Posts Tagged ‘Tom Bailey’

[Note: This may have just been one of the most self-serving things I’ve ever done. I’m only getting away with it because I have to for novel.]

[Dr. Robertson, if this isn’t what you wanted, please tell me. Either way, I had fun doing it.]

(This is a love poem for Tara Elizabeth-Lynn.)[1]


A heavy-bottomed glass[3] tipping over.
That’s what it felt like when her head dropped to my shoulder.

She is all things orange: clementines[4] peeled in single spiral,
Sewn back together with red thread, left on the sill[5] for winter;

Thai tea[6] swirled with clouds of rice milk[7], blooming underneath
My tongue, forever staining[8] the white cuffs of my shirt;

Peach pie out of season, frozen months before and discovered under bags of
Vacuum-sealed corn, the bottom burned black when it was finally baked;[9]

A heavy-bottomed glass tipping over.
That’s it felt like when her head dropped into my lap.

She was suspended there, airy, like silk scarves, and then
Sunk, leaving iodine[10] stains on my thighs

The tint of tainted orange and a sanitized
Feeling that I just couldn’t scrub off.

Andy[11] had said, “Everyone knows
Girls are like fireflies.[12]” But it wasn’t

Until I felt her leave that I knew
He meant grasping for light that goes

Dark in your palm.[13]

1. Tara Elizabeth-Lynn is more commonly known as Tara Toms from Tara Toms and the Tumbleweeds. Toms is the only person with a poem in the Girls from the River School series to not be directly associated with Susquehanna University.
2. Morris has noted that this title is taken from a poem written by Andrew Shiraki. The original line is, “Hey lover of mine / sweet clementine divine.”
3. Morris is most likely referring to a tumbler or highball glass, which has straight sides and, as is mentioned in the line, a heavy bottom. These glasses were weighted so that they would not easily tip over, which is the reason it is an important moment in the poem.
4. A small, seedless variety of mandarin orange. Clementines are characterized by their juicy interior that breaks easily into eight to fourteen sections and, as is pertinent to this line of the poem, its flexible and easily-removable peel. Even though clementines have a Wikipedia entry, Microsoft Word has never added them to their spell check roster as anything except for a proper name for a girl.
5. Short for windowsill. Sometimes the peels of clementines, which were popular in the winter months, as they were shipped to the United States from Spain, were dried on windowsills and used for potpourri.
6. A tea popular in American Thai restaurants. The tea is usually served cold in a tall glass with half and half or evaporated milk floated on the top. The tea, which is usually just a strongly brewed black tea, sometimes with orange blossom water or star anise added, is colored with red and yellow dyes, giving it a bright orange color.
7. A milk substitute made from brown rice. Morris has noted that her best friend Abby used to make thai tea with rice milk and that that was the first way she ever drank it.
8. Again, the tea had such a strong dye in it, that it would, indeed, stain a shirt for a long time, if the shirt were not properly treated before being washed.
9. In an interview, Morris said that this references a peach pie she found in the freezer of her Grandparent’s house, six months after her grandmother had died. It was the first and last peach pie that she had ever eaten of her grandmother’s, and she considered it truly magical to have found it after she had thought that she would never eat her grandmother’s cooking again. Her grandmother’s middle name was Clementine.
10. Iodine was commonly used as an antiseptic and was also known for its orange color.
11. “Andy” is an imaginary boy in a song written and performed by Tara Toms about a boy named Andy who was every drug that Tara had ever taken and the loneliness that these drugs and Andy caused her.
12. Originally spoken by Steven Schrey one night after playing Frisbee, probably on a Sunday, in the Summer of ‘07, when he was driving Morris home in his Jeep with the top down. Morris knew it was poetry, but it took her a year and a half to fit it in the right place and have it mean something.
13. Morris notes that Tom Bailey, her fiction professor at Susquehanna University, originally said this line in describing the end of a short story. He said, “You know how the end of some short stories are like grasping for a firefly? You reach your hand out and think you’ve caught it, but when you look in your palm, it’s gone.”

And I can’t even pretend that I didn’t come up with the idea of linking the few things that I did on here from Nadia‘s hypertext final project that she did for Randy Robertson’s History of the Book class in the Spring of ’09.  Nothing is new!  Just think of them as footnotes to footnotes, since I can’t make footnotes to footnotes (I tried). Though I will say that I kind of did something similar when I was fifteen and thought that I was cool.


