Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Limp Wrist Wants You

The new literary magazine Limp Wrist is currently accepting submissions.

Here is the mission of Limp Wrist, according to editor Dustin Brookshire:

promote the arts by publishing poetry,
short fiction, art work, and short films

review novels and books of poetry
written by established artists

help up-and-coming artists by offering
them a chance to receive a brief review in the blurb

feature an artist via an interview

To read the sumission guidelines, click here.

Limp Wrist Wants You

Monday, November 26, 2007





I'm not a god person, but I love this ee cummings poem. Posting it here is a birthday present to myself. To me, it's a celebration of life. Of yes.


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of allnothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If You Knew

Just the other day, Garrison Keillor read Ellen Bass' stunning poem "If You Knew" on The Writer's Almanac. If you missed it, listen here.

Hawaii Dreamin

I promised long ago to post pictures from my summer Hawaii adventure with my mom and sisters--but I never got around to it.
And now in about a month I'm going back but with Annie this time. She's never been; it will be a treat for just the two of us together. I can't wait to snorkle again here on the Big Island:

It was like swimming in an aquarium. Maybe I'll get to meet up again with the two huge sea turtles who let me float alongside them in the current.
Forget spring fever. I have winter break fever.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


...has finally accepted one of my poems!

My theory is that Howard Junker figured he might as well take one of them so I'd finally leave him alone.

ZYZZYVA is here.

Giving Thanks

I give thanks today for my dad, who would have been 77 today. He was a great father. I was lucky to have him.

I give thanks that my mom is here with us for a few days. I like being with her.

I give thanks for my cousins--we're going up to Daly City to eat turkey with them. I crave being around family in new ways, now that my father's gone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The 2008 issue of Alehouse is now previewed online. You can read some of the pieces that appear in the print version, including a new Billy Collins poem called "On Craft" (which makes the claim the writing poems is easy!).

Alas, you must order the print version to read my poem "Elephant."

Literary Arts

Hearing C. Dale Young read last night was great. The poems he read were striking. He talked a little bit about most of his poems before reading them, which I tend to like because poetry is so compressed that it's a very different experience reading it than hearing it.

Listening, poetry goes by so quickly--we can't linger, re-read lines, pause at a striking image. We must go the speed of the poet's voice. So to be introduced a bit to the poem in advance helps me to prepare to hear it.

C. Dale's event was the last of our fall season. Whew, what a ride it's been. Our next event is ZZ Packer on February 27. Kelly Harrison (my co-director) and I will be spending the next few weeks writing reports and grants, doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes these events possible.

Speaking of Kelly, check out our gorgeous new website that she--O Talented Techie--designed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oil Spill

A few days ago, my sister and I took a long walk along the beach of Rio del Mar, a beach south of Santa Cruz. We saw two oil-soaked birds. It was so sad to watch these sweet beings struggle for their lives.

And here's the rub: Rio del Mar is 80 miles from where the oil spill occurred.

We have a horrible history of oil spills in this country and throughout the world (three in past week: Bay Area, Minnesota, and one in the Black Sea ).

A big no-duh: there would be no need to transport oil at such risk to the environment if we invested in electrical and solar technology.

Rio del Mar is a gorgeous beach. You can walk for miles, even when the tide isn't especially low.

The ruins of a concrete ship (the S.S. Palo Alto which was formerly, ironically, an oil tanker) lay spread out at the end of the pier. The ship is now a resting spot and launching pad for birds and sea lions. But it used to be an entertainment spot wtih an arcade, dining room, dance hall and swimming pool--fitted as such after being towed from San Francisco down to Aptos (south of Santa Cruz) in the late 1920s.

It went out of business after two years due to the Great Depression. Then a winter storm cracked it across the midsection. Nature claimed it.

Wouldn't it be great if all oil tankers were obsolete?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Upcoming: C. Dale Young

Physician and poet extraordinaire C. Dale Young will be with us to read his poetry and engage in a Q&A with the audience on Monday November 19 at 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in San Jose. All are welcome to come by for this free event.

Cool quote about C. Dale from Washington Post Book World: “Because he is a physician as well as a poet, C. Dale Young straddles the realm of science and the world of emotion. . . . He confidently locates himself at the crucial intersection between body and soul, invoking that foremost of American poet-healers, William Carlos Williams...." —

Check out C. Dale's blog here, and his website here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Rush(die)

Here are pictures of me and my colleague Revathi Krishnaswamy with Rushdie, just as proof that this happened.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Cover Girls, Cover Dog

This picture of Annie and me and Max (who smiled for the photo) appeared today in a local paper, along with this article.

Rushdie & Sebold & Mom

Here's an article about my on-stage interview with Alice Sebold.

The part of our discussion I connected to the most was when she talked about her need to find a voice to propel the story. I love the "click" that happens when the juicy voice manifests.


