Saturday, April 07, 2007

i am moving

follow me and reset your blog subscriptions to my new warehouse of collected musings- MY CONSOLIDATED BLOG

(springtime is the perfect time to purge and i am consolidating all my blogs into the new one listed above. come visit me there. we'll sit. do tea tastings. pick out swatches of wallpaper.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

joy comes in small packages

i needed to drop off clean pans at my house before driving to the mission to study, so i double parked in front of my house. across the street, i couldn't believe my luck, there was a woman and her son playing badminton. across the street from my house. i got so excited i couldn't focus on the tasks at hand, instead yelling out, "wow, you're playing badminton."

my love affair with badminton... i remember being in a slum in india talking to its residents about their culture and their lives and before we wrapped up the interview i said i had one final question in a very serious tone, "do you play badminton?" i love the guys who wear the knee braces and sports accoutrements showing, yes, they mean business on the badminton court, the ones who also grunt and make painful cries in hopes of hitting the zingers and clearing them out. this just reiterates i need to get back into the groove of playing at the community center! so it seems every time i see people playing badminton, the six year old in me leaps out of my mouth as i try to suppress all limbs from jumping into someone else's game.

and so it was no surprise that the woman gave me a quizzical look, a "yes" and resumed batting around the shuttlecock. i took the pans inside and walked back out, commenting to the badminton duo that if i saw them playing again, i might be forced to come join their game since i have a racket in the garage. "you live across the street?" and her face softened (i know my enthusiasm sometimes is a bit arresting when it presents itself)

she (natalie) then held out her racket to me and said, "so you play?"

there, on that sidewalk in my flouncy cupcake skirt, i got into proper badminton form and hit it to her son andrew whose eyes grew wide in surprise as i leapt forward to catch the birdie before it settled in a tree. a few more volleys back and forth and i convinced myself to give the nice neighbor back her racket and get off to the coffeehouse to study. we all waved at each other as i sped off with my roommate and one of our friends in tow. nice to meet the neighbors under such fun circumstances.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

well. crap.

packet number two is almost done. for the second time, i read a poem aloud to a group of around 25 sunday night.

so here's tonight's question: why do we hurt one another? i mean the intentional and the unintentional digs. would this go back to our human nature post-eden thanks to adam and eve or is this a God question. does God hurt God? good friday would seem to point to yes, but that kind of hurt involves a deeper magic unknown to the whole lot of us or maybe it doesn't. it involves staying true to a promise and commitment and seeing it through to completion. i should really be in bed, but i wanted to throw it out there before the night passes into morning.

in packet two, i read a bunch of poems hinting at war or drenched with it by the likes of robert bly and allen ginsberg commenting on viet nam. today on my way home from work, i wondered at my placidity towards iraq- not emanating from a salivating-hate-mongering space that has so adeptly seduced the area in which i live, but from a bush-lied-about-weapons-of-mass-destruction space. plain and simple. lied. and yet the war of words and the flexing of ultimatum muscle between president and congress today smacks of kindergarten.

so maybe this is getting away from the main point, but why do we hurt one another?

Monday, April 02, 2007

phoenix rising

in an email sent out last week, we learned that the faculty person nominated for the program by her colleagues had chosen to accept the position, now also extended by the administration. the weight of the words from the week before had been rescinded! we joyfully continued the analysis of poems aplenty. and i await what will be borne from the ashes left behind from the fires that looked to burn forest, field and stars.

below was my last ditch pitch sent out march 26th when all seemed most bleak and dire.


Hello Ms. xxxxx,

I have been writing poetry for a long time and never really foresaw it enveloping me on such a large scale before last year. Having worked in the business community for almost five years, I believe I understand what makes a good business work and can make a good business fail. Good communication and organization, such small but crucial elements can make or break a company. When I began the arduous process of looking for the right school, I made color charts of pros and cons, along with an entire list of faculty at each school, dedicating myself to researching them to ascertain who I wanted to learn from and why. The asterisks and highlights flew all over my list of current xxxxx faculty. What you have with this core faculty is a camaraderie that extends down into the student body and leaves little room for power distance between teacher and student. I had such a sense of this before attending my first residency and was not disappointed.

As a first year student, we all shared with each other especially how on graduation night, we had truly landed in the right community where each of our different gifts could be nurtured and grown. Today, I felt the first pangs of disillusionment about the whole messy affair. Deep down, I want to believe this is mendable. And I still believe, along with the whole lot of us that it is. The thing here is that I could have chosen another school- we all could have, but we chose this one and we are still here, hanging on by a thread.

And the thing is I want to study about narrative poetry under xxxxx. I want to understand how xxxxx can so innovatively make form enjoyable to my non-trained ear. I want to hear xxxxx sing before he opens up a reading or reach down and find the right anecdote to set up the poem he's about to read. I want to learn from xxxxx how to show and not tell in my poems and then chat about our similar backgrounds in journalism during the tea break. I want to listen to xxxxx moving readings of his work that bring tears to my eyes. I want to learn how to dissect a poem into multiple parts the way xxxx skillfully does. I want to experience more of xxxxx poetic energy first hand and then eat a grilled cheese sandwich next to her for dinner. I want to learn how to tighten and pare down my thoughts from xxxxx and hear more of his most current collected quotes. I am thrilled that I have xxxxx as my mentor this semester- she is truly one of the reasons I found the pull so forceful to come to this school.

These are things that cannot be replaced. These people cannot be replaced.

Please reconsider the rotating directorship beginning with the representative voted in unanimously by the faculty. This seems a good checks and balance system through which self-governance can maintain itself. If they thrive, so does the program and school. They do not want to fail in this endeavor- they believe in it too much, which has been evidenced in last week's blanket resignation. Please allow them the opportunity to give it a go and allow the students a voice in this seemingly powerless situation.

