Thursday, March 31, 2011

Paterson Poetry Prize Reading

Assuming we're not hit with 14 inches of snow on April 1--no joke!--I'm heading down to Paterson, NJ, for the Paterson Prize Reading.

2010 Paterson Poetry Prize Winner and Finalists Reading
Saturday, April 2, 1 p.m.
Hamilton Club Building
32 Church Street, Paterson, NJ 07505
Free * Reception to follow

Sherman Alexie, Face (Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, NY)

Southern Comfort (CavanKerry Press, Fort Lee, NJ)
Gail Fishman Gerwin, Sugar and Sand (Full Court Press, Englewood Cliffs, NJ)
Kevin A. Gonzalez, Cultural Studies (Carnegie Mellon University Press, Pittsburgh, PA)
Lowell Jaseger, Suddenly, Out Of A Long Sleep (Arctos Press, Sausalito, CA) Meg Kearney, Home By Now (Four Way Books, New York, NY) January Gill O’Neil, Underlife (CavanKerry Press, Fort Lee, NJ) Elizabeth Swados, The One and Only Human Galaxy (Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, NY)

Sponsored by The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College.

Unfortunately, Sherman Alexie will not be there (drat!), but looking forward to seeing Nin again, meeting Meg, and hearing the work of some of the best poets around.


Dear Sherman,

I'm disappointed (read: crushed) that you're unable to come to Paterson this Saturday. Was looking forward to meeting you, but more important, you would have enjoyed meeting all of us.



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Common Threads Is LIVE!

This is way cool!

MassPoetry has created the first Common Threads kit. The seven poems and guide, ready just in time for National Poetry Month, can be read on the Web and is available for download.

The seven poems are:

  • In the Waiting Room by Elizabeth Bishop

  • Samurai Song by Robert Pinsky

  • The Lost Pilot by James Tate

  • Occupation by Suji Kwock Kim

  • Vita Nova by Louise Glück

  • Love Song: I and Thou by Alan Dugan

  • New England Ode by Kevin Young

The full kit consists of:

  1. The text of each of the seven poems

  2. Questions for discussion, specifically for each poem and for the group

  3. A guide to reading poetry

  4. A prefatory note

  5. Short biographies of each poet

  6. Links for more information about each poet and poem

  7. A list of resources for reading poetry

Audio should be available next week. When available, you will be able to play each poem online, download the audio in an MP3 format, or order the audio poems for free through iTunes. There are nearly 500 groups signed up throughout the commonwealth to read these poems, so I hope you'll visit the Mass Poetry site and take advantage of this kit!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confession Tuesday

It's Tuesday! Time for your confessions. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

This past weekend, my whole world changed with the purchase of a new front door.

For the last seven years I have lived with this old, hollow, wooden door, most likely the original that came with the house when it was first built. It's an eyesore. It sticks. The doorknob is loose, but I've never been motivated to change it.

When I lived here with my husband (now my ex-husband), it was always on our list to change it but we never did. That's true also about most of the house projects. We never made any significant changes during our marriage. Most of the walls are white. Things that needed repair always had workarounds but were never actually fixed. Why? Kids, job, life--everything seemed more important than a stupid door. Just looking at that big, brown door reminded me of how things never ever changed, and if it did, they rarely changed for the better.

But this past month, a friend offered to help me with some home repairs. The door was first on my list. Changing a door is a small enough task to be completed in a weekend but large enough to make you feel like you've accomplished something. So, without further adu, here's the new door.

May not seem like much, but now Alex and Ella can look outside. The lock is easy enough for them to turn, and they now have their own keys, which thrills them to no end! The glass panel lets in all sorts of light where a dark corner stood. It opens up a world of possibilities for what the living room could be--and what our lives could be. The new door represents change for the better. Maybe most important, it was a project I initiated and finished on my own. My eyes well up when I look through the faux stained glass window. I see spring. I see hope. I see a new beginning.

Looking forward to making more changes around the house this summer.


The name January comes from the Roman god Janus, the god of gates, doorways, transitions, and new beginnings. I've been trying to write a poem about Janus and the name January for years but haven't had any success. Now may be the time to try again.

(FYI, my dad chose my name; I'm quite sure Roman mythology was not on his mind as he was deciding what to call me.)


