From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

NYC Reading

      It was a thrill to be invited to participate at a recent reading at Book Culture in Manhattan, a book shop known to be very poetry friendly.

                                      book-culture1.jpg (3264×2448)


     The reading was for The Widows' Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival, edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn (Kent State University Press, 2014). While I have met many of the other poets included in the anthology who are from New England, the opportunity to meet several others from the greater NYC area was a privilege. The book is doing fairly well, and has gone into a second printing. As you prepare for holiday shopping, consider buying a copy for someone on your gift list who is dealing with loss. It really is a special collection.

      More info can be found here: http://www.widowshandbookanthology.com/

      Here I am taking my turn at the podium, with the panel of contributing poets seated behind me.




       I knew that I would find some great books to assist in my novel research at Book Culure, and I was right. Here they are, and they made the long bus ride home enjoyable.






Sunday, October 26, 2014

     I wrote this article for The Portsmouth Herald's publication called Seacoast Seniors, which is not available online so I am posting it here for those who did not see the hard copy published earlier this week. It is reprinted with a few minor changes, and including a quote that didn't get into the magazine.


Liberty Trees Must Always Exist

By Tammi J Truax


     If you have been to Portsmouth, New Hampshire you've seen the massive tree that towers over the relatively massive Moffatt-Ladd Mansion. Her real name is Aesculus hippocastanum, commonly known as a horse-chestnut tree, and sometimes, a conker tree. There are several theories about why the horse-chestnut is so-named, too many to list here, and many of them sound plausible. While grown all over the temperate world for centuries the horse-chestnut seems to have been native to a small area in the Balkan forests of Eastern Europe. The motivation to carry the tree to other parts of the world was to spread beauty. The horse-chestnut is primarily an ornamental tree, and if you've seen ours even once, this you understand. It grows large, providing a gorgeous canopy, which in spring blooms in copious candle-like flowers. Other uses have been fully explored and are not significant. The wood isn't desirable for building, and the fruit (the conker which is not really a chestnut) is not edible (to some species it is toxic) unless processed, though that was done during the Great War in Europe. At times the conker has been used as an insect repellent in the home, and it is thought to have some medicinal properties that are still being studied today. The bark was used to make a yellow dye. Mostly though, the conker has been used for child’s play, the game of conkers having been very popular in the UK, did come to the US, and was taken so seriously that world championships were established.

                 conkers_797226c.jpg (460×288)


       The tree was most desired throughout time for the same reason that General Whipple brought it to Portsmouth; it looks lovely when mature, and lining an avenue. During the colonial years it seems to have been popular for stately men to plant stately trees outside their stately homes. Fancy trees were another way of displaying status. While often called a legend, and it is so amazing that it sounds like one, the story that museum docents tell at The Moffatt-Ladd House about the majestic horse-chestnut in the side yard is credible. It goes something like this;
      Whipple and his enslaved manservant, Prince, were in Philadelphia for the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While there they may have collected a handful of horse-chestnuts, the fruit of a tree new to Philadelphia. More likely William acquired seeds, or even saplings, from John Bartram’s Garden. Bartram was a Quaker and a botanist and the garden he started in 1728 is the oldest surviving botanical garden on this continent, where three significant historical trees still grow. By the time of the revolution it had become a thriving nursery business that the founding father/farmers would have sought out.
      Descendants recorded that Whipple planted the horse-chestnuts along the front of the house to commemorate the signing. It is more likely that one of the enslaved men living there did the dirty work. Quite possibly, Prince. Stolen as a boy from the gold coast of Africa, Prince was purchased by William Whipple upon his arrival at one of our eastern seaports. While still a teenager, Prince served beside his master in two battles in the American Revolution, and did ride with him to Philadelphia in 1776. In 1779 Prince would sign a petition of independence of his own, though it would not result in his freedom. There is no question when reading it that he had embraced the cause for which he had fought. Somewhere along the way the last surviving horse-chestnut was named The Liberty Tree. Arborists, who come to the Moffatt-Ladd House regularly to provide care and guidance, have verified her age, and she is on the National Register of Historic Trees.    

