Poem : Vespers

Speaking directly to my thoughts today...

by Moira Egan

One of the gifts of the evening hours

is darkness, a velt screen between your self
and the brutal art of dying.
Your knees, your shoulders, ribs,
are hard etched in the parchment of your skin.
You watch your own heart beat, you’ve grown so thin.
Another gift is numb, narcotic sleep.
Entire days drip slowly into veins,
the tubes exchanging morphine for release
from pain as deep and venomous as dreams.
Tonight I wish you this: a candle blown
out gently, the last page of your book,
and all your children near. And may your bones
sing, no longer with pain, but with roses.

[Found here.]


A Little Announcement...

A friend sent me this photo of Anne Sexton after this bookish post I shared a few months ago. There's something about it that I find quite arresting. Her surroundings, typewriter sitting at her elbow waiting for words and books slanting against one another, waiting to be rifled through. Her outfit, sleeves rolled up on her button down, with comfortable slacks and black flats. Her position, chair tipped back with her feet on the desk. She props her hand in the air and her lips part - she's about to say something good, something worth writing down.

This is the life of a writer at its best.

At times I find myself fantasizing about this life, and I have to stop and remember that writing is hard. It's bleeding and weeping and prying your hands from perfection in order to grasp hold of the truth. It's nothing like leaning back and propping up your feet; or at least not very often, and certainly not when there's a camera in the room to document it. Sexton knew this all too well.

But just now, today, I feel very much ready to take it on, this life of writing - the bleeding and the crying, and then, in scarce and blessed moments, with the afternoon light gleaming through the window, the happy relief of having said something good, something worth writing down.

So here is my little announcement : Ally and Darrell of Prodigal Magazine asked me to be a staff writer for their newly refurbished online mag. My first article will be published later this week or next, but you'll see my words over there a couple of times each month. I'm excited, scared, thankful. 

But most of all, I'm ready.


Inspired By.

I've fallen in love.

It started innocently enough... A friend introduced me to him at a Starbucks on a rainy day. We acquainted ourselves over London Fog lattés, and now the more I get to know him the more I realize I cannot live without him. His name, you ask? 

Earl Grey. 

There's just something about his flavor and scent, a citrusy fog that is musky and deep like the best kind of cologne, that brings all of life to a low hum. In his presence I find myself unwound, loose and swoony and deeply content in the way that only a dashing British gentleman can do to a girl.

This love affair has gotten out of hand, but like any true romance, it's a helplessness I enjoy. My best friend further enabled this relationship by making an Earl Grey Panna Cotta for dessert last night... yes, the best tea in the world transformed into creamy spoonfuls that are even more satisfying than the best tiramisu you can imagine, the epitome of relaxation and luxury. 

And on a rainy snowy afternoon at the end of the week, what could be better than a cup of Earl Grey and a good read? Treat yourself... 

Authenticity online : on abs and imperfections and the worst two months ever. (Love these women.)


Writing Therapy.

“And even though their son will always be alive in their hearts, like Pammy and my dad will be alive in mine- and maybe this is the only way we ever really have anyone-there is still something to be said for painting portraits of the people we have loved, for trying to express those moments that seem so inexpressibly beautiful, the ones that change us and deepen us.”
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I found the poem I shared yesterday written on the back side of a scrap of watercolor paper, a painting I had begun that I destroyed entirely with too much of the wrong color. On Sunday evening I finally decided to clean out a bag full of things I had taken home with me that week before Christmas, when I knew that this was my last journey home to her. So many things were in that bag. Christmas cards, sympathy cards, receipts from the hospital cafe, a copy of mom's obituary, a Vogue that I flipped through mindlessly because I couldn’t bring myself to read the novel I brought, scraps of paintings that never turned out, scraps of writings from spare moments when fairly cohesive thoughts broke through my sadness. 

Two months later, I don’t even remember writing that poem. Was I in the hospital? Was I at home? Late at night or early in the day? Before or after she slipped and fell and hit her head on the cold bathroom tile and all the nurses came rushing in at once and I cried, but she didn’t?

I left all of that out, but the emotion is there. 

I’ve found bits and pieces of these experiences all over the place, scribbled on napkins and receipts and work notes. Like finding all the outer edges of a 500-piece puzzle I’ve been gathering them, trying to fit them together to keep the memories alive. Because sometimes, yes, I have to ask,

Did that really happen?

It did. 

And she’s gone. 

But she’s still with me.

Reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird has been very much like going to see my therapist, except that Lamott is like the therapist for my writing psyche. She tells me to write thoughts as they come to me on index cards or in a notebook. I think for a long moment about all of my notebooks and scraps of paper. 

