Archive for the ‘Not a Poet’ Category


September 27, 2017

A while back, I compiled a list of gifts that Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith gave to one another in Just Kids.  I often find myself gravitating towards the gift described in memoirs or books; authors, I’ve noticed, tend to include them as details when they are particularly special or poignant.  Case in point: Jeannie Vanasco’s upcoming memoir The Glass Eye.  It’s not as long as the Smith-Mapplethorpe one, but I still love it (and admittedly it might be longer, as I didn’t do an exhaustive search).

Gifts Received by Jeannie Vanasco in The Glass Eye (different givers)

A small doll from Sicily

colorful barettes

old coins

hangers with illustrated wooden cat heads

vials of sand from Jerusalem

a pair of earrings that looked like pale orange pearls

Twenty books (in one package)


The Mindful Poet

June 12, 2017


Now I am opening my eyes. Now it is 8:36. Now I am dressing myself.   Now I am eating cereal. Now I am taking out my garbage. Now I am noticing that my garbage smells. Now I drop it in the bin on the corner. Now I am walking to work. Now I see the sky is ominous. Now I am waiting for the tube. Now I am contemplating throwing myself across the tracks. Now I am getting on the tube. Now I am pretending not to notice the woman sitting across from me, who is very pretty, or the man sitting next to her, who is in a handicapped seat but does not appear to be handicapped. Now I am not working hard at not judging him. Now I am arriving at work. Now I am imagining murdering my boss. Now I am entering data into the spreadsheet. Now I am wondering if life is meaningless. Now I am eating the sandwich I packed for lunch: cucumber, smoked salmon, and butter. Now I am thinking cheese would have been preferable. Now I am briefly napping in the toilet stall. Now I am returning to my desk. Now I am listening to two colleagues banter, and wondering why I am not in on the joke. Now I am thinking about checking my Facebook. Now I’m deciding not to. Now I’m sharpening my pencil, despite not needing it. Now I’m wondering what my life would have been like if I hadn’t quit playing the piano. Now I am imagining myself on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, and the audience applauding. Now I am deep in my reverie. Now my boss asks for “that report,” so I snap back to reality. Now I am watching the clock as the end of the day looms: 4:56, 4:57, 4:58, 4:59, 5:00. Now I am entering my local to have a pin before heading home. Now I am noticing my brain getting foggy. Now I am climbing the stairs to my flat. Now I am hearing the penultimate step on the staircase creak. Now I am hearing my neighbors make raucous love. Now I am undressing. Now I am nodding off.

Now I am sleeping. Now I am sleeping. Now I am sleeping.

A Stunning Essay

March 20, 2017

Things have been––well, let’s say, harried around here recently, so I am half-assing this post by pointing you in the direction of an incredible piece of writing someone recently reminded me of.  It’s more than half-assed, in fact: it’s a selfish move, because I want to pretend that I have some affiliation with someone who can write so well, even though we’ve emailed twice and I’m resorting to cutting and pasting her words.  Ah well––extenuating circumstances!  Here’s a teaser of “What’s in a Necronym?” by Jeannie Vanasco:


I am named after the daughter my father lost.

I remember the day I first learned about her. I was eight. My father was in his chair, holding a small white box. As my mother explained that he had a dead daughter named Jeanne, pronounced the same as my name, “without an i,” he opened the box and looked away. Inside was a medal Jeanne had received from a church “for being a good person,” my mother said. My father said nothing. I said nothing. I stared at the medal.

Later that day, in the basement, my mother told me Jeanne died in a car accident in New York when she was sixteen, many years before I was born. Two other girls were in the car. Jeanne sat between the driver and the other passenger in the front seat. The driver tried to pass a car, hesitated, then tried to pull back into her lane. She lost control and Jeanne was thrown from the car and killed instantly.

“Your father blames himself,” my mother said. “He can’t talk about it.”

“Why?” I asked.

“He gave her permission to go out that night.”

After Jeanne died, my father bought two burial plots next to one another, one for Jeanne and one for himself. When he and his first wife divorced, she stipulated that he forfeit his plot, and he agreed. Soon after the divorce, he went to court again, this time for beating up a bum on the street. “Why should you be alive?” my father had asked him. “You’re not working and my daughter’s dead.” The judge remembered my father and let him go.

“Did you know his first wife?” I asked my mother.

“No, he was divorced long before I met him. All this happened in New York.”

I lived in Ohio, where my father and mother met. In my mind, New York was made of skyscrapers, taxicabs, and car accidents.

