Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scenes from a Slow-Moving Train

Big ups to my boss for suggesting I take the train. Haven’t done this in years, and I’m enjoying that the seats are mostly empty. It’s quiet. I even dozed off a bit.

I’m traveling to New York City to begin the mayhem that is AWP. Just a few quick thoughts while in transit.


I’ve gotten the impression from a few blogs that if you’re a recognizable poet, attending an AWP conference is a necessary evil. It's good to see and be seen. If you’re established, everyone wants something from you: an autograph, the meaning of life, how to get published, etc. I think most well-published poets enjoy visiting with their peers and hearing from “fans” most of the time. But it’s almost like a task instead of a fun few days. Too bad for them.

Me? I enjoy being a fan of poets and poetry in venues like this. Similar to the Dodge Festival (but on a lesser scale), the poets are really accessible. You can be in a session and ask a poet whom you’ve read for years what it was like to write a particular poem. No one knows me, so I can lurk and gawk and gush all I want—and post about it later.

Unfortunately, I won’t have a chance to respond to your posts this week.But keep posting—I read them all. Photos tomorrow.


Tonight, I’m off to the Cave Canem fundraiser. Here are the details:

10 PM
2nd Annual Cave Canem Fellows Reading
The Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, New York, New York
$10 cover charge.

Fellows Michelle Berry, DeLana Dameron, Jacqueline Johnson, LaTasha Nevada Diggs, Krista Franklin, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Richard Hamilton; Myronn Hardy, Randall Horton, Marcus Jackson, Amanda Johnston, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, January O'Neil, Ernesto Mercer, Dante Micheaux, Indigo Moor, Nicole Sealey, Shia Shabazz, Evie Shockley, and Bianca Spriggs take a poetry marathon to New York City's literary hot spot!


A piece of good news: Crab Orchard Review accepted one of my poems! Now that's how you kick off the AWP, baby!

More on Thursday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Confession Tuesday

So many confessions … so little time! Be sure to let me or Carolee know about your confessions.

Goodnight Mom has hers up on her blog.

Here we go:

  1. AWP. AWP. AWP. I'm looking forward to this on so many levels, but none more important than I need a break from my kids. I love them dearly, and when I think about missing out on days and days of kisses I well up with tears. HOWEVER, parenting is hard, and sometimes it's best for all to step back and recharge those batteries.

  2. My husband and I now have this ritual where one of us makes tea for the other before we climb into bed together. I'll definitely miss that!

  3. I owe him big time for letting me have this time away.

  4. Back to AWP, I believe this is my fourth conference. I've always learned a lot from attending sessions, talking with fellow poets, and milling around the book fair for new publications. But having a book deal takes things to a whole 'nother level (my husband HATES that phrase). I feel like I have a seat at the poetry table, so to speak.

  5. That's not to say that I wouldn't have a good time if I didn't have a book in the works. It's just a different experience for me.

  6. I'll be staying with Joseph Legaspi, which is half the fun right there.

  7. The one must-do thing while in NYC is to go dancing. Don't want to go clubbing. But if I can find a retro bar that plays Rob Base's "It Takes Two" and Young MC's "Bust a Move," STAND BACK! I'm breaking out the Wop!

  8. While I'm sad not to see Jim, I'm thrilled to finally meet Melissa on Thursday!

  9. And while all of this is great, I'm a bit mournful because I will be there without my dear friend Phebus Etienne. She passed away last year, and the last time I saw her was at the Atlanta AWP conference in March. 2008 should have been her year, not mine.

  10. Go PATS!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

AWP Countdown

I'm quite dizzy with anticipation about the AWP Conference. One of my goals is to glean as much insight on what's going on within the poetry industry. We never talk about poetry as a business or an industry, but AWP is a good place to have those conversations.

In trying to be an advocate for my book, I've been thinking long and hard about this huge disconnect I see between the number of poets writing today vs. book sales. I can't tell if we're part of a dying art or experiencing a revival. I mean, the number of creative writing programs has exploded during the past 30 years. There are more ways to get our work out there than ever before: more small presses, contests, journals, Web zines, community projects, spoken word venues, open mics, and blogs. Even state and city poet laureateships are on the rise, for better or worse. So why aren't we selling more books? Why are we still this low-profit (practically no-profit) industry? And please tell me where are all the women poets?

