Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update from Sabbatical Land

Since I last wrote, many interesting things have happened—not least of which is the New Shiba Inu Puppy Cam (! Thanks to Professor Ballentine for alerting us to the arrival of the new litter. As many TCH readers know, I’m already a tad overwhelmed by my two dogs, but, as Professor Ballentine would no doubt point out, the cam is quieter. Thus, I highly recommend this serene-for-now (the pups were just born, after all) experience.

On the Research Agenda front, I’m happy to report that I’ve rediscovered The Sunshine Family (pictured above). Remember them: like “‘Leave It to Beaver’ set to a John Denver soundtrack.” Mom Steffie, Dad Steve, and Baby Sweets. And don’t forget Grandma and Grandpa (sold separately). These craft-makin’, flat-footed dolls arrived on the scene in 1974—of course!—and yours truly played with them while trying to talk her mother into buying a Barbie doll. So, yes, I had mixed feelings. Were they trying to teach me something? Hmmm…. I never have enjoyed learning a lesson. (ironic, huh?) Besides, Barbie’s clothes were so much better, though the Sunshines did have that surrey cycle…

Maybe The Sunshine Family + Candy Land = an essay. Possible. Certainly, Professor Allen and other theory pros could have fun with The Sunshines. For now, though, I’m working on a piece about/“about” narrative, Alice Munro, longing, and patience. Also, poems, though, to tell you the truth, writing or not writing has nothing to do with being on sabbatical. At least not for me. Basically, to write I have to pay attention to stuff like nature and emotions. Sometimes I’m capable; sometimes I’m not. Right now I am, so let’s not jinx it by saying any more!

On the other hand, if you really want to know more about How Poems Are Made, you can ask the folks at OLLI since they’ll be listening to me talk about this very topic… next week! Yes, I know: soon! I’d give you a little preview now, but, ahem, I’m not quite at the “sharing” stage yet. And thank you, Professor Allen, for inviting me to partake in this Very Special Experience.

OK, now where was I? Oh yes, new poems—lots of those—and lots of upcoming readings, including our annual Valentine’s Day Ladies of Creative Writing reading, sweetly and ably organized by Professor Brazaitis, another reading here on campus in March, and visits to Carnegie Mellon, the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, The Virginia Festival for the Book/UVA, Kent State, U Pitt Johnstown, and Marshall (this last one with Professor Brazaitis: thank you, Mark! … and will you drive?).

On the Serious Business of Being a Poet front, I’ve just begun proofing galleys for a limited edition chapbook, The Boom of a Small Cannon, that’ll be out soon-ish from Dancing Girl Press, and also did the final edits on “Close to You,” an “essay” (if you know my essays, you know why that’s in quotes) about prose poetry and Karen Carpenter, white space and the Army Corps of Engineers, “watershed moments” and scenic lookouts and charm for The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry.

So yeah, life in Sabbatical Land is just fine, thanks for asking. Now, I gotta go: time to put another coat of polish on my nails and then dash off to meet Professor Farina for drinks.


  1. OK, just so we're clear...Prof. Ballentine did not and does frequent 'puppy-cams' of any kind. I was simply passing along information I happened to acquire during my daily reading of the wonderful blog BoingBoing. A link to BoingBoing's coverage of the new Shiba Inu (what the hell kinda dog is that anyway?)is here:

  2. The Ballentine doth protest too much. Whatsa matter Professor B? You don like puppies?

    Mary Ann, you probably know this, but just in case you don't, there was a independent film called something like "The Karen Carpenter Story" that was shot using Barbie dolls. It came out when I was in college, and I recall it being weirdly moving (though there may have been some non-cinematic reasons for my response at the time).

  3. ...*Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story*... Todd Haynes' first film, long before *Velvet Goldmine* or *Far From Heaven.*

    Now,....Brian hates puppies?

    D. (posting from a site at quite a distance from Sabbatical Land known only as The Teaching Zone)

  4. P.S. ..."did not and does frequent"?

    So, do you hate puppies or not?