“Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”


I haven’t posted personal work in awhile and I figured I probably should, seeing as this is a poetry blog. Recently I’ve been running into a qualm with the idea of ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’, namely people believing that the sentiment holding true having some kind of say in whether or not love is true. I wrote a newer poem about the idea, and then realized that I had already written a poem about my feelings on the sentiment back in high school. So to parallel the two different points of my life, I have decided today to post the two poems one right after the other.

This first one was written when I was eighteen, so back in 2010:
distance

And this one was written this week, at the age of twenty-two in 2014:

distancesolves

What are your ideas on this well-used idiom?

Edit: I had to re-do the poems in graphic form as the post editor isn’t letting me put the correct line-breaks in the poems.

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Updates: Getting My Life Together


I’d been doing so good with my resolution to post twice a month. On the one hand, I’m proud that I made it at least five months without slipping, but on the other, I’m a tad disappointed with myself for letting that just go.

Ah, well. Life goes on. And how. I’ve moved back to Highlands Ranch fully now. Settling back in to a living rhythm with my parents, college-aged little brother and younger sister has been a bit of a struggle, but the kinks are starting to work themselves out now. I started my first full-time job nannying for two small children Monday through Friday, at the beginning of this month which is both a challenge and amazing.  Overall I’m proud of this day-job, and feel blessed to be able to make a living doing something that I’m good at, that makes me feel affirmed and valuable and every-day, and surrounds me with love and support instead of hard deadlines and constant belittlement from peers (it helps that if my boss gets cranky at me, I can just put him down for a nap!). I’m also super excited to be getting more involved with my church community, as I have committed myself to being a core team leader for a local high school youth ministry where an old youth group friend of mine was recently hired as the youth director.

In this time of settling in and setting up, I think I’ve written a grand total of one new poem. On the writing front, I’ve been itching to finish my latest full-length fiction manuscript (around 130K words), and I’ve been reading in most of my spare time to try to get rejuvenated with how I’m feeling with my poetic ability. With all of these new experiences in my future, I have a feeling that I will soon have more to write about- but after graduating and moving back, I’ve found that I’ve lost a majority of the writing community that used to keep pushing me to write a new poem a day and I’m most certainly suffering the effects of that. I’m still waiting for a couple of poems to be published before I can send off my next poetry manuscript, but I need to set a goal to get back into submitting poems.

I’ve been entertaining the idea of posting more of my poems directly on my blog rather than submitting them to journals, but I’m torn down the middle on that one. I want to be able to continue to be published as I have been being published, on the one hand, but on the other it would easier and less time consuming for me to post poems directly to my blog on a regular basis (once a month, perhaps?). I might consider doing so with some of my poems which are too specifically worded for most poetry publications, and I might do so with poems that have now been published for long enough that I can re-post them without there being any conflict of interest between myself and the publishers. My question with that would be: which would you rather see, these poems in a text format, or these poems in graphic format? Or should I publish them as both? I will most likely make them as both, seeing as it is easier for some of my media outlets for me to post in graphic rather than text format…

Either way, now that I’m finishing with my latest fiction project I want to get myself back into the swing of being able to balance my poetry side with my fiction side, which means more work and more dedication to both sides of the writing art that I have committed to. I would very much appreciate any prayers or good thoughts that you could spare!

(Also, if you have any requests for a specific kind of poem that you would like me to post, or a poem you’d like me to do a video reading for, don’t hesitate to let me know!)

Drunk Dialing the Divine: An Analysis


Recently on Goodreads, a fan named Shane reached out to me via messaging to discuss Drunk Dialing the Divine. These kinds of things usually make me super anxious (did they like it? did they not like it? will I be able to answer the reader’s questions? will I be able to handle the reader’s questions?), but Shane gave me a gift in sending his own analysis of the title poem, ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’, which had led him to order the collection. I have gotten his permission to share his analysis here, which he apologizes for being “impulsive and impassioned…soul bypassing head…[with a] heartfelt scruffy photoflash quality to it”.

 