“Oh yeah... I guess that’s what I’ve been doing, in a way.”

“Good,” she smiles. “That’s normal for a writer, whatever that means.” 


Poem : Ebb and Flow.

The complex fairness of it, and its paradox.
Fair, because she doted on me my whole life :
Swaddled, nourished, comforted, encouraged.
It’s her turn now.

But how unfair, that she should be weakened, helpless.
Her strength ebbs away, just out of reach for her, 

for any of us, to grasp. 
It’s the thing I cannot give her.

Where is the dignity?
All our lives we’ve struggled to find it.
It will be snatched away.
It will leave her lifeless in her child’s arms,
our world turned backwards.

The ebb and flow,
of fair and unfair,
of grief and joy,
of life and death,
of strange and familiar,
wears me down to nothing,
a smooth round stone for throwing. 

[Written : 12.20.11]

book·ish : films

After watching Midnight In Paris again over the weekend, I started thinking about bookish films, or movies that talk about the writing life, the creative struggle, the process of writing literature, or ones that examine the lives of famous writers, etc. 

These aren't film adaptations of literature, but films that address the subject of writing literature. Maybe I should have filed this under a new weekly column, "writerly"? But hey, it's my blog. 

Anyway, when it comes to bookish films, Stranger than Fiction is my absolute favorite, but there are many others out there. Adaptation, Atonement, Becoming Jane, Finding Neverland, to name a few. Do you have a favorite? 


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Inspired By.

Friends, my blog reader is feeling a little stale. It's like going to my closet full of clothes and sighing, "I have absolutely nothing to wear…" This a complete lie, but it's just that feeling that nothing feels new or particularly exciting that makes me feel a little... ennui. The truth is, there are some great pieces in my "favorite blogs" closet, and I love them, and I'm absolutely going to keep them around, but I'm ready to do a little shopping! 

So give me some good deals, okay? Tell me : what's your favorite blog? Leave your favorite in the comments.

My one criteria is not that you share a writing blog, but that you share a blog that has good writing. There is a difference, don't you think? It has to be a good read. And please, make sure it's one that's easy on the eyes. If the design is terrible (i.e. too crazy colors and backgrounds, ridiculous and unreadable fonts) I will immediately click away from it and won't bother reading. See? The clothing analogies are endless when it comes to blog shopping! 

Despite my restlessness, here are a few that I've found this week that did catch my attention.

"A study published last month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social  Networking found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the happier they perceived their friends to be and the sadder they felt as a consequence. What we’re losing, Ms. Turkle said, is a healthy form of compartmentalization." - About over-sharing and over-obsessing in social media.

And let's differentiate between "thinspiration" and "healthspiration," otherwise known as the dark side of Pinterest

The academy is always late to the party (but Adele still deserved the sweep.)

And what's your writing routine? I'm still working on mine. 

Can't wait to explore your links! Have a good weekend, friends.


Guest Post | One Letter

I love what my friend Missy said the other day, 

She was talking about Grammy winner Adele's breakup with a terrible, horrible, no good boyfriend that broke her heart, and how that breakup gave Adele the fuel she needed to write the album that changed her life and changed the world. It's a beautiful concept isn't it? It's not something we think about in the midst of pain, but creativity has the power to heal if we let it. 

What experiences in your life can you put to good use? How can sharing those experiences through your art impact the lives of others? 

I answer those questions in my guest post for Missy's blog in her "One Letter" series, and talk about my relationship with my mom, the letter she left me, and the one letter I would love to leave for my own daughter some day.


Poem : In Love, His Grammar Grew

I stumbled across this yesterday. Isn't it fantastic? 

In Love, His Grammar Grew

In love, his grammar grew

rich with intensifiers, and adverbs fell
madly from the sky like pheasants
for the peasantry, and he, as sated
as they were, lolled under shade trees
until roused by moonlight
and the beautiful fraternal twins
and and but. Oh that was when
he knew he couldn’t resist
a conjunction of any kind.
One said accumulate, the other
was a doubter who loved the wind
and the mind that cleans up after it.
                                           For love
he wanted to break all the rules,
light a candle behind a sentence
named Sheila, always running on
and wishing to be stopped
by the hard button of a period.
Sometimes, in desperation, he’d look
toward a mannequin or a window dresser
with a penchant for parsing.
But mostly he wanted you, Sheila,
and the adjectives that could precede
and change you: bluesy, fly-by-night,
queen of all that is and might be.