National Poetry Month is almost upon us. What are you doing this April to celebrate? Are you giving or going to lots of readings? Are you reading poetry in your book club? Will you participate in a month-long poem-a-day project? Do tell!

I will be writing a poem a day in April (GULP!). Who's with me?

March Is Crueler Than April

I am having way too many weekends where I’m asking, “What happened to the weekend?” As I predicted, lots of kids activities and kid time, along with one major house repair that I’ll talk about in my Confession Tuesday post. Needless to say, I need another day off. So my to-do list rolls to this week—drat!


I don't know about you, but I’m tired of hearing about April being the cruelest month. Anyone who believes that has no idea how cruel March in New England can be.


Check out this short video of the reclusive Mary Oliver speaking with Maria Shriver for O magazine.


Want to get a free book for National Poetry Month? Check out Kelli’s blog for details.


For National Poetry Month, NPR is soliciting Twitter poems. Holly Bass is curating and will be a guest commentator. Please send/tweet poems of 140 characters or less. Also, listen for her this morning on NPR (Tell Me More, I think) on talking about Twitter poetry. Go Holly!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Next Stop on the Improbable Place Poetry Tour

The Improbable Places Poetry Tour just keeps rolling, rolling, rolling!

Thursday, April 21
7 p.m.

Boot, Straps, and More Thrift Store
198 Rantoul Street
Downtown Beverly

What's this tour all about? Well, It's Montserrat College of Art's way of bringing together student writers, local poets, area businesses, and enthusiastic listeners to celebrate the power of poetry and community. Each month a new venue and theme will be selected. This month's venue, Beverly Bootstraps Thrift Store, is chock-a-block full of bargains for a cause.

A thrift store, huh? That’s right, folks. Sure, we could play with the word “Boot” or “Strap.” Easypeasy. But what makes this thrift store so special is how the Ordinary blends with the Extraordinary. Here’s your two-prompt theme:

Option 1: Write in praise of an ordinary household item, one that you might find in the store. Stop in, browse a bit, and find what will become the subject of your submission. "In Praise of End Tables" or "Ode to My $2.00 Velvet Blazer."

Option 2: Write about the extraordinary of Beverly, the generous spirit of a person or place. Wondering what’s so extraordinary? Check out all of the amazing work done by Beverly Bootstraps right here in the neighborhood -

Hey, I've got just the poem for this month’s tour. Can I read it? We are accepting submissions via email at and in the Writing Center, located on the 2nd floor of Montserrat’s library. The deadline is Friday, April 15. We'd love to read your work!

I don’t write poetry, but I sure am interested in this tour. Can I still attend the event? Absolutely! Come and listen and cheer on the readers. Make a donation to the thrift store or shop for your newest treasure. Most importantly, come check out what the writers of your community are up to!

Wait! I've still got questions! Just talk to Colleen Michaels, Montserrat's Writing Center Director. She's at or 978-921-4242 ext 1254.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kibbles and Bits

Ahhh, spring. Still feels a few weeks away.


For the last few weeks—since AWP DC—I've had a persistent cough. A deep, chesty, uncontrollable wet cough that sounds like I’m coughing up a lung (sounds much worse than it is). I rarely get sick, and when I do I fight illness off fairly quickly. But this cough has been a drag.

Well, I am finally getting over my cold/bronchitis/walking pneumonia/whooping cough. After a visit to my doctor, who gave me antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory, and chest X-ray, I checked out OK and should feel better soon.

Last night, I crashed at 8:30 p.m. and got a full eight hours of sleep. I feel better than I have in weeks. Probably should have done that in the first place.

It’s a hard lesson to learn that as sole support of the family, staying healthy and balanced has to be my #1 priority.


This weekend, lots of play dates and house projects planned. And the kids want to see the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie.


Poetry to-do list

1. Write three poems (I have three swirling around in my head)
2. Submit poems to two publications
3. Organize my desk
4. Mass Poetry Fest planning

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 Boston National Poetry Month Festival

We tend to have a lot of marathons in Boston. Hope you can make it out for the 11th Boston National Poetry Month Festival! (I am this year’s closer!)

Read my article from Poets & Writers about the marathon.