     photo by T Truax

      Until four years ago our Liberty Tree had a sister tree 3000 miles away in Amsterdam. She was known as the Anne Frank Tree and grew outside the secret annex. Anne mentions the horse-chestnut tree three times in her diary. By 1944 it was full grown, though considerably younger than ours having been planted around 1840. Having suffered fungal and insect damage, she was condemned to death. In an outcry familiar to many locals the townspeople flipped out, and a judge granted their tree a stay of execution. Of course, she couldn't really be saved and storm winds toppled her in 2010. Her offspring though, were sent off around the world. Eleven of her babies came to the US and, after a three year quarantine, have recently been planted. The closest to us was ceremoniously set into the Boston Common at the request of another teenage girl who thought the site most appropriate and somewhat coincidentally named it The Liberty Tree.
      The devoted Moffatt-Ladd gardeners ensure the continuance of our Liberty Tree too, and as many saplings as they can establish each year are sold to visitors as a fundraiser, but we seldom know where they end up. I propose that the city of Portsmouth plant one on public land where it can be watched over by all, perhaps near the Liberty Pole in the park. It would be a good way to prepare for her demise. It is nothing short of remarkable that she has survived this long. The day cannot be far off when, like the Anne Frank Tree, our old horse-chestnut will no longer grace the waterfront.
      Until then, come and see her. Appreciate her. Touch her if you’d like. You won’t regret it. I will always be grateful that I got to see both of these trees in the glory of their golden years, and that they let me feel a connection to Anne and Prince. I think of them … looking out at a tree that meant something to both of them, something that we can never know. ... Looking out at a tree heralding the passing of one season after another, of time being lost. .... Looking out from the confines of their attic prisons where they could only dream of the liberty we enjoy each day.

     photo by T Truax




"From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be."  ~  Anne Frank, February 23, 1944


Thursday, October 23, 2014

       So a few days ago I was careening along the interstate on the back of a bus bound for New York City. Looking out the window, I realized that story and poem prompts were passing me by one after another. I wondered what stories might lurk in the snippets I saw. At the rate of 70 MPH there wasn't much I could do with them, but scribble them down to share with you later.

       Here are a few. See what you can do with them. I would love to publish a few of your responses here. ...

~ A dreary and dilapidated three story tenement with a shiny yellow kayak standing on the saggy top back porch.
~ A commercial warehouse with an enormous pile of bicycle wheels on the roof.
~ A small white porcelain vanity sink tossed at the foot of a stand of maple trees just at the peak of their autumnal perfection.
~ A skinny little man sporting a ZZ Top beard, deftly maneuvering an eighteen wheeler through traffic. The lettering on the truck indicates that it is filled with craft beer. Or is it empty?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Humbly

      Please accept my humble apologies for blog-neglect. I have been working hard all summer to settle into my little writer's cottage, all the while trying to prepare myself for leaving my youngest baby in New York City (of all places!). It has been a tumultuous time for me, and now that the leaves and temps are transitioning too, I'm beginning to settle into a new routine. Sort of ...
      Still, I intend to become more neglectful than ever this winter as I hole up and finish the first draft of the novel I've been hammering away at for about eighteen months. I am really nearing completion and what it needs now more than anything else is much uninterrupted attention. First though I have to get through the busy museum teaching season, but that will fly by. Then comes Thanksgiving and the kid will be coming home!
     Obviously I have a lot to learn about holing up in my cottage...


      There is something that I have been wanting to share; I recently had the pleasure of  introducing three poets who had come to my town to give a reading at my local indie book store, and it really was a pleasure.
      One was New Hampshire's reigning poet laureate, Alice B. Fogel, and another was a young lady making her way through the poetry world with considerable success, Leia Penina Wilson .  They were both well worth hearing.
     But the poet who really caught my ear was Kate Gale. When she read one of her poems in two voices, I could scarcely breathe. She is skilled at reading her own work to great effect, which is something few poets seem to take the time or effort to perfect. So many of us are hobbled by the habit of being humble. Hobbling ourselves, how stupid is that? Our voices should be as strong in the air as we want them to be on the page. IMHO.

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/humble

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gigs

       I will be teaching a few classes at Kittery Adult Ed. this fall. See the link below for more info. I'm particularly excited about the workshop I am designing about Prince Whipple. Prince was an enslaved black man who lived most of his life in Portsmouth, and who served in the American Revolution with his master William Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. I will be giving this talk (with visuals) first at The Moffatt-Ladd House (where Prince worked) but the date for that has not been set yet.

     http://kittery.maineadulted.org/

     On Saturday evening I will be performing with other poets and artists at the:


LALAPALALA MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL
AUGUST 30th, 2014
DAY & NIGHT SHOW (1pm-1am)

Featuring:
LOCAL MUSIC, LOCAL ART, LOCAL POETS, FIREDANCING, HOOPDANCE, LIQUID LIGHT SHOW, ART RAFFLE,
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
DAY SHOW: 1pm-7pm

