Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Afaa Michael Weaver and January O'Neil: Grolier Poetry Book Shop

For these who don't know, the Grolier is the oldest poetry book store in North America. Hope you can make it to the reading!


The Grolier Poetry Book Shop presents
Afaa Weaver and January Gill O'Neil
Friday, December 2
7 p.m.
at The Grolier Poetry Book Shop
6 Plympton Street
Cambridge, MA

A native of Baltimore, Afaa Michael Weaver (born Michael S. Weaver) has been a Pew fellow, a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan, and an NEA fellow in poetry. His first book of poetry Water Son, was published in 1985 by University Press of Virginia. He has had plays produced professionally and worked as an editor and freelance journalist. His short fiction is included in the anthology Children of the Night. His prizes include a Pushcart, the PDI Award in playwriting from ETA Theatre in Chicago, and the May Sarton Award. His 11th collection of poems is Kama i'reeh (Like the Wind)(2010), a translation of his work into Arabic by Wissal Al-Allaq. Weaver works as an editor and a translator, principally in Chinese. He maintains a translation website called Poets Cafe. A major interview with Weaver was published in the Summer 2011 issue of Contemporary Literature. In early 2013 Weaver's 12th collection of poetry, The Government of Nature, will be published by University of Pittsburgh Press. His Academy of American Poets website is Weaver lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Confession Tuesday

It’s Confession Tuesday. You know the drill.

The kids are back after their wild and wacky (and unexpected) road trip. I’ve never seen them so happy to be back at home. It’s kind of nice, really. We finished decorating the Christmas tree, made dinner together, visited with a few friends—they even did their chores without complaining! This is how I know they missed being at home.

What can I say? I missed them and they missed me. And now, all is right with the world.


I am entering the brave new world of online dating. Maybe it’s not new, just new to me. I’m keeping an open mind about the process. After all, I thought I was done with this phase of my life. The whole idea of entering the dating pool again is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. My world is pretty full and fulfilling as it is, but finding someone to share it can only enhance it.


At the very least, I’ll get a few poems out of my experiences.


We are about five months away from the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and there are more hands doing the heavy lifting earlier in the process. Currently, we are shoring up the list of headliners and filling in the lineups of panels, sessions, and workshops. The festival marketing, which is my area of expertise, will start to heat up in January, so in December I will get all of the design work and ad specs ready for submission in the New Year.

The deadline for proposals is coming up! Submit!!

This week’s to-do list:

  1. Revise three poems from the November PAD challenge
  2. Send out submissions to four journals 
  3. Scope out my third manuscript project
  4. Start organizing Mass Poetry stuff
  5. Read a fiction book
  6. Work on MCC grant application

All of these things I’ve slacked on in the last month—I really need to stay on task if I’m going to finish the year strong. Not easy to do with the silly season upon us.

Happy Tuesday, folks!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


If you had told me this weekend I would not have blogged or written one poem, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s true. I did not write one poem, send out any submissions, or blog. In fact, I stayed away from social media for the most part. It felt pretty good. Guess I needed the break.


My break took a bit of an emotional detour when I found out, after the fact, that Alex and Ella went to South Carolina for the long weekend with their dad. *big sigh*

I’m just not going there now.


What did I do with my time? Put it to good use! I finally swapped out my summer clothes for winter wear. Went shopping on Black Friday. (BTW, every day is Black Friday for me.) Raked the last of the fall leaves. Set up the Christmas tree, wrapped presents, and cleaned the house. Also managed to spend a lot of time with friends.

The kids come back in a few hours. Can’t wait for them to decorate the tree!


It's been 60 degrees for the past few days. My daisies are growing again. No wonder I haven't been in the mood to swap clothes.


So my poem-a-day challenge ends at 20. Playing catch up now becomes more about completing the task rather than writing good poems. I certainly have enough to work on in December so I’m happy with the outcome.


I did manage to do a postcard mailing for the Mass Poetry Festival. I compiled a list of all the indie bookstores in MA, RI, and NH. The cards are addressed and ready for mailing. And I did it all by myself. Felt good to do it, but I won’t do it again without help. Now that was work! Good work, but work nonetheless.


Hello, Starbucks! I’ve missed you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

RIP Ruth Stone

I had an entirely different post planned, talking about my morning walk to the beach, my new iPhone 4S (it is SWEET!), and Thanksgiving plans. But that changed upon hearing the news poet Ruth Stone has died at age 96.

