December 4, 2013

Generational Literature

Mother Nursing Her Child by the Fireplace
Albert Neuhuys  via Wikimedia Commons
Hey gang,

Just a quick pop 'round to let you know that two of my poems, "Laundry Day," and "Mother & Child," appear in the most recent issue of Generations Literary Journal.

It is a beautiful affair, so head on over there and get yourself a copy!

October 23, 2013

Cortlandia

Gene Daniels, NARA

I am honored to have a poem in the new issue of The Cortland Review. Check it out! You can even hear my squeaky voice if you so desire. Alas, I will never find employment in radio. 

October 14, 2013

Notes from the Foothills

A hint of autumn color on the trail
We've moved across the country, and it turns out October is half over before I realized it had begun. That's how it is in California. In New England I would start watching in August for the pinkening tips of the leaves, at first with dread for the end of summer, and then as September whipped past us, with joy for the riotous color.

By the end of October, though, the color weakened, like a powerful witch being drained of all her magic as the leaves tossed themselves to the ground, and the weight of winter settled itself on my chest.

Lichen covered granite
I miss the color almost feverishly. I look around my hometown, and I kick myself for all the times I ranted about how California does have changing seasons, damn it! I think back on all of those smug New England faces, nodding their heads with eyes closed in a most patronizing fashion, and I know they were right: It's just not the same. It pains me.

I don't miss the dread, though-- not in any way. I don't miss the mountain of wood dumped on our front lawn every August. I don't miss wheelbarrowing it into the house all winter long because we never had enough time to get it in before the snow fell. My sore, frozen hands trying to make a fire. I really, really don't miss the cold. In fact, I feel downright buoyant at the lack of cold. At morning drop off at the elementary school, some of the moms complain about how cold it's getting in the morning, and I smile, nodding my head in a patronizing fashion. I know from cold.

Canal trail 
 So, I moved back to my hometown after being away for more than twenty years, and it's weird. In Alice Hoffman's The Probable Future, one of the characters goes back to her hometown, the house where she grew up, and she says it's like being two people at once: the adult she is now, washing the dishes in the kitchen sink, and the sixteen year old girl she was, climbing out the kitchen window to meet her boyfriend in town. Exactly.

Around every corner is a memory, and they are not particularly good ones.  Well, I just have to tinker myself some new memories.


But here's the wacky thing: I know there's more than one teenager out there who's a self-involved snit, but I must have been the queen of them. My focus was turned so incredibly inward that it's almost as if I didn't live in this town at all, which makes it incredibly interesting to discover. Plus, oh my gosh how it has grown! I mean, we have an In-n-Out Burger and a skate park!
Buckaroo

One of the great things my parents discovered while I was away is this whole system of canal trails, and apparently everyone else discovered them, too, because they're all there-- walking their dogs, riding bikes, jogging.  These days Buckaroo isn't up for hiking much longer than an hour, and that's only if we ply him with sugary delights (and Sweet P prefers to stay home), but one of these days I'd like to set out and see how far we can follow these canals.


We have chicks! I want to name them after the Bennet sisters, but, ya know, everything's a democracy in this house. They are, as of yet, unnamed.  

















In the meantime, R hasn't lost his love of homesteading, so when he's not attached to his work computer, he's making plans for organic composting heaps and ordering wolf urine to frighten away the deer. He's very excited about the plethora of olives in these parts. He even tasted one straight off the tree yesterday. Blech. I guess everyone's gotta do it once.

Olives
 My camera was broken for a good, long time, and I was beginning to feel like I was losing my ability to see the extraordinary. I didn't realize how much my lens was tied to my pen. I'm super thankful to have it hanging around my neck again. In celebration, I thought I'd share these.
You tell me!

Weeds?

September 4, 2013

Poetry in Record Time

Photo courtesy of Lucky Louie at Wikimedia
With the awesomeness of the Internet, so many literary journals are able to add audio recordings of poems and stories to go along with the text of the author's work as well as those writerly head shots.

