Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Foodies Unite & Write

We are very close to the end of the year and what follows is that post holiday slump when the bills come due and the excitement goes down the drain. Think about this: I hope to teach a continuing ed course at the Westminster (Colorado) campus of Front Range Community College. It starts mid-January: "The Literature of Food." We will meet Friday mornings for ten weeks, talk about food lit, do some reading and writing, enjoy the company of like-minded folks. Register on line for WRIT1006-001. There is no text; I'll hand out materials as we go.

As I went to check on the listing, I could not find it, but I have been assured that it will appear when the catalog for Spring 2012 is finished. If online registration fails you, call (303) 404-5000 and ask to be connected to the continuing ed department. And if this fails, email me:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cleaning Up My Own Mess

Writing is a messy business. Ideas breed like wild rabbits, papers overflow the in-basket, the out-basket and the recycle basket. Ink cartridges drain like desert aquifers. Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh, my. And whose fault is this? Mine, of course. Not only is the mess of my making, but I cannot hire a house cleaner to tidy up after me. So, here's my writer's to-do list. Feel free to nag me if I don't report back that I've done these things before Santa comes. (Otherwise, I won't get that new Mercedes. Yeah, like I would anyway. I'll be driving my used Camry with a dented door until I die.)

  • Finish the current book production project; all I need to do is reformat a couple of the poems and get the author to open her account on Create Space
  • Find another book production/coaching client
  • Update my submissions records on Duotrope and in my notebook
  • Send out submissions of the new and the rejected poems
  • File the food lit bibliography cards I've been tossing on top of the index card file
  • Finish the cover design for my own next poetry chapbook; the text is done
  • Select poems to read at Third Thursday at Forza open mike tomorrow
  • Read and comment on the poems I've received for tonight's critique group
  • Read the poetry book selected for our next poetry book club meeting at Boulder Books
  • Figure out how to write reviews for Amazon
  • Begin the script for the poetry theater which begins to roll out in February for presentation in April and get it to the director
  • Update my website news page
Oh, looking at all of this, I think I need a nap. Or a walk with the dog. Maybe I need to make breakfast. Yeah, that's it. Must be low blood sugar that keeps me from tackling all this work. You listening, Santa? Oatmeal, now.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Catching Up with Robert Pirsig

I keep a small notebook full of titles that I intend to read. My list is a mishmash of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. One title that is not in that blue notebook is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. The book is older than my grown son, but somehow in the crush of living I have missed it again and again. Until my friend Synchronicity recently stood it facing out on a display in my local library. Well, my book bag was heavy but not full, so I casually added it to the week's collection. And I read it. No, that's not true. I read most of it, no, I read much of it. I skipped a lot of the philosophy. Sorry, Pirsig, but for me the relationship between the author and his young son is more compelling.

If you have not read this much loved book, do so. Check the Wiki listing for Pirsig to get a summary of his background if you're not sure about the content. The book is far too complex for me to summarize effectively, because it's not just about motorcycles, nor is it just about philosophy. In the course of a road trip from Minneapolis to San Francisco, Pirsig explains his life and his philosophy of Quality and the Good. I preferred reading his history of having been mistreated by a too extensive use of ECT, now regarded as a safe and effective treatment for mood disorders and some psychotic disorders. Having had his memory purposefully erased, Pirsig has to deal with the ghost of his former self and the fear that his son, Chris, will also suffer from mental illness. Their journey is not an easy one, but by the end they seem reconciled. In the postscript we learn that Chris was killed during a mugging just before his 23rd birthday. That's not fair. But it's true. Yeah, that sentence is a spoiler, but the book is not about sudden epiphany. It's about the inner life of a brilliant mind almost lost to illness and unwise treatment, about a father/son relationship that reveals more than we might know about our own family dynamics.