It was my great pleasure to study with Ruth and Toi Derricotte at Old Dominion University in the late 80s. Her book, Second Hand Coat, was just published during that time. I remember her fiery red hair that went down to the center of her back. I also remember her to be wickedly funny and very nurturing—just what I needed as a young poet. Ruth was a big advocate for writing down poems whenever and wherever they happened. She felt that she didn't write the poems, they moved through her and it was her job to catch them.

After Ruth’s second husband’s suicide, she raised three daughters as a single mother on a farm in Vermont. I remember hearing stories about the hard times when they didn’t have heat or running water. Her life was certainly the meat for her poems, which had elements of science and the natural world. Her husband’s suicide was also a reoccurring theme, as well as aging. Even with her failing eyesight in the later years, she was still writing poems and reciting them from memory.

This morning, I can’t seem to find Second Hand Coat or Simplicity, but I did locate my copy of In the Next Galaxy, for which she won the National Book Award in 1987. Picking up this book is like reaching out to a long, lost friend. In truth, Ruth and I lost touch after college. I’m just thankful for the time our paths crossed for a brief moment in time. She will be missed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! This is the giving thanks edition of Confession Tuesday. Share a little of your pre-Turkey selves with us an we promise to do the same.

This afternoon, Alex and Ella will leave to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with their dad. I admire them. Leaving home is always tough for them (and they let me know it last night). But I know they will have a good time with their father and his new family. So I am thankful that despite the multitude of changes in their lives during the past three years, they are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted kids. 

I am thankful to be their mom.


By the same token, I am thankful for the gift of time. Alex and Ella will be gone until Sunday, which means I'll have some much needed me time. They say you should always put the oxygen mask on yourself first before the kids. Well, this holiday I will be putting the mask on myself first so that when they return, I will be more rested and centered for them.


I couldn't get through the last month, which was particularly tough for some reason, without friends and family. I am thankful for you--more than you know.


Between the kids, work, and Mass Poetry, I've gotten a little behind on the PAD Challenge. Hello holiday! Time to play a little catch up. I am thankful for all of the above.


Some new opportunities are on the horizon. Too early to talk about anything but they're all exciting. Just another reminder that I seem to be on right path.


A big thank you to you! No, let's make it a big Dating Game kiss. *smack!* Because of you, my second book will be out in fall 2014. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

So, what are you most thankful for this year?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Massachusetts Poetry Festival Proposal Deadline Dec. 1

If you're interested in participating in next year's poetry festival, get your proposal in by December 1. We're looking for sessions, panels, and workshops rather than individual poets to read. Helpful if you have a connection to the state or New England, but we'll give consideration to all submitted proposals.


The fourth Massachusetts Poetry Festival will be held from April 20-22 in downtown Salem, Massachusetts. The Planning Committee of Mass Poetry is requesting proposals for programming from poets, poetry organizations, presses, and editors. The deadline for getting your proposal for presentations at the 2012 Massachusetts Poetry Festival is December 1.

Submit a proposal.

The Festival seeks programming that encompasses the diversity of Massachusetts poets. We seek diversity of poetic voice, style, vision, language and method. Within that diversity we will select the highest quality of content and presentation possible. We seek diversity of age, region of the state, language, gender, background, race and ethnicity. As well we seek diversity of presentation: readings, panels, poetry and dance, poetry and music, workshops, interactive events, poetry and the other arts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good News!

My second poetry manuscript, Misery Islands, will be published by CavanKerry Press in fall 2014!

CavanKerry has been great to me. They have supported me and continue to support me with Underlife, so I'm thrilled to continue my relationship with them. Yahoo!


While their general open submission period is in February, CavanKerry Press will be having an open submission period from January 1-31, 2012, for its Laurel Books imprint.

LAUREL BOOKS are collections of poetry or prose memoirs that explore in depth poignant and critical issues associated with personally confronting serious and life-threatening physical or psychological illness. CavanKerry seeks work written from a personal perspective by the individual who has experienced the illness or by the individual personally and deeply involved with the person who suffered from the illness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nikky Finney at NBA

Big ups to Nikki Finney for winning the National Book Award! So wonderful. Head Off & Split is a wonderful book. Her acceptance speech is amazing!

I had a chance to meet her this year at a reading at Leslie University. She gave me some sage advice about my second manuscript that came just about the time I was having serious doubts about the collection. (Thank you, Nikky.)
What a triumph!

You Can Take That to the Bank!

I thought last month's improbable tour stop at the tattoo parlor was pretty cool, but reading at a bank? After hours? It ranks right up there!

