Tag Archives: inspiration

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


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

NaPoWriMo 2013: Poem for 04.14.13

20 Apr

We’re at the halfway mark for NaPoWriMo, and my writing desk is a mass of stacked papers, books, doodads and paperclips right now. I always like to keep a poetry book or two nearby, so I can flip through their pages and find inspiration when I’m flagging and staring too long at a blank screen.

On top of the stack this week is Sean Nevin‘s Oblivio Gate. This is an amazing book, about family, loss, redemption and especially Alzheimer’s. The cover says it all.


The loss of one’s memory, one’s mind, I would argue, one’s self is a terrifying thing to think about, and it’s something we think about in my family because my grandfather suffered through it. Continue reading

Poetry Manuscript 2.0: Finding the Point, Again

29 Jun

At the corner of 4th and Inspiration (ahem, I mean Cooper) . . . guerilla art NY-style

As you may recall, dear and patient reader, I set out in 2010 to put together a manuscript of poems for publication. I had uprooted roots for the Nth time July the year before and found myself jobless, (mostly) friend-less and searching for purpose. My daily sifting through Netflix and the previous night’s DVR’d television shows just wasn’t cutting it in the Grand Scheme that I’d dreamed up as “My Move to the Big City.” Of course CityBoy was around, endless optimistic and supportive, but I needed vision, a goal, something outside of myself, to push through or towards.

In April 2010, I participated in NaPoWriMo (the month-long challenge to write a poem a day) and found myself really engaged, looking forward to getting down to writing each morning, fortified by a stiff cup of coffee and some peanut butter toast. I wrote something like 22 poems that month, a ridiculous spectacle of poems, many of them bad or simply atrocious, but I found something too that month–the renewed pleasure in writing, the words just coming, bad or good, across the page under my fingers, that image or idea sprouting like a long buried seedling into proverbial life.  Continue reading

Istanbul…Or How I Make Saving Make Sense

22 Jun

I’m a terrible saver. I don’t like it, don’t see the point of being good for a rainy day. I am a blower of money. I see and I want and I buy. I’m pretty sure CityBoy hates me for it. (You should know, if you can’t guess already, that he is a very good saver. One of those people who will search and search and search for the 15-cents-cheaper thing.) I could very well become a homeless hobo with very nice shoes. Everyone has a lot in life. This is mine.

However, sometimes things come across your path that are so delicious, so wonderful and awe-inspiring and must-have-able, that one such as myself, of the derelict and money-stoopid clan, would actually put together a savings plan in order to attain such amazingness.

I give you . . . Istanbul.


Continue reading

Work in Progress: Boys on the Subway (revised)

10 Oct

It’s the fall again, or at least it will be if this damn weather stops pretending to be summer. It’s my favorite season. Something about back to school and the cooler weather, the leaves changing and the sky darkening earlier and earlier. The air smells of sharpened pencils and wool sweaters (I think I may have stolen this from You’ve Got Mail, which is one of those ridiculous movies that I can’t NOT watch when it’s on TV. I know. You’re thinking, “Meg Ryan? Tom Hanks? Sheesh.” But if you haven’t watched it, do so. You will thank me. Or we’ll discover that we might not become such great friends).

The wedding is finally behind us (or at least it will be after this weekend’s final celebratory dinner with CityBoy’s East Coast family), and we can both breathe a long sigh of relief. We made it. We’re still talking. We still like each other.

Which means that life can get back on track and we can refocus on the things that we love and make us feel human. For me, this means writing again.

CityBoy’s brother gave a beautiful reading at our ceremony, which of course I loved since he purloined some things from my blog as a jumping point to talk about marriage and relationships. I was compelled to admit that I have shamefully ignored this blog and done very little writing this year. Jobs, and proposals, and travel, got in the way.

So I’m recommitting (again). It’s time to get my ass back in the chair and do what I love best: form words into sentences into stories…”the best words, in the best order.”

My writing friends have been instrumental to the “best order” part. It’s amazing what another set of eyes, eyes you value and admire, can do for your own work. I found the idea of starting with a fresh, blank page a little daunting this morning, so I pulled a new poem out of my waiting-to-be-revised batch and I’m quite pleased with the result. You’ll have to let me know what you think.


Work in Progress: Boys on the Subway

19 Nov

I’m always checking people out on the subway, much to CityBoy’s chagrin, who maintains that no eye contact is good eye contact on the train. But I can’t help looking. There’s so much strangeness and vulnerability and drama on the subway.

The other day, I watched this young tough size up the young guy sitting next to me on the train. It was chilling to watch him. I almost felt as if I should escort the guy off the train and make sure he got to his destination alright. This is what came to mind when I was sitting my ass in the chair:


Boys on the Subway

It’s still the schoolyard, the toughs braced
against the chainlink, the outfits the same—
hooded sweatshirt, a shroud of menace
framing thrust-out chins, their just-cinched
pants straining at the nexus of their crotches ,
stubble pressing through their doughy faces—
everything oversized, unlaced, splayed.
They take up too much, spread their knees
wide across the bench seats, the tongues
of their spit-clean sneakers bright white
against a lunar background of logoed
blacks and grays.  Eager as untrained
pups, their eyes lap up every girl, dissect
their figures into breast sizes, hand spans
of waist, the canted arc of their jeans-
encased asses. They let them know
with licks and swipes of their eyes
which they’d take to a dim corner.