My reading with Tamara Kaye Sellman and Lauren Davis is now available on YouTube:
As I was going through the poems in my soon to be released chapbook, Paradox and Illusion, I was struck by the significance of the poem below. It carries weight because of what’s happening in the U.S. right now. We have lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many other black lives to racial injustice and racism’s inherent, unequal treatment of our fellow human beings. I’m standing up to ally myself with those brothers and sisters who have suffered too long under the thumb of racism.
Paradox and illusion define this coast
built by the subduction of Juan de Fuca plate.
This is the birthplace of mountainous rock
where magnetic reversals align
themselves against the pole’s forces.
We struggle to define history.
While we walk, I analogize history
as struggle: a beating against the coast
of our beings, our internal forces
dragged down by sinking plates,
morphosed dense material fighting to align
and not to align, like this rock.
Walking a rhythmic heel-toe, I rock
back and forth between geologic history
and my own. My body aligns
itself with the waves along this coast.
I try to think about tectonic plates,
avoid all reference to internal forces.
But these are not to be denied, these forces
that push against what I want to know, that rock
my belief, leaving me with an empty plate,
making me face my history, our history,
unable any longer simply to coast
on an ignorance of what does not align.
And then I see it. There is a line
beyond which we have crossed. It forces
collisions and collapse. We cannot coast
safely past this rough rock.
It is made of habit and history,
the stuff of which we have filled our plates.
This story is dark with lithograph plates
that do not equally align.
We have printed an orogenic history
full of anticlines and stratified forces.
This shifting sandstone is the rock
that built our coast.
We must leave the coast, trudge the uplifted plate
where a horseshoe of rock moves solidly along a line.
We must attend these forces and shape our own history.
This sestina is from my new collection, Paradox and Illusion. It was first published in Raven Chronicles Vol VII #2.
I’ll be reading from my upcoming poetry chapbook titled Paradox and Illusion. Below is a Webex link to the Seattle Library’s Ballard Branch reading series featuring me, Tamara Kaye Sellman and Lauren Davis. Be sure to log in early in case you have difficulty with the Webex connection.
Paradox and Illusion was the featured book of the day at Finishing Line Press, May 6, 2020. Please place your pre order today at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/paradox-and-illusion-by-pamela-moore-dionne/ and help me get my numbers up.
Praise for Paradox and Illusion:
In her poem “Pleiades,” Dionne writes,
“We pirouette like comets,
free spiraling through atmospheres
we create and interrupt, leaving shallow
footprints in our wake.”
To read the poems in Paradox and Illusion is to be swept into such a pirouette and to spiral from what is ordinary into transformative landscapes, sexual energy, even the spheres of the universe, leaving, of course, barely a trace. – Sheila Bender, author of Behind Us the Way Grows Wider
Saturating the senses, Paradox and Illusion explores a woman’s marriage to the land, to the beloved, to the intricate and defining patterns of science that we cannot escape. This is a collection of praise measured by grief, as Dionne leads us to the moon, to the earth, and then back to the sky. I would take this journey with her a thousand times. – Lauren Davis, author of Each Wild Thing’s Consent
This poet is pulled from the house to confront and experience the world as it is: an endless sky meeting a mountain range, galaxies, bird glimmer, ashes; the mysteries and thrumming of a long marriage. Your moment when it finds you, she tells us, will bring you to your knees, and you feel her authority is well earned. She’s trod the pathless path on her roan. She’s entered the first language of shadow, rain, and bones and returned with stolen fire. – Kathryn Hunt, author of Long Way Through Ruin
Paradox and Illusion by Pamela Moore Dionne
$14.99 per copy plus $2.99 each for shipping
Each ending carries with it a beginning. This is the cycle lived every day of our lives; the slowing to rest, to sleep, at the end of day.
That pause is the moment just before possibility presents itself as new. Tonight, we turn from the past to step into a new year, a new decade. Hope rises in me.
Hope that we will realize our greatest potential and embrace each other as one family, moving forward into the arms of the sisters and brothers with whom we will embrace all living things as part of the larger whole. With this I open my arms to welcome the new year.
Traveling is always magical for me, because I’m not seeing anything familiar so I’m free to be completely present in the new environment where I find myself. (And I do think travel helps me find myself – my humanity, my connection to the larger world and its inhabitants.)
