Showing posts from 2013

January 2014: Small Stone Writing Challenge

Dear All:

I will be participating again in the January Small Stones challenge through Writing Our Way Home. I'll be posting my small stones throughout the month of January.
Check it out and join me! I'd love to hear what you write.

2013 Thanksgiving Poem

Greedy real estate developers are gross... but they remind me to appreciate every moment in life

It's an odd feeling when your neighbors move and you are left behind, if only temporarily.  It's even more uncomfortable when the building you lived in housed some of the nicest, most intelligent, eccentric and humble people you'd ever want to meet, let alone share a building with.  The fact that we are all being forced out by the new owners of our building doesn't make for a good feeling either

This week, our historic carriage house is being emptied out and we are all scattering across the city into our new apartments.  While I only lived here for 1 1/2 years, these neighbors of mine left me with some fantastic memories.  Off and on for 15 years, I've lived in apartment buildings and I've never felt a real connection to any of my neighbors.  That all changed when I moved to Meade Place in 2012.  The night the lease was signed our building manager, a man well into his late 80s, poured us a glass of wine and wished us well.  The building manager's apartment …

My Writing Voice

Last night I asked my writing class to describe their writing voice.  While they were working on the exercise I took a whack at it as well.


My writing voice tastes like sugared mint and rum.

My writing voice looks like my grandma as she sat in her recliner, reading the Detroit Free Press and listening to the Tigers on the radio.

My writing voice smells like coffee with sugar.  I always drink it black.

My writing voice sounds like a meditation or pure sarcasm.

My writing voice feels like the afghans my mom crocheted, laying on the couch.

The Adjunct Life

Black Coffee Press Update

Sadly, Black Coffee Press has closed its doors. You can still purchase my book, "Border Theory," and other great BCP titles online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's.

A Poem for Friday, September 13

First and Last Date
The moment he said “I'll be the one smoking at the bar reading the "Tao of Winnie the Pooh,” I should have known.
I should have faked an illness and cancelled the date.
I should have.
Instead, I took the stool close to the door leaned in close and listened.
Listened to the story of his heartbreak his time spent in a Buddhist monastery.
All the while, I kept thinking:
He spent time in a Buddhist monastery. He can't be that bad.
But, each time I leaned in closer noticed the scent of cigarettes, stale coffee and beer looked at each pore on his face and pieced together the fact that he looked nothing like his profile picture I never once believed that the date would be going anywhere.
No matter how good his stories were.
After two hours of listening never quite being heard I sat still and kept drinking.
When he offered to walk me home even though he lived a block away from the bar I declined.
When he offered to sit in my car and drive home with me I declined.
When he invited me to brunch …

Small Stone: August 28

as I walked to buy 
a bottle of wine
I crossed my favorite 
pedestrian bridge
and took in
the summer air
of Pittsburgh.


It's like "Wife Swap"... only way better!
Listen to four local writers, have some snacks and donate to a good cause. 
See you on August 20th.

I choose to love my life...because it really is wonderful! (Thirties: Part 2)

While drying my hair this morning, I felt hopeful for the day to come.  The sun was bright, birds were singing outside the window and I had just returned from a family vacation in Northern Michigan.  The mere seconds I basked in optimism for the day were thwarted by my own negative thinking.  I began to wonder: "Why would I love my life? I have a low-paying job that forces me to not only work full-time during the day but also at night, I'm a few pounds overweight, the apartment is messy, I don't have enough money and I haven't figured a damn thing out yet! What is there to love?"
As soon as I caught myself in the downward spiral of negative thinking I re-routed myself back onto the optimism highway.  I was feeling inspired, damn it!

Most of what I harbored on above is true, but what is wrong is my viewpoint, my own outlook on life.  Yes, I have a low-paying job and have to work multiple gigs to make ends meet but I am teaching, a vocation that feels right to me …
It's like "Wife Swap"...
only way better!

Listen to four local writers, have some snacks and donate to a good cause. 

See you on August 20th.

Thirties: Part 1

I've never been one to dread birthdays.  Turning a year older just meant, I turned a year older.  A few years ago, when I hit 31, I became the cliche.  I noticed my body began to change and it was no longer "easy" to lose those extra pounds.  Suddenly, having nachos for dinner, three nights in a row, wasn't a good idea.

Recently, a student of mine wrote about the moment she realized her luck in life had run out.  I was immediately drawn to the piece because of the place I'm at in my own life.  In my mid-thirties, my perspectives, goals and realities have changed in a way I didn't expect.  My twenties, although there  were moments of distress, sadness or frustration, were seemingly smooth. I earned two master's degrees, moved to a different state, found work easily and moved along the days.  I spent time with good friends, ate good food, drank good beer and rarely worried about my future health or my future in general. Things would work out, the…

Writing as Therapy

Pittsburgh Reading...August 20!

