Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Time to fess up! Share a confession with us, and don't forget to say hello to those doin' time in The Confessional.


I'm in the process of doing a life audit. Since I'm going through a huge transition, it seems like a good time to assess my resilience to things. I'm arranging my life so that I'm better equipped to handle setbacks.

What does that mean? I'm looking at four areas:

Personal spending. Like many others out there, I need to cut back. So maybe a few less lunches bought during the work week so I can save for something I really want to do, like take in a Red Sox game!

Physical health. I've lost 12 lbs over the last three months (I look great!), but it's mostly due to stress rather than exercise. I need to make sure I'm eating healthy and getting lots of sleep and exercise.

Emotional health. Thank goodness for my network of friends and family. They keep me on track, and lend a hand when I need it.

Creativity. I need to feed my soul. That's where poetry and this blog come into play.

Bottom line, I want to increase my happiness quota. You can never have enough happiness, right?

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Too many celebrity deaths coming back to back. We need a break, don't you think?

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Yesterday, I knocked out two big goals of mine. I sent off a grant application for the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. In addition, I'm putting the finishing touches on an article for my publisher's newsletter. Whew!

In completing the grant application, I submitted 24 poems from my second manuscript. It was a great opportunity to look at my work again with fresh eyes, and eliminate poems that don't work in this current iteration.

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Received two rejections in one day, from Harvard Review and Anti-. Oh well. At least Anti- sent a nice e-mail instead of a generic slip of paper.

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Tonight, I'll get some ME time to work on said manuscript, as well as write my first poem of June on the last day of the month.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Reading List

My list is short because I don't have a lot of time to read between Red Sox games! *smile*

Nonfiction:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver

And then the poetry, which I go through relatively quickly:
1. This Sharpening, Ellen Dore Watson
2. This Clumsy Living, Bob Hicok
3. Queen for a Day, Denise Duhamel
4. Two and Two, Denise Duhamel
5. Otherhood, Reginald Shepherd
6. Fata Morgana, Reginald Shepherd

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

This phenomenal woman came all the way from Texas to see me. Isn't she beautiful?



Her timing was perfect. She came up just when I needed her most. Love you, Special K!


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Throughout the weekend, I've been giving the kids a crash course in the music of Michael Jackson. We've watched a few videos, and his songs have been our background music. Alex likes Thriller and Beat It, while Ella is more of a Rock with You kinda gal, like her mother.

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Strangely enough, both kids like Say, Say, Say, the MJ-Paul McCartney collaboration. *sigh*


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Later today, I'm heading to Starbucks for a little ME time. I have a few things to catch up on, including a grant request and, with any luck, writing the first poem of June.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The High Line

Between the Meatpacking District and Chelsea neighborhoods, between 10th and 11th Avenues, runs the High Line. It is an elevated steel rail line that’s been converted into a park.

Here are a few photos.










Top MJ Songs Currently in Rotation on My iPod

In order of Most Played:


 

  1. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
  2. Off the Wall
  3. The Way You Make Me Feel
  4. Who's Loving You (Jackson 5)
  5. Remember the Time
  6. Dancing Machine (Jackson 5)
  7. Rock with You
  8. Billie Jean
  9. You Rock My World
  10. Man in the Mirror
  11. Bad
  12. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
  13. The Way You Make Me Feel

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (1983) [Motown 25 Live]

This is probably the single greatest live performance by a performer EVER!

Michael Jackson - Beat It

Can you believe it? Michael Jackson ... gone.

Whatever he may or may not have done, he was a talented man. He was always the King of Pop.

R.I.P. Michael.

R.I.P. Farrah

I always wanted to be an angel ... one of Charlie's Angels.





R.I.P. Farrah.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oh, What a Night!

If I had to sum up my day in New York, the word magical comes to mind!

I had a wonderful, albeit brief, time in NYC. Spent the day with the lovely and talented Joseph Legaspi.



