Sunday, September 28, 2008

I did it.

Today I completed the MS 150 City to Shore charity ride for MS. I'm a bit tired. Going to bed now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Sky Poetry 11 now live!


The eleventh issue of Autumn Sky Poetry is now online.

Read poems by Michael Brownstein, C.E. Chaffin, Gabriel FyK, Rashmi Prakash, Janice D. Soderling, Scott T. Starbuck, Donna Vorreyer, Ann Walters, Allen Weber, and Martin Willitts Jr.

—It's all about the poetry.

Christine Klocek-Lim, Editor

Friday, September 19, 2008

Six unspectacular things

I've been tagged by Bebe and Paula. Cool. Here are six unspectacular things about myself:

1. I love chocolate. If some disaster occurred, I would miss chocolate, lemons, and tea more than anything else imported. I can live without gas, bananas, and coffee.

2. I adore tea. I have over 20 varieties of tea in my cabinet, not the flavored kind, but different varieties: darjeeling, assam, yunnan, formosa, etc. And different flushs of the same variety. Really really love tea.

3. I love my Kindle more than I ever thought possible, even though it's an inanimate electronic device. In just over four months I've bought over 80 Kindle books.

4. I ride my bicycle at least 4 times per week and often think that isn't enough. I ride in all seasons, and have even ridden when it is sleeting and in the snow. Okay, I tried to ride in the snow and fell down a lot.

5. Writing poetry defines my obsession with language and humanity. I can not imagine life without words.

6. My favorite mug is the Pessimist's mug. I carry it around with me every day.

The rules:

1. link the person who tagged you.
2. mention the rules on your blog.
3. list 6 unspectacular things about you.
4. tag 6 other bloggers by linking them: O.P.W., Larina, Dave, Karen, Noah, Frank, Theresa.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

long haitus

So, I'm about to begin laying out the pages for the September 15 issue of Autumn Sky Poetry. I've been on a long hiatus from the internet, and I'm hoping that will give me a fresh outlook into poetry. I grew a bit tired of the whole writing thing for a while, and when I take these long breaks (and I always have), I often find that something new has grown into my understanding of poetry.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Life happens

So, I'm back from vacation. Here is a list of things that happened right before and after vacation:

1. Air conditioner broke, froze pipes used to heat house.

2. Pipes burst, basement flooded.

3. Cleanup. Discover that repair will need three different people. Procrastinate.

4. Older son cuts hand, requires ER, three stitches.

5. Hall door is found to harbor mold. That was the smell.

6. Scrape door. Find bees nest. Spray a lot. No effect. Caulk up the holes and spray with clorox.

7. Doctor's visits. Lots of them. Spray more clorox on mold.

8. Car is found to be two months behind on inspection. Freak out. Try to schedule inspection. Fail. Procrastinate. Spray more clorox on mold.

9. Cracked tile found in dining room (newly installed tiles as of two months ago). Freak out. Call tile installers.

10. Ice maker broken. Give up trying to fix it. Buy ice trays. Yay for old-fashioned ingenuity.

11. CT scans, MRI's, balance testing. Barfing ensues.

12. Dingleberry found on cat. Removal of said dingleberry. More barfing, cat and human. Note to self: never feed cat human tuna packed in sunflower oil.

13. Husband goes to India for 7 days. Read news reports of terrorist bombing in India obsessively. Spray more clorox on mold.

14. Couple more doctor visits. Allergist insists that younger son needs big huge ginormous asthma chamber aero thingie to ingest inhaler medicine correctly. Discover that son needs to cart this to middle school, not good for 11 year old image. Decide to stash big huge ginormous asthma chamber aero thingie at nurse's office instead of in backpack. Get reprimanded by said allergist for owning two cats. One of which is fond of dingleberries. Spray more clorox on mold.

15. Rent movie. Sleep. Dream of moldy dingleberries.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On vacation

I'm on vacation this week so, blogging will probably not be a priority. Beach! Yeah!

Member of the Month over at

Well, here's some good news: the Mods at's Discussion Forum have chosen me as August's member of the month! I'm delighted. Since I am no longer the Site Admin, it was pleasant to write about my ideas without being constrained by diplomacy. Simply put: I didn't have to worry about appeasing members or diffusing arguments. I could simply talk about what poetry means to me. What a gift!

Here's what I had to say:

Christine Klocek-Lim was born in the coal-mining region of northeastern Pennsylvania, and now re-sides in the Lehigh Valley with her husband and two sons. She received a BA in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon and has worked as a technical writer. This exposure to both industry and nature and her awareness of northeastern American life shapes her poetry and photography. Her poems have recently ap-peared in Nimrod, The Pedestal Magazine, Philadelphia Poets, and the anthology Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory. In 2006, her work was selected as a finalist for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is editor of the online journal, Autumn Sky Poetry, and her website is

I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. In these 30-odd years, my idea of what poetry and a poem is and can be has changed over and over again. I expect that my idea of poetics will continue to change as I am continually searching for new answers to this old question. I realized a number of years ago that many people regard poems in two ways; one group of poets thinks that the poem is a piece of art that the reader happens to overhear. The other group believes that a poem is a piece of art that commu-nicates something to a reader. I originally fell into the first camp in my teens. However, as I showed my poems to my family, I realized that I wanted my poems to be liked. That is an impossible task when the poem is written entirely in the small world of one’s conscious and internal reality. I know that sometimes a poem written for oneself may speak to another, but when the intention of communication is not pursued, this result is accidental and occasional.

