(scroll down to watch/read)

I am struggling with this blog post. I’ve been wanting to make an important announcement for more than a month now, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. How do you announce you won an award without coming across as bragging? It’s kind of impossible.

The truth is I was totally surprised, thrilled, and humbled when I found out in early April that my poem, “Solstice through Aperture,” placed first in the Alaska statewide poetry contest.

YAY!!!! Okay, back to being humble now…

I have to thank the good folks at Fairbanks Arts Association for hosting the contest, and thank you to Ishmael Hope for reading and blind-judging the poems.

Here is a video from the Fairbanks Arts Association of my reading the winning poem, “Solstice through Aperture,” as well as some of my other poems.

For those of you who prefer to read poetry, I have posted a copy of the poem below.

Thanks for reading/watching!

Featured photo by Fera Photography

The Alaska State Folk Festival was canceled this year, but weird is still alive. Wednesday, April 15, would normally mark the day that Collette Costa and her band the High Costa Livin’ would bring down the house on the Folk Fest main stage with back up dancers, Off the Hook Honeys, throwing down the moves.

Coronavirus tried but could not break our hearts this year, because we still got to do our set (albeit with social distancing restrictions and some sexy masks and gloves).

Here is some of the magic that you missed this year. And I got to mark being a Honey off my bucket list!

You can imagine my delight when Plumtree tavern literary magazine sent me an email to tell me that they included my poem as one of the selected favorites from the past year. And lo and behold, mine was listed first!

I wrote this poem during a walk on one of the coldest, driest days of fall. Sounds muted, nothing stirring, and even the wind was dead. The next day life returned in the first snow.

Enjoy this time of quiet solitude. As Crosby, Stills and Nash say, the darkest hour is right before the dawn.

Featured artwork by Watanabe Seiti

At the edge of the gumdrop forest waits a door to swallow her whole

deep, deeper down the rabbit hole she hopes to lose her mind or find her soul

or a better way back than before.

Perhaps chance upon a homeless camp

tarp and dust pan,

flash backs to that woman & those men you caught with your 22—

old news, that was way back when— squirrels & John Muir wouldn’t even give it a passing glance

by the old growth hemlock & spruce, snow on ground & twisting roots holding down your queen

of hearts, ocean breath & song of thrush, old man’s beard on Dr. Seuss trees & mushroom musk.

If John Muir were a her on this frapcious earth day she’d prefer the form of a cheshire cat

rather than a girl without a dog, 5’5 122 pounds, a perfect rabbit for the hunting hieing through wonderland

& a homeless camp, lichen’s web catching on her hat, rain water pooling under boots,

nibbling at the ice, and at the trail head upon her return, I wonder if John Muir

the man would observe a ladies torn thong strung along a branch as if to offer

a warning… I wonder.

Oh my gosh you guys, I don’t usually talk like a valley girl, but when I do it’s because I am immensely impressed. The latest edition to come out of University of Alaska Southeast, Tidal Echoes 2020 is the most stunning literary magazine I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Leafing through the gorgeous prose and artwork is like taking a nature bath. Here are some of my favorites. (See if you can spot some poems by yours truly.)

One out of seven jobless, Venezuela size statistics,
but the Tongass is alive, listen—
 
the wilderness so thick, I could lean into this.
No helicopters to spoil, and there’s a 
part of me
 
that likes to do hard things— like fool 
myself
into jumping off this cliff sixty feet
 
into the drink, blue like a California sunset
reflected in a rear view mirror.
 
Hear the birds—  if they were words
they’d say gimme this, gimme that
 
so & so started it, and I don’t want you to die.
Word to your bird baby mama.
 
Oh wild wilderness, why do I love you
so fierce? Is it because I relinquish 
control,
 
is it because you show up in a flooded
beaver dam pool where you can’t tell
 
where the tree ends and its mirror 
begins—
the spider web that clings when you 
least expect it,
 
nurse log kind of love.
If it ain’t a good day I’m cryin’,
 
laughin’ and cryin’ at the same time,
inhaler in my pocket,
 
mask I’m rockin’
‘cause it’s not about me
 
this time— no one lives forever.
A girl cries every night,
 
she don’t want mama to die,
but I don’t wanna let it go yet
 
‘cause there’s still a part of me
that likes to do hard things.
 

More Cowbell (Easter Memories)
 
In diapers you would cause
and effect Easter eggs against rocks
just to hear the sound
of them break
 
Your coyote mind
shattered curious glass
oceans with a stone’s
throw
 
Even now you test
my calm to prove
that love is stronger
than your rollercoaster.
 
I could harness time
drive my car slower than an OG,
hibernate, close my eyes
& let the wind swallow me whole
 
but nope.
 
The chiller I zen,
the louder you cowbell.

Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

This year Tidal Echoes, founded by University of Alaska Southeast, virtually launched their annual showcase of literature and the art. For their first Author Poetry Reading, the magazine asked me to read my poem, “Letter to the Universe,” a poem for girls everywhere. Diane DeSloover also reads her poem about the first time she watched Gigi Monroe perform.

Watch the video here: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/arts_sciences/humanities/tidalechoes/index.html

Everything happens in threes. Last fall my grandmother passed away. A month ago my husband’s father died. I always wondered who’s going to be the third? And then coronavirus happened.

So much grief.

We don’t know anyone personally who has passed from the coronavirus. We live in Juneau Alaska where so far only 10 people have reported contracting the illness.

Still, my five-year-old is having a moment. She keeps telling me she doesn’t want me to die, then dissolving into tears. During bedtime prayers she says please don’t let us die from the coronavirus. In a modern day rendition of ring-around-the-rosy my kids play “I live you die.”

I don’t know where she got this whole death thing. Maybe it’s because she wouldn’t stop licking handrails, so I explained what could happen if mommy got this thing. (Because of my asthma I am high-risk.) Now I don’t take her out into public at all.

It seemed like nothing would stop my daughter from crying. Until she picked up a piece of paper and a pen and wrote “dear Mom, I’m sorry you died.” Then she drew pictures on it.

Now she’s dancing around the room singing. She processed her feelings with the art, took them out of her body and put them on paper. This is how powerful art can be.

I’ve been writing poetry and journaling a lot lately. It helps me process my emotions in a world turned upside down. Making art is my savior. Whatever you can do—writing or journaling or poetry or songwriting, or dancing, painting, beading, crocheting—do it.

Keep creating, everyone! And wash your hands.

Xo.

Photo by Mr. Tt on Unsplash