Posted by: janesstories | January 1, 2010

Keeping Up with Kat is Impossible–but Worth Trying!

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest! When I moved here in August of 2005 I had no idea I would be here this long, but the Douglas firs and Pacific mist have wrapped around me and it looks like I’ve been here long enough for me and the moss to move in together — which is all to say, living in Seattle is great!

As I get ready to welcome 2010, I look back at what beatific bounties the last half of the decade held for me: teaching kids reading and math AmeriCorps; recording and releasing Musiplication, a kids’ hip hop album to help them learn their times tables; traveling to Morocco and returning to write a mini-chapbook which I read from at a couple of terrific events with other Janes writers in Seattle; leading dozens of creative writing, monologue and poetry workshops with middle-school and high-school students in Washington and Oregon; facilitating arts-based summer camps for teens; transitioning to a new job this summer at Youth in Focus, an awesome nonprofit that gives free photography classes and mentoring to underserved urban teens; I was recently accepted to WSU’s Master Gardener training program which I am thrilled to start next Saturday, Jan 9th; and I also recently procured a creative studio all my own where my muse may circle, land, paint, write, dance, sing or just philosophize while staring at an Impressionistic watercolor sky full of melodramatic Seattle clouds.

My writing practice maintains, thanks to Julia Cameron and my morning pages, but public oration has given way to more soul-searching exploration — pages meant just for me, dear reader. Lately I’ve been riding high on the words of women poets who came before me, thanks in large part to No More Masks, a gorgeous, dog-eared, well-loved, tattered anthology of women’s poetry given to me by a friend who saved it from a purgatory of languishing on a thrift store bookshelf. Here is one of my favorites, by Marge Piercy, which I find myself reading weekly; may it inspire you as it has me, and may you bloom ever more beautiful in 2010:

The Woman in the Ordinary
The woman in the ordinary pudgy downcast girl
is crouching with eyes and muscles clenched.
Round and pebble smooth she effaces herself
under ripples of conversation and debate.
The woman in the block of ivory soap
has massive thighs that neigh,
great breasts that blare and strong arms that trumpet.
The woman of the golden fleece
laughs uproariously from the belly
inside the girl who imitates
a Christmas card virgin with glued hands,
who fishes for herself in other’s eyes,
who stoops and creeps to make herself smaller.
In her bottled up is a woman peppery as curry,
a yam of a woman of butter and brass,
compounded of acid and sweet like a pineapple,
like a handgrenade set to explode,
like goldenrod ready to bloom.

Keep up with me at


  1. Kat, thank you for your post at JSPF! I especially loved your opening paragraph–I live in Colorado 3 months out of the year, and I feel ”wrapped” in the pines, too. I just ordered the musiplication CD for my gifted, very ADHD son–if he can dance to it, just maybe he’ll learn it.

  2. How fun is your life – and now your multi-use studio. I too love finding the “languishing old books of poetry” and recently discovered Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel – called the Okie poet. Awesomely simple. Thanks for sharing all this – it’s inspiring. As I’m also a photog. I love this project you’re part of – thoroughly believe in it.

  3. Thanks so much for your replies!

    Anne, I really hope your son likes the Musiplication, and I totally support math-dancing! In fact I read a really cool article a while ago that said kids learned better if allowed to move more (here: ).

    And Gail, thanks for the tip on Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel — I’ll have to look her up. Makes me think that a fun thing to do for a writer in need of inspiration would be for her to go on a poetry-hunt at the local thrift store! Maybe even photo-document the hunt… 😉

    Be well and have fun!

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