Six weeks ago, I posted an interview with L.L. Barkat about her most recent book, Rumors of Water. We had a couple of email and comment exchanges in the weeks between my asking her for the interview and my posting it here.

Nice and all, but nothing to prepare me for this: the day after the interview went live, L.L. sent me an email, asking if I’d like to do a little writing for her poetry blog.

I nearly fell off my chair in surprise and glee. Would I like to write for her blog?

Hm. Would I like to win a million dollars? Would I like to have my YA novel published? Would I like to have agents beating down my door begging to represent me?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I would.

So I am. Every other Thursday, I host the Top Ten Poetic Picks at Tweetspeak Poetry (the other weeks, the deeply thoughtful and often amusing Matthew Kreider hosts). Theoretically, it’s a gleaning of the previous week’s poetry-related news, but we use the term “poetry” quite broadly: I’ve posted about 90-year-old video game inventors, Parisian chefs, Apple’s e-bookstore, and jazz musicians.

My official title is Columnist, but in western parlance that translates to Poetry Roundup Gal: I wrassle the poetry links into a pen and make ’em look pretty or interesting or what-have-you. Then L.L. opens the gates and sends ’em out onto the range of the Tweetspeak blog.

Yesterday, it was my turn to host the roundup. Yeehaw! Here are the teasers for a few of the articles that I linked to.


For all you poet-mamas and papas out there, this spring brings five new collections of children’s poetry, which look so good I want them all. My library only has two of them (still on order, though I’m first in line to get them when they come in—woot!), so I had to buy the other three books. It’s a rough life, but someone has to support all those poor poets out there.


I am not a fan of blank canvases. You know, the ones that hang in museums and claim to be art. I just don’t get them. Then I read this fascinating article about the creativity inherent in Nothingness—a story of dark matter, a blank canvas, art, and poetry. I’m afraid I’m going to have to approach my next blank museum canvas with less hostility and more humility.


This poem claims books make the best education. I agree. I’ve long believed that reading good books makes you smarter and more empathetic. Of course, I was just conjecturing about that whole smarter/kinder thing, but since it’s always helpful to invoke intelligence and empathy to justify the things we enjoy, I embraced the conjecture as absolute truth. New brain research, though, shows that I was right:

[There is] substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals — in particular, interactions in which we’re trying to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. Scientists call this capacity of the brain to construct a map of other people’s intentions “theory of mind.” Narratives offer a unique opportunity to engage this capacity, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers.

Told you so.

If you’d like to read more of the fabulous stuff I wrangled (an attempt to ban that horrific racist Dante and his magnum opus of virulent hate speech, The Divine Comedy; a make-you-smile book of found smiley faces; and an interview with the chef of the smallest restaurant in Paris, to name just a few), head on over to Tweetspeak and take a look.

And take a look, too, at this beautiful mug I got last week in the mail, with a note that said, “Thanks for joining the Tweetspeak team.”

The painting, by Emily Wierenga, is called “MotherChild.”

I love my new job.