It's like "Wife Swap"...
only way better!

Listen to four local writers, have some snacks and donate to a good cause. 

See you on August 20th.

Creative Writing Workshop: All Levels Welcome

Registration Extended to June 24!  A Few Spaces Left!

Join local author, Stefanie Wielkopolan, for 4 workshop sessions at East End Book Exchange starting Sunday, June 30. Share your work, get valuable feedback, listen to the work of others, read published pieces and discuss what writing means to you. This all levels workshop will focus mainly on memoir, creative non-fiction, poetry and short story.
Be a part of this collaborative, fun, and inspiring workshop.

Cost: $45, prior registration required by June 22

E-mail: for questions/registration/payment

4 Sundays, starting June 30 from 11:00-12:30 at East End Book Exchange in

AWKWARD Reading, June 8 at East End Book Exchange

Are you ready for this?
Come to East End Book Exchange on June 8 for the time of your life.

Black Coffee Press SALE

Check it out! All awesome titles at Black Coffee Press are on sale!

Creative Non-Fiction and Short Story Classes at CCAC

I am teaching "Writing the Short Story" and "Writing Creative Non-Fiction" starting June 3 at CCAC in the North Side.

Join me!

Even More Six Word Memoirs

Benadryl makes me dream of babies.

Sorry to make you feel awkward.

Feel like I just got here.

Teacher in need of more education.

Sarcastic poet lives with diabetic cat.

Six Word Memoirs

One night a week I teach a non-fiction writing class at the local community college.  The assignment I gave my students was to write as many "six word memoirs" as they could. The only rule was that it could only have six words.  Here are a few of my own.

I moved back to Pittsburgh...again.

Three cats and too many books.

Still trying to figure it out.

Can't believe I dated him...twice.

Wading through all the loose ends.

Summer in Europe, thirteen years ago.

Remembering to Breathe

At dinner tonight, my partner and I began listing all of the grown up things we have yet to figure out in our lives.  Doctoral programs, writing projects, where to live, acupuncture schools, life insurance, new car tires, taxes and absent 401k accounts littered our page of things we had no answer to yet. We looked at each other, as if to say, we will never get there.

As we listed all of the things to be scared of in the future, our faces began to frown, our chests tightened and we felt discouraged, even ashamed that at 33 and 35, we didn't have it all figured out yet.

I talked about how I felt disconnected from my creative self.  I am a poet and haven't written a new piece in a few months.  I was fortunate to have my book, "Border Theory," published by Black Coffee Press in 2011 but I haven't found the thread or creative push to create another complete project.  I feel stuck and overwhelmed by all of the unfinished business I have yet to complete or conquer.  It…

Tonight is the Night!

Hope to see youat East End Book Exchange!


Check out this upcoming reading! 
It's going to be a great gathering of local writers with some wine and snacks to boot.

Small Stones: Day 30

Small Stones: February 6

Even the cats
have grown
bored of me.

Small Stones: Day 29

Small Stones: February 4

Having bronchitis
is like the sleazy man
at the bar
who just won't
leave you alone.

Small Stones: Day 28

Small Stones: January 31

of peace and gratitude
are plentiful
when I remember
to pay attention.

Small Stones: Day 27

Small Stones: January 30

Salamander feet
make me

Small Stones: Day 26

Small Stones: January 29

Subway tiles
     no longer white
line the ceiling
and walls
of the tunnel.

Small Stones: Day 25

Small Stones: January 28

Each morning
you enter the classroom
with the bravado
and humble heart
of a toddler.

Your quirks
are displayed
in bright colors
and bold patterns.
There are no apologies.

This morning
you swung in
on a Barenaked Ladies album
singing of break-ups
and dysfunction.
You made me smile.

You are my friend.
You are my teaching partner.
You are my mentor.

Small Stones: Day 24

Small Stones: January 27

Back and forth
     like two drunks
     playing ping pong
we try to determine
where our Sunday brunch
will take place.

"I'm hungry, I want a buffet."
I argue, thin lipped and stern.

Your defense
     "Buffets are things to be scared of.  They attract old people."
though creative
and true
angers me
in my low blood sugar rage.

Sundays are meant
for meditative practice
focused on peace and health
but all I can set my third eye on
is a buffet of french toast.

Small Stones: Day 23

Small Stones: January 25

Together we breathe
     as we try
to figure
this life out.

Small Stones: Day 22

Small Stones: January 24

When told it was snowing
the students gathered
in front of the window
that overlooks Penn Avenue.

Little hands
held on to the windowsill
and watched
as each flake
floated past.

