From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

Search This Blog

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Eve excerpt

From my novel seeking representation:
***
With letters from Lafayette and Martha at his breast, Washington purchased gifts for his wife, and for the children Nelly and Wash. Set solely on retirement, he and his fellow, Billy Lee, crossed the Potomac on Christmas Eve, under a night sky pregnant with yuletide snow. After riding their beasts hard, they delighted at seeing his windows awash in candlelight, knowing what feasts of good fortune awaited them inside.


1784 ~

When the men arrived home after eight years away, they were followed to the front door by several of the yard slaves, and everyone in the house assembled quickly in the front hall to greet them. Ona and the children were afraid and excited as they made their way downstairs. All eyes were on the General, many wet with tears.
            Ona wore her blanket around her shoulders as she was wearing only her shift. Her bare feet felt the cold that had come in with him. She looked at him from his boots up to his hat as he removed it and handed it to the butler. She thought she had never seen such a large man before. He towered over everyone in the room. His size and presence filled the space that the words she’d always heard of him had carved before he came. She knew she should not look directly at his florid face, but it seemed impossible not to look for the briefest moment, at his eyes. They were the blue his Missus had once spoke of. They seemed to see her. She knew she had to look away but could not. Everything about him was mesmerizing, especially his eyes. When he spoke everyone stilled. His voice was surprisingly soft and warm. He looked about the hall, and addressing everyone said flatly, but with his eyes twinkling happiness, “My family, how happy I am to see you.”
            He brought change to the room, to the people. Missus was beaming, the usually noisy children were dumbstruck, but most notable to Ona was the change to the slaves who were present. She knew these people well, and had never seen them this way. Their bodies never more erect, their voices never more deferential. His home and property were diminished by him, though not by his actions, which were genteel in every way. He greeted each person in the foyer individually. First a warm embrace of his wife who remained on the bottom stair so as to be a bit taller for the moment that caused her cheeks to redden, then he knelt on one knee before the children, his sword knocking the floor each time. The children politely returned his affectionate greetings with sleepy but interested eyes. Then he acknowledged the slaves individually by name and nod, each acknowledging him in return with a bow or curtsy, until at last he came to Ona, standing behind Nelly.       
            His size, his sword, his air, and of course, his authority, frightened Ona immeasurably. She trembled when he spoke to her. “So this is the little slave girl we have taken into Mount Vernon?”

            Her voice was almost inaudible. “Sir,” she chirped like a little bluebird in response, bowing her head in her perfectly executed curtsy, instantly satisfying her masters, who continued in their joyful holy night reunion. The slaves remained standing in the periphery of the light and the love.

All rights reserved.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Interview with Jeannine Atkins

Some excellent holiday gift choices available from this author:

http://www.teachingauthors.com/2016/12/poetry-friday-interview-jeannine-atkins.html

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Wizard of Uz: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

      "There's a storm blowing up. A whopper."

       "A storm you say?" The cowardly lion, wringing his tail and trembling, cried, “I am afraid –  so very afraid, … of those who don’t look like me, of those who don’t pray like me, of lions and lionesses who get better jobs than me, … of all sorts of things that may not be real, but still, they terrify me.”

cowardly_lion.jpg (640×801)

      The tin man stood there, overheating in the ever warming climate of his armor, and spat in a rusty voice, as facts binged off his tin like limp bullets, “I just don’t care. I just don’t care about other stuff, and don’t bother me with facts and stats. I care about one thing. Oil. Fill my can. Mine. Lubricate me. I don’t really care about you and what you need. Unless, I fall down. Then I need you to help me get back on my feet. But once I’m up, get the hell out of my way. I need to fill my can.”

wo-the-wizard-of-oz-20474063-370-462.jpg (370×462)
      The scarecrow watched all of this. He had been watching for a while. He scratched his head, which happened to be crawling with bugs, all competing for space. “I don’t know what to believe. Every crow’s caw sounds so angry, and convincing. Some of them seem sinister. Some of them seem sophisticated. Some of them seem to care about me, and my relentless plight here in the cornfield. I'm obsolete, making a feeble attempt at getting something done. I get confused, and I ramble, and nonsense comes out of my mouth. I feel empty inside, and itchy for something new and different. Something needs to change. I’m not sure of anything. I can’t do anything. I’m stuck on this pole.”

