Tag: poetry

Here’s some thrilling news! My poem “Uncanny Valley Trail” has been included in the Spring 2015 issue of Star*Line, the official magazine of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. This is a major honor and I can’t believe I’m in such great company.

When I first read about the uncanny valley phenomenon in robotics, it practically broke my brain. The concept is all-at-once freaky, simple, complex and mind-blowing. It comes from a 1970 paper by Japanese professor Masahiro Mori. I urge you to go and read the new translation published at IEEE Spectrum (which is by the way one of my favorite websites for robotics and artificial intelligence).

Mori’s paper is lively and fascinating as he diagrams his interpretation of the way humans react toward robots. Specifically, robots designed to appear as lifelike as possible. Mori’s metaphors and diagrams of hills and valleys helped me to visualize the various aspects of the uncanny valley, and because I am an avid hiker, my poem takes shape around a ’trail’ where one can experience this phenomenon as a journey. My poem is both exploration and education for myself. Hopefully entertaining too – for you!

Up until recently, my poems have been published and made available for free by online magazines, blogs and journals. Print is not dead! Star*Line is a quarterly print journal of poetry, and you can purchase your own Spring 2015 copy (or more issues!) HERE. The cover art by Aunia Kahn is stunning, as you’ll see. You can also buy a pdf for $2.50 via Paypal or credit card if you would like!

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for supporting poetry and the arts.

“Donetsk robot 01” by Andrew Butko. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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Hey, so remember my blog post a couple weeks ago about PoMoSco and how I was gonna write 30 “found” poems this month?

Epic fail!  PoMoSco dropout…go back to high school….

Well, I did create 12 poems.  Some of them I like, some of them….mediocre.  But even before I hit 12 I knew something wasn’t working for me. I’d love to say that I was able to power through my lack of enthusiasm and inspiration for this project.  I love the PoMoSco site and the work from the other poets, their feedback, the creativity that went into the badges…  I encountered a form of poetry and many tricks and tactics new to me.  But I just couldn’t get into the concept of found poetry. I guess it’s kind of the way I feel about writing an epistolary novel.  Probably never will – not my style.

So I quit! BOOM!  That’s right. I went back to writing my novels, which is where I truly want to be.  And writing my own style of poetry, whatever that is, I have no idea.  Speculative Wilderness Confessional?  Anyway, I keep waiting to feel bad about totally bailing on PoMoSco.  But I don’t!  Maybe because, as someone once accused me, I’m a bit of a flake.  Well, here I am embracing my flakiness! No regrets about dipping a toe in PoMoSco – I think maybe I earned a Scribble Scout badge?  And hopefully no hard feelings from the PoMoSco staff.  I was truly impressed with the community of poets (aka Scouts) – kind, contemplative, witty.  And hey, I tried writing found poetry, like that one time I tried shiitake mushrooms and blleeghhh no thanks.  Ok kidding, found poetry is cool and tastes really good, unlike shiitake mushrooms, which taste like shiit.

And now it’s back to my usual blatherings about music, evolution, film, nature moments. Getting ready to watch Documentary numbah FOUR soon. What will I choose this time….


Photo: “Bouquinistesseine1” by Jebulon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

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At long last, my poem “Iphigenia” will be published.  I’ve carried this poem around with me for a while, and now she has found the perfect home in NonBinary Review‘s themed issue #4: Bulfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable.  “Iphigenia” is my righteous take on the sacrifice of Iphigenia by her father Agamemnon.  Which in no way resembles my relationship with my own father, who is awesome.  Hi Dad!

NonBinary Review is a quarterly literary journal that’s available only via the Lithomobilus app, which can be downloaded  for free to your smartphone or ereader.  The content is free, too.  Go here to get the app.  Once you’ve downloaded the app, you will have access to Issue #4 and all back issues.

You can read more about the story of Iphigenia at Wikipedia.


“Feuerbach Iphigenie1” by Anselm Feuerbach – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feuerbach_Iphigenie1.jpg#/media/File:Feuerbach_Iphigenie1.jpg

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Well, I’m a week into PoMoSco, the monthlong poetryfest sponsored by The Found Poetry Review.  I’ve composed six poems so far, keeping to the suggested prompt schedule of badges because I need all the help I can get.  I had to skip one day because the prompt was to include an overheard conversation, but I didn’t eavesdrop on anything good!  So that one’s pending.

You can go to the PoMoSco website and look at a map of all the participating PoMoSco poets (aka Scouts) around the world (the world!!).  I am the only one in Wyoming.  No pressure. I started out doing more Wyoming-centric poems, actually (elk, the tie hacks), but now I have diverged into science fiction, climate change, and confessional poetry.  And a poem that I composed from the instruction book for my Zombicide board game!

Will I ever write “found” poems again after this month is over?  I know I’m only a week in, but even though I’m having a great time and I think I’m expanding my vocabulary (getting out of a favorite words rut, I guess), I don’t feel like it’s my milieu. That said, do I have a milieu? I do very often include overheard conversations in my poems, so maybe I’m just blathering here and I should shut up and wait for another few weeks of exploration.  One great perk is my re-discovery of Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poems.  I used his chapbook Set This Book On Fire! to earn my First In Line scout badge.  You can read my poem here.

