NaPoMo Pokey

NPM2016posterLet’s be honest. Mostly what I’m doing this month is helping my daughter figure out where she’s going to college. (How did that happen?) But Pokey managed to squeeze in a couple of National Poetry Month events…

Reading at Western New England University

Thursday April 7th, 6:00-7:00pm

Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy, Room 306
WNEU, Springfield, MA
Free & Open to the Public (that’s you, people)

Very excited to read for WNEU’s new MFA program!

Poetry & Parenting

Monday, April 25, 7-8:30pm

Reading & Discussion as part of the Writing Life Series
Coolidge Museum, Forbes Library
Northampton, MA

In which I tell the story of Pokey Mama, live.

Pokey Returns (Sort Of) Part 1

Motherwell-Map 2 (2)Yep, it’s been a while.

When I started this blog I was smack-dab in the middle of navigating the territory of Mom-poet. Trying to figure out how to make the time and head-space for my creative life. Now, five years later, I’m in a different place, and yet…

still trying to find that time.

The difference is, whereas yet another snow day five years ago would’ve brought me to the brink, now, as I write, one kid has walked himself over to a friend’s for some sledding, and the other is practicing guitar. Yes, she’s in the same room, but not really *requiring* anything. I can tune her in and out.

But, (and it’s all about the but these days, isn’t it?) I now have a full-time-out-of-the-house job. So there’s that.

But we all have something, right? And I’m not complaining, because where I am now is a boatload better than where I was a while back. I’m just kind of thinking aloud about this space and how best to keep it alive. Because, frankly, I love it here.

So, let’s try a compromise. No promises. Just this for today.

And OK, some updates about readings, events, interviews and such. (That sure wouldn’t have been happening five years ago!)

And an intention to get back here.

close your eyes. Let’s intention it together—that extra creative time for ourselves.

If Oprah were here she’d tell you to look under your chairs—everybody gets a new car!!! Oprah

Sorry, that’s not going to happen. But, barring something crazy expensive, what would you want to find under your chair? Can you leave a comment and tell me about it?

In the meantime, here’s some news:


Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known

Lecture and panel discussion moderated by Karen Skolfield with Amy Dryansky, Susan Kan, Sarah Sousa, &  Michelle Valois

March 1, 11am
Miss Hall’s School, Centennial Hall
492 Holmes Road, Pittsfield

Laundry Line Divine presents Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others

Hosted by Suzi Banks Baum, featuring readings by Amy Dryansky, Sarah Hains DiFazio, Janet Elsbach, Lorrin Krouss, Linda Jackson, Nichole Dupont, Leigh Strimbeck, Serene Mastrianni, Rachel Siegel, and Suzi Banks Baum

March 7, 7pm
Dewey Memorial Hall
91 Main Street, Sheffield

Suggested donation at the door $10

The Writing Life: Reading & Discussion

Forbes Library Community Room
Northampton, MA
April 27, 7pm-8pm

Massachusetts Poetry Festival

May 1-3
Salem, MA

More details to follow…



Photo by Darragh Casey

As the recent recipient of a Poetry Fellowship, the Massachusetts Cultural Council asked me and some other artist–fellows to respond to a question for their ArtSake blog. It went like this:

Art-making is all about starts, stops, and unanticipated turns. When a work goes unfinished, it may be to make room for another project… or it may just be time to move on.

If you’ve ever had to set aside a work of art that still had potential, why did you do so? And will you ever return to it? 

Well, you know Pokey had something to say to that. And I wrote a poem about it–bonus!

Read the post and link to the poem here.

back to plath

Plath Bed BookThis month at One Clover & A Bee Pokey wrote about Sylvia Plath’s, The Bed Book.  Yes, reader, the Queen of Darkness also wrote four kid’s books!

The Bed Book has some of Plath’s signature skill and style, and Pokey wishes she’d discovered it during those aeons when her babies didn’t sleep. I don’t know if it would have helped them, but Pokey would at least have had some respite from Goodnight Moon! (Please, no hate mail. There’s nothing wrong with GM, but familiarity doth breed contempt, especially at 3am.)

The Bed Book is one of the few examples of who Plath might have been as a Mother And… had she not suffered from depression compounded with the clusterf*ck of trying to exist as a woman/writer/mother/wife in the suffocating, pre-feminist 50’s and 60’s. It’s beautiful to imagine her enjoying her children—some light breaking through the clouds—as she struggled with her mounting frustration and despair.

plathCoincidentally, my daughter has just discovered Plath’s poetry and of course, the quintessential dark-angst-rite-of-passage for so many of us as young women, The Bell Jar.  It kind of scares Pokey that she’s reading it, and I’m struck by the weird conjunction, the  supernatural bookendedness of my finding The Bed Book and her The Bell Jar at precisely the same time.