They watched.
They smiled.
They were together.

There is still so much
I need to learn.

Small Stones: Day 21

Small Stones: January 21

     the size of feathers
fell around me
as I ran to the car.

The melted snow
gathered in my hair
reminded me
to hold on
to the life
in front of me.

Small Stones: Day 20

Small Stones: January 20

Urban sprawl
     annoyances and medians
continue to spread
in America.

Small Stones: Day 19

Small Stones: January 19

We sat in your apartment
to celebrate your birthday
over plates of chicken, rice and fruit.

There was wine.
There was jazz music.
There was laughter.

There was love for friends
     and Todd
the brown lhaso apso
from across the hall.

That damn Todd
made our night.

Small Stones: Day 18

Small Stones: January 18

Every morning
the dense branches of the tree
scrape against the worn window
of my apartment.

As the sound continues
it reminds me
that I am alive
and unusually annoyed.

Small Stones: Day 17

Small Stones: January 17

Philosophically speaking
toddlers are like little yogis
dressed in sweatpants.

Small Stones: Day 16

Small Stones: January 16

At home sick
     I look out
to bare branches
of the front yard tree.
is a cardinal
     red feathers
moving up and down
left and right.

In my lap
the fat cat
with me.

There is nothing else to do.

Small Stones: Day 15

Small Stones: January 15

On Being a Preschool Teacher During the Day and a College Writing Instructor at Night

Regardless of time
     no one
laughs at my jokes.

Small Stones: Day 14

Small Stones: January 14


for whatever reason
we have no real

Small Stones: Day 13

Small Stones: January 13

The "Writing Research Papers" textbook
     sitting on the chair
will not be read tonight.

Mob Wives is on.

Small Stones: Day 12

Small Stones: January 12

He listens to 1930s jazz on NPR
as he boils water
for string beans and broccoli.

On a Michigan shaped cutting board
he slices fresh garlic.

100 year old doors
from Heinz's Point Breeze mansion
separate us
but through cracks in the doorway
I know exactly
what I see.

Small Stones: Day 11

Small Stones: January 11

At a stoplight on Fifth Avenue
     I look up
through my passenger window
and see an apartment
     on the fourth floor
     lit up
with a man
wearing a pirate hat.

It is at this moment
that I realize
I am no longer

Small Stones: Day 10

Small Stones: January 10

When a thirty-three year old
     pre-school teacher
with moderate OCD
and a fear of germs
helps toddlers
learn to use the toilet
     her days
are comprised
of consistently

Small Stones: Day 9

Small Stones: January 9

Wednesday Morning

I open the classroom
     turn on the lights
place the paint on the table
and look out the wide window.

Colors ascend
orange, pink and blue
as waitresses
at the diner next door
serve eggs and bacon
to hungry customers.

There is joy
in this moment
and where my feet
     are planted.

Small Stones: Day 8

Small Stones: January 8

After nap
she sat next to her friend
and began eating snack.

As she ate her animal crackers
she looked at me
     mouth full of cookies
and said, "I'm a happy kid."

Later, she asked me, "Are you happy?"
I knelt beside her
and replied
"Yes. Yes, I am."

Small Stones: Day 7

Small Stones: January 7

The black and white cat
     carries in his mouth
a frayed blue octopus
around the dining room.

His fat stomach
sways from side to side
as he chirps and speaks
of all the good
to come.

Small Stones: Day 6

Small Stones: January 6

The blue, red, green and yellow orbs
that trim my window
offer more than light.

Memories of my parents' bar at Christmas
     are held
in each bulb.

The jukebox that played Bing Crosby
     the tinsel that trimmed the counter
are images that swirl in the light.

* As a child my parents owned a bowling alley in Michigan.  Some of my most fond memories are of the Christmas parties they held in the bar.  Employees and regulars of the bowling alley would show up, eat, drink, sing and laugh in the overly decorated bar.  These memories are with me tonight.*

Small Stone: Day 5

Small Stone: January 5

Waiting in line
     for a coffee and mocha
my friend and I decide
this winter
can only be warmed
by a morning of sun
to come.

Small Stone: Day 4

Small Stone: January 4

The winter branches
against the orange and white
January sky
bleed into
the rooftop snow.

Small Stone: Day 3

Small Stone: January 3

The vegetable garden
     overgrown with ice
     rests against
the backyard fence.

Small Stone: Day 2

Small Stone: January 2

    pulled to expose
    abstract designs
remind me
to take the lead
of the silver cat
and close my eyes.

Small Stone: Day 1

Small Stone for January 1

The water boils
    as sounds of the neighbor
    shoveling the snow
    from last night's fall
fills the kitchen.

I am present.