Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Early Morning Musings

I’m attempting to write in the mornings. Some days, the kids are getting up when I get up, so it's tough keeping them at bay while I take time for myself. But not today.

Hard to resist those sleepy little faces in the morning.


I’m very excited to announce that Susan Rich and I will be reading together on November 17 at Porter Square Book in Cambridge! Thanks to Susan for being flexible with her dates. Woo hoo!


Check out two articles at The Sampsonia Way: “We Are Not Post-racial:” An Interview with Toi Derricotte" and "We Can Yelp, Wolf, and Moan: A Conversation with Lynn Emanuel and Terrance Hayes."


Spoke too soon. Kids are up. Gotta go.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Confession Tuesday

It's Tuesday! Time for your confessions. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same. Don't forget to say hello to the folks doin' time in The Confessional (see sidebar).

I had rare day off from work yesterday, so I spent a good portion of my three-day weekend retrenching and re-evaluating. Instead of blogging, I worked on home projects, visited with friends, and wrote, of course.

Unfortunately, there was a major hiccup in my schedule, which meant that the time I set aside to write suddenly disappeared. Drat!


On the bright side, I have a draft of a poem--a pantoum! For those who don't know, a pantoum is a series of four-line stanzas; the second and fourth lines of each stanza become the first and third lines of the next stanza. My BP oil spill poem works well in this form. I'm not posting it because I want to submit it somewhere. Still needs a lot of work, but it feels good to finish a draft.


For my second manuscript, I have given myself a deadline of July 10 to have it in better working order. With the inclusion of the Misery Islands poem, my long poem, the manuscript should be ready for a first review by someone other than me.


When different parts of my life are out of sync, the balance I seek to achieve quickly goes out the window. I was bemoaning this fact with my BFF Kristi yesterday over the phone. Heaven forbid my home, work, AND writing life are off kilter at the same time. It's bad enough if one of those aspects are unbalanced, but if two of them are out of whack, talk about a disaster!

Does that ever happen to you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Playing Hooky

I have the day off from work. (Yippee!) So while the kids are away today, I am catching up on a few things.

I told myself I would not blog until I finished two poems, but I'm well into one of them, my first pantoum. So that's essentially what I'm doing today: writing poems, organizing my second manuscript, doing a little PoBiz, etc.


Yesterday, I attended a planning meeting with the Massachusetts Poetry Festival's organizing committee. While this year's event in October is set, the committee is in the process of securing a location for April 2011.

After sitting in on the meeting, I have a new appreciation for how much work it takes to plan a statewide event like this. The logistics alone are a nightmare. But having attended the first two festivals, the organizers make the readings and sessions look seamless, as if the event has been taking place for years.

I'm looking forward to helping out in any way I can. Details to come.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Boston Poet Tea Party

I'm participating in a marathon poetry reading in Cambridge on July 30. Lots of readers. Plan accordingly.

A Boston Poet Tea Party

A Summer Poetry Marathon
featuring 88 local and visiting poets
reading for 8 minutes apiece

Friday 7/30, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.
Pierre Menard Gallery
10 Arrow St., Harvard Square, Cambridge

Saturday 7/31, noon-10 p.m.
Sunday 8/1, noon-5 p.m.
186 1/2 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge

Current line-up:

Friday 7/30
7:00 Joe Torra
7:08 Jack Kimball
7:16 Minal Shekhawat
7:24 January O'Neil
7:32 Geoffrey Olsen
7:40 Kari Adelaide
7:48 Elisa Gabbert
8:04 Thom Donovan
8:12 Joan Houlihan
8:20 John Cotter
8:28 Dorothea Lasky
8:36 Tanya Larkin
8:44 Jibade-Khalil Huffman
8:52 David Rivard
9:08 Greg Fuchs
9:16 Pierre Joris
9:24 Buck Downs
9:32 Eileen Miles
9:40 Martha Oatis
9:48 Lori Lubeski
9:56 Nicole Peyrafitte

