salt small  

You might be in love with this project if:

  1. You like the idea of poetry, but it’s always felt reserved for people who wear large woven scarves and watch foreign films. You need some inroads, a little help to get acquainted.
  1. You love the conversation of poetry, what happens in a great workshop, or the collective intake of breath at a public reading, but poems alone on the page leave you a little flat. You’d like a tour behind the scenes.
  1. You feel intimidated by poetry. It seems a secret code or cop-out for writers who won’t just say what they mean. You want to know if there’s really a point.

The philosophy behind this project is: poetry doesn’t want your lunch money.  Poetry isn’t a bully.  Poetry is essential speech, one of the oldest containers for human experience and expression.  It’s salt – both flavor and preservative, something to savor.  And that takes a little time.

Poems are idea-concentrate.  Everything extra has been boiled off, and now there’s just a very rich deposit of high-density communication.  It will take more than one reading.  Part of the payoff is the practice of slowing down.  Poetry matters to me because it shows me how to settle in and look at  familiar things so I can see them in new ways. Poetry makes me a better observer of the world and my experiences in it. I would love for you to have that. I would love to show you how to use that gift.

A note about the ocean: the vastness and depth of a heart is the source of such salt.  The particular ocean I draw from is the heart of a teacher awash in words.  I’ve taught writing for fifteen years even though that was never my plan.  It was a calling that found me, and I have a flair and talent for it.  I love leading students to see meaning in three dimensions.  I love the moment they find the Easter egg themselves, after picking up the easy ones I’ve hidden in plain sight on the piano bench or window sill.  I’m a witness, an evangelist, a recruiter, a guide.  If this project can stand in for the teacher you never had to carry the spark, I’m delighted already.

Finally, how I dress:  I have a literal wardrobe of language – I wear my heart on my sleeve.  A fan of shirts with words, I run through a regular rotation of garments that read:




Fail.  Fail again.  Fail better.

Personal Trainer

Pick a word, any word.  I’d like this project to add that dimension to your reading and your writing, maybe making one or both a little more frequent and a little more free.