Reading, judging, reading, judging

I read a pile of manuscripts for the WOMR Jose Gouveia Regional poetry contest starting ten days ago and finally chose and ranked the winners last weekend.  Then I started on the far larger pile of manuscripts for the Nationals.  I finished yesterday evening. Now I am F R E E, free at last. I can get back to my own work, the cats, maybe even reading a novel.  I’m not ready to read more poetry for a few days.  Hundreds of mss. many bad, some thirty-six of them good. It took me longer than usual to choose winners, because this year we had many exciting entries.  I wish I could have given out more honorable mentions.  In both contests, the winner and the second and third prizes were obvious but the honorable mentions instead of seven, could have had several more that were equally or almost as good.

The rains have come, the rains have come.  It has been raising here for two days and no sign of it stopping.  But it replenishes the water table and where it’s snow, things are really tied up.  We were predicted to get an inch of rain on the Outer Cape, but it appears we’re getting even more.  If this were snow, we’d be totally snowed in. Stuck in the house until the plows let us out.  Now the wind is rising.  We may lose power tonight.

I’m trying to get all the poets who are signed up for the June poetry workshop to secure

lodging that will work for them.  Wellfleet is a popular place for people from New York, French Canada, New England, Germany, Britain and of course people from Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts. Only a couple of poets still hanging. It’s a time that requires little of me aside from reading their posts and replying.  My next period of hard work for the poets will come in May when I read their manuscripts and annotate them for the conferences. I usually give each one a couple of pages of notes and general comments and suggestions – what to work on most, for instance.

I can now go back to reading Indira Ganesan’s novel AS SWEET AS HONEY.  I was enjoying that until the first load of mss. arrived, ending my reading for pleasure. My efforts making order in my office and bedroom are slowly becoming visible.  At my age and having lived all over and then in this house since 1971, things have accumulated.  Notice the passive verb. As if that hanging from a mountain village in Crete and that Navaho basket in the bedroom walked in one day and stayed.  Well, those are items I’m not about to get rid of, but I must have seven or eight lone socks I don’t toss because what if the mate shows up.  What did I imagine I’d do with the weird pillow shaped like a ski jump? A basket of old cat toys and gunky hairball medicine that has leaked a bit seemed to have outlived its purr-pose.

In my office, it’s a never to be solved problem, because papers come in at least as fast as they are dealt with or discarded.  The paperless office is a fantasy for a writer. I’ve enlisted Woody in some of the projects. We went through the standup freezer last night, discarding lost frozen beans from five years ago; cookies that are now way too stale to serve anyone, unidentified soups or stews or something that was cooked anyway.  We put everything back neatly that we’d saved –then we suddenly had lots of room.

We have at least five drawers scattered through the house that are filled with who knows what?  We’ve used them as repositories for objects we don’t know what to do with, objects that we conceivably might want someday, things we just had no idea where to store. Sometimes we can’t imagine why we kept that thingie. Once in a while, a real tool with a real use turns up.  It’s a crap shoot.  Onward!  The dump awaits.

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