Friday, December 29, 2006

winter conference

Hey gang, K and I are in Portland all this week for our winter conference. It's called Collide. The lead speaker for our first few days together is Bryan Loritts, and he really did a great job last night. I was sitting in the far back corner of the enormous auditorium and I still felt like I got hit between the eyes with his message. Good stuff.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Extreme Sledding... Mikalatos Style

My old nemesis Matt has taken a moment to come to the blog and mock my sledding. In reference to the picture on the left he says, "Looks like you're getting pretty intense there Matt. Trying to pull some sort of extreme sledding move?"

That just goes to show you how difficult it is to catch a good action shot. Of course Krista put the camera on "sport" which makes it look even slower. I would say I am going a good 16.09 KPH in this picture. I am not exaggerating. If anything I am negative-exaggerating.

I feel that I must now defend my Extreme Sledding... Mikalatos Style. I will do this through a clever combination of both pictures and commentary.

First, take a look at this vicious hill. My wife begged me not to try to tame it. But I said, "I am going to tame it anyway. Prepare yourself." Note the huge number of trees. To take a sledding trail like this requires either unparalleled skills or a fearlessness bordering on stupidity.

Here you see the fruits of my fearlessness. Note the brutal way that my disc lodged into the snow, sending me hurtling into those saplings. Note also the way that my glove and hat were discarded in mid-sled. I find that I have better control with one hand gloved and one "unsheathed". On the really difficult runs I'll discard one glove, my hat, both shoes, one sock and my pants. That's why some of the other sledders call me "White Lightning." I told them that I prefer "Greek Lightning." But they just laughed. I guess I am pretty funny (?).

If you fall, you have to get back up. You can see I am favoring my left foot a little bit in this picture. Turned out later I had broken my femur in five places. SLEDDING TIP: Sleds make good crutches. Just don't slip and fall, because your sled will think you want to sled some more. You can break your other leg that way! I learned that lesson the hard way.

I totally plowed into this little kid who was out on the slopes. We had a good laugh about it, though. Good thing I wasn't going any faster!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Thursday we went sledding on Mt. Hood... or as the kids call it, "Mountain Hood."

A is completely fearless. Z took a half hour to warm up, but then she didn't want to leave. I almost convinced her to go down face first.

K's parents came and so did Cousin J. It was a fun afternoon, and the kids are begging to go again.

Krista and her mom made chicken salad sandwhiches for the hungry sledders and Krista's dad brought his camp stove and made fresh hot chocolate. We all had fun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Peace Child

Here's my favorite Christmas song this season. I love the lyrics and the music, as well. As Krista will tell you, I am quite possibly the pickiest music critic of all time, particularly for being a guy with no real musical training. Just cranky, I guess. But this song is great. Lyrics below. I would tell you where you can buy the song but I literally do not know. I got it on the "Happy Christmas Volume 2" CD.

Peace Child (O Come Emmanuel)
copyright The Normals
written by Andrew Osenga and Mark Lockett

Take me to that place where we’re children again
And we crawl on the lap of the Peace Child
Take me to the land where love is discovered
With the prince undercover as the Peace Child

And the poor can now see
How a king can believe
In a kingdom that cradles the broken

O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
From lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

We look to be upright as we grasp for a chance
But we’re too dirty to dance with the Peace Child
But the sunset and its red floods the world with its rays
Like the blood of the babe of the Peace Child

And the dead can now sing
At the throne of the king
'Cause heaven is full of us peasants

O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
From lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

Until the Son of God
Came near.

Christmas Devotion

There's a new devo up at I wanted to give some Christmas thoughts without it being the same Christmas thoughts you've already received from your devotional books, messages and music. So I took a quick look at the theme of submission that is seen throughout the Christmas story and the life of Jesus. Take a look.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fortune Cookies

After "Zoo Lights" tonight we went with the kids and my Mom and Dad to Shanghai Noble House for dinner. After dinner, Z loves to have me read the fortune cookies to her. Here's our conversation tonight.

