods (tastes like the homemade stuff) in the cheese section. If
your mom, however, bought the Kraft kind, buy the cheaper Whole Foods variety,
next to the fresh guacamole they make, over by the fresh bread. It’s perfect
writer food because it doesn’t take you away from your writing. I suppose, sigh,
you could look up a recipe, but buying it makes it seem more like your mom made
it for you 🙂  “

Dark Side of the Muse by Richard Feldman

The Dark Side of the Muse?

I became concerned after publishing my last piece that 1) other partners of creative types might read it and feel badly that they weren’t doing enough for their significant others, or, worse, 2) that their partners might read and wonder why they weren’t being better taken care of. I didn’t intend to make myself out as some kind of paragon of creative spousal collaboration. No, despite my loyalty to our household creative team, there are substantial areas where my support might be considered–shall we say, hit or miss.

Foremost among the issues is my somewhat less than heartfelt interest in both poetry in general and that written by my wife. Oh, I can respond with alacrity to a limerick contest and I’ve been known to compose a birthday haiku. When I had to choose a contemporary poet as subject for a substantial project in high school English class, I was able to find one I liked enough (an American poet named Rolfe Humphries) that I’m fairly sure that I was able to turn in a completed project (which was not always a given in those days).

However, I’ve just never been all that drawn in by poetry relative to prose or music or painting or dance. Because poetry is kind of our home team, I’ll dutifully root for it-particularly the success of Miriam’s poetic efforts, but also those of our poet friends, and of poets in general around the world. My duties as poet’s consort don’t include going to all that many poetry readings, but every now and again Miriam asks me either to attend one of her events or to accompany her to a reading by one of her friends, and I’ll usually make the effort and even have an OK time. On the other hand, I have been known to wish that she were drawn to a creative endeavor that I think of as being more useful, like, oh, quilting. I also have been confused to learn that our team doesn’t always care that much about certain kinds of poetry or certain kinds of poets.

I also haven’t been able to be as supportive as I might of Miriam’s prose-writing career. We have some basic differences of artistic opinion. I believe in maintaining a certain level or type of privacy or decorum that turns out not to be a belief that Miriam shares. I also found the essays that she published over many years (and for which I sometimes suggested the topic) to tend towards a tone that I found–fluffy is the word that would come to mind (I find it ironic in thinking about my contributions to this blog that I see certain tendencies in the same direction).

Perhaps the most touchy moments in my efforts at being a writer’s devoted spouse have come when I’ve found myself responding more enthusiastically to the writing of someone else–perhaps a friend and someone whose writing Miriam also admires, but still, someone else. Is this a transgression against the code of spousal fidelity? Which is more important when relating to someone who cares passionately about art, aesthetic honesty or loyalty?

So it seems that at least some of us would-be practitioners of musedom, despite our best intentions, may at times stray from complete devotion to our calling.

Richard Feldman



you can see the nests hanging
but not the bird
the infant mourning doves, the warrior quail
with its one feather headdress
among jasmine or bitter
and until pointed at
you’ll miss the green parrot
with its intelligent beak under its wing
you’ll hear the coo or the call
but not know from which bird
this discreet gray feather falls
or what is food
for something on winged talon
until the cardinal
cuts across
what you regard as the self
and slices it in half
just as you wake up
into this dream

Flight of the Goose by Leslie Thomas. Reviewed by Joanna Harcourt-Smith

Flight of the Goose

A Story of The Far North

The book begins with these words: Who am I to tell a story?

It is a novel published in 2005 and written by Leslie Thomas.

Leslie Thomas grew up on a fishing boat in rural Alaska in the late 1950’s.
She weaves a riveting story about an orphan, traumatized by her past.
Kayuqtuk seeks respect in her traditional Inupiat village through the
outlawed path of shamanism.

Her plan leads to tragedy when she interferes with scientist Leif Trygvesen
who comes to research the effects of oil spills on salt marshes-and evades
the draft (Vietnam war). The story is told by both perspectives, that of the
young man from Seattle and the young woman who is slowly finding her powers
as an Angutkok, the Inupiak word for shaman.

