Saturday, October 25, 2014

Life's too short not to have chocolate for breakfast

Among my Saturday morning delights is poeming, as my friend Ace calls it. I set aside this morning each week because I have the house to myself and it's not a workday, therefore no guilt possible. Some people clean their houses on Saturday; I clear my brain of metaphors by getting them on paper. The house can wait. Some do laundry; I rinse myself with the air on my deck while catching images and essences. The poetic flow is much harder to set than the spin cycle.

And chocolate can really jump-start a poetry session.

By the way, there is a website called Creativity and Chocolate. What's it about? That other thing that makes me happy on a Saturday: fashion! And here's a poem about another thing that makes me happy.


Kisses

Nissa speaks in kisses.
A dog’s mouth isn’t made for English,
so she sounds her vowels with swipes
of tongue – that best pink instrument.
She covers the face, the lips
from which my voice emerges
and patiently investigates
the curves, tasting the salt
of meaning behind my ear,
pressing on the place
that looses my giggles,
which I am sure she knows
as her real name.

~ From Gods of Water and Air, Rachel Dacus (Aldrich Press 2013)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bloghopping: Word Garden + My Poem at Your Daily Poem

I'm happy to report that I have a poem featured today on Your Daily Poem. My "Apple Pie Order" (from my book Femme au chapeau) is a poem very close to me. It's about my 91-year-old mother and was a gift to receive and then be able to give to her on a birthday. Thank you, Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, for featuring my poem today, and for your great inspiration to bring more poetry into our daily lives!

Now to my latest bloghopping. The generosity of blog writers amazes me. People review books, post poems and sections of their novels, and tell me about their lives, and so I get to enter he gardens of writers I might never otherwise meet.

Kate Campbell's Word Garden has a lot of the things I love -- poetry, fiction, flowers, and birds -- and most specially today it features a thoughtful review of a wonderful book by a friend of mine. Grand Slam by Alan Kleiman is one of the most playful, wild, and enjoyable chapbooks I've ever read. From its original cover art by artist John Newsom, to its evocations of baseball, kisses, barbecues, and marshland views, this book is a total kick. Grand Slam is reviewed on Kate's terrific blog today, along with a generous essay on the art of the humble chapbook. Enjoy the read -- and order Alan's book too!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog tour - writing process questions answered

Last month, I was tagged by Erica Goss to participate in a virtual blog tour of writers. The goal was to answer four questions about my current writing process. What a great exercise for inquiring into the springs of my creative life. Here are my answers.

1. What are you currently working on?
A messy poetry manuscript loosely organized around the title Arabesque. Like the ballet pose and Islamic calligraphy, it dips and swerves, echoes in rhythms and themes and has no straight lines. I'm also deep in revising my time travel novel involving the great Baroque sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. The time travel device is a gold pen. Seems suitable for a writer. And points to my process of explorating meaning through traveling back into memories.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I seem to be working a territory of affect I don't see out there a lot: poetry and prose that curves around and into epiphanies, joy, and ecstasy. I'm interested in the marvels that hide in plain sight, in the quotidian of daily life and landscape, and that if attended to can spur sudden music in the soul. I feel a continuity of that pursuit in the Romantic poets of the 19th century, but hope I can express it in 21st century language. My concerns are similar.

3. Why do you write/create what you do?
Poems present themselves to me through compelling images and a sense of how they are connected to my internal processes at levels below awareness but which can be reached into and brought out by writing. It's a compulsion to self-discovery through delving into the images and memories burned most deeply into me. These images present themselves in terms of a resonance that lets me know there's rich material in them and I should explore. As Rilke said, childhood and dreams are great sources. They are for me, especially childhood. The dreamlike lens of poetry refocuses memory in a fresh way that yields self-discovery. I assume I'm not that different from anyone else and that my experience in the form of writing will resonate with some readers. So I go ahead and undergo this sometimes laborious but rewarding process.
4. How does your writing/creating process work?
 See above! The why and the how are for me intertwined.

This was a great exercise in examining how and why I write, and I'm going to tag a few of you to follow suit with these, if you feel like it. Thanks, Erica, for inviting me!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rain and a discount on Gods of Water and Air - email rachel@dacushome.com

I can't claim that my twelve potted roses have been dessicated over the past three years, but California surely has been dessicated. I've worried about friendly trees and watched lawns become weed patches. So early this morning, the sound of a steady, soaking rain (as we used to call it back when we had rain) was pure Chopin to my ears. It induced in me a kind of quiet I haven't felt for months. A wish to just sit and think my thoughts.

