Women's History Month - Beatrice Wood

Beatrice Wood

My life is full of mistakes. They're like pebbles that make a good road. Beatrice Wood

I think it appropriate that Beatrice Wood is the final woman featured here for my Women's History posts. She followed her own bent, created a movement and brilliant art, and lived her life joyfully and exuberantly, on her own terms.

Here are a few links:
Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts
Beatrice Wood
The Legend of Beatrice Wood's Art
Books by Beatrice Wood
Beatrice Wood Portfolio

Women's History Month - Judith Freeman

Judith Freeman

Red Water- Judith Freeman

I heard Judith Freeman read from Red Water at the Great Salt Lake Book Festival. She was an engaging speaker and reader, and to be completely honest, watching her, I had the thought that writing and reading from what I've written is exactly what I should be doing. Her comment that she didn't know what else she could do other than write, resonated like a big clanging gong.

Red Water is a captivating novel told by three of John D. Lee's wives. The narrative's trio recounts the daily pettiness, hardship, brutality, and struggles of polygamy (er, for the wives, that is), and a life centered completely around religion. The novel's sullied undercurrent centers on the Mountain Meadow Massacre and the eventual prosecution and execution of Lee, Prophet Brigham Young's adopted son. The Ensign , a Mormon publication, featured an article on the massacre which you may find interesting.

Freeman lastest novel is The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved.

National Poetry Month - One Day Notice

Game on tomorrow. 30 poems in 30 days. I have no idea what subject matter I'll begin with, but I will have written a poem by the close of day tomorrow.

30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. I plan to take a poem to lunch and attend poetry readings offered by local arts organizatons and universities.

This Moment - March 31, 12:19 P.M.

Snow is falling in rivers, strong current driving insistent flakes under and down to the ground. Tear shaped drops hang from forlorn branches, but do not fall. Small white pockets find refuge in the crooks of trees and in the hollows of cupped leaves. The sky is hidden behind a thick rug of clouds. A lone bird clutches a branch. Swallows that have made their nest in the building’s water spout, call warning or greeting, it is impossible to know. A crow, a dark eye in the sky’s white face, flies quickly northward. A seagull follows. A sibilant shushing sound slips through the open window and threads its soft fingers through the office air.

This Moment - 5:26 P.M.

The fires burning on the shore of the island are smoldering to ash. Twin circular kites pitch and twist fluorescent pink, yellow and purple double helixes against the cloud-glutted sky, which is a bleaker shade of lead. The wind is showing the trees who's boss with sucker punches to the kidney and groin. Wind chimes swing violently and clang their discordant music. The puppy barks his annoyance with the wind pushing against the French doors and snaps and paws the air. The older dog growls a warning, lips bunched to reveal worn teeth. The puppy takes this as an invitation and receives a nip. He retreats to his bed for a brief time, comes to the side of the bed for a pet, then runs at the glass again. Now the trees branches turn slightly upward and gently sway, as if dancing. All is suddenly silent. The sky darkens. Haggard clouds are torn and frayed at the seams. The promised storm is preparing to announce itself.

Poem Therapy at 1:42 P.M.

Lee Briccetti

Sacred Heart
Lee Briccetti

Even as a girl I knew the heart was not a valentine;
it was wet, like a leopard frog on a lily pad,
had long tube roots

anchoring it in place.
And smaller roots like lupine and marigold
and bleeding hearts’ roots I traced with my finger

while transplanting in the garden.
Jesus had a thousand bloody hearts
planted in our flowerbeds beneath pink flowers;

they could see us through the ground.
I had a book about a girl who lived in the earth
near the tree roots, who cut off her finger

and used it as a key. I wondered if I could love like that.
I studied the painting of His chest peeled back
to show light around the Sacred Heart.

And in the bedroom at my grandmother’s where I slept
against the trees, I was the spirit
inside the room’s heart, my life inside me,

something that could leave through the window quietly.
I heard the fibrous closing and closing
inside my body and prayed to stay alive.

I'm wordless. I've read this poem at least a dozen times since I discovered it fifteen minutes ago and I haven't found words yet to articulate my emotions or thoughts. I want to paint this poem. I can even imagine a tattoo image. Words, no.

What I know is that as the years come, I'm leaning more and more toward icons and iconography. I love sacred heart imagery in jewelry and paintings. I wear a lot of crosses, but I don't own a crucifix or any Jesus images. I just don't think I can go that far. The same goes for rosary beads.

I purchased two sacred heart milagros while in Phoenix. I gave one away and the other is still in its wrapping. Later today I plan to thread it on a silver chain necklace and feel the cool metal on my skin in the space above my own heart. This weekend I attended a gem faire and found a Ganesh charm, (elephantine god of education, knowledge, wisdom, and wealth, he is known as the lord of success and destroyer of evil and obstacles). I have been wearing it religiously since.

Women's History Month - Ana Menedez

Ana Menendez

Ana Menendez was slated to teach a writing class at W@W a few years back so I picked up her books In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd and Loving Che, and devoured both. Sadly, her new position at The Miami Herald didn't allow her the time to teach summer classes, so the class was cancelled.

The title story of In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd portrays first generation Cuban immigrants working at menial jobs while longing for their former life and thier former country. I love the humor and pathos of this story, these men, and I don't want to spoil the punchline of the story, so I won't, but I dare you to read this story without tearing up or a pushing down a lump in your throat.

Loving Che is another enthralling novel that begs the questions: is the narrator reliable?; is memory reliable?; how does a brush with greatness refigure an ordinary life?

I haven't read Menedez's latest, The Last War, but since it's release it's been making literary and personal waves.

Ana Menendez is in Ogden, Utah this week for Weber State University's Undergraduate Literature Conference. She'll be giving readings March 31 at the Eccles Center from 7-8 p.m.; April 1 at The Elizabeth Hall Auditorium from 3:15-4:10; and participating in a question & answer panel discussion in Shepherd Union Building, Ballroom C from 11:45-12:45, April 2.

Don't miss this opportunity to meet an emerging literary talent.

National Poetry Month - Two Day Notice

Two more days until the launch of National Poetry Month. I hope you plan to celebrate by joining me in writing a poem a day for the month of April.

You'll want to check out the new Spring Poetry books at poets.org for inspiration.

This Moment - March 29, 12:03 P.M.

From the wall of windows that line the west wall of the room, the very top of a sycamore coming into bud is visible. So is the wide expanse of eye-colored sky, and to the far right of the thiry-two pane glass rectangular, a view of snow-capped Rockies. A crow glides up and over the roof of the building. Perhaps it is the same crow that has been flying back and forth all morning. A seagull sweeps over the roof with a black bundle in its mouth. The courtyard door opens with a thud and children's elated cries echo and reverberate up the brick walls from the courtyard below. An 's' of starlings descend quickly to the north, curving and recurving in and out of each other briefly, until they disappear. A dry leaf lifts in the breeze, then hangs like a question, suspended against the dense clouds. Sparrow song breaks the silence.

