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Reading List 10 of 2017

September 14, 2017

Covers the period from 8.21.2017 through 9.13.17

I/we own 3 of these items. I saw 5 movies on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/etc. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 12 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 7.


Memoir & Biography:

  1. Life Work by Donald Hall
  2. The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds by Pete Fromm
  3. The Pawnbroker’s Daughter by Maxine Kumin
  4. Poetry Will Save Your Life by Jill Bialosky
  5. The Price of Illusion by Joan Juliet Buck
  6. Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto González
  7. Remembering Randall by Mary von Schrader Jarrell
  8. Tamed by a Bear: Coming Home to Nature–Spirit–Self by Priscilla Stuckey
  9. Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry by Donald Hall
  10. Why Not Say What Happened? by Ivana Lowell



  1. Fever & other new poems by Bella Akhmadulina, translated by Geoffrey Dutton and Igor Mezhakoff-Koriakin [1969]
  2. Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
  3. New York City Haiku – from the Readers of the NYT
  4. This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson [[Anishinaabe]]



  1. Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  2. Gifted, directed by Marc Webb
  3. The Intern, directed & written by Nancy Meyers [in Towson]
  4. Lion, directed by Garth Davis
  5. Their Finest, directed by Lone Scherfig
  6. This Beautiful Fantastic, directed by Simon Aboud



  1. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
  2. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde



  1. All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
  2. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
  3. Kraken: An Anatomy by China Miéville



  1. [Fiction] Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
  2. You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano



Reading List 9 of 2017

August 18, 2017

Covers the period from 7.11.2017 through 8.18.17

I/we own 6 of these items. I downloaded 1 e-book. I saw 2 movies on Netflix/Amazon/HBO. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 10 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 12.


Memoir & Biography:

  1. Dear Dodie: The Life of Dodie Smith by Valerie Grove
  2. Estranged: Leaving Family and Finding Home by Jessica Berger Gross
  3. Jane Austen: Secret Radical by Helena Kelly
  4. The Mighty Mighty Nature Crew and other true stories [sic] by Havi Brooks
  5. Morningstar by Ann Hood
  6. Rad American Women, A – Z by Kate Schatz
  7. The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir by Anand Prahlad
  8. Souvenirs: My Life with Maeterlinck by Georgette LeBlanc, translated by Janet Flanner [1932]
  9. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie [[FN-Spokane/Coeur d’Alene]]



  1. 3 Russian Poets: Margarita Aliger, Yunna Moritz, and Bella Akhmadulina, compiled and translated by Elaine Feinstein
  2. The Face of Creation: Contemporary [1988] Hungarian Poetry, translated by Jascha Kessler
  3. From the Potomac to the Patapsco: Ingeborg in Baltimore by Ingeborg Carsten-Miller
  4. Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970, edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain
  5. Poems by Maurice Maeterlinck, translated by Bernard Miall [1915]
  6. Serbian Poetry and Milutin Bojić by Mihailo Dordević [1977]
  7. The Techniques of Strangeness in Symbolist Poetry by James L. Kugel [1971]
  8. The World Is Round by Nikky Finney


Art, Fashion, & Film:

  1. The Director’s Six Senses by Simone Bartesaghi
  2. The Dress Doctor: Prescriptions for Style, from A to Z by Edith Head, illustrations by Bil Donovan
  3. Edith Head by Jay Jorgensen
  4. Making Color Sing: Practical Lessons in Color and Design, 25th anniversary edition, by Jeanne Dobie
  5. Judy Tuwaletstiwa: Text/Subtext [[FN-Hopi]]



  1. Finding Dory, directed by Andrew Stanton
  2. I Capture the Castle, directed by Tim Fywell
  3. Sing, directed by Garth Jennings



  1. A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl
  2. Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston
  3. The Rift by Nina Allan



  1. Central by Virgilio Martínez [Peru, terroir]
  2. Citrus by Catherine Phipps



  1. Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris


Reading List 8 of 2017

July 10, 2017

Covers the period from 6.20.2017 through 7.10.17

I saw 1 movie on Netflix/Amazon/HBO. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 7 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 2.


Native American/First Nations:

  1. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  2. The Land Has Memory, edited by Duane Blue Spruce and Tanya Thrasher



  1. Elza, directed by Mariette Monpierre [Guadeloupean]
  2. Jellyfish, directed by Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen [Israeli]
  3. The Royal Tailor, directed by Lee Won-suk [South Korean]


Memoir & Biography:

  1. Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner [white Australian]
  2. The Mighty Franks by Michael Frank
  3. Prince Charles… An Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith



  1. An Atlas of Countries that Don’t Exist by Nick Middleton
  2. The Silent Language by Edward Twitchell Hall [1959]


love letter and birthday retrospective

July 8, 2017


[Reflecting on having worried about ‘getting it right’ celebrating a milestone, which consumed the entire year between 49 and 50]

In January, I came up with a list of elements I wanted to be sure would be present:

  1. pretty clothes that feel pretty on my body
  2. jewelry
  3. cake (i.e., a delicious dessert)
  4. fruity drinks, nonalcoholic
  5. flowers
  6. dancing
  7. attractive setting
  8. trees
  9. interesting people


Having done several dry runs, combining various elements, I’ve discovered a few things.


Hoping to wrangle 9 elements is… stressful!

And if I somehow managed to achieve 7 or 8 of the elements, in flavor notes I enjoy… I can’t really enjoy any of them properly, because I’m overwhelmed by sensation, by intensity, and by the sheer volume of things going the way I want.

It’s unprecedented in my life to have a mass of complicated things go (anything like) the way I want.

I don’t… enjoy it. It’s weird and kind of icky.

{I wish I didn’t have to admit that.}

{I wish it wasn’t true.}


I like being someplace new, or at least different from home, on or around my birthday.

I like being able to surprise myself with discovering my setting: left to my own devices, I will never run out of things that catch my interest.

But if I have to combine those two elements with… human-social obligations, a great deal of my enjoyment dims. Even if it’s friends.

Spouse has been within earshot, or just down the path, or, in one memorable case, right there with me, when I’ve had encounters with the numinous. There’s only been one other time that I had a numinous encounter when a friend was further down the path from me. {New Mexico holds its own magic for me.} In all cases, though, for those moments, I was in my own world, me and the Other and the World.

I think it might be a special channel of hyper-focus.


I enjoy being with people I like, but human-social interactions (with people other than Spouse) drown how I want to feel on my birthday.

My birthday is about me. My birthday is for me. It’s the only recurrent day like that, and it happens every year.



This was the first ‘big’ birthday I celebrated in an autistic way, and… I liked it. Different [low-key; elements spread out over multiple days], but good.

Spouse wrote me a poem for my birthday… about me. And I recognize myself! Best gift ever.


8.22.16 A

I keep dreaming about Latvia. […] I want my poetry to be infused with joy and sense of place, and okay, loss and grief, but not… atrocities and horrors.

And yet… I’m the one in our family who feels everything. Who remembers family stories my grandparents told us when I was small. I’m the one who grew up on mythology and fairy tales, believing in what couldn’t be seen straight on. And I’m the one who became a writer and a poet.


8.22.16 B

On the — rare — occasions that someone [in my family of origin] has ‘had my back’ when I fucked up, what that meant was them saying something like, “Mea… tries hard, but you know she’s crazy, right?” Or, “Mea’s a little dim”, or “We love her — family, what can you do? — but she just doesn’t learn…”


If I was ‘doing everything right’, what would be lost?



Solving problems that matter.


Existing at edges, crossing borders.

Always being a stranger.





Meeting Others. Recognizing our kinship. Writing.



My Resolution this year is… to stop trying. Just exist, just be, just roll with what comes my way, and not ‘try to make specific things happen’. Just… learn who I am when I’m not judging myself.


Out of the car, I don’t listen to music much. I do watch music videos: Sara Bareille’s “Brave”; any version of “Call Me Maybe” with cute guys.  Captain Awkward recently introduced me to Ingrid Michaelson, whom I love; I re-watch her “Girls Chase Boys” and “Hell No” (with Deaf West Theater) videos over and over. Dancing! Sexy people wearing eyeliner and red lipstick! Body language! I also love Miike Snow’s “Genghis Khan” video. More dancing! Moral dilemmas! People in love! Joy!


Poetry for me is somewhat akin to… performance art? And those big ‘earth art’ things, usually out in deserts?             My [attempt at a visual/affiliation web] poem brings together people (nonhuman and human) and places, but ephemerally. Like a dance, it exists when experienced, it exists because I thought of it and made a record of it, but it’s not an object exactly. It’s meta-.