We had a FABU lunch at The Little Owl. And the building above, I'm told, was used as the exterior apartment shot from the show Friends.




I loved it so much I wanted to marry it.



Went to the High Line, an outdoor elevated park (more on that in a separate post).



And then the reading. Well, first the dress!










These pictures don't do Bryant Park justice. Just knowing that this space exists in NYC makes me happy. I read at the Reading Room, which is an outdoor space where you can plop yourself down and read a book—an outdoor library of sorts.






Teresa Carson was the driving force behind the event.



Joan Cusack Handler, poet and CavanKerry founder.




This park is an oasis in midtown Manhattan. We had a nice crowd at the event, but I can't tell you how many people would stop for a minute, or two, or five, to listen to a little poetry. Every once in a while, a roaring engine or siren passed by, reminding me that this is an urban oasis. It was poetry in the most public of places. Yet, it all felt very real. Interactive—maybe that's the word I'm searching for.








The venue was truly inspiring, so much so, I felt my reading had to rise to the occasion. The night completely surpassed my expectations.

It was one of those nights I feel every poet should have, a few glorious moments to be tucked away for those days when we're filled of doubts, or we've opened one rejection letter too many. The whole event reminded me that there are people who really do appreciate poetry, and give it the space that reflects that appreciation. The Bryant Park Reading Room is one of those spaces.

The stars aligned. The rain stayed away. It was a magical night for poetry.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Confession Tuesday

This is the early edition. While you're thinking about the who, what, when, and why, I will be on my way to NYC to read in Bryant Park. Be sure to stop and say hello to the folks hanging out in The Confessional.

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I've been looking forward to this brief but exciting trip to NYC for months. I'm thrilled to be reading with Teresa Carson and Joan Cusack Handler of CavanKerry Press. This is only the second time I've read my poetry in New York since graduating NYU's Creative Writing Program. Coming back always feels like coming home. And with Underlife coming out in November, this is a sort of validation for more than 10 years of hard work.

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It's also the unofficial kickoff to my Summer o' Fun. I've been spending a lot of time with the kids lately so this is something that's all mine.

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Besides my nervousness, I've been struggling with this tinge of sadness I've been carrying around. It's hard to be happy with so much going on with my personal life. But I'm determined to keep this little piece of joy for myself. I've been working so hard for an opportunity like this … just thought I would have someone to share this moment with me.

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Tonight's big episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8 hits way to close to home.

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Yesterday I bought a kickin' dress! First dress I've bought in about three years. Will take pictures of the dress, as well as the event, to post on Wednesday.

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Rain, rain, go away.

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Happy, happy Tuesday everyone! Send good vibes my way.

Reading in Bryant Park

I’m spending today trying not to FREAK OUT about tomorrow’s reading in Bryant Park (see below). Now, I’m sure the reading will go well. I’ve read through my selections, practiced in front of a mirror, and I’m visualizing the reading going well. Still, I have butterflies.

So, what do you do before a big reading or speech? How do you prepare? Any suggestions, techniques, or rituals.

My mom tells me to take a Tylenol and eat a piece of chocolate before a big event. Not sure if it works, but we all have our remedies.

Hope we have nice weather.


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Word for Word Poetry
CavanKerry Press Poerty
Bryant Park Reading Room, NYC

Tuesday, June 23
7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Presenting exceptional works of "poetry and prose" from the writers of CavanKerry Press:

Teresa Carson
Joan Cusack Handler
January O'Neil

If you're around, please stop by. Or just send good vibes my way on Tuesday!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Quick Hits

TGIF. It's been a wacky one for me. Ella has been under the weather, waking up sick in the middle of the night. I think she's through the worst of it. Ugh, nothing worse than a sick child. Poor baby.

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My car is at the shop. Apparently, it needs some part that is—get this—unavailable in the U.S. I mean really, it's not like I'm driving a Bentley! I drive a Subaru, for goodness sake. But if this part can't be found at a junkyard, I may need to buy a car.

