March 12, 2010

Why I Write

I write because I was born into two languages: Finnish and English.  Both sets of my grandparents were Finnish immigrants and they learned very little English.   I write because there was so much they couldn't say.    I write about migration of many kinds.  Birds, grandmothers, desire.   My grandmothers' lives were very difficult.   They both gave birth to several children, ten in my mother's family and eight in my father's.  There wasn't enough food sometimes, there wasn't enough of anything.   I write because I could not bear my mother's secrets.   I write out of a need to dance.    

As a little girl, I was located in between lakes, near burial mounds of the Ojibwe, between iron and taconite mines, between Finnish and English, between two sisters, on a small farm with a few horses, a few cows, chickens, dogs, cats, and a garden.  Each evening, when the sun set behind the pines, it ignited the water with its fire, and the shining broke through the stand of trees like glitter.   Mornings, I heard a sound in the morning unlike any other.   It was more of an echo than a sound.  It was more of a calling than an echo.   Maybe I was used to unknown words; for some reason, I called it "warding."   I thought it was the sound of the sun coming up but I later found out that it was the train hauling iron ore from the mine.   The sound was the sound of wheels on a track.   The very earth was being moved away. 

I write because there is so much that the earth can't say.    I write out of restlessness and grief.  I write out of awe.    I write because the world presses itself upon me: iron, rivers, birds, trees, lakes, light.   I migrate.

Poems are a doorway in ordinary experience to a place that you haven't seen before.   It's where you live.  Poetry dislocates you in a familiar way. It is a staunch for old wounds.   Poetry uses the same language that dreams use, only it isn't a dream.   Poetry uses the language to get around the language toward the silence of a river.    Beneath your feet, the river erodes the banks, takes you in like it takes in the sand and the roots and the light.    All in.

March 11, 2010

sending poems out

Poets and Writers Magazine has a great website.    Check it out to find a database of literary magazines and contest information.     These listings will help you decide where and when to send poems or stories:

The Academy of American Poets has a great website of poets, poems, bios and articles about poetry.

A website that might help you keep track of your submissions: