Sunday, April 29, 2007


We went on a cruise in January, which was stunning. This is the sunrise from the ship.

Our aunt and uncle have been cruising extensively in their retirement and we were reticient. In part, we were concerned that cruising was losing its true meaning from our twenties in which cruising had an outcome that didn't include a buffet and sunsets. Perhaps our concern was right - cruising no longer is something that we desire to do at bars; now we want to do it on large boats. We went on the Norwegian Pearl, It was fantastic. Great food and great fun. We went for five days, which is, I think, the perfect length for a cruise. We would have been a little itchy to leave the ship if it had been longer.

One stop was on the Mexican rivera, a place to which we want to return. This from XCARET, a nature park where we spent the day.

Perhaps the best part of the park was the turtle release that they do daily. XCARET is dedicated to saving sea turtles. It was quite moving as my mother-in-law, who had died a year ago when we took the trip in January, was a turtle fan, so there was the moment of believing that she was enjoying the sunshine and the turtles with us.

The park also was filled with great native Mexican animals and statues like this one:

Our favorite stop was Belize City, the capital of Belize. I loved the intact ecosystem. We drove by miles and miles of mangroves on our way to the Mayan ruins, Altun Ha. The day was fantastic.

Here are photos from the day in Belize.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


On Wednesday, the GLBT Graduate Students presented new work under the name, Quick & Dirty III. I was thrilled to participate with my paper, "Uncoupling Lesbians."

Here's a photo of the presenters and the fabulous folks from the GLBT Studies Program at Maryland:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Essay at The Strix Varia

The Strix Varia is a fabulous online magazine about reading contemporary poetry. I am huge fan of Smith Browne, the editor over at The Strix Varia, and particularly send her warm wishes for the defense of her dissertation on May 18, 2007. She will be a fabulous addition to the world of Dr.-dom and most of all we can look forward to her focus on her own poetry! Smith was recently interviewed for WriteWords, a journal in the UK. You can read the interview here.

While it’s not included in the interview for non-members of WriteWords, Smith made a lovely mention of me in the interview. Here it is:

Tell us about your favourite SV writers

I'm proud to have published all the writers that are now in the SV archive, but Julie R. Enszer stands out. She has taken the brief of "reflection" upon one poem down some very quirky and amusing avenues. Not everyone submitting needs to take Julie's approach, or agree with her conclusions, but we'll be very interested to see more submissions that take chances, stretch the brief, and fiddle with the definitions of "reflection" and "close-reading." Just be yourself and share your experiences with the work in your own way. There's no one template to follow.

How sweet is that? I love “very quirky and amusing avenues.” That about sums me up!

Meanwhile, I have a new essay at The Strix Varia. Check it out and be sure to read the full magazine here.

P.S. As the magazine, The Strix Varia, is based in the UK, I’m thinking that I might get the T-shirt, “I’m big in Europe.” That and the fact that a column of mine is going to be printed in a magazine in Nepal has my head just a little large this week. (More about that later. Including the T-shirt, “I’m big in Nepal,” which I think I’ll just sell through my website.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kari Edwards

I only knew Kari Edwards on email but I admired her commitment and her passion and her words. There is a memorial for her this Friday that Eileen Tabios will be reading at. You can learn more about it here. Kari’s life and her death raises the questions for me about relationships in this Internet age. How do we create relationships online? What is the impact of those relationships? How do we mourn and grieve about people that we have never met in person? I think about this as someone who has an online life and who is grappling with these questions.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Noah and Joan by Denise Duhamel

My friend, Sally, writes obsessively about Noah. Great poems. She mentioned to me a number of months ago that Denise Duhamel had written a poem connecting Noah and Joan, both of Arc fame. She just emailed it to me. I adore Denise Duhamel’s work. This poem is a fine example of her work.

Noah and Joan

It's not that I'm proud of the fact
that twenty percent of Americans believe
that Noah (of Noah's Ark) was married
to Joan of Arc. It's true. I'll admit it—
Americans are pretty dumb and forgetful
when it comes to history. And they're notorious
for interpreting the Bible to suit themselves.
You don't have to tell me we can't spell anymore—
Ark or Arc, it's all the same to us.

But think about it, just a second, timeline aside,
it's not such an awful mistake. The real Noah's missus
was never even given a name. She was sort of milquetoasty,
a shadowy figure lugging sacks of oats up a plank.
I mean, Joan could have helped Noah build that ark
in her sensible slacks and hiking boots. She was good with swords
and, presumably, power tools. I think Noah and Joan
might have been a good match, visionaries
once mistaken for flood-obsessed and heretic.

Never mind France wasn't France yet—
all the continents probably blended together,
one big mush. Those Bible days would have been
good for Joan, those early times when premonitions
were common, when animals popped up
out of nowhere, when people were getting cured
left and right. Instead of battles and prisons
and iron cages, Joan could have cruised
the Mediterranean, wherever the flood waters took that ark.

And Noah would have felt more like Dr. Doolittle,
a supportive Joan saying, "Let's not waste any time!
Hand over those boat blueprints, honey!"
All that sawing and hammering would have helped
calm her nightmares of mean kings and crowns,
a nasty futuristic place called England.
She'd convince Noah to become vegetarian.
She'd live to be much older than 19, those parakeets
and antelope leaping about her like children.

