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Making Room for a(n online) Poetry Box

1 Nov

Twitter has brought so many amazing things to my attention with a simple scroll through my daily feed, things like Casey N. Cep’s essay about the online Emily Dickinson archives and this piece by Maud Newton on meeting the writer Donna Tartt (with bonus Instagram photo of Ms. Tartt’s inscription in Maud’s copy of The Goldfinch). For all its haters, there really is nothing like Twitter for getting you up close on all the action, whether that action is from the literary world, the art world, the sports world, or the Kardashian world (I know, I cringed as I typed that – does that make it any better that I’m referencing THEM? Probably not.).

So today’s tweeted nugget of super loveliness came via Ms. Dorianne Laux, another writer who I drop-dead love.

I saw her and her husband read many years ago in LA and it was a thrill beyond compare, for both the astounding beauty of her poems and her forthright approachability. She is the first poet I think of when recommending poetry to my non-poetry reading friends. She is that good.  Continue reading

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It’s All About Perseverance

24 Oct

I got the oddest (and most welcome) letter in the mail last month in a hand-addressed envelope from the North American Review. It was my original query letter with a lovely handwritten note from the editor, letting me know that they were interested in one of my poems (huzzah!!).

What made it so odd was that it had my old New York address on the query letter, which is strange because I haven’t lived there in almost two years. As I reread the editor’s note, my eyes finally shifted up to the date on my letter – October 12, 2010. Two thousand ten, people! Almost three years from the date that I mailed out my query, I was finally hearing back. Amazing, right?

Two Thousand Friggin' Ten

Two Thousand Friggin’ Ten

I don’t know which is more fantastical, knowing that the NAR’s reading backlog is two plus years long or that they still finally got back to me. I had long given up on those submissions. Heck, I haven’t submitted a poem in almost six months. And yet, here was this little welcome nugget of approval! Even after so much time, they still liked the poem! They still wanted to publish it!

Which gets me to my point: perseverance. You have to keep at it. Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Even year by year. Because you never know. Someday, somewhere, someone will get your poem. It will speak to them in a way that they’ve never heard before, just as it was speaking to you when you wrote it.

With all that goes on in our busy lives (work, family, friends, hobbies, paying the goddamn bills), it’s easy to get discouraged and stop making the time to write. It’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not writing, not reading, not listening to poetry, not paying attention. There are more pressing, more fun, more rewarding things to do – at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But if you’re anything like me, the most amazing thing you can do is write. To write a really great poem, short story, novel, play. Because only you can do this. Only you.

So don’t give up hope. Get your butt in the chair. Keep writing, keep revising, keep reading, keep submitting, keep working.

Rock on, people.

~ Jho

Work in Progress: Natural History

14 Nov

I’ve been tinkering with this poem for a while now. I first wrote it when I was still living in New York City, after seeing the famous life-sized dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, which is an excellent place to while away several hours moving from diorama to diorama, enraptured by the amount of detail and work that must have gone into making them.

But anyways, back to the poem. I discovered that I had started a draft of this post back in the day, with this iteration of the poem:

Natural History

*poof*

Family Heirlooms: A Life in Jewelry

21 Jul

I am an accessories whore. Plain and simple. In college, I would happily skip lunch so I could buy a new pair of shoes or a cool ring. Heck, I sometimes still do that now. So imagine my delight when my lovely mother-in-law told me she had a big store of jewelry she wanted me to go through from CityBoy’s grandmother’s collection.

gorgeous, no?

But first, a little backstory on the fabulous Mrs. B, CityBoy’s grandmother who passed away in December 2011, as feisty and riled-up as I imagined her to be when she first came into this world in 1913. She was a tried and true Manhattanite, a real city girl, who grew up in the Lower East Side and moved back into the city from the suburbs practically the very second her sons were grown and out of the house. Continue reading

How Jho Got Her West Coast Groove Back…

18 Jun

So what happened was that I went into work one day intending to ask about the possibility of relocating back to California (as I had diligently discussed with my hubby) and ended up giving my notice, albeit for 30 to 60 days in the future. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of things I loved (and miss) about living in New York City, but the daily grind, coupled with a total lack of private living space and a completely unfulfilling (and often crazy-making, I-am-going-to-kill-someone-and-end-up-in-jail) work life made for a decidedly unhappy Jho.

CityBoy and I discussed the pros and cons, got out our lists of potential relocation cities, and started thinking about dates and times and tasks and things-to-do. Then I jumped the proverbial gun. I asked for a sit-down with my then boss and in a space of mere minutes, decided “fuck it, let’s just do it” and committed to my leave-taking. About two seconds after that, I remembered that I was no longer the sole decider of my destiny. Many “shit”s and “oh crap”s floated through my head.  Continue reading

Museum Round-up: Diego Rivera at MoMA

24 Jan

One of the best gifts CityBoy and I get all year is our annual membership to the Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA), courtesy of CityBoy’s always thoughtful parents. This little plastic card entitles you to visit MoMA any time your heart demands it, taking in some of the city’s best art and film.

The film series alone is worth the membership, since MoMA is host to several films a day, ranging from theme- or director-driven series to old remastered classics to this year’s Oscars contenders. It’s pretty insane.

Another major perk are these members-only previews, where you get to enjoy their latest and greatest art exhibits before they open to the general public. CityBoy and I have yet to actually make one of these previews, but getting the little postcard in the mail alerts us to cool new things that we might otherwise miss.

Case in point:

Diego Rivera: Murals for the The Museum of Modern Art

Running through May 2012, this exhibit draws on works from Rivera’s 1931 showing at MoMA, where he produced five “portable murals” on-site for the museum. This show includes his sketches and drawings for the works, as well as drawings for the now infamous murals at Rockefeller Center.  Continue reading

Book Culture: Where to Find It in NYC

18 Jan

I’m routinely asked how I like living in New York City. If it’s by a New Yorker, this is usually phrased as “Don’t you love it here? I mean, I love it. I could never live anywhere else. Could you imagine? God!” or something to that effect. I think this billboard sums up this attitude best:

classic

And while I have loved parts of the city, especially the (often) perfect months of May and October, those parts haven’t added up to enough to allow me to respond with a resounding “Yeah, I love it. It’s amazing.”

My commute crosstown to work each morning  is enough to make any sane non-New Yorker break out in a machine-gun-toting killing spree. Especially in the winter, when it’s 20 degrees out (okay, quiet already, you Midwesterners, I know it could be colder but you have to remember I grew up in Southern California and my peoples are a tropical peoples), and the wind makes that feel like 12 degrees, and you’ve taken great care in dressing so as to not allow one chink in your cold-fighting layers only to have something ride up or ride down, usually where you just can’t reach, and winter’s icy fingers jab you right in the back or hairline or across your presumably boot-bundled toes.

Sorry, I digress. But one of the main things that always, always delights me about New York is the plethora of art/culture offerings, especially for someone like me who is obsessed with the written word. There are book readings, discussions, panels, festivals, award ceremonies, performances – all highlighting that great and magical thing.

Continue reading