The Whether Here



Space Available in My Upcoming Workshop

Hey there,

If anyone has been a.) looking for a creative writing workshop to attend in the I.E., b.) knows someone who is or might be interested, or C.) has been wanting to work with me personally, please keep reading.

Beginning exactly one week from tomorrow (Wednesday September 28, 2011, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm) I will be leading a brand-new FREE Inlandia Creative Writers Workshop at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario, California.

It will take place every other Wednesday through the middle of November (5 sessions). The venue is a really beautiful, newly-renovated library with a cafe on the first floor and lots of parking. Registration is required because space is limited, but there is no charge for the workshop. Just bring something to write on and write with and an open mind. All genres & all experience levels welcome. My main goal is to get us writing, and writing well.

Because this is the first in what I hope will be a long-running series of workshops (the one in Riverside has been going for years) and because there are typically three sessions per year (Fall, Winter and Spring) I am starting with some basics and hoping to build a strong core group of participants who will generate some new work, pick up some strategies for revision and getting around writer's block, and then return for Winter and Spring and beyond to develop those works into something they'd be proud of publishing.

This Inlandia Creative Writing Workshops culminate in the production of an anthology and a public reading. This year's reading & anthology launch will be held on November 13th at Back to the Grind in Riverside at 2 pm. Participants from all three established workshops (Riverside, Palm Springs and Idyllwild; Ontario will be included next year) will be reading their finished works and copies of the anthology will be available.

If you're interested in joining my workshop please send an email to

with the following information:

Full name
Full street address
Telephone numbers
email address

If you have any questions, just ask!


P.S. Please forward to anyone who might interested!

Inlandia: A Literary Journey launch reading & reception

... was a HUGE success. Thanks to everyone who came out, and especially to our readers -- Gayle Brandeis, Mike Cluff, Sheela Free, Hillary Gravendyk (pictured above, though you can barely see the top of her head above the crowd -- she is seated beside the podium), Myra Dutton, Stephanie Barbe Hammer, Liz Gonzalez, E.J. Jones, Rachelle Cruz, Kate Anger, Jean Waggoner, Maureen Foley, Lucia Galloway, Karen Greenbaum-Maya, Ruth Nolan, & Cindy Rinne -- and Inlandia staff Pamela Atkinson, Jeff Kraus, and Mike Sleboda. Couldn't have done it without you! (More photos to come -- will post when the gallery is up.)

Who am I and what I am doing here?

Yes, this is my birthday cake.

I did not want a store-bought cake this year. I wanted to bake it myself. I used the stand mixer from the forties that I inherited from my grandmother last summer to bake her chocolate cake in her cake pans, using her measuring spoons and measuring cups and in that way foil any possibility of my screwing it up. And you know what? I still screwed it up, couldn't get the damned thing out of the pan. So I plopped it all on a plate, poured the frosting over it, and stuck the candles in.

And guess what?

It was the best damned delicious cake I have ever eaten.

NaPoMo Recap & Big Poetry Book Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations! We all survived National Poetry Month 2011, one way or another. I know I only made it halfway through NaPoWriMo, but that's 15 more poems than I wrote last month, and a couple of them I actually like.

April was chock-full of poetry events.  I helped judge the Corona Public Library's Teen Poetry Slam again, as I seem to always do in April and October; we had 38 kids this time, a truly big turnout for this event. Also, yesterday I launched the second issue of Inlandia: A Literary Journey. I have also been helping to facilitate and judge another poetry contest for teens that is a joint project of both the Inlandia Institute and the Rotary International; we have just finished the first round of judging and will move on to the oral presentation portion in the next couple of weeks. The great thing is that these kids will earn some scholarship money by writing poems. I introduced in Claremont one week then hosted the next two back-to-back readings by poetry pal Judy Kronenfeld, then also went to listen to another of poetry pal, Maureen Alsop, also in Claremont. So many things going on in April that I didn't get to make it to everything I would have liked, but that's how it goes.

But the REALLY good news is that now that April is over I get to pick winners for the Great Big Poetry Book Giveaway!

So, using the random number generator, here are the winners:

Of one of my books (choice of either Seven Floors Up or (al)most delicious):

  • Comment number 3, Jo T.!

Of Matthea Harvey's Sad Little Breathing Machine:

  • Comment number 16, Carol Berg!

Jo T. and Carol -- if you see this before I have chance to send you an email, feel free to drop me a note with your snail mail addy so I can get those books to you asap!

And a HUGE thanks to everyone who commented and threw their hat into the ring. I am looking forward to taking a breather this week after a very hectic but productive April. Who knows, maybe I'll even set aside a little time to revise some of those NaPoWriMo poems.

My poetry group meets tonight, something I always look forward to. Wine & poetry! Hurray!

Woefully behind on NaPoWriMo, but still making an attempt

My friend Lavina and I drove out to listen to Maureen Alsop read in Claremont last Sunday. Always a treat, because Maureen is such an ethereal reader, and the Claremont series is full of friends. They were in a pinch setting up, so I found myself offering to help and was handed a knife and several blocks of cheese. Sounds simple enough, but I got a little carried away, cutting it all down into funky little cubes...

Lavina and I have been challenging each other to write, coming up with our own prompts. We've only done it twice now: The first was a sonnet challenge, and this second one was a little more fluid, only needing to incorporate a color, a tree, and a verb implying movement. I've been dying to write, although I'm still generally swamped and haven't really felt I could spare the time.

Here's the new, unrevised, as-yet-untitled draft:

I awoke this morning to a crashing pain:
A heart as yellow as a sunflower pinned to my chest.
Each petal a spoke on a wheel, yearning.
I pulled the brake and it bled sullen birds.

Your hands hold the birds like my breath.
The oak lay in a thousand pieces at our feet.
Rays of sky pummel down like buckshot
as the leaves turn upon themselves like lace misgivings.

You cannot gift the horse. I cannot tell you not to.
Tectonics could drift, my own beneath yours.
There are no assurances. The weather hoards
a whole continent of consonants.

I have all the vowels.
Yet, still there is only this pathetic flower.