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Trying not to freak out about the car yet.

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Looking forward to a fun weekend with friends. It was supposed to be the weekend we'd get the chance to check out the pool, but the forecast calls for—you guessed it—rain, rain, MF-ing rain! And the reading on Tuesday in Bryant Part. Yep, rain.

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Taking the afternoon to continue looking over my manuscript. But I may have to take a nap first.

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Have a great weekend! Hope it's warm and dry wherever you are.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Second Time Around

Last night I went to my writers' group, and after a few of us went out for coffee. I shared with them that I had enough poems for a second manuscript, yet I haven't had the time or inclination to shape it into any working order. Admittedly, I have a lot going on right now, but I realized that I really need to get over my doubts and move forward.

So when I came home, I took out my pages and started to put them in order. Here are a few things I've noticed.

  • There are three natural sections: external-facing, third-person poetry; family poems; and darker poems. I don't have the book in front of me, but the divisions made me think of Sharon Olds' The Gold Cell. Not sure yet if this is a good thing.
  • I have 53 pieces, but I'll probably remove at least five to six of them because they don't seem to fit, or are too similar to others in the collection.
  • At some point, I wanted to write a special section on a particular theme, such as a grouping of sonnets or something. But after reading, I think the poems tie in well together as is.
  • No form poems—I feel like I should have at least one in there.
  • Most are in need of heavy revision since I tend to push it off until the last possible moment.
  • My poems tend to look the same on the page, short and dense. So I want to expand some and let them breathe a little.
  • No title yet. Uncoupling comes to mind … maybe not.

I'd like to have Manuscript 1.0 ready but June 28—my own self-imposed goal, which is tied into a grant applications.

Feels good to take that first step.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, y'all! It's time to confess. Time to tell us something you wouldn't necessarily say in polite company—or maybe you would! Share a little of your life with us, and be sure to check out the sinners in The Confessional.


The weather in New England has been horrible. For the last two weeks, it's been 60 degrees and rainy. Where is the "warm" in global warming I hear so much about?

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This past week has been about balance. I fall back on that term a lot, but I'm trying to find the right mix of time for work, kids, and writing. It's been difficult. By the end of the day, which is 8:30 for me, all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. But writing is the cornerstone of who I am, so I need to make time for it, even if it's just a 15 minutes a day.

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One of my new favorite blogs is Zen Habits. This blog champions simplicity, frugality, and balance. In their current article, "7 Ways to Raise a Happy Child," one of the points is Teach Your Child It's OK to Be Bored. I think it's a great example for kids, but I wonder how many of us actually learned that lesson. If anything, I'm overstimulated by blogging, texting, social networking, writing, and Red Sox games (I watch at least 150 games in season—can you as FANatic?). I really don't know how to just be.

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Part of me enjoys having total control of my life again.

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I am in the process of applying for a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant, which I have to pull together by June 30. My second manuscript is a huge part of the grant application. Have to make time to work on it; yet, I worry that it won't be as good as my first. I know, it's probably too early to be concerned about a "sophomore jinx," but it's in the back of my head.

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Managed to send submissions to four journals this month. Now, I'll hold off on submitting until early August so I can revise and send newer work.

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I'm wicked nervous about the reading in Bryant Park, one week from today. I know it will be OK, but the butterflies in my stomach have other ideas. Hope we have nice weather. May be time to buy a new dress!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series

I seem to have this thing about reading in parks. First, Bryant Park in NYC, and now DC!

The Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series takes place Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Rock Creek Park, during June and July. Two poets are usually featured, reading their original poetry. The outdoor programs held next to poet Joaquin Miller's Cabin are sponsored by The Word Works, and the National Park Service. In 2009, co-directors are Kathi Morrison-Taylor, Rosemary Winslow, and Deborah Ager.