Valentine's Day : Lovelinks

The thing I love about stories is how long I carry them with me after I first hear it. I come from a family of story tellers. Each memory is told and retold until it becomes part of the fabric of our very lives. Stories, I think, help us cope with life on many levels. It's why we love books, film, television, art - they reflect life at it’s most intense, it’s most poignant. The truth behind each one is an underpinning that holds our lives together, weaves them into something bigger than just ourselves.

And isn't that what Valentine's Day is all about? Stories remind us that truth is real, love is real, humanity is good. A good love story will keep your heart afloat when life overwhelms you.

So here is a list of lovelinks to inspire you and remind you : Hallmark didn't invent love, but they did give us one more excuse to celebrate it.

Leigh's blog series : This is How We Met.

Wondering what to say to a broken heart today? Take these sweet suggestions.

Girls : Swoon over the return of the nice guy.

Never waste a rubbish relationship.

"Because what is love? It’s friendship — deep, long-lasting, intimate connection with someone who knows you better than anyone." The best way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Okay, let's be honest : Valentine's Day does have some strange origins that have nothing to do with candy hearts or greeting cards.

"Love poetry is the only type of poetry that can be put into practical use" — which is to say, it supposedly results in 'spirit becoming flesh; words becoming deeds; the two of you hopping into bed.'" - Celebrate the practicality of poetry and put it to good use with a few of these :

"My love has two lives, in order to love you..." Just found this beautiful love poem from Pablo Neruda, and the sentiment of it sort of reminds me of this song that I can't stop listening to.

A funnier kind of love poem : "You had me at no duh."

And remember this sweet love letter? Write someone a love note today.

And in case you missed these : my husbanda Zeppelin shirt, and a good date idea.

Xoxo, B.


book·ish : DIY Valentine from Samantha Shorey

Lavish a little linguistic love with this DIY valentine. 
Source : my bookish twin Samantha Shorey


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Guest Post | This Is How We Met

Happy Friday! I have only one lovelink for you today, and I'll be honest : it's my own. I contributed a post for Leigh Kramer's blog series about how my husband Matt and I started dating six years ago today! We've been married since August 2009, but on February 10, 2006, I told Matt I'd be his girlfriend. Cute, no? 

So head on over and check it out, leave a comment and get to know Leigh's blog. She's a lovely writer and sweet gal. I really appreciate the opportunity she is giving to other bloggers to share their love stories. 

A special Valentine's Day edition of my usual "Inspired By" series will be up next Tuesday. Have a good weekend, loves. 


My 30 Before 30 List

In keeping with my unintended valentine’s theme this week, let me pass on to you the best date idea I’ve come up with in a long time. I mentioned last week that I was going to share my 30 Before 30 List, and here it is. But a kind of amazing thing happened in the midst of pulling this together; I realized that it wasn’t just about me. 

It started when I was writing this post a few weeks ago. I was thinking about what 2012 will hold for me, all the firsts I have to survive without mom. And then I thought about mom, all the things she survived just to be with us as long as possible. And then I thought about me, all the things I want to live long enough to do. I'm only 24. And it's only February. A lot can happen in ten months. And a lot can happen in the five years, eight months and 23 days before I turn 30. If I'm blessed to make it that far, and maybe even another 5, 10, 20 or 30 years or more, I want to capitalize on that "privilege denied to many" of growing older. So it started as this short little list of things I wanted to make sure I accomplish this year, and then the list grew longer and the goals more grandiose. Maybe I can't accomplish all these things in 2012, but in the next five years, I sure hope so. 

In my excitement, I told my husband, Matt, about it. 

“What’s on the list?” He asked. 

“Lots of things,” I replied, and I started listing them off as they came to mind. 

“I should make a 30 Before 30 list, too, I think,” he mused. 

And it sparked an idea : we agreed to finish our 30 Before 30 lists and then read them aloud to each other. So Friday night after he came home from work, we sat on the couch and drank Blue Moon’s Winter Abbey Ale (my favorite!) and ate pizza and read our lists too each other. Surprisingly enough, about half of our lists were the same. The other half were largely related to our personal career success. It was romantic and relaxing and fun, and perhaps most surprising of all is that it didn’t prompt arguments about money or time or responsibility. It was just dreaming, much the way we did when we first dated. Whether you're married or not, making a list of goals is a great way to gauge whether you are on the same page with each other in a positive way. 

So here’s my list, arranged by category and definitely not in chronological order.


1. Get a dog.
2. See hubby go on tour with his band!
3. Start a family.


4. Earn a graduate degree in creative writing/publishing.
5. Become a full-time freelance writer.
6. Curate an art exhibit for local artists.
7. Contribute a story to This American Life.
8. Become a regular writer for a renowned magazine, newspaper or NPR.
9. Write and publish a mother/daughter memoir.
10. Write and publish a book of poetry.