I've recently had two writer friends ask me how to record themselves reading their work in WAV format so that it might be added to a journal's web site, and honestly I wasn't sure how to answer them until today, when I had to figure it out for myself.

I thought I'd post my findings here, so that it might save you a little time and trouble. So here are the WAV recording dance steps. I have a Mac, so it may be slightly different for you if you don't. Also, keep in mind that I am a poet, and not in any way a techie:

1. Go to Softonic and download Audio Recorder 3.2. I was nervous about getting viruses and all that, but it didn't happen. I make no guarantees for you, however.

a. The Mac tosses downloads into the "Downloads" folder, which can be found in your finder-- in case that's new to you. Go there and click. It should be at the top of the list.

2. Open Audio Recorder 3.2 on your handy dandy computer.

3. When the itty bitty box pops up, click on "voice settings."

4. Click on "edit profiles" and a new box will pop up.

5. Click on "Format," and choose WAV. Close the box.

6. Click on "Record" and go to town with your authorly self. Make sure there are no kitties in the vicinity as they're always trying to upstage a reader.

7. Save the file in a place where you can find it easily. I saved it to my desktop until further un-neededness.

8. Smack your forehead and say, "Ha!"

9. I had to save mine to a disk. If this is the case for you, pop the blank disk into your cd rom drive, find the icon in your finder, and drag your WAV file into it. Mine had a little yellow and black waspy circle looking icon that I had to click before it would burn. Burn, baby, burn.

I hope that's helpful. 

August 27, 2013

From the Archives


Bipedal

1. Ball

A bright mosaic—
you are broken glass embedded
in the soft pad of my foot,
the impressionist painting
you’ve created on my floor—
not a field of red poppies, just
blood gone rust,
scattered salt.

2.  Bridge

I bruised myself easily
trying to impress
what wouldn’t remember:
the rutted out road
lined with spring flowers
turned summer thistle,
the dust thick in our throats
and Sgt. Pepper always on the cassette,
the rattle over wooden slats, my fear,
how I stood out there beyond the rail
above the cheers of drunken river-bathers,
waved at you, small at that distance
and all over the current.
The world swooned.
There was no screaming, only
wind, slap, and the under-silence.
My feet swollen July plums,
I didn’t walk for a week.

3.  Heel

It’s obvious isn’t it?
The last piece of unwanted bread—a bookend,
a labrador obeying this command,
the tough place at the end of a body.

Here I eat the stale loaf with marmalade,
surrender, circle in, stand close to myself.
I’m no Achilles;
this is a small sutured wound, and soon,
I’ll carry my own selfish weight
without even a limp.

**********

This poem was published originally by The Comstock Review. Thanks, Comstock! I've been thinking about it lately because I really did jump from that bridge (in the poem, not the photo). I bruised my bum, though, not my feet. I wasn't ready to put my bum in a poem. Now I live near that bridge again. I haven't been there in nearly 25 years, and I'm not sure I even remember the way, but I wonder what the fall looks like from the far side of forty.

July 4, 2013

All Sun and No Words

Greetings from The Land of Too Much Sunshine,

We have returned to California at last, and there's one thing we really can't say here in the foothills: "It's not the heat; it's the humidity."

It is the heat.

When Buckaroo and I get in my tiny silver bell of a car for our daily drive to the fully air-conditioned public library, the temperature reads an ugly 110. I'm thankful for my minuscule car for many reasons, one of which is that it cools down ever so quickly.

After the days on end of summer rain in Massachusetts, I promised myself I would never complain about California heat, so I won't, but I do complain often about my wimpy swamp cooler. I'm sure it's powered by squirrels, and those guys need to lay off the cookies.

I'm blaming the heat for my inability to think a complete thought, write a poem, read a book, cook a meal.

In fact, I had big plans to turn Buckaroo into a real foodie once we were in the land of plenty, but instead he eats hot dogs for dinner nearly every night, and that's if I remember to make him dinner at all. There have been evenings when I've announced, "Time for bed!" and he's responded, "It can't be bedtime! We didn't have dinner!" Oh, he's a clever one.