May the rain dancing around California continue! North and South are for once united, sharing a group wish for moderate (not flooding) downpours. Feeling generously hopeful at the sight of every cloud.

And while it's wet and smelling of petrichor and fertile soil, I'm feeling generous. For a few days, I'm offering my book Gods of Water and Air, my collection of poetry, prose, and short drama, at a deep discount to anyone who wants a print version.

For today through September 30, it's $10 + $2 shipping for Gods of Water and Air. Email me if you want one: rachel@dacushome.com. 



Friday, September 19, 2014

The Land of Totuaba

I'm excited that my memoir essay of camping in Baja California with my bipolar rocket scientist father and family is now published online at Halfway Down the Stairs. This issue of the journal has a rich selection of poetry and prose, and I'm honored to have had my story selected.

"The Land of Totuaba" is an excerpt from my memoir of an unusual childhood with a father who blew up rockets for a living and in a port town in southern California. The manuscript, Rocket Lessons, is still in my trunk, waiting to become my second prose book. My then-agent advised me to hang onto it and simply write my first book! The ways of the publishing industry are unfathomable to outsiders.

Here's a poem from Rocket Lessons that my agent made me take out of the memoir, which then found its way into my new book Gods of Water and Air, which has a whole San Pedro section.

-->
Our New Neighbor

A knobbed mob of water, the Pacific rang
my doorbell in the night and ran.

When I got up, she let fighting cats stand in
and pranked me with the cannery's whistle.

With a sob and a whoosh, she dangled trinkets
over our back fence and showed me her green silk

underwear. A crazy lady in a frilly robe,
the sea was our new neighbor.

Dockside cranes pulled at her flanks,
hauling up surprises. Automobiles,

fish, furniture and anchors trailing seaweed
sputtered out of her. A constant breeze

chopped her green speech and sudden
surges mangled fishing boats and surfers.

Our crazy neighbor lulled me to slide
into her curls, to roll on soft swells.

Neighborly, she pulled me in-
to her doom bed and closed a cold lid.

Then the father who had thrown me in
fished me out. From that day, the air burned.

When I rode her treeless hills and looked back to land
through her glistening I felt

the family's undertow, that was the sinking
lull and downward sea drag.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Permission to be a poet

It's something only you can give yourself: a space to create, sweet as ripe cherries. To find it, buy it with love for your creative self, wrap it in ethereal sheets of time, and then unwrap it as though you deserve every crinkle of the delicate paper and every silky ribbon of ink. You give yourself permission to NOT write a word. Not even think. To drift, a poet in poet time with the willingness to do absolutely nothing if that's what comes. To think about writing without necessarily saying anything is permission. Here's a poem about it from my book Gods of Water and Air.
 
-->
Life

I had a beautiful bowl of cherries
to paint, stems perfectly arranged, the jade
bowl offsetting the pale red fruit.
I ate them. Such is the fate
of so much art. But only the serious kind.
At least this artist won’t starve.
Looking at a half bowl of cherries
I still want to create. Maybe a painting
of the pits in another bowl, so much life
gone by. Or perhaps a poem about the greed
of the painter for sensuous delight, story
of artists and their models through the ages
and also the story of the art
that was never made
while they became their own
works of art. Jade bowl. Stems.
Hungers ripe and aching.
Summer’s half moon warmth.
Tender flesh. (Note to self:
They were so ripe and cold.
Put cherries on the grocery list.
The dark ones this time.)

I'm offering a 10% discount off the Amazon price of Gods of Water and Air during September. Write to me if you want one!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Gods of Water and Air Celebrates One-Year Anniversary! Woo-Hoo!!!

I'm happy to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my collection of poetry, prose, and short drama, Gods of Water and Air. Thanks to Karen Kelsay and Aldrich Press (an imprint of Kelsay Books) for creating a beautiful print book from my manuscript and supporting it! And thanks to all of you who bought a copy and read it. I'm going to make my book a little cake for its birthday, which I'm calling September 4 (the day I got my first copies). Here are the candles -- I wish it to reach more of you in this coming year! You can get it at Amazon, or if you order from me directly (email me at rachel@dacushome.com), I'll offer a 10% discount from the Amazon price for this month.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How much is enough in promoting your poetry book

Asilomar Beach, Photo by Heather Osborne
Jeannine Hall Gailey responded to Timothy Green's Facebook about the responsibilities (and guilt and anxiety) of a poet in promoting a book. Jeannine's post encourages us to forgive ourselves for not doing everything imaginable at our own cost: organizing cross-country book tours, banner ads, local readings, mailing out dozens of reviews copies, etc. Tim's post lamented the lack of support from his publisher. He gave  numbers: 105 sold by the publisher, 200+ sold by the poet. Around 305 total books sold. There you have it: about 300 sales is what you can expect as a poet with a good audience.