I've always believed that the pobiz sustains itself because the poetry readers are its writers, so it will never go away but never grow. Doesn't matter how many Pulitzers a poet wins or how many genius grants are given, we just haven't figured out a way to get our books into mainstream channels. I'm waiting for that high tide to raise all boats. If there are success stories, we don't hear about them--we're terrible about sharing knowledge within the community.


I really started to go off on this post but deleted most of it because, really, I don't have any answers. And anytime I start talking about the inequities in poetry, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.


This AWP Conference is the largest, and the first time it's sold out with 7,500 people attending—with an ungodly amount of off-site events open to the public. Hope you'll come back later in the week to this blog for photos and posts from the conference.

And, if you send a question I'll try to get you an answer.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stretched Thin

My like my husband's damaged ACL, which will require surgery in a few weeks (*sigh*), I am stretched a little thin right now. Between tweaking the manuscript and the upcoming AWP conference, I haven't been able to write a poem, nor have I wanted to.

Ideally I like to start a poem early in the week and post it on Thursday. But this month's poems I have written and posted within a few hours. So I may attempt to write one this weekend, or wait and write a poem on my train ride down to NYC (no Fung Wah for me this year!). However, I'm kinda looking forward to taking a mini-break. Needless to say, my blog posts will be sporadic over the next few days.

To my I Promise Blogroll partners in crime, I'll visit everyone today.

And starting next Thursday, I'll bring you as many of the sights and sounds of the AWP Conference as my little laptop will allow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Murder Unscripted

For all of you Law & Order Fans out there, enjoy!

Hope the writers' strike ends soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Confession Tuesday

If you're participating, let me and Carolee know.

  1. As the country honored MLK Jr., I went to Starbucks. It's not unusual for me to come once a week as my time away from the kids. But yesterday the place was overrun by college students and moms with their kids. Not a very good place to reflect and remember.
  2. I did wonder how many people thought of Monday as a day off vs. remembering Dr. King. Not a judgement—just a thought.
  3. Last night I watched most of the democratic debate in SC. Talk about contentious! I was so riveted by the discussion I was afraid to move from the TV for fear I'd miss something. It's clear that all three candidates are passionate about serving this country. And while I'm a Hillary supporter, I'd support one of the other candidates if they receive the party's nomination.
  4. Pats. Super Bowl. 18-0. Need I say more?
  5. The kids start a new day care today. While we're sad to leave behind the old day care, this one should keep them happy and safe. So now we can start getting our routines back on track.
  6. Beginning to read Zami by Audre Lorde. Fascinating.
  7. AWP. January 30. Need I say more?
  8. Oh my goodness … the Oscar nominations came out and I forgot to watch them. Drat. Must look over the list. More later.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Remembering MLK Jr.

I took this photo last year at The King Center in Atlanta. My friend, Phebus, and I visited the center during the AWP conference.

Many in the media are reminding the viewers to think of this holiday as "a day on" as opposed to a day off. Even as I reflect, I don't have a good sense what my parents, who lived in the Deep South back then, when through. I mean, I've never been refused entry anywhere. I've never sat at a separate lunch counter, used separate water fountains, or used bathrooms marked "For Colored Only." But I am a beneficiary of the marches, the protests, the speeches. I am--we all are--the beneficiaries of the King legacy.

I am one-generation removed from the Civil Rights Movement. My kids will be second-generation removed. It is my hope that one day I will be able to find the words to explain how we got here. I want to show them how words have actions, and how ideas can create change. And how one man had a vision.

The democratic presidents candidates have been invoking King's memory quite a bit leading up to tonight's debate. I can only hope that King would be pleased that we are in the position to have a viable black candidate and a formatable woman candidate on the ticket. So on this day, I'm am flooded with thoughts of the future, while looking back at our country's difficult past.

Because we all are the beneficiaries of the King legacy, let this day, and every day hereafter, be "a day on."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Any Thoughts?