So, quite unconsciously at first, but inevitably, I have fallen into the group of people who believe that a poem should speak to a reader. It can be comedic, dramatic, narrative, whatever type of story or form or experiment one likes, but for me, it must have a way of connecting with another person. This desire to communicate, and to have my poems read and have people want to read them, brought me to the understanding that even with this intent in mind, not every reader will understand one’s poem as it is written. This difficulty stems from the various differences in philosophy, culture, education, and interest that exists between the poet and possible readers. Of course, at this conclusion, it’s easy to give into despair. How can one possibly write a poem that speaks to a reader if one cannot predict what the reader’s experience brings to the reading?

This idea, finally, has brought me to the belief that a firm understanding of the basics of language and communication are the fundamental tools that are needed to communicate using poetry. In my own culture and language (English), I have the assumption that most of the people reading my poems will also know the basics of grammar and word choice, at least to a certain extent. Obviously, references to other works, whether literary or in the popular culture or other microcultures, further break down experiences into fractured communities, but one must start somewhere. Once writing the basics are intuitive, then one can move on into the more esoteric applications of language which is where true artistry begins. A simple analogy for this might be learning to cook: at first, one knows from eating scrambled eggs that one likes the taste. Moving on from there to the ability to cook eggs just as one likes them involves learning about eggs, heat, and the judicial application of heat. Once these basics are mastered, one can move onto omelets.

Indeed, this is where I believe true artistry with poetry is possible. If we all have an idea together of how our written language functions (think memo, recipe, email, news article, etc.), what is the next step? Consider: if every human brain is nothing more than a pattern recognition device, what is the basis for that spark of pleasure or dismay or excitement that good art provides? My answer, after much thought, has been this: the slight deviation from expected patterns provides the spark. So a poem that in all aspects seems very ordinary, can through the original use of language tools (metaphor, imagery, meter, etc.), deviate slightly from the norm and thus provide that extra spark which a true piece of art needs in order to endure in the collective human consciousness.

My ideas about critiquing stem somewhat from a pithy essay called, “The Indecipherable Poem,” by Robert Francis. Granted, he wrote the book which contains the essay as a sort of bitter statement against the more accepted denizens of the poetry world in his time, but the amusing truth of the essay nevertheless continues to appeal to me. Francis wrote: “It is not difficult to be difficult.

What I mean is, a poem that is very difficult to read may not have been at all difficult to write.”

My understanding of the essay is this: any poem can be exactly what the poet claims it is, and no one can really argue. This kind of thought is perfectly valid for those writers who want nothing more than to write for themselves and stuff their heart’s work under the mattress and are content, or those who believe that all poetry is art merely to be overheard. I believe this idea has no place in a workshop where critique of a poem is the point of the entire thing.

If, however, one wants to communicate with one’s reader, critique can be an invaluable tool for discerning whether or not your poem will function on its own, far away from your cushioning explanations. The biggest difficulty with workshopping is the level of critique any one poet thinks he/she wants versus what he/she needs. Most beginner poets need a lot of critique just to see that their poem does not function as a communication device, but most beginner poets don’t want to know that (Yes, myself included. I could go on and on at how bitterly I resented an early critique of a particularly bad sestina I’d written but I would hate to bore you with the details. Suffice to say the critique stopped me from writing for two years.). Once a poet has reached the point where one can divorce one’s desire to create a wonderful poem that everybody loves using all sorts of literary devices from the actual learning of the basics of language and communication, then having one’s poem critiqued becomes extremely useful. It is the lack of the basics that really hamstrings a poet from creating exactly what one wants to create. Most of the time, there is a spark of talent and desire and interest, but not understanding how language can influence a reader makes one’s early poetic suc-cesses rather accidental.

Once a poet reaches the intentional stage of creativity, critique serves to bring awareness to those problem pieces of one’s poem that one has simply missed. One didn’t really mean to use thirty-eight articles, most of them the word “the” and didn’t realize how much it bogged down the inherent grace of one’s poem. Having someone point that out is useful. Of course, I also believe that one can go beyond intentional into the truly inspirational, and that is where I think that critique begins to become less useful, and from then on to an active hindrance in some cases. This particular stage hinges on one thing: trust.

Most people who participate in online and real life workshops are by the very nature of such activi-ties admitting to a lack of knowledge about poetry. This is not actually true in all cases, but the perception of it on the part of the other participants exists, and this affects the critique of the poem. For example, if one writes a nontraditional sonnet, knowing full well that one has moved beyond the traditional idea of say, fourteen lines and into sixteen, one hopes that the readers will trust that you know what you are doing and give the poem a chance, despite the deviant number of lines. The poem can be completely successful as a sixteen line sonnet, but only if the reader thinks you can pull it off. This usually does not happen in a workshop environment because most of the critics are not only focused on learning the basics of sonnet form themselves, but also because most of them think that you are still learning the basics of sonnet form. That makes them believe that you goofed, rather than gave the poem sixteen lines deliberately. This makes receiving a worthwhile critique of that particular poem extremely difficult. This is not to discount the one or two readers/critics who will believe one knows what one is doing, but the statistical probability is much lower. Consequently, one will find that most people in the workshop will focus only on the excess number of lines and not on the help you need to weed out the extraneous articles and lurching meter.

