Thursday, January 21, 2010

Loving Powerfully

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

It is all rain on a winter street,
umbrellas floating
above the people

and in store windows
that seem to weep
with forgiveness and plenty.

Rain deepens the sidewalks
and flows down the swift gutters
into drains,

like a kindness,
like a pity.
It rains and rains and rains.


Thanks to Joyce Odam and Ann Menebroker for today's poems about our Seed of the Week: Windows, and to Katy Brown for the photos she took at last Friday's The Other Voice reading in Davis. Feel free to send Medusa any such photos—evidence of our many wonderful poetry events around town!

Bear with us for a rather long announcement here:

Pat Canterbury at Tonight's Thursday Next, a new monthly series at MatrixArts:

•••Tonight (Thursday, 1/21), 6:30-8 PM: The launch of MatrixArts’ new, once a month, "Thursday Next" Authors Series. Patricia Canterbury will read excerpts from her newest book, Every Thursday, the first of the Nancy Noire Mysteries. Afterwards, join her in conversation about the world of writing, publishing and mystery. She’ll also be available to sign copies of her book. MatrixArts, 1719 25th St. (25th and R Sts), Sacramento. Admission is free (though a $5 donation to help support MatrixArts educational programs would be much appreciated.)

Patricia E. Canterbury is a native Sacramentan, award-winning poet and short story writer, novelist, philanthropist and political scientist. Her new book, Every Thursday, began as a writing prompt, “she forgot about the man”, a phrase used in the ZICA Creative Arts and Literary Guild, a Sacramento-based artist support group. Ms. Canterbury won the First Annual Georgia State Chapbook contest in 1987 for her poetry chapbook, Shadowdrifters…Images of China. She is also the author of a middle-grade historical mystery series, The Secret of St. Gabriel’s Tower and A Poplar Cove Mystery: Carlotta’s Secret, the first of her children’s eight-chapter book contemporary fantasy mystery series. A small independent motion picture studio has optioned Carlotta’s Secret. Pat is published in over eleven anthologies and is very active with Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Northern California Publishers and Authors, the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators and ZICA Creative Arts and Literary Guild. Every Thursday is set in western Washington State in a fictional town where Nancy Noire is a deputy District Attorney. One Thursday she has dinner with her boy friend, Jack, a local architect, and discovers a body in his apartment. She doesn't remember almost hitting the murderer with her car on her way to dinner. She tries to discover who the murderer is and whether the dead man or Jack was the intended victim. For more information about Pat or the author series, contact Maryellen Burns at 916-454-4988 or

About MatrixArts:

Ask how to become a member of MatrixArts (Maryellen Burns at 916-454-4988 or and get discounts on all classes, workshops, talks and other events. We also take cash, checks, Mastercharge, visa and American Express. For more information, check our blogs at: or

ALSO TONIGHT: Emerging Writers and Artists: Thursdays from 4-6 PM starting January 21 and most every Thursday thereafter: Everything you wanted to know about writing, editing, designing, illustrating and publishing artist books, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, were but were afraid to discuss in front of "established writers and artists". Lately, we've received a lot of email from people asking us to provide a workshop for those who are either just getting started exploring their creative side, still in high school or college, or feel they need a lot of one on one or team guidance. We'll help you set goals, develop a plan for meeting them, and provide tools and materials to create work, right on the spot. Program usually facilitated by an artist and writer/editor. For more information contact: Maryellen Burns, at or call at 916-454-4988. We're just developing the program now and will have updates on our blogs. Future programs with Dorine Jennette will include:

JANUARY 28 Thursday Next: Photo in Tutu Not Required: How to Submit Your Work to Literary Journals

Should I include a cover letter? What do I include in a cover letter? What should I say in my author bio? What if I don't have any publications yet? How do I find out which journals might publish my stories/poems/essays, and when and where do I send my work? Many writers wonder about how to begin sending out their work for publication. Based on my experience as an editor for the literary journals Puerto del Sol, Verse, and the Georgia Review, I will share simple tips to help you research markets for your work and make your submission look professional. Your stories and poems will take it from there!

FEBRUARY 25 Thursday Next: The Music of the Line

Mad monkeys monitor many marbles. Mutant monkeys Martinize manifolds. OK, that's alliteration, but what about assonance and consonance? What the heck is a half rhyme? And how do I use these things in a poem? These and other mysteries of poetic music answered in a class involving songs by Van Morrison, example poems by various writers, and a list of recommended desk references for poets.

MARCH 25 Thursday Next: Whose Line Is It, Anyway? The Art of the Line Break

Mystified by where the poetic line begins and ends? In a brief lecture, I'll review the basics of Denise Levertov's very helpful essay "On the Function of the Line." Thereafter, we'll learn by doing: we'll take published, lineated poems arranged in paragraph form, and we'll break their lines in different ways to see what happens. We'll work separately and together, quietly and while reading aloud to each other. Prepare to play!

APRIL 22 Thursday Next: Scansion for Dummies

Iambic what? Tired of not understanding what your friends are talking about when they start arguing about meter, debating trochees, anapests, and dactyls? I can fix that. Come prepared to drum on the table, recite out loud, and otherwise act foolish in public. I'll go first.