From Jilly at Poetry Hut:

So what’s the deal? Why do the mainstream media hardly ever do articles or reviews about women poets? It is often hard to find ANY article to link to.

Are there more men poets than women poets? (When I got my MFA, the poetry students were mostly women.) Are men poets simply better poets than women poets? More interesting? Better at self-promotion maybe? Do articles in which the subject has a penis make for increased sales or something? Are men poets more likely to get published by a large press? What? Is? The? Deal? Here?

My response ... I have no clue. And like Jilly, most of the poets in my MFA program (at NYU) were women. What is it about the pobiz that is resistant to change? Maybe we should start more journals and online projects, write more reviews, and broker better publishing deals, because if things are going to change, it has to happen from the inside out.

Conversely, in 2007, four major poetry awards were given to African American women.

Thanks to Jilly for posting about the topic.

Sunday Scribblings: Fellow Travelers

It’s 4:30 a.m. and I can’t sleep. You understand this feeling, fellow travelers, like sometimes the only place we can go is to the blogosphere. There’s nothing nagging me … well … not really. I come here because I can’t sleep and I need a good story.

Here, I can enjoy your stories, the honest, slice-of-life stories written by everyday people—imaginative, creative, passionate, bizarre, mad-as-hell, I'm-too-fat, I'm-too-thin, look-at-my-baby people. You don't need a book contract to construct an interesting blog post. For a space so immense, it feels very local. Yet this is a shared space where we tend to say the things we wouldn’t say to a loved one, friend, or coworker.

What is it about the blogosphere that keeps us coming back? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we read it for the “unsaid.” Every time I post something, the subtext is saying, “I don’t know you, but here I am and I’m sharing this piece of my life with you. Please read.” And the writing. Let’s not forget the good writing that makes me, as a reader, care about the small stuff: a list of songs from your iPod; mourning the end of a season; mourning the loss of a friend; how you’d sometimes like to run away from home—and the places you’d end up. We can forgive the typos and the poorly constructed sentences for a good story. I don’t come here for a lesson in grammar.

Tonight … eh … today, I come here because I can’t sleep—and all that’s on is Death Wish II and an ungodly amount of infomercials. I come here with this need to reveal something about myself, maybe because I spend every waking part of my day keeping something for myself. Now, I come because of Sunday Scribblings: this wonderful community of bloggers that has something to say about being a fellow traveler. I can’t wait to read your stories.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Where I'll Be at AWP

With the AWP Conference a little over a week away, I wanted to note some of the session/activities I'm looking forward to attending. I've highlighted the events I'm really excited about or am a part of. Of course, I'll be blogging and taking photos to post.


Wednesday, January 30

7 p.m.
CUNY Reception

10 p.m.
2nd Annual Cave Canem Fellows Reading, The Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery. This is a charity event so come out to support CC. And come and hear me read--I can use all the support I can get!

Thursday, January 31

10:30-11:45 a.m.
Celebration Song, Circle Song: Kundiman Looks Back at Its First Five Years

Noon-1:15 p.m.

  1. Blog Form and Function in Writing Communities
  2. Serving Poets and Poetry: Surveying the Field. The Serving Poets panel has the directors of four major poetry communities discussing the state of contemporary poetry—I’m leaning toward that one. But, good to see panels on blogging at AWP.
  3. Poetry reading by Yusef Komunyakaa and Sharon Olds. May have to skip this one, believe it or not, because it will be packed!

1:30-2:45 p.m. (Hmmm … this is tough, and when am I going to eat lunch?)

  1. Homosexual Tradition and Black Aesthetics
  2. 40th Anniversary Reading by Fine Arts Work Center Fellows
  3. High Profile Indie Publishers

3 p.m.-4:15 p.m.
Reading and Interview with Galway Kinnell, hosted by Alice Quinn. (May skip this to eat lunch.)

6-8 p.m.
Welcome Reception Hosted by National Literary Organizations of New York City.

Friday, February 1

9-10:15 a.m.

  1. Off the Page: Multidimensional Writing
  2. 2. How to Set Up a Reading Tour for Your Book. This looks like a no-brainer. I’ll probably be here.

