February 5, 2015
“Whether he’s talking poems or possums, Shelby Stephenson is a fine choice for poet laureate.”
My Journey Down South
It’s February 3rd, I’m headed east of Raleigh,
Raleigh, North Carolina, and a fine day it is.
I’ve been on the road from New Jersey to Front Royale, VA.,
stopped in on a poet friend, had a good night.
Then I drove most of the way and stopped in Greensboro
for a poetry gathering, at a residence, and then we did dinner.
Afterwards we went to another poet’s house and did a fireside
chat and read more poetry. Wonderful! And my kind of visits.
The night before I attended an induction ceremony,
for the new Poet Laureate of that southern state
I went further down to Charlotte, family visit, then
Shelby Stephenson, is one of Red Dashboard’s book authors.
His two books The Hunger of Freedom and Shub’s Cooking are
available on Amazon. Wonderful books, his work is fantastic.
I drove back up to Raleigh and attended the ceremony with
the four ladies I met in Greensboro, fun times; we also had dinner.
The next day I went to Shelby’s home outside of the city. He
took me to his brother’s BBQ place, we drove, and all the while
talking life in poetry. I couldn’t have asked for a better visit
with the new Poet Laureate of North Carolina, 2015-17 (up to Governor).
The road has given me so much material for writing; it gives up
asphalt, white and yellow lines, shoulders- soft and hard, rocks,
stones, rusty nails,
the smells of the land, pollution,
strangers faces in motor vehicles, children in the rear window, animals,
signs, all color skies, sunrise, sunsets, and all sorts of shadows
that lead us to our thoughts, leading to words, leading to poetry and song.
(above photo taken during induction ceremony; bottom- at lunch, Stephenson’s BBQ, Benson, NC)
January 29, 2015
What a gathering. Stan Galloway brought in poets from France, Japan, Egypt, other places, and all over the United States. What each brought to the poetry mic and table was so worth the $30 for reading fee, was worth it.
Thursday: Registration, setting up publisher tables, introduction from the English department head, Stan spoke, and then readers began. Dinner break, and then a few things in the evening. Dinner out with Red Dashboard authors and old friends from NJ, and a few new ones made.
Friday: Same as Thursday, with me reading at 2:30, and let’s just say my books sold well, as did Joshua Gray’s, a RedD author. Dinner break after other fabulous readings, some workshops, and then I was down for the count. I had been driving Wednesday, all day yesterday, I am trying to get used to my new body and eating plan.
Saturday: As I said fabulous fabulous fabulous! More of the same. Our book table did well, but the authors are fabulous. I love being surrounded by so many talented writers, not to mention the new friends you make!
Sunday: A few readers this morning, and then they selected 12 poets to do a command performance. I was selected as one of the twelve, Cowtown, Texas, 1975 was chosen as my reading, I can live with that, it was published in The Texas Observer last April, 2014! I just felt the others read such prolific pieces, mine was a humorous look at young love with cowboys(girls). It was all good, then I drove all the way back to Jersey, can you say tired!
I’d do it all over again, and looking forward to 2017, yes, the next Bridgewater International Poetry Festival and Conference. Get your poetry on!
October 31, 2014
Okay, since I am a TMI Texas girl, I’m sharing something here. Most know me from social media, and know about my journey over the past 14 years (more if you count drama from childhood until this point). It’s been a battle, life is a battle at times. Alcoholism, mental health, CHD-heart disease in a child, abuse, and so much more crap I cannot even begin in this post. Poetry in a way has been a way for me to express myself. I also paint, sculpt, complain, yep I said that, and love just as passionate, it’s me.
I found out I have diabetes last October and it was a do or die situation with my weight gain. I’m not going to blame anyone else but me. I worked as a chef and binged on alcohol after my daughters death. It’s time to move on…(you never move on from grief, just an expression).
So here is my first entry into a new lifestyle, a major one that took me four years to decide, and I’m going to do it November 19, 2014, bypass surgery. I will post once a month until I lose the weight. I’m also doing a workshop, for writers and poets in April 2015, at Classics Rare and Used Bookstore & Gifts (4 Lafayette and Warren Street) as well, so here’s to getting in shape!
October 22, 2014
I need to work on more drafts, because I just got a invitational call for submission from a well respected journal. I need to write more, but even tonight I’m distracted by my son’s excitement for an upcoming trip to Peru in 2015, and jabber in the kitchen about beer from my two men. Sigh. But I try to slip in the muse when I can.
The title is not set in stone, it came from nowhere like a lot of poetry does, and I like where it is going…
Uncomfortable, Before And After
Opening up a book a friend handed me
I listened as she awkwardly said her mother
meant for me to have it.
