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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

poster for sweetwaters reading nov 09I will be reading at Sweetwaters as a part of the Writers Reading at Sweetwaters series tonight (Tuesday, November 17th) at 7 pm. The room is a bit small, so please arrive early for a seat. Don’t forget to bring work to share at the open mike.

The reading is hosted by the lovely Chris Lord and Esther Hurwitz. Thank you again for the invite!

You are welcome to RSVP on the Facebook Event page (or just check it out to see the other cool people who are coming.)

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Donald Hall

I am very much looking forward to Donald Hall’s reading at the University of Michigan on Dec. 1st.

I’ve been reading his memoir Unpacking the Boxes and want to share what he wrote about teaching composition at the University of Michigan.

 

When I took the Michigan job, I made it a condition that I teach no creative writing. Every term the department gave me a section of freshman composition. It is the hardest class to teach. Twenty students are twenty different sets of difficulty and the difficulty is only partly with writing. My freshmen were away from home for the first time – few came from boarding schools – and struggled with loneliness and liberty. In their essays they expressed or evaded their confusions. Language explains us to ourselves and conceals us from ourselves. Teaching prose style became exploration of the psyche, and I went home from conferences and office hours vibrating with the discomfort and distress of my composition students. (There were contrary elations. When a boy from a northern town suddenly brightens up and understands, or a girl from a high school in suburban Detroit takes first, the hard class becomes satisfying.) Eventually debilitated by teaching composition, I volunteered to teach creative writing. To my surprise I liked it – one class a year, ten or twelve people. I could choose the students after checking out their work, and take only those with some facility.

 

Thanks, Donald Hall. I’ll try to remember these lines the next time someone says, “Oh, you just teach composition?”

 

 

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Italian Tribune Wedding Announcement

I had no idea that you have to pay for wedding announcements in most newspapers. (Don’t look for our announcement in the Star-Ledger or NJ county papers.)

I guess it makes it sense: the announcement isn’t necessarily news and it is more like an advertisement.

That said, I really wanted to announce the wedding in New Jersey’s Italian Tribune which my family may (or may not) have been reading since it started in 1931. (It is not to be confused with Michigan’s Italian Tribune which has been publishing since 1908 and we subscribe to.)

We discovered that the Italian Tribune will publish announcements for free and we recently send in our information along with a photograph of us at a friend’s wedding in Tuscany last summer. We were so happy to see that it was recently published!

Thanks, Italian Tribune!

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cake tastingToday was a sweet, sweet day. It started off with cake tasting at our venue and ended with chocolate making.  

The Mother of the Bride and I were each given a plate with four different generous slices of cake. The venue made four cakes total and we took home the rest of the four cakes. I had no idea that we would not only taste the cake, but be able to eat it for the rest of the week. That’s what I call preparing for the wedding. 

Our meeting took about an hour, since we discussed many of the final details of the big day (seating, order of the day, etc.) How does time fly by so quickly? It seems just yesterday we were taking off our winter coats and meeting with the same people in January. I’m both overwhelmed by everything that has to be done at the end and amazed by how much we’ve already done. 

I spent the afternoon making the chocolates for the wedding favors. I had planned to make 3 per person, but I ended up making 5 (apparently an odd number is good luck for a bride. I think any amount of chocolate is good luck for anyone!) It was fun, but I could use a massage on my lower back after leaning over for three hours. The Mother of the Bride and I still have to package them in little bags.

Chocolate favor making

To prepare to make the favors, I had experimented with various flavors and techniques for chocolate making in Michigan. I thought that I’d try using squeeze bottles this time, but that proved to be a disaster yesterday. I kept melting the chocolate on low in the microwave and the chocolate wouldn’t melt. When it did, it wouldn’t flow nicely through the very small tip (even after I gave the bottom a good slap.) Finally, I microwaved the bottle some more and it imploded. The bottom was sucked inward and the chocolate was mixed with the melted plastic. That is not something you want to serve to your most beloved family and friends. I threw out the dreaded bottles and bought a new double-broiler on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond yesterday. So today, I knew what I was getting myself into and was ready. 

If you plan to be a DIY bride like I am, I recommend practicing making the items ahead of time (especially if it is food!) I was able to practice in Michigan and then order everything that I needed to have it ready for me at my parents’ house when I arrived last week. I did overdo it a little; there were twice as many bags of chocolate than I needed and I even made more chocolates than I thought I would (see how important math is?) Anyone need a bag? Or seven?

Yesterday was a busy day, too. I finished packaging the hotel welcome bags and wrapped the presents for the Wonderful Women. (More on that after the wedding. Can’t ruin any surprises!) After shopping for the double-broiler (called a “bagno Maria” in Italian – literally, Maria’s Bath?), I bought some special wines to share with our guests at a wine pairing station. We’ve made sure that my fiancé’s home state and our current state (Michigan) are represented. A friend told me that there is New Jersey Exit Wine. Perhaps I’ll look for that. Am I allowed to make the joke about what exit I take for the store? I didn’t think so. 