Saturday 7/31
12:00 Lauren Russell
12:08 Suzanne Mercury
12:16 Bridget Madden
12:24 Seth Abramson
12:32 Steve Roberts
12:40 Cate Peebles
12:56 Nathaniel Siegel
1:04 Nathaniel Otting
1:12 Dana Ward
1:20 Doug Holder
1:28 Mark Lamoureux
1:36 Debrah Morkun
1:52 Chris Rizzo
2:00 Ellen Kennedy
2:08 Kate Colby
2:16 Betsy Wheeler
2:24 Douglas Manson
2:32 Valerie Duff-Strauttman
2:48 Kimberly Ann Southwick
2:56 Mike County
3:04 Andrew Hughes
3:12 Amanda Cook
3:20 Lauren Ireland
3:28 Joel Sloman
3:44 James Cook
3:56 Filip Marinovich
4:04 Alan Semerdijian
4:12 Urayoan Noel
4:28 Jim Dunn
4:36 Kythe Heller
4:44 Lynn Behrendt
5:00 Derek Fenner
5:08 Joe Elliot
5:16 Boni Joi
5:24 Amanda Nadelberg
5:32 Brenda Iijima
5:40 Chad Parenteau

7:00 Jacqueline Waters
7:08 Jess Mynes
7:16 Chris Martin
7:24 Elizabeth Willis
7:32 Mitch Highfill
7:40 Peter Gizzi
7:48 Michael Gottlieb
8:04 Jon Woodward
8:12 Rebecca Wolff
8:20 Brendan Lorber
8:28 Gillian McCain
8:36 Dustin Williamson
8:44 Oni Buchanan
8:52 Geof Huth
9:08 Joseph Massey
9:16 Macgregor Card
9:24 Elizabeth Marie Young
9:32 Kish Song Bear
9:40 Aaron Kiely
9:48 Carlos Soto Roman
9:56 Douglas N. Rothschild

Sunday 8/1
12:00 Michael Franco
12:08 N. F. Huth
12:16 Jessica Bozek
12:24 Fred Marchant
12:32 Angela Veronica Wong
12:40 Ruth Lepson
12:56 Annie Finch
1:04 Rebecca Bridge
1:12 David Kirschenbaum
1:20 John Coletti
1:28 Gerrit Lansing
1:36 Fanny Howe
1:52 Anna Moschovakis
2:00 Michael Gizzi
2:08 Ana Božičević
2:16 Aaron Tieger
2:24 Chuck Stebleton
2:32 Mairead Byrne
2:48 Ben Mazer
2:54 Amy King
3:02 Michael Carr
3:10 Janaka Stucky
3:18 Gillian Devereux
3:26 Laura Sims
3:42 Jason Morris
3:50 Amy D'Eath
3:58 Andi Pinto
4:06 Kate Schapira
4:14 Hannah K. Messler
4:20 Molly Saccardo
4:36 Chris Jackson
4:44 Dena Barisano
4:52 Cheryl Clark Vermeulen
5:00 John Mulrooney
5:08 Jim Behrle

Under the Tent

I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m just not a night person anymore. I’ve been falling asleep around 9 p.m. and getting up at 5 a.m. *sigh* I’m going to try free writes in the mornings before the kids get up.


Working on Big Tent Poetry’s challenge this week of writing about the BP oil spill with this prompt: “I want to write about __________, but I don’t know how.” You can fill in the prompt with whatever.

I’ve been jotting down lines for a BP poem and a summer poem, but I haven’t had much time to work on anything new this week. When I do, I fall asleep. I need to sit in a Starbucks like I need plasma.


Have you seen my video for "How to Make a Crab Cake"?

In a few weeks, I'm heading off with Jennifer Jean for an overnight writers retreat in Gloucester, MA. There's something about having conversations about poetry and the creative process that sparks me to write. Plus, it's nice to get out of my comfort zone, even if it's just a day. So looking forward to it. More to come.


Weekend to-do's

  • Finish two poems
  • Organize manuscript (much different process than revision)
  • Clean desk

Short and sweet.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Time to share your confessions. Tell us a little about yourself, and we promise to do the same. Don't forget to say hello to the folks doin' time in The Confessional (see sidebar).

Have you seen my video for "How to Make a Crab Cake"? Every time I see it, I want to go home and cook!