Please consider the mediation suggestion put forth by xxxx as a viable path- it may be expensive, but more so would be the cost of losing an entire program that is unique unto itself in the United States. I don't have to be in school to be a poet, but it has thoroughly turned my world upside down and I voraciously want to find reconciliation to restore a modicum of what we, the first years experienced during our first residency. It is still not too late to mend things. It takes great courage to proceed down the harder path, but this is a path worth the effort. The smattering of current MFA students and many alums' emails point to this. Please everyone- faculty and administration- reconsider.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

letter from G-D

My good friend Alan just moved into the urban jungle that is New York. On his blog today, he inquired of his readers: "if God wrote you a letter, what would it say?" He then proceeded to share his letter from God (that he wrote) and encouraged us to do likewise in the comments field. Below is my letter from God (G-D since this would be from the fire-on-the-mountain-but-only-Moses-is-able-to-convene-with-him-God. Please share your letter from God if you want in the comments section- Alan, could you repost yours there as well?

Dear Annelies,

I love you just the way you are, even or especially in the moments when life's drama seems to grow into a gargantuan beastie. You really try to seek Me in all you do, and I see it.

A few weeks ago, when you told me "yes" the kind of carte blanche "yes" required of the road of faith, I heard it.

You need to continue learning to trust Me- that your little hands can only accomplish so much and believe that I won't let you down. I have never left you yet, little one and I have given you the promise that I will "never leave nor forsake you."

Believe that this will make you stronger and then just hang on, for I am about to show you great and mighty things you do not know. But you have to believe and live the belief every day. I see you. I am with you. I hear you and love you. Now follow me.


Monday, March 26, 2007

how the mighty have fallen: part two

here's a thing i wrestle with understanding: my disposition is typically so full of joy and yet the words i pen lay their head in the dark crevices of life. it feels duplicitous, yet when i sit down to write, it's what comes out of my mouth. today, i described feeling like a little child hobbling along a war-ravaged sarajevo in my air splint, smiling and laughing as bombs go off on either side. thank God for the silence of this past weekend.

last wednesday, i received an email from the faculty of my school letting us know each and every one of them resigned. i laughed at the audacity of such a gesture, but thought that it was mere negotiation tactics 101, taking it to the next level. disgruntled as they were with the administration, i thought things could be amended. today, after a second letter, sent from a different faculty person, i am not so sure.

here's the thing i wrestle with tonight: God's handprint was so larger than life on this, how is it that it all might fall apart? i saw my future writing career being nurtured at this school, among this faculty and now it appears to be in shambles.

deep down, like deep magic, it still feels a bit of the farce, like somehow peace can come of all of this. anytime a war begins between two bodies of people with separate ideas and the passionate might to stand behind them, it can seem as though peace dwells far away in a land beyond reach. i'm breaking my rule again, about not posting poetry online on my blog because after work tonight. it will give me ease at sharing what came out of me as the culmination of the endless emails going back and forth between administration and students came to a head. if you pray, please pray for reconciliation. i still want to be a part of this school and study under these crazy, impassioned poets and the glimmer of hope abides within me. a glimmer, but a beacon nonetheless.

bursting at the soil

debris filters down from heaven, all dusty
snowflakes and ash, down onto the grimy
ground littered with war paraphernalia
painted in bold black letters, statements shouting
from an originally slender white sheet,
its quiet silenced with the noise of anger
words thick and portent.

we think, or try to remember before the carnage
of today, this road a week ago, all glistening
green boughs swinging down their joyous melody,
the cheery yellow faces of the daisies raised
toward the sun, drinking in its elixir, warmed into
spreading their slender white petals up and out,
an offering.

footsteps have tramped through the once
lush leaves of grass, flattening them with grief
and a tomorrow that looks as grim as the battle cry
resuming from the barracks, the artillery reloaded,
as roots still hidden look to push through and puncture
the saddened land anticipating the cool veil of rain’s

revenge, gentle as a whisper, more virulent than cancer,
displacing the soot and sorrow with its steady hand,
each drop pelting back a forceful response,
eating holes into the bold black letters, paper ripping,
weakening under the pressure of the earth’s gladness.

rough, really

so i am contemplating my weekend of silence and though i am loath to put up poems on here, this one is really rough, so i can't imagine anyone wanting to take and make a run for it with these words of mine... more on the weekend to come later. for now:

i, the ant

we have been here before,You and i
the scenery’s similarity recalls
a younger me walking down a road

much like this one, a smaller handprint
nudged into packed snow flanking the neighbor’s
yard, a signmarker, in case i miss the crumbs

left behind and can’t find my way back to where
i stand, now, the pine trees stand stately, proud
pointing up and out, never pointing back.

do You ever grow tired of this conversation,
of me nudging my way into the latest adventure
the oft-encountered mishap, hobbling along

expecting you to come find me, save me from
that darned faulty inner compass pacing
steps to the left and sometimes in the right

direction. i see Your imprint emblazoned on all i pass,
in this snowy haven, that warmth envelops me with its downy
shawl, crossing the threshold on a patch of Your yard,

i, the ant, walk on.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

embarking into a weekend of silence

i leave in about 10 minutes for a guided silent retreat near lake tahoe. the throes of silence leave me restless typically yearning for city sounds, for civilization. at the end of the day it's probably the sounds of "others" in proximity that is the comfort food of sound for me.

and so i will write in my journal, still my thoughts, hobble on the snow in my air splint and crocs, and extend prayer into the limbs manuevering me into the gargantuan Quiet (grateful for the 19 other warm bodies in close proximity whose breathing will be salve to this extroverted soul.) have a good weekend.