the_scarecrow___the_wizard_of_oz___ray_bolger_by_tomatosoup13-d9ypfug.jpg (1024×802)
     Dorothy gathered all of the men, pieced them together, shored them up. It is scary for a woman to travel alone, and befriending strange men is a risk too, but she had been on other brick roads before and thought these ones might not grab her and laugh about it later on a bus. She is even more frightened by the winged monkey types. The ones she knows mean her harm. The ones who might tear her to pieces.
MTI4ODM2ODA2NDA5MTY0MDUw.jpg (620×465)

      She'd fall in line with these sad, broken men, and skip off to a new place, an emerald city where everything is shiny and sparkly and bad stuff is hidden behind big walls. She assures the broken guys, “You don’t have to get along with your sister there, you can just melt her and take her house. There is a guy there, the great and powerful Wizard of Uz, he says he can fix everything, he can fix us! And only he can do it. No one else. He is a tremendous man and his emerald empire proves that.” She doesn’t share what she is really thinking …  I suppose his promises are magical, and maybe I know he is hiding behind his tweet machine, and even a silly little dog could pull the curtain back to see him for what he really is, 

SpinDoctor_610px.jpg (610×376) 

... but I want to believe.

      I just want to get in the balloon, inflated with his hot air, and float up - and back - to that homey place  - that I think I remember,


... but  maybe  it was all a dream.


dorothy-wakes-up-in-her-kansas-farm-house-3.jpg (500×367)

(Here's the part that hasn't happened   ...   yet.)



https://youtu.be/0hFa3YHXozA


Thursday, November 24, 2016


TBT - Quite a few Thursdays...

     My dear second cousin Barb sent me an old photo (sixty-seven years old!) this week and I have been marveling at it. It features two people I never met. They are my great-grandparents.
     I've been thinking a lot about them in this time of great turmoil in the country that they went to great lengths to call home. They, like so many of my ancestors, were immigrants.
     She was Rose Ramos, born in Terceira Portugal. the "third" of the Azorian islands, known for lilacs and volcanoes. He was named Anthony Mederios, and is thought to have been from the same island though they didn't meet and marry until they were here. He came at the age of fourteen earning his passage by fueling the fire on the ship which landed him in Providence, Rhode Island. He arrived at the turn of the twentieth century. Soon after he felt the need to change his name to William Mowry. Not sure why he chose that particular name, but there is no need to wonder why he felt he had to take a new one. It is a milky white old English name few could take offense to. He worked two full-time jobs all of his adult life in factories. Rose stayed at home raising their children. They sent their sons back out on that ocean to fight for this country in World War II.



      In the photo the couple is posing with their four grandchildren, each holding a baby. My great grandmother looks pleased and is wearing a corsage. I wondered at the occasion. My aunt Rosemary, the twelve-year-old girl pictured, remembers it as my great-grandparent's 50th anniversary over which the family made a big fuss. My great grandfather doesn't look happy, but proud and serious, and completely at ease holding a baby. The lad beside him is my father and this photo was taken close to his fifteenth birthday. That was the year he moved from Ohio to Rhode Island and was probably very unhappy. My aunt said, "Those were trying times for our little family." 
      They are all standing in front of the house that my father and his sister sold out of our family just recently. It was a three story walk up with enormous three bedroom apartments located on a corner lot in Pawtucket. My father was raised there from that summer on and my grandmother lived there from the year this photo was taken until her death in her nineties. It is the scene of many childhood memories for me, including quite a few thanksgiving dinners.
      I wish I knew more about my great-grandparents. I wonder about the corsage. I wish I knew if he pinned it on her and what they might have said to each other when he did. I wonder about the jewelry; my great-grandparents are wearing none, while the baby is, and I wonder what my father is holding. I think I see a little star on a string, but am not sure. I wish I knew what was served at the celebration dinner that must have followed. I note that my great-grandparents are not turned toward each other even though the day was about them, but instead each is turned toward a grandchild, the future. I wish I knew what that grandfather might have said to his fifteen-year-old grandson that day, a boy given the name he had given up, Anthony. Maybe they listened to a ballgame on the radio that afternoon. Maybe President Truman addressed the 48 states about his Fair Deal Program. If he did I bet my great-grandparents were listening, and think my father probably was too.
      I wonder what they would have thought about that boy growing up to vote for this anti-immigration president. I hope they can rest easy in what has come to be and in what is yet to be. That grandson is now the great-grandfather and two days ago was gifted his sixth great-grandchild, a beautiful baby girl. She carries their DNA in her tiny little body. The DNA that sailed here, alone, fueling fires real and imagined, with sweat and hope and trust, that the future would be good and safe for the babies that may come, in the years ahead, in the melting pot of milk and honey, the land of opportunity, a place they would have called the Estados Unidos da America.