LOCAL MUSIC:

Thomas Anello (Acoustic, Intricate Fingerpicking)

Clara Berry (Art Pop)

Animals and Shapes (Adventurous Rock)

Cornelius Peppercorn and the Matadors (Rock/Funk/Jazz)

Yelloyuth - band (indie punk/rock/folk/pop)

The Floods (Blues/Psych Rock)

The Tercet (prog/funk)


LOCAL ART, CRAFT & PERFORMANCE:

-Made With Love by JAH (zafu's, sewing, and clothing)

- Mandi Moonjava (Hoopdance, Handmade hoops, Hoopdance class)

Angie D'Anjou, Psychic Medium (Spiritual consultant)

Boxes Unlimited (Birdhouses/Woodwork)

-Firelight Pottery ( Jewelery/ watches)

Lisa's Wire Creations

- Molly Foye (Provocative Interactive Pieces)

- Evolution Decorum (Recycled/Functional Art)

Althaea Wellness Education (Natural Herbal Products)

Mudwerx

LOCAL POETS/WRITERS:

- Mario St. Remy

- Lucas Perry

- Tommie Ann Bower

----------------------------------------------------------------------
NIGHT SHOW: 7pm-1am

LOCAL MUSIC:

- GYMSHORTS (Punk/Garage/Surf)

jonee earthquake band (Surf/Punk/Rockabilly)

People Like You (Psych Folk/Indie/Pop)

-The Raunchy Randos (Psych Rock/Blues/World Music/)


LOCAL ART, CRAFT & PERFORMANCE:

Marisa Kang : Artist (Painting/Pointillism)

-Molly Foye (Provocative Interactive Pieces)

-Lisa's Wire Creations (Wire Wrapping Crystals)

- Angie D'Anjou, Psychic Medium

- Mandi Moonjava (Hoopdance)

Jessefisherglassworks (Blown Glass)

Family Fuego (Firedance)

- Ben Tillinghast (Forgery)

POETRY/WRITTEN WORD READING:

- Tammi J Truax

- Kate Leigh
http://www.bookthatpoet.com/poets/leighkat.html

- Rene M. Thibault
--------------------------------------------------------------------
August 30th, 2014
1pm-1am

All ages till 9pm! Children under 12 get in free.

-----------$5 cover-------------

At The Stone Church, Newmarket, NH




LALAPALALA MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL
AUGUST 30th, 2014
DAY & NIGHT SHOW (1pm-1am)

Featuring:
LOCAL MUSIC, LOCAL ART, LOCAL POETS, FIREDANCING, HOOPDANCE, LIQUID LIGHT SHOW, ART RAFFLE,
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
DAY SHOW: 1pm-7pm

LOCAL MUSIC:

Thomas Anello (Acoustic, Intricate Fingerpicking)

Clara Berry (Art Pop)

Animals and Shapes (Adventurous Rock)

Cornelius Peppercorn and the Matadors (Rock/Funk/Jazz)

Yelloyuth - band (indie punk/rock/folk/pop)

The Floods (Blues/Psych Rock)

The Tercet (prog/funk)


LOCAL ART, CRAFT & PERFORMANCE:

-Made With Love by JAH (zafu's, sewing, and clothing)

- Mandi Moonjava (Hoopdance, Handmade hoops, Hoopdance class)

Angie D'Anjou, Psychic Medium (Spiritual consultant)

Boxes Unlimited (Birdhouses/Woodwork)

-Firelight Pottery ( Jewelery/ watches)

Lisa's Wire Creations

- Molly Foye (Provocative Interactive Pieces)

- Evolution Decorum (Recycled/Functional Art)

Althaea Wellness Education (Natural Herbal Products)

Mudwerx

LOCAL POETS/WRITERS:

- Mario St. Remy

- Lucas Perry

- Tommie Ann Bower

----------------------------------------------------------------------
NIGHT SHOW: 7pm-1am

LOCAL MUSIC:

- GYMSHORTS (Punk/Garage/Surf)

jonee earthquake band (Surf/Punk/Rockabilly)

People Like You (Psych Folk/Indie/Pop)

-The Raunchy Randos (Psych Rock/Blues/World Music/)


LOCAL ART, CRAFT & PERFORMANCE:

Marisa Kang : Artist (Painting/Pointillism)

-Molly Foye (Provocative Interactive Pieces)

-Lisa's Wire Creations (Wire Wrapping Crystals)

- Angie D'Anjou, Psychic Medium

- Mandi Moonjava (Hoopdance)

Jessefisherglassworks (Blown Glass)

Family Fuego (Firedance)

- Ben Tillinghast (Forgery)

POETRY/WRITTEN WORD READING:

- Tammi J Truax

- Kate Leigh
http://www.bookthatpoet.com/poets/leighkat.html

- Rene M. Thibault
--------------------------------------------------------------------
August 30th, 2014
1pm-1am

All ages till 9pm! Children under 12 get in free.