Also Scheduled: Saturday Intensives with Dorine Jennette:

MARCH 27: How to Edit Your Own Prose

Spotting problems in your own writing is easier with a checklist of issues to look for. I’ve compiled a list of prose-dulling “usual suspects” that can elude even highly skilled writers. Putting this list into action, you’ll find that more polished prose means more publications. We’ll begin with a lecture on basic self-editing concepts, an editing checklist, and recommended desk references for writers. Then we’ll learn by doing. We’ll practice editing sample passages that I’ll provide, and then we’ll turn our red pencils on ourselves: bring your ten clunkiest pages! $40 general or $30 for MatrixArts members.

APRIL 24: A Crash Course in Poetic Music

In honor of Poetry Month, please join me for a Saturday crash course in poetic music. The wordsmithing skills you'll acquire will help you sharpen your poetry, creative prose, professional prose, personal correspondence—you name it, it will sound better. The class will unfold in three sessions of two hours each: "The Music of the Line," "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?: The Art of the Line Break," and "Scansion for Dummies." We will take ample stretch breaks between sessions, and if you bring a brown-bag lunch, you can get to know your fellow poets during our lunch break.
$50 general or $40 for MatrixArts members for all three sessions
$40 general or $30 for MatrixArts members for any two out of three
$20 general or $15 for MatrixArts members for any one session

Session breakdown:

10 AM to 12 PM The Music of the Line: Mad monkeys monitor many marbles.
12:30-2:30 PM: Whose Line Is It, Anyway? The Art of the Line Break
3 PM to 5 PM Scansion for Dummies

Presenter Bio: Dorine Jennette's poetry collection, Urchin to Follow, is forthcoming from the National Poetry Review Press in May 2010. Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in journals such as Puerto del Sol, the Journal, Ninth Letter, Coconut, Court Green, the Los Angeles Review, and the Georgia Review. Originally from Seattle, she earned her MFA from New Mexico State University and her PhD from the University of Georgia. She earns her keep as a copyeditor for university presses, including the University of Pittsburgh Press. She lives in Davis, California. Her Web site is

You might also want to check out The Writers' Table: Fridays from 11 AM to 1 PM. The writers' table will go over some of the same subjects, but will focus more on marketing, selling, promoting yourself and your work.

All programs are held at MatrixArts@R25, 1719 25th St., Sacramento, CA 95816. @R25 is the arts and culture center that houses the Sacramento Poetry Center and California Stage.

In a few days MatrixArts will announce a new Friday writing series by Katie McCleary, Random Writers and Artists (a program for MatrixArts members only) and MatrixArts OutLoud, plus weekend art programs including printmaking, papermaking, bookarts, painting and much more. Plus, Word of Mouth, a monthly series of workshops for food writers and cooks—including cooking classes, food essays, and self-published cookbooks.


Joyce Odam

I left them talking about windows
I left them talking about doors

I left them talking about
old sashes and weights

warped openings
and settled floors

I left them talking about
all old houses

that they gripe about—
the things they’d do to fix them.


—Joyce Odam

Ladies of dark dresses,
what do you know of
our naked dance;
what do you know of our
delicate fat under the music?
The music is upon us
and we are free for it.
How we shimmer and bounce.
We do not need makeup and bindings.

Ladies of dark dresses,
your eyes so frozen,
what do we care that you tell on us
or that you stand at our windows with
whispers and cameras.
We look at our hips in the mirror,
our round bellies,
our round legs.
We love the feel of our heavy breasts
in our own hands.
We are sensual at last.
We let the hair grow under our arms.

Ladies in dark dresses,
we do not approve of you.
We are the nudists of self-pleasure.
We do not have to be young to dance.
What do you know of our husbands
who weep with praise
and regret for all time wasted?
We are their lovers now.
We are safe for them at last.
They hold us when we dance.
They let us go
when we demand it.

(First appeared in A Magazine of the Arts)


—Joyce Odam

It was the hunger of light made dim by sadness,
the path muted by overwhelming shadows.
What could be done about it? Light was
essential. Windows could not reflect.
Something was wrong with
the world that life
could not


—Joyce Odam

Now in the bluish air,
the lonely birds
and darkened windows
where the sorrows stare,

and all the trees
are stricken against the wall,
and here is where
the crystal moment
thaws, and what looks in,
is simply there.


—Joyce Odam

(for Ann Menebroker)

Mygod, you’ve become a librarian.
A keeper of books.
A filer of words.

Mygod, the wild difference of you
at last contained
in a room of shelves.

How shall the poems escape,
or be held—?
No, they’ll want to stay.

I know how careless and free
you will be
with their keeping.

You will allow open windows and
stealing hands; you will allow odd hours
when anyone can creep in and find them.

Whoever wants them . . .
whoever wants to leave others . . .
will be welcome here.


—Ann Menebroker, Sacramento

Nothing like them
deserted, broken,
from their frame,
white paint usually
peeling off, a sort
of gray look, a sort
of giving-up look,
a last-of-a-kind—
but thousands
of them down
the road.


—Ann Menebroker

I remember focusing
the camera down to the
water puddle, catching whatever
was in there; sometimes
the capitol building, or trees,
or a neon sign, sometimes
just my own reflection
windowed in around
the stormy images
of the day—miniature
architecture and life
waiting to evaporate.


Photos from The Other Voice
Poetry reading in Davis, January, 2010
—Katy Brown, Davis

Allegra Silberstein introduces Danyen Powell and Shawn Pittard

Danyen Powell reads

Shawn Pittard reads

Shawn Pittard, on being surprised by
"Happy Birthday" at the reading last Friday


Today's LittleNip:

We cannot avoid
Using power,
Cannot escape the compulsion
To afflict the world,
So let us, cautious in diction
And mighty in contradiction,
Love powerfully.

—Martin Buber