++The Minuses ++

Welcome, Dear Reader! I’m very glad to have your fine company here, where I share information about my books and the books of others.

During these last few months, I’ve been offering posts, focusing on what I’m referring to as the constellation of “pluses” congregating around my during-the-pandemic-published poetry collection, The Minuses. These pluses are in the form of supportive reviews, interviews, and readings my poems and I have been lucky enough to receive. In the spirit of addition, I’m aiming for something grander here, too: To celebrate the wondrous generosity of strangers, the special magic of collaboration, and the creative powers of community.

Susana Case epitomizes the tag, “generosity of strangers.” As far as I’m concerned, she holds a special throne in that kingdom. This year, she has made possible for The Minuses and me several readings and the gift-connections that accompany them. I’ve sung her praises before, and I will do it again! My gratitude to her is ongoing. This post focuses on a December reading Susana helped to make possible for me and others. Here’s the short of it.

Six months ago, Susana wrote to me and Dayna Patterson to let us know: “Sandy Yannone is inviting you to both read in her open mic slots on Cultivating Voices…” When I reached out to Sandy, she offered me a chance to read on December 13 with Dayna. Dayna and I had already communed during an interview and an event she, Susana, and I were planning, so I thrilled at another chance to be with her and the terrific poems from her poetry collection, If Mother Braids a Waterfall. When Sandy asked me to recommend a third reader, I offered: Page Hill Starzinger. I had read, loved, and written about Page’s first and second poetry collections Vestigial and Vortex Street. Since being in touch with Page, I had been hoping for some way to spend more time with her and her poems.

Generosity and hope—that’s how Dayna, Page, and I came together on Sunday, December 13 to read in the Cultivating Voices Live Poetry New Books Showcase hosted by the very good poetry citizen and a very thoughtful person, poet Sandy Yannone, with warm and calm technical support from poet Donald Krieger. Through the pandemic, Sandy and Don have been running the Cultivating Voices reading series for poetry books that were published in 2020, a hard time for all things, including bringing a poetry book into the world.

The reading took place live on Facebook. Some people joined us via Zoom and many others via Facebook live, while still others took in the recorded reading in their own time. I’m grateful to my special people who showed up live. I want to maintain my pals’ privacy, but let me offer a bow to Eleni Zisimatos, the editor-in-chief of Vallum Magazine, where two poems from The Minuses were published; Vallum is also the publisher of my chapbook Mind of Spring, which won the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. It was an honor to have Eleni et al join us. Thanks also to all for the lively chat throughout the reading. Bows all around.

Listen to the December 13

Cultivating Voices Live Poetry New Books Showcase

with Dayna Patterson, me, and Page Starzinger


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+ Thank you bows to Susana H. Case for her generosity and for making spaces for me and my poems.

+ Thank you bows to Sandra Yannone and Donald Krieger for hosting me at Cultivating Voices Live Poetry New Books Showcase.

+Thank you bows to Dayna Patterson and Page Starzinger for sharing themselves, their poems, and the poetry stage with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at Unversity Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!


Dear Reader, an interview is a chance to practice the high art of conversation. A conversation is a plus!

I bring to your attention the June 9, 2020 plus of an interview that the most lovely human and excellent poetry reader, Dayna Patterson conducted with me and The Minuses. Dayna and I met in our conversation on the Poetry Hour (4-5pm PDT) that she hosts for Western C.A.R.E.S. (Community, Activities, Resources, Education, Support) at Western Washington University.

Watch and listen to conversation here (use password: 8Q.A!M.?)

photos and compilation by Vincent K. Wong; background image by Jami Macarty

The Poetry Hour interview took place over Zoom, of course. The photos and compilation above are by Vincent K. Wong, my good pal and a terrific experimental photographer. Vincent attended the event, with 40 other souls, and took these photos of Dayna and me.

I didn’t realize the background image of Sonoran Desert and its saguaro cacti came through and interpentrated the live image of me, shifting foreground and background, the live and the still until Vincent sent me the series of photos he took during the event. I love the photos and the special effects are a perfect visual component to a quality of feeling I’m trying to get at in the poems of The Minuses.

photo by Vincent K. Wong; background image by Jami Macarty

Here are the questions Dayna Patterson asked me during the interview:

  1. We’re here to discuss your recent collection, The Minuses. When I think of the phrase, “the minuses,” I usually hear it in conjunction with “the pluses and the minuses.” With that title holding only the last part of the phrase, I expected that the book would press into themes of loss, negation, and deprivation. It certainly did that, and in ways that surprised me. For example, the book seems to be built from the scrap of a wrecked relationship. Is that an accurate description? Would you read the first piece for us and talk about why you selected this title for your book? 
  2. There’s a lot of verticality in this collection, a motif that in some places conjures, for me, a feeling of vertigo, and in other places a kind of longing to be detached, above the fray, so to speak. How were you working with notions of verticality vs. horizontality in this collection? (Read “Flight Hours,” “Mountain Hypotenuse,” and/or “Nor’easter”)
  3. How and when did you become so intimately acquainted with the landscape of the Sonoran Desert and its environs? What was your research process for the poems in this collection? (Read “Monsoon Desert,” “At Gravity’s Feet,” & “Music 5:30.”) I’m particularly interested in the phrase “I sent myself into the desert to become a third person” in “At Gravity’s Feet.”
  4. Can you talk about the way these poems lean into the colon and the double colon? For you, does the colon represent a kind of mathematical equation rendered into syntax? (Read “By Virtue of And”)
  5. A poem that really resonated for me from this collection is “Door Ratio.” Would you mind reading that one for us?
  6. Your notes section is expansive, specific, and generous. Why include the Latin name for each species you mention in the notes? How do you decide what to put in the notes to a collection?
  7. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the making of this book?
  8. What are you working on now or next?
  9. Who are some of the writers or artists that inspire you? In particular, are there contemporary poets you’d like to recommend to our audience today?

And, here I am endeavoring to arrive at answers, to be responsive.

photo by Vincent K. Wong; background image by Jami Macarty

Dayna’s and my conversation was followed by a Q&A with our audience of listeners and joining souls.

Watch and listen to conversation here (use password: 8Q.A!M.?)

: : : :

+ Thank you bows to Goddess Dayna Patterson for reading The Minuses, for her thoughtful questions, and for featuring and hosting me on the Poetry Hour for Western C.A.R.E.S. at Western Washington University.

+ Thank you bows to Western C.A.R.E.S. at Western Washington University and Goddess Athena Roth for offering her very fine administrative support during the event.

+ Thank you bows to the 40 souls with their beautiful ears and minds who joined me et al for the June 9 interview and conversation.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, editor Donald Revell, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses with me.

+ Thank you bows to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!