Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor

My poem, "What Love Cannot Do," was chosen for The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. It was posted on February 2, Groundhog Day!

What an honor. Here's the link one more time:
http://writersalmanac.org/episodes/20160202/

Monday, February 01, 2016

Poetry Action Plan 2016


Honestly, I wasn't going to do a plan this year. I mean, 2015 was a pretty good year. Still, I haven't felt very goal-oriented lately (so unlike me!). But then this one posted hers, so I said, well, I need to do this.

So thanks, Carolee, for pulling me (part-way) out of my funk.

This exercise forced me to take a good hard look at what I accomplished in 2015, and what I hope to do for the New Year.

In 2015, I ...:

  1. Supported Misery Islands, which continues to  receive good reviews and reach new audiences. My book also received the Massachusetts Book Award and a Paterson Award in Literary Excellence.
  2. Wrote 76 poems (I think it was 76) 
  3. Joined the board of AWP
  4. Became actively involved in poetry advocacy with a consortium of poetry organizations focused on broadening the audience for poetry. (More to come)
What didn't I do in 2015? I did not work on my Juno poems. Admittedly, I didn't have the heart for it. As I involve myself deeper into academic life, I am less motivated to work on projects--too many committee meetings. For an artist, this busy work is exactly the opposite of what I should be doing. I need to put my head down and get to work.

To paraphrase author David Brooks, I don't have my loves in order.

So in 2016, I will:

  1. Find a home for my next book
  2. Publish in journals and magazines regularly. I'm hoping to up my game and publish in more top-tier places. You know which ones. 
  3. Continue to support Misery Islands. It's only been out for 14 months but it feels like it's been out forever. Maybe because I've been supporting it forever. I have to think about how to expand its the audience while making the process fun for me. 
  4. Take up yoga. Yoga? Yes, yoga! I've wanted to do this for a while and I think it will open up new modes of thinking. 

  FYI, here are my goals for 2014 and 2015.

So February is here. Not begins the process of getting my loves in order.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the State House

 

This past Tuesday, the kids, their grandmother and I went to the State House for the Massachusetts Book Awards ceremony and luncheon. A program funded by the U.S. Library of Congress, MassBooks are the largest state book awards in the country. Each year, the program receives hundreds of books in the categories of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, children's, and young adult literature. The "must-read" winners and nominees are promoted in libraries throughout the state. 


Misery Islands was the 2015 winner in the poetry category. 



Here's a pic of the award nominees and winners who could attend.


As writers, we work alone most of the time, with no expectation of success. So when it happens, it's nice to celebrate with people who do what you do: write! This event is really about libraries and the value of reading. And it was wonderful to hear the individual stories of how much libraries have influenced our lives. 




As with most other things, my Massachusetts library experience begins with these two goofballs. Can't imagine our lives without the Beverly Public Library.

Thanks to Sharon Shaloo for hosting a fabulous event! And, congrats to all the winners and nominees.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Get into the Groove


 
Hello and Happy New Year!

I am sitting in a Starbucks enjoying my vacation. That push to the end I don't count as vacation. It's holiday time and kid time, but not me time. I have the next few weeks to myself while the kids are in school, which means I can get things done pressure-free. Woo hoo!

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I'm sitting in Starbucks watching a snow squall. Didn't think we'd see flurries today. Surprise!

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The publications next to my venti hot chocolate are my most recent publications. I'm psyched to be included with so many friends and favorite writers. Feeling pretty lucky today. I received Poem-A-Day and Prairie Schooner on back-to-back days before the holidays, but APR came in the mail on Saturday. APR features new poems from Sharon Olds, so I'm thrilled to be in this issue (here's a link). What a way to start off the year!

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I probably mentioned this, but Misery Islands won the 2015 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry! The ceremony is at the State House on January 12, and with any luck there should be a group of State Reps there. I'm thrilled because I get to take the kids, so this will be a special day for our little family.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

Dear big, beautiful blog:

I am sorry for neglecting you in 2015. Poet Mom has been such an important part of my life for nearly 10 years, so much so it's hard to believe I have not posted in six weeks. But the truth is I'm not sure if I want you in my life anymore. 

During the past six months I haven't been motivated to post here. I'm much more active on Facebook and Twitter, which you might have guessed. But I think my reluctance to write here reflects a lack of motivation toward anything and everything. Yes, life is good. The kids and teaching take up a large portion of time, but I've always manage to write. With Misery Islands making its way in the world, I've done my best to support it while planning the next Mass Poetry Festival and get more involved with the larger poetry community. I just don't have the passion for blogging that I used to, and I'm not sure it will return. 

For motivation to mean anything, I need attention and effort--two things I've lacked since the summer. So it's time for me to shake things up. You, dear blog, need a long, overdue overhaul--a look and feel that reflects who I am today. Or maybe we've just outgrown each other. I'm just not sure at this point. 

For the next few months, I will try to post weekly to see if the passion returns. I need to set new goals, even if I'm unmotivated to do so. Do I need a fresh start? A kick in the pants? Time for me to find out.   
 
Time for me to pick a direction and go.

XO

Jan

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Confession Tuesday


Starbucks should put lines of poetry on their cups, don't you think?

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Thinking of Paris, Beirut, and Syria.

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Ahhh, November. 

I've been a traveling fool as of late. I've been to New York, Washington, DC, and Santa Fe, NM (and hung out in airports in Denver, Albuquerque, and Phoenix--but who's counting). 

It's been a whirlwind few weeks of readings and meetings, yet I'm reassured by is that poetry seems to be thriving. And I say that given the excitement and enthusiasm of people who are working behind the scenes to bring poetry to a wider audience. It doesn't seem like such an uphill battle as it has in the past. 

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While I have no have time to attend my workshop, I've been writing a poem a day. Of course, I'm off pace. But after not writing for months, I can feel myself finding some kind of rhythm to my writing life. Feels good to get a few drafts in paper. 

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My schedule has changed temporarily so it's been hard as of late to get any momentum. Haven't worked out or had a good old fashioned writing session with my group in more than a month. I seem to be treading water lately. That's fine for now. I'm adjusting and taking deep breaths. Here's hoping I can pace myself for the next few months. My schedule should level out by March.

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Did I mention Misery Islands won the Mass Book Award for poetry? Yep, that happened. 

Monday, November 02, 2015

What is Poetry? Scenes from the 2015 Massachusetts Poetry Festival



We are roughly six months away from the 2016 Mass Poetry Festival. Dates are April 29-May 1. If you're feeling nostalgic, watch this beautiful festival video created by Joey Phoenix for Creative Salem.

Makes me happy every time I see it.

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Our call for submissions has now closed, and I believe we received nearly 150 proposals.

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Our partial list of headline poets includes Marie Howe, Sandra Beasley, Mark Doty, Ada Limón, Greg Pardlo, David Rivard, and Charles Simic. Visit our site to volunteer, get information about the book fair, and find out general information


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