Back from Book Expo America!

Just got back from New York and Book Expo America, where any author without a publicist is in the minority.

Confirms that the book business is indeed a “business,” now more than ever. These are cautionary times in publishing, and if I hear one more time the phrase: “Poetry is a hard sell,” I will no be held responsible.

Interest in poetry never wanes though, as judging by the number of people who expressed genuine interest in my book. That was very heartening. There was precious little poetry on display actually, which made me unique, without even trying.

The line to meet uber-writer James Patterson wound up and down several aisles and these people wait endlessly with seemingly infinite patience.

I handed out hundreds of copies of my book and chatted with, well, everyone, including security guards. I learned an extraordinary amount about selling books and most importantly that I need to “build my profile” in order to attract a distributor of any size. So that is my m.o. over the summer.

Back soon…

Following Seas

Remember.
How the sunlight hit the mainsail just so.
The water sloshed good-naturedly between the hulls.
Van Morrison serenaded us
while the dented tin kettle sang
on the tiny harnessed stove.
An old man on shore stood waving to us
for the longest time.
Just stood there,
waving.

Remember
the fish we saw through our masks.
They looked like the drawings of a child
who had just discovered
colour.

Spent, slick with salt water,
we splurged on hot showers
and sang to one another across the deck.
Later
we lay at the bow for hours,
fetching tea in turns,
wondering
how could one night
possibly
hold so many stars.
Remember.

Cooper Island, BVI

Oscars 2011

Random takes and tweets on the ceremonies:

Did James Franco look like he desperately needed a nap? He had the look I get when I sleep ’til two in the afternoon: vacant, dishevelled, slightly deranged.

It’s Cate Blanchett – “an Oscar winner and always stunning”, says Hathaway. Thus differentiating her from all those other Oscar winners who are now living under the L.A. freeway?

Further with Cate, handing out the makeup award for the Wolfman with a shudder, saying “That’s gross,” I think she was actually back-referencing the cadaverous Kirk Douglas’ leering egomaniacal presentation earlier. He was always such a hound dog (I read his bio, yes I was the ONE.) and he readily admits same. P.S. I am NOT Spartacus!

The wonderfully manic Live-action Short winner Luke Matheny for God of Love announces: “Ugh, I should have got a hair-cut.” No, say it ain’t so. That’s some impressive height on a wonderfully vast black bouffant.

Toy Story 3′s Lee Unkrich: “I want to thank the Academy and I never thought I’d be saying that,” says Unkrich. Um, why not? is there a bizarre history there? To wit… “I want to thank the Academy and I never thought I’d be saying that, after they sold my dog to the circus.”

Sandra (“Sandy” to Ryan Seacrest) Bullock is always a stand out. Perfectly dry and droll. Heavenly. To Jeff Bridges, “You won last year: when is it ever enough, Jeff? Huh?”

Colin Firth takes the stage as the winner, looking – as ever – like he has some unfortunate embarrassing news to reveal. “I am sorry, Academy, but all your cars have been towed and compacted. Thank you for coming.”

He should have danced. And so should we all…

The Island Dog

He is everyone’s;
Yet he is no one’s.
Vacationers arrive, discover him,
Dote on him for two weeks,
then disappear.

He is their holiday project
A story they’ll tell over dinner at home.
Some allow him in, to sleep at the foot of their beds,
to guard their front door,
Some even toy with the idea of a rescue,
Could we, should we? Shots? Papers?
Questions asked,
with the exuberance of the relaxed and the happy,
but as the time to leave draws near
reality encroaches, the idea stalls.

A new band takes their place,
The island dog waits,
Knowing it will take only one,
One, to give him a name that won’t change,
One, to call it out in the dark
should he wander too far.
One, to call to him
and him alone:
Come home.

Felicity Point, Eleuthera, Bahamas
February 1, 2011

Random tweets.

These are 10 things I know:

1. Classic is best. If you get into a race of fashion do’s and don’ts you cannot win it. Run your own race. Draw your own finish line.

2. Champagne is a truth serum. Nothing quite like it. Crystallizes everything – for me anyway.

3. If any of us truly realized our immortality or the all-too-brief stay we are allotted here, it would be impossible to go on. This is knowledge we must set aside if we are to function fully here. Put it in the vault: that is the deal.

4. If I knew at 20 what I know now I wouldn’t have known what to do with it. I wouldn’t have believed it anyway.

5. Why was I always so reluctant to let myself shine? Fear? Probably. I think we are scared of the light we can emanate if we would only allow ourselves.

6. Chunky peanut butter is just better.

7. There is no one with a more romantic voice than Neil Diamond. If you don’t agree, just listen to “September Morn.”

8. I like the idea of porridge better than the real thing.

9. Small talk after about 10 minutes becomes absolutely exhausting.

10. I have a feeling of utter futility first thing in the morning. After my second coffee it starts to dissipate.

Random tweets, all. Good night.