e6cb184ffe8f9f41f619c4abb4c67a58.jpg (736×552)
A sight from the island that my great-grandparents left behind.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Iced Mint Mocha

I didn’t feel it coming
It caught me by surprise
I just wanted a cup of coffee
I faced the barista
A young man with brown skin
Our gaze met
I tried to say the words
Iced mint mocha
They wouldn’t come
My throat closed
I pointed at the sign
Saw the words
Iced mint mocha
I made a sound
A strange gurgle
Like a sick primate
Met his gaze again
He watched my
tearful eruption
Not at all surprised
that the words
Iced mint mocha
were so hard
for me to utter.
Room for cream?
I nodded, paid, tipped,
and walked away.
Quietly ugly crying
swiping my cheeks
sipping on my bitter
Iced mint mocha.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This morning

     My artist friends have been saying we must use our work to move forward. I don't feel ready to do that, I feel swallowed and paralyzed. But I heard them and I trust them. And this poem came a few minutes ago. So I post it here. It is my first step I guess. I have nothing else to offer.


This Morning

Tis the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Crystal Night.
Named for the sound of glass breaking.
The very sound we expected to hear last night.
The very sound we deserved to hear last night.
The very sound we should have heard last night.
It was supposed to have been
a vast glass ceiling cracking,
showering us with shimmering shards
of progress, equality, decency.
We did not get that.
Instead this morning we hear 
only the echo
of the other breaking glass.
Crystal night.
People hiding in the dark,
seeking safety, not knowing
who or what is safe.
Having nothing left but prayer,
though maybe now you do not pray
the right way.
Listen for the breaking glass.
It may not be your window today.
But you should be listening,
and you should be afraid.
This will be a long

Crystal Night.

Tammi Truax 
Nov 9, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Don't Fight Life"


      Today I attended a memorial service for a woman that I had a great deal of respect for. Her name was Joyce Volk. It was a beautiful celebration of a life well lived, by many people who cared for and admired her. It occurred to me while I listened to the speakers, that in the end there might be nothing better than having your grandchildren read from great prose and poetry that you had inspired them to love. Except maybe to have your ashes co-mingled with your life mate's and buried on a beautiful piece of property of your choosing under a rock inscribed with only one word - LOVE.

      Joyce was one of my beta readers. I valued her opinion about my historical novel not just because of her deep appreciation and knowledge of American and Portsmouth history, but maybe more so, because I knew she would tell me the truth, without sugarcoating, about what she thought of my book.

      She spoke highly of my novel and had even offered to write a blurb for it. She said that no one had written about slavery the way that I did, and that it was an important story that needed to be told.
We never got to the blurb, but I am glad we had that last discussion. It was a good one. And so was she.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20130404/LIFE/304040324

AR-132876460.jpg (264×480)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Notes of Late


      I have been hard at work the last two months; getting my daughter settled into her dorm, settling into a new job, and traveling to writing retreats.
      I spent a weekend in Brooklyn at the Slice Literary Festival. It was a wonderful gift and I am very thankful to the Maine Publishers and Writer's Alliance for the generous scholarship. The highlight for me was pitching to my dream agent. She asked for my manuscript and I have since sent it to her. Please cross all your crossable parts for me.


       Last weekend I attended the New Hampshire Poetry Festival. Had lots of fun checking in with old friends and meeting a few new people. I was particularly happy to participate in January Gill O'Neil's workshop, called Note to Self. Her prompts brought up some hard stuff for me. Stuff I've left unwritten for forty years. I don't think I could have done it without her soft-spoken midwifery.

      I can't share that one. At least not yet.

      But I can share this one, a found poem from words seen outside January's workshop on  simply splendid September afternoon.

       The Corner of Chestnut and Lowell

me:
Victory Park
Farmers Market
Weston Terrace
Child and Family Services
you:
Pay Meter here
Pay and Display
Alley Cat Pizzeria
Police Lives Matter



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Day at Canterbury Shaker Village




    I was thrilled to have my prose, an excerpt from a historical novel in progress about the Shakers, selected to be part of the show Shaker Traditions: Contemporary Translations. It was the first time I've ever been part of a juried art show. I went to the opening a few days ago and had the pleasure of reading a bit of my work while also being inspired anew by my surroundings. Inspired to get back to work on the book which I had set aside awhile ago to work on something else. I will return to it soon.


