Hey poets, be good literary citizens. No more excuses.

Juliana Lightle:

This post reiterates advice I would give myself. Additionally, I would add something I wish I had known a year ago before my book of poetry was published. No one told me that most writing contests require unpublished work. If you want to enter poetry contests, enter before you publish. Many contests even include work published in blogs as previously published. I continue to hunt for contests that allow previously published work. It seems few exist. If any of you writers out there know about such a contest, please let me know.

Originally posted on A Poet's Ponderings:

With AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) and National Poetry Month just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a working poet. I’ve got a couple of projects in the works for the month of April (updates to come soon) but I keep coming back to a piece of advice I’m always giving my students, which is that poetry doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Poetry is about the poet but it’s also about the community where the poet lives and works.

Admittedly, the idea of community is constantly evolving. Your community can be your workplace, the local bookstore or coffee shop you frequent or your local library. However, community can also mean something much bigger, especially in the wake  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve blogged about my love affair with social media and the poetry world. This love centers around the fact that Facebook…

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Linguistics 101: Appreciate Our Languages on World Language Day

Juliana Lightle:

Since many blogs are about all the different things that have to do with human language, I decided to repost this. Since this is World Language Day, it seemed especially appropriate.

Originally posted on Publishing Insights:


World Language Day is an event held by some universities in the U.S. to popularize knowledge of world cultures and languages among general public, particularly high school students (e.g. MSU,UNCO, etc). Being linguistics student myself, I couldn not help but join this endeavour. So this post is, in a sense, not specifically for writers/publishers, but for language users — which is all of us!

We all speak at least one language — in fact, more than half of the world’s population speak two or more languages (Tucker, 1999). Language is so ubiquitous that we can easily take it for granted, but it is also said to be one of the most central characteristics that set us off from other species on this planet. What is so special about human language? Why does it differ greatly from animal “languages”? Three properties make our language distinct from any other animal communication…

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Friday Haiku

Since taking blogging 101 through WordPress, I have decided to follow one of their recommendations and post at least one regular post regardless of what other types of content I may post other days of the week.  Therefore, every Friday, I will post at least one haiku.  Spring has sprung here.  Birds are singing and playing in the rain–it has rained off and on the last several days, a rather unusual event for the Panhandle of Texas–semi arid country for sure.

Here is my first Friday Haiku post in celebration of spring:

Cardinal bobbing in a cobalt bath

cedars trembling

portrait in red, green, and blue.

Gelada Baboons

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Wall.”Last summer I spent a couple of days in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, one of the few places left on earth where these baboons still exist.  In the mist and rain one day, I accidentally walked in the middle of a large group. image

They remained unafraid and basically ignored me.  They are the only remaining grass eating primates.  The rest are all extinct.

Favorite Authors and Books

The blogging 101 assignment today told me to use a prompt of some sort.  I scrolled through the various suggestions and came up with this one.

My all time favorite author is Leslie Marmon Silko from Laguna Pueblo.  Although her novel, Ceremony, is the most famous of her books, I prefer Storyteller.  The title comes from the long American Indian tradition of story telling plus it is also the title of one of the short stories in the book.  Storyteller contains a compilation of family photos, poems, anecdotes, and short stories, including my all time favorite short story, Yellow Woman.  By now I have probably read that story at least fifty times.  I jokingly refer to my occasional need to read it as getting my Yellow Woman Fix.  Every time I read it, I ask myself why I love this story so much?  Honestly, I have no clue, none at all.  The story speaks to me in a way like no other and I cannot figure out exactly why.  Perhaps some friend out there in blogging land or even a stranger may tell me.  Who knows?

Another of my favorite books is Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith by Gina Nahai, an Iranian Jewish woman who now lives in California.  This book reminds me of all the Latin American magical realism books I also enjoy.  The heroine of this book is not an ordinary woman.  For one thing, she flies. Often, I have asked myself why some Iranian novels remind me of Latin American novels and short stories.  If I were to go back to graduate school to study literature, I think I would explore this further.  For now, however, I simply wonder about this similarity and possible causes.  For those interested in Iranian history, and more particulary about the history of the Jewish people in Iran, I always recommend Cry of the Peacock by Nahai.  It traces the history of a Jewish family there for seven generations.

Other favorite authors include Julia Alvarez, Isabelle Allende, Louise Erdrich, M. Scott Momaday, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Although he is most famous for One Hundred Years of Solitude, my favorite book of Marquez’s is The General in His Labyrinth about the life and death of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of much of South America from Spanish rule.

As for poetry, Storyteller is the only book listed above that contains poetry.  When I ask myself about favorite poets, I think of William Butler Yeats, Joy Harjo, Sherman Alexie–who inspired one of the poems in my book, and, of course, Silko.  A unique poetry book, Carver, my Marilyn Nelson gives a biography of George Washington Carver in poems.  I learned a lot reading that book, especially since I am always looking for new ideas on writing poems for my own writing practice.

Finally, I hope some of those who read this respond with their favorites.