National Poetry Month - Three Day Notice

April is National Poetry Month.

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I'm on a three-month roll with commemorating months. February - Black History, March - Women's History, April - Poetry . In keeping with the spirit of NPM, my goal is to write one poem, prose poem, or flash poem for each day of the month of April. To keep myself on track, and honest, I'll post each piece here. Feel welcome to comment or join me by writing one per day, also.

Sign up to recieve a poem a day.

Suscribe to poet.org and Celebrate Poetry Year-Round.

Here's a great article about how National Poetry Month began, (includes lots of links!)

National Poetry Month: A Brief History
Bob Holman & Margery Snyder from About.com Guide

The First National Poetry Month
Modeling the success of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), the Academy of American Poets initiated the first National Poetry Month in April 1996, enlisting the Poet Laureate and the Library of Congress, as well as poetry reading hosts, teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers and other literary groups across the country to organize events celebrating poetry in American life throughout the month.

Poetry’s place at the center of American history and culture was most eloquently celebrated in the letter President Bill Clinton sent from the White House to mark the beginning of that first National Poetry Month:

“Throughout our history, America has been blessed by the powerful voices of our poets. Dedicated artists, innovators, and stewards of our language, they tell us not only who we are, but also who we can become. They distill our emotions, clarify our thoughts, and renew our spirits with the vigor of their words and the freshness of their perspective.... In this age of profound change and exciting possibility, we need our artists more than ever to imagine the best future for us and remind us of what is good and constant in our past.”
(You can see a facsimile of the original letter at the Academy of American Poets Web site, at the bottom of their page of city proclamations supporting National Poetry Month.)

National Poetry Month Activities
The marquee event of National Poetry Month is a high-profile reading series, which began with the April 1996 reading at the Library of Congress hosted by then-Poet Laureate Robert Hass and including Rita Dove, Anthony Hecht, Mark Strand, Carolyn Forché, Linda Pastan and Charles Wright. This has evolved into an annual benefit gala called Poetry & the Creative Mind, which gathers movie stars, writers and public figures to read poems, celebrate contemporary poetry and raise money for AAP and its National Poetry Month events.

Each National Poetry Month since 1996 has also seen an ever-growing upsurge of performance poetry events in towns all around the U.S., poetry teaching projects in schools, library book circles turning to poems for the month of April, newspaper articles about “the current poetry renaissance,” poetry publishers’ schedules rearranged to focus on April publication dates, poem-a-day emailings, and writing group challenges to write a poem every day during the month. AAP publishes an online calendar listing poetry events around the country, and invites poetry organizers to participate in the National Poetry Month festivities by adding their April events to the calendar. Each year, AAP also makes a National Poetry Month poster for distribution to schools, libraries and bookstores to promote “poetry awareness.”

Special Projects Created for National Poetry Month In addition to the readings and the promotional poster, each April has brought one or more special National Poetry Month projects aimed at making poetry more visible in American public life.

1998 — “The Great APLseed Giveaway”
Andrew Carroll, cofounder of the American Poetry & Literacy Project, edited 101 Great American Poems and then spent National Poetry Month 1998 driving across the country in a rented truck, giving away 100,000 donated copies of the anthology along the way.

1999 — “Catch the Poetry Bug”
The American Poetry & Literacy Project got Volkswagen to place a copy of Songs for the Open Road: Poems of Travel & Adventure in each new VW delivered in April 1999, and the “Catch the Poetry Bug” campaign sent a trio of magnetic-poetry-encrusted VW Beetles to schools, libraries and parks across the country.

2001 — “The American Poet Stamp Project”
The Academy of American Poets asked people to vote on their Web site for the poet whose face they would most like to see on a postage stamp. Langston Hughes won the poll by a large margin, and the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring him the next year, just in time for his centennial celebration.

2002 — “The Poetry Daily Collaborative Poem”
In 2002, Albert Goldbarth permitted his poem “Library” to be posted at Poetry Daily as the seed of a collaborative poem for National Poetry Month. Invited poets added lines in March and in April it was opened up to any willing contributors.

2003 — “The National Poetry Map”
The Academy of American Poets created a comprehensive state-by-state directory of poets, literary organizations, festivals, lit journals and small presses, writing programs, poetry-friendly bookstores and local events culled from its national calendar. The National Poetry Map is more than a one-time celebration—it’s a growing resource of information about local poetry doings in every American state.

2004 — “The National Poetry Almanac”For NatPoMo 2004, AAP launched a year-long series of essays on poets, poems, poetry books, poetic forms and poetic interaction with the other arts, organized in monthly themes. Now the almanac is complete online—worth bookmarking to read each daily entry.

2005 — “The Poetry Book Club”AAP’s project for NatPoMo 2005 was a comprehensive set of resources intended to seed poetry book clubs across the country: suggested formats, book lists and reading guides for the classics.

2006 — “Poetry Read-a-Thon” and “Life Lines”
National Poetry Month 2006 saw the inauguration of the nationwide Poetry Read-a-Thon sponsored by AAP in classrooms all across the U.S., in which students logged their reading of classic poems and teachers gathered their written responses to the poems. In its own variation on the Favorite Poem Project, AAP also gathered poets’ and readers’ choices of the lines of poetry they keep close to them at important times in their lives for its Life Lines collection.

2008 — “Poem in Your Pocket Day”New York City has hosted Poem in Your Pocket Day every April since 2002, and in 2008 AAP made it a national celebration, offering pocket-sized PDFs of poems to print out and take with you on the day, as well as an archive of poems for mobile phones.

2009 — “Free Verse Photo Project”
AAP used its 2009 National Poetry Month project to celebrate the liberation of poems from the printed page, gathering photographs of ephemeral poems written in almost any medium other than paper and ink—seeds arranged on a concrete sidewalk, sugar spilled on a table, icing on a cake....

This Moment - March 28, 8:57 P.M.

Night crept in on its rodent feet and burrowed into a patchwork quilt made of coarse black wool. The birds are silent in their roosts, save for the pheasant heralding he is taking leave of the day to rest in the crook of the apple tree. Only the dogs steady breathing impinges on the quiet.

This Moment - Saturday March 27, 8:23 A.M.

I've kept a daily writing log for years. One year I wrote about clouds. Another year, the tree and bird life I was privy to from my work window. Another, emotional turmoil and angst disguised as metaphor, (I suppose the clouds, trees, birds were all masks, really). And then I stopped. I don't know why. I decided this morning to start up again and write what's happening as it happens. The important thing is to get myself up and writing again. Instead of writing log, I'm calling this exercise this moment. Here goes:

The sky is opening for business, propelling the morning into a new day. A Vermeer blue on mottled white. Yesterday, flakes fell intermittently like moths from a streetlight. And just this moment, the sun has crested the Rockies and limned my bedroom window in a halo of yellow light. A solitary magpie hops one, two, three times, then flits away to settle in the branches of the cedar pine and caw dissatisfaction. A pony-tailed woman bent forward in concentration, walks her teacup-sized dog, it's small legs running the sidewalk sixteen beats per square foot. My own small dog growls from his perch on the corner of the bed, then turns his attention back to licking his paw. Leaves are strewn about the wide expanse of my lawn and I see the perennials have worked their way up through the hard ground and are preparing to unfurl. My father pulls into the driveway, drops my mother for her walk, then speeds away. She walks quickly west without looking at the house. She is seventy-four. My father eighty-two. No matter what I tell myself, I know the light is shortening for both. A spandexed runner covers my sidewalk in seven long strides. Cars are rolling past now in greater frequency. A dog barks. And now silence, save for starlings' quarrel.

Women's History Month - Samantha Hunt

Samantha Hunt

The Invention of Everything Else is a must read book from an important new voice.

Have fun with this link to Samantha Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else, a novel that imagines the life of Nikola Tesla, friend of Mark Twain, foe of Thomas Edison, and the genius who lit the world.

Enjoy this review from the New York Times' Sunday Review of Books.

Women's History Month - Delia Falconer

Delia Falconer

A friend suggested I read Delia Falconer's The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers. Read Jim Ruland's excellent review here, and check out some of his writing here, here, and here.

I loved this book. Falconer writes with such authority, and I know this sounds a little off, but I think she has a key into the secret lives of men.

Women's History Month - Elizabeth I & Anne Boleyn

Elizabeth I

Beloved Queen Bess, ruled England with the "heart and stomach" equal to that of her Father, Henry VIII, (and "a lion's heart" like her mother, Anne Boleyn), managed to follow her own bent, never marry, and lead her country into its golden age.

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn has long been considered a fascinating and tragic figure, eclipsed by her famous daughter, relegated to a footnote of the Reformation, but without the passion she inspired and her insistent advocacy, Henry VIII would have most likely never divested himself of Katherine of Aragon or the Catholic Church and made himself the head of the Church of England.

Women's History Month - Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

The King's English hosted a reading with Margaret Atwood quite a few years back in the auditorium of Judge Memorial High School. I had hoped to have Atwood sign my book, (even though I was certain I'd ask her an asinine question like, what's your favorite book?), but my number was 433 so I decided it would probably be better to head over to Mazza's to dine on muhamara (walnuts, pomegranate molasses, toasted bread crumbs, olive oil, roasted bell peppers & spices, ground to a paste and served with lettuce leaves), and a baked eggplant sandwich for lunch, then head next door to TKE and purchase a presigned copy later that afternoon.

Click on any of the links and I believe you will fall instantly in love with the mind of this brilliant writer.

Margaret Atwood's website, blog,Margaret Atwood Society, plethora of links at Fantastic Fiction.

Women's History Month - Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago

Prepare yourself for the force of nature known as Judy Chicago. Her book The Dinner Party literally changed my worldview. The Brooklyn Museum's virtual tour of The Dinner Party exhibit will rock your world, or at the very least, be a feast for your eyes.

Poem Therapy at 10:02 A.M. - Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield

A Hand
Jane Hirshfield

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb. Nor is it palm and knuckles, not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow, not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins. A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines with their infinite dramas, nor what it has written, not on the page, not on the ecstatic body. Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping— not sponge of rising yeast-bread, not rotor pin's smoothness, not ink. The maple's green hands do not cup the proliferant rain. What empties itself falls into the place that is open. A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question. Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.

I have one week left of physical therapy. Only two more days. Although I'm relieved, I'm also saddened and a little nervous. Therapy two to three times a week has become part of my life, my routine. For the last three months, I've sat in the chair and submitted my hand to painful rehabilitative stretching, scar massage, ultrasound. I've sat there with the other patients and we've told our stories, shared our lives, and encouraged each other through the painful sessions.

I'm grateful to Sam for how hard he's pushed me, and to the entire staff of Summit Hand Therapy, and of course to Dr. Yates for getting all the tendons and nerves back in proper working order. Well, to be exact, it will be at least eight more months until everything is back working normally.

I've been thinking of injury as metaphor. I realize that life is random, okay, and that "things" just happen for whatever reason, but I have to make meaning from everything, so I've started work on a collage about my hand to figure out what I think it means. I scanned my hand today and started culling images from magazines. I think it will be a variation on my voodoo collage exercise, (which I've posted on this blog). I'll post the hand collage once it's completed.

What empties itself falls into the place that is open, is such a beautiful line from Hirshfield's poem. The great philosophers, sages, and poets all say that the space must be cleared, that there must be emptiness for renewal.

Women's History Month - Meaghan Delahunt

Meaghan Delahunt

Here's a review from The Guardian about Meaghan Delahunt's novel In the Casa Azul: a novel of revolution and betrayal. Also known as The Blue House, the book is a masterful, intimate portrayal of two of the most intriguing and controversial figures of the 20th Century: Frida Kahlo and Leon Trosky.

Olivia Dickinson's amazon.co.uk review further describes this intriguing novel: In the Blue House is a fragmented text, with disparate voices answering each other back through the tumultuous decades of the first half of the 20th century. Russian exile Leon Trotsky and beautiful Mexican artist Frida Kahlo are the two characters who join the voices. The couple had a brief love affair in the 1930s when Trotsky was warmly offered a refuge from Stalin in Mexico. Their voices, though, are only two among many. Stalin and Trotsky feature as children in pre-revolution Russia, and as grown men ripping apart their country with their conflicting ideas. Stalin's wife tells of her growing discomfort with her status and with her husband in cold Moscow, while Trotsky's wife contrasts this with her tales of her affection for her husband and their intimacy in the heat of Mexico. The tales and voices of those whom history has forgotten also figure, such as doctors and engineers in the USSR; Trotsky's bodyguard and assassin; Trotsky's father; and a one-legged Mexican Judas-maker.

Delahunt's novel manages to be both an affectionate portrait of "El Viejo", the "Old Man", and also a disturbing insight into the consequences of the revolution of which he was a part. The fragmented structure of the text, with so many voices fighting for attention, darting back and forth from 1932 to 1917, or from 1940 to 1952, can be confusing. A "dramatis personae" would be useful, and perhaps a timeline of Russian history--though this might ruin the effect of the non-sequential narrative. For those readers with very little knowledge of the Russian revolution and its aftermath in the first half of the 20th century, this book reads best entirely as a work of fiction. For those with historical knowledge at their fingertips, it may make real people more real and allow their voices to be heard.

How to Write a Poem from Paint Strip Prompts

Whenever I'm at one of the big box hardware stores, I invariably wander over to the paint ailse to peruse the paint strip selection. I love reading the color names almost as much as I used to love reading Crayola Crayon color names. (Who are these people that name colors and how do we go about applying for their jobs?)