She followed my posts (stalking grandmother?)
and was responsible for considering books
in her day job.
It was assumed I would enjoy the content.
Memoir caught my attention. Not the chubby girl
on the beach, it didn’t quite reach my consciousness.
My own journey of sharing overshadowed
the stirring of a writer’s mind.
Everyone has a story, a face—chubby, skinny,
hallow, broken, sad, happy, aging, and gone.
The body comes in all shapes and sizes, even the mind.
Economic, mid-size, to luxury models.
And all in our own individual colors—no duplicates.
I appreciated the thought of self-help on the friends’ part.
But what most don’t realize (excuse me for this judgmental blurb),
is it’s not just about pushing the plate away.
“What I cannot remember, however, is the decision I made
To eat the whole (birthday) cake”—It Was Me All Along, pg. 1.
Myself, I was born a bean pole.
Most of my life was eating my weight in food, and never gaining a pound.
Until I had my own children, it happens.
Like my Dad’s metabolism, the idea of food did not scare me. My mom,
however, was born chunky, and went to her grave morbid obese. She
was an emotional eater, and it showed throughout my childhood.
We all ate our plates clean.
Her mother was overweight, what they once called healthy. Her sister was,
and their children did not hang, all skin-and-bones.
Lanky, stalks me, like an empty corn field in October.
Rain falling, collecting in the grooves of the dirt.
Mud forms in the cold, full of minerals and nourishing elements.
I drive past them all, each day; each hint of wheat color remainders,
broken off at the beginning of its growth, jagged reminders
growing smaller in the rear view mirror.
The window wipers grind, back and forth in unison,
clearing yellow, orange and browns, remaining greenish,
a few crumbling edges break away.
They fell and drop with seasonal showers—debris clears.
Every day we cannot experience warm and fuzzy.
October 2, 2014
I haven’t been on Amazon.com too much, outside of looking for links to books, but I found this gem of a review for my own book. And how wonderful this one is. I am going to seek these people out and hire them to write reviews for Red Dashboard Publishing…
Before you go to Texas, do yourself a f(l)avor and read Stelling’s debut poetry collection, My South by Southwest. In this book she doesn’t mince words but barbecues them till they’re glazed and bubbling off the page.
On the surface, this is a poetry collection about Texas but it’s only the backdrop in which Stelling paints her portraits. She takes the landscape and brings it to life with her unparalleled voice for capturing the world around her. She employs the landscapes tastes, music, history, and language and weaves it into her poems. Her skies are denim-blue; her barbecue is cooking up ribs, steaks, pulled pork and shrimp, and her men have six shooters and tin stars.
She takes the simple and not so simple joys of the human experience and spins it like a coin leaving you wondering if you’re going to land on you A$$ or fall on your face.
The collection is an intimate look at her upbringing, recollecting emotional moments in unusual ways. She retells the stories of her youth, her family, and how the landscape connects and changes her into the woman she is today. In “Cowtown, Texas, 1975” she writes a poem about first love that ends with:
Does she know you plan to break others like us –
leading each one out to pasture
to chew on your words?
“Hearing the N Word in 1966” is a powerful poem about a girl bringing home a colored friend to play and her momma stopping it from happening. The poem ends with the child growing up and finding out her paternal grandparents were Native and African American and had fallen in love in the Alabama tobacco fields. The poem ends perfectly with:
Now that was something calling, many
years back from the dead,
their own kettle black.
Stelling is able to take something as simple as finger sucking as a toddler and turn it into “There’s a New Sherriff In Town”. Her finger sucking becomes the barrel of a smoking gun that her family tries to break with hot sauce and other ‘gross’ stuff. In the end the toddler wins with:
I packed up my rocking-horse and
Its shiny new black saddle
And headed into deep
(under the) cover.
Stelling writes openly in a witty and intelligent style. Her poems are narrative driven and confessional. She lets us see, feel, hear, smell and taste the landscape and even lets us laugh at it. Stelling shows us that poetry is from every place: the heart, the head, the hand, and by God–from Texas too!
Another one mentions ‘Not exactly Cowboy Poetry, but definitely cowboy culture.’, and I know that. But most who’ve met me in the past have actually asked if I ride a horse and where are your boots and hat? Just like I assumed everyone in New York weren’t friend, and New Jersey people were all ganstas, it’s all good, right?
I was talking with another poet friend, “you know reviews”, they are poetry. I might have to publish a book of reviews just to prove that point!
August 3, 2014
To be honest, I cringe everytime I read rhyming poetry. Then I realize it gets down to more than the abab aabb cdcd types of word rhyming, it’s the cheesy topics and deep feelings splattered on the page. But I do respect all forms of poetry. I have to, otherwise how can I expect others to take my own new form of story prose poems seriously.
