Are you rain or shelter? 

A Matter of Fact, a write-over poem by Drew Myron

We're halfway through National Poetry Month. How are you celebrating?

I've been doing write-overs, sorta like a do-over. I just tear a page from an old thrift store book, gently glaze through the words, and then write my own. No intention, no direction, just wandering — with a solid literary foundation to prop me up.

I just love the line: "The sea will never need you" — from Mary's Son, appearing in The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling. Bless his heart, Rudyard Kipling is taking me across hill and dale, sea and sky.

So, where is writing taking you?



And then we never meet again

Kala Osborn, writing on the Alsea Bay, at age 13.
This is how it works:

I write with kids — sometimes for a day, or a week, sometimes for years. Hunkered over journals, we share chunks of time in which head, heart and words come together all at once. When we share our poems, stories, and secret thoughts, it's beautiful, scary and almost always exhilarating.

And then we meet again — the next day, or week, or never again.

Families break up, parents lose jobs or houses, and children move on or away. But the kids stick in my mind.  The girl with hard eyes and a fast pen. The sneering boy who wrote love poems. The teen with fancy dresses and scars. The youngster who lived in a car.

I remember every one. Not what they wrote (though sometimes I am struck) but the mood and tone, the want and willing, the resistance and reach.

Last week we lost a young writer forever. Kala, an 18 year old high school senior, was killed when her car went over an embankment and into the Alsea River. 

I knew Kala briefly, for just a week, when she was 13 years old. She was a student in Seashore Family Literacy's 2009 Summer Writing Adventure Camp, and we spent the week together hiking, biking, kayaking, and writing through each exploration.

Any Moment in a Kayak

With each stroke, the kayak surges forward.

When you bottom out all you can do is push with your paddle, or hands, or your mind.

The sound of the birds, mixed with the beautiful beating hot sky, is almost enough to put you to sleep.

When you catch the breeze you feel fresh.

When you stop to take it all in and close your eyes, you feel like it is all a dream and at any moment you could wake up and it would be gone.

—  Kala Osborn, age 13

I live in a remote and in many ways untamed place, and tragedy hits hard and quick. One person knows another and another and we carry the weight of too much knowing.

Loss shakes and shows us. See, here, it says, this is how to enter the lives of each other, even briefly. Death reminds us that we are ever shaped, even slightly, by our interaction with others.

Over the years, I've keep in touch with many of the young writers. We write letters, share texts, emails, phone calls, and get together for meals. I see them get jobs, go to school, find love, move away, get lost, get in trouble. . . There are many struggles, too many to name. And the victories sometimes seem too small.

This morning one of my first students — from nearly 10 years ago — shared with me an update on her life. There was no big event, no shaking news, but that she was happy. And that felt enough. That felt like everything.



Create, Or, How to Make a Poet Happy 

Focus on light, by Drew Myron

Cue the dancing poets. In April, month of spring showers, the sky breaks opens and rains with poems.

It's National Poetry Month and people are feverishly penning a poem-a-day, carrying poems in their pockets, and chalking poems on sidewalks.

Here's how I'm celebrating:

I'm making poemish things.
Poems, orphan lines, and erasures like the one above, and mailing them in the old-fashioned sealed-and-stamped method. Every day a fresh recipient. Want to get good mail? Send your mailing address to (Don't worry, I won't spam, stalk or creep you out).

I'm giving away poetry books.
To enter the Big Poetry Giveaway, go here.

I'm buying books.
My funds aren't flush, but hey, poets deserve some financial love. Diane Lockward sums it best: "Keep in mind as you juggle pennies that a poetry book is one of the best bargains around. Let's say a book has 40 poems in it and sells for $16. That means you're getting each of those poems for a mere forty cents! The poet labored over each one of those poems, probably spending days, weeks, months on each one. Each one of those poems can be read and enjoyed over and over. So this month treat yourself to some wonderful books and, at the same time, make a poet happy."

This month, as you're pelted with poems, remember that no one dies from alliteration. Life can deliver worse injuries. We're armed but harmless.



Win Books! Big Poetry Giveaway 2014

Break out the hats & horns, April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, please join me in the Big Poetry Giveaway, an annual event in which dozens of writer-bloggers offer you chances to win their favorite poetry books. It's fun, easy & spreads good cheer.

My Big Poetry Giveaway

I'm giving away the following two books. To enter the drawing, leave your name in the comment section of this post.

Thin Skin
by Drew Myron

A book of my poems and black-and-white photos. Published in 2013, this is my first solo collection.

What others say about this book:

"She is the poet laureate of vulnerability!"
— Molly Spencer, The Stanza

"This collection confesses a vulnerability that has fostered a proud strength and authentic voice of empathy in its author. Thin Skin exposes the reader to life’s harsh elements, but also shows the way to refuge."
— Brian Juenemann, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association

And Her Soul Out of Nothing
by Olena Kalytiak Davis

I can't get enough of this book. In fact, I keep giving it away and buying back-up copies. Olena's poems are sharp, piercing and true. I've highlighted, underlined and analyzed the pages to pieces — but don't worry, you'll get a fresh, new copy. 

What others say about this book:

"A treasury of broken meditations and chipped singing, moments of insight and yearning . . . Olena Kalytiak Davis’s poems find evidence of the spirit everywhere, in laundromats, in parking lots and frozen landscapes, in the panic of birds.”
— Dean Young

Big Poetry Backstory:
Five years ago poet Kelli Russell Agodon created the Big Poetry Giveaway. In doing so, she fostered enthusiasm for poetry while also weaving together a community of kind and generous poets. In that spirit, let me introduce myself.

A bit about me:
I'm a writer, editor and poet — who likes reading, writing letters, and people with quick smiles. When not writing, I encourage others to write. I live on the Oregon Coast, and maintain two blogs: Off the Page, sharing Thankful Thursdays and writing-based topics; and 3 Good Books, a feature at Push Pull Books in which I invite writers and artists to share their favorite books on a given topic.  

How to win a book:
To enter the drawing, please leave your name and email address in the comment section of this post by midnight (Pacific Standard Time) on April 30, 2014. A winner will be randomly chosen from all entries. Books will be mailed (to anywhere on the planet, at no charge) in May.

How to win more books:
It's a poetry extravaganza! Fifty writers are giving away over 100 books. View the list of participants here.

Good luck. Thanks for playing!



Thankful Thursday on Friday

gratitude's mixed bag

• the word marvelous • the first gin & tonic • national poetry month (next week!) • hanging on, letting go, knowing when and how and why • fresh air • reading the first page of a fresh book and thinking yes, this will be good • restaurants in which I don't have to shout or strain to talk and hear • sore muscles as proof that something is moving and working and alive • receiving a kind note • tears • shoes that slow me down but pick me up • a knowing laugh • a quick wit • guacamole • the hand that reaches across fog and rain and sadness to find mine • the ordinary duck, the fancy flamingo •


Please join me for Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to appreciate people, places, things & more. Why? Because gratitude shifts your perspective, and expands your heart. Also, thankfulness is just good manners. What are you thankful for today?