Despite all this, I find the most useful critiques to be not those that focus on articles or meter or grammar, but the ones who explain what the poem meant to the reader. Often one will write a poem about a kitten and think that it is entirely sensible and easy to understand, and a reader will tell you how much he/she loved your poem about plums. This, even more than pointing out the excess adjectives, is the most useful form of critique because it leaves creative control in the hands of the poet. The most brilliant of critics are those who help the poet make the poem better, not as the critic would have written it, but as the poet intended to write it. This is rare, and the easiest way to do it is to offer prose that tells the poet what the poem said rather than give examples of how one particular line can be tightened which runs the risk of having the critic’s voice bleed into the poem unintentionally.

This brings me to my last idea about critiquing: at all stages of skill, the only critiquing that is always useful is that of a small group of people who are not poets at all, but who are completely honest. Because these readers aren’t poets, they can’t help you with metaphors or imagery, but they can tell you what the poem made them feel or think about. If one’s best friend, who has never written a poem in his life, reads your poem and finds your reliance on alliteration to be overwhelming (even if he doesn’t know that the term for too many s words in a row is alliteration), he is probably correct. Conversely, if he loves your poem and explains to you what he has understood and learned and experienced from it, and it is exactly what you intended, your poem is a success. Pat yourself on the back.


How to photograph the heart

You remember how the lens squeezed
unimportant details into stillness:
the essential trail of rain down glass,
the plummet of autumn-dead leaves,
your grandfather’s last blink when
the breath moved on.
Your startled hands compressed
the shutter when you realized: this is it,
this is the last movement he will take
away from the silent fall of morphine,
beyond the soft gasp of the nurse,
past the sick, slow thud of your heart
moving in the luminous silence.

Guardian Workshop Lucy Newlyn’s “Poems that tell a story” workshop November 2005 shortlist posted December 7, 2005 online

Philadelphia Poets April 2008


“Tonight I walked into the sunset”
Georgia O’Keeffe

Here the fragile white of age-bleached skull
curves through a hinge of jaw like youthful skin,
and there, two restless eyes seem fraught with all
she could not say. She didn’t paint within
the lines, couldn’t choose the safe belief
that everything is simple. Stark as grief
her violet buildings rise beneath a moon
so white that bone shows through. There the noon
sun lights the mountains. Here you see how hands
crack wide her heart: she painted sound, used blood
to mark the earth. Because she knew that strands
of life are drawn of clay and bone, not mud,
she wrote: “so give my greetings to the sky. . .”
And in her art the skulls nod in reply.

Commended Award Margaret Reid Contest for Traditional Verse for 2006 online

Sailing in the Mist of Time: Fifty Award-Winning Poems November 2006 print anthology

MiPoRadio’s The Countdown Episode 15 September 24, 2006 online


Zachary learns to swim

The ant, black as licorice, insists
the chair is his, roams up the legs
and arms as if the pool with its cool
blue depths wasn’t a foot away,
where the boy learns how water
can cup the torso, slide past hair
like a mini-ocean, not quite welcome,
not quite unfamiliar, but still
the absence of air,
how necessary it is to blow bubbles
through the nose, become a dolphin,
free with clicks and the fresh
jump into the deep
where water opens its mouth
and speaks.

Nimrod October 2006 Fall/Winter 2006, Vol. 50, No. 1 Awards 28 issue: “Doing the Hundreds at 50” print



I have just today become
at peace beneath the twilight sky.
The moon hung like silence
as I dragged garbage
down the hill and I thought
it would rain. All day it should
have rained in the grey cloud-light.
I refused to leave the house
while you mowed the lawn
until I realized
the week’s junk would
have to go despite the weather.
I went out and crouched
in the driveway. I counted
stones and locusts.
I looked for leaves
and the occasional
squashed bug.
I thought of you,
how it’s been seventeen years
since we slept on a narrow bed.
When the cicadas hatched
I spent hours avoiding
the sidewalk,

but this year I examined
their red eyes,
their transparent wings
etched with veins and purpose
until they laid their eggs
and died. Now the moon
hangs like wisdom
above our garbage at the curb.
And I’ve counted all the leaves
while you nap inside,
unaware of the importance
of bugs, how much depends
on seventeen years of silence. -Poetry Summer Poems Anthology September 2007 online

Concelebratory Shoehorn Review Issue 11 November 2007 online


Twenty-year love poem

I want to remember, but not too clearly.
More like remembering falling in love
than falling in love—the past spread
out behind us in a comfortable distance,
the hardships forgotten. The truth is
we were starving and lived on loose
change and vending machine pretzels.
The excitement of finding a quarter
in the hallway would sustain us all day
and sometimes into the night. Surviving
was learning how to jump when the elevator
refused to stop at the right floor, then prying
the doors open until the darkened space
of the shaft lay revealed in front of us,
emptiness below and above, a little fear.
Now I understand that only the very hungry
could get through that small opening between
floors. I remember your face in the darkness
of that small box, smiling like the shine
on a new coin. The richness. Wanting
to stay there with you forever.