      While at opening day I took advantage of the opportunity to work with other writers in a poetry workshop led by a lovely poet and pediatrician named Kelley J. White. She has published a book of poems (link below) inspired by shaker artifacts and challenged us to try it. We were shown a number of artifacts from the museum's collection and it was a little girl's shaker cloak, white with a satin lining, that caught my attention. Our instructor challenged us to write a quick haiku to share with the class. I share mine with you here.


                                                                       117_1.jpg (1257×1600)
                 A lovely white cloak
                 A pretty smiling girl
                 One I created


         The show at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire will be up until December and is worth a visit. You can find some gorgeous goods in the gift shop, but here are the souvenirs that I brought home. Picked the beans myself in the Shaker garden, where they still grow things to share with those in need as the Shakers always did. It is still a sacred place in so many ways.



https://www.amazon.com/Two-Birds-Flame-Inspired-Shaker/dp/098252143X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1470874229&sr=8-3&keywords=kelley+white+poems




Thursday, July 21, 2016

This




On writing, Hemingway said: "From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality." from the Writers Almanac...

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Slave Pen

      I wrote about the slave pens in (and under) Washington, DC in the novel I am sending out to agents now, but I didn't really know what they might have looked like. I wrote the scene from my imagination. Today this photo came across my Facebook feed. I guess a slave pen doesn't really require much imagination. I did not think up having a soldier on duty, but these photos would have been taken at a later date than I was writing of.


       http://ghostsofdc.org/2016/07/18/alexandria-slave-pen-look-like/







Friday, July 15, 2016

It's me, Tammi



      She is one of my heroes. Seeing her last night was moving and memorable. And there are legions of me. The Music Hall last night was filled with fans, and she has adoring readers all over the world. I wasn't surprised to see that last night, but was really touched by the amazing age range of her fans. I think that is something few writers have achieved. To fill an auditorium with devoted readers from ages 7 to 70 is truly remarkable.
      Judy Blume is a beautiful person, inside and out; a gifted storyteller, a serious censorship activist, and now too, a book store operator. Her life is the envy of many a writer like me; bungling along trying to keep the lights on, sometimes with no one at all believing in our work. But oh how she gives me hope, ~ that it can be done, with grace and beauty and fearlessness.


quote-how-we-handle-our-fears-will-determine-where-we-go-with-the-rest-of-our-lives-judy-blume-85-55-94.jpg (850×400)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Jonesing for a little less McConaughey

     Last night I went to see Free State of Jones (directed by Gary Ross who also wrote the screen play). I had been looking forward to seeing it, and went expecting to like it, because I tend to love period drama, especially when it is about American history. I also went knowing it was getting some criticism for being yet another white savior film. I kept that in mind throughout my viewing of the film.
     No question - Matthew McConaughey definitely portrays real life figure Newton Knight as a white savior. I left the film, fairly satisfied with the overall movie experience, thinking that whether or not the criticism is fair could only be determined by knowing how accurate the portrayal of the real man actually is. Was Knight a savior?
      So as is my way, I've been doing some morning after research. Conclusion - most definitely a white savior film.
       Knight was an unusual and controversial man while alive and accounts of his life are too. They are also highly contradictory depending on who was doing the telling over the years. He did lead the rebellion and did present a declaration of independence to General Sherman. Definitely was a ballsy guy. His personal life, though, sounds a lot shadier than the pious gentleman portrayed in the film. He fathered many children with his white wife Serena, and with Rachel, his love interest in the film, and the two women were not likely to have had the very amiable sister-wife relationship the movie implied they did. There is at least one allegation that he also had children by one of Rachel's children. It all sounds like a cult figure who was trying to establish a kingdom while playing, quite deliberately, with the color of his creations. Seriously, icky.
     In what I admit was very limited research my conclusion is that there were real saviors in the story of the Free Jones State. And they were the women. Black, white and mixed race women, both free and enslaved, who kept the men of the rebellion alive with their heroic acts of bravery, sacrifice, and risk, in both helping them survive in hiding and in keeping the failing Mississippi farms going by themselves.
      What a different film this would have been if Rachel had been portrayed as the primary hero, and Newt was the secondary character. The movie does give her some credit, and she is brilliantly portrayed, by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, as a strong and kind woman but she too is shown as being saved by Knight in a number of ways.
       I would have loved to see the stories of the women explored more fully, and more fairly. Newt and his men could not have done what they did without them.
      Having spent the last five years writing the story of a self-emancipated black woman I do understand how hard it is to do so accurately because of the lack of recorded information about their lives, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. And we all know the real reason Hollywood keeps making movies with a white male savior. It is because they think that white audiences require the trope. They think this for a reason, they want to make money. I don't think it is true for all white viewers. I know I want accuracy, but based on the number of white people I heard say they refused to see Twelve Years a Slave, (citing violence as if they never watch films with violence) showed me this really is a problem for many. Still I can't imagine anyone seeing this film that wouldn't agree McConaughey dominated the screen to excess, but that is just my take. I do concede that the battle scenes, pertinent to Knight's story, are the least interesting part of the story to me, and that effects my assessment.
       Newt's final actions may tell us that he thought Rachel something of a hero too, as he did chose to be buried beside her when mixed race burials were not allowed. She had died much earlier at age 49, by some reports from bearing too many babies, one every two years from the age of thirteen.