For a long time, a lot of my poems were, I now see, kind of self-consciously about water. Mea, and water.



I like letters because they make it easy to talk about one’s inner life. In conversation, though — face-to-face, or on the phone — I can never figure out how to make the leap from the other person’s “Annoying X that happened at my job!”/”Cool Y my dog did/friend said!” to my own “I was thinking about Z, and I realized [epiphany] Q! Isn’t that neat?”       Ime, most people care about things that other (mostly human) people do or say; they don’t care about thinking. But thinking is almost my whole life. If I can’t share that, I feel forced to mutilate myself so I can appear “normal”, all the while talking about things I can’t relate to, and have nothing of my own to contribute.


Writing poetry performs many services for me: (a) feeling my way through past traumas to arrive at making sense; (b) a laundry list of events, almost like a tarot reading, showing me what’s actually bothering me; (c) playing with sounds or with words, practicing different rhythms; (d) “sketching” with techniques I’m not sure how to make part of poetry — illustrations; folding, tearing, or crumpling the paper; topo maps; “dispersing” poems; (e) philosophically exploring my relationship to places.             All of that right-brained experimentation coexists uneasily with my left-brained love of data collection, sorting and categorizing, data analysis.

Reading List 7 of 2017

June 14, 2017

Covers the period from 5.22.2017 through 6.13.17

I/we own 5 of these items. I saw 3 movies on Netflix/Amazon/HBO. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 6 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 20.




  1. Early Grrrl by Marge Piercy
  2. Indian Giver by John E. Smelcer [[poet’s Ahtna connection seems to be adoptive only]]
  3. The Little Space: Poems Selected & New, 1968–1998 by Alicia Ostriker
  4. Masks by Ruthann Robson
  5. Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse by David Budbill
  6. Reasons for Moving by Mark Strand
  7. The Selected Poems of Rosario Castellanos, translated by Magda Bogin
  8. Whereas by Layli Long Soldier [Oglala Sioux]



  1. Poets at Work: Contemporary Poets — Lives, Poems, Process, edited by Betty Cohen
  2. QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, edited by Raymond Luczak





  1. For the Love of Spock, directed by Adam Nimoy
  2. Loving, directed by Jeff Nichols
  3. The Loving Story, directed by Nancy Buirski
  4. Meet the Patels, directed by Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel
  5. The Queen, directed by Stephen Frears


Memoir & Biography:

  1. An Anthropology of Everyday Life: An Autobiography by Edward Twitchell Hall
  2. Collecting Souls, Gathering Dust: The Struggles of Two American Artists, Alice Neel and Rhoda Myers Medary by Gerald Belcher and Margaret Belcher
  3. Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung by Min Kym
  4. Keewaydinoquay: Stories from My Youth, edited by Lee Boisvert [Anishinaabe]
  5. Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists who Shaped Art from Trauma by Melanie Brooks



  1. Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith [Book 1 in The Change series]
  2. Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith [Book 2 in The Change series]
  3. Rebel by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith [Book 3 in The Change series]



  1. Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction by Brandon Brame Fortune
  2. Metaphors Be With You by Dr. Mardy Grothe
  3. So You Want to Write by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood
  4. [Fiction] The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
  5. The Weather of Words: Writings on Poetry and the Imagination by Mark Strand





Poetry, published via CreateSpace:

  1. The Depths of Poetry by Janet Gillooly
  2. History of a Woman by Laura A. Lord
  3. Keep Still by Janet Gillooly
  4. Muses and Rhymes, 1968–1975 by Mansur Hasib
  5. The Poet Laureate of a Cracker Town by Randolph Bridgeman
  6. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace



Reading List 6 of 2017

May 18, 2017

Covers the period from 4.26.2017 through 5.17.17

I/we own 8 of these items. I saw 2 movies on Netflix/Amazon, 1 video on YouTube. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 9 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 18.