I don't do readings. Well, I do if invited, but I don't go out of my way to get invited, and that's because though I enjoy doing them, it involves some anxiety and preparation and I have a very busy life. I like to give my free time to writing new things. I can't afford book tours and ads. And I'm very grateful to my publisher, The Aldrich Press (Karen Kelsay Davis, an imprint of Kelsay Books) for supporting my book by making a trailer and sending out review copies.

So how do I promote Gods of Water and Air? I blog. I tweet. I offer discounts. I'm an active presence on social media, posting poems from the books, news, and anecdotes that connect with it. I never stop. And I don't beat myself up for having sold or given away (yes, I make gifts of books) under 150 in a year. I think it's a pretty good number and it will grow. It's a good book.

I do what I can and subscribe to Jeannine's philosophy. Also, I'm going to take Gods of Water and Air to e-book soon. I just bought Mary Oliver's new one on Kindle. I don't bring paper books into the house much. I don't care about sales, I just care that my work gets read.

Here's a poem from my book:


Taken

I was especially taken
with the grasses today, their herringbone
weaves and golds, purples, and greens,
the seed pods floating
like butterflies on tall stems.
I felt like a boat in a restless ocean
at sunset, among its moving flecks
and hues, rocked by the wind
with tangled bird trills,
and the Earth yawned
and mouthed me
and tongued my neck.
My speech came in medleys
of mood. I swayed
saying the Beloved’s name
with endless vowels.
I was especially taken
to the bone-clean rock
owned by a tiny lizard blinking
with its pebbled lid,
and when it slunk down,
hugging its planet, I went
home hugging my heart.








Thursday, August 28, 2014

My poem newly remixed in the Poetry Storehouse today

Thank you, The Poetry Storehouse, for including my poem "As Yearning Is Red" in the collection. This marvelous video remix of the poem, a film by En Doubluu of my poem read by Marie Craven, with music by Titee, showed up today on Facebook. What a lift into the air for my writing day! The Poetry Storehouse is a collection of poems and poetry remixes that is the brainchild of the amazing poet and poetry entrepreneur Nic Sebastian.
The poem is from my collection Gods of Water and Air. Here's the text:

-->
As Yearning Is Red

Sudden as a hat is ripped away
by the wind, he was over my head.
Long, black legs scissored together
as he plowed the seamless sky
with a beak like a boat’s prow.
His wings rowed lazily.

There’s little reason to look up
when I walk. I passed as he paused
to float on a thermal.
I was heading downhill
and he was gliding
down to the creek.
We were nearly eye level.
I had a precarious feeling,
as if my marching feet
had risen off the ground.

His wings rippled several times
as he held onto the wind.
They rippled again:
a lace bedspread shaken out.
He was white as yearning
is red and still as night’s
first sip of moon.

Then the luminous being was gone,
leaving me ruffled and aired,
forever feathered,
able to lift
on the beat of a breath.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happily buried in the Italian Renaissance

I'm coming down the home stretch (= two-thirds through) of what I sincerely hope is the final revision of my time travel novel, The Renaissance Club. I'm past fallen-in-love with Gianlorenzo Bernini -- I'm in the forming-a-fan-club stage. If only for this sculpture of Apollo and Daphne, made early in his magnificent career as a sculptor. He was also the official architect of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome under two popes.

 When I say buried I really mean it. Buried in research, juggling plot lines and character growth steps in my ever-expanding memory, metering out metaphors to enrich but not overburden the narrative -- all while dancing to the tune of my clients' fundraising needs and juggling all THAT sea of information. I feel like the Beach Blanket Babylon lady wearing the hat containing all of San Francisco, but thank God I have some props and poles to lean the weight on. Thank God for the Internet, or the pile of books near my bed and couch would be even worse. Thank God for laptops. Oh, and thank God for the Renaissance. And for the wise and comprehensive advice from my editor, Arielle Eckstut of The Book Doctors. Even while juggling all this, I'm sort of relaxed because I have a handy list of What Needs to Happen Next.