If you are suffering from writer's block or would just like to fill an hour of the afternoon using color to send your imagination down a new path, try this exercise. I wrote Crescent Moon years ago, and I know I must have revised it at least once. I posted it below and plan to post subsequent revisions, (at least one) , just so you can get an idea of my process.

Materials needed:
paint strip assortment from Lowes or Home Depot (or just open a box of Crayola's)

1. Choose 3-5 paint strip color names that appeal to you.
2. From your color name choices, settle on subject matter that first comes to mind.
3. Wait for the first line to form in your mind and write it down without editing.
4. Continue writing without editing until you feel you have something.
5. Set it aside for at least a week.
6. Revise. Set the poem aside. Repeat.

This is my list of paint strip color names I used for this exercise:
crescent, midnight, driftwood, beach,

Crescent Moon - Danna
The sky hangs heavy
like a cast-off winter coat,
midnight’s crushing weight suspended
from a hooked sliver of light
Below we are staring
up, ignorant,
cursing this distant parenthesis
for cheating us
because it isn’t full
We are angry there is nothing
to howl at, nothing to pull
us closer to shore
or from the beach strewn
with debris: abandoned shells, driftwood,
turgid fish carcasses with glazed
eyes staring stupidly heavenward
This pale star, which isn’t a star at
all, will continue to wax and wane,
the universe will crush down,
and our eyes will stare stupidly
at the heavens, but
we will not
curse the crescent moon

Women's History Month - Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo from The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo - PBS

Los Dos Fridas/The Two Fridas, 1939

Frida's hands & heart necklace - soldered copper foil technique by Danna

Frida Kahlo's fearless approach to making art as equal parts autobiography, confession, accusation, challenge, and absolution, has been an inspiration to countless artists. By studying her work, her ethic as an artist, I've been inspired to make the personal, political in my own paintings.

Just for fun, I took a copper foil jewelry class about a year ago and made this necklace from Kahlo's painting, Los Dos Fridas.

Frida is ubiquitious on the web. I've paired the list to a few of my favorites that I believe you will enoy.

Frida by Jonah Winter, Ana Juan
Beset by one shattering ordeal after another, world-renowned painter Frida Kahlo always managed to channel her anguish into creativity. Frida, by Jonah Winter and illustrator Ana Juan, is an exquisite and playful glimpse into the artist's life and work. Filled with the folk art icons of Frida's Mexican culture--monkeys, devils, smiling skeletons, and sympathetic jaguars depicted with acrylics and wax on paper--the book describes, in short streams of text, the feisty, irreverent, fierce nature of the artist. One especially memorable illustration, based on one of Frida Kahlo's own paintings, shows Frida herself caught in a tangle of thorns against a mournful blue night sky. The text reads, "After the accident ... her body will hurt, always." Author and illustrator's notes add background information, but this stunning book from the author of Diego, about famed Mexican muralist (and husband of Frida) Diego Rivera, is a spectacular, lush introduction to an inspiring woman and her art. (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter from amazon.com reviews

In the Casa Azul: a novel of revolution and betrayal by Meaghan Delahunt
A historical footnote Leon Trotsky's six-week affair with painter Frida Kahlo during his exile in Mexico blooms into a mesmerizing first novel by Australian writer Delahunt. After his expulsion from the Soviet Union, Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, are welcomed into the Mexico City home of leftist muralist Diego Rivera and his wife, the charismatic Kahlo. Thus begins the short but fervent affair between the Old Man (as Trotsky is called) and the young Kahlo but Delahunt has a broader plan. She uses their relationship as the jumping-off point for a compendium of brief, urgent scenes offering a guided tour of early communism, from leftist Mexico and 1930s Spain to Stalinist Moscow, with a side trip to Trotsky's Ukrainian childhood. Inevitably, revolutionary politics give way to tragedy: Trotsky and Natalia amid an ever-shrinking circle of admirers in Mexico, their children all dead; Trotsky's father, thrown off his farm by Soviet collectivization; Nadezhda, Stalin's wife, committing suicide. Delahunt's ability to pare grand historical figures down to their all-too-human weaknesses is impressive, and the final glimpse of Stalin is itself worth the price of admission. Having ordered the murder of every competent doctor in Moscow because he can't face his own mortality, he lies on his deathbed, being fed oxygen by a gynecologist. In the end, this novel resembles nothing less than one of Rivera's famous murals human activity everywhere, each figure burning for attention. from Publishers Weekly

Frida's Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Marie-Pierre Colle
Beautiful illustrations highlight this delightful treasure house of Mexican recipes and fascinating anecdotes of Frida Kahlo. Guadalupe Rivera, Frida's stepdaughter, has gathered here favorite recipes for more than 100 authentic Mexican dishes, that Frida Kalho served to family and friends over the course of her life. This wonderful collection also contains family photographs and some wonderful reproductions of her paintings. Ignacio Urguiza transports the reader, through his glorious photographs, to many of Frida's favorite places, including her blue house in Coyoacan. Urguiza's photos of exotic dishes and settings are visually stunning.
The book is divided into twelve chapters, one for each month of the year, each section a fiesta for the palate and for the eyes. There is a description for every festival and family event celebrated here, along with photographs, illustrations and fond memories, all woven together to provide a fabric of Mexican life and Frida's life. Events celebrated here include Frida's wedding to Diego Rivera, a Mexican national holiday, dinner after the opening of one of Frida's exhibits, Frida's birthday and the Feast of the Holy Cross. From an unusual recipe for black Oaxacan mole, an exquisite sauce of chilies, nuts, spices, tomatoes, garlic, onion and Mexican chocolate, to fresh corn tamales, squash blossom budin, lamb with drunken sauce and delicious meatballs in chipotle sauce, this is a book that will stimulate your senses. All the recipes are easy to follow and the results are marvelous.

I bought this book as a birthday present for a friend and wound up buying another for myself. Reading "Frida's Fiestas" is a cultural experience in itself. What better way to celebrate the life of Frida Kalho and the wonders of Mexican cuisine!
by Jana L. Perskie from amazon.com reviews

Brianna Chamberlain: Jewelry Designer Extraordinaire

Brianna Chamberlain photos by Tyler Seamons


photos by Tyler Seamons

If you've been reading my blog this month, you know I've been posting an eclectic array of women, famous and obscure, past and present,for Women's History Month. In the spirit of Women's History Month,I am pleased to introduce jewelry designer extraordinaire, Brianna Chamberlain.

I received a custom-designed necklace from Brianna Chamberlain's jewelry collection this past Christmas, and became an instant fan. Brianna is a local jewelry designer. Her designs are bold, original, and feature eclectic pairings of stones, amulets, and precious metal findings.

Brianna Chamberlain's necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings are treasures that are a brilliant reflection of the designer. If you live outside Utah and are unable to visit the numerous local boutiques and museum shops that carry her work, host a party, and she'll bring her collection to your home to share with your friends!