Yesterday Kelly (my co-director) and I picked up Salman Rushdie at the aiport. As he walked toward us, a young woman ran up to him, brandishing a copy of one of his novels. "Mr. Rushie? Will you sign my book?" she gushed. Turns out she had a friend on the flight who had alerted her to the fact that Rushdie was on the plane--so she hurried over with her book. Her crafty move saved her from waiting in a long line that evening because 800 people came to our event at San Jose State.

Before the event, we had dinner with Rushdie at the home of one of our board members. There were twelve of us there in the penthouse, overlooking the sparkling lights of San Jose. Rushdie was generous, funny and intelligent in personal conversation as well as later on stage. During dinner, the conversation turned to earthquakes, since we'd just had one last week. Rushdie kept us entertained as he discussed a number of novels and stories that feature earthquakes.

He also talked about the historical novel he has just finished writing. Other topics ranged from exercise (he wants a tee-shirt that says "Exercise Kills") to Harry Potter (his ten-year-old son drilled Rowling when he met her about inconsistencies in her series--and Rushdie thinks Rowling's opinions about Dumbledore's being gay are irrelevant and that it's up to us to determine character from the text. I pointed out that there is a whole history of sub-textual homoeroticism in literature, however, which he seemed to regard as an intriguing point.)

After dinner, we walked to campus, where Rushdie sat with Kelly and me in our office and signed some posters and books. We then took him to our newly refurbished Morris Dailey Auditorium where he spoke and then sat with my colleague, Revathi Krishnaswamy, for an on-stage conversation, followed by audience questions.

He talked at length about how story-telling is a human impulse--and also about the fascination people have with how autobiographical a particular piece of fiction may or may not be. He said that Nabokov, for instance, was not a pedophile but people assume he must have had "ideas" since he explored that territory. Just because writers grapple with the problems of humanity and of their era does not mean they have necessarily experienced them personally. Rushdie wants us to question why we care of something "really" happened and to appreciate story not for its supposed autobiographical truths but for its emotional truths.

He talked about why he is writing only fiction these days, not opinion pieces as he used to write monthly for the Times: it was exhausting to have to have an opinion a month, twelve a year--much less two a week like the Maureen Dowds of the world.

When asked about his appearance on Bill Mahr, he said the comedians such as Mahr and Colbert are doing important political work these days. Fitting that a satiric novelist would say so.

As other important memories from last night come to me, I will share them in new entries. For now, I'm a little brain-dead because of the intensity of the preparations and the rush of last night. Rushdie signed books for about 45 minutes and then we had a private reception with about 50 people where I introduced him to a number of people and he chatted in small groups on topics from politics to writing to teaching. After signing more books and sitting for pictures, he was whisked back to the hotel at 11 p.m. Ours was his fourth speaking engagement in as many days, so I'm sure he's happy to be back on the plane to Manhattan this morning.


I'm happy to have a quiet morning with my sister, Ann, here. She flew in from San Diego last night. Today we're going up to my mom's to celebrate her 75th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Color of Change

Common Ties has published my short personal essay "The Color of Change" which begins:

The first time I woke up next to a woman was in a hotel bed. It was dawn, faint light eking in along the edges of the thick hotel curtains.

Please stop by their wonderful on-line journal and read "The Color of Change" and other pieces here.

I wrote "The Color of Change" in a workshop I took a while back with Simon Winchester. The assignment was to write about dawn.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Cool Find, A Bummer, A Little Hope & A Little Cynicism

On this spot, I found a great review of my poetry collection (Like All We Love):

"Like All We Love" delivers refreshing poetry that reads like your childhood is right there with you again -- from the ice cream bars of childhood to the pop culture, tv icon-crazed days of the teen years, to facing parental mortality. Her use of imagery touches a universal cord -- to love and lose, to be loved and to revel in the intimacies of relationships.

but I can't find out who wrote it or how to get to the main page! Ah well, I'm just happy it's there.


I don't think I've yet mentioned this here, but Merge Press--the small press that accepted my novel For the May Queen--folded. A knife to the heart, that's what that was.

So now I have two completed unpublished novel manuscripts. I'm a little dispirited about the publishing thing. I've come so close so many times, with small and big presses.

At this time, I'm only sending out short pieces (poems, essays, stories) while working on writing two other books: an historical novel and a memoir about my father's death and my mother's subsequent Alzheimer's diagnosis.

The other day one of my colleagues told me that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected a crazy number of times before it finally found a publishing home.

Here are a bunch of other famous rejections, for what it's worth. Not to be cynical, but I'm feeling a little today: I bet for every multiply-rejected "find" there have been many gems never-found.

Friday, November 2, 2007

San Jose Earthquake Errata

Two windows blew out of the control tower at the airport.


The top three floors of our joint campus/city library (on the campus where I teach) are closed as employees work to reshelve 300,000 books.


The eight-story library reportedly "swayed like a palm tree" during the quake--a good thing. Flexibility is the essence of intelligence in an earthquake (for both buildings and humans).


Backflash: During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I was on the campus in a three-story classroom building. Indeed, the building swayed like a palm tree--after bucking like a wild horse. The next week when I was back in the building, I had the sensation it was swaying again even though I knew it wasn't. A kind of California PTS.