Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.



Which Way to Go?

You can't change the wind, but you can set your sails in the direction you want.

Favorite quote of James Durbin
American Idol Contestant
from Santa Cruz, California

Note: Sail boat photo was taken in Santa Cruz.


Just in Case You Missed the Opportunity to Help

It was not just one earthquake, and one tsunami that has done the unimaginable. The March 11 magnitude-8.9 quake (later changed to 9.0) was followed for hours by more than 50+ aftershocks, nearly 40 of them more than magnitude 6.0

Your donations are most welcome and appreciated.

Reputable organizations providing appropriate relief for Japan:

Relief orgs:

• Cruz Roja Española

• Canpan Fields (a Japanese nonprofit organization)

• Save the Children

• Non-Believers Giving Aid

• NGO Jen

• International Medical Corps

• Association of Medical Doctors in Asia

• Canadian Red Cross

• American Red Cross

• Doctors without Borders

• The Salvation Army

• Oxfam

• Global Living

• Care

• ShelterBox

Someone I love has family and friends in Japan.

Photo taken by Katsumi



Deep into that darkness peering,
long I stood there,
wondering, fearing, doubting,
dreaming dreams
no mortal ever dared to dream before.
~ Edgar Allan Poe

Photo Art by Elizabeth Munroz


Rowdy and Ruckus 1968

With the dust roiling up in the air, my sister and I shoveled our piles of junk into the middle of the floor. It wasn’t long before we needed to throw open the windows and doors so we could breathe. We were hanging around the house at Ft. Niagara Beach, by ourselves,  under strict instructions to get that room cleaned up once and for all, or else! Or else, what? Probably nothing, really. But we knew we needed to get the job done. It would have been a drudge, had anyone stayed home with us to look over our shoulder, but thankfully, we had been deserted by the rest of the family.     

WKBW, our favorite radio station blared on full volume. We had to shout over it to hear one another.  As Aretha Franklin belted out,  R- E- S- P- E- C- T!  FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME!“, we accompanied her at the top of our lungs.  There was something a little evil in our glee, knowing we must be bugging the heck out of our neighbors, especially Mrs. Steffan. We knew she was reporting my every movement to my ex-in-laws, and took special delight in giving her ammunition. They all seemed to think it would go in their favor for removing my kids from me. 

Once the radio began replaying the re-plays of the re-plays as they did on Saturdays, we turned it off and kept on singing as we picked up the clothes off the bedroom floor and separated the dirty ones from the clean. Then we carefully refolded the one’s Mom had just piled on our beds a few days before. Funny how everything had landed on the floor, with everything else. Well, we couldn’t help it. We were teenage girls. Or, rather, my sister was the teenage girl. I was the newly divorced mother of two, who wished she were a teenager again. Being with my sister automatically made me recapture being a teenager. She was full of energy and enthusiasm that I had thought deserted me, until I was around her.

We got a good rendition of “Amen” going traipsing around the house, clapping our hands, and swinging our bodies as though we were in a hot revival meeting. (I had never been to one before, but now, I know that is how we were acting).

Sorting out all the papers and trash was the easiest part. Anything that looked like schoolwork got trashed by wadding it up and giving a quick overhand heave-ho into the wastebasket. It didn’t take long to have it overflowing. Using the same method for sorting the dirty clothes we giggled and laughed maniacally. We both would have been great on a girl’s basketball team!

In the midst of our enthusiasm, we got carried away by the Four Tops, as we hauled the dirty clothes into the laundry room to wash. Energized, and no longer isolated to our room,  we decided to surprise Mom and clean up the whole house. So, we began cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. Then, singing louder over the vacuum with Diana Ross and the Supremes, we cleaned and straightened up the living room. Our voices getting hoarse, we changed to the Polish station that Mom’s friend, always Annie listened to. The rollicking polka music of the OOM-PAH-PAHed  as we grabbed each other and polkaed around the house until we grew dizzy, and tripped over furniture. We landed on the floor, laughing gleefully aware of how rowdy we were being and how it must be really annoying the hell out of old Mrs. Steffan next door.

What would she put into her spy report this week?


Note: The first picture is of my sister. The second one is of me.


Verna's Lines

Spring cleaning has taken over my life. While going through old file boxes, I came across the following written to me by Verna, which I find as touching today as when I first read it.

When someone believes in you
It is easier
to believe in yourself.