-----------$5 cover-------------

At The Stone Church, Newmarket, NH
   
      http://kittery.maineadulted.org/


       This Saturday evening I will be on the line up of poets and other artists performing at the:




LALAPALALA MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL
AUGUST 30th, 2014
DAY & NIGHT SHOW (1pm-1am)

Featuring:
LOCAL MUSIC, LOCAL ART, LOCAL POETS, FIREDANCING, HOOPDANCE, LIQUID LIGHT SHOW, ART RAFFLE,
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
DAY SHOW: 1pm-7pm

LOCAL MUSIC:

Thomas Anello (Acoustic, Intricate Fingerpicking)

Clara Berry (Art Pop)

Animals and Shapes (Adventurous Rock)

Cornelius Peppercorn and the Matadors (Rock/Funk/Jazz)

Yelloyuth - band (indie punk/rock/folk/pop)

The Floods (Blues/Psych Rock)

The Tercet (prog/funk)


LOCAL ART, CRAFT & PERFORMANCE:

-Made With Love by JAH (zafu's, sewing, and clothing)

- Mandi Moonjava (Hoopdance, Handmade hoops, Hoopdance class)

Angie D'Anjou, Psychic Medium (Spiritual consultant)

Boxes Unlimited (Birdhouses/Woodwork)

-Firelight Pottery ( Jewelery/ watches)

Lisa's Wire Creations

- Molly Foye (Provocative Interactive Pieces)

- Evolution Decorum (Recycled/Functional Art)

Althaea Wellness Education (Natural Herbal Products)

Mudwerx

LOCAL POETS/WRITERS:

- Mario St. Remy

- Lucas Perry

- Tommie Ann Bower

----------------------------------------------------------------------
NIGHT SHOW: 7pm-1am

LOCAL MUSIC:

- GYMSHORTS (Punk/Garage/Surf)

jonee earthquake band (Surf/Punk/Rockabilly)

People Like You (Psych Folk/Indie/Pop)

-The Raunchy Randos (Psych Rock/Blues/World Music/)


LOCAL ART, CRAFT & PERFORMANCE:

Marisa Kang : Artist (Painting/Pointillism)

-Molly Foye (Provocative Interactive Pieces)

-Lisa's Wire Creations (Wire Wrapping Crystals)

- Angie D'Anjou, Psychic Medium

- Mandi Moonjava (Hoopdance)

Jessefisherglassworks (Blown Glass)

Family Fuego (Firedance)

- Ben Tillinghast (Forgery)

POETRY/WRITTEN WORD READING:

- Tammi J Truax

- Kate Leigh
http://www.bookthatpoet.com/poets/leighkat.html

- Rene M. Thibault
--------------------------------------------------------------------
August 30th, 2014
1pm-1am

All ages till 9pm! Children under 12 get in free.

-----------$5 cover-------------

At The Stone Church, Newmarket, NH

     Hope to see you at one of these events!
       

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dog Days Update

     I certainly have been dragging my feet about this post, and I'm not even sure why.
     I guess I didn't want to whine, much like I did in my last post, about how disappointing the low turnout at the book launch and celebration for the little Longfellow book I worked on for so many years was to me. Much like a mom, I wonder why everyone isn't as enamored with my baby as I am. Of course, I am incredibly thankful to the small crowd that did show up, and to Don Young for his fun portrayal of Henry W. Longfellow. Here he is giving he reading;




       Last night, my daughter and I watched The Book Thief, and I thought it was an absolutely stunning film; a beautifully rendered story about a beautiful story teller. I highly recommend it and feel bad about never having read the book. For most of the last eighteen months I have read little that wasn't research related, though right now I am working through  A Room of One's Own and Woman Warrior while I finish up my AROHO retreat application, itself a lengthy process of hard work. I plan to finish tomorrow!

The-Book-Thief-Review-e1361765380759.jpg (440×220)

Tonight, I am off to my writing critique group and will have an important chunk of my novel work-shopped by a group whose feedback has become very important to me. I'll ask about what is ugly and glorious in my words and they will tell me. Maybe I'll report back tomorrow...