The reading series grew out of these early activities. Karren Alenier founded the Miller Cabin Poetry Series and ran programs there until 1983. Those years are documented in Whose Woods These Are, an anthology of poetry, anecdotes, and photos.


June 9 ---Deborah Bernhardt & Marcela Sulak
June 116 ---Tyler Caroline Mills with Jacklyn Potter Young Poets: Katherine Casey & Baobao Zhang
June 23 ---Chris Goodrich & Nancy Krygowski
June 30 ---Melanie Henderson & Luke Johnson
July 7 --- April Linder & Bonnie Naradzay
July 14 --- George Drew & W. Luther Jett
July 21 --- Cynthia Atkins & Dan Vera
July 28 --- January Gill O'Neil, Joseph O. Legaspi & Joseph Ross

Joseph Legaspi and I are package deal! I'm so excited about this series. Not only is it a great venue with a storied history, I get to return to my favorite place in the world, Washington, D.C.!

Just can't believe we're going to D.C. in July. Yikes! Can you say heat wave?

Hope you can make it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who Buys Poetry Books?

On the WomPo Listserv, there’s a discussion going around about who is buying poetry books. With some exceptions, including poet-instructors ordering collections for their courses, it seems to be the general consensus is that it’s not poets buying the books.

According to Publishers Weekly, bookstore sales fell 2.6 percent in April, to $969 million. I wonder is poetry sales even count for a full percentage point. And I doubt these figures take into account indie bookstores.

I suppose poetry has longer shelf lives than most other genres, especially for dead poets. That’s certainly true at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, and if you visit to your local Barnes & Noble, peruse the selections by the usual suspects: Whitman, Angelou, Plath, Ginsburg, Eliot, etc. But modern poetry? Who buys these books?

Personally, I try to support as many poets as possible, including a few of you in the blogosphere. My guess is that I have about 150+ poetry books, which includes collections, anthologies, and journals—you may have more. Seems silly to count them. I try to pass on as many books as gifts. And when I do, I consider the recipient and try to find something that will match their sensibilities. We all give these books in times of joy and loss, for celebration and comfort. It’s like a contract between the poet and reader, as if to say, “Here dear reader, I hope my work touches some part of you. Maybe I understand a little of what you’re going through. Be well.”

It’s our family and friends who buy our first collections when they are published. They make up our poetry network. I doubt a modern poetry book will ever appear on the New York Times Best Sellers List, or be the book of the month on Oprah’s Book Club. But we need to keep reaching out, buying books to help save an industry that seems to be either slowing dying or undergoing a transformation. Because with print-on-demand, a book’s shelf life becomes irrelevant if there is no shelf.

Getting a Grip on Your Reading Pile

A friend posted this article on FB. I think this career advice works especially well for editors and writers. Here's an excerpt from the blog Penelope's Trunk:




The cocktail party conversations I have about what I do for a living reveals so much about the world. For example, if I say I have an Internet startup, people generally think: She’s unemployed. If I say I write a syndicated newspaper column that runs in 200 papers, people are impressed. If I tell people I’m a blogger, they say, “I don’t have time to read blogs.”

Here’s what I am going to start saying to those people: Only losers say they don’t have time to read blogs. Because everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. So it’s not that you somehow are more busy than everyone else – no one is actually too busy for anything – the issue is that reading blogs is not high enough on your priority list to read them.

So the real response, when I say, “I’m a blogger,” should be “I stay away from blogs so I can shield myself from alternative opinions to mainstream media. And you wouldn’t want to be that person, right? ”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Brand New Day



This is my favorite recent kid pic, taken with my iPhone at the Dollar Store. Figured that if I took the picture, I wouldn't get sucked into buying something they'll never play with again.

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Thanks for the love and support. I really do appreciate it, more than you know.