Saturday April 9, 10 a.m.-4:40 p.m.
Open Mike: 1:30-3:30
Sunday, April 10, 1:10 to 4:30 p.m.
Boston Public Library main branch, Copley Square
Free admission

Contact Tapestry of Voices: 617-306-9484
Library: 617-536-5400

Now in its 11th successful year! 56 major and emerging poets read their works in 10-minute blocks.

Featuring six extraordinarily talented prize-winning high school students from Boston Latin High School; Boston Arts Academy. These student stars will open the festival at 10 a.m. Sam Cornish, Boston’s current and first poet laureate, will open the formal part of the festival at 11 a.m. 55 additional major and emerging poets will follow with a Poetry Marathon!

Some of the many luminaries include Sam Cornish, Diana Der Hovanessian, Rhina P. Espaillat, Richard Wollman, Jennifer Barber, Alfred Nicol, Doug Holder, Charles Coe, Kathleen Spivack, Ryk Mcintyre, January O’Neil , Regie O’Gibson, Kate Finnegan (Kaji Aso Studio), Susan Donnelly, Jack Scully, Renee Schwiesow, Chad Parenteau, Sandee Story, Tomas O’Leary, CD Collins, Marc Goldfinger, Gloria Mindock, Tim Gager, Diana Saenz, Stuart Peterfreund, Valerie Lawson, Michael Brown, Mignon Ariel King, Tom Daley, Molly Lynn Watt, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Mark Pawlak, Lainie Senechal, Harris Gardner, Joanna Nealon, Walter Howard, Susan Donnelly, Irene Koronas, Fred Marchant, Robert K. Johnson, and a plethora of prize-winning poets.

This festival has it all: published poets, celebrities, numerous prize winners, student participation, open mike. Even more, it is about community, neighborhoods, diversity, Boston, and Massachusetts. This popular tradition is one of the largest events in Boston’s contribution to National Poetry Month. Free admission!

Co-sponsored by Tapestry of Voices and Kaji Aso studio in partnership with the Boston Public Library.

Wheelchair accessible. Assistive listening devices available. To request a sign language interpreter, or for other special needs, call 617-536-7855(tty) at least two weeks before the program date.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Confession Tuesday

If it’s Tuesday, it’s time for your confessions. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

My head is still reeling from the Virginia Festival of the Book. Charlottesville is a beautiful college town steeped in history. Wish I had had more time to explore Monticello and the surrounding areas. And the weather was perfect, with cherry blossoms and crepe myrtles in bloom.

I think I needed to get away more than I realized. It was great spending a little time with my parents while seeing a part of Virginia I hadn’t see in 20 years. I admit, the whole trip made me homesick for my home state.

It’s true sometime that “…you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”


I have been switching between my two newest purchases: Erika Meitner’s Ideal Cities and Jehanne Dubrow’s Stateside, both of which I’m enjoying immensely. It was a pleasure reading with both of them on Saturday—phenomenal poets, phenomenal women!


Finally, I feel motivated to write again—now, the tough part is keeping that feeling alive. No magic bullet here, I have to make writing a priority. During the weekend, I kept hearing stories from other writers about how they managed to produce while working multiple teaching jobs, pitching writing assignments, and juggling kids and family. Not writing feels like a cop-out or an excuse to me. I need to keep working in order to maintain balance for myself.


Sometimes it feels as if I’m not making progress with new work, submissions, etc. But I am. I have to remind myself that I’m doing the best that I can.

I started a new poem while I was away. Yay!


Going away always make me appreciate what I have even more. So today, I am grateful for Alex and Ella, and this crazy life we have made and continue to make for ourselves.


Woke up with this song in my head. Hope you have a terrific Tuesday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

VA Festival of the Book

I'm back from a weekend visit to Charlottesville for the Virginia Festival of the Book. My first time attending but man was it a blast! Not sure what I enjoyed more, reading in my home state for the first time, being in Charlottesville, or seeing my parents--or all of the above. Here are lots of photos.

Special thanks to Kevin McFadden for being such an advocate for poetry and for this festival.

First, my parents! We're having lunch at Five Guys in downtown Charlottesville.

Most of the poetry readings were held at the New Dominion Bookstore.

From Friday's reading: The Disastrous Muse

Dan Albergotti

Jon Pineda

Jane Satterfield

Jake Adam York

From Saturday's reading: What Women Want

Moderator Julia Kudravetz and me

Jehanne Dubrow and Julia

Erika Meitner

Authors' Reception

Jehanne, Jane, Sandra Beasley, Erika, Ned Balbo, and Jake and me in the second row

Jehanne, Sandra, and Erika

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More on Bishop

I really should have written more about Lloyd Schwartz’s talk on Elizabeth Bishop because it was so nuanced and detailed.

Accuracy, spontaneity, and mystery—three words that describe Bishop’s work. Those three words she used herself in an unpublished essay referenced by Lloyd in his talk.

What struck me in his talk is how popular she has become after her death. Her last book, Geography III, became a commercial success, but it wasn’t until after her death that she became a sort of a cult figure. Most of us regard her as a poet’s poet. I know she’s had an influence on my poetry—the sense of wonderment and, yes, accuracy of imagery.


I’ve often wondered what would happen to one of her poems if she was in a workshop setting. Would we suggest that she cut stanzas in her long poems? I can imagine a conversation like this, “Yeah, ‘The Moose’ is a great poem, Elizabeth, but I think the heart of the poem starts when the moose first appears. Can you cut the bus ride stanzas?”


Susan Rich asked me to speak more about Bishop’s cousin, who attended the talk. I did not directly speak with Elizabeth Bishop’s younger relative, but she chatted afterwards with Lloyd and others for quite a while. I overheard (did not want to interject myself into the conversation), that her mother (?) was a first cousin, 20 years younger than Elizabeth. But the younger cousin (don’t want to reveal her name) works locally as a graphic designer. Sorry, I don’t have much.

I could see the family resemblance in her face.


Lloyd will also give a talk on Bishop at the Mass Poetry Festival in May.

Hear Lloyd talk about Bishop and her poem “Pink Dog” on WBUR’s show Here and Now, on the anniversary of her 100th birthday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mass Poetry Fundraiser: Lloyd Schwartz

Last night, I attended the first of three fundraisers for the Mass Poetry Festival. Lloyd Schwartz gave a wonderful talk on Elizabeth Bishop, and read some of his own poetry. As an added surprise to the evening, one of Bishop's younger cousins was in the audience!

If you've ever met Lloyd, you know he's a sweetheart. Very generous with his time and an active supporter of the festival. It was nice having a few minutes to speak with him before and after the event.

(Geek moment: After speaking with Lloyd, I felt I had one degree of separation from Bishop. Is that silly?)

Jennifer Jean was our host, reminding us how relevant poetry is in these troubling times.

Sebastien Jean and Sarah Eide provided music for the evening.

Special thanks to all who came out to support Mass Poetry.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Roundup

Just a reminder about tomorrow's Mass Poetry Festival fundraiser:

Lloyd Schwartz and musician Sebastien Jean

Thursday, March 17, 7-9 p.m.
Salem Athenæum
337 Essex Street, Salem MA
Suggested donation: $50
Register now!

Lloyd Schwartz will discuss the poetry of beloved Massachusetts poet Elizabeth Bishop, as well as his own. Sebastien Jean will perform Air for Orchestral Suite in D major by Bach for electric guitar and piano.

The donation is suggested. Pay what you can, and come out to enjoy a great night of poetry.


Claudia Rankine's project, Open Letter on Race and the Imagination, went live yesterday. Brava to her for bringing the conversation on race to the next level. I'm looking forward to reading all of the letters, poems, and submissions, and maybe jump-start my own writing on the subject.


If you haven't picked up the latest issue of O magazine, check out the first-ever poetry edition (about time!). Congrats to three of my favorite poets Aracelis Girmay, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Camille Rankine for appearing in one of their fashion spreads.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday, folks! This is the ides of March edition. Share a bit of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

I confess I am all over the place with my confessions. Forgive the randomness. Such is my life these days.


Gave my kids okra for dinner last night. They do not praise okra the way I praise okra. In fact, my son said, "I love your poem about okra, but I hate okra!" OK, I can deal with that.


Have you read Jennifer Jean's post on Literary Citizenship for The Mom Egg? She talks about doing her part to plan the Massachusetts Poetry Festival while being a wife, mother, and artist.

