Monday, September 25, 2006

Geaux Saints

I can't tell you how exciting it is around here today--the Dome is all ready to go for tonight's game. Downtown is shut down, people are all out in the streets going nuts in their black and gold. The pregame show starts at 5:30. I think kickoff is at 7:30. Today in the paper they ran a picture of the dome lit with purple, green, and gold lights. It was really beautiful.

I know some bad things went down in the dome, but today and this game and all of the excitement leading up to it is symbolic of something very important to the area. People have been talking about the saints, and this game in particular since last spring when we learned the opening date in of the dome.

I've heard lots of talk about how tonight's game is just a temporary bounce back, that the Saints are doomed in the long run--all kinds of negative stuff. Well, keep it to yourself, at least until tomorrow. I hope none of ya'll are wasting space in the Dome tonight.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Flaming Fire

Thanks to all of my well wishers.

I just got my blurb from Fairchild this morning. I think it may be the only one I need.

In other news, there was a fire in my office building on Saturday, and classes were cancelled on Monday as a result. I was probably more excited about this than I should have been, but a day off was just what I needed. I did no poetry or school stuff. Instead I did a week's work of errands, including a visit to my old friends at Helm Paint Supply so that I could get what I needed to paint my front door. I ran out of steam with the rebuilding right at the front door, but it's fixed as of yesterday. This was before noon. I had two hours before picking up the kids, so I started ripping wallpaper off of the walls in the hall bathroom so that we can redo in there. Peeling wallpaper is my crack cocaine. Bryan had to force me to go to bed last night because I just couldn't stop.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Big Muddy

I've known this for a week now, but now that my contract is in hand, I think it's time to announce that my manuscript Big Muddy River of Stars was chosen by B. H. Fairchild as winner of the Akron Poetry Prize. The book will feel released next fall by University of Akron Press.

I feel pretty good about this. Fairchild wrote one of my favorite books of poetry ever--I never dreamed he would be writing a blurn for my next book.

Also this week came a letter from the Southern Review that they'll be using two of my newest poems, and these are Katrina poems, in the forthcoming special issue Writing in the South.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Under the Bridge

So glad yesterday is over--I am really tired of having all the old dredged up memories and pictures thrown in my face, though I will say that I thought the Spike Lee documentary was very good. I don't understand the outcry against it--it's not only limited to a discussion of the poor black experience, but if it were, that would be a pretty accurate recording of events. He was best at selecting people to interview at length, snippets of which appeared throughout the film. Their voices and experiences were very funny and moving--and you got a chance to see them step forward or back. Very good.

At the same time I can understand why people have a negative response to the film--you feel like he isn't telling YOUR story, because he isn't. These events were so personal, and at the same time so widespread and catasrophic, that every one wants to feel like the world is hearing and seeing their story. I feel that way, and despite my hardships over the last year I am one of the ones that came out on top.

As I think about it, a year ago yesterday wasn't bad for me, because I didn't know anything yet. At that time I was worried sick, as much about the hurricane as the fact that Cleveland, Mississippi lacked a Starbucks. It was Tuesday morning, for me, and the following week learning that I was homeless, my mom was homeless. my brother was homeless. For a while we truly had no idea what we would do, or where we would stay, or, or, or. It was four days before we heard from my father in law, and more time after that before we knew about the house, because no on could get in to see. Being so close to the lake, we thought for sure we would have flooded, but no, it was just trees. We had terrible wind, as the eye of the storm passed twenty miles from me. Jay knew his house was flooded to the roof from looking at satellite pictures, and my mom knew about hers, because my cousin is a Jefferson Parish Police officer, and was able to get in and then send a text message.

Yesterday in the paper was the story of a man--a grandfather--who on the day of storm found himself, three granddaughters, his mother, and brother on the roof of their ninth ward home FLOATING DOWN THE STREET in the floodwaters. In their attempt to reach a safer haven (another floating house) the man lost two of the granddaughters to the floodwaters. One turned up later. One drowned. His mother died awaiting rescue. Unendurable grief, and that's just one man's story.

I have often wondered about how my father would have responded to this storm even though he died years ago. I know he would never have evacuated early, so he would have ended up being one of the ones needing rescue. I don't know where he would hav elanded, but my dad was the kind of person to well in situations that involved strating over. Always, and especially since he died five years ago, I have thought of New Orleans as his city. I used to actually hurt passing by to see the places we ate or danced or whatever. It was a pain in me. Now those places are either gone or changed forever, and that pain starts again.

And my kids still play helicopter rescue, and when they find someting they shout out--LOOK--it got saved from the storm.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Today is my third straight day of maintaining a positive attitude, and it is more tiring than ahy machine I torture myself with at the gym. It is SO HARD not to participate in the wee negativities that occur around me at all times.

So here are some good things from the last few days:

My youngest (3.5) started gymnastics today, and he was so cute and so excited. I truly believe he has natural talent.

My poetry students are a diverse and interesting group--we did some writing in class on Thursday, and tomorrow I have gret lecture planned for them.

My freshmen are not whining--they are interested, intelligent kids so far.

Two poems accepted for the NoTell Motel Anthology.

I finished an essay about my Li Po poems for a forthcoming anthology about poems that deal with literary obsessions, and they wrote back to say they really liked it.

I got a letter from CSUP detailing what they enjoyed about my manuscript. I thought that was sweet.

While writing with my students in class on Thursday I figured out how to revise this poem that has been stumping me.

That's all I can think of, and it's Muppet time in my house.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Well, official word came today that another chance at a book bites the dust. It's no surprise, because I had sort of figured it out already, but I'm still bummed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Well, Shit


My homeowner's insurance has close to doubled since last year. I have a named storm deductible of 5% of the appraised value of the house. (So they send the cheap ass adjustors out to dick you over how much it will cost to fix your house, then hold back the first ten thousand dollars.)

Additionally, each househould in the state (I believe) is being assessed $355 to help pay for the insurer of last resort, which is required to maintain non-competitive rates and pick up the significant homeowners who have been and are being dropped by their insurance companies.

Where I live in Mandeville, the corps of engineers has been so slow to remove dead and dying trees that the pine beetle has set in. This bug can kill a tree in a week, and it spreads like crazy. So, the corps being so slow to get to my yard did not arrive before the beetle. And they won't cut down a tree if they can blame it on something else, as in this case. So I've got four more trees to remove (80 foot pine trees run about a thousand dollars each to cut down and remove). And alread we've lost three trees (the ones that landed on the house) and paid to have five others removed.

Flood insurance (keep in mind, this is a second, costly policy) is also going up. And my aunt (minimal flooding in Katrina) got her new policy, and guess what the exemptions are--flooring and sheetrock. If your house has ever flooded, you know that these are the two things that must be replaced--even with a little bit of water--say ten inches--you still have to rip out four feet of sheetrock, rehang it, float it, paint it, etc.

I should be happy to report that I should be soon hearing about a book, but I have a hunch that this is one tree that won't tip in my direction.