Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


March Marches On

I've been trying to tick items off on my stresslist, but it didn't help that I had too much fun this week.

What got done:

  • Work: Got a mailing announcing the visiting lecturer out the door
  • Writing: Got the chapter of my young adult novel ready for next Sunday's workshop
  • The house got mostly cleaned
  • Got lots of little things done for Clarion West
Not so impressive, but you know it's better than nothing.

Work should have been quiet--it was spring break for the students--but it was hectic instead, though I did get a lot accomplished. Just not what I had planned.

It was a pretty social week overall. On Tuesday evening I went with Jim and Tamar to hear Eliza Carthy sing and play with her band in a smoky bar, and she was wonderful--lively, lovely voiced and the live arrangements worked well. I loved hearing her do this great material live. I've heard her a couple of times as part of her the combo she does with her parents, but this is the first time I've heard her doing her own thing, and her own new non-folk thing. Other than the fact that the bar was off-putting--small, smoky, crowded--it was a pleasant evening.

Our friend Neal arrived Friday and only spent two nights with us, but we packed those with lots of talk, and played a song or two off a huge stack of discs, and had several pleasant meals. Last night we had dinner with Mary Lydia Ryan and her husband and Willow, which was quite delightful. It was so much fun to sit at one of our favourite restaurants (Cedars on Brooklyn & 50th for any Seattlites reading along) and talk music and just enjoy their company. And afterwards we went to a very pleasant Chai house in Ballard to hear Hand To Mouth play live. They're a rather Cowboy Junkies-like duo and the lead singer has just a touch of Mary Margaret O'Hara in her style, more in her performance style than her vocal style but there's a touch in there too.

This morning we had brunch at a seafood restaurant right on Lake Union, and while I thought the food was kind of iffy, the view was lovely and it was sunny then (rainy and stormy later) and we enjoyed meeting Neal's friends. He left afterwards to go to a wedding on a boat--I hope the rain didn't spoil the day for them all.

And after breakfast, Jim and Tamar and I couldn't resist going out for some decent espresso.

Way too much rich eating, so it's time for lighter fare for a while.

My head is full of Clarion West details as we get closer and closer to the application deadline. I've been able to tell some students they've been accepted, which is great, and a few others that they haven't, which is painful, and there's a critical mass of the class taking shape. So far this may possibly be the mostly Californian Clarion West class. That seems odd but I guess not when you consider that we are the west coast workshop and most of our applications come from this side of the Continental Divide.

In other news, my annoyingly swelling ankle seems to be improving at least. It feels significantly better yesterday then it did yesterday, though that may be that today I've done very little walking. But still.

The fact that it truly is spring now seems apparent everywhere. The cherry trees are mostly past their prime but other things are blooming; there are daffodils everywhere and the buds on our pear are getting so big I can't believe they haven't started to pop yet.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


This was a delightfully musical week, between going to hear Eliza Carthy live on Tuesday night, hearing Hand to Mouth last night (Saturday), and playing "Have you heard this yet?" with Neal. (Comments about the concerts above.)

last week's listening § next week's listening


After finishing Sherri S. Tepper's Marianne, The Magus and the Manticore I immediately began Marianne, The Madame, and the Momentary Gods. This series just stays wonderful. In this one Marianne starts again as a young child, trying to avoid the worst tragedy of her life, the murder of her parents by her stepbrother. But of course that has its own complications, and doesn't stop the Madam's evil interest in her. Really, this is such a charming, imaginative story. I love it.

Then I launched into Marianne, The Matchbox, and the Malachite Mouse, which takes a different turn from the other stories. Marianne goes to the assistance of her dying aunt, and finds herself caught up on a deadly game: she rolls the dice and finds herself living the game. Another re-read that made me happy.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I got the first chapter of Bryony's Needle ready to send to my fiction group. It was interesting to revisit it after not looking at it at all for several years. At first I opened the first chapter and freaked out--I couldn't believe how bad it was and panicked that I couldn't possibly send it to the workshop group. Then I noticed that I had opened the unrevised version. When I opened the revised version I felt much better, and also appreciated my ability to revise, which is something I often feel is one of my weaknesses. The second version was a zillion times better than the first (though the first was easily a 2nd or 3rd draft as I remember going through that first chapter several times).