Jennifer and I were sitting around my table after 10 p.m. last night--kids fast asleep, me with another cold, she just back from a weekend retreat--trying to get a handle on all of the festival details. Jennifer reminds me that I need to hold onto my creativity and nurture myself while trying to plan this large-scale event. It's hard being a literary citizen with a head cold.

But I think it's important for the both of us to try and nurture our whole selves in the midst of family, work, commitments, etc. Guess that's true for all of us, even when it seems nearly impossible.


Check out Doug Holder's interview with Mass Poetry cofounder Michael Ansara and me about the festival.


This Saturday, I'm appearing at the Virginia Festival of the Book! This is my first reading in my home state, and my parents will be there so I'm very excited about the entire weekend. Here's my session description:

Poetry Reading: What Women Want
Sat. March 19th, 2011 - 2:00 PM
New Dominion Bookshop
404 E Main St, Charlottesville

Delve into women's lives with Jehanne Dubrow (Stateside), Erika Meitner (Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls), and January Gill O'Neil (Underlife).



I did not receive a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship. Most of the grants and fellowship programs I've applied to in this cycle I have not received, but this one I wanted. Oh well. Maybe next year.


New to-do list coming this week. Should I try to write a poem a day in April while helping to plan a festival? Am I a glutton for punishment?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Mouthful

For the first-time ever, I double booked myself--two events on the same night. Fortunately, both parties were accommodating as I was extremely apologetic for the mixup.

The first event was an appearance at a book club in Hopkinton, MA. I was asked my friend and coworker to talk about Underlife. There was another poet there as well, which took the pressure off of me staying. But I was able to speak about my poems in a more relaxed manner. The ladies asked very good questions and were attentive listeners. It was really quite lovely. Very intimate.

Because I dashed off so quickly, I offered to come back and lead a talk on the Common Threads poems as part of Mass Poetry's April Poems Project.

Then I dashed off for the Mouthful Reading Series in Cambridge (about a 45 minute drive). One of the series cofounders is Dawn Paul, who also was very accommodating. The open mic started first, so I had plenty of time to illegally park (Cambridge!) and settle before my reading.

To my great surprise and delight, attending my reading was Jesse Cathy! She's up from North Carolina attending a video game conference with her husband. But was able to break away to read in the open mic and stay for my reading.

It's so much fun to meet the people you converse with on an almost daily basis. And if you haven't figured it out yet, she's awesome!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: Barter Brothers Flower Shop

Last night's stop on the Improbable Places Poetry Tour may be the loveliest, and certainly the best smelling venue yet! (I really need a camera with smell-o-vision.)

The Barter Brothers Flower Shop played host to 60+ people as we crowded into a our neighborhood flower shop in downtown Beverly. In the audience were students and faculty/staff from Montserrat College of Art, local poets, poetry lovers, first-time readers--even city council members.

There were flowers on chairs with poems attached.

I brought my son, Alex (red jacket). There he sits with host Colleen Michaels' daughter Eliza. Behind him are poets Margaret Young (left) and Melissa Varnavas.

And this is why Colleen is extraordinary--she knows how to make everyone feel welcome. In her opening remarks, she reminded us that events like this help us define our community. And on a dreary Thursday night, she was excited to host because there was "a riot of color to greet us."

Colleen asked the flower shop owner to read one of Theodore Roethke's flower poems. Roethke's German-born father owned a nursery, so reading one in his series of 13 floral poems was the perfect touch.

Melissa Varnavas

Cindy Veach

At the end of the scheduled readers, of whom there were roughly 20, we were asked to read the poems (or excerpts of poems) attached to the flowers on the chairs. They were marked 1-12. My 7-year old son--who is a beginning reader--read poem #7. Here it is:

"The almost disturbing scent
of peonies presses through the screens,
and I know without looking how
those heavy white heads lean down
under the moon's light"

~Jane Kenyon

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: Laundromat!

Want to know more about the Improbable Places Poetry Tour? Watch this roundup from the third stop of the tour, the Salem Laundry Co., hosted by poet Colleen Michaels.

(Yep, I'm in there, too.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Girls in a Boys' Club: Tips for Poets

Jeannine and Kelli have eloquently written their tips for women poets. I follow in their footsteps with my own set of suggestions.

