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To Fill the Absence April 4, 2011: ...and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe Will share thy destiny…. —from William Cullen Bryant’s "Thanatopsis" "Thanatos." The young man who uttered the word didn’t know it had been years since I’d heard it or any variation on it. It immediately lanced me, [...] by

NO COUNTRY FOR ARTISTS AND POETS April 29, 2010: While many other cities are turning abandoned civic sites into cultural havens to attract artists and tourists, Los Angeles is apparently divesting itself of its artists and literary writers. I’ve received several unpleasant new emails within the last 48 hours. They evoke memories of our regional “brain drain” of the 70s. Many artists and [...] by

NO TIME TO BREATHE April 27, 2010: As a Single Mom of three, struggling to survive in the South Central and Hollywood ghettos of the late 60s-early 80s, I was never able to find quality writing time. I found a manuscript’s worth at Djerassi in the Santa Cruz mountains circa 1990. Otherwise, virtually every minute of my day was spent “dealing with” some vexation such as [...] by

MY FEMINIST ASPECT—A NON-SELF INTERVIEW IN BRIEF April 26, 2010: Dear Ones: Those who read my poems often gravitate to aspects of my work I hadn’t given enough attention. It’s the same process with interviews, depending on the slant of the article or the nature of the publication. In this instance, the focus is feminist. One subject is a newly published essay in which I repeat some of my favorite rhetorical [...] by

We People Who Live Out Loud April 23, 2010: I remember spotting and then studying them surreptitiously as a child. They had what one aunt called je ne sais quoi—an indefinable quality. Men in cravats, tams and clunky jewelry stood out in the 1950s, in leather jackets or colored shirts that visibly set them apart. The women were quieter in some ways, but a slit skirt, open-toed shoes and [...] by

Poetry—Unlike sports, an unregulated industry April 20, 2010: Quiet is usually kept extremely well. Speculations and whispers circulate, underground and in backwaters. Yet bad things occur, and God-awful things happen. Tires are slashed. Snail mail is rerouted to oblivion. Pending tenure thought favorable is suddenly denied. Despite well-honed syllabi and books ordered on time, classes are reassigned to [...] by

Unlucky students are taught to hate poetry April 19, 2010: On a recent trip to a hospital emergency room, my husband Austin Straus met a very ill 14-year-old and her 41-year-old mother. They struck up a conversation and the middle-school student complained that she was having trouble with a homework assignment to write five poems. Rather than illuminate the process for the confused pupils, many having [...] by

The World She Should have Known April 18, 2010: Her birthday passed a few days ago. As her literary executor, I wondered if I should stoke myself up into sending out her manuscripts of poetry and short stories again. It’s been roughly six years since my last half-hearted if honorable effort. I solicited blurbs from a couple of well-known women poets, one a local surrealist, the other one of [...] by

I am There Even When I’m not There April 12, 2010: It is difficult to be in two places at the same time, but somehow I manage. I go and run and do, then some.  While beating up language poets at the AWP (actually, I was gesticulating to them about syntax and extolling the virtues of Arno Schmidt), I was talking to David the High Desert transmission specialist about getting my 1995 Chevy Lumina [...] by

About an Unknown Poet, Her Death Pending April 12, 2010: Examining my feelings might be possible if I let myself feel. Visiting her at the hospital reminded me of visiting Mother at the nursing home before that death 3 years back; the immigrant healthcare workers who can’t understand the simple English expressions of the ancient patients, let alone their angers; the acrid smells of cleaning fluids; [...] by