Denise Duhamel

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Crying in Inappropriate Places

Are there inappropriate places to cry? Initially, I say no. Cry whereever or whenever you need. This weekend though I confronted crying in an inappropriate place: Walt Disney World. At least I wasn’t at the Magic Kingdom. I was at EPCOT. Still, I think that EPCOT is an inappropriate place to cry. Yet, I cried thinking that my cat was deteriorating and going to die. She may be, but even though I rushed home (crying all the way on the Metro), she isn’t at that moment where she needs to be taken to the vet to be put to sleep. She’s not eating enough. She’s not great and her thyroid is out of control, but she’s not to the point where she wants to be out of pain and misery. So instead of writing about my cat’s death, I can write about crying in inappropriate places.
There wasn’t really anything wrong with crying at EPCOT. It just felt asynchronous. It was sunny and in the low 70s. People were happy and celebrating the magic of Disney. I was crying. There was something wrong with the picture. Even Disney, however, could not help me pull myself out of the depression of thinking that I was going to lose my cat.
Her sister died two years ago. It was terribly sad. I don’t want to lose Gertrude, though I fear her days are numbered. I hope, however, that the tears I’ve shed over the past three days will mitigate the pain when the next day arrives. I hope that day has me only in places that are appropriate to cry. Though I don’t know exactly where that would be.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A-Z Meme

This is the sort of thing that I do on Wednesdays, which is my school day. Which is to say, that memes are primarily for avoiding reading and writing. At any rate, here is this one:

A - Accent:
B - Breakfast item: Scrambled Eggs
C - Chore you hate: Grocery Shopping
D - Dad’s Name: Robert, or Bob
E - Essential everyday item: A fountain pen
F - Flavor ice cream: New York Super Fudge Chunk
G - Gold or Silver? White gold
H - Hometown: Detroit, MI
I - Insomnia: Never. Ever.
J - Job Title: Writer
K - Kids: None
L - Living arrangements: With my lovely wife, our two dogs, and one cat and quite a few books
M - Mom’s birthplace: Detroit, MI
N - Number of significant others you’ve ever had: More than one.
O - Overnight hospital stays: None
P - Phobia: None of which I am aware
Q - Queer: Excellent
R - Religious Affiliation: Jewish
S - Siblings: 1
T - Time you wake up: 6:30/7:00 a.m.
U - Unnatural hair colors you've worn: None. I really need to think about dying my hair
V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: Brussel Sprouts
W - Worst habit: Biting my nails
X - X-rays you’ve had: Teeth and once on an ankle that was only sprained
Y - Yummy: Beef tenderloin
Z - Zodiac sign: Capricorn

Anyone care to join me in this madness?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Review of What Feeds Us at Moondance

Moondance is a fabulous web journal that profiles writing by women. My review of Diane Lockward’s lovely book, What Feeds Us, has been published there. Do read the review - and, more importantly, the full journal. It’s a gem.

Written by: Diane Lockward
Published by: Wind Publications, 2006
ISBN: 1893239578
Reviewed by: Julie R. Enszer
Genre: poetry

When I read lines like these from the poem, "Linguini" in Diane Lockward's second collection of poetry, What Feeds Us:

Linguini witnessed our slurping, pulling, and
sucking, our unraveling and raveling, chins
glistening, napkins tucked like bibs in collars,
linguini stuck to lips, hips, and bellies

Read the rest of the review.

Dirty Feminist Secrets

Certainly, I don’t believe that there are books that feminists should not read and enjoy. I have the liberal feminist Western perspective that all books should be available for people to read and enjoy and debate and discuss. Except, I must admit, there are poets that I love who are my ‘dirty feminist secrets.’ Poets who are not on the top ten lists of feminists and who in fact write about women in ways that I would consider clearly anti-feminist. Still I love them. This is the dissonance of ideology.

I don’t know if Jack Gilbert is one of those poets. I don’t know much about him. Though this article by Meghan O’Rourke at Slate makes me think that Gilbert is going to be one of my dirty feminist secrets.

The Academy of American Poets has a biography of Gilbert and some poems. The one below I fell in love with from The Writer’s Almanac.

Oh, Jack! I want to read more of you!

Poem: "Failing and Flying" by Jack Gilbert, from Refusing Heaven. © Alfred A Knopf. Reprinted with permission. (buy now) 

Failing and Flying 

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was 
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky 
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy. 
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, 
but just coming to the end of triumph.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

14 Lesbians in the Out List

Fourteen. Fourteen? 14!?!

You can read the full list here.

I shouldn’t be, but I’m astounded at the lack of women on the list. Twenty-eight percent? Women, lesbians and bisexual women included, make up fifty-one percent of the world, including the United States, and yet in a completely arbitrary list of influence, we don’t even get one-half of the slots. Something is wrong somewhere.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Money for Nothing

It all began with the book, The Love of Impermanent Things, by Mary Rose O’Reilley. This is a stunning book. It is really a series of small essays reflecting on life and its meaning drawing from a wide variety of spiritual sources. It was this section, however, that jumped out at me. O’Reilley is writing about the advice of a spiritual mentor and nun.

“Her last, most astonishing advice to me was, “Why don’t you goof-off and try getting something for nothing?” What kind of a koan is that for a disciplined person?”

I wasn’t looking for a koan; I don’t need a new one, but this one struck me. I pride myself in the hearty American values of productivity and the mantra that idle hands signal an idle mind. So reading this, I thought, perhaps these are words for me.

Now before I could embrace them - and even now I don’t fully embrace them, just test them out at times - I had to spend a long time singing the song by the Dire Straights, or as they spell it Straits, Money for Nothing. This song features that brilliant line, “Money for nothing and your chicks for free.” I sing that to myself as the musical accompaniment of this koan.

I tested it for the first time on Sunday and Monday. I did really nothing. Yes, I prepared for the seder, but I have been woefully behind and unprepared for my classes for the past two days. I’ve taken money for nothing and my chicks for free. It’s been great.

I will catch up in the next four or five days, but goofing off and trying to get something for nothing is something that I’m thinking about more, playing with even. Perhaps there are lessons in there that are important for me. Perhaps there is more than discipline and productivity. Just perhaps.