I turn my head and am captured by a vision that transports me into a kind of dance with what I see and experience. When I come home, I’m still seeing with the pointed observation that so much unfamiliarity allows me. What happens when I arrive home is also a kind of magic. I find myself newly present in the familiar space that is my home.Continue reading “6 Weeks in Europe”
Pif Magazine just published one of my poems. It’s titled “After All the Lust.” Here is the URL: https://www.pifmagazine.com/2019/03/after-all-the-lust/
I enrolled in Goddard College’s low residency program for an MFA in Creative Writing that began in July 2017. At my fourth and final residency in February 2018, I celebrated my seventieth birthday. On July 15, 2018 I graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing.
The past two years have been challenging and joyful as I worked my way through a creative thesis of over two hundred pages while also reading published authors and writing critical papers about devices and techniques they use to create narrative. I got everything I expected out of this program – an understanding of literary devices such as plot and character development, theme and subtheme, scene and narrative arc. I also got something I didn’t expect.Continue reading “Me? As Inspiration?”
Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be led by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.
Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006)
May the New Year begin positive change for us all.
The podcast of my interview at KPTZ by poet and memoirist Sheila Bender is now available at https://kptz.org/in-conversation-pamela-dionne/
Time/Dates: Tuesdays from 3 – 5:00pm beginning September 12 – October 24, 2017. The final session on October 24, 2017 will run three hours (2 – 5:00pm) in order to accommodate a reading by participants.
Location: Writers’ Workshoppe & Imprint Books
820 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA.
You can register for this class after May 10, 2017.
General Summary: As part of her Goddard MFA in Creative Writing, Pamela Moore Dionne will offer 7 workshops once a week for seven weeks at 2-hours each plus a 1-hour reading by workshop participants at the end of the final session. That means the final session on October 24th will start at 2:00pm and go till 5:00pm. (Refreshments will be provided for the reading.)
The Missing Voice of Tyranny in the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible is a novel that uses five different voices to tell the story of Nathan Price and his family who go to the Belgian Congo in 1959 as itinerate Baptist missionaries. The only adult narrator is Orleanna Price, Nathan’s wife. The other narrative voices belong to the couple’s four daughters. Rachel is fifteen when they arrive in Kilanga Village. The twins Leah and Adah are twelve and Ruth May is six. The age differences alone make for distinctive narrative variations as the plot line unfolds. But each narrator also has a personality that reveals itself through her telling of the tale as she sees it. It is a compelling way to tell a story from five different perspectives while giving new information to each retelling of the same event.Continue reading “My Annotation on The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver”
My poems Gulls Drop Like Rags, Hummingbird, and Mt. Ellinor as well of a photo I took in Nisos Thira will be published in the next issue of The Pitkin Review this summer. I’ll provide a link as soon as the journal is available.
Edwidge Danticat’s novel Breath, Eyes, Memory demonstrates how immigrants bring their home culture ethos with them when arriving in a new country and how that makes assimilation difficult. The novel gives us a view of the better life that many immigrants hope America will deliver. This narrative achieves its purpose using gender issues, race issues, and divided loyalties. Danticat supports much of her premise through Haitian folk tales, which gives us a sense of the richness that is left behind but also of the ways in which oppression can be fostered.
In this view of Haiti during a time of violent political upheaval we meet four powerful women whose lives are affected by the way men value them. We witness the way these women respond to the values, or lack thereof, that Haitian men place on women. “Our men, they insist that their women are virgins and have their ten fingers.” (Danticat 150) This statement leads Sophie Caco to reflect on something her Tante Atie told her when she was just a child.Continue reading “Assimilation Themes in Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat”
Today is the deadline!
Fellowship applications are now open through September 30. To apply, click here.
The Grotto Fellowship
Our fellowship program is dedicated to fostering emerging writers. It is open to writers of every genre, including fiction, nonfiction memoir, journalism, poetry, dramatic writing, etc. Writers who have demonstrated a commitment to their craft but who are not yet widely published are invited to apply.
Fellows are offered no-cost work spaces here at the Grotto on a part-time basis (up to eight days a month) for a six-month period, beginning in either January or July. Fellows are members of the Grotto during the duration of their fellowship.