{71 days avoiding poetry collections ended 5.2.17.}




  1. The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler
  2. The Captain of the Butterflies by Cees Nooteboom
  3. Dreadful Wind & Rain by Diane Gilliam [AROHO]
  4. Five Sextillion Atoms by Jayne Benjulian [AROHO]
  5. Here by Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Barańczak
  6. In Praise of Mortality: Selections from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
  7. On the Bus with Rosa Parks by Rita Dove
  8. Salt is for Curing by Sonya Vatomsky
  9. This is What Happened in Our Other Life by Achy Obejas
  10. Weweni by Margaret Noodin [Anishinaabe]
  11. What If What’s Imagined Were All True by Roz Kaveney



  1. 11 More American Women Poets in the 21st Century, edited by Claudia Rankine and Lisa Sewell
  2. The Best American Poetry 2002, edited by Robert Creeley
  3. The Image of Black Women in 20th Century South American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology, edited and translated by Ann Venture Young
  4. Letters to Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics, and Community, edited by Jennifer Firestone and Dana Teen Lomax
  5. Milk & Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry, edited by Julie R. Enszer
  6. Poetry Speaks Who I Am, edited by Elise Paschen
  7. Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule, edited and translated by Stanislaw Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
  8. The Pushcart Prize #39, edited by Bill Henderson





  1. The Dressmaker, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse
  2. A Man Called Ove, directed by Hannes Holm
  3. Jackie, directed by Pablo Larrain
  4. Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone


Asking big questions:

  1. Ancestors of Worthy Life: Plantation Slavery and Black Heritage at Mount Clare [Baltimore] by Teresa S. Moyer
  2. Cross Worlds: Transcultural Poetics, edited by Anne Waldman and Laura Wright
  3. The King of the Ants: Mythological Essays by Zbigniew Herbert, translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter
  4. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by K. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
  5. Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture by Diana Senechal



  1. Growing Up Native American: An Anthology, edited by Patricia Riley
  2. The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency by Ellen Fitzpatrick {chapter on Shirley Chisholm only}
  3. The Sacred Threshold: A Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by J. F. Hendry



  1. One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry



  1. The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
  2. Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof



  1. How to Play Cajon by Ross McCallum





Poetry, published via CreateSpace:

  1. Asperous Artistry by Kondwani Fidel [Baltimore]
  2. Black Seeds: The Poetry and Reflections of Tariq Touré [Baltimore]
  3. Muse. [sic]: A Collection of Poetry and Prose by T. Danielle Walker [Baltimore]



Dream: 4.28.2017

April 28, 2017

{Nightmare. I haven’t had a doozy like this one in a while. I wonder what set this one off?}

There are at least four timelines for this dream. It’s possible I woke up several times, but kept reentering it.


There’s a big-screen TV at the far end of a large room, and a bunch people are sitting around watching it noisily. At the near end of the room, there’s a long desk. A woman who looks like Mackenzie Phillips is sitting behind the desk; my father is sitting across from her. I’m in a chair at the short end to Mackenzie’s right. Mackenzie and my father talking.

Suddenly my father turns to me and asks me what I know about Mackenzie Phillips. I’m confused. I say, “She’s right there, Dad, why don’t you ask her?” But he asks me to humor him, and I briefly wonder if they just look alike but aren’t the same person. It turns out I know a lot about Mackenzie Phillips, surprising even myself with my recollection — I tell my father I read a biography of hers.

I feel sad for how confusing and complicated her life is been, but I’m cautiously pleased that she seems to be doing well now.

At the end of it, she’s smiling at me, but doesn’t say anything. My father turns back to her and they start talking again.


I pick up a broadsheet lying around. Its title: “How to be your own therapist”. I think to myself, “well I know how to do that! I’ve been ‘counseling’ myself in between the 10 times I’ve been in therapy… since I was a kid really.”

Then I wonder if my father is in counseling, with Mackenzie? Or is our entire family somehow in counseling? Because why else is everyone here? The crowd at the TV includes Kendra and her mother, my mother’s sister. Why would they be here? Are they getting their own counseling? But then why do it at the same time as us? I’m confused.


There is some weird but playful hijinks with my brother Neal and one other person. In the moment it feels incongruous for me that Neal is actually acknowledging me, and acting? as if he wants to be there. Almost as if he likes me. But that can’t be right. I don’t pursue the thought.


{Here is where the endings split up.}


Our family session completed, all of us are walking down a very long hallway, that turns at odd angles, with a sloped slippery floor. I’m upset with everyone else so I go on ahead, but there are some weird acoustics allowing me to still hear what they’re saying. Damon and Erynn are maybe talking to a third person, maybe my mother. They say, “if Mea talks to Kendra, Kendra will ruin everything. We, no you, should forbid her to talk to anyone in the extended family!”

In the hall ahead of them, I wonder if I will have to lie to them directly. If I lie to someone who means me harm, is it still wrong? Better yet, can I somehow avoid promising anything?