Z: Dad! What does this fortune say?

Me: "You believe in the basic goodness of mankind." Is that true? Do you believe in the basic goodness of mankind?

Z: Oh, no. I believe in the basic goodness of girl-kind.

Friday, December 15, 2006

We Are Famous

At last, the moment we all have been waiting for. The Burning Hearts Revolution has been featured in a newspaper article. All this thanks to the PR-savvy poet laureate of Arizona, Michelle Lawrence.

What's next?

I was thinking we'd start out small with a television show, probably a half hour sitcom. After that we'll work up to a dramatic hour-long show, and then, of course, a movie. Maybe a series of movies. You guys can all be in it, since you have been such devoted friends when I was a nobody.

"The Office" Christmas Party

Today was the official Portland Headquarters Party.
Most-Coveted-Gift-At-The-Exchange: A hand-thrown vase by Terry Kinkaid.
Krista and I scored a Starbucks card and some chocolate.

Top 5 Certainties at a Kid's Christmas Performance

Last night was A's Christmas performance. She was very cute. I'll put some pictures up later. In the meantime I thought you would like to share in a few rules of Christmas Performances that I noted last night:

1) The front row of the auditorium will be reserved for "staff." No, they don't have any children in the performance. They won't fill the seats. They don't want pictures of the children. They just want the seats.

2) As a sort of corollary to rule #1, parents will sit on the floor and in the aisles to try to get a picture of the children singing.

3) Which is a little bit of an exaggeration, "children singing." More like, "children standing on the stage and swaying, looking around, trying not to fall off the bleachers and occasionally singing."

4) No matter how hard you try not to, you will eventually end up with a photograph or video footage of the teacher's rear end as (s)he goes up on stage to say something to the children.

5) Your kid will always be the cutest one at the event.

Become a Christmas Expert: Krampus

You may not know about Krampus, but I can guarantee you that the children of Austria know him. He's Santa's sidekick, the one who does all the less pleasant Christmas duties. You know, like putting coal in stockings and hitting bad kids with switches.

Description: horned head, foot-long tongue, hooved feet. Hmmm.

Krista said, "He looks evil." This is the nicest picture I could find of him. This is the sort of cute version from old postcards.

Note to Missionaries: If you are creating a Christian festival to take place at the same time as a pagan ritual, please be sure to get rid of critters like Krampus.

Maybe You Could All Pitch In For My Christmas Gift

For only twenty-five million dollars you can buy me a week at the international space station. Check it out here.

Or, for only two-hundred thousand, here's a chance to take a brief spaceflight.

Or you could, you know, buy my house.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rob E, poet laureate of Missouri

Rob was born nowhere near Missouri. He lived there until he traveled even farther from Missouri. He began writing abstract poetry at the age of 13 months, but untrained eyes saw only splotches and scribbles. Thusly frustrated in his early literary efforts, he spent the next several years learning "words" and "sentences." It was not until his 15th year that Rob again attempted to express himself in verse (excepting an award-winning poem called "A Book Is Your Key to Wonderland", written at the age of 8, which he still refuses to acknowledge as his own work). Rob spent 6 years in college (not in Missouri), until he almost completely despaired of the possibility of any sort of meaningful linguistic expression. During this time, Rob became enamored of something called "music," even daringly combining "music" and "poetry" into creations he called "songs." Missouri? Not yet. Finally, Rob moved out of the US (even farther from Missouri). Two years later, he returned briefly to the US (at which time he visited Missouri), then went back overseas, fell in love and married a woman who also had once driven through Missouri. He currently lives in a log cabin surrounded by a field of cows, planning his inevitable return to Asia, where "Show Me" actually means "skinny rice."

Rob has asked that I not reveal his last name, prompting me to adopt the name "Mister E" for him. I plan to eventually switch to calling him "O Mysterious Master of Missouri", but I plan to do this over the span of a few months so he doesn't see it coming.