Part of the month’s work involves community feedback via the comments on each poem’s page.  Love this!  I am discovering new poets and poems every day, like this terrific ee cummings first in line poem, and a lovely short poem composed of lines from an interview with Cheryl Strayed.  And this All Ears poem, which reveals something new to me with every read.  I am in great company.

Photo from Unsplash.

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Website-Badge-1April is National Poetry Month.  I have been writing and reading a honkin’ lot of poetry lately – more than any time in my life except my angst-ridden teenage years and the first years I spent in Wyoming in the late 90’s.

To keep challenging myself and develop new mad skills, I signed up for PoMoSco.  This is a month-long project sponsored by The Found Poetry Review.  As a participant, I get to call myself a Poetry Scout, and I pledge to complete at least 50% of their 30 poetry prompts during the month of April.  This means I gotta write at least 15 poems.  And not just poems, but found poems – crafting them from outside texts or audio sources into word collages, using erasure, white-out, clippings, overheard conversations – it’s pretty wild, man.  And not something I have ever done before.  For every prompt I complete with a poem, I post my work on the PoMoSco site and earn a badge.  It’s like being a Girl Scout again!

So I’ll keep you posted about the ups and downs of hardcore poem generation.  I am hoping to create at least a few good’uns. You can read all my poems as I post them (hopefully daily) by going to my profile page.

In the meantime, go read lots of poetry!


“Sonnet TP and dedication 1609” by William Shakespeare, Thomas Thorpe – Shake-Speare’s Sonnets, quarto published by Thomas Thorpe, London, 1609. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons  

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I wrote a poem about what it’s really like to be a cafeteria cashier and cook at the Grand Canyon.  It’s called “Smokenstocks” and it’s now published at Words Dance!  That’s right, for your reading pleasure, my post-college employment and my English degree hooked up and soon gave birth to a poem about smoking, Birkenstocks, smoking, cigarettes, smoking, and low wage jobs in beautiful places.  This poem is about tobacco smoking.  Some day I may follow up with other poems about…other smoking.

I’m super psyched to be published at Words Dance.  Look for my poem “Texarkana Tap Water,” coming up in May.

Hazy blue hour in Grand Canyon. View from the South Rim.  Michael Gäbler [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Fresh snow in the valley this morning and my poem about Wyoming is published online by Silver Birch Press!  I am so honored to be included in their Where I Live Poetry & Photography series.  I hope you will take the time to discover many poems on the website – I am in such great company!

‘This is the ocean I call Wyoming’ is a poem I wrote when I first discovered this beautiful state.  Still so much to discover even now.

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I recently received my 75th rejection letter for the poems I’ve submitted to various print and online journals.   Not surprisingly, it hurt less than the first rejection letter did.   Using Duotrope to manage my submissions has given me the organizational capacity to submit more pieces more frequently, and it’s also allowed me to find more potential venues for my work. I keep submitting and trying to be a better poet, and I know I will find a home for my best writing.

IMG_2612 But this is also a post about New Orleans. I spent the 2014 Christmas holiday there, and I would go back every year if I could.   Before the trip, I felt certain that I’d fall in love with NOLA because of the restaurants, the music, the bars, the chicory coffee, étouffée, the French Quarter, the beignets, the history. And oh yes, I did. But more than that, and most important, it’s the people. Everyone I encountered – shop clerks, bartenders, street musicians, fellow tourists, waitresses, panhandlers – everybody – was so happy. Not the fake happiness you see when someone’s trying to earn a buck off you. Genuine cheer lit up every street like holiday lights.IMG_2586 During my week in the Crescent City, I pocketed all kinds of wisdom and lore.

Here’s a few of those shiny tidbits that I save like a magpie to repurpose in poems.

Be nice or leave. A popular sentiment I saw on tshirts, storefront signs, placards. It comes from the folk art of Dr. Bob.

Where y’at? This isn’t just a greeting but the catchphrase of a major New Orleans dialect, Yat. There’s a Wikipedia article about Yat.

Literary greats like Tennessee Williams and Sherwood Anderson once called NOLA home.

If you have a signature Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s you will pay too much, and when they tell you after you’ve paid that you get to keep the souvenir glass, this will not ease your fiscal pain.

ElizElizabeth’s has the best breakfasts in town.  Praline bacon.  Yes please.

Praline is pronounced prah-leen, not pray-leen. I guess I’m a Yankee.

Big Al Carson has a voice that will make you go weak in the knees, and he is the lewdest band frontman I’ve ever seen. I’d definitely go back to the Funky Pirate Bar to watch him grope himself again. Yes, I admitted that.

The Trashy Diva and Fleurty Girl are lovely little boutiques to seek out if you’re a girly girl.

For the perfect night out, a soul food dinner at The Praline Connection and a stroll to the artist’s market on Frenchmen Street cannot be topped.  Especially when you’ve got a 10 piece brass band playing on the streetcorner. Bring lots of cash for the tip boxes.

