Sunday, February 21, 2016

Unpunctuated Awe This Whole Week

My new book arrived, hot off the print-on-demand press and published by Tres Chicas Book.

Hey, isn't that my own press with Miriam Sagan and RenĂ©e Gregorio?  Isn't that my own photo on the cover, taken by my stepsister-in-law?  Is the song, "She's so vain, she probably thinks this song is about her?" playing in the background?  Yes, yes, and yes.  I am in the big yes of a new book with its two years of taking notes in Santa Fe and another two years of getting it together as manuscript. Make that four years but who is counting?  We are at the time in life where every ten minutes it is Friday.

Friday again, we say, and by now it's Saturday and we're driving to Taos to honor Natalie Goldberg whose book Writing Down the Bones is 30 years old. It's a little writer's reunion with Eddie Lewis who grew up five houses from me in Pittsburgh, Elaine Sutton who I met at the very first Natalie class I visited on Don Cubero, Elaine weeping as she read about childhood, and Sawnie who we published with Tres Chicas, and Iris Kelz, Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie, and Rick from Brodsky books and Rob Wilder and Mirabai Starr.  It was a love fest. The celebration felt a lot like a memorial only the dearly beloved was sitting in the front row with a wild smile.

After the celebration and chocolate cake, gluten free, I wanted to give Elaine a snapshot of the two of us from 1998.  We ended up looking at my poem- holders, giving her my new book, giving Natalie my book, and selling two to Brodsky books in the parking lot.  It was a normal scene for me, the back of my car full of potholders with my poems inked on and cartons of books.  A poet's way-back of her Subaru Outback. Here I am peddling at Ghost Ranch last summer.

The whole week was alive and whole.  I gave away my best in poetry teaching to over 200 elementary students grades six and fourth for ArtWorks, the aesthetic education program out of Lincoln Center where I've been delighted to work for about eight or nine years.  When I first met Natalie Goldberg I was a poet in the schools, and now, thousands of teaching days and nights and hithers and yons later, I am still poeting in the schools. My mentor in ArtWorks has died, the indomitable Lorraine Schecter whose act of generosity, her brilliant My Last Picture Show, not only fund-raised for ArtWorks but showcased the depth of her as an artist. Every piece of art from her life sold for $100 or less.  I got four pieces.  I hung a work on paper over my bed.  It has a Mary Oliver quote:

     "Look, I want to love this world
     as though it's the last chance I'm ever going to get
     to be alive and know it."  Mary Oliver, "October"

I've been looking at this week on the calendar, my Day.Timer with every little green lined rectangle of a day filled.   I have been afraid of this week, and the upcoming one, and yet thanks to the Tao and good weather and health and school kids waving their arms in the air in response to poetry it has been a total joy.  I even had energy to go to the Upaya Zen Center on Wednesday and honor Natalie Goldberg then too, and eat good Zen food next to strangers.  I found out later that the man across from me is the Zen calligrapher I wonder if I'm brave enough to study with.  And this whole week has been saying Yes!!

I even zipped out of my last Friday class of the  student packed week and zoomed up to Espanola for Silver Sneakers, an exercise class that is free with my insurance. I am aging.  I am in reunion mode, in happiness when I can be.  Natalie's presence in my life has been stellar.  I am glad she is alive, and super glad I am alive, and wildly glad for my family's vitality, all eleven of us and new baby a month or so away.

And I'd be delighted to sign and send out my new book, Unpunctuated Awe. 
Just e-mail me at