rachel-knight1.jpg (1600×2290)
       There is no proof but many believe this image to be the woman known as Rachel Knight.


Here is something from the Smithsonian with the official trailer for the movie:


http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-free-state-jones-180958111/?no-ist



Friday, July 1, 2016

Almost, but no cigar

I've just learned that I am a runner up for a scholarship to attend a conference I am interested in. That likely means I will not be attending, but maybe seems to be a big part of my life as a writer, so ... we shall see.

Here is the announcement from the MWPA that came out this morning:





http://slicelitcon.org/
​The MWPA is thrilled to announce that Cecelia H. and Kate Ver P. have both won scholarships to attend the Sixth Annual Slice Literary Writers’ Conference in downtown Brooklyn, New York on September 10 and 11.

Congratulations to both C​
​ecelia and Kate! Their scholarships include:​


• Fees for both days of the Sixth Annual Slice Literary Writers’ Conference
​.​

• The option for two one-on-one editor/agent meetings: “Ask (Almost) Anything” and “Quick Pitch.”
• A $250 cash honorarium
​.​

​The jurors also named Tammi Truax as runner-up, and Elisha E. and Meghan G. as finalists.  ​


​Thank you to all who submitted!



Friday, June 17, 2016

My Mash Story

Saturday, June 11, 2016

MWPA

 I have been very impressed with this organization since I move to Maine two years ago.                              



                                              MWPA_blue_300.png (300×300)

Friday, April 29, 2016

More about the dead guys I love...

     The children had the week off and though I still worked half-time I devoted most of the week to my writing  ~  which felt wonderful.
     I finished my last round of edits to To Get Quit removing 315 extraneous words and fixing one big error that my editor (the brilliant Nancy Grossman) found that none of my beta readers had noticed. (I had cicadas singing in January.) The manuscript felt really tight and finished. So I sent it out, writing 12 query letters to my top choices of agents and the one publisher who has already asked for the full manuscript. Now comes the excruciatingly hard part of waiting for responses. Often no response ever comes which makes the whole process more difficult.
     I was also encouraged this week by hearing that one of my beta readers, a well-read professional historian, said "you wrote about slavery in the best way that anyone ever has", and that she would be happy to have her quote on the jacket or insert of the book. Pretty high praise. To be honest I was happy enough to know that the story was still fresh in her mind six months later. 
     So I am feeling like that novel is doing what it is supposed to be doing, and must turn my attention to my latest; a completed middle grade novel that one might think is about elephants (it is) but is also about slavery and American History and what it means to be human and humane. 


Every where I go I seem to run into him. I found the profile of this bust at The Currier Museum of Art so much more attractive. Looking good George!

      I also took a little time off this week to take my friend Kate (Portsmouth NH Poet Laureate) on a birthday road trip to see the first folio. I have to confess that it might have been a little anti climatic. He never touched it. It was written after his death. It is of course an incredibly important document (necessitating that I be scolded by an overzealous docent when my jacket brushed the glass) as it saved many of the plays from disappearing. We can all be thankful for that, and I am thankful that the folio is on tour so that so many of us can see it. They did let me take pics, so here you go;









Sunday, April 10, 2016

My shortlisted short.