 “Drunk Dialing the Divine” from the excerpt online…. the title reminded me a St John of the Cross line about God being a hidden wine cellar in the heart. Or in this case the tragic consequences of heart and/or world intoxicated by every thing else apart from God… the phone call echoes the alienation and dislocation of modern relationships with each other and God. The narrator (Mediator????) is interesting because she voices a Pauline concept that when we come face to face with the supreme holiness of God it will be “terrifying”. The sheer righteousness and ultimate goodness of God demands that even angels must avert their eyes and I could witter on about cheap grace and the cost of refusing grace for pages and the blasphemy of this world.
I like the ‘lasso’ line- its bold and dramatic, suggesting Christ’s suffering but is also about control,(you lasso animals) Man tries to domesticate God… but here is the thing, the last line “staving off prayer” also points to the fact the narrator/”mediator” is out of step with God. He/she’s ( I’m assuming its a woman) vision of God seems smug, shrill and narrow, he/she  has domesticated God. I scribbled down- can you Drunk Dial God? I mean how many sinners have in a moment of despair screamed out to God and found in the morning they didn’t have to apologize to God. That’s the radical vision of redemption right? Jesus is the “mediator” between God and man he came for sick not the well. The narrator seems dulled to the possibility of mercy in some subtle way . The poem had me thinking of the Pharisees concept of God and the publicans God “forgive me I’m a sinner”.
As we never know what the drunk is saying in the poem we can’t work out if he is at rock bottom and truly contrite( what has he done? what is there relationship??) or as implicit just a another repeat offender. The poem is wrestling with the difference between piety and love, mercy and justice. Oh I really, really liked the change in gear or flow just after ‘lasso’-‘rope’. It had the effect of looping the poem back on its self like a lasso . There was also some nice lyrical flashes contrasted with pungent spikiness.

 

 

I really enjoy when people respond to my work like this. Shane touched on a lot of nuances that I intentionally put into the poem as I was writing it, as well as pointing out possibilities in interpretation that I hadn’t even thought of yet- but can accept as being a completely valid, and strangely refreshing, reading.

I am extremely grateful for this first in-depth analysis of my own work, and look forward to more in the years to come! Have you read one of my works and wanted to tell me how it made you feel (whether for good or ill?) Always feel free to either comment or contact me via e-mail. I love having these kinds of discussions with my readers!

Happy National Poetry Month!


images

Since 1996, April has been designated by the Academy of American Poets as National Poetry Month! To celebrate, I’m going to challenge myself this year to write more poetry- at least one new original poem a day for the next thirty days. I’ve also recently bought two new poetry collections to read and will hopefully pick up more around Easter.

Some suggestions for my readers looking to celebrate this month:

  •  Participate in the 30 Day Poetry Challenge. Looking for inspiration or a little nudge? Their Facebook Page will be posting a new daily prompt every day for the month of April.

Visit your local library and take out enough collections from the poetry section to last you all month long. Read one a week, and you’ve read four new poets. Double it, and you’ll know eight more. Go for the goal and read a new poet every day- whether that’s through collections or looking up new modern poetry online. (Here’s a good place to start!)

Participate in some of Poets.org’s activities, such as the Poet-to-Poet Project for people in grades 3 through 12, and Poem in your Pocket Day  on April 4th for all ages.

Sign up for the e-mail newsletters from the Poets & Writers website. Stay in the loop with new poets, get prompts delivered to your inbox, find local poets and poetry outlets.

Participate in or go to a local open mic- these are often performed in coffeehouses or local bookstores. For a list of some of those readings in Colorado where I am, visit this website.

For my fellow Coloradeans, visit the Colorado Poets Center– there you can find a comprehensive list of poets near you, read poetry news from your own neighbors, and connect yourself to poets, whether you are a writer or a reader, who live in your own area.

 

Readers: What are your plans for celebrating National Poetry Month? Do you have any prompts to suggest for my own challenge?

 

Review: A Must Read for Poetry Lovers and Those Looking for God


A five star review today from reader Janet Kalmadge- personal reviews like hers just absolutely brighten my day!

I started following Amber on a poetry site. Then I found her blog. She is so open about her life and writing projects. This book is an extension of that openness. Of what she is seeking and questioning. When it comes to God and religion, that is not always easy to do. Her poetry is beautiful, often raw. This book is filled with deep meaning, pondering and answers. I shall always treasure this book.

 

Thank you, Janet, for the kind words! I hope I’ll only be able to get better as I continue to write, and keep being able to give more of myself to my readers. I treasure your support.

Review: Poetry of the Heart


Amazon reviewer Kimberly Duboise has currently put up a four-star review of Drunk Dialing the Divine online! Of my debut collection, Kimberly says:

This collection of poetry expresses honest questioning and seeking, a great example of a heart that is seeking answers and the one who answers. I loved this book as the quality of depth was so moving and beautiful in its clarity. I felt old familiar stirrings of my own soul searching days, very nostalgic !! I appreciate the poetry in this book, appreciate the author for expressing thought and emotions about her journey with skill and talent!

Thank you, Kimberly! I’m very happy with the overwhelming positivity that this collection has been received with.

If you haven’t yet, why not get yourself a copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine, now rated as 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon? If you buy the paperback from eLectio publishing, you can also get the eBook version for free! Looking for lots of poetry at once? Drunk Dialing the Divine is also part of a five book bundle, at 30% off the total retail value!

Don’t forget- if you’ve read Drunk Dialing the Divine, I’d be extremely grateful for any reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and/or Goodreads. Whether you’re inclined to put a 1 or 5 star-rating, a small handful of sentences or a several paragraph analysis, my career as a beginning poet really relies on your input! Let me know what I’ve done well for you as a reader, and let me know how I can also improve in future projects.

#NoMore Week : Surviving and Healing


As a victim of teen dating violence, the message of the No More movement hits very close to my heart. This is an issue that has always been at the forefront of my activism, to the point that my first novel under my fiction alias is entirely about relationship abuse, and 10% of my own royalties are donated to battered women’s shelters locally in Colorado.

While I don’t have a ton of money to add to the campaign, I would love to add my support to #NoMoreWeek through what I do best: writing. In honor of this week, here are two poems I wrote recently regarding my own road to recovery. We must remember in discussions of domestic violence and sexual assault not to forget about dating violence, including teen dating violence, as well as date rape.

survivor

Healing

If these in any way move you to action, please consider donating to No More, or to your own local battered women’s shelters. Get informed. Don’t make excuses. Stand up for the victims in your own lives. No more. 

Things I Do to Stay Sane: Go Dancing


Thursday nights, where will you find me? All of my friends know- the Grizzly Rose in Denver, Colorado. I’ve been line-dancing there since I was still in middle school and had to go on Sunday nights with all the other under-aged kids. Back then, I only really went whenever a big group of my friends were going (and when my mom was free to chaperone, of course). Once I got into college, it became a way for me to connect to some of the new people at my school. Going to Regis meant that I was one of the only native in my friend group- the other people I knew came from out of state, or from cities more than several hours away. I was able to show them around to the local hookah bars, dance clubs, and eventually even the Grizzly Rose. My friends quickly became attached to the place and to the style of dancing- with line-dancing, you don’t need to have a partner to let loose and have a good time, but there still remains that possibility of two-stepping with a cute cowboy if you’re in the mood. 

As an autistic adult, I live by my routines. In a whirlwind of new friends, new classes and new experiences, dancing became my go-to rock. I could always rely on at least one of my friends being willing to go out and get down. It doesn’t seem like the best of places for me to have latched on to- I am usually not a fan of loud noises, and I absolutely hate when people I don’t know touch me. Dance halls of any time tend to have plenty of those two things going on- but it was the one thing that I knew I could rely on. So I forced myself to see it in a new light. 

A friend and I at the Rose's Halloween celebration in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Grizzly Rose Facebook.

A friend and I at the Rose’s Halloween celebration in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Grizzly Rose Facebook.

The music when I go dancing is loud enough for me to ignore everything else around me. I lose myself in music I wouldn’t normally listening to if I wasn’t line-dancing, and focus entirely on the different repetitive steps of the dance.  I focus on the faces of my friends (many of whom are friends because we see each other every single week, I don’t see them any other time!) and I melt into the experience of having a great time. I take pride in being able to do all the dances well and have an even better time when I am able to start dances, conforming a little bit of everyone elses’ routine to mine. 

Dancing once a week is a wonderful exercise, both for my mind and my body. I get to work out (mostly my calves and thighs, if we’re being honest) by having fun. I get to sweat out the stress of the week and feel good about myself through the skill I’ve acquired through dancing for so many years, and by feeling attractive and wanted (even just my friends wanting to be next to me) in a public space. It’s a time of the week that I’ve carved out for myself that is wholly dedicated to self-care in a way that works best with my own neurotype, my own weaknesses, and plays to my own strengths without sacrificing the precious little time that I have to spend with my friends and be with a community. 

There are plenty of ways to put a little bit of ‘me’ time into your week without the need to carve too much ‘alone’ time as well. My mantra of multitasking smarter, not harder, applies to this as well. By making a time of the week that is both ‘me’ and ‘we’ time, I get to spend more time with the people who mean the most to me without sacrificing my own mental health. It’s hard being a young professional, having to balance enough work to survive on with enough me time to wind down in as well as maintaining healthy, lasting relationships. For me, dancing together helps balance some of that out, bringing benefits to all involved. 

Which, if I’m healthy in my personal life, I’m much more likely and willing to apply more of my energy to my work- to my writing, to my networking, to my day jobs. Keeping oneself healthy in mind, body and soul is one of the best things you can do to further your own career and life goals. 

Readers: what things do you do every week to lower your stress levels? What new things would you like to try to fit a little ‘me’ time in your ‘we’ time? 

Update: February Progresses


I’m beginning to find that not being enrolled in classes has severely thrown off my writing groove. What time I allot for writing usually goes wholly to my fiction work (which I’ve been making some pretty great strides in), and there’s not much room for the spontaneity in sitting and writing that I used to get during lectures. Most of the time I either forget to bring my poetry book with me when inspiration does hit, or I’ve so been stuck into my routine of work-working out-writing-reading that I don’t feel like I’ve much new material to write about. Reading new poetry has been helping, but I still feel like I need more of a kick in the pants. So I’ve decided that I’m going to go back through old archives, things I wrote back in high school, and start some dissection work. Strip old work down to its bones and build from there. Not promising anything major from that, but it at least might help me put together a bit of new material. Though its not like I’ve completely dried up- I’ve written a handful of new things here and there, some of which I’ve already submitted out to various journals- but things are particularly slow on the poetry end.