To know that someone
will remember your star,
when everyone else has forgotten
it was ever shining at all,
keeps you looking to the sky.

It is good and strong
to be happy for yourself
and all that you do.

It's just that when someone like you
has faith in someone like me,
the happiness is easier to find.

Look to the light for it never burns out.

1990 B.J. Verna


Free Yale Education

Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. You can take these free classes online from the comfort of your home. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.
When you click on the link, a random class is featured.  If you look at the column on the left you will see a list of subjects in which the free classes are available. 

For example: When I click on English there are four classes being offered. At the moment, I am most interested in Modern Poetry taught by Professor Langdon Hammer. So when I click on the class title, the class description page is revealed. This also includes a bio of Professor Hammer. At the bottom of the description paragraph, it says: view class sessions
Be sure to check the column on the left of this page, too. There is a way to download the complete class in Zip file if you do not want to do it one by one.
I learned about this from a very talented young writer, Nath Jones. Thank you, Nath!


The World Inside


8th Annual Poetry Workshop with
Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar

July 24-29, 2011
at Esalen, Big Sur, CA

Esalen housing sometimes fills up fast, especially the less expensive rooms, so register soon. Online registration is open now at esalen.org

Scroll down to the bottom for poems by Dorianne, Joe and Ellen

There is a world inside each of us that we know better than anything else, and a world outside of us that calls for our attention. Our subject matter is always right with us. The trick is to find out what we know, challenge what we know, own what we know, and then give it away in language.

We will write poems, share our writing, and hear what our work touches in others. We'll also read model poems by contemporary poets and discuss aspects of the craft. But mainly this will be a writing retreat-- time to explore and create in a supportive community. Though the focus is on poetry, prose writers who want to enrich their language will find it a fertile environment.

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy…that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist… It is not your business to determine how good it is…It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.   --Martha Graham

The focus of this workshop is on generating new poems. Dorianne, Joe and Ellen will each give a talk on craft to help us extend our skills. 

Dorianne Laux will talk on: The Spare Poem
After I've put everything in, what should I take out?  Big question.  HUGE.  We’ll look at a few poems by established poets such as James Wright, Jack Gilbert, Malena Morling, Jane Kenyon and Mark Doty to see what they might have left on the cutting room floor, how setting, implication and image can help us say it without saying it, how less can be more.
Joe Millar will talk on: The Fork In the Road

This year Joe will talk about various places where the poem in progress can change direction or mood and the delight that can arise from such turns and surprises.  We'll look at a few poems which shift and change their way down the page and consider some strategies for incorporating these techniques of mutability into our own writing.

Ellen Bass will talk on: Embodiment
The body is a great resource in poetry. By paying attention to the body and using physical detail, we can move our poems along the continuum from telling to showing, from abstract to concrete, from reporting to enacting. You don’t want your reader to say, “Oh, this poet feels really strongly about this.” You want readers to actually have the experience of that strong feeling themselves. We’ll look at poems which achieve this visceral impact, study how they do it, and practice some of those gestures ourselves.

Please join us if:

*You've hit a plateau in your writing and want to break through to the next level.

*You're just beginning and want to get started with supportive teachers.

*You're an experienced writer and just want a chance to learn more from the best.

*You're in a dry spell, due to lack of inspiration or time.

*You love to write and want a gorgeous, inspiring retreat.

Although the emphasis is on poetry, this workshop is open to prose writers too. Rich, textured, evocative language is the province of all writers, so this workshop will be applicable to writers of fiction and memoir as well.

Lastly, there's Esalen itself. If you've been to Esalen before, you already know it's one of the most magnificent places on the planet. If you haven't, don't postpone it. It's breathtakingly beautiful and deeply nourishing. We'll be having our group meetings in the Big Yurt this year. We'll also be breaking into smaller groups for individual attention. Participants will have an opportunity to work with all three teachers.

ELLEN BASS's most recent book of poems, The Human Line, was published by Copper Canyon Press in June 2007. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday, 1973), has published several volumes of poetry, including Mules of Love (BOA, 2002) which won the Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The Progressive, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, and The Sun. She was awarded the Elliston Book Award for Poetry from the University of Cincinnati, Nimrod/Hardman’s Pablo Neruda Prize, The Missouri Review’s Larry Levis Award, the Greensboro Poetry Prize, the New Letters Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a Fellowship from the California Arts Council. She is also co-author of Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth (HarperCollins 1996) and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (Harper Collins 1988, 1994), which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into ten languages. She teaches in many beautiful locations and at Pacific University's MFA Program in Oregon.

