Rising, waning crescent

She’s white and quiet this morning,
a glance through branches of bare trees
simply a neighbor in the forest, gathering her night herbs and nodding to me as our paths cross and our days begin.

Another woman sits up quietly,
pulls her cloak about her and rises.
“I have the watch,” she says, and listens while her brother makes his ablutions.

That will be this morning’s story.

Not too early

At our house, we call it First Ups.
I got First Ups, I will say, and waking the house is as sacred as putting it to bed:

Dogs out, thoroughly patted, fed;
Good morning, sweet Taigh — good morning coffee;
Sometimes there’s needful recovery from the day before, so dishes, trash out;
This morning, it’s trash all the way to the road.

Sometimes First Ups is too early, and I’ve striven too much before light and I go back for Second Sleep.

And then one of the others thinks that they have First Ups and the sacred quiet of that time,
and the dogs get Second Breakfast.

Received a very dear email today

From a poet who didn’t believe in herself. I replied. Maybe that reply can help or inspire you, too.

Let me tell you a few ideas I have about developing your poetry – first, it can be hard just to make the *time* to do it!  Do you have a regular Poetry Moment in your daily routine?  For serious simply keeping doing it is the best way to get where you want to be with your writing.

I do have a cute little informal, free, made of real people writing drop-in group on line.  If you’d ever like to drop in, please do.  The links and schedule for the different meetings are here: www.birchislandbooks.com/writerspace/

So, grammar.  English is a branch of the German language family on a Celtic language structure with a ton of Latin-derived vocabulary, adapted to be closer to Norse, with words made up and carried in by new friends in every century.  In the 1400s, the guy with the first English printing press said “I’m going to standardize spelling the way it is in the most formal, long-established documents” at the exact same time that the entire population of England underwent a massive shift in how they pronounced things.  In the 1800s, women trying to teach in the very most rural of frontier prairie schools tried like the absolute dickens to write up rules of grammar which looked like Latin because they had heard that Latin was the ultimate, perfect language.  Thus was born the American Academic dialect of English.

Here’s what I want you to know:  your first draft is for you.  It is impossible to make a mistake on a first draft because that’s the purpose of the first draft, to get the poetry out of your head and onto the paper, regardless of someone else’s idea of “correct”.

Later, if you wish to make a second draft which would communicate clearly to other people, great!  My method for turning a first draft into a second draft includes coffee and talking out loud.  If I read a sentence or a line of poetry out loud, in my native dialect of my native language, as the words come out of my mouth I can hear if they are the right way around and I can try different ways of saying the same thing until it sounds right.  If I then have to translate into the American Academic dialect, that’s later.  First I make sure it sounds like real sentences.

February 22nd

Yesterday I reached for a seldom-used notebook –

it’s pretty, you see, so it is hard to be sure that it’s for me –

and I turned a few pages to find that I had made a star map. I had been struck by a morning so lovely as to record it in pen and ink in the pretty notebook (the silver one which is for magical things).

There I had set old friends, Scorpius and Serpens caput, and the moon just so, and the bare branched trees before them.

This morning, I am up in the first touch of dawnlight to velvet blackness.

There they are.

A Magical Education

I will be speaking today at Signum University’s New England Moot, a reflection on twenty years as a religious educator. Specifically, I will address how the finest schools of magic influenced my work.

Here’s a link to my slides!

And this is the non-exhaustive list of books which I’ve been known to recommend on the general topic of ethical development:

The Harry Potter Saga by J. K. Rowling

Riddle Master of Hed (and sequels) by Patricia McKillip

Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

everything by Ursula K. LeGuin

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwiggan

Number the Stars

Matty Doolin

Jenny Nimmo’s Snow Spider Trilogy

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

Tamora Pierce, Song of the Lioness Quartet 

Star Wars.  Episodes 4, 5, and 6 

Howard Pyle:

Robin Hood.

Men of Iron.

Otto of the Silver Hand.

the Sherlock Holmes corpus, 

Frankenstein, Lewis Carroll, 

Swiss Family Robinson, 

Treasure Island! 

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engel

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda.  

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley 

“ABCs in Zero G” a short story by Elizabeth Moon; 

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold)

 Everything by Lois McMaster Bujold

Star Trek. 

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper.  

“Omnilingual” by H. Beam Piper.  

“Nodsaunce” by H. Beam Piper – 

Life As We Knew It & The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer.   

everything Joss Whedon ever produced

The Curse of Chalion and especially its sequel, Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold. 

The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

The Darwath Series, by Barbara Hambly

The Ladies of Mandrigyn, by Barbara Hambly

“The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin.

The Little Prince

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

Speaker for the Dead  by Orson Scott Card

everything by Agatha Christie, but especially the mysteries solved by that strong female protagonist Miss Jane Marple