From what I know of Chamberlain's design life, work ethic, and her personal life, I think the refrain from Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin's duo "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves" is the perfect theme song for her:

Now, there was a time
when they used to say
that behind ev'ry great man,
there had to be a great woman.
But oh, in these times of change,
you know that it's no longer true.
So we're comin' out of the kitchen,
'cause there's something we forgot to say to you.
We say, Sisters are doin' it for themselves,
standin' on their own two feet
and ringin' on their own bells.
We say, Sisters are doin' it
for themselves.

Check out the music video.

To see more of Brianna's stunning jewelry click on the links to visit her website, and her new shop at etsy.

Brianna Chamberlain's web designer and photographer, Tyler Seamons, may be reached at Sector Nine Designs.

The beautiful hand-painted silk sarongs are available at S-Ence.

Poem Therapy at 10:27 P.M. Sharon Bryan

Sharon Bryan

Body and Soul
Sharon Bryan

They grow up together
but they aren't even fraternal

twins, they quarrel a lot
about where to go and what

to do, the body complains
about having to carry

the soul everywhere as if
it were some helpless cripple,

and the soul snipes that it can go
places the body never dreamed of,

then they quarrel over which one of them
does the dreaming, but the truth is,

they can't live without each other and
they both know it, anima, animosity,

the diaphragm pumps like a bellows
and the soul pulls out all the stops—

sings at the top of its lungs, laughs
at its little jokes, it would like

to think it has the upper hand
and can leave whenever it wants—

but only as long as it knows
the door will be unlocked

when it sneaks back home before
the sun comes up, and when the body

says where have you been, the soul
says, with a smirk, I was at the end

of my tether, and it was, like a diver
on the ocean floor or an astronaut

admiring the view from outside
the mother ship, and like them

it would be lost without its air
supply and protective clothing,

the body knows that and begins
to hum, I get along without you

very well, and the soul says, Listen
to that, you can't sing worth a lick

without me, they'll go on bickering
like this until death do them part—

and then, even if the soul seems to float
above the body for a moment,

like a flame above a candle, pinch
the wick and it disappears.

I am grateful for this body that houses me, and regret that I have spent so much time taking it for granted. No more!

I picked up a lime green and black sweatsuit today and plan to start back on my speedwalking workout tomorrow morning. I'm also heading to the health store and picking up fish oil pills and flaxseed cereal. And chili chocolate, of course.

Grace in the Afternoon

When I received the results from my needle biopsy, the doctor told me to go home and open a bottle of champagne; we'd found it before it had gone outside of the duct and become invasive. He told me I was lucky. There wouldn't be chemo or radiation, only surgery.

I know I am lucky.

My doctor was very proud of himself for being so OCD,(his words), about my ultrasound. I'm grateful. I'd never considered that this man helps women save thier lives for his living. He has seven children, (showed me his youngest on his iPhone), likes opera, (he prefers opera in his hometown, ChiCaGo!), and was listening to Beck in his office as we looked over my charts.

I waited until I got to the car to dissolve and send the text that it was the best of bad news: preventative surgery, but surgery nonetheless.

It's been two weeks since the surgery and today I received good news. I am a lucky woman. On the way down I rode the elevator with a woman who had the slightest scruff of hair visible under her scarf and ball cap. She chatted like a happy bird for two floors and then walked with me to my car. I could barely say anything to her other than I heard sugar isn't good for cancer. A myth, she said, and also, that chemo killed her love of chocolate, and food. She has two chemo treatments left and then she begins radiation. I wished her well, got in my car and waved as she drove away.

I wish all 192,370 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, well.

I've been thinking about grace. I can't really articulate what I feel or exactly what I experienced, but I know that brief encounter was most certainly grace. And also, that this exuberant woman is a mirror. I don't think meeting her was coincidence, at least not for me. I believe I was being shown just how lucky I am.

Women's History Month - 433 Words to Change Your Life

from Glamor Magazine, March 2010

An acquaintance gave the lates issue of Glamor to me the other day and I thumbed through it absent-mindedly, thinking it might have a few decent images for a collage. I certainly had no intention of reading any of the articles, because I assumed the target audience seems, so, not me, and I just didn't think I'd relate. Of course I read the entire magazine, enjoyed the articles on dating, sex, make-up, clothing, ripped out images of shoes, necklaces, and dresses.

And then, I read this powerful 433 word manifesto by Eve Ensler, (author of I Am an Emotional Creature, The Vagina Monologues, etc. Remember her from a few posts ago?).

I wish I had read this when I was ten years old and starting to doubt myself, starting to listen to every voice other than mine, look for validation in all the wrong places. Sounds like I could write a blues song (or a really bad country soung, eh?).

I'm just saying, every breathing creature should read this 433 word manifesto. As many times as it takes to believe it.

Women's History Month - Sally Mann

Sally Mann - Stick Figure Productions/HBO Documentary Films

Untitled (#1), 1998 from the "Deep South" series

Candy Cigarette, 1989

Sally Mann is fearless. Her photographs are unflinching, disturbing, thought provoking, and achingly beautiful.

I looked through What Remains when it was first out in bookstores. I loved it. I hated it. I loved it.

The stark images of human bodies after "we" exit them, will give you pause, but I think you'll find it difficult to look away.

St. Patrick's Day 2010

Vintage 1914 postcard

The luck of the Irish to you! Although, if you read history, the Irish weren't particularly lucky.

If you really want to get in the Irish spirit, (whatever that means), head to your local bookstore and pick up The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens. It's a brilliant book that retraces the great famine, but definitely draws outside of the lines. There is an overwhelming representation of novels and films about the exodus from Ireland and the Irish diaspora, but Behrens novel travels familiar territory in such an original manner that you'll tell yourself that this is the first you've read of this bleak period in history, and may even wish you had such noble and tragic heritage. I love this book!

I'll have to google Irish traditions and St. Patrick's Day to refresh my memory. I am heading to MacCool's Pub tonight for traditional corned beef and cabbage , though. In any case, I'm wearing green, not that I'm in danger of being pinched.

This vintage postcard is from the February/March issue of Reminisce. My father gives the magazine to me after he's read it. I love the photographs, images, and articles, which are an invaluable resource for my novel.

Saints necklace - Virgin Mary, Our Lady of San Juan De Los Lagos, St, Therese, Sacred Heart flipside of Infant of Prague, Nuestra Senora De Guadelupe

I was in Phoenix, Arizona recently for a conference, and directly across the street from the conference center was the oldest Catholic church in the state. I wasn't able to go inside the cathedral but I spent a great deal of time in the contemplative garden and took a lot of pictures, which I plan to post. One picture I didn't take, even though I really wanted to was of an old woman in a red shawl, who was bent over intently holding the verdigris hands of a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Taking a photo, even looking at her felt invasive.

I found these beautiful saint medals in the little shop under the church stairs. The shopkeeper gave me a St. Francis pin and the way he pressed it into my hand felt meaningful, as if there were a subtext to the gift. I have no idea other than my hand was still in its splint and I looked like I needed a little extra help. I also picked up a few milagros, and saint medals for friends and family. I've always been drawn to the ritual and icons of Catholicism. The history is fascinating, but oh man, is it bloody!