This is all by way of saying that I know I've been on the quiet side for a minute or two, but moving across the country really is something of a sucker punch. I hope to be back here soon enough with all sorts of poetic explorations for your reading pleasure-- or I may just post pictures of kittens. It remains to be seen.

Tra Laaaaa

April 4, 2013

Quidditied



Hello good people,

I'm so excited to share the audio version of my poem "Losing Your Daughter in the Bookstore," from Quiddity. Click on the "National Poetry Month" episode and gorge your ears on all the delicious poetry there. 

March 13, 2013

The Submission Count

I attended AWP in Boston last week, where there was much talk of women's place (or lack of place) in contemporary literature. (If you haven't seen VIDA's somewhat disheartening count comparing the number of men and women appearing in journals in the last three years, you can find it here.)

One response to the disparity found in the charts is the suggestion that women submit less often than men, and at one of the VIDA panels, Laura E. Davis, editor of Weave Magazine, asked women to give a show of hands if we had five, ten, or fifteen submissions out in the world currently.

I guessed that I had more than fifteen, but I wasn't really sure.

When I got home I decided to do my own little submission count. Keep in mind that I'm submitting poetry almost exclusively, usually three to five poems at a time, but also  poetry manuscripts.

My results for 2012:

Submissions sent: 71

Form rejections: 34 (ouch)

Personal Rejections: 12

Acceptances: 13

Other: 12 (mostly due to my poor record keeping)



As of today, I have 29 submissions drifting in the winds, waiting to land in the soft hands of a kind editor. I'm wondering how that compares to others.

If you've got a minute, and you feel inclined, drop me a line. Let's compare numbers. Men are invited, too, of course.



Futurecycled

My poem, "Since You've Been Away, the Garden" is now available from FutureCycle Press. Order your copy today!

The folks at FutureCycle are creating an anthology in honor of Malala Yousafzai as part of their Good Works project. Head on over and submit

February 1, 2013

Plugging In, Branching Out

Portait of a Lady at a Drawing Table by Paul Sandby
Hey folks,

I've got a new website where you can learn more about me than you ever wanted to know. Have a look-see: www.patriciacaspers.com.

Don't worry, though. I'll still be hanging around these parts.  



January 18, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Medusa by Jacek Malczewski, courtesy of  Wikimedia Commons
I've been invited by Cynthia Reeeser to share about my work in progress through the blog series The Next Big Thing. So, here it goes:


What is your working title of your book? _In the Belly of the Albatross_





Where did the idea come from for the book? It was sort of organic. I was combing through my poems and realized many of my poems were a variation on a theme.





What genre does your book fall under? Poetry





Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Ooh, I like the idea of a short film for each poem: Halle Berry, Meryl Streep, Keiko Agena, America Ferrera, Ralph Fiennes, Olympia Dukakis . . . .





What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? These poems give voice to historical, mythological, Biblical and contemporary women, and sometimes their stories are unexpected.





Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'm peddling it to manuscript contests at the moment.





How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The first poem was written probably ten years ago, but I've just recently gathered these poems into a collection.





What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Within my genre, I'd compare it to work by Carol Ann Duffy, although that seems pompous. Fiction readers might think of it as a poetic cousin to Anita Diamant's The Red Tent.





Who or what inspired you to write this book? I read these stories from the bible, myth, or legend, and so little detail is given that, as a writer, I can't help but try to fill in the empty space. Eventually I became interested in the way these stories mirror women's present day narratives.





What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? The title is take from Chris Jordan's photographs of the plastic-filled bellies of dead albatross as well as Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."






Thank you to Cynthia Reeser for the invite. Read about her Next Big Thing, Lefenstrausse, at Abstractions.