Admiration, Envy and Resentment in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Short Story, “Fatherland”
Viet Thanh Nguyen gives us entry into complex family dynamics when he opens the short story “Fatherland” with the statement, “It was a most peculiar thing to do. Everyone said so who heard the story, of how Phuong’s father had named his second set of children after his first.” This rumination leads immediately into the second born Phuong’s envious declaration that “her father’s other children were much more blessed.” In this single phrase you have an inkling of Phuong’s envy and resentment even though it is veiled in admiration. This is the inner conflict that gives us a tension strong enough to carry the story forward. The statement is delivered as an oblique observation that hints at the emotion behind it. Nguyen approaches the internal landscape of his characters in Fatherland via external physical action, reaction and observation. It is this approach that allows the necessary subtlety to affect readers without becoming cloyingly sentimental.Continue reading “One of My Annotations from the First Packet in My MFA Program with Aimee Liu at Goddard College”
Welcome to the new simplified website. As books, poems and/or articles are published you’ll hear about it on this page. Meanwhile I’m really enjoying working toward my MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. My advisor this semester is Aimee Liu. Her ability to get to the heart of whatever I’m working on and help me see the light at the end of the tunnel is extraordinary. And the best part is she does it with grace and intelligence. I feel blessed.
Dear readers, I’ve decided to go back to college and get my MFA in creative writing. For some time I’ve been unhappy with the editing process on Blue Truth. I feel there are gaps in my knowledge that are causing me to take missteps I no longer want to take. Because of the demands of returning for a graduate degree, I’m putting Blue Truth on a back burner for now. I will keep you posted with updates on my studies as I work toward a clearer understanding of how to write the best book I’m capable of writing. Thanks for all your support – in the past and in the future.
Today has been a day of harvesting. After bringing in the tomatoes we went mushrooming in the Olympic Mountains and came back with a bonanza of Lobster and Chanterelle mushrooms.
Below are two poems I’ve been working on whenever I get sick of editing 350 pages of text.
I live on an inland sea
I hear the wheeze
and hack of herons,
long dactylic hexameters,
odd wracking convulsions,
sad tuneless songs
to lost sailors.
Like Odysseus –
a low down
too many whiskeys,
inhaled too many
unfiltered cigarettes –
my pursuit is
I rope myself to a raft of pages
refusing to ballast my ears
against the muse’s song
calling from the same rocky knowing
that cast us all from paradise.
Saluting Aristippus for his belief in pleasure
I bend my back to the task –
turning them to luff
past the barrier reef of my skin.
My Strawberries Wild
Knee high wanton wilderness.
Seeded with rubies under foliage
like emerald umbrellas
pressing humidity hard into musk and loam
black with decay, the life giver.
What was relinquishes to what will be –
the sweet fruition of possibility.
A strawberry forest cultivates wildness.
It is this chaos that gives a flavor
for life, for its ups and downs.
It is this juice that forces the drive
to over-reach, go beyond, burgeon.
The birds and I harvest together
each vying for our fair share.
But we are objective co-owners
of this manna. We cooperate,
co-habitate, celebrate our fortune.
The birds approve my constant hunger
as I husband each plant.
In return we are all blessed
with more and more offspring. And, too,
it’s me who tears out the tangle-foot quack grass
that thwarts each feathered farmer’s passage
on their journey to partake of forbidden fruit.
Here are a couple photos of the plotting wall in progress. All the visuals for composites of each major character are up where I can stare at them for inspiration. They’ll help keep my descriptions consistent, too. In addition, I’ve got a 7-foot strip of butcher paper tacked to the wall with a line that shows the way the plot climbs along its trajectory to the denouement then down into crisis in the last third of the book and finally up again into a peak moment before things settle down at the end. What I’ll do with the evolving outline is print it out, scene-by-scene, on small pieces of colored paper. I’ll stick these up along the plot line visual where each event occurs within the novel. Then I can move the bits of paper around as I fiddle with the plot until it’s working the way I want it to.
I finally have a room of my own again. It’s in the basement away from distractions and completely self-contained. I never need to come upstairs unless I WANT TO!
Percussive wing song.
Throb of muscle and sinew.
Sweet tooth en plein air.
A cinnabar dash rises like fury,
strokes the weathered
verdigris of lamb’s ear
to paint cayenne and emerald
across a simple sage-blue sky.
Dragon’s blood shimmers
and morphs along prism cells
catching light. Hue and shade
as changeable as flight.
Tiny tyranny. Feeder in The Garden
whose tongue is a black snake
urging Eve with sugared words
to taste the apple’s blossom,
the pomegranate’s seed,
to open the world
with the nectar of knowing
all that the gods have hidden.