KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

While Owls and Poets Stalk Shadows


This image comes from an old calendar, alas, without attribution for the photographer


This last-day-of-September morning, the sunlight outside the coffee shop window makes newly colored leaves glow. Passersby on the sidewalk squint into the brightness and hold up their hands to help themselves see better. In a season that still brings temperatures up to summer heat during the day, it’s finally undeniable that fall is here. And I? I am thinking of a poem I first read almost 20 years ago, a poem by poet Alison Luterman, titled “Invisible Work.”  It’s a lovely poem that begins:

“Because no one could ever praise me enough,

because I don’t mean only these poems but the unseen

unbelievable effort it takes to live

the life that goes on between them,

I think all the time about invisible work…”

excerpt from Alison Luterman’s “Invisible Work”  (The Largest Possible Life; Cleveland State University Press, 2001)

What kind of invisible work? The example she narrates is the work of a young mother, running rings around herself keeping her child safe, cutting “hot dogs into bite-sized pieces for dinner,” even though

“there’s no one

to say what a good job you’re doing, how you were

patient and loving for the ten

thousandth time, even though you had a headache.”

The poem appealed to me 20 years ago for this image, which is seen all too seldom: an empathetic appreciation for the quotidian task of raising small children. A number of online references you can find to the poem are often linked to Mother’s Day reflections.

But her work in this poem does not stop there, of course. Because the lines pivot, and the poet speaks directly to us again: 

 “And I, who am used

to feeling sorry for myself because I am lonely

when all the while, as the Chippewa

poem says, I am being carried

by great winds across the sky,

think of the invisible work that stitches up the world

day and night, the slow, unglamorous

work of healing, the way worms in the garden

tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe

and bees ransack this world into being,

while owls and poets stalk shadows,

our loneliest labors under the moon. …”


source:   http://bit.ly/fm-owl

source: http://bit.ly/fm-owl

Last night our own moon showed itself only the slimmest of fingernail clippings. My waking during the night was into a dim time, reflecting an experience of dull-witted moments of late.  I am most grateful for Luterman’s art that bears witness to the loneliness of frustration. Her lines succeed in helping remind us of so much.

So, as those colored leaves fall, and under the gathering leaf litter, the natural world begins preparations to enter the dark sleep that winter brings, I’m also holding out gratitude for all the invisible work that supports “our loneliest labors…”








Comments (0) — Categorized under: Creativity,Gail Koehler — Tags:

Notes from the Ky Women Writers Conference

The 2014 Kentucky Women Writers Conference was full of inspiration and insight, and more ideas than anyone can absorb. I don’t have snapshots to share, but here are some snapquotes to give you a glimpse of what the conference was like. For anyone else who was there, it would be great to hear about what stood out to you.

2014 Ky Women Writers Conference

Jill McCorkle made the intriguing comment that “I’ve come to believe that the [short] story has more in common with a poem than a novel.” She also said that in beginning a new project she almost always starts with the voice of her main character.

Rebecca Makkai spoke about endings, saying “A good ending adds to the story; it tells you something you didn’t already know.” She noted that film has taught us that leaving the audience with sound at the end is often more effective than leaving us with an image. With this in mind, consider how the final lines sound. Pacing is part of that. It often works to slow things down at the end.

Margaret Wrinkle led a workshop on the spiritual work of writing, and the spiritual encounter with material that matters—what she referred to as the stories that are bigger than we are. This is what comes first, before the crafting of work. We journey to that deep place where we find the story and bring it back. “Creativity is a spiritual practice,” she reminded us. “The key to the creative process is surrender.”

Hannah Pittard told how reading Alice Munro’s “Runaway” changed her approach to critiquing work during writing workshops. “First find the most beautiful thing,” is her new philosophy. All kinds of surprising things can work in service to what resonates.

Kim Edwards noted that when Munro’s first person narrators question themselves, they become more accessible.

In Liza Dawson’s agent talk, among her many recommendations was to spend time on publishers’ websites and learn how books are sold. Look at how those books you like are described. You have a dual identity as a writer and as a business person.

But most vivid is a piece of advice from Margaret Wrinkle. Take a piece of paper and write down the mental impediments to doing your writing: the self-doubt, the fear, the questions about the validity and worth of your work. Then burn that list and put the ashes into moving water, letting them be carried away. Repeat as needed. Even the mental image of this exercise is freeing.