Next to the hotel where I was staying is the ALAC Galeria 147: Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center. I had the great fortune of meeting artist Santiago Jim Covarrubias. In the back room of the gallery there was a stunning Virgin de Guadelupe room that featured numerous Virgin paintings and altars. I had the impulse to kneel and weep profusely. I did neither. If you're in Phoenix, check out this gallery.

Poem Therapy at 1:04 P.M. - Elena Georgiou

Elena Georgiou

Questions In The Mind Of A Poet While She Washes Her Floors
Elena Georgiou

Will obedience leave me unknown to myself, stranded?

Is it enough for me to know where I'm from?

If I do more truth-telling will I be happier with what I say?

If I had three days to live would I still be sensible?

Is the break between my feelings and my memory
the reason I'm unable to sustain rage?

Am I a peninsula slowly turning into an island?

If I grew up gazing at the ocean would I think
life came in waves?

If I were a nomad would I measure time
by the length of a footstep?

If I can see a cup drop to the floor and shatter
why can't I see it gather itself back together?

If a surgeon cut out my mistakes
would the scar be under my heart?

How much time will I spend protecting myself
from what the people I love call love?

Would my desires feel different if I lived forever?

Will my desires destroy my politics?

Is taboo sex the ultimate aphrodisiac?

If I fall in love with the wrong person
How do I learn to un-in love myself?

Can I make my intuition into a divining rod?

Is music the closest I can get to God?

How many of these questions will remain
when I kneel to wash my floors again?

I discovered this poem and poet on my lunch break today. After reading her poem I wrote a few of my own questions. Try it, but don't try to compose a poem, just let your true questions emerge. The questions will find a way to become a poem. Here's mine:

My Questions - Danna

How many skins must I try on until I find one that fits?

Is it possible to find absolution in only one lifetime?

What happens to the lives of books once I've read them?

Can it be that thought and reality are fruit from the same tree?

Is it true that the end is present at the beginning?

Will there ever be a time when I don't have to worry about what I'm going to make for dinner?

Which ancestor watches over me?

If every moment is a white bull, am I transgressing for not worshipping them?

What will I do if there is an afterlife, a God, Heaven and Hell?

Is the universe a nesting doll, worlds inside of worlds?

Why isn't this body as fierce and strong as my soul?

How is it that I can love the intimate air that fills my lungs and not the dust motes trailing in the sunlight I brush away?

Will I ever stop demanding answers to my questions?

Women's History Month - Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler tackles the big issues, sometimes with a sledge hammer, sometimes with a feather. It's easy to label her as a woman writer, a feminst, and thereby categorize her subject matter to a single note. This makes it easy to determine where her work fits in relation to our interests, beliefs, values; for corporations to figure out how to sell, and booksellers which part of the bookstore and on what shelf her work belongs.

Woman, feminist, especially feminist has become synonymous with anti-male. How? Why? dictionary.com defines feminist as the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. Not more rights, not taking anything away, just equal.

Despite the negative connotations of the word, I believe that if you love a woman, and especially if you have a daughter, or love a little girl, you really do want the world to value her, want her to thrive, want her to be safe, want her to become, and that this makes you a feminist.

"Gendercide" is the focus ofThe Economist March 4th, 2010 issue. Last year a I became friends with a woman from China who was part of an exchange program with my work. Once we got to know each other, she wanted to know why I hadn't had more children, especially since I only had one child, a daughter. The only answer I had was that I really only wanted one child and I was perfectly happy with her. She also had one daughter, and wished for a son, but more than one child is not allowed.

I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World

If you're asking yourself, why would anyone write about the secret life of girls? or thinking, who cares? Think about this: females are 53 percent of the world's population. That's the majority. So, why wouldn't you be interested in over half the world's population, especially in light of the fact that throughout history, almost every social or economic reform the world over has had its beginning with women.

I know I'm beyond lucky to live in this century, in this country, even in this state. If I'd been born a hundred years ago in the same circumstances, I'd have had zero rights under the law, and I mean zero. I wouldn't be allowed to speak in public, vote, keep wages I earned, and I'd be a wife in a gaggle of sister wives, all married to the same man. I'd be legal property. So would my children. The only birth control I'd have access to would be herbs like black cohosh and blue cohosh.

All the rights my daughter takes as her due, were in the nascent stage when I was in grade school. I got the message very early about which gender was valued more in my religion and family. Now that I'm an adult woman, things have changed, dramatically, but the foundation, the received messages, the fire in which you were forged, is at the core of your being, no matter how fast or far you run.

I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World Written in the same format as her watershed work, The Vagina Monologues (1998), Ensler’s latest mélange of dramatic voices continues the mission of her philanthropic organization, V-Day, to stop violence against women. Published for adults but aimed straight at young adults, this volume provides a searing look at the inner lives of young females today in entries that explore sex, violence, love, body image, materialism, identity, family, friends, and the future. “You Tell Me How to Be a Girl in 2010” begins the collection with a furious catalog of the state of a girl’s world, from global war to everyday heartbreak: “Girls younger than me are giving blowjobs / in homeroom / and they don’t even know it’s sex.” The sobering international voices include child soldiers, young sex slaves, girls whose boyfriends hit them, and girls who starve and cut themselves. Other girls speak of honesty, tenderness, freedom, accomplishment, self-love, and defiance: “My short skirt / is not an invitation / a provocation / an indication / that I want it / or give it / or that I hook. . . . My short skirt is happiness. / I can feel myself on the ground. I am here. And I am hot.” With moving forewords by Carol Gilligan and Ensler, this powerful title, interspersed with shocking “Girl Facts,” serves as a potent call to girls to honor their emotions and to readers of all ages to uphold human rights at every level, from the boardroom to the bedroom. from Booklist by Gillian Engberg

Poem Therapy at 8:18 P.M. - Maureen Gibbon

Maureen Gibbon

Magdalena Remembering
Maureen Gibbon

When I was young my body was money. I bought what I thought would
please me. I would have married a man who kissed the fine fan of bones in
my foot. I squandered my pretty breasts and thighs, looking for him.

I never slept beside those men. I sat on their laps and pulled kisses from their
mouths—but I never did sleep. Never dreamed. I couldn’t let them see
that in me: my pictures of red flowers, scented lakes, damask, orange trees.
In dreams I breathed water. In dreams I flew.

After a man left I’d stand a long time in front of the mirror, brushing my hair.

My belly’s empty and I want something sweet.
My belly’s empty and I want something salt.
My belly’s empty and I want a bitter thing.

Somewhere there is a bird like my soul.

Yes, I believe that somewhere there is a bird like my soul, wanting a sweet, wanting a salty treat, and then something sour so that the body craves sweetness yet again.

Tonight, my soul is rather like a bluebird, a brilliant-hued ribbon against the silhouette of the noon day sky; a joyful symbol for those who choose to look up, look to the sun.

