Please purchase my poetry chapbook!

Hello friends,

My second chapbook, a collaboration of poems by me and paintings by my dear friend and graduate school colleague Susan Solomon, has been made available here through Red Bird Press.

It is entitled Catalpa after the tree and the title poem. For the rest, you’ll just have to see for yourself!

It would mean a lot to us if you would support our project by buying our book and/or sharing this link.

Also, please let me and/or Susan know what you think!

Lots of love,



Fuchsia by Katrina Vandenberg


That summer in the west I walked sunrise
to dusk, narrow twisted highways without shoulders,
low stone walls on both sides. Hedgerows
of fuchsia hemmed me in, the tropical plant
now wild, centuries after nobles imported it
for their gardens. And I was unafraid,
did not cross to the outsides of curves, did not
look behind me for what might be coming.
For weeks in counties Kerry and Cork, I walked
through the red blooms the Irish call
the Tears of God, blazing from the brush
like lanterns. Who would have thought
a warm current touching the shore
of that stone-cold country could make
lemon trees, bananas, and palms not just take,
but thrive? Wild as the jungles they came from,
where boas flexed around their trunks —
like my other close brushes with miracles,
the men who love you back, how they come
to you, gorgeous and invasive, improbable,
hemming you in. And you walk that road
blazing, some days not even afraid to die.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.  – Emily Dickinson

Last night was the last night of AirVenture 2011, aka EAA, where I worked as a cashier selling reusable cleaning cloths!  Some highlights were riding my bike in past all the cars in the morning, chatting with the prop technicians in the booth next door from Redding, CA, and, having worked the day, going out in the boat with EP and Jeff and watching the vintage aircrafts fly over Lake Winnebago from the water.

They were fast!

But, alas, another cobbled-together job has come to an end and now I find in front of me the only road left, the Real Job, the job that I can find and then relax, the job that I can be at Peace with.  I have a new Degree and no debt, and also no money which leaves me feeling like I am sitting on one of those little cloths I was selling, my butt hanging over the sides.  It is very well-constructed, but how does it get off the ground?

A moment can move on and still stay with us, it’s one of the most beautiful things in life, Robert Hass’ Mississippi John Hurt lines in the poem about his brother, Ryan Gosling honoring the spirit of Patrick Swayze in his recent film, and in a thirty-three year-old, not-even-really girl anymore, back to the drawing board again, or perhaps there, officially, for the first time, thinking back on what she has to give to the next phase of life.

In Istanbul post-undergrad/pre-graduate school I taught English, wrote in my journal, and watched the O.C.

…and the little book I came across last night that reminded me of those days.  Maybe it’s a non-sequitor, but I just don’t want to forget her.


Time to start looking for what’s out there.  No pressure in a bad way.  I’m looking everywhere…

Sylvia Plath, Modern-ish Postmodernist essay

 Sylvia Plath, Modern-ish Postmodernist
            In a letter to Olive Higgins Prouty, her benefactress, in 1955, Sylvia Plath named the ability to accept the necessity of tragedy and conflict as the constant struggle in mature life: in choosing to “deal with” these somber complexities rather than escaping to some “falsely simple solution which does not include them,” she reached maturity as a human being and as a writer.  From what we know of Plath from her letters, we can infer that this awareness informed her poems and prose to a high degree: so much of her work deals with tragedy and conflict—her father’s death and her problems in her marriage, just to name two.  But what is she saying here specifically, and how did it inform her life and work in a literal sense?  How can knowing this iconic writer felt this way over half a century ago be useful to writers today, in 2010? 
            In answering this question my instinct is to lean on the Blakean notion that without contraries there is no progression, apt in this case in that life’s “contraries” (a nice way to put it) have always given writers raw material/“fodder” for poems, but it is not one hundred percent suitable in Plath’s case: “Ironically enough, I write best when I am happy,” she said in a letter to her mother, “because I then have that saving sense of objectivity which is humor and artistic perspective.”  It is a bit of a surprise but it also makes sense; struggle alone doesn’t seem to lend itself particularly to the creation of something new: rather it seems, objectively, to stay in the same place.  The two statements seem contradictory unless we find that thing that is happiness and the impulse for artistic creation within struggle; how is it possible?  The question seems key in the development of a clear understanding of Plath’s work. 
            In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Joyce coined the term “aesthetic arrest,” which basically meant that, better than pulling the viewer toward or pushing her away from art, it is better to be in a state of arrest, to vacillate between the normal, E-G-B-D-F, five-line scale of musical composition, rather than going way above and down below more effective for artists within the composition of their art.  To keep ourselves sane (i.e., “happy”) while we are “composing,” then, this “static radiance” is what allows us to see up to those heights, to the depths below, and to be able to convey something of their significance.  In other words, a writer can’t reside in the absolute existential limits and still get her work done: there is too much fear of falling (and perhaps rightfully so).  “Be regular and ordinary in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work,” as Flaubert famously put it. 
You need distance, but what is ironic is that you need to go back to where you already were before you knew you needed distance to achieve that distance.  Why couldn’t you have just stayed there? is the question that begs to be asked, and it is an excellent question that I’m not sure I can answer.  In the former quotation at the beginning of this essay, Plath references “some falsely simple solution”: one should not try to escape to rather than dealing with struggle.  The best answer I can think of is that, having reached the heights, and spent some time there before having arrived back in your own, “safe” middle would hardly seem false or simple: moreover, it would be to have arrived back at the place you were before it happened to or all around you, (or both), and know it, and be able to go on from there.  As Eliot said.     

