Monday, November 19, 2012

Flowers in November

This is one of the poems I wrote for the 30 Poems in 30 Days fundraiser. It's also included in the event anthology published by Center for New Americans. When I sent this poem out as a thank you to my sponsors for that event, my dad wrote back and asked if witch hazel blooming in November is a sign of climate change. Nope — there's no need to worry about this particular plant. This variety normally blooms in the fall.

Hamamelis virginiana

In November
you can still find dandelions
blooming, half buried
in dirt and gravel by the road.
In the woods, witch hazel
waves gnarled petals
every cockeyed way at the sky.
Bare, gray or brown is everywhere
you look, except for these
tiny yellow messages.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

30 Days, 30 Poems, 30 Plants

This November, I intend to write 30 poems, each one about a different plant. Why 30 poems in November? It's a fundraiser for the Center for New Americans in Northampton, MA, which provides education and resources to immigrants and refugees. Why plants? Because I love them, I've been writing about them for years, and I enjoy well-defined writing challenges.
A more-than-head-sized head of lettuce
from Mountain View Farm in Easthampton.

Some people like writing in forms (sonnets, villanells, etc.) because the form gives them a parameter within which to explore difficult or unruly topics. The structure of a writing time period has a similar comforting yet challenging effect on me and my creative process.

If you'd like to help this project, please donate (and ogle at a giant head of lettuce) on my fundraising page. And if you'd like to sign up for the challenge yourself, do that here. For locals, there will be a reading on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. in Stoddard Hall at Smith College.

Many thanks for your support, whether in dollars or in spirit!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Atheism Billboard 2

Here's another poem inspired by these atheism billboards. This poem was also influenced by an article (that now I can't find) about how technology isn't inherently egalitarian. Some people like to think that more access to technology will solve all our problems, but until we work on ourselves and our society, technology will still reflect personal prejudices and societal inequality.

On the First Day Man Created God

So what? “Man” has created many things.
Tape measures, Big Macs, hula skirts ...
God, however, is still in development.

God beta was divisive and unevenly
distributed. God 2.0 was supposed to solve
everything & put love first.

Now interactive multimedia God promises
true equality, etc.
Wanna bet how that will turn out?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Atheism Billboard Pulled

I wrote this prose poem last month after seeing this post about three billboards put up in Ohio by an atheist group. They were pretty thought-provoking (and controversial, as we might expect).  The title is based on the billboard's message.

Reason Is a Virtue

We are as mice. Someone always wants us dead. Only in the garden can we be safe, but that place has been lost to us—if it ever existed beyond legend. The wheel turns, the hand of one who hates us cracks a whip. They tell us a story with a before and after, but the sun knows better. There is only turning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Forbes Writing Room Reading

Forbes Writing Room Reading
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
7 p.m.
Coolidge Museum

 writing room
 Every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9:30-12:30, writers of every description -- novelists, poets, memoir writers, essayists, journalists, translators, performance artists and more -- join Forbes Library Writer In Residence Susan Stinson for companionable writing time. The Writing Room has been open for two years, so we're celebrating with a reading. We end our writing time together with the option of sharing a quick taste of our writing, and now we're offering a sampler to the community.   

Join us to hear:

Katie Arroyo
Sally Bellerose
Kat Good-Schiff
Jamila Gore
Bill Gural
Cynthia Hinckley
Grace LeClair
Rick McNeil
Kristi Mientka
Naila Moreira
Mary Nelen
Megan Nolan
Mistinguette Smith
Jill Turner
Susan Stinson

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blueberry Memories

Here's one of the poems I wrote last month during National Poetry Month. It's part of a series I'm working on, a memoir told through plants. This prose poems combines a happy childhood memory with an adult's perspective on the oblivious selfishness we all have as children and must overcome to grow up as considerate people who will take care of our world and respect each other. The title is the scientific name for wild blueberries.

Vaccinium angustifolium

I was sent to summer camp. We made things: bracelets, a tipi. We swam and sang. Every Saturday, a yellow bus took us with our brown bag PB&Js to the foot of a mountain. Climbing separated customary clusters of friends. I saw strange trees. My feet learned about rocks. At the top, all that wind and more sunshine than we knew what to do with. Handfuls of tart little blueberries proffered themselves from short bushes with tiny leaves. Was everything in the world designed to care for us? We left our orange peels on the rocks.

