Archive for the ‘parents’ Category

The View From Here   Leave a comment

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Issue/78743

In May, in honor of Mother’s Day, The View From Here published my poem The Problem With Mother’s Day. Most of my poems on motherhood have a positive slant to them, this one not so much. There is dark humor here in this  little poem, because a lot of people, especially those that do not have children, idealize motherhood and paint a picture that mothers can do no wrong. Then, when some mother does something truly horrific, it’s plastered all over the news, talking heads decrying the tarnishing of the sanctity of Mother. For a mom who is not going to murder her children or sell them into white slavery, but does have her moments where the makeup isn’t pristine, the children aren’t angels on the playground, and dinner is leftover meatloaf, this idea that anything less than the Perfect Mommy is a sin is an uncomfortable one. So, I wrote a little poem about it, and the folks at The View From Here must have a mother or two amongst them, because they accepted it and published it.

Have some dark days? Not living up to the ideals others plaster all over you? Write about it this weekend, get it off your chest.

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Poetry Quarterly   Leave a comment

http://poetryquarterly.com/?page_id=7

As summer draws to a close and the weather here in New England begins to cool, I’m eager to look back on poems written about or during the summer time. The poem that Poetry Quarterly published in their Spring edition, “My Children Smell of Sea Salt Air”, is perfect for these high wind chill days, when all you want to do is curl up with a good book under your snuggli with a cup of tea and a bowl of chili. If you’re short a book, Poetry Quarterly also comes in a convenient print edition.

I wrote this poem late in the school year, when I was stuck counting books and calling parents with overdues, getting the library ready for its long summer’s nap. I would come home, hot, sweaty, and over caffeinated, to hear my children talk about the walks they’d taken with their dad on the boardwalk that day. I would gather them up in hugs and just inhale; it was enough to feel the sunshine on their skin to bring me back to myself.

And so, refreshed, I wrote this poem. I come back to it often this time of year, right before I throw on that extra sweater in the morning.

What was your summer like? On a cold night like tonight, journal about all the things you did, how it felt. Use your notes to write a poem, or a short essay, about the experience. It’s guaranteed to chase away the chill, for one night at least.

Literary Tonic   Leave a comment

http://literarytonic.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/poetry-by-helen-r-peterson/

In April the online zine Literary Tonic, published right here on WordPress, posted my poem “My Soul Pours Out Like Water”. The poem’s title comes from Lamentations 2:19:

Arise , cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.

And OK, Jeremiah said heart, but whatever was going through my head that night, I read it as soul.

I’ve written quite a lot about my experiences as a mother, some might even call it my theme, my niche. However, historically I don’t tend to write a lot while pregnant. I guess I have other things on my mind at the time.  My third and last pregnancy was an exception, as I was in pain most of the time, and writing through it became my only reliable release.  Stuck in bed,  rolled up on your side, all you can do is read and write and try to keep your lunch off your belly. So I read the Bible in between the stacks of library books and gleaned from its pages verses, phrases, a word here and there that spoke to me in some way. Later, after nearly succumbing to Helpp syndrome, I was able to go over my notes and fit my own words around those of the prophets and apostles. The poem Literary Tonic chose to publish is an example of the fruit of my literary labor. Enjoy.

Shine Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.theshinejournal.com/petersonhelenr.htm

The past week has been a long one for me, going back to work, sending two of three kids off to school. One thing that has suffered is the blog here, and I apologize if you’ve missed me the past couple of days. I promise to catch up.

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks, and in honor of that day,  I’ve posted my one and only 9/11 poem, published last year in The Shine Journal.  Unlike many other writers, it took me four years to write on the subject. On September 11, 2001, I listened to the first reports on NPR as I took my son to preschool, thinking that it had just been a small plane, mildly concerned. I should add that we didn’t have a tv at that time, no internet, no cell phone. It wasn’t until I got to work and saw my coworkers circling a monitor in the back, shell shocked, anxious. It wasn’t until my son’s preschool, state run, called and said I needed to pick him up, that the governor was closing all state buildings. It wasn’t until I went home and stared up at a sky free of jet trails that it hit me what we were dealing with. At that point the threads that connected the events to me were either too thin or rock solid to write about. It was only when my son, now seven years old, was baptized on the fourth anniversary of the attacks that I could find a way in to the emotions I felt that day in a way that I hoped made sense to the rest of the world, and approached the topic in a new and interesting way.

