Tag: Margaret Atwood

Hung up on holidays and poetry scribbling

Besides re-watching the episode where House and Cuddy finally get together and downloading the Sims 3 Seasons Expansion Pack, I might say tonight was uneventful. Hah! God, I’m lame. I also excitedly ordered the 2014 AP Stylebook, dined and gabbed with my wonderful aunt and aimlessly walked around Target staring shiny-eyed at the Christmas decor.

Before we go into Christmas… Halloween went swimmingly. Our Red Neck/White Trash Bash was a blast. I slipped seamlessly into that character, the hillbilly grandpa, and nearly didn’t come out of it. I’m pretty sure my roommate and I were annoying the shit out of everyone with our banter.

“Eh, Jeb, whyonchu hand me that there fancy beer (a Yuengling) and put somethin’ on the tube.”

You’ll have to check out my Instagram for some snaps of that.

In other news, I am once more attempting November’s Poem-A-Day from Writer’s Digest. It’s not easy. This time around, I’m allowing myself to produce small bits, to produce anything without hacking it away then and there. I’ve been feeling awfully inspired, poetically speaking. I’ve been reading more, which helps. What are you reading? Does what you read ever change the shape of your day, your thoughts? It’s powerful to get into a book too deeply. You might live there for awhile.

3 Books of the Moment

Along with these three, A and I have been reading Margaret Atwood’s trilogy beginning with Oryx and Crake. I have read two of the three long ago, so it’s a refresh for me. Even now, years after I first fell in love with them, they (and her writing) blow me the hell away. She really is my hero.

Ok, and here’s the riot-inducing exclamation of the eve: I had to stop myself from bringing up my little two-foot Christmas tree from the basement. I don’t know what’s wrong with me anymore. Ever since D, I just… I want it to be winter/Christmas all year long. Prior to this, I didn’t hate Christmas, but it felt like a cold stranger. It was sad mostly, nostalgic. In fact, I think I just made a lot of grumpy grumbles about it and everyone around me agreed.

And yes, I did listen to that damned Rosie Thomas song, “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” already. It’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard, Christmas or otherwise. I don’t know how it could be, as it’s a Alvin and The Chipmunks tune. As one friend put it, “Don’t listen to that alone!” My plan is to master it on the uke this season. We’ll see.

“If anyone of us could write the saddest song ever, it’d be you,” I’ve been told. Hmmm.

How much does a hipster weigh?

Yesterday’s Photo-A-Day May prompt was: Someone who inspires you…

My first reaction is always: ATWOOD! So I was creepin’ (as usual) on the great interwebs and found this stellar interview with her. I like it. I like the questions and her short, quirky responses. She’s loveable in most every way.

Not only was I inspired by her answers, but I was inspired by the questions, and so… like in the old days when questionnaire-type blog posts were socially acceptable, I decided to answer for myself. See what the lovely Atwood and I have in common. (:

This interview first appeared in The Guardian on October 28th, 2011. The author: Rosanna Greenstreet.


When were you happiest?
Who’s to say? Life just keeps getting harder, and so life always seems best or happiest in the past. Maybe.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing the marbles I have left.

What is your earliest memory?
Waddling about with a cast up to my hip, trying to get on the couch.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My restlessness. Not the productive kind, the other.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Contagious, jealousy-laden self-loathing.

What is your most treasured possession?
Just one? I suppose my jump drive (with all my writing!)

What would your super power be?
Saving all the people. Or invisibility. I’d love to watch people. Creepy.

What makes you unhappy?
Being bombarded.

Image thanks to: blogs.discovery.com

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Woolly Mammoth. Hell yeah.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Someone sassy. And awkwardly cute… until she opens her mouth. Can it be a cartoon? Daria.

What is your favourite word?
“And/&”—which is oddly enough, Atwood’s favorite word. CRAZY! It’s nearly infinite.

What would you wear to a fancy dress party?
A tux, duh. With a bowtie. Black. 

Is it better to give or to receive?
To give. I’m bad at receiving. In all ways.

Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t know, actually. I suppose I’m annoyed primarily by conservatives and their ignorant hatred. But a single person? Nah.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Shakespeare, Margaret Atwood, Tina Fey, Hilary Clinton, Maura Tierney, Tori Amos… shit, I gotta stop somewhere.

hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com —best EVAR!!1

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Um… “all the things.” As in: “Yes, I do all the things.” Or… “Have you cleaned all the things?” And… “I want to buy all the things!”