I decided to attend a cowboy poet festival, a celebration of The National Day of the Cowboy event down in Texas. An excuse to return home for some friendly companionship and food I cannot get in New Jersey. And did I mention my own book needed some down home attention?
My company Red Dashboard LLC Publishing has published quite a few cowboy poets on Cowboy Poetry Press, so it was time I dig my boots into what makes this such a popular poetry form in the Southwest. Where did ‘The Cowboy Way’ lifestyle start and find its way into the written form.
I arrived in Dallas and picked up my little sister, Mary. After careful planning we packed up my rental car and headed 2 hours Southeast. The drive alone reignited my love for the state. I am still thinking about the stops we didn’t make, good photo opps. Dagnabbit! There is always next time!
I had to arrive no later than 3 pm, my author Smokey Culver (pictured with me above) had a 5 o’clock radio interview on KWBY out of Stephenville, and a meeting with a poetry local, Elaine Shields, who had set up the interview/reading.
It was getting hot. I was determined not to be a tenderfoot, I would endure. Thank goodness for A/C and hotels. My sister and I sang, made cell phone videos for FB, and got ourselves gussied up for the newbies. We had great time, and plenty of great laughs.
I read a few of my poems on the air, we attended a meet-and-greet in Hico, and had chicken fried steak and okra at an old eatery. All good. Unfortunately the next day the turn out for the event wasn’t great, but it was great fun to hang with so many cowfolk. Why even one of our CPP authors, Leroy Trussell drove over from Marble Falls, Texas to meet me and Smokey. I was a bonified celebrity now.
What did I learn about Cowboy Poetry during this visit? Would I feel a closer connection to something I had decided to publish? There is a large market for it. Yes, I could get into it. Study it more closely, and maybe help those who wanted to write it, felt they did, bring them closer to their dreams. Why not. I’m a permanent student of life and poetry, so yes, why not?
March 31, 2014
What a weekend! I had a chance to go into NYC with my buddy Dennis McDonough, who writes for Elmore Magazine, NYC/NJ. They send him into the city to catch acts here and everywhere. He talks about this stuff, and about going onto WBAI with Bob Fass, Radio Unnamable. I have never caught him on, feel bad about it, but man he is a whip when it comes to music knowledge and poetry.
He ask if I wanted to go on with him one Thursday, I said Heck yeah! So we planned it, but in and around a few acts he had to cover- John Gorka and Garland Jeffreys. And as I said, it freaking rocked. These guys are great, in spite their celebrity, they allowed me to hang out. They adore Dennis, he has given them great press, but why not there shows were awesome.
I passed a bootleg copy of my book onto both, we shall see. I got an email from one of them, thanking me. Thrilling! Okay, I am a groupie, sooooo.
If you want to hear me, go here: WBAI > find this below, Radio Unnameable>
scroll mp bar over to 2:44 and you will hear Dennis begin singing Happy Birthday to the station host friend ,Lenny. I’ve been invited back this Thursday for more time. It’ s too long to explain why we only got 17 mins.
Sigh. The muse hides itself and I am running around looking for it. Hide and Seek. Not so bad, just means I need to read more. Now that my own manuscript is done and out for blurbs from three prize winning poets, I want a new project to work on. I discovered a western poet who wrote a book called Johnny Ringo, Red Shuttleworth, so I ordered his book; it is a full length poem, not in prose, but a page by page blow of his life as an ownry outlaw, maybe just a misunderstood man who was born in the old west (Tombstone, AZ).
Something I might have to sink my own teeth into! Let the rodeo begin!
December 31, 2013
Yes, it has. Outside of my abcess and oral surgery, things are going well- Red Dashboard LLC Publishing is off to a good start, my first book is finished, and a few new poems were picked up and are in StillCrazyLitMagazine – ‘Mirrored’ and ‘Can’t Shake These Cowgirl Blues’. Both recently written pieces.
I was invited to participate in a New Years Eve poetry/performance marathon reading in NYC- ESTRELLAS EN EL FUEGO!/STARS IN THE FIRE! The Alternative New Year’s Day Spoken Word/Performance Extravaganza 20th ANNIVERSARY, and am excited. The literary scene is hopping this year and next. The AWP conference is in Seattle and I will be there for the week.
On a more personal note I will be having gastric bypass surgery, hopefully in the spring or summer. I am ready to shed the weight I gained after my daughter passed away 13 years ago. Getting around has been tough, it is time to begin anew in body, mind, and in spirit.
Happy New Year Everyone! PeACE… E
(photo above is Flanders the duck on Long Island- Northfork, Long Island, NY, and in Flanders the town)