Still working through submitting my collection of love poetry out to different houses, which is a long wait in and of itself, and waiting for a lot of my current religious poetry to be published through the venues that have acquired some of the single poems before I can submit out my current waiting manuscript of poetry, The Shattered Deity: The Struggle to Find God in All Things. So on the submission and publication front, I’m playing a long waiting game that will just off the bat have a lot less payout than normal.

To make up for that, I’ve been going around revamping all of my different social networking sites, including my Myspace, my Poets & Writers profile, my LinkedIn, etc. Making sure everything is entirely up to date, basically. I’ve also decided that I’m going to make it a personal project to go through old print journals and scan in some of my published poetry, start the process of posting some of my already-established work online in order to spread it about further. I’m most excited about that part, honestly, as it’s looking like it will be the most fun!

Hopefully these little tasks will help rejuvenate my muse for poetry writing again, as much as doing little things like this has immensely helped with keeping me on point over in the fiction arena!

Things I Do to Stay Sane: Go Thrift Shopping


Something that I’ve gotten slightly addicted to in the past couple of years is thrift shopping. No, it did not start with Macklemore (thank goodness). I had actually really disliked thrifting when I was younger- my mother would always ask if I would want to come along, and I would always say no (she now makes fun of me for this). I thought that thrift stores had nothing that I wanted, that they were for old people, that the clothes would all be out of style and the other items just plain outdated.

In college, I went thrifting to help my friends build up pieces for their costumes in the school musical (which at the time was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). While they were off looking for their go-go outfits and sparkly headbands, I wandered off and used my time actually looking around. I ended up finding three dresses, several cowgirl-esque button ups for my weekly dance nights at the Grizzly Rose, and a couple of sweaters. Most of the items were also half off the already ridiculously low ticket prices, which means I bought all of those items for less than one blouse at a department store. As a poor college kid, you can imagine how much this appealed to me. I was already a huge fan of shopping at places like TJMaxx and Kohls, but this whole ‘thrifting’ thing let me go one step further with saving money.

arc-thrift-stores

Thrifting soon became my go-to shopping experience. Instead of hanging out at malls, like I had done in high school, I started finding all of the thrift stores that I could- comparing their inventories, seeing what new things were in that week. Soon enough I was dragging my boyfriend with me, where he too picked up an appreciation for thrifting (he likes the cheap electronics and the fact that he can get outfits I like without spending too much money on them!)

It’s only recently that I recognized the potential for my thrifting outside of getting cheap clothing. On a thrifting outing that was more focused on finding my boyfriend a DVD recorder, I decided for once not to look at the clothing, and instead look through the DVD and book sections that I so often skipped over. Turns out, the Arc stores that I so dearly love (and favor very highly over other thrift stores) have expansive book sections- even having a neat little section for poetry and classics. Since this was a 50% off Saturday, most of these books were even cheaper than normal- though they were in perfectly good condition. I ended up with a collection of Pablo Neruda’s love poems, which I have always been meaning to reading, three or four poetry anthologies (one 365-poem collection, one around-the-world collection, one with love poems by women, another with love poems to God from different traditions), a large, beautiful copy of Robert Frost’s complete poems, and a small collection written by a woman who lives here locally (I ended up liking her poetry so much that I sat down on my kitchen floor with that collection and read it straight through without stopping). I also picked up a couple of novels that I’ve been meaning to read, such as The Jane Austen Book Club and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and religious items like a collection of thoughts and prayers by Mother Theresa and Between Heaven and Mirth. All of these books for the price of one!

Now I really believe in supporting authors and artists through purchasing full-priced copies, preferably from independent bookstores when I can. However, as a fledgling writer currently working two jobs as a nanny just to pay rent and help buy a car for my little brother, I don’t often have much ‘book money’ to spare anymore. Thrifting for books is a great way to keep up your book collection and your love of reading when times are tougher (and they are books that you know you’d want to keep- otherwise, local libraries are the best resource for ‘trying out’ books before you buy them).

It’s also, surprisingly enough, a good way to get cheap local lit (if you look for it hard enough, and come on a lucky day- as it is with most thrifting). I know that might seem a bit like a cop-out with supporting local authors- but I know that at least in my own experience I’m much more likely to try something if it’s got less risks, aka less costs. One way that I’ve done this in the past is enter copious amounts of Goodreads giveaways, looking for independent artists to win review copies from. Now I can go thrifting and look for local artist’s work, try it out, leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and then see if there’s anything else they have out for sale! It makes supporting local authors a little more risk-free, and works for everyone all around.