10:30-11:45 a.m.

  1. Graywolf Press Reading (Tracy K. Smith, Mary Jo Bang, Ron Carlson, Mattea Harvey, Benjamin Percy, Terese Svoboda)
  2. Courtland Review 10th Anniversary Reading (Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Thomas Lux, Anne Marie Macari, David Rigsbee, Maurice Manning

Noon-1:15 p.m.

  1. Don’t Call It a Comeback: Re-Birthing the Black Male Poet
  2. Writing and Motherhood


3-4:15 p.m.
Book Contracts—I really could use help now.

4:30- 6 p.m.
Blue Flower Ars Presents: Poetry of Grief and Faith

8:30 p.m.
Academy of American Poets Presents Louise Gluck and Mark Strand

Saturday, February 2

9-10:15 a.m.

  1. The Edges of Dispora: Callaloo on Avant-Garde Black Poetics
  2. It’s Not Hopeless: Independent Presses, Publishers, and the Media
  3. Literary Boston: The 20th and 21st Centuries


  1. Split this Rock: Poems of Provocation and Witness. I’m really excited about this panel. Since I can’t go to the festival in DC in March, this will give me a taste of things to come.
  2. Why Ballet Is Good for Football Players: How Screenwriting Informs Fiction and Poetry
    Not Your Usual Workshop


1:30-2:45 p.m.

  1. Blockheads: A Roundtable Discussion of the Pleasure and Pains of the Prose Poem
  2. Four Way Books 15 Years

3-4:15 p.m.
Broadening the Circle: How Cave Canem and Kundiman Became Family. Does my heart good to be here because I have intimate knowledge of both groups.

Joseph Legaspi is a panelist and Kundiman co-founder, and will be at the CavanKerry Press (also my new publisher) booth to promote his new book, Imago, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., I believe. Go by and tell him I sent you. Hee! Hee! Hee!


  1. Split the Lark: The Border of Music and Poetry
  2. Twenty Years of New York City Slam: A Guided Tour of Gotham’s Competitive Poetry Scenes
  3. Readings by Billy Collins and Frank McCourt
  4. Poetry with History

7 p.m.
A Reception Hosted by The Poetry Foundation

8 p.m.
A Reading by Robert Pinsky and Natasha Trethewey.


Lots of receptions, parties, and off-site readings going on throughout the conference. So if you want to meet up (and you’re not crazy or a stalker) e-mail me at and I’ll give you my cell number.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Poem

The Yard Dreams

I’ve been thinking about love,
old love. Not “sunshine on a cloudy day”

love, or love like a Nor’easter,
with its thunder crack that splits

the heart wide open, snaps
its flag back and forth

in a mean wind,
but love at rest

because the days are too short
and the sky pulls

its grey flannel blanket over us,
while the occasional snowflakes

fall like displaced stars
resting on the window

of the skin. Meanwhile,
the yard dreams of spring thaw:

the ground filled with unbroken buds,
and enough love to save us all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confession Tuesday

So Carolee and I are making these Confession Tuesdays a "thing." If you're interested in confessing whatever it is you feel like confessing, let us know. Go to Carolee's blog and leave us a note. The purpose is to spark the creative process, or, in my case, unclutter the mind. If you decide to revisit your confessions for a poem or an essay, let us know.

Blah Blah Blah … here we go:

  1. The snow day on Monday gave me a chance to catch up on some outstanding pobiz stuff I've been working on. Things I didn't have to think about when writing the book: cover art, back-cover blurbs, book readings. It's all very fun and very scary. Be careful what you wish for.
  2. Anyone keeping up with politics? On the Dems side, I'm a little sick of the race discussion. Hillary's comments were taken out of context. I'm even more tired of the media keeping the discussion alive. The candidates want to debate the issues, so let them have at it. Tonight's debate on MSNBC should be issues-based with Tim Russert around. As for the Republicans, I don't think we'll have a clear frontrunner until after "Super Duper Tuesday" on February 5.
  3. I love politics. I think it can be one of the noblest professions to undertake. Wish it was my calling, but alas, I am a poet. That's my calling.
  4. My other calling is to motherhood. My kids are goofy. That's not really a confession—just a fact.
  5. Anyone who says that it doesn't take a village to raise a child obviously does not have kids. We've been looking for a home-based day care provider for Alex and Ella for weeks. This process takes time. I get it—we just can't leave them with anyone. I hope we find a solution soon because the process is draining and disruptive to our work schedules.
  6. I just had an "everything" bagel, and even after brushing I have a terrible onion/garlic breath. Sorry coworkers.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Way I See It