Coastal Readings.

I just returned home from my poetry reading at the Haynes Library this morning in the harbor here in Eleuthera. My soundtrack today was the sound of the wind fanning the huge palms that surround the building coupled with the gentle insistent lap of water at the near shore.

It was a packed house. I looked out to a sea of shining faces, and as I told the people gathered I was thrilled at the turnout and appreciative to each and every one who made the time to come.

My poems are about universal issues, in this case the loss of a mother and father, and because of that, people can instantly relate to them. Many from the audience approached me afterwards, telling me my words caused the stirring of old and sometimes painful memories. There is such catharsis in that and I think many weren’t expecting to have such a visceral reaction to the work.

One elderly woman said to me she had never known her mother and listening to me talk about mine made her quite envious. “And I am not generally the envious type.”

Another woman said that although she didn’t know me well, she was proud of me. I was genuinely touched by her words. As she explained, we all have these memories and thoughts worthy of putting in writing but other things get in the way. She thanked me for doing it for all those who choose not to, or simply cannot.

I consider myself privileged to share such an important part of who I am with these lovely souls.

Puppeteer

Above the island
the moon is fully round these nights,
dripping light, succulent,
impossibly perfect.
But it’s not the wolves that howl here;
it’s the waves.
At the curl just offshore comes the low siren of them,
an organic sound building to a wail
as they break free at the shore.

Controlled,
commandeered by the moon
just as the wolves are.
She, all powerful in her sphere,
they, her pawns,
mere tools below
for her bidding.

Too Late Tomorrow

Fates ride on little moments.
Outcomes of entire lives can rest
on the seemingly miniscule.
Fresh from another of her parent’s brawls
The little girl shuffles to school.
She needs a sign today
that the world is a safe place,
something better awaits.

This one afternoon in her life
could turn her around,
steer her through the minefields.
A comforting word,
a warm glance her way,
the right things happening
at just the right time.

You know this little girl: Watch for her:
The window is narrow.
But you are powerful.
She is waiting
for the smallest,
the sweetest of mercies
to be saved.

Golden Globes Reviewed

Random tweets:

Zac Efron has made the mistake of thinking his career isn’t connected to his hair.

Tilda Swinton looks like she came from the future to deliver an important message.
TELEVISION, ITS CALLED TELEVISION! NOT TELEVISUAL, TILDA! Shut up. Notice, no direct shot of the height difference between Pacino and Swinton. And I am temporarily blinded by the glare off Tilda’s frock: Tilda, who will never again utter the three words: Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Is Al Pacino a part-time anesthesiologist? Why does he so obviously fail to mention the mother of his TWIN CHILDREN? Incredible to be so famous and have so little class…

Of course as a method actor, Pacino prepped for You Don’t Know Jack by suffocating several nursing home patients.

I have now formally given up any hope of Annette Bening ever again brushing her hair.

Robert Pattison needs to smile. I mean it, smile, Bob.

I am now formally crushin on Robert Downey Jr.

Claire Danes could cheer up too. I mean, you’re a spokesperson for frickin eyelash stimulant. And I see Temple Grandin is still shopping at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. Are those two dating?

I say Ricky doesn’t go far enough.

Beached

I just came in from an idyllic beachcombing on the beach at the end of the old Queen’s Highway. Went with my dear friend Sandra who just happens to be a marine biologist (cough) and there could not be a better surfside companion.

Every time I’m alongside an ocean with her I learn something intriguing. Today is no exception: I found out that dolphins are toothed whales. Who knew?

And how do you distinguish a dolphin fin from a shark fin? (Ya never know when that might come in handy.) Easy! Dolphins roll at the surface so you see more than just the fin. If you see the fin and nothing more, head for the mattresses.

We were both hunting for sea glass so I was all ears on the subject. It takes about 20 years for a piece of glass to evolve into the much sought after “beach glass,” used in pendants, earrings, bracelets, etc. Twenty years, that is, of buffeting by course sand and salt and sea spray. And the glass must be exposed to all these elements during that time. Buried in the sand it will remain protected and intact, well, pretty much forever.

We happened upon a tiny jellyfish, a fascinating creature, not often seen as they are the size of a baby’s pinkie. This jellyfish, nicknamed “By the Sea Sailor” and I am not sure of the Latin name but will find out, looks like a perfect miniature sailboat. Picture a tiny keel boat with one mainsail erect. The mainsail in this case is the fish’s protective barnacle made of a fingernail like substance.

Yes, they are small but they are amazingly resilient. Like Sammy Davis Jr. (RIP) Or that scary midget in Twin Peaks. When these jellyfish die their hardy mainsail remains… their weathered windblown legacy.

More beaches – and discoveries await.