Quay September 2007 online & .pdf


Children, do not mourn the snow

There is fear we say. Snow breaks over our feet.
The school bus drives away, a blizzard of young faces
at the windows. We fall sometimes when ice changes
the earth and to reassure ourselves we insist
there are no disasters here. But the day meanders
against our impatience as snow engulfs our bus
again and again. Inside, children carve frost-flowers
down from the windows to watch them melt against skin.
They barely noticed the drive begin while we floundered
on the curb, swiping at the cold. The shock of it all cornered
our voices until we examined the damage that silence makes
and waved goodbye too late. When the bus comes home again,
we kiss our children’s faces, pinked in this weather, turned up
into the wind that frosts the afternoon with light.

MiPoRadio’s The Countdown Episode 20 February 27, 2007 online

Best of Café’ Café’ ~ Summer 2007 print anthology publisher Didi Menendez/ May 2007


Into the quiet

I dreamed of my grandmother
and in the silence she died
again. And my brother held
the casket which cut his hands.
Again we walked down marble
steps to the uneven ground
where tarps covered
the peeled skin of the grave
and we stood witness.
My brother’s fingers bled
from the weight but he said
nothing. In the dream I knew
already what happened:
how I would try to follow her
for six months into the quiet,
how her voice lingered
on the answering machine.
I called each day to hear
the final click and beep
of the tape on which I left
no message.

In my dream the rain hid
tears. Mourners filed past
the glimmer of a shovel
tossed beneath the tarp.
My feet did not stay dry.
In dreams death moves
ahead too fast, too suddenly
for remorse—
I walked outside my home
and again I saw the flawed rigor
of a corpse on the side of the road,
the deer’s head thrown back
above a casket of exposed ribs,
no heart. I saw the tarp of skin
sunken into the ground.
I held my breath in silence
and moved forward, sideways,
because the wind blew into me.
Still, the smell lingered.

Quay, A Journal of the Arts, Volume 1, Issue 2, September-December 2007. online & .pdf

Friday, July 25, 2008

been sick

Sorry everyone. You may have noticed that I haven't made any new posts in a while. Well, I've been sick, again. I'm just starting to feel better, but until I do, this blog is taking a vacation. Maybe another week or so.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What's on your Kindle?

My list:
book - The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow. I just started reading this. I like it so far; statistics is just about the only math I can stand.

sample - The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, by the Dalai Lama. I just read the first half of the sample. Given the easy prose and fascinating insights, I will probably get this book.

sample - God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. Didn't read the sample yet, so I have no opinion on this one.

sample - Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. I heard her on NPR. Sounded interesting so I downloaded the sample. Haven't read it yet.

sample - Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling. I heard a snippet of a review or interview on NPR. Sounded interesting. Haven't read it yet.

free book - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. You can get this for free at It took two seconds to download to my computer. The last time I cracked open the ginormous doorstop that is my complete works was at least 15 years ago. I tried to read a poem in it right before I downloaded the free copy: the damn text was too small. So, goodbye doorstop, hello Kindle version.

free book - The Collected Works of Poe. Another freebie courtesy of My good friend told me she read The Masque of the Red Death to her seven year old daughter for a bedtime story. Her daughter told me it was really good, but very creepy. They reminded me how much I like Poe. My favorite is the Cask of Amontillado. I'm looking forward to re-reading it.

free book - Walden & on the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. Another freebie. Would you believe I have never read this?

book - Survival of the Sickest by Moalem Sharon. This book is fabulous. Have you ever wondered why humans carry around so many genetic diseases and just plain strange mutations (blue eyes, hairy arms) in our genome? This book answers a few of those questions and provides a number of good theories about the rest. I highly recommend this book.

sample - Everything Bad Is Good for You by Steven Johnson. Didn't read the sample yet, but I'm one of those people who is convinced that our culture is not deteriorating. This book speaks about that idea. I mean, have you ever tried to play Hexic or Empire Earth and answer your email at the same time? Do you know how much brain power that takes? Not to mention trying to keep up with the plethora of information that is the web. It's an intellectual's nirvana, our 21st century. I haven't read the sample yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

sample - Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Steven Johnson. I have no idea what this one's about but I absolutely loved the title. We'll see.

sample - All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists by Terry Gross. She hosts my favorite NPR show, Fresh Air. I bet this book is going to be great.

book - The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster-Bujold. This is the third in a great fantasy series by a writer who has the uncanny ability to write in more than one persona. That is rare. Most writers have one voice and a few different characters they can believably manage to fool the reader into thinking are valid persons. Lois writes in wildly different characters and dialects with every series.

poem - Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A. One of my poems.

sample - Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar. Haven't read the sample yet. I'm skeptical that any book can give a person a formula for happiness, but I'm willing to read anything at least once.

book - Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. I'm halfway through this one. Her suggestions regarding character motivation when writing are brilliant.

sample - Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See. I haven't read the sample yet, but Carolyn wrote what might be my favorite (non sci-fi/fantasy) novel of all time: The Handyman. I'm willing to give it a try.

poem - The star trails of Kilimanjaro. Another one of my poems.

book - Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley. Another great book by another great fantasy writer. This one is remarkably original and in the world of dragon fantasy, that's a nearly impossible feat to manage.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Poem in

I am absolutely delighted to have my poem, "Boulder Caves," in the latest issue of A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments. It's one of my favorite journals. I don't think I've ever seen a bad issue and this latest one doesn't disappoint; there's just so much to read and ponder. Of particular note, to me, is the inclusion of more and more audio. I really enjoy listening to poets read their poems. And Suzanne Stryk's artwork is gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

I'm resigning

as Site Admin of It feels strangely liberating, rather than wrenching. I didn't expect that. Here's the short blurb I posted at the forum:

Dear members,

After three years here at, I'm stepping down as Site Admin. I've increasingly found myself wishing for more time for writing and my family, and resigning my position here will make that possible.