A few other writers you will enjoy:


Cassandra Dunn


Lisa Ahn


Marie Gauthier


Tarfia Faizullah


Laura Grodrian


January 16, 2013

More Adventures in De-Wheating

I realized that I left you all hanging with the half baked stout bread in my last post (from The Joy of Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Baking by Reinhart and Wallace), and I know how curious you must be. Here's the dealio: Buckaroo and R liked the stout bread. Buckaroo has eaten it for breakfast and dinner.

I, however, was not a fan. The bread is bready for sure. It has a fabulous-- dare-I-say wheat-like?-- texture, but as it turns out I just don't like the flavor of garbanzo bean flour, which is odd because I love me a chickpea. Dagnabit anyhow. It would lend itself well to a beer bread, though, and my friend Sparkle Mama has just the recipe to go with it. 

Sparkle Mama's Dragon Breath Dip

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
1/4 Tsp. thyme
1/4 Tsp. marjoram
1/8 Tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. milk

Blend and serve. We call it Dragon Breath Dip for a reason, and I think the spiciness of this dip would be enough to overpower the garbanzo flour flavor of the stout bread. 


Wintertidings

I can't believe I forgot to let you all know that I have a poem up at The Boiler. It's all awesomeness over there, so get to it.

Photo courtesy of Tom Courser at Wikimedia Commons

Post Script: Pancakes

I have a new pancake recipe thanks to my lovely Aunt Phyllis. Buckaroo and I found this one quite fluffy, but I did substitute milk for the water and added a smidge of vanilla and honey as well. I'm not sure that R will appreciate them as he is not a fan of coconut oil-- or coconut in any form-- but I liked them muchly, as did my five-year-old boy. 


Photo courtesy of Joshua at Wikimedia Commons
2 eggs 
Prepare wet and dry ingredients separately. Mix together. Heat skillet and a skosh of oil on medium until it sizzles with a splash of water. Pour a 1/4 cup of batter. Cook until the top bubbles, flip. I test for doneness by smooshing the top of the pancake. When it bounces back, it's ready. 
Yes, yum. I ate mine with apricot jam. 
Phyllis's Wheat-Free Pancakes

1/4 C milk 
1 Tsp vanilla
2 Tb coconut oil 
1 Tb honey
1 Cup of almond meal flour 
1 Tsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt. 


January 13, 2013

Wheat-Free Buckaroo


Today I'm diverging from my usual poetic ways to talk about my boy and his food.

Buckaroo still battles his unwheatiness, and it's tough. There are few foods the boy enjoys, and even fewer healthy foods, so I tend to stuff him full of bread, which makes him red, rashy, and itchy all over. When the rash is particularly angry, we cut back for a while, but it never lasts long.

Recently, Buckaroo developed a rash around his mouth, and I new that between the toasty breakfasts, Annie's Mac & Cheese lunches, and pizza dinners, we'd really gone too far.

I found The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking at my local library, skimmed through the recipes, and decided to give it a whirl. I mean, look at that cake on the front cover. It's gorgy.

I tried several wheat-free recipes for myself when Buckaroo was a nursling and didn't have much success as everything I baked had a certain mushiness about it.  That was five years, ago, however, and times are ever-changing.

Yesterday, I made blueberry pancakes a la Reinhart and Wallace, and can you say scrumdiddlyumptuous? I write this with a major disclaimer, though: I do not, in fact, enjoy the original pancake. Too mushy, too heavy, too much maple. Yuck. I enjoy maple syrup only in salad dressing.

These pancakes have some texture to them which I appreciated very much (they're made with almond and pecan meal). As we are not a diabetic family (at least not yet) I didn't use their sugar suggestion, but instead used palm sugar. I also used regular milk instead of soy.

The first couple of pancakes were very, very thin, but by the time Sweet P dragged herself from her princess cave, the pancakes had developed more puff.

In any case, Buckaroo enjoyed his pancake, although he prefers his blueberries on the side. He's a bit like Sally from When Harry Met Sally that way.

Now he's hoping for some gluten-free hush puppies, but as I write this I've got a gluten-free stout bread half-baked and rising high. Rash Be Gone! I'll keep you posted.