Anyway, I know there's room for improvement in the novel but I was pleased with what's there so far. And it was good to work on it. I think my head is better for revisions right now than for writing new first drafts.

On that theme I was looking back and realized that I've been trying to work on this Auchindrain poem since August. Well, that's embarrassing. Or is it annoying. Or depressing. Or just sometimes the way it goes in a distracting life. But dammit I must try to be less distracted.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

October 1979

1033. In a Cloud
October 14, 1979

The night is just about over, and here we are in a cloud again. The rain, the mist, and the night folds over me as though I were in a box, a midnight box.
     It is so quiet tonight, the silence moves by slowly. There is much time, little light, no wind. On the mountain tonight we are swallowed, covered, dreaming, drifting, drowning in cloud. Voices soak into the night like liquid in cotton.
     I dream of the poems that must be written and discarded, and I wonder why I hold back sending those poems away. Do I want to become Neille (Neile) first, or am I frightened that it is too much of an affectation, an imposture? Am I Neile, or am I Nancy--it seems such a crazy name to send poems away by. It's n'eile really or N'Eile, crazy name. Wasting letters from Nancy Eileen. I keeping thinking and thinking bout this.

1034. Decision
October 17, 1979

Three days, and I have just about decided to use N'eile as my name--it may be a mistake, but now is the time to make mistakes, to do things I will regret...yes now.
     I have so much to do and to learn. Children dream. I talk to K.C. [1] but cannot talk. Sillier than any adolescent. Damn, but c'est la vie--now is the time to make mistakes. Now. When it's only October 17th, and I can erase the final wisps of pain with the music of rubber bands [2].

1035. Poems like birds
October 18, 1979

Decision made, now I must act upon it, move upon it, forward, ho! et al. Now I must begin thinking, preparing, and waste no time about it. (O, this could take forever. I must do something with my poems, get them ready to leave the nest, push them out. They may fly the 1st time or may fall to the ground, but they can be picked up, dusted off, and sent on again, or, if they have broken limbs, they can be mended. If they cannot be mended, there will still be a new generation.

1036. Tonight is another rebirth
October 20/79 1:15 am

Tonight is another rebirth and again I am new and excited and planning. A letter to Brenda began it, and I began thinking about things, about who and what I am, about how I growing and what is building in my life. I began thinking about the problems I am and will continually (or perhaps continuously) be facing. What it is like to be a woman with the Muse--that there are no truly "great" or "major" female poets--just some good ones approaching, but not arriving --> P.K., H.D., Jeni Couzyn, who, who else? How can I get close to the Muse? I cannot turn it around to make it what I wish--the White Goddess exists. She is the Great Mother, the Earth goddess--she is everything and is the Muse. All this is beginning to fit in with Electra and the Orestia. Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes all write about the death of the harlot mother, the prostituted mari/mother. In Aeschylus she is strong taking on male-strength, and political power. In Sophocles she is weaker, more domestic--Electra becomes the strength, the overpowering woman. Orestes pales beside her.
     I have to be up at 6:00 for work. This will kill me. Then I will play after work. Go out and have a good time. I still don't know exactly where I'm going. Tonight I am growing into Neile (N'Eile.) Where we are, where we are going to, where we've been...it is raining outside, and I am growing--pouring the poison out of my system, shedding an old, dead skin. And it rains. As in my poem of the 17th:
     How I am:
     I am how the rain falls.
     We live in a cloud now
     on our maintain,
     where the rain doesn't fall,
     but is.
     That is how I am. [3]

1037. Several hours later
7:25 am

, with very little sleep. My eyes ache, and feel as though they have all sorts of nonsense in them. ("Why has the earth not swallowed me? / Soon, it seems, I will be swallowed." [4]) 7?:30, and I cannot think or sleep. Time, the Walrus said. the morning rises.


1. K.C. was a rather serious English major that I had a middling crush on.

2. Leonard Cohen lurks again.

3. This is part of the poem "In Reply to Your Letter" which appeared in The Wascana Review and Seven Robins.

4. Seven Robins

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