Highlights… like the magazine

The tulips are almost open, it’s time to leave the scarves behind.  Unless you’re a hipster, it’s almost spring.

Birthday highlights: Crivitz/sledding/beer with dad and Ted and riding shotgun reading my poems,

the road trip with mom, the hot tub before the reading, Nick coming (and being on time :)),

the reading.  Jevin going first and making me not nervous at all.  The roses from Gretchen and Matt.  Drinking Fat Squirrel with mom in the hotel room.  Those comfortable beds.

The defense–how can I say it?–now I just want to be myself.

Harlow smiling.  Jim telling me that he had been in a bad mood.  Dancing with Sierra to “Piece of my Heart,” and her sitting at the bar eating pizza.

Sierra and Javi

"Like" by Jevin Boardman was selected as this week’s What Light winner by Duluth Poet Laureate Jim Johnson.


Meaning a preference for something.
She enjoys the beach, likes it. Meaning he’ll want
or choose, do as he likes. Meaning similarity,
a winter morning like that first in Minong, Wisconsin.
Meaning one thing typical of another, lying in bed
between the windows, the frames caked in frost
like eyelids crusty from sleep. Meaning as though
it would or should be. She said the clouds
look like rain. Meaning such as. A room lacking
in subjects, like physics. Meaning counterparts,
a group similar, and the like. Meaning resemblance.
Lovelike. More precise for what there was?
A man lying in bed beside a woman, about whom
he wrote poems of love and never did.

Jevin Boardman is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Hamline’s Graduate School of Liberal Studies program. He is unpublished (until now) and resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Books I’ve Read since A Million Little Pieces (12/29/05)

Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre

Kim Barnes: In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton

Charles Dickens: David Copperfield

Fan Shen: Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard

Frank McCourt: Teacher Man

Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White

Bram Stoker: Dracula

Kent Nerburn: Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder

William Stafford: Down in my Heart: Peace Witness in War Time

Paul Mariani: Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell

David Kalstone: Becoming a Poet: Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Robert Lowell

Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar

Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights

Nancy Milford: Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury

Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Stephen Greenblatt: Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare

Nicole Krauss: The History of Love

Michael Cunningham: The Hours

Elizabeth M. Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything…

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

—–: Dubliners

—–: Ulysses

Richard Ellmann: Ulysses on the Liffey

Harry Blamires: The New Bloomsday Book

Esmeralda Santiago: The Turkish Lover

Charles Johnson: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Marie Luise Kaschnitz: Circe’s Mountain

Patricia Francisco: Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery

Jamaica Kincaid: The Autobiography of my Mother

Ann Pancake: Strange as this Weather Has Been

Decision time

This summer is wonderful. I have my own place, a bike, a job, rainbow sherbert, and uninterrupted hours to figure out what to do with the next phase of life, which, since I am unattached (no pets, even), gets to be whatever I want it to be.

I was accepted into Hamline’s Fine Arts in writing program. The closer it gets to fall term, the more intensely I think about my own writing. When/where do I write the most/best? I haven’t been writing long enough or seriously enough yet to find that out.

Is school the best way to take a serious look at what one can accomplish? I tend to lean towards yes, but then I think of writers without advanced degrees whose work I love.  But then I think of how many more of them I will find out about and/or meet…

How wonderful and frightening, and exhausting, to be thirty, with so much life that could still go anywhere.