This little pendant I picked up on Saturday at the Beverly Arts Festival. It is a typewriter key from a Blackberry Hill Designs. I've been looking for an original and emblematic piece of jewelery, something that represents who I am now. This booth was the last one I came across and ended up buying a few pieces, including a few of their speciality pendants made out of recycled scrabble game tiles. Very cool.


I have an interview up at Very Like a Whale for Nic Sebastian's series on poetry and technology. Thanks Nic!


North American Review accepted a poem for the Winter 2010 issue! It will complement a review of Underlife in the same issue. How cool is that?


Alex and Ella started summer camp this week. The camp is at Babson College, where I work. Can't tell you how nice it is that they are close enough to visit.

Yesterday, the kids slept for 12 hours, from the moment they climbed into the car until 5 a.m. Bonus!! They're really having fun at camp.


Last week was non-stop, flat out, go go go! I don't think I've been this busy with po-biz since AWP Denver. I've wrapped up a few interviews and writing projects, revised poems, and submitted work for publication. Now, if I could just sit still long enough to write a poem ...

Reading Susan Rich's The Alchemist's Kitchen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Make a Crab Cake - poem by January Gill O'Neil

Here's the video for my poem "How to Make a Crab Cake!" It looks terrific, if I do say so myself.

Special thanks to director Kevin Carey and "the crew": Colleen Michaels, Chris Michaels, and Sean Devlin. And yes, we ate all of the crab cakes after filming. They were delish!

Let me know what you think, and feel free to post, share, and tweet the video!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Photos from the Beverly Arts Festival

What a joy it was to hang out all day at the Writers Studio during Saturday's Arts Fest Beverly. Organizer and poet extraordinaire Colleen Michaels did a tremendous job with the space on Cabot Street, sponsored by Montserrat College of Art

Poetry rocks!

Storyteller Tony Toledo charms his young audience.

Look at that work of art. And the painting is nice, too.

Colleen Michaels, the hostess with the mostest.

Dawn Paul reading from The Country of Loneliness.

Colleen with Erik Lomen (right, plaid shirt), and company after the open mic. Erik is the artist who painted the works on the walls.

Poetry for the people.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Arts Fest Beverly: The Writers Studio on Cabot Street

The Writers Studio on Cabot Street
Montserrat College of Art Academic Classroom, Cabot Street
Saturday, June 19
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This year’s Arts Fest Beverly has added The Writers Studio on Cabot Street, a venue to support and celebrate the local writing community. With events scheduled every hour for children and adults, there’s something for everyone.

Schedule of Events

10 a.m.—Tony Toledo's joining-in tales for the whole family. Beverly storyteller Tony Toledo is 52 years old but reads at a 63-year-old level.


10:30 a.m.— “Poetry Rocks!” Stop by the Writers’ Studio for a poetry-building activity that’s fun for all ages.


11 a.m.—Reading and Workshop with Children's Book Author Erin Dionne, reading from her new novel, THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET and run a writing workshop for kids and adults, ages 8 and up.


Noon— Videos: Screenings of short films made by local artists. Q and A to follow.


1 p.m.— Sean Devlin, playwright, community organizer, and founder of Beverly’s Trashfinders Ball will perform a staged reading of his play, Coffee Shop Assassins


1:30 p.m.—Beverly writer Dawn Paul will read from and discuss her new novel, The Country of Loneliness. In the novel, Paul imagines the boyhood and youth of her father, a silent and troubled war veteran whose early death deprived them both of any chance for understanding. The novel richly portrays a time, the early 1930s, and characters shaped by the events of that time, the Great Depression and the years leading to World War II.


2 p.m.—Poetry Reading

  • Kevin Carey, a Beverly poet, writer, filmmaker, and writing teacher at Salem State College
  • Jennifer Jean, author of the poetry chapbook, In the War
  • Colleen Michaels, director of the Writing Center at Montserrat College of Art and a Beverly poet.
  • January O’Neil, a Beverly poet, and the author of Underlife.
  • J.D. Scrimgeour, author of The Last Miles and Themes For English B, and director of creative writing at Salem State College

3 p.m.—Student Poetry Showcase featuring Erik Lomen and members of the creative writing programs of area colleges.


3:30 p.m.—Open Mic. Join in! Contact Colleen Michaels at to sign up.

Stop by anytime during the day to check out video installations from members of the Salem Writers’ Group and paintings by Montserrat artist, Erik Lomen.

The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman

The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman from kristy guevara-flanagan on Vimeo.

Great trailer! From the documentary synopsis:

How did America’s first female action hero come into being? How did she influence the consciousness of girls growing up? What roles do fantasy, projections of national identity and gender play in the American cult of superheroes?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beverly Arts Fest Features New Writers Studio

(Colleen Michaels, artist Erik Lomen, and me in front of Lomen's mural of Gloucester's late poet Vincent Ferrini.)

I'm lucky to live in a town that values art and community. On Saturday, June 19, Arts Fest Beverly takes place on Cabot Street (rain or shine).

This year, Montserrat College of Art is hosting The Writers Studio at 238 Cabot St., a space devoted to the local writing community. Storytelling and kid-focused events happen in the morning, while the afternoon is filled with plays, poetry, and fiction. I'll be there all day, and will read with the poets at 2 p.m. There's also an open mic at the end of the day.

The Writers Studio is the brainchild of poet Colleen Michaels, the new director of Montserrat's Writing Center. Here's an excerpt from Jennifer Jean's interview with Colleen about the studio from Art Throb:

“The Festival is a bridge for me. I want to bring my community life, my Montserrat life and my writing life together. I want folks to know The Writers Studio features the people in your neighborhood. We writers are all meeting in our living rooms, creating, having a good time-why not bring it to the community.” We talked about how this Festival event can be a great way to bring local writers together with student creative writers and those who would like to start writing: “So many North Shore writers are accomplished — are going places — and when you’re around other writers you do more and better work. At least this has been my experience.”

Read the entire interview and get the full schedule of Saturday's Writers Studio events.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Magic 106.7

Erin Dionne and I made it through the morning crush of traffic to the Magic 106.7 studio in Boston.

Erin Dionne, News Director Gay Vernon, and me.

Gay Vernon couldn’t have been nicer. She is the station's news director and hosts the shows Exceptional Women and Boston Life. We had the opportunity to do an interview for Boston Life. I think Erin and I were both a little nervous but Gay immediately made us feel at ease. It was a great conversation about our books and our friendship.

Erin is a natural at the mic.

A little tidbit about the station: known for its soft rock format, it is believed to be the only station in the U.S. that has played at least one James Taylor song every day for the last 28 years. Go figure.

There's Gay holding a copy of Underlife!

The segment will air on Boston Life in the next two to three weeks, and I’ll post the audio file on my blog when ready.

Special thanks to Gay, to Erin (she rocks my world every day of the week and twice on Sunday), and to Robyn Bradley—the unsung hero who set this all in motion.

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday. You know the drill!

Today, the beautiful and talented Erin Dionne and I are giving a radio interview to Magic 106.7 FM, a local Boston radio station. We'll be talking about our friendship and the writing life, and how the two have intertwined over the years. The interview will air soon, I think. Details to come.

Thanks, Robyn, for all your help.


Thanks to all who have participated in the writer’s meme. I have enjoyed reading the answers. I think the biggest surprise to me is that most of us don’t believe in writer’s block; although, we acknowledge going through periods of not writing and usually work our way out of them.


I’m back to working on “The Misery Islands,” a long poem about two small islands off the coast of Salem and Beverly, MA. I stopped working on it because it was too painful—I found myself unearthing things about my divorce that I wasn’t ready to handle. But in looking at my manuscript with fresh eyes, I need to complete the poem. Not only will the poem fit into the flow of the manuscript, it will be a step in the healing process for me. The digging begins in earnest this week.


I need to find someone with a boat to take me out to the islands so I can get a firsthand look at the islands.


This is Alex and Ella’s last week of school. Yippee! Time for me to sit down with a calendar and plan out The Summer o' Fun 2010. I need to figure out vacation plans and local trips. We’re going to squeeze out as much fun as we can over the next three months. Also have to figure out how to do it all on the cheap. One thing I’m looking forward to is entertaining more at home. Lots of impromptu parties and cookouts. The Slip ‘n Slide—not just for kids!

And ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mike Amado Memorial Series

Yesterday, I read at the Plymouth Guild for the Arts for the Mike Amado Memorial Series. It has to be one of the best readings I've had in a long time.

Co-hosts Sheila Mullen Twyman and Jack Scully.

The crowd was warm and welcoming, and the room was filled art and sculpture by local artists. Can't explain it but I was more relaxed for this reading than any I've had this year. Thanks, Jack, for all your hard work. Mike would be proud.

I was able to see a little of this historic town by visiting Plymouth Rock (yes, the rock is getting smaller) ...

And the Mayflower II.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Writer's Meme

It's been a while—time for a meme. Consider yourself tagged. If you answer the questions on your blog, please leave a comment so I can stop by and say hello.

If you're feeling bold, answer Question 14 as a comment on my blog.

1. What's the last thing you wrote?
Besides a blog post? I’m working on a poem about the BP oil spill.

2. Is it any good?
No. It’s hard for me to write about something as it happens. I haven’t found that nugget to shift this massive event into poetry. It’s a work in progress.

3. What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
I have my undergraduate poetry project from Toi Derricotte's class at ODU, about 12 pages—a mini-chapbook—from 1987. Yikes!

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Seriously? Poetry, but as a reader I also enjoy essays and memoir.

5. How often do you get writer's block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. But I do have periods where I have trouble getting started. I've learned over the years that the only way out is through.

6. How do you fix it?
I go to poetry books and figure out how others worked their way through the rough spots. Usually, I’m looking for a word or a way to transition. And if it’s a line I can’t fix, I’ll take out the line to see if the piece as a whole works without it.

7. Do you save everything you write?

8. How do you feel about revision?
It’s a necessary evil. I don’t like revision but it’s part of the process. I try to remain open to new possibilities but I often feel that my first draft is the best draft.

9. What's your favorite thing that you've written?
Favorite poems, “Sex and Pizza” and “How to Make a Crab Cake,” both in Underlife, because they display my best skills as a writer. For me, these poems are about craft, not sex or food.

As for blog posts, this is my favorite: The Marketing of Poetry. Again, this is me combining together two ideas rarely mentioned together in the same sentence.

10. What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?
Depends on the day: “Early Memory,” “Service,” “Night Work,” “Poem About Nuts.”

11. What writing projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on a second manuscript with a long poem as its centerpiece, multiple interviews, a book review, and a screenplay on Anne Sexton (currently simmering on the back burner).

12. What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
I’ve never written a screenplay, so writing dialogue is daunting. I have a feeling, however, it will never see the light of day. And that’s fine. This project is just for me.

Never say never, but fiction is not on my radar screen.

13. Do you write for a living?
Yes. I am a senior writer/editor at the No. 1 school for entrepreneurship in the world.

14. Quote something you've written, the first thing to pop into your mind.
"Start with your own hands/the small bones of the hands/moving toward the inlets of the fingers." From "How to Make a Crab Cake."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poetic Justice Series: Franz Wright and Henri Cole

Last night was a comedy of errors. I had planned on attending two readings: the first was the Franz Wright-Henri Cole event at the swanky Liberty Hotel, which I did. Both poets were engaging and generous with their time and words.

Henri Cole

Franz Wright

Thanks to Harris Gardner with Tapestry of Voices (the host with the most!), and The Grolier Poetry Book Shop, for putting together the Poetic Justice Series. It was nice to see two poets whom I've admired over the years read together.

However, I missed my friend Tom Yuill reading with Robert Pinsky because I misread the directions. That's after Tom e-mailed me the correct address earlier in the week. What can I say? I am directionally challenged.

*Sorry Tom. Hope to see you read again very soon.*

Thursday, June 10, 2010

AP Style

Geek alert!

I get giddy over grammar. So I when I heard that The Associated Press (AP) was releasing a new stylebook, I put in an order as soon as it was available. It arrived at the office yesterday--woo hoo!

Finally, "Web site" becomes "website." "E-mail" is still hyphenated but this is progress. And, there are social media guidelines! Wonder what Norm Goldstein would have said about "LOL" and "C U Later."

My first real job out of college was working for AP Broadcast in Washington, D.C. At the time, it was the radio and TV arm of AP. I worked in the customer service department helping news organizations with their AP software issues. And when I was accepted to NYU, I transferred to AP headquarters at 50 Rock to work for Norm Goldstein, head of the Newsfeatures division who was editor of the AP Stylebook. I was Norm's assistant.

I didn't have much input into the stylebook, but I worked with Norm for three years and saw the time and care it took to put the book together. I don't think there's a journalism school that doesn't require it for their classes. I use it religiously at my day job; it is simply the best usage guide out there.

Norm and I lost touch, but I hope he has retired after more than 30 years with AP. What a legacy to pass on to a generation of writers and editors who care about everyday language.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Art of Words: Mike Amado Memorial Series

Hope you can join me in Plymouth this Sunday for the Plymouth Guild for the Arts reading.

The Plymouth Guild for the Arts
11 North St, Plymouth, MA

June 13, 2010 * JANUARY GILL O'NEIL

Doors open - noon
Music by Dave & Elizabeth Hanson - 12:30 p.m.
Poetry with January O'Neil - 1:15 p.m.
Open mic - 2 p.m.
Free refreshments - Visit us online!

Upcoming Schedule

Sept. 25 : Poetry Showcase featuring Joanna Nealon, Walter Howard, Marc
Goldfinger, Douglas Bishop, Michelle Lyons & Jennifer Jean
Oct. 10: Bert Stern
Nov 14: Julia Carlson & Irene Koronas
Dec. 12: Marguerite G Bouvard
Jan. 9: Roger Twyman
Feb. 13: Jennifer Jean
Mar. 13: Chad Parenteau
Apr. 10: Harris Gardner & Lainie Senechal

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Matthew Dickman reading "Slow Dance"

One of my favorites, from All-American Poem.

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Time for your confessions. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same. Don't forget to say hello to those doin' time in The Confessional (see sidebar).

I confess that it's just after 5 a.m. and I love this time of day. Not a creature is stirring, not even my children, who have freaky super sensitive hearing. They will get out of bed up whenever they hear me typing. Yes, their hearing is that good.


Here I go again: I'm starting to slip back into a pattern where fall asleep around 8 p.m. after the kids go to bed, then wake up at midnight with the television on and nothing accomplished. I must take better advantage of my waking hours. Needless to say, I'm a little tired today.


I confess I still haven't finished reading Eat Pray Love, even though I love the book. Sadly, it's been on my nightstand for more than a year. I just haven't made reading fiction a priority. But, I do want to complete it before the movie with Julia Roberts is released. I worry that she will ruin the story with her Julia Roberts-ness. Ugh.


I've worked on a few things, but I haven't completed a poem I've liked in a while. And yet, I feel like I'm in this nice creative groove. It's a weird contradiction for me. I'm not producing but I'm in a good space nurturing other needs, I guess. All part of the process, right?


This week's poetry to-do list:

  1. Write 3 poems
  2. Continue to work on second manuscript
  3. Finish Eat, Pray, Love
  4. Catch up on things people have asked me for but I haven't done yet (4 items)

Since my time is limited, I'm really trying to focus in on what's important rather than getting hung up on the small stuff.


I love love love summer. Heat and humidity? I say, "Bring in on!!!"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday, Monday

Just before tipoff, my cable/Internet/phone went out. I was unable to watch the Celtics-Lakers game Sunday night until the last 50 seconds of the fourth period. Of course, neighbors in the area had no trouble with their cable, just my street. Thanks, Comcast (FAIL!).

The only good to come out of it was that I was able to clean my office and set up a creative space for Alex and Ella. That also meant reorganizing much of the paper and clutter that had accumulated during the winter. Notice, I’m not showing you my desk—decluttering my work space will be tonight’s task.


Go Celts!


Yesterday, I saw the nearly finished video for "How to Make a Crab Cake." I’m really pleased with the end result. Can’t wait to show it but the big reveal is for the Arts Fest Beverly on June 19; I’ll release it the following Monday. Woo hoo!


While thumbing through Underlife, my son, Alex, discovered my poem “Sex and Pizza.” He’s six and learning how to read. He saw the word pizza and wanted to know what S-E-X was. I know it’s just the word he curious about, but I’m just not ready to have that conversation yet.


Looks like the beautiful and talented Erin Dionne and I will be featured for an upcoming spot on Magic 106.7 radio! Very cool (Thanks, Robyn, for your help.) Details to come.


I’m starting the week more organized, which should lead to less stress. Between writing, revising, and promoting Underlife, I’m trying to figure out how to maximize my efforts. I can’t do it all, so where does it make sense to devote my time. To-do list to come.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Salem Arts Festival

I’m surprised at how much poetry activity there is in my corner of the world. The nice part about it is that my poetry friends are busier than me! So, I get to play a supporting role for a change.

Three sets of performers showcased their unique collaborations of words and music at the Salem Arts Festival:

J.D. Scrimgeour and Phil Swanson of Confluence

Jennifer Jean and Sarah Eide of Fishwife Music

Local jazz performer, poet, and my son's music teacher, Betsy Retallack

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What Tony Hoagland Means to Me

Last night I met one of my poetry crushes (and by crush, I mean an intellectual crush, someone I’d love to talk to over tea about poetry)—Tony Hoagland.

Hoagland gave a reading at the Salem Athenaeum as part of the Salem State College’s Poetry Seminar, a program for select poets from public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. After four very talented seminar students shared their poems, he read and took questions from the audience.

Here are a few gems:

  • While Hoagland had his other books and some new poems to share, he did not have a copy of What Narcissism Means to Me, which is my favorite collection, so he borrowed my copy!
  • He opened by reading “What Was Said to the Rose” by Rumi. As he read, he spoke about its eroticism, and the power of the list poem.
  • I was struck by his wit and how it comes through in his writing. I don’t think he sets out to write humorous poems, but that’s what comes through his work and his delivery, a natural extension of his personality.
  • Hoagland is not afraid to address topics such as race, sometimes uncomfortable but sincere in his efforts.
  • During the Q&A, someone asked what kinds of poems he likes to teach. He looks for poems with subjects that are real and contemporary. He also chooses poems that give people pleasure so students, in turn, will write poem that give them pleasure.
  • Hoagland said, “You have to be willing to write a lot of bad poems.” (So true!) He “riffs” a lot in a journal, goes back and retypes pages full of fragments on a manual typewriter until he finds a core.
  • You go to poetry for one reason and stay for another.
  • “A poem is a delivery system for the best lines.” Love that quote.
  • Hoagland said that poets are trying to heal a wound or some hole that’s drawn them to poetry, and they want to make it stop hurting. That wound will lead you into an art form. 20th-century poetry is about surprise and improvisation.

An excellent night of poetry!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Upcoming Boston-area Poetry Readings

You would think that poetry readings in the area would slow down after the semester ends. Not so. Here’s what’s coming up—I plan to be at all of them!

Friday, June 4,
Salem State College Poetry Reading
Tony Hoagland
Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex Street, Salem
7:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 10
Franz Wright and Henri Cole
The Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles Street, Boston
6:30 reading, followed by an open mike

Thursday, June 10
Tom Yuill and Robert Pinsky
New England Institute of Art, West Campus
303 Boylston Street, Boston
8 p.m.

Bits and Pieces

Last night, we began looking at the footage we shot for "How to Make a Crab Cake." I had the kids with me so I didn't get as much work done as hoped, and we had a few technical glitches, but I think it's going to be terrific! It's fun to see these clips come together to tell a story. Can't wait to share it when ready.


Yesterday, I revised a poem I had been working on, and started work on something new. I've have a running list of topics I want to cover so I don't forget to work on them in June to round out my second manuscript. I'm in a good place with my work; I haven't felt this creative in months.


It's really too early to be up and about. The weekend can't come soon enough.


Looking forward to seeing Tony Hoagland read at Salem State Friday night.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

How to Film a Video for "How to Make a Crab Cake"

Start with a community project.

Then work with your friends ...

... the people you love and trust, and will carry you through anything.

Let them eat the finished product.

Laugh. Lift your glass. Be grateful. Live in the moment.

We are filming three poems as part of Arts Fest Beverly. I will post the video for “How to Make a Crab Cake” on Monday, June 21—the first day of summer.


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