The forum remains in capable hands: Larina and Gary have been exemplary members of this community and are now performing excellently as Site Admins, and we still have our wonderful Moderators. I doubt anyone will notice any lurching of the boat as I quietly step off onto my secluded island (populated by my computer and a nice writing-conducive breeze). I know you'll give them the respect and cooperation you've given me the past few years.

Finally, I want to say: Thank You. This has been an incredible experience for me. I've learned a great deal about poetry and human behavior that I would never have otherwise. I am grateful for all the people I've met and all the poetry I've read.

Best wishes to everyone.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Literary tattoos

How cool. I mean, I would never get a tattoo, because I'd probably get cancer or have a severe allergic reaction to the ink or something, given my luck with health issues, but still, this is cool.

Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos

Monday, June 23, 2008

Poem Spark Jun 23-Jul 7: Carpe Diem Poems

Greetings and salutations!

As anyone who has ever suffered a medical emergency, or the death of a loved one, or any other sort of life-altering event that casts the ordinary business of living aside, sometimes one needs to live day by day, seizing each moment and savoring every precious second. Indeed, sometimes the only way to live is to get through each minute, but at the same time, one should never ignore the gift that is each minute.

There are many poems that celebrate this juxtaposition: the human poised between death and life. On's home page this week is an essay speaking of just this philosophy: Carpe Diem: Poems for Making the Most of Time:

Carpe diem remains an enduring rhetorical device in poetry because it is a sentiment that possesses an elasticity of meaning, suggesting both possibility and futility. Many poets have responded to the sentiment, engaging in poetic dialogues and arguments over its meaning and usefulness.

Here are some poems that embody the spirit of living, living despite the pain and uncertainty that follows us everywhere, living with joy alongside the quiet specter of mortality:

Ellen Bass Dead Butterfly

Li-Young Lee One Heart

Rick Campbell Heart

This spark: write a carpe diem poem.

Good luck!

Autumn Sky Poetry 10 now live!


The tenth issue of Autumn Sky Poetry is now online.

Read poems by Elizabeth H. Barbato, John Byrne, Bebe Cook, Kathryn Good-Schiff, Christina Kapp, Marybeth Rua-Larsen, Nic Sebastian, Cheryl Snell, Farren Stanley, and S. Thomas Summers.

—It's all about the poetry.

Christine Klocek-Lim, Editor

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

so, what am I talking about

on Autumn Sky Poetry -- the blog? Here are some of my latest posts:

what about bios?

"No one has asked me this question, but I find myself thinking about it nonetheless: do I read the bios before I read the poems?"

why only four poems per submission?

"Why so few? The answer: four poems is just enough for me to get a sense of the voice of the poet."

reading submissions

"Since I'm so short on time, I've found that while reading, if a poem does not grab me within the first three to five lines, it's probably not going to grab me later on in the poem."

Read more at the blog.

new garden photos

Monday, June 09, 2008

Poem Spark Jun 9-23: Poems about flowers

Greetings and Salutations!

Now that summer has blanketed the east coast with the first heat wave of the season, I've been thinking about how much my garden is appreciating the warmth and rains. The roses are in full bloom and my lavender is just about ready to crack open those beautiful buds. Everywhere I look, something is blooming. What better poem spark to do than write about the flowers?

On's front page I followed a link to Poems about Flowers. Here are a few of the ones I liked best:

Deborah Digges Telling the Bees

H. D. At Baia

William Shakespeare My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

Your poem spark: write a flower poem.

Here are some photos to help you along: Flowers on Flickr. Good luck!

Riffing on Strings now available!

Hello everyone,

I'm pleased to announce that the anthology about string theory that I eagerly anticipated (probably because one of my poems has found a home inside) has arrived! Here's what a few people said about it:

“Sean Miller and Shveta Verma have put together an exhilaratingly eclectic anthology of creative and expository writing about one of the most exciting (even if controversial) intellectual fields of our time: string theory. Just Miller's erudite introduction by itself is worth the price of this sparkling collection.”
– S. Abbas Raza, Editor of 3 Quarks Daily

“The jury is still out on whether string theory serves to explain the nature of reality, but the writers who have contributed to Riffing on Strings convincingly demonstrate that it serves very well as a springboard for the imagination. From Sean Miller's cogent introduction on, this is an engaging—and much-needed—dialogue between art and science.”
– Frank Wilson, Former Book Review Editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer & Creator of Books, Inq.

If anyone would like to do a review of the anthology, please let me or one of the editors know and we'll be happy to get you a copy of the anthology. Even a short review on would be welcome! There's also a free .pdf sample available for download on the publisher's website. I'd also like to extend my thanks to S. Abbas Raza and Frank Wilson for taking time from their busy schedule to read the book and provide some of the blurbs for the back cover. Thank you!