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Have you seen this article from the New Yorker asking the question, "Should creative writing be taught?" Here's an excerpt:


"Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem. The fruit of the theory is the writing workshop, a combination of ritual scarring and twelve-on-one group therapy where aspiring writers offer their views of the efforts of other aspiring writers."
As a product of a creative writing program, I honed my skills to become a better writer. Being in a workshop setting gave me the time and space to grow and develop as a poet and editor, skills that I use everyday in my professional life. And the connections I made in the program are priceless. But these programs are not for everyone.

What do you think about this article, and the teaching of creative writing in general?

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It's 56 degrees and overcast in Boston. How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

So ...

This is the blog post I never thought I’d have to write. My husband and I are getting a divorce.


First, let me say that I don’t know how I ever made it through NaPoWriMo! That was a sheer miracle, but it does account for my lack of focus now with my writing and poetry projects.


There are no words for the level of pain I feel. Never expected to be a single mother. Never expected to be left at the top of the roller coaster. But now the focus is on the kids. I just want to be the best mom I can be, and give them all the love and support I can muster.


Please know that despite this huge stone in my heart, I am happy. I have too many good things to look forward to than to ever look back. No regrets.


To end on a positive note, here are a few things I’m grateful for:
1. Alex and Ella. My silver linings.
2. My parents, family, and friends. Thanks for your unconditional love.
3. My friends at Babson College
4. You, dear reader. Thanks for stopping by.
5. Warm weather – the Summer o’ Fun is just beginning.
6. Poetry. Poetry. Poetry.
7. Underlife
8. Knowing who I am at the end of the day


We’ll be just fine.

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Time to 'fess up! Share your confessions here, and don't forget to check in on the sinners doin' time in The Confessional.


 

True confession: I never thought confessions would be a long-running prompt, for lack of a better word. But I enjoy the chance to be a little more real than I do on most days, and I appreciate all of you who come by to chat. Thank you!

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I'm working a flexible summer schedule at my college, which means my hours are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with Fridays off. So that means I'm up at 5, out of the house by 6:15, home by 6 p.m.—if traffic flows in my favor. Last night, I was so tired I conked out at 9:30 with my clothes still on. Ugh. By the end of the week, I'll appreciate the extra day. But for now, it's draining.

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Because of my summer schedule, I haven't found my writing rhythm. I like writing in the evenings, but I go, go, go with the kids until 8. We did manage to make tacos and roast marshmallows in our backyard, so I can't complain too much.

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Whenever I complain about how I can't find the time to write, I think of poet Lucille Clifton putting together her first book with six young children to raise. Then this little voice inside of me says, "Suck it up. Get to it." And, I do. (Maybe I'm channeling Miss Lucille!)

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Last Saturday at the Salem Arts Festival's open mike, I gave a lousy performance. I only read two poems, yet flubbed lines in both poems. Admittedly, I changed my selection when I arrived based on the crowd—which I think all poets should change their selections to meet the mood of the crowd.

I tend to talk about the good readings I give, but occasionally, I give one I wish I could take back. And while my friend and fellow poets said they hardly noticed, I did. My focus wasn't there. All of this I'll take in and use at my next reading in two weeks, which happens to be at Bryant Park in NYC. *Gulp* I have 20 minutes to read, so you better believe I'll practice before the event.

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The Bryant Park reading is the start of a few magical things happening for me ahead of my book's release in the fall. Reminds me that there is a silver lining in everything.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Day in the Life

What does a Poet Mom do when she has a Saturday all to herself?





She goes to Cambridge to the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, the oldest poetry bookstore in the United States (in operation since 1927).





Here I am with General Manager Daniel Wuenschel.





Scenes from a slow-moving car. No, I did not take the photo. This is Boston from the Cambridge side of the Charles River.


And later, I attended the Salem Arts Festival Open Mike, hosted by the lovely and talented J.D. Scrimgeour.





Colleen Michaels






Yours truly.




Jennifer Jean, author of this wonderful article in Art*Throb.


Lastly, let me leave you with this last photo.



