Friday, August 31, 2007

Thinking About Picture Books

As I mentioned before, this semester I am taking a class on writing children's picture books. Part of the requirements for the class is to read and review 25 picture books throughout the course of the semester. I must admit that I am not at all up to date on recent picture books. (I looked up the Caldecott Medal Winners online and discovered that the most recent of them I remember was The Polar Express, which was published in 1986! That makes me feel so old.) So, I am asking the help of my loyal reader(s). Leave me a comment stating your favorite children's picture books, past or present. If I can find them, I will read them. Thanks!

As Promised

"The 30-something man sunbathing in a speedo in Mellon Park" poem. I've been told that my poems tend to throw an unexpectant twist at the reader somewhere in the middle or at the end. The truth is, the twists are unexpected to me as well. I tend to start out a poem based on a small event or image, often from my real life, and the true nature of the poem only unfolds itself to me through the writing process.

That being said, this poem goes a lot of places. A lot of intimate places that I'm not sure I originally wanted it to go. As presented here, this poem is very rough and needs a lot of revision to clarify its purpose.

So, now that I've done all but apologize for this poem, (I will never apologize for my work, no matter how crazy it may seem) I leave you to enjoy "Stranger in the Park."

You lay there in Mellon Park in your black Speedo,
your skin burning to a brilliant shade of flamingo pink.
I watch you from the picnic table where I write,
wonder your age and sexual orientation.
Not because I am interested in you, but because I
have never seen a 30-something man sunbathe in a Speedo before.
I fantasize about replacing you with my own man, his legs
stiff, straight out in front of him, his eyes blissfully closed.
I would lean over him with my bare knees digging into the dirt,
press him into the earth, run my tongue over his lips.
I can’t, so I watch.

You are sitting up now, your legs pulled to chest,
your head cocked to the left.
I think you almost catch me. I look away.
When I glance up again you lay back, pull your shorts
up your toned legs, over your nearly naked hips in a way
that would make me blush had I never seen a man dress before.
I look down at my legal pad, watch you out of the corner
of my eye slide your shirt over your head, fold you towel
into threes, stuff it into your backpack.
You leave with your back turned to me; I don’t have a chance
to transpose Mark’s face onto yours, to miss your presence like I miss his.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I have nothing to say

Ok, so that's not entirely true. I have lots to say, but it's mostly coming out in the form of poetry this week. Since this blog is about my writing news, and I have no writing news at the moment, I have no new blog entries. I haven't submitted poetry anywhere. I haven't been published again. I haven't gone to any open mics or have been featured in any readings. In short, the writing life has been a little boring.

I have my first poetry workshop of the semester tonight. I am also taking a class on writing children's picture books, so that'll be an interesting challenge. In my last children's writing class, I started out writing picture books, decided it wasn't for me, and switched to the YA novel Ice Girl. Maybe being forced to write picture books will help me learn to like writing them.

I have also been thinking about my thesis project. I'm starting a semester late, but I want to get a head start. Just the thought of it is making me crazy. Right now, I'm thinking of running with Lauren Alleyne's title suggestion of Summer of No Fear.

A couple of days ago, I started a poem about a 30-something, lobster red man sunbathing in a Speedo in Mellon park. Perhaps I will share it when it's finished.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I have been implored by my friend (and regular reader) Sarah to update my blog, so here it is!

I tend to get so far behind in blogging that I just don't feel like doing it because I know I'll never catch up. This is one of those times.

To briefly catch you up on the past couple of months:

The reading on the Southside was a great success!

This is me, looking all hot, being the poetry goddess God made me. I normally don't say I look hot, but that night I did. This was only the third time I read to a group that was not largely fellow English majors/MFA students, but something about being a featured reader put the needed pressure on me. I walked out of there feeling amazingly confident in my performance. And, I got an A in the class! (Thanks, Jim!)

I spent two weeks in Trinidad with three of my classmates, soaking up the culture and writing about it. Can you believe it? Not only do I have classes that MAKE me write, but I have classs that makes me travel, too! I had such an unbelievable time that I didn't want to come back. We even got to meet Trinidadian writers Merle Hodge (below), who let us swim in her lagoon, and Earl Lovelace (!), who gave us rum and coconut water upon our arrival.

Us with Merle Hodge. Back: Carolyne, Sarah, me. Front: Carmen, Ms. Hodge.

My summer classes are finally (thankfully) winding down, and then I'll have two weeks to relax before they start up again. I'll also be starting AmeriCorps soon (more on that later) and spreading my love of words and books all over Pittsburgh.

And, in other news. Please check out Mark's new website: and even consider buying his new book Writing Poems in the Rain. I'll love you forever if you do. :-)

Actually, I already love someone forever.