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Civil War era. The Underground Railroad fascinates me. Go, Harriet!

How do you relax?
If you knew me, you’d know this is nearly impossible. But the ocean does it sometimes.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Geez, I don’t know. When you’re sensitive, near-death experiences are a weekly occurrence. Hm. A wheelbarrow flying at my car on a back road, 2009.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Probably becoming a professor. Mostly because I was absolutely terrified and had planned on spending my life just dreaming of teaching. Otherwise, losing 70 pounds. Maintaining a mostly healthy diet/exercise routine.

How would you like to be remembered?
Clearly I’m not famous, but I’d like to remembered for being passionate, funny, selfless and determined. That’s kind of generous, huh? Ok. Someone just remember I liked ice cream.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To swim. Every struggle is a wave. Just keep remembering that it’ll pass. Oh, and CoCo Wheats—no matter how catchy the ditty—does not taste as amazing. Hardly. Cocoa.

Where would you most like to be right now?
Nags Head, NC. Familiar but foreign. The Atlantic always sounds good.

Tell us a joke
How much does a hipster weigh? An Instagram.

Feel free to post and respond. Would love to hear some responses!

Something like Bieber Fever

While I have been toiling away at life matters—mostly teaching at this point, I have been immersing myself in Atwood. Her poetry is like magic to me. One night, being so inspired and honestly consoled by her words, I tweeted her, even. This is what crazy Bieber fans probably do, too, so I’m not shedding any positive light on myself here. I’m thisclose to screaming and waving my underwear around. But probably not.

Me: @MargaretAtwood Revisiting your poem today. Think your my word soulmate. (Picture of poem from book).

Atwood: Thank you…

C’mon, everyone. Clearly, I have an “infamous” reputation for mishaps—for those of you who do not know about my mistakenly using the word “infamous” on all things work-related/published, that was a treat. Yeah… I did that. But don’t be judgmental; many people I questioned didn’t know that “infamous” wasn’t, in fact, another way to describe something as “famous.” Unfortunately, the definition states: “Well known for some bad quality or deed.” Shit. I doubt my company minds too much that I described our products as such.

Imaginary Person #1: How about that infamous Italian pasta? 
Imaginary Person #2: Oh yeah! I heard about that a few years back—kidnapped a stick of pepperoni and was never seen again.

But even with my super obvious spelling issue, Atwood responded! Don’t you dare for one second think that I didn’t tweet her again to right my wrong, because I did. I had to. Margaret Atwood, don’t think I’m an idiot! (This is not exactly what I said.) It was late and I was gushing and obviously too concerned with how many times it took me to snap that photo without it being blurry or cut off. Truth.

For those of you who have no idea who Miss Atwood is, well shame on you! Haha. But even if you are avidly against poetry, do yourself a favor and read “Variation on the Word Sleep.” If that last stanza doesn’t gut you, you’re probably not awake.

I realize this entry is about to become all about poetry, but I’ve been on a roll here—grabbing inspiration where I find it. Recently, I read an interview from 1978. The interviewer being the infamous (kidding), the famous Joyce Carol Oates. So in this Q & A article found in The New York Times, “On Being a Poet: A Conversation With Margaret Atwood,” Atwood totally digs at the guts of being a poet. I wanted to highlight this one part, because it doesn’t just answer the “who” but the “why.” And I totally agree, though, I have never been able to say it so articulately.

Q. Who influenced you as a poet?

A. Poe was my earliest “influence” back in high school, when I was beginning to write poetry and before I’d heard of anyone after, say, 1910. I don’t think of poetry as a “rational” activity but as an aural one. My poems usually begin with words or phrases which appeal more because of their sound than their meaning, and the movement and phrasing of a poem are very important to me. But like many modern poets I tend to conceal rhymes by placing them in the middle of lines, and to avoid immediate alliteration and assonance in favor of echoes placed later in the poems. For me, every poem has a texture of sound which is at least as important to me as the “argument.” This is not to minimize “statement.” But it does annoy me when students, prompted by the approach of their teacher, ask, “What is the poet trying to say?” It implies that the poet is some sort of verbal cripple who can’t quite “say” what he “means” and has to resort to a lot of round-the-mulberry-bush, thereby putting the student to a great deal of trouble extracting his “meaning,” like a prize out of a box of Cracker Jacks.

You tell ’em, Atwood.