This is statue of Elizabeth Montgomery from the television show Bewitched. Yes, that's right, Bewitched ... in the middle of downtown Salem.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Weekend Warrior



Picture of Ella taken yesterday morning. My baby starts pre-K in the fall. *sigh*


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Was feeling anxious today about life so I decided to listen to Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted Talk on creativity. I needed that. Her words have a centering affect on me. The talk gave me the encouragement to knock a few things off my poetry to-do list.


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Sent poems to The Mom Egg, Anti-, The Florida Review, and The Sun Magazine. Woo hoo!


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Tomorrow, I'll spend a good chunk of time looking at manuscript #2. Need to go through this batch and weed out the poems I won't revise in this round. And, the poems are begging for some sort of order.

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Lots of poetry on tap this weekend, including attending an open mike at the Salem Arts Festival. That should be fun. Sometimes I just like to watch! (wink! wink!) Pictures to come.


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Tonight for dinner—sushi!



Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Gathering of Scribes — The Tale of the Salem Writers Group

Congrats to poet Jennifer Jean for her article on Art*Throb. Here's a excerpt:


"J.D. [Scrimgeour] does a wonderful job encouraging participants to share constructive feedback,” says January O’Neil, blogger and senior writer/editor at Babson College. “What I enjoy most about the workshops is the encouragement I receive from others in the same boat. It’s difficult to write with work and family obligations, but I made a commitment to feed this part of my creative soul. And the Salem Writers Group is part of the nurturing process.”

Yes, I'm quoted in the article.

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Also, Join poet J.D. Scrimgeour this Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Salem’s Front Street Coffee for an open mic night as part of the Salem Arts Festival.

I'll be there!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Is it Tuesday already? Where does the time go? Well, this is your time to confess. Tell us a little something about yourself, and we'll be sure to do the same. Don't forget to say hello to the sinners in The Confessional.


 

I had a totally different post planned for this week, but decided to forgo it. I'm in a period of transition and I'm just not ready to discuss it. But I will eventually. I've said this before, but life is giving me too many lemons right now. I can only drink so much lemonade.

(A big hug to my friend who said he would send a team to find the lemonade stand and destroy it! I may take him up on his offer.)

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What I can say is that I'm overhauling my life. I want to be a better woman/mother/poet. I want to live fully in the moment and heal from past wounds. I guess what I'm saying is that I want to be free. I'll get there. Small steps. Deep breaths.

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Sunday night, while putting my son to bed after a very busy day and weekend, he said, "It feels like I've been away from school for a long time." I told him, "That's because we've had so much fun—it tires you out!" Seems when everything else goes wrong, there are still a few things I get right.

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Be sure to check out Nic Sebastian's 10 Questions series. This time around, she's interviewing editors on their process for putting together a publication.

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No lemons were hurt in the writing of this post.

Monday, June 01, 2009

June To-Do’s

Goodbye May, hello June!


After a terrific weekend participating in the Bookmobile Fundraisers, a cookout, and time with my girlfriends, my kids, and myself (*smile*), I'm looking ahead to all the good things happening in June. For example, this is pretty cool.


Word for Word Poetry
CavanKerry Press Poerty
Bryant Park Reading Room, NYC

Tuesday, June 23
7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Presenting exceptional works of "poetry and prose" from the writers of CavanKerry Press:

Teresa Carson
Joan Cusack Handler
January O'Neil

If you're around, please stop by. Or just send good vibes my way on June 23!

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In May I was so overwhelmed by life, and too many to-do's on my to-do list, to be successful. So here's a slimmed down version of my list.

  1. Organize my second manuscript
  2. Write four poems. My hope is that after organizing the mss, I can write poems to fill the holes in the collection.
  3. Develop a Web site
  4. Send poems out to four publications


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Here's a question for you. Is it better to create a Web site, and have my current Poet Mom site as a link on the nav bar? Or should I move to WordPress to handle both Web site and blogging functions?

Your responses are truly appreciated.

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