DORIANNE LAUX’s fifth collection of poetry, The Book of Men, was published by W.W. Norton in February, 2011. Her fourth book, Facts about the Moon, is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and Smoke, as well as two fine small press editions, Superman: The Chapbook and Dark Charms, both from Red Dragonfly Press. Co-author of The Poet's Companion:  A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, she’s the recipient of two Best American Poetry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Widely anthologized, her work has appeared in the Best of APR, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and The Best of the Net. In 2001, she was invited by late poet laureate Stanley Kunitz to read at the Library of Congress. She has been teaching poetry in private and public venues since 1990 and since 2004 at Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program.  In the summers she teaches at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill. Her poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Romanian, Dutch, Afrikkans and Brazilian Portuguese and her selected works, In a Room with a Rag in my Hand, have been translated into Arabic by Camel/Kalima Press.  Recent poems appear in Cimarron Review, Cerise Press, Margie, The Seattle Review, Tin House and The Valparaiso Review. She and her husband, poet Joseph Millar, moved to Raleigh in 2008 where she teaches poetry in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

JOSEPH MILLAR is the author of Fortune, from Eastern Washington University Press.  His first collection, Overtime (2001) was finalist for the Oregon Book Award and the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.  Millar grew up in Pennsylvania, attended Johns Hopkins University and spent 25 years in the San Francisco Bay area, working at a variety of jobs, from telephone repairman to commercial fisherman. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines including The American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, DoubleTake, New Letters, Ploughshares, Manoa, and River Styx. His work has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in Poetry, Montalvo Center for the Arts, Oregon Literary Arts and a 2008 Pushcart Prize in Poetry.  In 1997 he gave up his job as a telephone installation foreman to teach.  He now lives in Raleigh, NC and teaches at Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program in Oregon and yearly at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. and will be a featured teacher and reader at this year's Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ. Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa has said, “There's a tenderness at the core of Fortune, where the commonplace becomes atypical and fantastical, and each poem possesses a voice that summons and reveals. Joseph Millar is a poet we can believe.” His third collection of poems, Blue Rust, will be published in fall of 2011 by Carnegie Mellon Press.

Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations--ranging from $570 to $1105. The least expensive rate is for sleeping bag space which can be very comfortable, but it's limited, so you need to sign up for it early. Some work-scholarship assistance is available, as well as small prepayment discounts and senior discounts.
All arrangements and registration must be made directly with Esalen. If you have questions about the workshop itself, please email Ellen or call her at 831-426-8006.

Please register directly with Esalen
at 831-667-3005 or visit www.esalen.org


Enough Music

Sometimes, when we're on a long drive,
and we've talked enough and listened 
to enough music and stopped twice, 
one to eat, once to see the view, 
we fall into this rhythm of silence.
It swings back and forth between us
like a rope over a lake.  
Maybe it's what we don't say
that saves us. 

--Dorianne Laux (from What We Carry)



Long after daybreak they were still trying
to deliver me,  the birth blood dropping
on the hospital tiles, glittering under the lights.
I saw my father’s corporal’s stripes,
his tan army shirt that smelled of tobacco,
I heard the cold wind no one remembers
pouring out of Canada.

My mother wrapped me up in her robe
fragrant with camphor and sweat,
hushing my desolate howls.
She loved me and she hated me
through those early months
when I wanted everything she had,
and all my father wanted
aside from her warm, pale body,
was to finish his hitch and get
the hell out of the army forever.

Each morning fine grains of salt
glinted like ice on the kitchen table
and like the insatiable mammal I was
I fastened onto her chafed, dark nipples.
They named me Rent Money
because I didn’t pay any,
 they named me Popsicle, Little Tongue, Gasser.
In August the Japanese surrendered
and he mustered out in Wisconsin.
We headed east in a ‘38 Studebaker,
its big engine swallowing the miles
of America, wheat fields and highway,
Chicago and Cleveland,
and they named me So Long
It’s Been Good to Know You.

--Joseph Millar


The World Has Need of You

            …everything here seems to need us…

I can hardly imagine it
as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient
prayer of my arms swinging
in counterpoint to my feet.
Here I am, suspended
between the sidewalk and twilight,
the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.
What if you felt the invisible
tug between you and everything?
A boy on a bicycle rides by,
his white shirt open, flaring
behind him like wings.
It's a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you've managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn't care.
But when Newton's apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple as well.

--Ellen Bass


Calls for Submissions

Deadline:  March 31

Their featured poet is Todd Boss, author of Yellowrocket 
(W.W.Norton Publishers). 
Guidelines can be found on the website, EchoesPoetryJournal.com or emailing Echoes@earthlink.net.


Deadline: April 15.
Prize: $150

Looking for short fiction or memoir up to 750 words. Fee: $10 for processing only or $20 for detailed evaluation.  Visit www.writeradvice.com for complete guidelines. E-mail questions but not submissions to Lgood67334@comcast.net.

B. Lynn Goodwin
Writer Advice Managing Editor, www.writeradvice.com


Deadline: April, 30, 2011. 

Seeking creative non-fiction, short stories, fiction or memoir, poetry, digital imagery, and photography. Fiction and non-fiction submissions should be a maximum of 5,000 words. Each writer may submit three pieces for consideration. Reprints are acceptable as long as the author retains the copyright.

Submissions should be sent as attachments to an email and not pasted into the body of the e-mail. Multiple submissions are welcome and should be sent in separate e-mails. Use 12-point Times New Roman, single-spaced. Authors should include a photo when possible. The photo may be taken from any point in the author’s life. Also please include a brief biography.

While there is no specific theme, content may focus on aging in the gay community, historical hindsight and/or perspective unique to the GBLTQ person 50 and older.

E-mail submissions to: submit2gayNgray@aol.com


Deadline: June 1, 2011

Swan Scythe Press announces its 2011 Poetry Chapbook contest. 
Winner will receive publication and 25 copies of a perfect-bound chapbook with full-color cover.
For Guidelines: http://www.swanscythe.com/contest.html


Deadline: June 30, 2011

Please send 3-5 poems of no more than 35 lines and/or 1-7 pages of fiction to:

Snail Mail Review
c/o Kris Price, 3000 Coffee Rd, Chateau Apt #B6, Modesto, CA, 95355

 Contact us if you have any further questions at snailmailreview@gmail.com

Also, you can find us on Facebook by searching Snail Mail Review


Deadline: June 30, 2011
Edited by Shane Allison, to be published in Fall 2011 

Open to performance poetry, academic and traditional forms as well as experimental.  Themes: Coming out, sexuality, politics, growing up gay, civil rights, discrimination, love and relationships, same-sex marriages, erotica or serving in the military.  

Submit unpublished work, or work that was published since 2000. 5 to 10 poems as long as queer content is relevant. They welcome queer voices from outside the US.

Submission guidelines: Title file with the initials of the anthology and author’s last name. Include your name, mailing address, email, and a bio. Submit work by email as an attachment in rtf format, to newqueerpoetry@gmail.com
If poems have previously been published please include in your document where and when and be sure you hold the rights to your work.


Theme: Turning Simple Words into Shimmering Works
Friday, March 18 to Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bosch Bahái School, 500 Comstock Lane, Santa Cruz, California. 
The California Conference, in its 28th year, takes place at a 67-acre retreat center situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 

Presenters: Rachel de Baere, Richelle McClain, Mary Reynolds Thompson
To register, please go to www.iwwg.org 


August 6-13, 2011
at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Deadline: April 15, 2011 for applications and scholarship requests. 
Begun in 2007, the Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices is the first program of its kind ever offered to LGBTQ writers: a one-week intensive workshop immersion in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Retreat is open to emerging LGBT writers of any age. This year’s faculty includes Carla Trujillo, Ellery Washington, Eloise Klein Healy, Claire McNab.

Space is limited to 9-12 students per workshop. Some publication history is desirable but not required. To download a PDF of the 2011 Retreat application, go tolambdaliterary.org.


Overcoming Setbacks

I will encounter setbacks along the way to my goals. These setbacks may depress me and crush my spirit.

But I will refuse to accept defeat, for these setbacks are only temporary. I will fight back. I will never stop trying, for there's always another way, usually a better way.

I will always remember that many of the world's most renowned leaders throughout history overcame immense obstacles, rebounded from crushing defeat and refused to yield to seeming disaster.

Found in my old scrapbook
Author unknown