P E R S O N A L 

11. Buy a Mac desktop complete with Adobe Creative Suite.
12. Buy new living room furniture.
13. Buy a new bed (mattress and frame)
14. Take a French cooking class.
15. Host a four-course dinner party.
16. Donate blood once per year (at least)
17. Run a half or full marathon.
18. Read all of Jane Austen
19. Take a yoga class.
22. Make a scrapbook/photo album of my semester abroad.


20. Visit hubby and band while they are on tour.
21. Go on a European vacation with hubby.
22. Return to Salzburg, visit the Monchsberg.
23. Go on vacation with my Dad, my brothers, and hubby.
   (Yellowstone, Maine, or Alaska, maybe? You pick, Dad!)
24. Visit :
- New York City
- Washington D.C.
- California wine country


25. Get health insurance for my husband, me and our growing family.
26. Establish life insurance.
27. Get better at saving money.
28. Bring down school loan debt by 50% (I feel like this is lofty, but nothing is impossible, right?)
29. Establish college fund for our kids.
30. Buy a house.

Do you have a list for what you want to do in the next five, ten or twenty years, or before you reach a certain age? What's the top priority?


Poem : To My Dear and Loving Husband.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and this poem always stops my heart with the last line. It's not icky sweet; it's bold and eternal and it calls us to a higher understanding of love than how we feel in the moment. It asks us to create a legacy that lives on after we're gone, a love story for the ages. 

Do you have a favorite love poem?

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Learn more about the poem here. Wedding photo from this talented dude.


book·ish : Good Spelling is Sexy

Just a friendly reminder for all you lovers out there : don't forget to spellcheck your valentines.


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Goals for 2012

It's been a month. One month without mom. Without her voice, her touch, her face, her thoughts. I expected to be immovable, stranded on an island of grief and away from the world that I understand. But grief defies expectations, and so does faith. When the two interact, we often find ourselves in unfamiliar territory; rough, but not impossible. 

This is where I find myself, one month into this new chapter of life, this new year where nothing and everything is different. The thing is, for me, the girl that moved away from home nearly seven years ago ne'er to return, my life looks the same in so many ways. But it feels different on the deepest levels. 

And so when I started working through the idea of change, writing this post a couple of weeks ago prompted me to think about tangible ways to embrace that change. I'm not one to make resolutions; I'm usually one to break them. When I have made new year resolutions, February usually marks the end of effort and there's a celebratory burning of the resolution list. I can be just that rebellious against myself. 

But this February is different. I am different.

Maybe it seems inappropriately belated to share a resolution list in February. But life is short. And in one of the last conversations my mom had, she told one of our family members, with clarity and conviction and absolute love, "It's never too late." 

If we're not intentional, time rushes past and most of it is wasted. So I'm sharing with you the goals I have for 2012, the ones that will help me embrace change. Next week I'll share another goal list, my 30 Before 30. Tell me, do you have any goals for 2012? Or goals before you turn a certain age? Now that it's February, how would you rate your progress with those goals?

P E R S O N A L : 

- get a physical (for the first time in 2 years) 
- visit the optometrist and get a new pair of glasses (for the first time in 5 years) 
- visit the dentist (for the first time in 5 years)
- take a bubble bath once per week (this one is going VERY well, I should mention.)
- give myself a weekly manicure (this one has also been a success!)
- read at least 12 books (an average of one per month, but I don't have to finish each one within 30 days)

P R O F E S S I O N A L : 

- redesign blog and/or convert to Wordpress
- double my blog readership 
- contribute 11 guest posts for other blogs (average of one per month from February to December) 
- write and share at least one new poem per month on my blog
- get one article or poem published in an online or print magazine
- create writing portfolio for graduate school and job interviews
- get business cards for my writiting, editing, and art
- create and sell at least 100 paintings through my Etsy shop
- get up early enough to eat breakfast and write for 30 minutes each morning (working on this one, but not quite there yet)

[Image via]


Guest Poem : Jim Woods

I feel the wind in my face.
I see nothing but space, color and light.
I dream.
I drift as the sky carries me away.
I close my eyes and savor the moment.
I feel the warm light against my face.
I am lifted higher.
I begin to soar, up and down, all around.
I drift away as the sky continues to open.
I find even more colors above.
I continue to drift in the heavens.
As I drift towards you.


Jim Woods is a dreamer, writer, and guitar junkie living in Nashville. Jim writes to inspire others to pursue their passions and follow their dreams. You can read Jim's blog at www.unknownjim.com.