You can buy a drink at any French Quarter bar and take it with you into the streets in a go-cup.  Which leads to much merriment and alleyway barfing (the former, not the latter, for me).

photoShops and museums celebrating the famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau abound in the French Quarter, and I think I visited them all. As can be expected, some are quite commercialized, but I recommend visiting at least one.

I need to thank The Originals for introducing me to the Sazerac, and the bartender at Sylvain for making me my first.

But why am I bringing up booze – I mean poetry – in this post? Well, just before I went to New Orleans, I received some very negative feedback on one of my poems through Sixfold‘s writing workshop. In his comments, my critic defined the art of poetry for me and then pointed out how I had failed at this art. At the same time, I began to observe more closely the reactions of friends, colleagues, and strangers when they’re told that I write poetry. This is a widely varied cross-section of people, and most of them – not all, but most – are either uninterested in poetry, or claim never to understand it.   While in New Orleans – overwhelmed by its glorious and grotesque sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures – I contemplated why I write poetry – and what exactly is poetry?  Why bother to do this thing, when very few people I know want to read poems – and when a fellow poet wants to pin down the art of it with a simple, standardized, boring definition.  I’m still pondering, but still making poems too.

Did you know that Mardi Gras beads, flung into the air by revelers, dangle from the trees in the French Quarter year round? When the wind blows, they can slip free from the branches to fall on your head, perhaps encouraging you to be little more flamboyant than usual, to look up, to be surprised and delighted – or maybe perturbed, maybe confused.   There’s one way to consider poetry. One of many ways, like beads on thousands of plastic necklaces.

I highly encourage everyone to sign up for a free poem-a-day email service. What do you have to lose? My favorites are poets.org and Rattle.  

 All photographs by me!

field notes

Happy New Year’s Eve, people!  

It’s that time when every website on the internets is banging out a “Best Of” list and yammering at you to make resolutions.  So while I’m still trying to wrap up my 2014 To Do list and write something coherent about my recent trip to New Orleans, I thought I would share some of my own favorite fun bits of the past year.  Have a safe and happy night!

Noon Pacific’s Space Jams  By far my favorite weekly treat is the music playlist that Clark Dinnison publishes every Monday at – yep – noon Pacific Standard Time.  Here’s a compilation of his picks for 2014’s best spaced out jams.

Jay Sizemore  Absolutely my new favorite poet.  I discovered his work after Rattle published his poem ‘how to remove a hazmat suit.’   It blew my mind.  Just go read it.

io9  Great gobs of geekiness, I am so glad I found this website.  Always something interesting for me here, and frequent contributor Charlie Jane Anders is now one of my favorite bloggers.

The Leftovers  I admit I haven’t watched the final episodes because I don’t have cable TV, but this HBO series about life in a small town post-Rapture was freakin’ badass.  So many unexpected twists and turns, so much to ponder, and also Carrie Coon.  I can’t wait to watch the finale.  Don’t tell me what happens.

Luna Station Quarterly  So happy to be part of this wonderful women’s speculative fiction website.  My first audiobook review comes out January 6th!

Maplecroft  My one-night stand read of the year!  Couldn’t put down this Cherie Priest novel, so I didn’t!  Read it in one day.

Why do I study Physics?  I love this short animated documentary by Xiangjun Shi – I re-watch it constantly, like a daily affirmation.

book reviews get reel grab bag mixtapes

This is the opening weekend for the film The Imitation Game, a biopic thriller about computer scientist Alan Turing and how he and the Bletchley Park team cracked the German Enigma machine and helped the Allies win World War II.  I learned of Alan Turing my first year in college, back in 1992. We discussed the Turing Test in my Psychology 101 class, and I was riveted by his marvelous idea for testing the humanness of artificial intelligence in such an elegant way.  No machine has ever passed the Turing Test – at least, not by a huge margin.   For now, we’re all still the only human humans we know.  Whatever that means.  All I know is I can’t ever contemplate robots and the singularity and intelligence without thinking about Alan Turing.  And I can’t think about Alan Turing without feeling sad, and wondering what good is our humanity, our languages, our love, when we can be so cruel, even to heroes like him.  Anyway I wrote a poem about the man back in 1992.  It’s not Wordsworth, but I thought I’d post it here in memorium.  Fangirling out big time for Alan Turing!

Chess Game

I’m calling out to you, Alan Turing –

When does creation begin?

I wake to consciousness

from angry, muddled dreams.

Where is darkness

when we turn on the lights?

I’m talking to something

beyond the wall,

asking questions which have human answers,

breaking the code

in a race to win – what?

What is it we are beating

at its own game?

This is the clicking of a keyboard I hear

and not a voice.

This is the alien rattle of Morse

across the wires of wartime.

And is this you, Alan?

More machine than man,

or more human than many?

In the mystical night,

my brain is lightning,

humming, electric, alive.

I travel unconfined, unharnessed.

There is no touring that I cannot test.

There is no off, only rest.

I find you, Alan,

midst love and wakefulness,

lamenting our destructions.


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