Tomorrow I’m off to pick up the wedding license, meet with the DJ and visit with my great aunt before going to a dance class with my parents. Somewhere in between then, I might have a slice of cake and a chocolate or two that went awry and wasn’t counting. Luckily, there are more than a few.

Chocolate favors

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Thanks so much to Lisa Baker Nelson for hosting the Mother/Daughter night at Hush last night. She kindly invited me to read poems twice and I couldn’t have asked for more in an audience. It was a lot of fun!

As promised, here is the bra poem I wrote. It is dedicated to Lisa Baker Nelson of Hush. She has a framed copy of it in her store.

 

Underwire

Wigglewiggle.
The nerve.
Why am I held here?
Solid, unmoving. (A little escaping on the side.)
What do I need?

Shh. Hush. Don’t tell my problems.
But, please, please help me.

Phew. 

© Chloé Yelena Miller 2009

 

 

My fiancé, who spent 2.5 hours straight in a bra store, took some pictures during the reading:

Hush ReadingHush Reading 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He also kindly videotaped the bra and underwear poem. Check it out on Facebook.

Lisa and her staff offer private fittings. Everyone who came out of the dressing room was thrilled to discover how she looked after wearing a properly fitted bra. Be sure to check out her store. It is on Maine Street in Brighton, a cute town with many restaurants and stores.

 

Thanks to Leslie Hipp, Independent Consultant, Executive Area Manager Arbonne International, for her kind words after the reading:
I just loved your poems and your warm, fun spirit. Your presence made a big difference in the feel of the evening festitivies.

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Word Arrangement
Papyrus, the wonderful paper store, is hosting a Spring Bridal Event and WordArrangement, my personalized wedding poem business, will be one of the vendors in the store from 11 – 1. Hope to see you there on Sunday, April 26 in the Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor, MI. I look forward to sharing sample poems with you and answering any questions you might have about ordering your Personalized Wedding Poem. Discounts will be offered for poems ordered in the store.
I invite you to RSVP on my Facebook Event Page.
Papyrus Spring Bridal Event
Briarwood Mall
Sunday, April 26
11 am – 1 pm
Have you posted your favorite bra joke yet? Don’t miss the chance to win a free copy of Sima’s Undergarments For Women. Looking forward to seeing you on April 30th at the Hush bra store in Brighton, MI. I will be reading poems there in the evening.

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 Erika Dreifus

Writing expert Erika Dreifus kindly invited me to write a guest blog entitled, “Writing Your Family History: Five Hints.”  Erika’s blog Practicing Writer and her newsletter  are incredible resources for writers. When I need some advice, I always turn to her list of resources. I hope you will check it out.

 

My mother, a professional photographer, and I compiled a collection of paired poems and photographs documenting our family’s emigration from southern Italy to New Jersey. These pieces are based on visits to the town where our family originated, oral histories collected with Americans and Italians, historical documents and cultural history about the towns and time periods involved. What we created contains an emotional truth and some facts, but the stories mostly contain facts as we experienced them or as they were told to us. We continue to translate the experiences in the form of our art.

 

Here are some of those poems published (sadly without the photographs):

 

Poem “Question of Return” in Lumina.

Poems “Spring Pool Water,” “Noisier Than the Milk,” and “Statue of Liberty, 1890 Spiralbridge.

Poem “Teresa serves dinner at 20:00” in Conte: An Online Journal of Narrative Writing.

 

My personalized wedding poem company, Word Arrangement and this blog grew out of these experiences. I enjoyed collecting oral histories and translating them into poems and found a way to continue with this interest. Through wedding poems, I am lucky enough to be able to hear other people’s stories. I particularly enjoy hearing love stories!

 

If you are interested in learning more on the subject of Writing Family History and you are in the Ann Arbor area, here are two upcoming opportunities:

 

I am presenting a workshop entitled, “Writing Your Family History” at the Ann Arbor Book Festival on Friday, May 15th from 10 – 11 am.

Here is the program description: Researching and writing your family history doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In this session, learn tips on how to gather information and brainstorm ideas before translating the stories and research into a form that you can share with family members.

 

 

I will also be teaching a related one session class through the Ann Arbor Rec & Ed the evening of May 7:

Here is the class description:

Preserve Family History

Don’t let the intimate stories of your unique family history pass on with loved ones. Learn how to collect these special stories from your family. Discover how to get started and complete an interview. Develop a better understanding of how to craft the questions, answer questions and what to do with the final product. 1 class.

5/7

6:30 – 8:30 pm

(Page 12, Spring 2009 catalogue)

 

 

An essay of mine about writing about your family history was published in the Canadian geneology magazine Family Chronicle last summer. Thanks to the Anglo-Celtic Connections Blog for the shout-out!

 

 

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