Finally, I've updated my website, November Sky, and added a few new photos and poems. Take a look if you're curious.

best wishes,

Autumn Sky Poetry — the blog

I just started a new blog as a companion to my Autumn Sky Poetry journal. I don't know how often I'll update it; I'm hoping to post about the perils and pleasures of editing a poetry journal. I will also probably post some information pertaining to where I am in the submission/acceptance process for the journal.

Here's the link: Autumn Sky Poetry—the blog

Friday, May 30, 2008


I am recovering from surgery, and hopefully as soon as I'm feeling stronger I will begin reading the submissions for Autumn Sky Poetry. A few more days at the most, I'm hoping!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Poem Spark May 26-Jun 9: Narrative Poems

Greetings and Salutations!

Narrative poems are among the oldest of forms of poetry, if not the oldest. Long before the written word was invented, people told stories to each other, often using rhyme and rhythm to help remember the story so it could be told over and over, and through the centuries, poets have been using narrative to tell a story in verse. Granted, the modern version of narrative poems can take many forms: prose poems, blank verse, free form, and many other devices can be used to convey a sense of plot and tension. Some of my favorites:

Chaucer The Canterbury Tales

Homer The Illiad

Carolyn Forché For the Stranger

Dorianne Laux Tooth Fairy (Since Dorianne is the Guest Poet at discussion forum for the next two months, we have the rare opportunity to ask her questions about this poem.)

Your mission for this poem spark: Write a narrative poem. It doesn't need to be long or complicated; it just needs to tell a story. Good luck!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've been under the weather

hence the lack of new posts the past few weeks. There will probably be a dearth of new posts for the next few weeks as well, but hopefully once I am feeling better things will get back to normal.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Submission Call for Autumn Sky Poetry

I will be reading for the June 2008 issue of Autumn Sky Poetry during the last week of May and the first week of June. Please submit no more than four poems in the body of an email to:

For the complete submission guidelines, go here.

I look forward to reading your work. Thank you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I am afraid of heights

because, you know, death happens when your head explodes after a long fall from a high place. So, how is this in any way a good idea?

El camino del Rey

Thursday, May 01, 2008

poem in Flutter!

A poem of mine is up in the May issue of Flutter Poetry Journal. Go check it out. I was particularly happy to have this poem accepted; I'd submitted it before and was usually disappointed. I'm so glad it found a home. Many thanks to the editor, Sandy, for the opportunity.

While you're at it, check out my friends' work there, too. Annie Bien, Bebe Cook, and John Vick all have poems in this issue. And the artwork by Jim Fuess is superb.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

napowrimo poem #14




Extended-Poem Spark Apr 14-May 12: Anaphora

Greetings and salutations!

We are right smack in the middle of National Poetry Month, and many of us are busy writing a poem a day for NaPoWriMo. If any of you are like me, you are probably scraping the bottom of the barrel right about now, searching for inspiration. Of course, sometimes when both the mind and computer screen are blank, I find myself repeating words over and over in the hopes of stirring something useful out of the muck. (What's that you say? What about paper? Yes, of course, blank paper is equally frustrating, but at least doodles are possible.)'s useful page on anaphora offers this definition:

The term "anaphora" comes from the Greek for "a carrying up or back," and refers to a type of parallelism created when successive phrases or lines begin with the same words, often resembling a litany. The repetition can be as simple as a single word or as long as an entire phrase. As one of the world’s oldest poetic techniques, anaphora is used in much of the world’s religious and devotional poetry, including numerous Biblical Psalms.

Repetition, hmm. This could be useful, I think. Here are some delightful examples of anaphora in poetry:

Walt Whitman Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

Gregory Orr A Litany

So, in honor of the deep frustration that leads one to repeat words over and over in the hope of inspiration, for this spark, write a poem that uses anaphora. Good luck!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

napowrimo poem #1




It's National Poetry Month!

And you know what that means: NaPoWriMo! Yes, I will be writing a poem each day for the entire month of April. Wish me luck!

Poem Spark Mar 31-Apr 14: Stress Poems

Today's spark was written by my friend Larina, and can be found at Poem Spark Mar 31 - April 14: Stress Poems

Monday, March 24, 2008

my astronomical poem


Star explodes halfway across universe

and here the garden is ordinary. The grass
still brown from winter and the birds’
singing inadequate. There is a tree down
near the wood-line. Only in the broken
part of the trunk can genesis be seen,
the heart exposed like a strange flash
of light on a dark evening.
When I told her about the storm,
the fallen tree, she didn’t understand
my lack of grief. It is the way things go,
I explained, but she insisted death
is not the end, stroking the small angel
pinned to her blouse, its bright sterling
worn thin on the wings.
Later, I imagine my tree as a lost seraph,
the wood first expanding with water
and then disintegrating: the long slivers
of wood dropping free one by one
until one night, the luminous outline
of its wings explode into the darkness.


Copyright 2008 Christine Klocek-Lim

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Autumn Sky Poetry Number 9 now live!


The ninth issue of Autumn Sky Poetry is now online.

Read poems by Bob Browning, Leah Browning, Chris Crittenden, Luke Evans, John Calvin Hughes, Pattie Seely, Beret Skorpen-Tifft, Daniel Sumrall, Karen Terrey, and Kelley White.

—It's all about the poetry.


Christine Klocek-Lim, Editor

Monday, March 17, 2008

Poem Spark Mar 17-31: Astronomical Poems

Salutations fellow poets!

My husband and I own a basic telescope and a lovely pair of astronomical binoculars. I've discovered that the beauty of the night sky has not even come close to diminishing, even though I've lived in Pennsylvania for six years now, after spending eleven years living beneath the orange glow that is the night sky in northern New Jersey. I think it will take decades before I tire of seeking out constellations, comets, meteor showers, and the occasional lunar eclipse. On a clear night, I can even see the Orion Nebula with my naked eye, well, if I squint, that is, which brings me to this poem spark: how many poems have been writing about heavenly bodies?

Unsurprisingly, there have been many. has an entire page devoted to Poems about the Heavenly Bodies. Obviously, the sky has always been a source of fascination for us writers. Here are a few good ones:

Ann K. Schwader Dead Light

Chris Forhan The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars

Eleanor Wilner Moon Gathering

Mark Jarman Unholy Sonnet

Your mission: write an astronomical poem. Write it about a star, or the moon, or a constellation, perhaps even the sun. Any of the stuff up there in the cosmos is a good subject, so don't be wary. Let us go together where many poets have gone before. Good luck!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Haven't been blogging much lately

due to real life. In other words: more ankle surgery (yesterday), the creation of Autumn Sky Poetry Number 9 (working on it right now), a revolting black ant invasion that shows no signs of dissipation anytime soon, broken heating system, broken ice maker (yes, again which means I can't put ice on my ankle), kitchen and dining room renovation, a house guest, doctor's appointments, cooking appointments, and that ever-so-important mental breakdown that I sense creeping up on me. That usually means a lot of self-medicating with chocolate and hours and hours of sci-fi. I'm thinking of trying out Supernatural after I finish watching Jericho. Anyone have any other sci-fi suggestions?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Poem Spark Mar 3-17: the Abecedarian

Greetings fellow poets!

The front page of today features a poetic form called the Abecedarian. Since I obviously do not have enough fun in my life, I thought: well why not? It can't be that difficult, right? Needless to say, I didn't know what I was getting into.

An Abecedarian is an acrostic poem. In its strictest interpretation, the first letter of the first line of the poem begins with A, and each following line's first letter is the next letter in the alphabet. No problem! Here are a few examples:

Mike Dockins: Dead Critics Society {scroll down to see the poem}

Laura Polley: Learning Your ABC's

Robert Pinsky "ABC"

Notice how the first poem is a double-acrostic? And Pinsky's poem uses each word's first letter to go through the alphabet, rather than each line.

The poem spark this time is this: write an Abecedarian. Don't worry about following the form too rigidly; it's more fun to be creative. Good luck!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First flowers

These flowers popped up this morning. Of course, right now it's snowing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total lunar eclipse

Taken tonight, February 20, between 9 and 11:30 pm.

Poem Spark Feb 18-Mar 3: February poems

Greetings and Salutations!

This time of year inspiration seems difficult to find. The landscape is often cold and a colorless monotone, the sky forbidding even in sunshine. It seems to me that it is nearly impossible to write about beauty, given the sense of yearning for spring and warmth that permeates my life right now. I looked at the calendar to see how many days were left in February and suddenly inspiration hit: write a February poem!

Of course, I can't even begin to think about writing a poem if I don't procrastinate on the web for at least an hour, so I plugged "February poetry" into the search bar to see what happened. Imagine my surprise to find two lovely poems, both with "February" in their titles:

Jane Kenyon: February: Thinking of Flowers

Norman Dubie: February: The Boy Breughel

Since these two poems did not take up nearly enough procrastination time, I went to Poetry Foundation next. Here's what I found there:

Bill Christophersen: February

Margaret Atwood: February

It seems there is beauty to be found in this month.

Your spark: write a February poem, using "February" in the title. Simple enough, yes? Good luck!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Cleaning day

I finally canceled the maid service I've had since I broke my ankle last August. My ankle is sorta better and the cleaners cost a fair bit of money. They did a nice job vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms, BUT they could not know that my younger son collects stuff. Lots of stuff. As in truckloads of cardboard, wood, screws, metal, branches, tape, glue, boxes, plastic, fabric, stones, etc.

My boys like to make things from this raw material, which is great. Very creative and non-conventional. Except I had a broken ankle and in the ensuing months of healing, I neglected to crawl upstairs to see what had been happening. I figured, hey, how bad can it get in a few months? So what if he couldn't find his underwear?

So, today I decided to clean the boys' bathroom (first time since I canceled the cleaners). I made the mistake of glancing into my son's room on the way to the tub. His stuff went up to the ceiling. If it all had caught fire, we would be dead and my son would have been the first one to go. There was no way to get to the windows to jump out because I couldn't see the windows. Hell, there was no way to get to the DOOR of his bedroom. He must have been crawling through a tunnel to get to bed at night. Thus, the 12 garbage bags of STUFF.

Never again. I have to go up there at least once a week and make him throw stuff out. It was that bad.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Poem Spark Feb 4-18: Persona poems

Greetings fellow poets!