“What did Jeanne look like?”

My mother said she had never seen a photo.

That spring I painted portraits of Jeanne in watercolor. I titled them Jeanne. My art teacher told me she was disappointed that such a good student could misspell her own name. From then on, I included an i.

Celebrity Week

September 20, 2016

I guess it’s celebrity week over here at Itinerant Daughter, which means today I’ll re-publish a poem written by a ten or eleven-year-old Monica Lewinsky.  I first heard of the poem “I Am Pizza” while reading an old New York Magazine article about Robert Bingham, editor of now-defunct journal Open City and publishing wunderkind who died of a heroin overdose.  Good piece, good poem, good pizza.

I Am A Pizza

I am a pizza
I can be a delicious lunch, dinner
or breakfast, if you’re weird.
I have a great deal of toppings on me
I am a round and flat piece of dough
with lots of toppings.
I make your mouth water.
I’m very good to eat, but I’m
I am a mouth’s best friend.
I make you say, “Yum, Yum”.
I am a pizza.

Great. Fucking. Title.

October 20, 2015


No can do.  I am

doctor not of medicine,

but Latinity.

I am the future,

singular, indicative.

The first person.  What

do you take me for?

If is a real condition.

If I’m a pill, then

you are double blind.

What you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Spoonful of sugar,

it’s all in your head,

this dendritic alchemy

of pain.  Nothing works.
~A. E. Stallings


September 18, 2014

I’ve been gone for quite some time, and I’m so, so sorry, but you see, I have four weddings to attend in the span of four weeks (only one left!) and that, plus other travels, have taken me to Providence, Rhode Island, Ohio and Boston.  So needless to say, I’m a little tired.  I thought that I would spend my many hours in transit, however, catching up on some reading I really should have done in high school, so I took the collected poems of Emily Dickinson out of the library.  I think in high school, I found her work too quaint and formal for my tastes, but then recently I was thinking about poem 260 (“I’m Nobody!  Who are you?) and  I figured I ought to give it another shot.  If you want don’t want your baggage to go overboard or your mind to feel sharp and lively, though, I wouldn’t recommend it.  The below, though, took me aback; my reaction perhaps belies my mature exterior.


A little bread –– a crust –– a crumb —

A little trust — a demijohn —

Can keep the soul alive —

Not portly, mind! but breathing — warm —

Conscious —  as old Napoleon,

The night before the Crown!


A modest lot — A fame petite —

A brief Campaign of sting and sweet

Is plenty!  Is enough!

A sailor’s business is the shore!
A Soldier’s — balls!  Who asketh more,

Must seek the neighboring life!


September 9, 2014

ID: “Dylan reportedly visits Chabad synagogues; on Yom Kippur in 2007 he attended Congregation Beth Tefillah, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was called to the Torah for the sixth aliyah.”

can you imagine?

you’re in synagogue

atoning for your many, many sins
and BAM
bob dylan
ML: yes i can, bc i’ve contemplated just this eventuality
ML: look at this


Casting for Biopics of Poets

September 9, 2014

So, Robert Lowell in the biopic Locked Razors (too morbid?  Title open to discussion) will be played by…

Kinda dreamy, no?  In a bad boy sort of way.

Kinda dreamy, no? In a bad boy sort of way.


Grows out his hair a little, and bingo bango.

Grows out his hair a little, and bingo bango.

My boyfriend and I, just apropos of the above, happened to see Michael Shannon recently, looking quite disheveled and walking the streets of Brooklyn muttering to himself.  This segues nicely into the following scary tidbit: I see Philip Seymour Hoffman all the time.  Mostly in subway stations, but on a super regular basis.  A pallid face zooms by me, and I turn around to catch a glimpse of a strawberry blond head, and I think, “Hey, that’s Philip Seymour Hoffman!”  But… isn’t he dead? you’re thinking.  Yes, he is.  Hence the “scary.”

Creativity Mathematics

August 14, 2014

 “It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing” (Gertrude Stein) + “Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity” (Twylla Tharp) = “29. You’re a Genius all the time” (Jack Kerouac)

Anne Sexton Fellowship at McLean Hospital

August 7, 2014

Announcing a program I have helped to develop––the Anne Sexton Fellowship at McLean Hospital!  Start your engines.  See the application here, and download below.  Email completed applications to

The chance of a lifetime!

The chance of a lifetime!


Application for the Anne Sexton Fellowship at McLean