     I participated in the Mash writing competition a few times just for fun. I love the challenge they present; three unrelated words that must be used unchanged in a story of no more than 500 words. I use it as an exercise to build my writing muscles, and was truly surprised to hear that my last entry was shortlisted and is now in the final running! Mine, called  Semper Fi, Mac, is being viewed all over the www with the other finalist pieces, and the winner is chosen by the popular vote of readers. Please check it out:

      http://www.mashstories.com/shortlist/semper-fi-mac/

      I really love the graphic!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

My new job

       I haven't had the energy or material to blog since I started my new job as a lead teacher in a Head Start classroom. The work is intense! With what little writing energy I have at the end of the day, I have been keeping a private diary about the work on Penzu. I wont be able to share most of it, but just this one time will share the entry I wrote this morning. I am keeping the journal mostly for myself - it is necessary to process each day in a reflective way and writing really helps with that, but I am also considering that it might make a good book some day that could help Head Start get the recognition and funding it needs.

        Looks like I wasn't able to write an entry here all week. I am not surprised as that was not an easy week. I'll recap what I can. Not sure how many times I was punched and kicked this week. Got stuck cleaning toilets and sweeping up mud for lack of a janitor. Not sure how many scheduled meetings were blown off by the other party (at least 3).
        Here's some of the good stuff: We were finishing up our Ezra Jack Keats author/illustrator study which was a phenomenal success. I have made a lot of progress in winning these kids over to book loving in a short time, though there is still a lot of work to be done. The collage study was not nearly as successful. I have never seen preschoolers as uninterested in messing around with creative materials as these. I am not sure why that is. One factor, I think, is the DP area which I have been giving a lot of thought to. It is very popular with this group, especially a handful of girls who play there during free choice period and rarely do anything else voluntarily. I don't think they are learning anything new there, just rehashing skills they have mastered. I want to take the whole thing down for awhile. Sounds simple I know. Of course I should be free to do that if I think it is in the best interest of my students. And at this point I'm sure it is. The adjoining block area is too small and I'd really like to expand it so that the learning there is expanded. But there are a lot of rigid rules governing these HS classrooms, and even though I was specifically hired to do some things differently, there is a lot of blow back when I do, and I haven't done anything big yet! They use the Creative Curriculum which requires a dramatic play area be present. These are the kinds of foolish requirements that hobble me.
     While the first round of parent conferences were not successful (clearly meeting with a teacher is not something these parents are excited to do which is a reflection of the poor self esteem they have about their parenting, another thing I'll be working on.) I did make some progress with parents this week in small interactions. And Wacky Hat day on Friday was a good, no-fail way to get some in-kind participation from several families.
     It also became clear to me this week, via a couple of migraine headaches, that I will have to be ridiculously firm about both parents and other HS staff members not bringing any chaos into the room. I will have to be almost militant about protecting the calm atmosphere I am working so hard to build from the crazy amount of disruption adults are bringing into the room. The parents at drop-off and pick-up, often with other children in tow, and other HS staff who think nothing of popping in and out of the room whenever they want which of course is a disruption, especially so for my vulnerable class, so easily distracted. I already instituted a no cell phone policy, now unfortunately I have to start policing the doorway. I hate doing that because none of these adults should have to be told to be respectful. For the four hours I have these kids the time and space within these four walls is going to be all about them and nothing else. Everything else can wait or happen out in the hall. Period.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Talking to Tomie

      I recently had the privilege of interviewing and writing about one of my literary heroes. I had been to a lecture he gave once, but never had the chance to talk to him. Talking to Tomie dePaola was as thrilling for me as I imagined. Hearing the sweet sound of his youthful giggle at something I said was about as good as it gets!
      It isn't just his laugh that is youthful. Everything about him is, and I suspect it is that joyful orientation to the world that keeps him that way. There is much to be learned from him.
      Below is a link to the article I wrote (pages 14 and 15). I'm not sure how or why the editor chose "The Lucky One" as a title, but I do know that I was the lucky one in our exchange.

http://portsmouthherald.nh.newsmemory.com/loadPage.php?token=38PX1%252BHO5d7VqKrG5MPR0sbix5SVnpKrmpNzc5ChsMa8lL21s5C8wsSWr6GQkKI%253D


      And here he is cutting up with Becky Rule at the talk I heard him give for the NH Humanities Council (I teach in their Connections Literacy program) last year. Also a treat.