This year I sent another child to preschool for the first time. I am more connected to the world than I ever thought possible, for better or for worse. I look at the world, at the mess we’ve made of things, the hope of a more united country and world fizzling as we split hairs over what we call a community center. It makes me want to write another poem, only I can’t find a way in…yet…

Maybe you can. Give it a try, what has changed for you in the past nine years? How do world events connect you to the world around you? Find an in, write it out, and feel free to post it here.

Niteblade   Leave a comment

http://www.niteblade.com/september-2010/2010/09/dreaming-in-msg/

Niteblade is an online and print journal of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy writing. They recently published my horrific poem Dreaming in MSG, based on a gastronomic nightmare. I often keep a dream journal, jotting down what I remember from the night before, and attempt to work it into my writing. This was a particularly gruesome dream, in which a dish of food transforms itself into a drowned mother rat and her unborn babies. I’m not a dream expert, but I have a feeling the dream was caused more from doubts on my own abilities as a mother, and not really about food at all, but the image was burned into my head for the whole rest of the day, until I took my notes from the morning and fashioned them into this poem.

I don’t think of myself as a genre writer, but it does seem like the things I write that do fit a particular niche, such as this poem, are easier to find a home for. The print version of Niteblade is well worth buying a copy, or subscription, with fantastic hand drawn illustrations. I highly recommend doing your part to support small presses, and ordering a copy today.

Think about your own dreams. Does one in particular stand out in your memory? Do you have a recurring dream that won’t seem to leave you alone? Take some time out of your day today to write it down.

Battered Suitcase   Leave a comment

Алина никогда не моет посуду, если ей сказать:...

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.vagabondagepress.com/00901/V3I2PT7.html

Battered Suitcase is an online journal run by Vagabondage Press that has a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first places that published me  when I was starting out. They’ve done me the honor of accepting another poem, this one entitled “When Even the Neighbor’s Cat Feels Sorry for Me”, a good one for today, when I am down in the dumps.

This was a napowrimo poem. What is napowrimo? National Poetry Writing Month, the month of April, when I, and a number of other poets in the US, challenge ourselves and one another to write a poem a day, for the whole month. It’s a momentum I wish I could maintain all year. During April of 2009, I had just moved into a new place, had chosen to end my reproductive years, and was looking at a relationship in decline.  On this particular day, I hadn’t found my poem yet, was washing dishes, listening to the Beatles, when “Fool on the Hill” came on. Music is a huge influence on my writing, as are tasks that have a rhythm to them, such as scrubbing dishes. Close your eyes and think of it, the sounds and movements. Scrub scrub, rinse, stack, scrub scrub rinse stack. Sccrit, scrrit, woosh, clanck, scrrit sccrit, woosh, clanck.

The beauty of ordinary things, washing dishes, humming a tune, is good therapy to cure the blues. You either write a poem or take a nap afterwards, but either way, you’re feeling good. It all swirls away down the drain with the tortilla crumbs.  Take some time today to become aware of the rhythms of your own domesticity, and put it down on paper.

Wilderness House Literary Review   Leave a comment

http://www.whlreview.com/no-5.2/poetry/HelenPeterson.pdf

Wilderness House, which has published me twice now, is the feature today. These two poems, “Mother Cynic” and “Making Aunt Gracie’s Potato Salad”  both explore family in unique ways. Yesterday’s poem, “To the Mother of all Mothers”, took on a humorous view of motherhood, “Mother Cynic” as its name implies takes a darker view. Perfect for today, as my oldest got on the bus this morning for a new school, and did NOT want me to come to the bus stop with him. (He’s in 7th grade now, so I get it, but still…) fortunately, next week, my second will start preschool, and will definitely want me there so it covers the hole left by the tween. And it’s the up and down, the balancing act that is motherhood, that “Mother Cynic” is framed around.

The second poem, “Making Aunt Gracie’s Potato Salad”, is a poem written as a recipe, mapping the life of “Aunt Gracie”. The name came not from an aunt, but from my great-grandmother, Granny Gracie, who made biscuits, not potato salad. I just happened to be making potato salad that day, so it was a mix of the true and the not quite true. Emily Dickinson once said “tell the tale, but tell it slant.”, and that’s just what I did.

Food and family make great inspirations. Today, write about the food that means family to you, and share a slice here.