“There’s a special place in hell for women who refuse to help each other.”

~Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

A little Starbucks wisdom. This is a famous quote by the former Madame Secretary, but I didn't know about it until I bought a tall hot chocolate. Unfortunately I didn't get the series number off of the cup.

Not Your Father's Self-Published Book

For those of you who think self-published books won't sell, here's a bit of optimism from the pessimistic publishing industry. This local author took charge of the life of her book, and now Brunonia Barry's novel has attracted a $2 million payday.

I think it's a good lesson for all authors--be proactive with your manuscripts, from gestation to marketing to building industry relationships to the finished product. No one will nurture your project more than you. And don't take no for an answer.

Here's the story in The Boston Globe.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: The Date

When I think of what is happening in the world today, specifically what happened on this date, January 12, 2008, some of the news stories are simply inexplicable.

Was there any good news? If so, please tell me. These some of the headlines on

  • Arrest warrant issued in death of pregnant Marine
  • Body found of kid thrown off bridge
  • Autopsy: Figure skating star's death a mystery
  • Hiker's death casts light toward other cases
  • Misbehaving kids dumped at fire station
  • Father sought in girls' deaths

Again, where was all the good news today? Even my local news was plagued with stories of abuse, accidental deaths, child abuse, foreclosures, and immediate layoffs for teachers.

Please, share some good news from your corner of the world.

New Poem

Body Politic

Praise our scars,
the small gashes
and the long,
serpentine tracks
that make up
our unbeauty.
Scar, from the
Greek word eschara,
meaning place of fire.
This is the body’s politic,
reminding us that
the past existed.
Inside, what is tender
is retreaded by our living,
by wounds in the sidewalks
of dry skin. Never once
do we question
the sinkholes our bodies
drive into and repair
day after day.
No one but our
doctors and lovers
can read the map
to our hurting.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Creating a PAP

It's not what you think—no medical test involved!

This is my new term for 2008, a Poetry Action Plan, or PAP for short. I'm at a point where I need to start thinking strategically about getting my poems into mainstream poetry channels. So for now, consider this an enhanced version of my to-do list. Much of what I do here will morph into a marketing plan for my book.

January 2008 PAP

  1. Write a poem, and visit my I Promise blogsters. (Ugh—It's been a long week. Still, no excuse for bagging out on Thursday.)
  2. Continue to write a poem a week.
  3. Send out poems to two publishers/journals. During the past four months, I've sent out poems to 10 journals, and received five rejections. So now it's time to get on the bandwagon again and start sending out again. Ugh.
  4. Enter the "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Contest. Normally, I don't enter contests. But I have a good feeling about this one. Of course, I usually have the same good feeling when I buy a lottery ticket. *sigh*

  5. Write an article for two Web sites. This one has been hanging around for a while.

  6. Set up readings in the Boston/Cambridge area. This is new territory for me. I mean, I've never been this proactive about contacting venues and networking on my behalf.

  7. Get ready for AWP. I'm really looking forward to meeting many poets and writers from the blogosphere. And, it will be nice to reconnect with Cave Canem and Kundiman fellows. At least this year I feel I have a new story to tell.
  8. Pick dates for upcoming New & Emerging Writers Series (NEWS) readings.

  9. I still have trouble reconciling the fact that poetry is a business, and if I want get my poetry out there, I have to work for it. But I enjoy putting my marketing skills toward something as worthwhile as poetry.

    So, do you have goals for your creative projects? If so, please share.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

2nd Annual Cave Canem Fellows Reading

If you're attending AWP, or if you're in the NYC area, please stop by!