Tomie+de+Paola+Scarf.jpg (700×465)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Valentiny PB Entry

How To Ungrump A Bad Day

It was February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day.
It got off to a very bad start, when I fell out of bed,
whacking my head, on the floor, kerplunky!

Then my Mommy made me some
icky oatmeal which I just stirred and stirred
until it was cold and clumpy.

She said we had to hurry up
and made that scrunched-up face
that I said makes her look so frumpy.

She seemed mad, and drove to preschool
with the radio on, while I rode along
in my car seat, on the road so bumpy.

I would not say good-bye to her
so she left without a kiss or hug
and I felt sad and mad and jumpy.

I was staring out the window when
my teacher said, “Hey there friend,
why so down-in the-dumpsey?”

Then she helped me make a valentine,
with so much paper held with glitter
and glue that it was kind of lumpy!

When my Mom came, I gave it to her.
She hugged me, and just like mine,
I could feel her heart go thumpy.

We went home then,
to start again,
and neither of us felt grumpy.

by Tammi J Truax





Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Life-changing Book

        I am happy to be included on this list:

http://mainewriters.org/life-changing-books/#more-4310  

TAMMI TRUAX
The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
While many books have had a profound effect on me, I think I must choose The Grapes of Wrath as the most influential. It is not only a completely engrossing story about an American family at a particular point in time rendered in gorgeously crafted sentences, it further taught me that writing can be a form of protest, that writing can be a contribution to social justice as well as to art, and that realization changed me as a writer.




   

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blank Page Poetry video

      Below you will find the final version of the Blank Page Poetry project that took place at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I was proud and privileged to be one of the poets chosen to participate. A team of poets and dancers volunteered many hours to bring the vision of Savannah artist Jerome Meadows to fruition and performed to a standing room only crowd in October of 2015. The filming of it failed so what follows is a reconstruction using mostly still photographs Jerome and photographer David Murray made happen. The video is fairly long. I come in at 11:40 and at 31:20, but my performance is no more important than any other, and the introduction is very important.



Blank Page Poetry

     Below you will find the final version of the Blank Page Poetry project that took place at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I was proud and privileged to be one of the poets chosen to participate. A team of poets and dancers volunteered many hours to bring the vision of Savannah artist Jerome Meadows to fruition and performed this show to a standing room only crowd in October of 2015. The filming of it failed so what follows is a reconstruction using mostly still photographs Jerome and photographer David Murray made happen. The video is fairly long. I come in at 11:40 and at 31:20, but my performance is no more important than any other, and the introduction is very important.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Bowie's books


A couple of years ago David Bowie shared this list of his favorite books on his Facebook page. I sure have got some work to do!
david-bowie.jpg (360×532)

David Bowie's Top 100 Reads:

  1. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
  2. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
  3. Room At The Top by John Braine
  4. On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
  5. Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  7. City Of Night by John Rechy
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  10. Iliad by Homer
  11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  12. Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
  13. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
  14. Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
  15. Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  16. Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
  17. David Bomberg by Richard Cork
  18. Blast by Wyndham Lewis
  19. Passing by Nella Larson
  20. Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
  21. The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
  22. In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
  23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
  24. The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
  25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  26. Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
  27. The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
  28. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  29. Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
  30. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  32. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  33. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  34. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
  35. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  36. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  37. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
  38. Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
  39. The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
  40. McTeague by Frank Norris
  41. Money by Martin Amis
  42. The Outsider by Colin Wilson
  43. Strange People by Frank Edwards
  44. English Journey by J.B. Priestley
  45. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  46. The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
  47. 1984 by George Orwell
  48. The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
  49. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
  50. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
  51. Beano (comic, ’50s)
  52. Raw (comic, ’80s)
  53. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  54. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
  55. Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
  56. Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
  57. The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
  58. Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
  59. The Street by Ann Petry
  60. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  61. Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
  62. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
  63. The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
  64. Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
  65. The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
  66. The Bridge by Hart Crane
  67. All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
  68. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  69. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
  70. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  71. Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
  72. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
  73. Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
  74. Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
  75. Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
  76. The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
  77. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  78. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  79. Teenage by Jon Savage
  80. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
  81. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
  82. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  83. Viz (comic, early ’80s)
  84. Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
  85. Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
  86. The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
  87. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
  88. Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont
  89. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  90. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler
  91. Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  92. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
  93. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  94. The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
  95. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  96. A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
  97. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
  98. In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
  99. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
  100. Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg