goes into the making
of a poet
as flour goes
into the making
Poetry is an act
At age eight I wrote something amounting to a prose poem. My brother Richard, 19, offered to type it—I still have that piece of paper—and said he thought I might be a born writer. This was a great compliment. He had already earned significant attention for his own writing. A few months later, Richard died in a car accident. But his words had planted a seed.
My first published poem appeared in my mid-20's under the name Marjorie Strauss. Since then I have seen around 450 more published in both print and online journals including POET LORE, THE ATLANTA REVIEW, BLUE UNICORN and SOUTHERN POETRY REVIEW as well as anthologies, a blog, a calendar and a poster. I have several collections out (see COLLECTIONS) from small presses. I consider myself neither successful nor failed but widely unknown (see SAMPLE POEMS).
Sufficient Emptiness, Deerbrook Editions, forthcoming
Oncoming Halos, Kelsay Books, 2018 - $17
Seven Parts Woman, WordTech Editions, 2016 - $16
Living With It, Wampeter Press, 1983 - $7
Refuses to Suffocate, Blue Lyra Press, Delphi Series volume VII,
available through the press or myself - $12
Flying on One Wing, Samaritan Health Services, 2006
The Complete Tishku, Lone Willow Press, 2005 - $7
-- $5 if you order another book as well
Birds on Discovery Island, Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2005
-- chapbook contest finalist
Faith in the Color Turquoise, Pudding House Publications, 2003
Cave Poems, Lone Willow Press, 1998
Tishku After She Created Men, Lone Willow Press, 1996
Prices listed for those still available through me. $3 shipping fee for one book, $4 for any higher number. Signed copies sent upon request. Refuses to Suffocate is available through Blue Lyra Press; I have a few copies available too. Oncoming Halos is also available online through Kelsay Books and Amazon; Seven Parts Woman, through me as well online. Others turn up there as used books.
-- book celebration for Oncoming Halos at the Denver Woman’s Press Club, 1325 Logan St., Denver, CO, 2/9/19
-- read with Christine Weeber at the BookBar, 4280 Tennyson St., Denver, CO, 3/2/19
-- featured reader at home of Oncoming Halos cover artist Claudia Weintraub, Corvallis, OR, 4/6/19
-- featured reader at Waldport Library, 460 NW Hemlock St., Waldport, OR, 4/8/19
-- read at the Blue Marmot Studio Gathering near Allenspark, CO, 6/22/19 -- and again, 8/17/19 -- featured reader, 11/23/19
-- featured reader at Las Animas Grill, Trinidad, CO, 10/4/19
-- featured author in the Blue Heron Review, 10/19.
-- featured reader at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Denver, CO, 12/7/19
I've read mostly in café settings and bookstores, also colleges, churches, private homes. I do vibrant readings, but not what I'd call "performances." I also do occasional workshops and one-on-one critques for a small fee and enjoy doing both.
from Oncoming Halos
Winter Dusk, Diamond Lake
Snow blown across ice.
In other seasons, I forget
that lakes keep secrets.
The new moon,
that elegant nymph,
a volcanic peak,
separates to float.
Silence is the mother of
a raven is the father
In an antique bureau, an old cardigan.
In its woolen folds, a moth.
In the moth an immeasurable cavern.
In the cavern, a dead light bulb.
In the burnout, a fossil.
In the fossil a cry.
In the cry a tooth-shaped seed.
In the seed a eucalyptus.
In this giant tree, the fragrance of hope
as the moth proceeds, one stitch at a time.
-- first place prize winner in an Oregon Poetry Association contest, 2015
To be widely unknown
is to live a long time
as the other apple,
the one the snake almost offered Eve.
It’s being recognized by many
who remain strangers to each other.
It is to dangle on the tree
in the last chance light of September.
Pickers may wish
to sample your taste
but they don’t give in.
Not with that snake
at eye level, ready to report
who comes in second.
To be widely unknown
means people feel better near you.
Validated, when they feared
going soft at the core.
The one who needs you most
is Eve, with her orchards, houses, lovers.
Her artwork, its prestigious awards.
Her surly but brilliant husband.
Her multiple multisyllabic
Above the airport
where I wrote Fred’s elegy.
Above squared-off fields,
a crooked line that means river,
above bursts of green
in brown emptiness.
Above clumps of homes
fit for a Monopoly board,
sunset spreads its luxury
so far across the sky
this jet seems
to enter another dimension.
No such thing as angels
who party in coral-colored fluff.
Isn’t that right, old friend? Is above
a fact? What about surrounding,
you who kept one foot in almost
every religion? Are you
you again, a Fred-essence,
singing, yammering, shouting,
sharing secrets in a stage whisper?
What’s it like without your
massive library? Without us?
Above the bed you died in five days ago
and west of there, farther and farther
from where you are no longer.
I remember when your dog
was diagnosed with cancer.
Your answer: Give the vet hell.
Soon came your own diseases.
Came your softening. A decade crept.
Be a breath at my ear,
a blink, a twitch.
Then I’ll let you go.
-- nominated for a Pushcart Prize by
Touch: The Journal of Healing
Beside rusted tracks, a banana slug.
Beside the slug, a clump of mud-spattered grass.
Now sword ferns. Maidenhair. Fresh-sprung
mushrooms. Everything’s wet to the touch.
Listen. Watch the slug inch forward.
As day’s gray light spreads, listen.
You might hear the echo of the whistle
of the logging train a hundred years gone.
If not, there’s always moss, its hush.
Refrain from tasting the mushrooms.
These woods hold a damp smell deep enough
to digest a wanderer’s name. Douglas firs,
hemlocks, alders, cedars – cut, dragged away,
left beside, replanted. Shorter. Closer. Thinner.
Sawed down so many times you’d never know
the forest once held nooks where stories bloomed.
River stories, raven tales. The spotted owl,
bird become lawsuit, symbol, extraction
from feathers and heartbeat. Half concept,
half sweet face, half goner. Hanging on, beside.
My Writing Perspective
Fine poetry of any era and style adds to the world’s available beauty. And beauty is essential to the life of mind, body and soul, not to mention our relationships (I use the term broadly).
The best poetry comes from everything that plays into who the poet is. A gift and passion for language, of course. Childhood experiences. Formal education. Dream life and the life of one’s unconscious. Religion/spirituality. Rejected religious experience. Racial and ethnic background. Marriage. Work. Political convictions. Eroticism. Exposure to literature and art. 24/7 news impact. Social media activity, travel, and any other influences. Beyond all this, there’s the mystery at the core of our identities, something we can never quite account for or pin down.
In the United States we tend to compartmentalize experience – separating the spiritual from the erotic, the political from the personal, etc. – so that we can move forward productively or at least efficiently. We like to feel we are in control. This is something to watch out for when writing poetry. The result can be a poem that feels less than fully alive and fails to reverberate with love. By “love” I mean what the Greeks called agape. Allowing agape to be present when we choose to write about pain, especially any kind of injustice to ourselves or others or both, isn’t easy.
While there are journals that prefer no political poetry, no religious poetry, no erotic poetry, or no something else, I hope that all of who I am is brought to bear in every poem, as I’m sure many do. But our cultural tendency to compartmentalize, which differs from consciously choosing details to use or not use in a poem, is one reason I often delight in poetry from other places. Many foreign cultures don’t seem as attached to separating the personal from the political from the spiritual from….
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