From a side hall, I see Kendra. I rush over to her. I ask her if she was in counseling? Are we all in counseling? What on earth is going on?

She looks confused, overwhelmed.



{A very complicated and ominous set of circumstances, but I don’t remember any details. Perhaps thankfully.}



I got to the end of the hallways, still alone. I step out the main doors. It’s dark night with lots of stars. It’s snowing, and bitterly cold. I realize I don’t have socks on, and the car is parked way across the parking lot.

I have the sense that if I get into the car, if I wait for my family to join me, then I won’t leave the car alive. Or I will, but I’ll never leave their house alive — I’ll be shut up in their basement, as something they want to hide, until I starve. Or worse.

I run back into the building. In the lobby there’s a small store: maybe they’ll have socks! My mother finds me as I’m looking at yellow fluffy socks. She’s annoyed, wants us to get going. I want her to buy me these socks (since I’ve realized I don’t have any money with me).

Later, I put the socks on and they are warm but I still don’t have shoes. I walk back outside, separate from the rest of my family. I look up at the stars and fantasize that I can fly, that I can escape them and never come back.

Then my mother comes up behind me…



I want to know the truth once and for all.

I get all up in my mother’s face. I challengingly demand she tell me if she wishes I was dead. By the end, I’m screaming and crying, but I don’t let up on my question.

I’m making a huge scene, and everyone around is fixated watching us.

My mother wears this tight smile that I know only too well. It says, “I didn’t have to do anything! Now everyone around can see that she’s crazy! She did it to herself! This is perfect!”

My mother does not answer my question.

My mother does not say, “Hate you? ‘Wish you were dead’? Don’t be absurd! Of course I love you!” My mother says nothing, but keeps smiling.


{My body is shaking, and I dimly remember that there is a lot more. Scarier even. I don’t want to recall it. I’m afraid to.}



Today my father has a milestone birthday. His brother, my uncle Joe — my father’s best friend all his life — died in 2015, a month before he reached this milestone.


A month ago I wrote to a friend that I know my mother has long wished that I was dead. That while I first became aware of it in 1985, I’ve only gotten more convinced of it over the years since.

Say my cousin the rapist had, in fact, managed to kill me while I was living in his parents’ house. That would have, quite neatly, solved a bunch of my mother’s problems: the weirdo kid who (clearly!) was never going to be able to take care of herself; the changeling child that nobody liked; the supersmart child that yearned to do Big Things, change the world — couldn’t she see no one would ever help her!

When I was a kid, my mother made ‘jokes’ about wishing she’d had guppies instead of children, because when guppies pissed you off (?!), you just flushed them down the toilet. Problem solved! This image only got more horrifying as I got older.


Last night I was thinking about something my mother had said to 6 y.o. me that had traumatized me. I had long given her credit for thinking she had said it to reassure me, but it backfired.

Last night I realized, she wasn’t thinking of me at all. Of course she wasn’t! She was terrified for herself. She was using magical thinking to inoculate herself against disaster.

I bet she never once thought what the effect would be on me. Six year old me.

Preparing herself for what she knew would be a hard birth of her last child — a process that might actually kill her, and possibly the baby as well — my mother assured me that “if something bad would happen to me, if I were to die, you and your younger siblings will each go to your godparents, and be raised among their children. You will be safe.”

Before that conversation, it had never occurred to me that a parent could die.

But once it had been brought to my attention, why wouldn’t we stay with my father? (Granted, the only food my father knew how to make was toast. He did no housekeeping whatsoever. I’m not even sure he liked children. Still.)

Unlike my sister, my godparents weren’t married to each other — lived hundreds of miles apart. My godfather (Uncle Joe) didn’t like me, but he and his family lived geographically closer.

Now I worried I would never see my siblings again. That we would become strangers to each other.

I worried I would never see my father again.

Prescient, all of it.


My mother did almost die when Neal was born. The doctor gave my father a choice: good Catholic that he was, my father chose the baby. Somehow the doctor was able to save both.

(I know the above, by the way, because my father told 20-something me, during a long car ride in which I wished I was anywhere else. Another trauma.)


I don’t know what to do with these feelings, these confused and jumbled feelings, about people who don’t care about me and never did.

People who just saw me as a BIG EAR. As a hole to be filled up with everything they feared and hated and wished could just disappear.