The New Sisyphus

The past week has felt like an ongoing train wreck – news story after news story about Trump’s swift sledgehammer to everything I thought my country stood for. The smashing of the free press, health care options, trade relations, the environment, the idea of sanctuary, and more. Never have I felt so bereft after the inauguration of a new president and never have I felt so alarmed at what is happening to the United States.

This blog has not often been a place where I rant about politics, politicians or policies. It has more often been my creative space, a way to share publishing news and photos and travels and things that make life amazing. But I’m having a lot of trouble shutting off the alarms in my head and focusing on creative work.

I know I’m not alone.

Is the whole idea of Trump’s onslaught of ridiculous executive orders aimed towards just wearing his opponents out? That certainly feels like what is happening around here. It feels like the first week of his presidency is an endurance test for all of us, like a bully throwing out punch after punch without allowing his victim to get up.

And that is why I’m determined to figure out my own balance, to set goals for actions on a regular basis, to find a way to not burn out before the first quarter of 2017 has gone down in flames.

Since last week, when we were fresh from the Women’s March, I’ve signed petitions about the environment, health care, refugees, and net neutrality. I’ve donated to Senator Al Franken and to the Democratic Party. I did a volunteer shift to raise funds for local food shelves. And I know that I can’t keep going at that pace and still edit a poetry journal or create my own work. Nor can I constantly talk about this – my friends, who are as upset as I am, need to have other conversations, too.

What is the answer?

For me, it was taking a breath this weekend to work on sustenance. What does that look like? It looks like throwing yeast in warm water with some sugar, adding it to a flour mixture and kneading the resulting dough on my kitchen counter till it is smooth. It looks like baking oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips because everyone in my family likes them. It looks like chopping onions, peppers, garlic, and celery to layer on the bottom of a big crockpot, followed by turkey thighs and diced tomatoes and hominy; the resulting turkey chili fed my family Sunday supper. It looks like going out to dinner with friends on Friday night, resolving to not discuss Trump during dinner so we could all catch our breath.  It looks like shutting off the television before the 10 p.m. news comes on so sleep is a little easier to reach. It looks like leaving the yoga mat out all the time so stretching and breathing as a daily habit is always easy to honor.

And it looks like showing up at the slush pile and the blank page in spite of all the awfulness because this is how we who are writers and editors do our work. We have to connect with the world, we have to keep our eyes open to what is happening, and we have to have the chops to reflect what we see through our art, through our words.

I feel better today from having had a weekend of quiet time with family and friends. But I’ll be back at it this week, reading the news, signing petitions, volunteering where it counts, putting my money out there for the good it can do and trying to not have my head explode.

How will you find your balance through this very unbalanced time? And will you allow your voice to be heard?

Speak up. Silence allows awful things to happen.



Images courtesy of




Live from San Diego

There are perks to having a partner who goes to conferences in lovely places. And there are perks to working online from wherever I am. Today that wherever is the Blue Sea Beach Hotel at Pacific Beach in San Diego, where a third-floor room means we can sleep with a patio door cracked open to hear the Pacific toss wave after wave against the sand. It means we can try on a very un-Minnesotan rhythm for a few days.

Not a bad thing for mid-January. A little breath before the inauguration. A great time to think about the dreams we all share.

Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach, San Diego

Back in Action for 2017

Happy New Year! Yes, even though it’s already the ninth of January, the year still has that shiny brand-new feel. I’m always sort of stunned at this time of year to realize how quickly the holidays come and go, how soon we are knee-deep in the new year’s events and tasks.

And while I was on break from One Minnesota Writer, I was knee-deep in something else: the January issue of Gyroscope Review, which you can find here. My co-editor Constance Brewer and I are really proud of this issue and are looking forward to offering print editions of our journal later this year.

Speaking of Gyroscope Review, we do have two calls for submissions out right now. One is our general call for contemporary poetry and the other is for themed submissions in response to the prompt, “planting ourselves”. For further information on either call for submissions and general guidelines, please click here. Submissions accepted from this reading period will appear in our second anniversary issue in April.

As for One Minnesota Writer, I’m not sure what this year will bring. Perhaps a little more travel writing – I have plans to visit San Diego and Dublin so far this year. Perhaps a little more introspection about the writing life. Maybe some ideas about counteracting some of the general unrest and division in our country right now (and the world, for that matter), ways to be useful and outspoken along with a refusal to sit on the couch with the drapes pulled. One of my first actions for 2017 will be to attend the Women’s March on Washington – Minnesota on January 21. If you’re in Minnesota, I’d love to see you there. If you’re going to Washington, then that’s awesome.

Let’s make 2017 a year of action, personal and political, as writers who know how to say things so that others will listen.