You know what this means, don’t you? Guess what Pokey will be rereading very soon?

Pokey could go on and on about Plath. She’s gone in and out of fashion, and like with Dickinson, it can be hard to see Plath through the thick fog of her mythology. But ultimately, the work is all the truth we have. And Pokey, for one, is glad that truth is in the world. Those poems still knock me out.

Plath by Summer PierreDid you read The Bell Jar? Plath? How old were you and what did it feel like for you? Would you want your daughter reading it? And how about those boys? Would it make any sense to them?

Tell Pokey!

BTW, the illustration of Plath is by Summer Pierre–I just discovered her blog–you should check it out!

30 Poems in November

Pokey is writing to raise money!

Not for me, that would be ridiculous (sadly), but for the Center for New Americans and their family literacy program. CNA works to: provide the underserved immigrant, refugee and migrant communities of Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley with education and resources to learn English, become involved community members, and obtain tools necessary to maintain economic independence and stability.

This is a great organization doing much-needed work, and they believe in poetry! Can’t beat that.

Anyway, I have pledged to try and raise $200 for CNA by getting people like yourselves to sponsor me–it can be any amount–a dime a day, a dollar a day, or just a flat rate, $10, $25, or $359 million billion simoleans.

I’ve raised $105 so far, and need your help to get to my goal.

And it would not be a bad thing to exceed my goal, either.

In return, I pledge to write a poem a day, or something approximating a poem, and then read a sample of this work at the celebration in December (more about this below).

The easist way to pledge is by going to my page at CNA. But if you don’t want to do that, just leave a message for me here and we’ll figure stuff out.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, in advance.

And if you want to come to the celebratory reading, here’s the info:

30 poems in november

Reading & Celebration

Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 PM.

Stoddard Hall, Smith College, Northampton

Reception following  in the Poetry Center

Detachment Parenting

This morning as I drove along the river that winds through our little town I was noticing how, six months after Tropical Storm Irene swept through, the river’s path is dramatically altered. Shallow, sleepy meanders with the occasional spot deep enough to submerge your body on a hot summer day have been replaced with steep embankments where the ground was torn away and broad swaths of pebbly beach where the silt’s shifted downstream,

and each time I write Pokey Mama’s in a different place, too, tracking in more or less drama on her shoes, leftovers from our little house perched on its hard-packed, hard-won patch of dirt,

a fairly thin layer of earth stretched over a substantial skeleton of ledge,

and I begin to picture myself at a bend in the river, a place where I can see in both directions, downstream and upstream, flowing away and toward where I’m standing, the way lately I’ve begun to see how my daughter is moving toward her life away from us and away from the dependence we’ve alternately cultivated and itched to leave behind.

I don’t relish this vision of my daughter moving permanently upstream—despite my frustration with her adolescent self-absorption and mastery of the eye roll—perhaps because her presence so defines the shape of our family unit right now. I have a hard time imagining what will take its place; though her younger brother does his best to compete, Pokey Mama’s guessing the emotional tenor of his teen years will be more subdued: more low rumbling than thunder clap.

Trying to imagine what our lives will look like then I feel as if the ground is shifting beneath my feet and realize that after all these years of attachment parenting what Pokey really needs to practice is detachment parenting, the inevitable and necessary letting go, the irony being, of course, that I felt I’d performed rather miserably on the attachment part of the program,

maybe because the path my daughter made through my body when she was born was so dislocating: instead of the (yes, difficult, but not like this!) natural childbirth I imagined, hours and hours of stalled labor, induced labor, back labor and finally, delivery via a suction device worthy Rube Goldberg.

As joyful as holding my daughter in her first moments made me, I also felt blown apart,

and the months of colic and ridiculously hard breastfeeding that followed seemed further evidence that  even as a baby my daughter wanted to do things in her own time, in her own way, and despite prostrating myself before the attachment parenting temple of baby sling and co-sleeping, there wasn’t a lot I could do about it,

and as much as I insist on seeing myself in her, and either wishing desperately that she not make the same stupid mistakes I made (am making?) or bemoaning the fact that’s she’s not more like the me I am always slogging toward,

she is her very own self,

and just when Pokey feels like she’s kinda settled in, kinda in the groove and wise and experienced in the parental arena, here she comes, with her supersonic life force and Taurus nature riding rough shod over all my certainties—

and Pokey’s thinking about the crater her smart and funny and beautiful daughter’s going to leave when she starts her own life, which is sooner- than-you- think-only-a-few-years-from-now,

face it, Pokey—she’s making her own path,

she’s already a little bit gone.

Time to shift again.

OK, then. Let it rain. Now, please. Or maybe not ever.