Wed. Jan. 30, 2008 - 10 p.m.

2nd Annual Cave Canem Fellows Reading
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
New York, New York

$10 cover charge.

Fellows Michelle Berry, DeLana Dameron, Jacqueline Johnson, LaTasha Nevada Diggs, Krista Franklin, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Richard Hamilton; Myronn Hardy, Randall Horton, Marcus Jackson, Amanda Johnston, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, January O'Neil, Ernesto Mercer, Dante Micheaux, Indigo Moor, Nicole Sealey, Shia Shabazz, Evie Shockley, and Bianca Spriggs take a poetry marathon to New York City’s literary hot spot!

Reading at Cafe Azteca

Last night’s reading and open mic was fantastic! I had a great time reading my work, listening to some terrific local poets, and enjoying really good Mexican food.

The reading was held at Café Azteca, with its walls decorated with brightly colored murals. Also, each mural had a bit of verse from a well-known poet or writer.

I think for an audience to come out and support poetry in this day and age, you really have to have advocates. It also helped that it was nearly 60 degrees last night. The Frost Foundation and the Eagle Tribune/Salem News continually remind the community that poetry matters, and that it is worth supporting. So I owe big debt of thanks to Mark Schorr, in particular, for asking me to read.

(Mark Schorr)

(Ray Landry)

This was my first time as a featured speaker, an honor I took very seriously. I mean, since I’m not a particularly strong public speaker, I was very conscious of not making mistakes or not talking to much between poems, and very aware of the audience's reactions.

My husband, Tim, came with me for support (a rare night out as a couple!), yet his observations will influence how I approach reading poetry in the future. For instance, I had one poem that broke the mood because of where it was placed. The poem was about abuse, yet because I put it in the middle of a group of family poems, it was disruptive to the flow. All in all, I couldn't have been happier with my performance (no other critic is tougher of herself than me).

The crowd was generous with their kind words and applause, and I was certainly humbled by the experience.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Confession Tuesday

I am nervous about tonight's reading--always happens before an event. But I have to say I'm much less nervous than in the past because I did a few readings in '07. I have no clue which poems I'll read tonight but, somehow, it will be OK. Maybe I'm becoming more Zen in my old age.


The article in The Salem News was a pleasant surprise. And now I'm focused on using this great press to connect with other venues in the Boston area and connecting with other area writers. This is an exciting time and I feel more energized about poetry than ever!


At the end of the month, I'll attend the AWP conference in NYC. I'm really looking forward to this trip, not only because it's a great opportunity to be in the heart of the poetry community, but I'll spend some much needed me-time with friends talking about poetry, and eating and drinking in a city I love.


Cannot believe the New Hampshire primary is here. I'm a Hillary supporter, but, quite frankly, I could be happy with any of the democrats.


Saw the movie Juno over the weekend. Excellent film--I highly recommend it. Funny, but I could relate more to the yuppie couple of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner than the semi-cool kids in Juno's high school.


It's supposed to get to 60 degrees today. Finally, a break from the single-digit temps of late.


Is it too early to eat chocolate pudding? I mean, it must be noon somewhere in the world.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Poet Mom in the Salem News

(Photo by Cate Lecuyer, Salem News)

Check me out in the Salem News! Special thanks to Cate Lecuyer for the interview and including Alex and Ella in the photo.

If you can, come by Café Azteca, 180 Common Street in Lawrence, MA tomorrow for a poetry reading and open mic, sponsored by the Robert Frost Foundation.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Poetry Reading and Open Mic

Come out for a night of great poetry and food!

Poetry Reading featuring January O’Neil,
whose poem, “Night Work,” was a winner of the 2007 Eagle Tribune/Robert Frost Foundation Spring Poetry Contest.

Tuesday, January 8
7 p.m.

Café Azteca
180 Common Street
Lawrence, MA

Sponsored the Robert Frost Foundation

Now in its sixth year, this monthly live poetry event runs from January to June on the second Tuesday of each month. Please come out and support the local poetry community.

Hope to see you there!

