Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Next, I want honorable mentions, something nice to put on apps for writers' colonies, grants and the like. We all know good work is not enough. Publication is not enough. Someone from the outside has to declare you special. A fiction writer I knew turned "second place" and "finalist for the Umpteenth Named-After-Famous Writer Award" into a resume so awesome people in a neighboring state were talking about her in hushed tones two years later. Of course it takes a fiction writer to do that.
Collateral benefit: getting the work revised, updated, and in order. Somebody stop me, please, if I try this again.
But I was talking about focus. It helps to say it aloud or have it on a Post-It. With this discipline, production and revision improved vastly. Now and then one must relax, but I do that 75 percent less than formerly, and do it consciously. Life is short and art is long. It seems that focus fits them together.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Since writing it I have learned of a well-known 1829 painting on the same theme, "Boy with Dead Goldfinch," by Vasily Tropinin. The boy is wearing what we call a poet's blouse, and his goldfinch was caged. He appears to be a bit angry, not just grieved; I believe his faith in the life of beautiful things has been tarnished a little.
Today was not a good day for me; my faith has been tarnished in every area but my writing. So I turned towards it. There it's an eternal summer. A place where only words die -- to be replaced by better ones -- and lovely things may live forever. The page is calm and shows no grief at having been written on. The craft is tedious, absorbing, taxing, and in doing it you renew your faith. The times faith and words have failed you eventually fade from memory.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Through Namesecure.com I registered catherinerankovic.com for 10 years at a cost of $90. You can use Godaddy or some other service to register. But register.
Why? If people want to find writers on the Net, they tend to type in writer's-name-dot-com. Ntozakeshange.com was registered and is owned by someone who is not Ms. Shange. Ms. Shange would have to buy her own name from those people if she wanted, for example, to build an informational author website. She would have to pay them whatever they asked. And in the meantime whoever owns your name can build any sort of crazy insane possibly pornographic website using your name. A popular exercise-show host didn't buy her name-dot-com and when you type in that URL you get a crazy insane anti-abortion website.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Elizabeth Alexander had to try to write a poem that would please 300 million people and offend not even one. No movie or book has ever accomplished that. Given her task she did a good job and maintained her dignity and her own reserved poetic style. Congratulations to her. (She did some time teaching at Wash U., so I'm not judging her only on her performance today.)
I am thrilled that the planners of the inauguration even thought about including a poem. Furthermore they didn't ask Maya Angelou, who's become poetry's biggest bore, even though she is the "right" color and gender. Congratulations to the planners for going for substance rather than show.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Yesterday at the St. Louis Poetry Center monthly workshop Pamela Garvey was the guest critic. Friday I attended the monthly Loosely Identified workshop. At both I got help with my work, and hope I helped other writers in the process. I am so grateful that writers gather in workshops to support each other, and build individual and collective confidence.
Writers are generous, quick, and wide-awake, and knowing them is a pleasure!
Friday, January 16, 2009
- Claire Applewhite, The Wrong Side of Memphis (L&L Dreamspell), novel
- Mary Ann deGrandpre Kelly, Marlene Miller, Niki Nymark, Marilyn Probe*: Nothing Smaller than Your Elbow (Bluestem), poetry
- Mary Ruth Donnelly: Weaving the Light (Cherry Pie Press), poetry chapbook
- Pamela Garvey, Fear (Finishing Line Press), poetry chapbook
- Colleen McKee* and Amanda Stiebel, Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak About Health Care in America (Penultimate), anthology
- J. Roger Nelson*, The God Whom Moses Knew (Thomas Nelson), novel
- Niki Nymark, A Stranger Here Myself (Cherry Pie Press), poetry chapbook
- Angie O’Gorman*, The Book of Sins (PlainView Press), novel.
- Catherine Rankovic: Fame: Writers in St. Louis in the 1990s (Penultimate), nonfiction
- Suzanne Rhodenbaugh, The Whole Shebang (Word Press), poetry
I would LOVE to see in this list next year:
Denise Bogard (novel)
Janet Edwards* (nonfiction)
Rebecca Ellis (poetry)
Matt Freeman (poetry)
Julia Gordon-Bramer (poetry)
Susan Grigsby* (poetry)
Tim Leach (poetry)
Steven Schreiner (poetry)
-- and YOU.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Last night after work instead of TV I drove to the Chesterfield Arts Center to hear poetry from Niki Nymark, and Steve Schreiner. I'm a fan of both. I bought Niki's new chapbook, I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Cherry Pie Press) and had her sign it. Steve's book is Too Soon to Leave (Ridgeway Press, 1997) and I wish he'd publish another. So does he. He said publishers don't like the title he gave his new manuscript. Poets' books should be what the poet wants.
It was a very intimate reading in an art gallery rather like a living room. The poets made us laugh, sigh, blush. Both Niki and Steve write good love poems. (Something I can't do.) What a delightful place to have spent a Wednesday night. St. Louis has many great poets. Give up "the media" one weeknight and hear them for yourself.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
How refreshing! And quite a boost to morale. Basked in it for about 15 minutes.
Now, place fingers on keyboard, both you and I, and let's hunt up the next good poems we're going to write.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
That was during vacation time. Now I'm back to being mentally healthy, according to the standards of this culture: A clock wakes you, you shower and go to work and earn money, and try all day not to destroy your body, bank account, and relationships. You never tell your co-worker or boss, "I need time to myself" or "I'm busy writing a poem; go ask somebody else to do that" --that's so seriously nutty that they call it career suicide. If they catch you working on your novel or memoir (or blog), they won't listen when you explain that you are DRIVEN to do it by unknown forces and that you were born that way.
So we writers lead two lives from the start. One is crazy (according to non-writing mom, stepdad who wanted me be a court reporter because they really rake it in, boyfriend who thought writers get thousands of dollars when they complete a book, etc.). The crazy one is the fun one, the one with the starry dream world and infinite potential. That's also the one with the workshop that is happy, even thrilled, to read each other's crazy writing.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
The course meets Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m., begins January 13 and ends May 5. I am happy
to answer any questions. Please pass the word. Thank you.
To register, go to ucollege.wustl.edu and click "Courses and Registration" The
course number is U11 313, under English Composition, and tuition is $1495.
I'm also teaching a course Thursday evenings, same place, U11 323, called The Art of the
Thursday, January 1, 2009
By comparison, a publisher of eBooks can charge for every download, although texts must be priced more affordably. But easy and instantaneous transactions mean the publisher sells more -- even when downloaded books get passed around. More sales and no middlemen mean a bigger chunk of the profits can go to the writers -- not the current lousy 10 to 15 percent.
According to the article, brick-and-mortar bookstores must go down with the ship, and that's sad. But the best ones will adapt, mostly the smaller independent ones. They've been pulling for the writers all along, and we will pull for them. Don't confuse the demise of traditional NYC-centered publishing with the demise of books or reading.