Monday, April 16, 2012


It's been a while since I posted. I've been getting used to my new job (and the hour less a day I have available with my new commute). But I have been writing. I took a class at Flying Object that provided me with a new set of fabulous peers and some helpful feedback from teacher Rachel B. Glaser. And so far I have written every day for the month of April, which was one of my New Year's resolutions. (Patting self on back.)

It's NaPoWriMo!
I will not be posting every poem here. Most of them are just beginnings. But in the spirit of beginnings and accountability, I'm going to update this post with the first line/sentence or title of each day's writing. At the end of it all, I plan to create a collage poem from all 30 pieces and will (probably) post it here.

The days so far...

April 1: Consider the lilies of the valley...
April 2: The twins were separated at birth.
April 3: What happened next is difficult to tell.
April 4: I procrastinated many things today but I did my jealousy homework.
April 5: First there was skunk cabbage...
April 6: And now, lightning and thunder make sense.
April 7: All that breath.
April 8: Cairo, Egypt, 1999
April 9: So much lust in the garden - and yet the zucchini had nothing to say.
April 10: Slice open my chest and what will you find?
April 11: In the house of big ideas, a tiny mouse-child scurries.
April 12: Song for Myself
April 13: The Light of the Self Can Bear Anything
April 14: I am more determined to love you
April 15: After the description of thorns, bricks...
April 16: I was sent to summer camp.
April 17: After the breakup, people I didn't know showed up to comfort me.
April 18: Nothing Better
April 19: Her fingers have the dexterity of chicken bones.
April 20: In the garden, all is magic.
April 21: An Arbor at Noon
April 22: Today I fell through the floor of reality...
April 23: Oh no, don't give me a knight...
April 24: What Is Really the Matter?
April 25: Three Little Ones
April 26: Show and Tell
April 27: Bananas
April 28: A wise (wo)man walks into a hookah bar.
April 29: Oh, poem...
April 30: Spherical Aberration

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Subways, Instant Oatmeal, and Poetry

Recently I heard this interview with poet Aracelis Girmay. I really liked what she had to say about how poetry helps us slow down and is in many ways completely the opposite of all that's fast-paced about our lives. I was driving on Bay Road in Hadley through beautiful foggy farmland, and this poem came to my mind.

On the Radio, a Writer Describes How Poetry Is the Opposite of Instant Oatmeal

On my morning commute
soil, puddles, corn stalks, two-hundred-year-old maples, dogs, houses, line of pine trees, yew windbreak, rutted mud, rusty wheels, fog, pink sky, a man walking a dog, a woman standing in a driveway, mailboxes

and through them I can already see
blue cubicle, computer screen, coffee maker, Coffee-mate, struggle, window, notepads, agenda items, folders, chairs, notes, lists, schedules, flip charts, the need to retreat

but the existence of poetry
smoothes my gritty alone into a silky alone, paints the man and the dog into a scene by Van Gogh, cheers the woman in the driveway onto a stage.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolutions 2012

Grub Street has a nice post about making realistic resolutions. Here are mine - a bit ambitious and I'm feeling excited about them! 2011 was a drag for me in many ways and I'm determined that 2012 will be better both in terms of writing and overall well-being. May all our intentions do good for ourselves, our neighbors, and for the planet.

Regarding self-care:
to meditate every* morning for 10 minutes.

Regarding exercise:
to train for and complete a half marathon in September, and to continue running afterwards.

Regarding writing:
to write regularly (go to the Writing Room every* Saturday morning unless I’m out of town), and to write every day in April (in observance of National Poetry Month).

Regarding work:
to continue working my stated hours and to take a lunch break every day.

* where noted, every=most

My sources of inspiration: my dad for running and meditation, my favorite writers for their regular creative experiments, my partner for perseverance and self-care, and my mom for thriving despite challenges.

My image for the hard work needed to achieve these goals: the Gaian Tarot 9 of Earth. Step by step, incremental, dedicated work toward mastery.

What are your goals, intentions, or resolutions? Who or what inspires you?