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So, I got a 4.0 this semester, which makes me feel pretty good about my life.  Now I’m home and trying to organize my life.  I cleaned out my closet for the first time since (I’m assuming, since there wasn’t anything in there before then) the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school (ironic, as it is the summer between sophomore and junior year of college).  Anyway, I found a lot of my old writing (rather funny) and some originals of stuff (the one remaining copy of the full length version of “Samantha and Jeanette Isabella” from when I didn’t understand that short stories…end).  Then, I have to move all of my stuff from the living room upstairs.

Then I can get into my summer goals, which I shall list here:

1) Learn to spin (getting my grandma’s wheel in early June!)
2) Knit a baby blanket
3) Knit a baby hat
4) Finish Josh Dean’s smoking gloves/hat
5) write write write
6) specifically–write a solid manuscript of “Girls from the River School,” esply the Fall of the Patriarch section
7) Sing sing sing! (I’ll get to this in a second)
8) Convince Justin to finish illustrating my children’s book
9) Make Homebrew
10) Grow things
11) Uh. get a job.

So, it’s official. I’m going to be a Murderboat this summer. !!!
Josh Dean, my friend who I met through Justin, really likes my voice, and asked me to sing background with Tara this summer! I’m so excited. Josh and Tara and Justin are some of my favorite people in Harrisburg these days, and now I have a real reason to spend time with them! The first show is in Philly on Saturday. I’m very excited. And by that, I mean, I’m glad Josh didn’t see me skipping around my front yard when he called me.

Also, Melissa Goodrich just called me and we’re going to be mailing each other poetry all summer! Which is good, because it will motivate me to actually write. Also, I plan on editing my stories and mailing them to Tom Bailey. Because I do that. I always do that! I find people’s addresses on the internet and then mail them things!


Those are my plans for the summer. Things are going well!

All my affections,


EDIT: Looks like I’ll be editing a children’s fantasy manuscript for a woman in Williamsport. Easy money! And what I do in school anyway! Craigslist FTW.

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Every time I want to stop, I think of the day Tom told me, as we walked to his truck after Writing in Action day, that he thought I was a fiction writer.

“You know, I used to write poetry.”


“I did!” And he got into his truck and drove home.  I went back to the Writer’s House and told my mom I wasn’t going to Philadelphia the next semester.  That I had to stay to take adv. short story.

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So I’m starting to realize that I’m one of the few writers that (despite my bitiching) seriously considers themselves writers in all of the main genres (fiction, poetry, and non-fiction [ok, so I haven’t written non fiction recently, but I will]).  One thing that really bothers me is when people stand ground in their genre like it’s the best ever.  Bailey always says that fiction is the hardest to write, thus making it the best.  So far, I, personally, have found this to be true, but I also know these two things 1} I wrote poetry first (like…since I was 9) 2} Someone like Ryan Rickrode could never write poetry. Sorry, Ryan, but you know it as well as I do.
Nevertheless, an interesting battle came up in my editing and publishing class.  We were voting on which manuscripts we wanted to win a chapbook contest.  There would one prose chapbook and one poetry.  We had two issues to deal with:

1) Some of the work had been previously published in RiverCraft.  It was not being published this year, which we had already decided not to include, but had been published the year before.  Poetry didn’t have a problem publishing one tiny poem that had been published before but did have a problem with publishing a story that was a third of one of the prose manuscripts (I did not have a problem with this latter one, but my group did).

2) One of the manuscripts (the one that won) was very narrative while the other was more “traditionally” poetic–whatever that means.  The prose board was arguing for accesibility.  They said that the traditional manuscript was not accessible.  We said that they both were.

Now, here’s where I get to my quandry.  The prose board started arguing these two things:

1) Why should a poem (and not a large story) be allowed in just because it’s small?  Isn’t each poem supposed to be equal in weight to each story?

2) If “I” didn’t understand this poetry, why should anyone else who reads fiction?  Shouldn’t we want them to understand what’s going on?

So basically, this is where I realized later I should have argued.  Stories, especially long ones, take awhile to read.  Let’s say a half hour.  A poem–which according to the fiction board IS equal to a story–takes about 2 minutes to read.  Why won’t the fiction-minded take the same time to work with a poem that they will with a story?  Obviously this isn’t every fiction-minded person’s point of view, but that’s just how it came up in the class.

And like I said, I have NO idea why it was a problem to re-publish things anyway.  OKAY, so don’t publish something getting published this year in RiverCraft so as not to tread on their territory–we all agreed on that.  But chapbooks are often (if not mostly) comprised of many many single works that were previously published in literary journals.

Honestly, I was pleased with the results of the contest, but I was slightly disapointed because I felt like the one manuscript won for the wrong reason.

Oh well.

All my affections,


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