Submit, Submit, Submit, ESPECIALLY to the places that have a lousy track record accepting submissions from women. VIDA couldn’t have come along at a better time.

Speaking of VIDA, I was reading this reposted article by Eileen Myles. We should all have this passion:

Is writing just a job? Writing books, writing poems. If it is, then the message to women is to go elsewhere. But they can go to hell—these messengers, the collective whoever or whatever that is saying it. I don’t believe that this is a job. I think writing is a passion. It’s an urge as deep as life itself. It’s sex. It’s being and becoming. If you write, then writing is how you know. And when someone starts slowly removing women from the public reflection of this fact, they are saying that she doesn’t know. Or I don’t care if she thinks she knows.
I don’t want to be removed from the public reflection. Do you? Keep submitting.

Create Your Own Zines, Blogs, Events—whatever. And strive for excellence as you do. Build it, and we will come.

Market Yourself, because no one will do it for you.

Get Paid. Honestly, I’m grateful to read wherever, whenever. In most cases, I read for free because poetry is about community. But at some point, it becomes cost prohibitive for me to read without some honorarium to lessen the financial blow of child care and travel. So I ask. It’s taken me a while to get to the point where I feel comfortable asking. But I do—because I know my worth.

Hustle like Steve Almond. Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.

Read in Public as often as possible.

And if you have kids, bring them to your poetry readings. Let them see mommy successful at something you love to do. It also helps demystify poetry for the next generation.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Welcome to Confession Tuesday. You know the drill!

Mass Poetry Festival planning is gearing up. We're in the process of matching talent to venues, designing and printing poster and signage, organizing volunteers--the nitty gritty. I tell you this because the festival will suck up my time for the next 10 weeks. Finding balance in my life is one thing, but adding in a massive project like a poetry festival really tips the scales into the absurd.


The less time I have to write, the more I want to do it. Every poet I know seems to be putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. I'm reading a lot of great unpublished work, but making time for myself to write is proving difficult.


I'm trying not to complain too much today. I'd rather take action rather than gripe so much. But I keep coming back to a movie quote from Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias, something like: "If you can't say anything nice, come sit next by me!"


Received two rejections in two days. Drat!


Now that the snow is finally starting to melt (although to look at my front yard, you wouldn't know it), I'm hoping to get out and walk more. I've been a big ol' blob this past month. Time to get the blood pumping and the creative juices flowing.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, March 07, 2011


Saturday, I was steeped in poetry!

In the morning, I had the privilege of being a judge for the semi-final round of Poetry Out Loud. For those who don't know, because I didn't know, Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation challenge where high school students memorize poems and reinterpret them, bringing their own style and emotions to the work. It's a bit of performance, but the students clearly understand the meaning behind the poem.

(Judges' table)

Fifteen students recited poems in two rounds and the top five students moved onto the finals, which are next week at the Old South Meeting House in Boston (where Phillis Wheatley worshiped).

It was thrilling to watch the students perform their poems flawlessly. The poems ranged from "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold to "Cartoon Physics, part 1" by Nick Flynn. You couldn't help but cheer for all of the participants, which made my job as a judge that much harder (and that's a good thing).

Bravo to the winners, and good luck at the finals!


After a Mass Poetry Festival meeting (10 weeks away--yikes!), I went to see the documentary film Louder Than a Bomb, about the largest high school poetry competition in the country. Couldn't help but cheer for everyone--lots of laughter and tears in the film. I always think it's weird when people clap in movies but there was certainly a lot of clapping after the competitors read their original poems.

The movie was shown as part of the Salem Film Fest, and will be shown again May 13 and 14 during the Mass Poetry Fest. After the film, some of the students (now all in college!) spoke about the documentary experience, and performed their poems for the audience.

One phrase heard over and over again in the movie was, "The point is not the points, the point is the poem," which I thought summed up my day pretty well.

Friday, March 04, 2011

In Gratitude

I’m up way too late and way too early. But I’m feeling very grateful for my life these days.

First, special thanks to Kelli for her post about me and my so-called life! Sometimes it feels cobbled together by to-do’s and outside demands, but it is all mine and I love it.