AWP Conference SOLD OUT!

Hope you made your reservations early!

From the AWP's Web site:

SOLD OUT! The 2008 Conference & Bookfair in NYC is sold out. No more passes will be sold. No onsite registration will be available. 7,000 people will be attending the NYC conference. Only pre-registered individuals possessing a registration badge will be admitted into the conference events & bookfair.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The “7 Things” List

Poet Aaron McCollough gave an interview to The Michigan Daily entitled, “7 things you should know about being a poet.” Deborah Ager then threw out the challenge for other poets to post their own “7 things” lists. Here's my take on things:

1. A poem is not hard to understand. That doesn’t mean a poem can’t or shouldn’t be difficult. If it was easy, then everyone would be reading poetry. And I don’t think that’s what we want—a mediocre, watered-down art form. You have to work through a poem, but the payoff is usually worth it.

2. Poetry is the worst-selling genre of book on the market today, which is unfortunate because poetry is valuable and important to so many people.

3. Despite evidence to the contrary, poetry is thriving. You can see it with all sorts of hybrid MFA programs, self-publishing opportunities, independent publishers, and online communities and zines

4. Poems start long before the words hit the page. You think we’re listing to conversations, but we’re really looking for a stray line or phrase to kick-start our work.

5. After poetry readings, poets appreciate a kind word. I mean, they’re putting themselves out to you for approval, so it’s worth it to walk up after and say, “I really enjoyed your work.”

6. Poets don’t sit around in dark coffee houses in black turtlenecks and berets smoking clove cigarettes snapping their fingers instead of applauding. That’s one myth I would like to break right now.

7. There's no money in poetry. But again, if you work hard, the payoff, which is not always financial, is worth it.

Literary Mama

Literary Mama has picked my poem as one of their favorites for 2008! Quite an honor coming from such a popular site.

From Literary Mama's newsletter:

This week, our editors and columnists picked some of our favorite Literary Mama writing of 2007. We loved reading through our archives to assemble this list; take a look and revisit a favorite, or discover a piece that you missed!

Here's a link to my poem, "The Ripe Time." I also encourage you to check out the entire list of fabulous women writers.

Special thanks to Delia for the heads up!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Poem

Whew! The first poem of the new year is out of the way.

A note about this very new piece. It's a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Also, the first person to entry your house on January should be male. What can I say--it's a tradition.


Simmers and spits in a pot on the stove.
January 1 and black-eyed peas seasoned
with hambone, onions, salt, and pepper
calls all souls to the table. My mother
slaves in the kitchen. On this day,
when being black does not reflect
the absence of something,
some traditions taste too good to forget.
Contained in Tupperware,
my father takes some
through his best friend’s doorway—
the first male to enter. Then they’ll return
to our house and grace our door. This is sure to bring
good fortune, cold beer, a lawd have mercy
followed by a laughter that starts
in the soul and works it way out,
a laughter that echos in the heart
from something intangible and starved,
until the only thing left to do is fix yourself a bowl.
Plate me up some of those peas
with grits and collards greens
, says dad.
He leads us in prayer: Thank you for this fortunate meal.
Spoken by the god of new beginnings.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Confession Tuesday

And Happy New Year!

This photo is the cover of my new 2008 Engagement Calendar by Anne Taintor. Picked it up at my local B&N. It's full of subversive, snide little comments set against the backdrop of 1950s Leave-It-To-Beaver-type images. I've been waiting to use it for months.


The phrase in the picture describes how I feel today. Had a great time with the family at home last night with a New Years party that ended at 8:30 p.m. Today I get out the calendar only to find that my youngest used it as a coloring book. Damn. I resent that the kids think everything in the house is theirs. I know they're kids, and they're learning, but I really like having a few items in the house that are just for me.


Did manage to get to Starbucks this afternoon to make a poetry plan for the week. I also read through the latest issues of P&W and APR, as well as start a new poem.


While I love my job, I'm not looking forward to going to work tomorrow.


While I love my kids, I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow.


Those close to me tell me I'm fickle.


Hope you enjoyed the holiday. Looking forward to visiting many blogs during the week.


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