international * women’s * day

Today is International Women’s Day: “International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.”


This afternoon, we discussed feminist perspectives on “The Lady of Shalott” by Tennyson in my British Literature Survey course.  We ended partly by surmising what Aurora Leigh (of the eponymous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and the Lady might say to one another.  Needless to say, lots of great insights from students who continually inspire me!

“Portrait of the Transnational Woman Warrior as a Young Korean Woman” is the title of a paper I’ll present at Columbia College Chicago after Spring Break.

The conference includes a guided tour of the Chicago Cultural Center to view an exhibition, “Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women, & Art,” addressing violence against women. The exhibit includes work by Yoko Ono – who isn’t just “John Lennon’s widow,” et cetera – although that she certainly is, but an artist, poet, and musician in her own right, too.

Prayer: For women everywhere… past, present, and future.

swan * scythe

One thing I love about my little college is the library, where I’ve spent hours upstairs & downstairs browsing the faith-based collections, especially spiritual autobiographies.

A fig tree with huge elephant-ear-leaves shades our stone-and-glass edifice.

If you walk quickly alongside the tinted mirror-glass, your image vanishes into shelves and shelves of books…. this tickles me to no end!  If I had the gift of “disapparation,” I’d love to vanish into books.

Last month, I borrowed Julian of Norwich’s Book of Showings, this edition.  I taught a fragment of Julian’s text in the first phase of our British Lit Survey course this past autumn.

See Julian’s profile under “300 Women Who Changed the World.”

Swan Scythe Press holds a dear place in my heart since it published my first chapbook almost 10 years ago.  Please submit to the annual chapbook contest.

To see Swan Scythe’s diverse & beautiful books, click here.

Prayer: “All shall be well/ and all shall be well/
… and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~ Julian

susan * vanzanten

A distinguished colleague at one of our CCCU campuses, Dr. Susan VanZanten of Seattle Pacific University (home of a low-res M.F.A. Program and the literary journal, Image), announces her new publication on one of my favorites:  Emily Dickinson!


Susan writes:  “I’m delighted to announce that my new book on Emily Dickinson is now available.    Written for a general audience, it provides an introduction to reading Dickinson that helps readers unpack Dickinson’s intense but brief poems, supplying historical background and personal stories in order to help readers to embark upon their own meditative journeys with Dickinson.”

Prayer:  “The soul should always stand ajar. / Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”

y * madrone

New catalog available from Tupelo Press, information about the Colrain Manuscript Conference, two more days to submit to the Dorset Prize, and a new poem by y madrone of Columbia College Chicago: “Tulip is the bravest flower, I mean bird.” 

I love this poem’s sparse, elliptical imagery.  With an eloquent economy of words… tulips are birds, are pigeons, are ubiquitous… are tulips.  

Favorite lines:  “And so are we, sort of.  Tulips: / most prolific worldwide.”
          — y madrone


A short biography:  y madrone currently lives in Chicago, IL via Olympia, Washington via Baku, Ahzerbaijan.

peace * hour

This weekend, with a team of wonderful students from my university, I will participate in the 5k walk-a-thon, “Making Strides against Breast Cancer.”  The students organized a poetry writing event and a prayer night on the theme of healing journeys & spread the word themselves… such beautiful labors of the heart.  


Gifts I’ve received from students over a decade of teaching:  chocolates, baked goodies, a giant pomegranate, red fish gummy-things, one grapefruit, three sunflowers, lavender bubble bath, floral writing notebooks, poetry collections, letters, cards, postcards, many hugs, bouquets of random flowers, and most of all, the realization of their dreams & successes.  Now their enthusiastic participation in “Making Strides” is one more gift! 


Afterward, at home where no one can see or hear my, er, novice technique, I will play my cherrywood harp in honor of International Peace Hour, sponsored by Harpists for Peace.


cynthia * arrieu-king

I had the pleasure of reading with Cynthia Arrieu-King at AWP Chicago.  As trumpeted by Kundiman, she has a new book coming out from Octopus! 

Here’s an interview with Cynthia: “My poetry asks what happens when the other speaks rather than merely being named.

Neat biographical fact I learned about Cynthia when I first met her in Chicago:  She once worked as an echocardiographer… pretty neat, eh?  

A poetic expert on the human heart. 


cilantro * pesto

Ah, suddenly, there is more cilantro in the house than I know what to do with… I already used it in tomato salsa and chicken curry, so I looked up cilantro recipes on “All Recipes.” Here’s one I will try today: 

*Cilantro Pesto*
1 (16 oz.) package farfalle pasta
1 bunch fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans salt to taste
1/2 cup olive oil 


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and return water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain well.
  2. In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, vinegar, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Pour pesto in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until pesto begins to simmer. Pour over cooked pasta and toss.

    Recipe by Gena Urias