You can read more of Gibbons prose poems, nonfiction, fiction, and novel excerpts on the publication page of her website.

It's Never Too Late...

...to be who you might have been. George Elliot

2010 is a new decade. I'm of a very different mind of late concerning what I want to do with my life. What's liberating and just a little unnerving, is that I want a different life. I've finally decided that my time is just that, mine. I really do feel like I've paid my dues. I've taken care of everyone and everything, (I'm not complaining okay), but now it's time to really follow my own bent. My, being the operative word. I've written these declarative sentences in journals and said them so many times, but the timing wasn't right. I don't know that the current circumstance or timing are perfect, but I can hear my voice screaming, do this, do this now! This time, I mean it. I have my own permission to be, do, want, have, enjoy.

Here a a few quotes to get my writing back on track:

Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another. Toni Morrison

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. E. L. Doctorow

With problems you have food for creation. You have material. Satyajit Ray

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. Kurt Vonnegut

If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space. Joyce Carol Oates

Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person, a real person you know, or an imagined person, and write to that one. John Steinbeck

The task of a writer consists in being able to make something out of an idea. Thomas Mann

Women's History Month - Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus by Allan Arbus (a film test), 1949

Diane Arbus was born to privilege. This world presented an insulated "unreality" that was less real than the nudist camps, circus and carnival ciruit, or the female impersonaters she captured on film. She photographed the underbelly of society, individuals considered "freaks or eccentrics", and focused light on an entire world swept under society's rug, and thereby changed the rules of subject matter and what can be considered art for the medium irrevocably.

Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962

Arbus' contact sheet

It's impossible to know how many rolls of film a photographer shoots to get that one photograph. This image of one of the contact sheets from Arbus' session with the child with the grenade provides a glimpse into her process at: The Indecisive Moment.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

Watch a clip of the film at Fancast. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus stars Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. The film was directed by Steven Shainberg.

See that camera? the vintage twin lens Rollieflex? I want it, and according to Sotheby's there are only 700 in existence for this particular model, so, out of my price range. I'm still on a quest to find an affordable, working TLR 2.8 Rolleiflex, but I believe I will begin with a TLR Mamiya.

Fur is a wild and wonderful imagining of Diane's life. Robert Downey Jr. is phenomenal as the beast man who ignites the ember smoldering beneath Diane's proper buttoned down exterior, and Kidman's understated portrayal of Arbus provides just the right blend of unexpressed passion, submission and passive defiance. I loved this film.

I wrote the following flash for a flash flood challenge in a friend's office at zoetrope. The challenge was to write a flash of 100-1000 words, with a film as inspiration. I had just seen Fur, so it was my most recent inspiration.

Warning: the flash contains some racy bits.

Fur - Danna

Unlike me, Lionel wears his animal on his skin.

He is the new neighbor who lives one flight up. The wolfman. My beast. I hear his relentless pacing and the sound is intoxicating. I cannot sleep until he does, and then, I lie in my bed listening to the blood rushing through my body until I nearly cry out. I imagine curling my fingers through his mane and drawing him to me. Rubbing his scent over my body. Taking him into me.

Lionel sees me as I am: a woman who longs for the carnival life, the illustrated man, bearded lady, the snake man, the intoxicating parade of giants and dwarves.

Lionel sees me, and that is all that matters.

My husband is a kind man. An ordinary man. He loves me the best he can, but insists on seeing me, seeing us posed in starched Sunday clothes under conventional light. I long for him to take me by the neck and thrust from behind.

It is Lionel who knew before I did that my camera is the key to unlock all my doors, its insatiable shutter dialating and contracting as light strikes film, my animal eye narrowed behind the viewfinder, watching. Always watching.

My Famous Sister

Amanda Blake

My sister, (who is not Amanda Blake, btw), has just been named Oregon's Young Mother by the Oregon Association of American Mothers, Inc. She will present a talk on Legacy at the American Mothers conference in New York City. This is an incredible honor and achievement.

My sister has five children. Five. Every time we talk on the phone it's a cacophony in the background and sometimes she has to hide in her garage and lock herself in the car so we can try for an uninterrupted conversation. Try, is the operative word, because invariably, one or more find her and then they're banging on the car windows, and I can hear their muffled voices. I tell her to threaten them in very dark and creative ways, she does, and then I hear them laugh and exclaim, "Oh, Aunt Danna is so funny!"

My eldest sister has five children; second eldest sister has one child; my eldest brother has six children; I have one child and two stepchildren; my younger sister, who is the subject of this blog post, has five children; my younger brother has three children; and my baby sister has four children.

I remember coming out of the anesthesia from my c-section, and thinking, Mom did this seven times! I think I made the decision right there not to have any more. For me, one is enough.

The thing about raising an only child, you don't get to learn from your mistakes and do better with the next child. I was a single mom for ten years and I know that many times my energy and patience were worn paper thin. I can't remember what I did, but I do remember calling myself "mother of the year" when recounting the infraction to a friend. Also, I remember telling my daughter that she was "on the psychiatrist's couch for that one", and the time when she turned to me and said, "I'm on the psychiatrist's couch for that one".

I've been a fan of Amanda Blake's paintings ever since I discovered them on etsy. I found this mother and child painting today and thought the subject matter appropriate for the post.

Blake received her BA in fine arts from the University of Oregon, studied watercolor in Sienna, Italy, and oil painting and print making at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.

You can find more of her work on her websiteAmanda Blake :: Oil Paintings, blog, etsy shop, Enormous Tiny Art, and the Sebastian Foster Gallery.

Poem Therapy at 1:50 P.M. - Deborah Diggs

Deborah Digges

Deborah Digges

See how the first dark takes the city in its arms
and carries it into what yesterday we called the future.

O, the dying are such acrobats.
Here you must take a boat from one day to the next,

or clutch the girders of the bridge, hand over hand.
But they are sailing like a pendulum between eternity and evening,

diving, recovering, balancing the air.
Who can tell at this hour seabirds from starlings,

wind from revolving doors or currents off the river.
Some are as children on swings pumping higher and higher.

Don't call them back, don't call them in for supper.
See, they leave scuff marks like jet trails on the sky.

My father is a passenger on the boat, clutching at the girders swinging between the present and the future. To say I am in denial, is an understatement. Monday, I took the day off work, and once he was aware of this, he came for coffee in the morning, Coke in the afternoon: our summer routine. Over Cokes he said he had a secret, which if you know my father, is impossible. The secret is that he has a new pain in his back and he's certain it's the cancer, his gremlins. Although his psa numbers are down due to his medications, the bone cancer is here to stay. It's in his bones.

In his bones. I've said this so many time when speaking of him over the years. The soil is in his bones, his temper is in his bones, his stubbornness is in his bones. Now it's something else. The man is 82, so it's likely age will get him before the gremlins, but the certainty is unsettling.

