Transformational Jealousy

Kelli Russell Agodon

There are some literary magazines you don’t see for a while, and when you do you are grateful they are still going. This is the case with Crab Creek Review, a magazine I aspired to be published in for years and finally was in the Spring/Summer issue of 2006.

In 2004-2005, when I lived in Manhattan and taught high school in the Bronx and took poetry classes at City College New York, Kelli Russell Agodon was a secret inspiration for me, though in a somewhat twisted way. I met her in a class in 2003 at Richard Hugo House in Seattle taught by Marvin Bell. She was one of the few in the class who already had a book that was about to be released, so I wanted to find out more about her. She had a website and a blog and was about my age.

I would turn to her blog, not to bask in her insights, though that happened against my awful judgment. I turned to her blog in those days to give myself a kick in the pants. I’d read her thoughts on writing and process and be reminded that those who live a life devoted to writing are writers. I was jealous of Agodon’s success (and maybe of her beautiful last name). My jealousy helped motivate me to get some of my own writing done.

Recently I visited Agodon’s blog and found out she is now on the editorial staff for Crab Creek Review and that she has a new book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room. But I also realized that I’m not jealous of her anymore. My motivation to write these days comes from a different source, a joy in accessing a spring from which she and many others I admire are also drinking.

I also found that her blog is now useful to me in a new way: It is downright inspiring how generous, modest, and open she is. She has sponsored several book give-aways and is regularly sharing the successes and projects of other writers, especially poets. Every Tuesday is Confession Tuesday at Agodon’s blog. Today’s is about what she wants and doesn’t want from Facebook and FB friends, which is funny because I sent her the kind of FB request this morning that she doesn’t like: from a stranger and not accompanied by a personal message.

I’m celebrating Agodon today, celebrating the inspiration she has offered me throughout the past seven years in a multitude of ways. I’m celebrating the fact that Crab Creek Review is still a strong literary voice of the Pacific Northwest and that Agodon and Crab Creek are united in literary endeavors.

Which journals are on your mind these days? Any old favorites we should be aware of? Which writers have kept you going?


  • Maureen says:

    I can’t recall how I “found” Kelli and her blog and the blogs of a number of other poets but I always enjoy her posts. Her “Letters” is wonderful.

    • Shira Richman says:

      Thanks for posting so I could discover your blog! I like that you post poems and I love the one from January 4th.

  • I love your term “transformational jealousy.” Writers get energy from other writers, and I confess I read other people’s blogs and Facebook posts about their writing accomplishments and think “That’s what I should be doing!” My challenge for 2011 is to spend more time turning to my own writing rather than reading blogs, though.

    • Shira Richman says:

      That’s where I hope I am, too–focusing more on my own work and less on random online reading. I am trying to wake up and reflect on my intentions for the day, with hopes that I can better keep the importance of writing in perspective. Good luck in the new year and thanks for posting so I could check out your blog!

  • Kelli Agodon says:


    This was fun to read! And I love the term “Transformational Jealousy!” I linked your post up to my blog.

    I also appreciated the Hugo House blast from the past, Marvin Bell class!

    And congrats to you for your successes and thanks for celebrating Crab Creek Review too. It’s quite a job keeping a non-profit indie lit journal alive, so we really appreciate the extra attention!

    Many thanks and so glad you like my blog! All the best to you in 2011!

    • Shira Richman says:

      Oh, Kelli, thanks for visiting Bark and for being so characteristically–though unreasonably–generous.

      I’ll continue to visit your blog for writerly wisdom and sustenance.

  • Reyna says:

    I have a passion for my own boyfriend sooo much plus he is so fabulous for myself. I have a passion for just about everything dealing with him. The only problem though, is he is friends with way too many women and I can’t stand knowing that he has been speaking with a bunch of young ladies besides me. I hate being jealous. I’m trying to just ignore the jealousy but I can’t. Please help me out. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *