Southern California Miles:Trina Gaynon

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Hungry to Tell Stories

Posted by [email protected] on April 11, 2013 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

     Once in a while, I'm reminded that people long to have a chance to tell the stories of their lives. Just last week, a classmate in Qi Gong asked me if I knew the origin of the print on the blouse I was wearing-- a batik from the Pacific Islands. He told me he had spent ten years in Fiji as a natural foods farmer. 

     Still, I wonder, why would anyone want to hear about me? So I don't talk much about myself and am actually surprised when that narrative hunger rises in me. Yesterday I went to the doctor with an injured elbow. She asked me to wait to be taken to x-ray to see if it was fractured. After paging through the magazines in the rack and trying to identify the instruments in the examining room, I thought about the last time I'd had a cracked bone.

     I remember being in a hurry after work at the Doe Library, rushing across campus, hoping not to miss the bus. There was more packing to do in my Berkeley studio before I moved into my boyfriend's. The main reason for the move was to save rent money while I was in Oxford as an intern at the Bodeleian Library.

     They tell me that I stepped off the curb to board the bus. They tell me that the bicyclist who hit me, as he chose to ride down between the double-parked buses, was young and concerned. I know from the police report that he hit me at between twenty-five and thirty miles an hour. From the report I also learned that after he hit me head on, he collided with a couple of other pedestrians and fell off his bike. He checked the bike carefully for damage. I was unconscious for four days.

     My first memory afterwards was of someone repeatedly asking me where I was. As if I were in class, I answered "Here." I was hurt that my answer didn't seem to make that person happy. Later I learned that the nurse questioning me had also tried to pry open my wounded right eye. My mother says I attempted to slug him. ( sent a bouquet of flowers to apologize.)

     While I was in hospital, my boyfriend had finished my move into his place on Rose Street. He and my mother argued over how to treat my headache. I caught a  glimpse of myself with the racoon eyes of a concussion.  He believed only aspirin would help. Mom remembered that the doctor said no aspirin. He won the argument. It took two trips to the emergency room to stop the resulting nose bleed. Once the bleeding stopped, the doctor asked me if anything else hurt. I indicated my right shoulder. He x-rayed it and found the cracked clavicle. He put my arm in a sling.

     The concussion that had given me the racoon eyes also affected my vision. Everything I looked at had a shadow in living color. Hand-eye coordination was beyond me. Still I went back to work at the library and spent a weekend at Yosemite. With about six weeks of recovery behind me, I took my broken clavicle in its sling and my eye patch to England.  My assignment there was to assist in cataloging the Gogh Maps Collection. They were still filling out 3x5 cards for each item, by hand. Using my left hand made that difficult. Evenings were spent in Exeter College with four other interns from the UCLA library program-- Evalyn, Cheryl,  Emily, and Lloyd. I tasted my first blue gin in Evalyn's room and endless variations of potatoes in the dining hall. Evalyn made sure I didn't fall off the stairs during our field trips. Even though I'd been in junior and state colleges in California, it was my first experience at living on campus.  Even the kid at the British Library who shouted, "Look at the Pirate Lady." couldn't daunt  the joy I got out of making that trip.

     Back in the present, waiting for the doctor to read the x-rays, I started an article in Oprah Winfrey's magazine about the Big Sur, with a photo of Esalen's hot springs pools. I use to drive out to Esalen for workshops, before an earthquake damaged the old pool and it had to be replaced . . . .

     The doctor was surprised to learn that I found the white room so stimulating, but she didn't seem curious about the stories I remembered there. 

Marketing a Chapbook

Posted by [email protected] on April 3, 2013 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

     For years I entered contests, worked on book-sized projects that received little response, and sent poems to journals-- making the change from print to electronic media. If the opportunity ever came along, the less outgoing part of my personality dreaded the responsibilities attached to publishing a book. 

     Then Finishing Line Press accepted my chapbook An Alphabet of Romance. My husband is excited that my work will have a wider readership. I'm frightened: Frightened I won't meet the pre-sale target of fifty-five books, that marketing mis-steps may be wasting my time without finding an engaged audience, that David will be disappointed. How have other writers shouldered the weight?

     Some days--  I am manic. After designing a flyer I attempt to e-mail to every poet in the Poets and Writers directory, then am driven to type up more letters and labels for envelops to send out the flyer by snail mail. Hours disappear while I sit at the computer. I start a new website. So when Beth Sweeney asks if I'm interested in adding a page called The Next Big Thing, I jump at the chance to interview myself. Making sure the page looks the way I want requires formatting beyond my skill level. Yet I persist. Meanwhile the dog needs her nails cut, laundry is piling up, and spiders are free to built webs in any old corner out of the cat's reach.

     On a recent trip to San Francisco, I edged my way up to the bookcase at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the Poetry Room at City Lights Books. I dared myself to leave flyers and postcards about the book. Tonight I need to muster up the courage to take flyers to my Qi Gong class. Tomorrow night-- meditation class. These are lessons in being shameless. (Bring up the Garth Brooks song.) Or at least of going public as a poet. The practice will come in handy when we go to the L. A. Times Book Festival in a couple of weeks.

     Other days-- the Muse is back. I curl up in the corner of the couch with a notebook and pencil. Too bad the Spring winds are strong enough to make working outdoors unpleasant. Writing new poems holds pleasures that trying to publish older ones doesn't. So much of the submission process is clerical work.  And  the dog needs her nails cut. . . .




The Alphabet of Romance

Posted by [email protected] on March 23, 2013 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Coming Soon From Finishing Line Press: The Alphabet of Romance

     "The Alphabet of Romance is a delicious journey, strikingly fresh and evocative. I found myself falling into and between the words, drawn into the unfolding story. Trina has a distinctive voice, one to savor slowly, perhaps by a warm fire."  – Keren Taylor, Executive Director, WriteGirl

     "In these lyrical letters the poet joins the timeless progression of those who magnify love in language."  – Alice Templeton

A series of love poems in the tradition of the Song of Songs, The Alphabet of Romance celebrates the long distance courtship of an unlikely couple. She grew up traveling the world as a military dependent. He didn’t leave Chicago until he was in his forties. She tries to keep adding to the catalogue of flowering plants she recognizes. He calls each of them “flower.” They met at a government records management meeting, and knew each other for years before she gathered the courage to ask him out–- to a poetry reading.

Please order early, order often at: https/

To order by mail, checks and money orders for $16.49 made out to "Finishing Line Press" at: Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324.

Pre-order purchases will ship on June 29th.