Today I wanted to write a spark based on Black History Month. I quickly realized that in some ways, writing a spark to celebrate this occasion would prove difficult because the idea of celebrating one particular culture necessarily excludes others. So the question I needed to answer was this: how can one write an honest poem about Black History Month if one is not black? The answer came to me once I remembered one of my favorite poems, Skinhead, by Patrica Smith. To my joy, I found an interview in Torch in which Smith talks about writing this poem. In the interview, she speaks of the idea of "persona":

CFM [Cherryl Floyd-Miller]: Are there ever any scary moments when you’re doing the persona poem and you think that maybe this is you, or that persona has so much in common with you that the distinguishing line is very thin?

PS [Patricia Smith]: Well, one piece was the skinhead poem. The skinhead poem I wrote because when I was living in New England, somebody painted a swastika on Plymouth Rock. And if you’ve ever gone through New England, it’s like, you don’t mess with any of their symbols. They lost their minds. They were looking for this person. They never found the person but the group they thought was responsible was called the White Youth League. It was some Aryan Nation group or something. So I read this interview, and this guy is spewing all this hatred – blacks, Jews, gays, and whatever. I thought, at some point, we started at a common point. He moved in that direction. I moved in another direction. So, I wanted to write a poem that would bring us back to a common area. And so I wrote it, and I thought it was an exercise, and I like it – liked what came out – and I started reading it. Then people would tell me how strange it would be for them to see this skinhead voice come from this black woman, and I thought, oh, I understand that. Then, an accent, some weird accent, started working its way into the poem. I didn’t know where it came from. It’s like … I finally decided the problem with persona is, eventually, if you do it correctly, the poem will begin to tell you how it wants to sound.

So, instead of writing a spark about Black History Month, this time the spark deals with persona. Write a poem using a different persona than your own. It doesn't have to be a person from another culture; it can be someone of the opposite sex, or even someone much older or younger than yourself. The trick is to let the poem's character speak through you. Let the poem's voice out into the world just to see what happens.

To help you with this, I'm including a few poems that are also what I consider great examples of Black History Month as well as poems that speak in a voice different from my own. Enjoy!

Jim Zola Voudoun Tale

Natasha Trethewey Flounder

Gwendolyn Brooks We Real Cool

Good luck!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Going to AWP

So, I'm going to AWP Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Anyone else going to be there?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Poem Spark Jan 21 - Feb 4: Forgotten Things

Today's poem spark has been posted to's discussion forum by my good friend Larina Warnock, editor of The Externalist. Here's the spark:

Poem Spark Jan 21 - Feb 4: Forgotten Things

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Poem Spark Jan. 7 - 21 - Dream Poems

Salutations fellow poets!

This morning I woke before the sun rose; asleep one moment, completely awake the next. Usually it takes several violent smacks on the alarm clock before I can wake up, and usually I go through my first hour of the morning half-dreaming. I often feel a strong need to complete the narrative in which my dreams have placed me: I must swim to shore, or stand back up after sliding down a hill. Today, however, I couldn't remember anything about my dreams but standing and watching the light slowly paint the horizon a brilliant orange and red created that same dreamlike sense of awakening for me.

So, in honor of sleep and dreaming and the ultimate result, waking again each morning, today's spark is: write a dream poem. It doesn't have to be long or complicated, or short and vivid. It can be coherent or surreal, a narrative or a snapshot. Don't limit yourself. Let the muse speak much as your dreams do: imaginative and surprising both.

To get you started, here are some of my favorite dream poems:

Saskia Hamilton The Song in the Dream

John Berryman Dream Song 1

Michael Collier Birds Appearing In A Dream

Langston Hughes Dream Variations

Good luck!

Monday, January 07, 2008

7 things you should know about being a poet

This was too funny to not share; from

7 Things You Should Know About Being a Poet: A List of Lists

My favorite so far (haven't had time to read them all yet) is Michael Wells' 3rd point:

Wells wrote:
People will think you are moody because you are a poet. This is not so. Even people who cannot write a single line of poetry can be moody anytime prior to their death.

So, here's my list, after not much thought at all:

  • Writing poems will not solve your mental problems. On the contrary, it exacerbates the situation because people no longer doubt your insanity when they find out that you are a poet. This, in turn, makes you crazy because you have studied verse for over twenty years and it's all for nothing.

  • Writing poetry can't be used as an acceptable tax-deduction for all the paper you buy and throw in the trash. You've just got to bite the cost.

  • Lines in poems have a tendency to reproduce when you turn your back. Just when you thought you'd got the sucker down to ten lines it morphs into a sonnet. A bad sonnet.

  • Poems have a tendency to hide during April, napowrimo month, especially if you blog about them. Nothing you do will coax the damn things back out, except writing terrible limericks. Use this power wisely.

  • When people find out you write poems, they often want you to write something for their grandmother's funeral. Resist the urge. Some great-uncle is always offended if the thing rhymes, and some other great-aunt is offended if it doesn't. Quote from Dylan Thomas instead ("Do Not Go Gentle" is an amusing choice).

  • You will find your moral compass grows skewed when you've written poems long enough because you come to realize that most of your lines are stolen from something you read ten years ago. Of course, you can never recall the exact text. This also makes you crazy.

  • Finally, your ability to tell an iamb from a spondee will not get you free coffee, even if you quote from Shakespeare and perform the death scene from Romeo and Juliet while in line at the bookstore. Most people will assume you are homeless and try to get you thrown out.

  • .

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008