I asked Mr. E what it would take to make poetry flower in the state of Missouri and he said, "For poetry to flower in Missouri, it must be planted deep- deep in the hearts of its people. I will dig with the spade of heart-level questioning, digging through the soil of culture and psyche. I will plant seeds of imagery, simile, metaphor, rhetoric, and prepositional phrases and fertilize them with pop culture phrases. Watered by the tears of those who thanklessly labor under the cruel tread of Apollo's chariot, I will cultivate in Missouri a flourishing garden of poetry."

I think you'll enjoy the first seeds of poetry included below. We particularly enjoyed Mr. E's playful use of language and insider knowledge of Missouri. We could tell he had spent several minutes there at some point in his past... no doubt they were glorious, ephemeral, scintillating moments of unparalleled glory.

You Must Be Misstaken by Rob E, poet laureate of Missouri

You must be misstaken
For here is undertaken
To drink deeper than is tasted
If I cannot see,
Then you must
SHOW me.
And if no one else can see,
Then again,
you must
Show ME.
Land of Misst'ry,
Harbor from every
Urban-bred Missery.
Deep-breathing teller
Of heart-swelling story.
Heart of the nation...


Become a Christmas Expert: King Wenceslas

As promised earlier this month, I will try to give you some tips on becoming a Christmas Expert, to guarantee that you will have the most merry Christmas of anyone on your block.

Today's lesson is on "Good King Wenceslas". Statistics show that if you can spell "Wenceslas" you are in the top 10% of Christmas practicioners. If you can sing the entire first verse, knowing the words by heart, you are in the top 5%! And if you can sing the entire song by heart, you are in the top .5% of Christmas celebrants.

So, go on and memorize GKW! Just imagine the looks of undisguised admiration and envy your friends will give you when you are out caroling, and you say, "Let's sing Good King Wenceslas." They will say, "But we do not know the words." And you will say, "Behold! Listen and enjoy this, my Christmas solo!"

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.
"Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Advent Book

Every night during December, our family looks together at the Advent Book. It's written and illustrated by Jack and Kathy Stockman, friends of Krista's mom, and it's an amazing book. We love it, our kids love it, there's love all around.

Every day there's a different lavishly illustrated door to open, and inside is part of the Christmas story. It's a fun way to celebrate.

If you'd like to order the book you can do it here. Jack and Kathy will even sign the book! You can see more pictures of the Advent book here. Enjoy!

Humbly yours

I just finished my Hebrew final, which has left my brain feeling like it just had the biggest Slurpee Freeze of all time. It wasn't as bad as when I was learning a certain East Asian language... I actually looked at the questions I couldn't answer and said, "I know that's in my brain somewhere." I just couldn't shake it all out.

In other news, I've officially lost the Court TV crime writer of the future writing contest. Even worse, all the novels that are up for the final award actually sound better and are better written than mine. So I can't pretend it was lost in the mail or something. Go check it out, you can vote for the winner.

Special thanks to Rob, Alexis, Ken, Chris, Carolyn, Adam, Dan and Krista for reading my swill.

Now. Has someone been praying that I will get humility? You can be honest. It's working. I feel humble, sufficiently humble. You can stop praying now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

hard at work

FYI-- This Monday morning is my big Hebrew final. I need to be working hard at studying this weekend. So you shouldn't see any more posts from me this weekend. If you do, you ought to send me mean notes, comments or guilt-inducing phone calls.

I will post something meaningful, beautiful and/or hilarious in the week following.

Or, failing that, I will write all the regular junk I write.

hoo boy

I took an internet quiz tonight. It purported to tell me "What kind of American accent" I have. The answer to which--having grown up in California--I assumed would be "Golden, perfect Accent. You speak like a movie star. You are easily understood by all people, for your vowels are round and lovely and your consonants clear and crisp."

Instead, I got this. "You are 24% perfect as a girlfriend." I need to give him more room to "breath."