The fact that y’all come along for the ride is a happy accident.


As you know, I haven’t been writing much but I’m reading a lot, mostly unpublished work from friends, batches of poems and a few fiction pieces. If I can make some space I’m going to have to start writing a poem a week again until April, then it’s NaPoWriMo, baby!

Check out Robert’s April PAD challenge.


Yesterday, I had a meeting with a design class at Montserrat College of Art. The students have taken on the Mass Poetry Festival as a project. The students are designing the festival’s look and feel for the posters, postcards, T-shirts, etc. And, in return, they get the opportunity to work with clients on real-world, public projects. Saw the first round of designs—all great. Fantastic work by these creative, innovative young minds.


Speaking of creative, young minds—I will be judging the Framingham segment of the Poetry Out Loud competition on Saturday. I’m really, really looking forward to this.


In the evening, after a Mass Poetry Fest planning meeting, I’m going to see the movie Louder Than a Bomb, at the Salem Film Fest. We’ll be showing the film at the poetry fest, but I have a feeling I’ll be too busy or tired to enjoy it in May.

And on the seventh day, I will rest.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Next Stop on the Improbable Places Poetry Tour

Thursday, March 10
7 p.m.
Barter Brothers Flower Shop
228 Cabot Street
Downtown Beverly

What’s this tour all about?
Well, It’s Montserrat College of Art’s way of bringing together student writers, local poets, area businesses, and enthusiastic listeners to celebrate the power of poetry and community.Each month a new venue and theme will be selected. This month’s venue is a flower shop!

A Flower Shop, huh?
That’s right, folks. Inspired by the poem “One Flower” by Jack Kerouac, we are looking for poems that reference at least one flower. These don’t have to be “flowery.” Maybe you’ve got a poem about a not-so-sweet William, or a school-yard brawl with the bully, “black-eyed Susan.” We are looking for strong-stemmed poems, showy blooms, and a bouquet of themes.

Hey, I’ve got a poem that should be included in the bunch. Can I read it?
We are accepting submissions via email at and in the Writing Center, located on the 2nd floor of Montserrat’s library. The deadline is Monday, March 7th. We’d love to read your work!

I don’t write poetry, but I sure am interested in this tour. Can I still attend the event? Absolutely! Come and listen and cheer on the readers. Wear that floral shirt that’s in the back of your closet. Most importantly, come check out what the writers of your community are up to!

Wait! I’ve still got questions!
Just talk to Colleen Michaels, Montserrat’s Writing Center Director. She’s at or 978-921-4242,ext. 1254.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Time to fess up! This is one of the few places where "too much information" is a good thing. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

Can you believe it's the first day of March?. I, for one, am glad February has moved on because we're that much closer to spring.


At breakfast over the weekend, my 7-year old son Alex said something to me that has left me both happy and sad. He said, "Mom, I think you should get remarried." When I asked why, he answered, "because I miss daddy and I want a new stepdad."

*Big sigh*

I don't even know what to do with this. I mean, I'm glad Alex wants to see me start a new life with someone else, but ... well, I'm sorry his dad is not around. Nothing else I could do but shower him with hugs and kisses. And then I did what any poet would do: try to find a way to capture it in a poem.

We just keep on keepin' on.


On a bright note, Ella is reading Go, Dog. Go!

I am shocked she has picked up reading a little quicker than her brother, and he's no slouch. We read as a family almost every evening before bedtime, so maybe she's acquiring language at a faster rate.

I must be doing something right.


It's finally happened--I double booked myself. Two poetry readings in one night. Ugh. This is a clear sign I'm doing too much. I'm going to try and do both events, which should work out OK, I hope.


I need to say no more often but I hate passing up opportunities. This is me practicing: N-O. No. Seems simple enough, doesn't it?


Four poems from my second manuscript were accepted into an e-book on contemporary women's poetry. Who hoo!


I have so much stuff to do that seems silly to make a to-do list. Oh, what the heck. Here goes.

  1. Keep up with my 15-minute free writes (mornings)
  2. Write one poem (evenings)
  3. Read a friend's fiction manuscript
  4. Read a friend's poetry manuscript to host a mini-interview on the blog

If I added any more, I'd be setting myself up for failure. See, this is me saying no to myself.


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