Women's History Month - Tali

Girl Party - Tali

Women artists have been creating since the first woman rubbed her hand in pigment and pressed it on a cave wall, (and granted it is generally only priviledged women who have had the time to make art), but it's only been in recent times that they have emerged from obscurity. This doesn't mean that women weren't well-known or successful in their own time. Heard of Vegee Lebrun or Mary Cassatt? (VL was the official portrait painter for Marie Antoinette, and later the English court; If you've taken art history you've heard of Cassatt and seen her work. In case you haven't, MC was Degas, Renoir & Monet's contemporary, an avid supporter of the Impressionsist, and although she was favorably received, she was also sometimes dismissed for her subject matter: domestic life, i.e. women fully clothed; mothers and their children). Both were well-regarded and successful in thier lifetimes. Neither were in the pages of an art history book until the 20th century was on it's way out. I believe that distinction belongs to Georgia O'Keefe.

I had heard of Cassatt, but not LeBrun (and a host of other artists), until I read about them in Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. Why? Because that's just how it is. I already went through my strident phase in my 20's, so you're safe from diatribes, and speaking of injustice, a few friends have already said, "shut up, white girl". Still, it is a surprise when people continue to ask, why a women's history month?, why a women's museum? Here's a great link to more information about women artists in history.

I found this exuberantly painted illustration today and it matches my mood, (the anesthesia has finally taken it's leave), and I wanted to share it with all of you. Plus, it really is time for me to celebrate. I think I'll throw myself a party and take myself out for Indian food!

The artist is a woman named Tali. She is a freelance illustrator who lives in Tel-Aviv, and just recently graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art & Design. It is such an act of courage to declare yourself an artist to the world, and it's just brilliant that there are still brave people who follow their hearts despite how difficult it is to make ends meet as an artist, without a full-time teaching gig or some other practical job.

If you don't believe me, go home and tell your family you are quitting your job to follow your dream to paint, write, sing. Count the seconds of the shocked inhalation and stunned silence' duration before your loved ones launch a campain to disabuse you of your pipedream. In all fairness there's a reason the majority of artists have day jobs or are attached to people who do. Put on your coolest pair of shades and sing the blues with me: Dadadedum, and it's sooo hard, painting for pennies.

You can find more of Tali's illustrations at ToysaTosya.etsy.com. She also has another site TushTush http://tushtush.etsy.com that featurees realistic style paintings in oil pastels and acrylics.

How to Write a Text Message Poem

I culled the directions below directly from text message poet Andrew Wilson's article, (and I added a few of my own), Everday words from everyday lives from The Guardian. The article is informative and entertaining. All the text message poems are from The Guardian's 2001 text message poetry contest.

I just wrote this tonight, and sent it out to a couple folks around 9:19 P.M. Here's my first attempt at text message poetry:

Sari - Danna
a dream rooted in my flesh,
an oracle made of a river of blood and spirit.
In the moonlight I watched a flock of flaming birds
lift like language from my body
& light on the black branches
of the olive tree outside my window.
Their harsh and urgent cries beckon
me to gather the torn pieces
& frayed remnants of my life
and join them in the shimmering darkness.
The world's needle will stitch me
with silk thread, suture my selves:
dream, oracle, river, bird, tree, darkness.
Stich me whole and seamless & I will wake from a new dream,
in a new bed & i will love this jeweled body;
love me fierce.

1. Text message poems must be written on phone screens.
2. Different makes of phone have different -sized screens, so the only way to control the rhythm and pace of what is being read is by choice of words and punctuation.

3. Text messages are short, so the subject has to be tackled in a way that will accommodate 160 characters.
4. A text message poem captures one truthful moment and describes what Ezra Pound called the luminous detail. Find it, show it and let it speak for itself.
5. Text messages are written in everyday words about our everyday lives. Handled with care and mindfulness, that’s poetry.
6. Text messages have own abbreviated vocabulary in order to save space. Use them in a playful, inventive way, but keep in mind your subject matter and also, be aware the effect they may have on the reader .
7. Give the poem a title.
8. Send your friends a text message poem and challenge them to send you an original.
9. Text your poems and post them to your blog or post them in the comments here!

Text message poem examples from The Guardian's Hot Hundred

Be strong
Jus left th clinic
bstrong cheri
arm ok no panic
need u 2 promis me
2 keep kissin
me left breast
cos baby nxt week
me right'll b missin

It wasn't me it was the words.
They get into the smallest
spaces and cause interrup-
To the smooth running of

Dancer cows
along a high hedged meander
Friesian hoofers pirouette out
conga ahead
&soft-shoe-shuffle home
farmer quicksteps the gate
shut we trip on

The Guardian's 1st & 5th place winners:

txtin iz messin,
mi headn'me englis,
try2rite essays,
they all come out txtis.
gran not plsed w/letters shes getn,
swears i wrote better
b4 comin2uni.
&she's african

Hetty Hughes

Watch dog
Watch me,
or i'll be prowling my way
round your house of a body:
licking at windows,
stealing through doors,
trying beds out for size.

Melissa Terras

Poem Therapy at 1:07 P.M. - Jeanne Wagner

Jeanne Wagner

Eve’s Version
Jeanne Wagner

It was when he told me I was made from Adam’s
rib, not his heart or his gut or his brain,

or that special appurtenance between his legs,
but a single rib from the thicket of bone

where animals dive their heads down after dark
to gorge on the flesh of their prey.

Because I found out I was not the first one born,
or even the second, but made from a bare bone,

a dog’s idea of generation, I took the fruit and
ate it, not as some have said,

with small salacious bites, the sweet juice trickling
down my chin, but

sitting cross-legged under that very tree, my
favorite when in flower,

its limbs all covered in a pale froth of blossom.
With new exactness, I picked the fruit,

cut it in half, pulled the pit from its center and
placed it on the ground.

Then I halved those halves, again and again,
arranging each small curved slice

in a tangent around the stone, like the rays of
the sun, the petals of a simple flower.

Only when I had done all this, did I pick up
each piece and force myself to eat,

bite by bitter bite.

March is Women's History month, so I thought I'd start things out with a poem about the first woman of the Bible, (actually, Lilith was there first, but I'll get to her).

WHMP 2010's them is Writing Women Back Into History, so my focus will be just that.

The Devil You Know: The Writing Life

Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life - Charles Baxter and Peter Turchi
In the department of omg!: the mother of all writing books has arrived (er, it was published in 2001), thankfully, just when light was turning gray and threatening to stay that color, forever! Right after physical therapy and moments prior to dropping sideways into my bed for the evening, I am heading to my local bookstore for this book. I've been off the writing path for longer than I will admit, so don't even ask, and have lacked the energy or enthusiasm to get back on it. Yes, reading about writing is not writing, but I lost my way and have been wandering in the trees and I believe this book is one hell of a breadcrumb to lead the way home. It's utterly ridiculous, but tears are actually stinging the inside of my nose and I'm welling up. Could be the anesthesia.