Haiku Adventure–Part Eight

Before I began this adventure, haiku’s popularity bypassed me totally.  Hence, I remain astonished at how many people like my haiku posts and how many followers I gained with them.  This post not only continues this particular adventure, but also focuses on heroes.  Who are your heroes, why?  One of mine is Pancho Villa.  I admire revolutionaries, Robin Hoods, people who take risks to help the poor, downtrodden, disenfranchised.  This post is dedicated to Pancho Villa:

Pancho Villa frowning in the midday sun

bandolier crossed

brave enough to invade New Mexico.


Old Barns and Blogging 101

Previously I mentioned that I decided to try WordPress’ class to see if I could discover something new, broaden my horizons, play, explore.  In completing assignment for day eight, I found a blog with a photo of an old barn.  Old buildings fascinate me, lead to daydreaming.  Who lived or worked there, how old is it, why did they abandon, move on?  Several miles down the road from where I live stands an unusually large, faded, red brick barn.  On the edge an even taller, circular silo stands.  Part of the roof is falling in, a few trees shade the east side.  I used to drive by this barn every day, twice a day.  Still when I drive by, I think what a unique restaurant or house it would make.  Meanwhile, slowly it deteriorates; I feel sad.

While writing this and looking at the photo mentioned above, I remembered the old carriage house where I grew up.  It stands, the only building remaining where my father was born and lived until he reached the age of ten.  I still own the farm; the young man who farms it cannot bear to tear the building down.  When I was there 2 1/2 years ago, it housed a piece of farm equipment.  I remember large elm trees and the hollyhocks growing next to it, making hollyhock dolls as a child. Who will remember when it is gone?


Brilliant books by brilliant writers

Juliana Lightle:

In case you are looking for something new to read. I would add any book by Leslie Marmon Silko. My all time favorite book, “Storyteller”, written by her contains a story I must have read 50 times, “Yellow Woman”.

Originally posted on Samuel Snoek-Brown:

And all these writers are women.

I spotted this list of 30 books by women in my Facebook newsfeed — the always-glorious Lidia Yuknavitch shared it — and I loved the first line of the intro:

“Let’s be real: You should be reading books, and books by women, every month of the year.”


But yes, it’s Women’s History Month here in the states, and while Emily Temple, author of this listicle, claims, “That women have contributed just as much to our literary culture as men doesn’t even need to be said,” I think, sadly, it does. We need to say it again and again, not just this month but every month.

So read a bunch of books by women. And the ones you don’t finish? Well, there’s always next month, and the month after that, and the rest of the year.

Need a hint of where to start? There are a bunch…

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My Ideal Audience

The fourth assignment in my newest experiment, Word Press’ Blogging 101 class, is to write a post for my ideal audience. My immediate reaction was, “There is no such person; I do not have an ideal audience.”  I might be able to come up with three or four persons, some of whom might like the recipes, others might enjoy the travel posts, and another group might react to comments on the environment, international politics, and sundry controversial topics.  Finally, a few, perhaps more, might relish the occasional poetry pieces.  After all, my haiku posts attained more readers than I ever expected.  The challenge then might be to write a post combining several of these but how?  Here we go on another adventure.

My idea reader would enjoy literature, especially the serious and more especially literature from other countries and cultures, like to eat hot foot from diverse cultures, travel to other places besides here and Europe, care about the environment, follow international politics, and, even though not previously mentioned, like horses, prefer the country to the city, and enjoy a wide variety of music.  Do such individuals exist?  Where are they and how do I find them?

Here is my first attempt at covering at least two of these topics:

Last summer, as former followers know, I traveled with friends to Ethiopia for three weeks via Dubai.  Because I love the stuff, I brought back an entire kilo of berbere.  Mine follows the special recipe of my Ethiopian friend’s mother.  She had it made special just so we could bring it home.  Actually there were three kilos in my bag but only one for me.  My new favorite salmon recipe involves the use of berbere.  Unlike some, hers is more rich and spicy rather than really hot.  This will serve one to two, just increase the amount of all the ingredients to suit the number of people you plan to feed.

1-2 portions wild sockeye salmon–you could use any type of course

4 medium to large brussel sprouts, coarsely chopped

1/2 purple onion chopped coarsely

Several broccoli florets

1/2 ripe bell pepper, seeded and chopped

Olive oil


Cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add the brussel sprouts and sauté until nearly tender.  Add the peppers and broccoli.  Sprinkle a light layer of berbere over all the vegetables as you cook them.  Stir occasionally.  Add the salmon, skin side down.  Sprinkle berbere over the salmon so the salmon is covered but only lightly.  You can add more to taste.  Continue cooking until the salmon flakes.

I serve this with rice.  The rice in the photo is basmati.  See previous posts for the special way I cook rice.  Sometimes I vary the vegetables using poblano peppers, carrots, Swiss chard–whatever I happen to have or feel like eating at the moment.  Pick what you like.


This, honestly, is nothing like real Ethiopian food in part because I do not have teff and do not know how to make injera.  The photo below shows me and friends in a restaurant in Gonder, Ethiopia, in my idea of food heaven.