For me this is a beautifully written tale of spiritual awakening, redemption
and love in a time when the old Eskimo ways are vanishing forever. Leslie
Thomas takes us into a world where cold is both nurturing and unforgiving. A
time when human warmth and people’s relationships to the harsh environment,
are becoming less familiar to those who live in it.

Seals and birds who were intricate parts of the village life are now
becoming “other”.

Leslie Thomas¹s writing is both emotional and descriptive. I felt completely
taken into this world of snow and ice, awed by the short and exquisite
summers as well as the passion evolving between the two main characters.

Flight of the Goose welcomes the reader through a mysterious door into the
old ways of a village, that no longer exists in modern times. To me it is so
evocative that for a few days I lived with Leif and Kayuqtuk “the red fox”.
My world disappeared and the Arctic village life became more real to me than
my own life. This to me, is the essence of a great novel, for the reader to
live with the story as if it were their own.

Flight of The Goose challenged my world view and opened my heart.

This story is the story Leslie Thomas has written but it is also my own
story told in a strange environment.

I have given 5 copies of this book away and I intend to continue seeding
this book to my friends.

Facing Goat Hill by Sharon Niederman

Facing Goat Hill

My interior GPS  places  the coordinates of my desk south of Old Glory;
southeast of  Iridium Layer; parallel to red-tailed hawks’ thermal waltz; north
of strutting stag; east of  Santa Fe Trail; west of red neon Raton sign, and
southwest of red, white and blue electric star.

Where I write from is an oak desk beneath a window facing Goat Hill. The house
where I now live was built in 1906 on a small parcel of the Maxwell Land Grant,
the biggest chunk of real estate in the western hemisphere. Mountain man Lucien
Bonaparte Maxwell married well, wedding the 14-year old Luz, daughter of his
partner Charles Beaubien, Taos land grant heir.

Architect Isaac  Hamilton Rapp, better known for his Santa Fe style,  built this
house, a quirky hybrid with imposing Corinthian columns and cozy fireside
ingelnooks, for hardware merchant Asa Hobbs. Hobbs and  his childless wife,
Laura, entertained theTerritory’s most influential figures in their mansion on a
It has always been painted yellow.

The Hubbards lived here next: Margaret with her flaming red hair and five
daughters. People still talk about her, her Irish humor, her sharpness at
bridge, and her fondness for “sipping.” Dr. Hubbard couldn’t save little
Charlotte, and he never forgave himself. I believe Charlotte, the girl in a
straw hat who greeted me on the staircase the first time I walked into the
house,  died in this room now filled with my books, my projects.

Before that,  this place was a barrio of goatherds, and before that,  the
hunting grounds of Utes and Apaches. And before that, Folsom Man wandered, fresh
from the Ice Age,  spear in hand, hunter of bison and mammoth, clever carver.

Yet eons before that, rock remnants declare Goat Hill bore witness to the
planet’s most stupendous mass extinction, that meteoric collision that destroyed
the dinosaurs as well as 75 percent of all life.

Iridium, the result, the record-keeper, is visible here.

Ancient is the ancestry of eagle,  deer, and bear, creatures who inhabit this
particular portion of sky and scrubby, sandstone-strewn ground. Pinon and
juniper scatter the hillside with deceptively casual attitude, and to the casual
eye, there is nothing special about this place.

Here is where I pass my days, facing Goat Hill.

Sharon Niederman lives, writes and blogs in Raton, NM at http://embracingthenorth.wordpress.com. Her two forthcoming books are: New Mexico’s Tasty Traditions: Folksy Stories, Recipes & Photos (New Mexico Magazine, 2010 and Shrines & Signs: Spiritual Journeys Across New Mexico (Countryman Press, 2011). She is the author/editor of a dozen books of  SW food, travel and history. Her debut novel, Return to Abo (UNM Press, 2005) was a WILLA Award Finalist.

End of the Roadtrip!

Ana suggested Tohono Chul Park in Tucson–so lovely, an urban oasis with lots of little gardens and some walks through desert–although within sight of the back of our motel!
Some other roadside attractions–a giant Tiki head on 4th Avenue, a rattlesnake bridge over the highway (scary jaws and tail) and in the last rest stop before Cruces a large roadrunner made of recycled metal. It gives a hungry look at the city spreading out below.
Enjoyed Singing Wind bookstore in Benson AZ–down a dirt road, with a ranch feel, but excellent selection, including a lot of classics.
Slept in Las Cruces, with a little roadside rocket next to the motel (a recurring theme). Had a nice morning among pecan groves (visit to Stahmann’s stand for pecan pie before lunch) and a stroll in Mesilla and lunch at Posta’s.
Came home through a mix of weather and varies skies and oldies on the radio.

Road Trip: Titan Missile, Copper Mines, Baseball

Started off the day with a visit to the Titan Missile Museum. It was overwhelming, the actual underground silo, an actual missile (without nuclear warhead) and being flooded with the memory of the fears of my childhood–of nuclear war, of annihilation. The timeline alone brought tears to my eyes–from Hiroshima through all the “local” conflicts of the cold war, to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The tour was excellent–not just informative but walking a line on the subject of assured mutual destruction–it was neither jingoistic nor anti-military.
I’ve started writing about destruction. It is part of a longer project of land based poetry. Started over three years ago, and have come to a resting place with the manuscript of “7 Places in America.” The poems were about maps, boundaries, ecology…but also about beauty. Now something has shifted. I’m working on war–and deserts. Have been using the data base for CLUI–Center for Land Use Interpretation–which deals with a lot of military and industrial sites (folk art and ancient ruins, too).
Just outside the museum is a landscape ravaged by enormous copper mines–with green and turquoise tailings–giant pits that destroy the land. CLUI pointed the way to them.
And then, as Rich said, we were having an American day. We ended up at spring training, a game between the Padres and the Diamondbacks (San Diego won). It was eerie to stand for the national anthem (something I did not do in my youth) and hear “bombs bursting in air” after Titan. It was a lovely balmy afternoon, with a breeze, and a flock of redwing blackbirds. It was baseball.

Tucscon: Antigone Books, Farmer’s Market, Desert Mueum

Sometimes I think I travel far just to do what I like to at home–sit and read, look and stare, drink something hot, do a little low rent shopping…
This morning we went to a fabulous Farmer’s Market (one of Rich’s favorite forms of tourism). It was in St. Philip’s Plaza–an upscale shopping area with a nice plaza that includes fountains, tiled bancos, and saint statues. The market was bustling–several dozen vendors spread out under tents–with the usual dogs, children, and serious locovore shoppers. Jams, jellies, pickles, eggs, a knife grinder, greenhouse tomatoes, sequined bags from Mexico, tamales, empanadas (I ate a good one, Argentinian style), salsas, free coffee samples, and two sets of musicians. One–Francisco Gonzalez–was rocking out on a handheld harp.
I bought a miniature yellow chair and a red table from a woodworker. Why? I love miniature chairs, and I love the invocation of the setting–maybe for a tiny writer to sit at the desk.
Then on to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. It is so massive–and varied–part zoo (javalinas, wolves, coyotes)and part botanical garden. Wandered through cactus and in and out of eco-zones. The aviary was very magical with tons of juvenile mourning doves looking a bit witless but darling, and quail with those bobbing feathers like little headresses. Spent hours there, almost in a daze of nature and information, and stalks of coral bell flowers, purple shooting star datura, yellow composites. Had a beautiful picnic a few miles away in a landscape of saguaro and more classic Sonoran desertscape.
Then, seized with a desire for Antigone Books, we headed towards 4th Avenue only to find a street fair the size of a small city. A serendipitous parking spot brought us within blocks, and in fifteen minutes in the bookstore I found a stack of fascinating volumes I had never heard of. That, I think, is the irreplacable function of the independent bookstore–the buyers know more than the reader so browsing is an inspiration (rather than a disappointment the way it last was in our local chain.) Back at our car, Rich realized we were beneath an orange tree. No low-hanging fruit, but he managed to score an orange on tiptoes.
He said it was bitter, but he seemed pleased anyway.