06 May, 2013

Poetry Again

Last month, my dear friend Bluebird asked me to read some of my poetry on an evening celebrating national poetry month. I was glad that I could say I was just too sick to participate. That should have been a red flag for me. Then, my sweet friend scoured the web to find my poetry.

Last night, she asked me where I keep my poetry. And I told her the truth. I have no idea where the bulk of my poetry is. I knew I had kept folders in my computers over the years, and I knew I had several printed out. But I didn't know where any of it was. Why?

I'm afraid of it.

I'm ashamed of it.

This morning, I finally found a few of the poems I had printed out -- ten or twelve of them. Some of them feel unfinished. Some of them are self-indulgent. Some are just no good. But a few of them are good. And I wonder what would have happened if I had continued writing regularly.

Oh, I still occasionally sit down to write a poem--when nothing but a poem will do. But I have stifled my voice.  I wonder if that's why I can't breathe?

I see much of the world as poetry. It's my favorite thing to read, to revel in. So here is my promise to me. I will write poetry. Some of it bad, some of it self-indulgent, some of it good. And I will start a collection of my poems--one I can find when I'm looking for them. So this is the year of the poem for me. 

01 July, 2012

A Meditation on Tacos

In the late 1980's, I was living in Omaha, Nebraska.

There are many things to make Omaha a lovely place to live, not the least of which is its proximity to many beautiful state parks in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri.

In the summer of 1989, not long before I left Nebraska, I went camping with about a dozen other women. We all brought food, and some of us were in charge of a specific meal. I had Saturday breakfast.

I decided to give my friends a treat--chorizo and egg tacos. Take it from me, it was not easy to find chorizo in Omaha in the 80's. It took me two days of calling around to different meat markets and grocery stores before I found a little bodega on the south side.

But that wasn't the end of the learning experience. My friends were baffled by my menu.

Breakfast tacos? What's a breakfast taco? Who has tacos for breakfast?

When I presented the first of the tacos there was some relief.

Oh, it's a burrito!

No, I explained, the tortilla is much smaller, and it isn't rolled up, and it doesn't have beans in it. This, chicas,  is a breakfast taco.

A taco? In a flour tortilla? Huh?

But the taste won them over, I assure you.

I don't think we have those regional differences any more. Oh yes, we do things a bit differently region to region. For instance, my midwestern friends put cheese and sour cream on a chorizo and egg taco (?).  But I can buy sour dough bread at any bakery--I don't have to wait until I travel to San Francisco. And it is much easier to find chorizo--not to mention a good tex-mex restaurant--in Omaha these days.

I love the fact that I can find most anything I want wherever I am. But I must say, I miss the thrill of introducing people to something new-- and of being introduced to something new.

Yes, my friends, a taco. for. breakfast.

So, this morning, when I was cooking chorizo for breakfast, I remembered to give thanks for the joy of new things. Of introducing and being introduced.

Pass the salsa, please.



28 June, 2012

Writing Workshop


This morning at Upward Bound, we were doing revision workshops on the personal statements my students are writing. One of the young women began to read her essay.

I stopped her.

You need to speak louder and read slower. Your words are gold.

She looked at me quizzically.

You need to read as though what you have to say is important, precious--not "this is just some shit I wrote."

And then I remembered.


High School. 


These kids are in high school and I'm talking like a sailor. Of course, R--, the boy who wants to become a writer, giggled and said, "I love you Miss Jensen." But I should behave.

Back to the girl. Her words were gold. Her story inspiring. And she could barely read for the fear and the shame.

Gah! The return of the fear! I don't know how to teach against the fear. Except to keep saying, "your words are gold, they are precious; you have something to say."

Lucy Calkins is talking to children in this video. Let's sit cross-legged on the floor and listen in.