You can have all the room you want to "breath", buster. I'm a married man. And I have a perfect accent, which we all know is a rare commodity. Okay, okay. Maybe I am proving the point. I would be an awful girlfriend. With a lovely reading voice.

Special note to Larissa, if she's out there somewhere: I know I don't say "water" right. But we're talking about American accents, not British accents.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

T-M Baird, Poet Laureate of Ohio

T-M Baird is a graduate of Whitman College and the University of San Francisco, where she recently finished her MFA. Much of her life thus far has been spent traveling, hiking, and reading. In particular, she loves chasing around dead poets throughout the UK. Her work has appeared in"Void," "Switchback," and "Blue Moon."

Ms. Baird is very excited about her new appointment as Ohio's poet laureate.A lifelong fan of 19th-century Romanticism, Baird sees a lot of poeticpotential in the state of Ohio, which so beautifully embodies Wordsworth'snotion of the rural life, where "the essential passions of the heart find abetter soil in which to attain their maturity." She will be keeping an eyeout for new poetry coming out of that state, which is only a hop, skip and a jump from where she was born in Minnesota. T-M Baird currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

Our distinguished judges enjoyed all three of the poems that Ms. Baird sent in, but particularly fell in love with the last three lines of the poem below, "The Flock." If you would like to see more of Ms. Baird's work, take a look at the on-line magazine Switchback.

The Flock by T-M Baird, Poet Laureate of Ohio

There they sat, flat on silent feet,
unwittingly pastoral, stupidly sheep.
And as I approached,
not a fleece was flustered,
only grass stubble chewed—
what bland entertainment
that must make.
I settled along on shameless strides,
slow and even,as proscribed-
‘til a tingling-harsh collision thumped the back of my right side—
and a step I skipped,
smacked by a woolly thing
that could have been a sock,
or a soft, hollow mitten,
had it not been for the head,
the brain behind those glaring eyes.

I knew my fear,
I held it out before me
like a vest my mother had worn in battle,
but would not put it on—
‘til he struck again,
left cheek this time, and I simply wandered on,
past the others, toward the fence,
dazed, to helplessly watch him pass-
the brute,
heavy with wool and haggis,
standing fixed on a narrow path, from which he would not budge,
would not be bullied or begged away.

No, he will make his stocky way whichever way he please,
will clobber any passing biped, who so easily sees him coming,
hurtling toward her
like a ridiculous stuffed toy.
And she may laugh, but she cannot run,
for fear
of scattering panic over a quiet
close-trimmed field.

Figgy Pudding

I think it's important that I share some tips to having a Christmas that is better than that of everyone else around you. It's important that you know how, for instance, to make figgy pudding. So, here's a recipe for you. Maybe next week I will take you all a'wassailing or teach you all the words to "Good King Wenceslas". If someboday makes this be sure to tell me so that I can grill you for details.

NOTES: You can brown the butter and make the hard sauce up to 3 days ahead; cover separately and chill, then bring hard sauce to room temperature before serving. You can make the pudding up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and store at room temperature.

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours, plus 2 1/2 hours to chill and cool

1 1/4 cups butter
1 pound dried Mission figs, stemmed
3 tablespoons brandy
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar
Brown-butter hard sauce (recipe follows)

1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Stir often until butter is deep golden brown with darker brown flecks, 5 to 8 minutes (if butter foams up in pan, remove from heat briefly until foaming subsides). Pour butter into a 1-cup glass measure; chill until solid, about 1 1/2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine figs, brandy, and 1 cup boiling water. Soak until figs have softened, about 30 minutes. Lift 1/2 cup figs from bowl and coarsely chop. Pour remainder, with soaking liquid, into a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth.

3. Scoop 1/2 cup solidified brown butter into a large bowl (bring to room temperature if necessary before using; reserve remainder for brown-butter hard sauce). With a mixer at medium speed, beat butter with granulated sugar until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add puréed figs and beat until smooth.

4. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and beat at low speed until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Stir in chopped figs.

5. Scrape batter into a buttered 11-cup bundt pan; cover tightly with foil and secure with a rubber band. Place pudding in a 12- by 17-inch baking pan and set on bottom rack of a 350° oven. Carefully pour 2 inches boiling water around bundt pan, then cover entire baking pan with foil.

6. Bake until pudding feels firm to touch (peel back foil to check) and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then invert bundt pan over a plate to unmold pudding. Let cool until barely warm, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into slices and serve with brown-butter hard sauce.

Per serving with about 2 tablespoons of brown-butter hard sauce: 445 cal., 30% from fat; 6.6 g protein; 15 g fat (8.5 g sat.); 75 g carbo (5.9 g fiber); 363 mg sodium; 113 mg chol.

Brown-butter hard sauce. In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat reserved solid brown butter from brown-butter figgy pudding (recipe precedes) until smooth. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat on low speed until well combined. Add 1 tablespoon brandy and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon into a bowl; serve at room temperature, or cover and chill up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature and beat again to restore texture before serving. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Per tablespoon: 66 cal., 62% from fat; 0 g protein; 4.6 g fat (2.9 g sat.); 6 g carbo (0 g fiber); 47 mg sodium; 12 mg chol.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunset, DECEMBER 2004

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Poll

Question: When is the last time that you refused to leave your friend's house unless they provided you with "figgy pudding"?

a) Never
b) Just last week
c) If you had my friend's figgy pudding you would understand

Eva Ting, Poet Laureate of Massachusetts

Eva Ting is an Asian-American who's residing back in the motherland. She lives in a bustling city and splits her time between two jobs: working at an art gallery and starting up an NGO consulting company. Yes, the two jobs seem utterly unrelated, but....well, anyway.

When she's not working, Eva can be found dancing, watching movies, doing yoga, cooking food and/or eating food, drinking coffee (especially between the hours of 7 and 10 am), hosting parties, writing on her blog, reading friends' blogs (including this one!), googling random trivia, and just hanging with friends, usually involving loud laughter. The last book that she read and totally loved was Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler and the last movie that she watched and totally loved was "Nacho Libre." Eva has ambitions to save the world, or at least help fix the broken parts one bit at a time.

Eva studied English and journalism in college and her poetry writing has mostly been in the form of class assignments or silly rhymes for friends' weddings. This particular poem was written in college and refers to attending her grandmother's funeral in Taiwan. Eva hasn't fully developed her plan to cause poetry to flower in the glorious state of Massachusetts, but she's pretty sure it will involve a coalition of fellow poet laureates, blimps and possibly pyrotechnics.

You can visit Eva at her blog. Or the local Krispy Kreme.

Open Casket by Eva Ting, Poet Laureate of Massachusetts

A funeral summons me an ocean away:
My grandmother's face, complacent,
a foreign sight to my stranger's eyes.
Heavy incense drowning me in sweetness,
perfume of my past.
I remember sitting in my grandmother's lap
her stories of tricky rabbits
who outsmarted wolves,
filial children who walked barefoot
through blizzards
to find turnips for their hungry parents.
My grandmother's voice was raspy,
fuzzy sandpaper
surprisingly soothing
with the soft cadence of her island dialect.
I remember
celebrating birthdays
with cakes as big and round as a harvest moon,
the frosting clinging to my nose,
my grandmother beaming
and the light from the candles bouncing
off the fillings of her teeth.
I remember
my grandma visiting us in America,
the lines of her face weathered,
her voice hoarse,
her sentences broken,
the melody interrupted by a stroke.
She disrupted my life.
Her solid shadow could darken a room.
That smell of tiger balm and
mothballs she carried.
She sat in a dark room, alone,
eyes fixed on the television screen.
Out of wet eye corners,
she watched my brother and I talk,
so quiet we forgot she was there.
She loved sitting in our yard
as the day slipped into dusk:
the birds warbling,
her toes digging in the grass,
the blades tickling feet,
a hiccup of laughter
from the small woman in the lawn chair.
I remember
watching her figure
grow dim in the fading light,
catching her eye and seeing her shiny teeth,
Knowing her smile would linger
as everything else grew dark.

Originally published in "Clarion", the literrary magazine at Boston University.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Prayer For Burgerville

When employees at a fast food place mess up, you don’t get an apology as such. But there is a lot of praying. For instance, today my cheeseburger arrived and I noticed that the cheese hadn’t melted, which I thought was strange. So I took a closer look and discovered that the employees had forgotten to put a hamburger patty on the bun. That’s right, they gave me a cheese sandwich. Here is the response of the cashier…

Cashier: OH MY GOD, I’m sorry.

He took it back to the cook.

Cashier: Someone forgot to put the burger on this cheeseburger.

Cook: Oh my God! Sorry about that.

I hope he forgave them. It seemed like an honest mistake.

Michelle Lawrence, Poet Laureate of Arizona

Michelle Lawrence lives in Tempe, Az where she studies graphic design and journalism in the morning, is an Arts Reporter in the afternoon, and plays the djembe at night (amongst other things). All times in between she writes, takes photographs, paints and is endlessly creating. Some may call her a jack-of-all-trades, but she prefers to becalled Michelle, M, Elle, or Shelby Turtle. Well O.K, mostly justMichelle or M.

She is working on a book of poems called Paper Lions, and encourages anyone with publishing capabilities and a thirst for words to contact her. She is also working on a yet-to-be-titled novel based on the theme of anti-utopia. M has been known to say "Poetry is like windows to worlds that doors keep locked, everyone has the key...if they can find it". Grateful for the honor of poet laureate, silently and sometimes not so silently she jumps for joy.

Ms. Lawrence plans the flowering of poetry in Arizona by throwing seeds into the desert, reciting poetry from the mountain tops, and encouraging people of all ages to get in touch with their inner muse by way of P.E.E.L - Poetry Encouraging an Enriched Life. Peel back the layers people, find your key!! Her muse is inspired by the crossfire between her senses and brain, daydreams, night dreams, the forces of nature, her real and unreal past, present and future,and people; especiallyG.J.M.

Her poetry and artwork have appeared in several on-line zines. To read more of her words poetic, please visit

Down Reflection by Michelle Lawrence, Poet Laureate of Arizona

Tiny vessels. Daffodils, yellow and wilting. I clamor and shiver now,
thinking of holding those empty cups. I remember the broken violin
lying under piles of clothes, stepped upon and held in a bed of
symbolic tears. A bed that savagely kissed my forehead and said
Weeping never did me any good. Nor signing that piece of paper, nor the
magistrate who condoned giving my youth away, who mistook defiance for
love. So it was sanity caught behind caution tape and blinking lights.
Once I was living with rusty tin and flowers in my hair, put there by a
mother not my own. I was a trembling child in a cloud that could only

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Alexis Youngs, Poet Laureate of Washington

Miss Youngs doesn't know anything about poetry. She doesn't really 'get it,' you might say. She has some friends who might be considered real poets, and the only names that ever come to mind that can really be counted as famous poets whom she has read and greatly enjoyed are Shel Silverstein and Gerard Manley Hopkins. But she promises to seriously investigate the wild and wonderful world of poetry post-haste.

Other things about Miss Youngs: She likes doing dishes but hates cleaning floors, has been held up at gunpoint, has performed at the KennedyCenter, smoked her first cigarette while on the mission field and was coached in this (yes, coaching was necessary) by other – younger, cooler – missionaries, considers people between the ages of 2.5 and 8 to be among her favorites, and is the worst procrastinator known to mankind.

She would like to be, in the borrowed words of a friend, "brave enough to look squarely into the wild eyes of reality and let the frustrating inexorability of it all sink deep into her soul."

Miss Young's poem "I Used To Love My State Of Origin, But Now I Have My Doubts" brings child-like wonder (and condemnation) to the state that so closely mirrors the feelings of our judges that we were forced to choose her poem, if only to highlight our own ambivalent love affair with our adopted state.

Miss Youngs would also like to make it absolutely clear that the bruise she is sporting in the picture (above) was not received while playing a game of tag, which would be completely illegal. You can see more of Miss Young's thoughts, poetry and writings at

I Used To Love My State Of Origin, But Now I Have My Doubts by Alexis Youngs, Poet Laureate of Washington

Washington, named after George
Beautiful mountains and concerts at the Gorge
Apples, coffee, rain, and sun
Evergreen, ever-gray, laid back and oh, so fun
Until they outlawed playing TAG!!!

The End.

Jill James, Poet Laureate of New Jersey

Jill James is a poet slash foosball prodigy slash air guitarist who was also a 1987 middle school knock hockey champion. She currently resides in Portland Oregon with 4 wild animals: Ace, Tobio, Molinsky Fish and Jesse James the Sheepdog. Ms. James is an alumni of Montclair University, NewJersey, where she completed an independent study in poetry. She is presently working on a first book of poems, Lullabies for Lunatics, to be published on expired pharmaceutical prescription labels.

Ms. James has ambitious plans for her term as poet laureate, including new holidays (Love Poem Day, Haiku Day, Poems Not Bombs), a poem chain letter, a New Jersey Poets Anthology, and cereals with poem prizes inside.

Ms. James has a fresh voice and an ability to write about the experiences of life with a sense of humor and deep intelligence. Please enjoy her poem, Puberty, posted below.

Puberty by Jill James (poet laureate of New Jersey)

the Hungarian girl
still haunts me

she was ice skating
upside down on the sky
holding a pointy paper airplane cup
up like a hat to her pigtails

I considered her the prettiest
and the cutest boy in corderoy
thought she was sex-eeeee

but yes (you may have already guessed)
the father was
very strict

& something happened
something disgusting

like a rat chewing through the sun

maybe her pants were too tight
or maybe the lawless look in her eye

cause then
her lights went out
her flight got cancelled
she started to play the wrong notes
on the recorder and trip
on her rainbow shoestrings in the hallways

we had to leave her there
stumbling through her Tchaikovsky routine

losing the music

we were in a rush
and none of us
not one of us knew what to do

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winners of the First Annual I Want to be Poet Laureate Contest

I am pleased to announce the winners of our first annual contest to make sure that every state in the Union is represented by a poet. I want to start by saying how surprised I was by both the quantity and quality of poetry submitted. I'd also like to say that some States--for whatever reason--received a larger volume of quality submissions (particularly New Jersey and Arizona), which made it very difficult to decide the poets laureate for those states. In fact, I couldn't make a final determination for the state of Arizona, feeling that the final two poems were impossible to choose between. So, I made the decision to award the state of Arizona two poets laureate. I know, that seems unfair to all the other states, but the Muses have spoken and gifted the poets they deemed necessary to gift. Arizona must need a little extra poetry right now.

So, thank you to everyone for participating in the contest. You are doing a service to the one-fifth of the U.S. that suffers alone in a dark corner of poetry deficient Statehood.

Without further ado, here are the winners of our contest:

Arizona: Rebecca Furlano Losing My Mother and Michelle Lawrence Down Reflection

Hawaii: Chronos The Sleep That We Dream Of

Massachusetts: Eva Ting Open Casket

Michigan: Steph Tower of Babel

Missouri: Rob E You Must Be Misstaken

New Jersey: Jill James Puberty

New Mexico: Kasey Martin Spun

Ohio: T.M. Baird The Flock

Pennsylvania: Adam Struble What Crazed Eyes Have Already Seen

Washington: Alexis Youngs I Used to Love My State of Origin But Now I Have My Doubts

Congratulations to our new poets laureate. In the weeks to come you can expect to see an introduction to each of our poets as well as their prize-winning poems.