Colleen Michaels has done it again with her choice of venue for Improbable Places Poetry Tour. Last night, the reading was held at the People's United Bank. The money was locked away in the vault (was hoping to leave with a big bag of money--that didn't happen), but poetry was the true commerce of the evening.

Colleen Michaels

Ella O'Neil and Eliza Michaels

Even my daughter, who never met a microphone she didn't like, read a poem before the poetry crowd.

As someone who has read at Occupy Boston, it was nice to come here and listen to a range of poems about people's relationships to money. And I have to give credit to the People's United Bank. According to Colleen, they never asked who's reading or what topics will be read. They opened their doors to the community, just as they do every day. This time, however, the poets occupied the bank.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Blog Post I Forgot to Post

Should have posted this morning but the day got away from me.

I have good second manuscript news … but I’m keeping it under wraps until there are more details to share!


This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. and wrote three PAD poems. And, they don’t suck! So as of this writing, I am back on track. Maybe I should get up that early more often.


My friend, Jo Jo, sends me poems by other poets in the mail. In his last letter, sent me poems by Joan Larkin. She is fierce.

Thanks, chumpy!


See you tonight at the Improbable reading.

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: People’s United Bank

The next stop on Montserrat College of Art’s wildly successful poetry tour is People’s United Bank, formerly Danversbank, in the old Beverly National Bank.

Think about the old changing into the new, payouts, spare change in your pocket – $$ is all around us, being exchanged in so many different ways!

The reading will take place Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7–9 p.m. 240 Cabot Street, Beverly.

(I'm all over this. Hope to see you tonight!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

If it's Tuesday, it's time for your confessions. Unburden yourself. Tell us a little about your life and we promise to do the same.

This weekend, I was reminded of Newton's Third Law of Motion: for every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. While this is certainly true in physics, I see this in relation to emotions and the energy I put out into the world.

I'm amazed when people are not in a good phase in their lives, they bring other people down. This is equally true for me. When I'm in a bad mood, it registers pretty quickly in my life, specifically on the kids.

Feels like I spend a lot of time focusing my energies to stay on an even keel. It's somewhat exhausting. But I'm also the beneficiary of maintaining a positive outlook. I've gotten pretty good at navigating change. I'm more resiliant that I ever thought I could be. And, I can't help but think that my efforts to put positive energy in the world continues to come back to me in waves. Guess it's all about the choices we make.

Poetry helps.

I realize this sounds a bit new age-y. Deal.


Oh, PAD. Why have you forsaken me? I didn't write a poem last night. Was too tired after serving up a spaghetti dinner for Alex's classmates last night. Oh well. Let's see what the day brings.


You might be asking why I would do a poem a day challenge? Well, the key word in that question is challenge. I like testing myself in short spurts. I'm not in a writing groove yet, but I'm getting there. Plus, I love the public struggle of watching so many poets--just like me--trying to keep up. A good reminder that writing poetry is difficult no matter who you are. 


To-do list

1. Keep up with PAD poems
2. Revise PAD poems and post a few of them
3. Submit poems to four journals
4. Read a novel (can't remember the last time I read a novel)
5. Write a blog post for Mass Poetry


My first gen-iPhone needs to be put out of it's misery. Because Apple is not making compatible software, some of my apps (Facebook, Twitter) won't work so I'm forced to upgrade. So off to the Apple store this week for a new and improved version.


We live in a disposable society. Nothing seems to have lasting value anymore. Except poetry, of course.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being Flynn

Congrats to Nick Flynn on Being Flynn, adapted from his memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.

Woo hoo!

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday, folks! It was another kidtastic weekend, filled with birthday parties and flag football. Here's a picture of my daughter on a horse named Faith. We went to a birthday party at a horse ranch. I have to say, it was pretty cool for us city slickers.

My daughter really wanted to take the horse home. I had to explain to her that our backyard was too small to keep her, and she would miss all of her horse friends. But who couldn't use a little Faith these days.


Also this weekend, my son won his first flag football game. Unfortunately, his team has lost the previous five games. But the team finally gelled in game #6, which happens to be a playoff game in this league. I didn't see the game because I had to take my daughter to the birthday party mentioned above, but he was so excited afterwards. The team has a chance to go to the playoffs--how funny (and great) is that?


Fourteen days into the PAD challenge and I have 13 drafts. Did not get a chance to revise them--too much kid stuff going on this weekend. So I'll just keep at it until I can get a few free minutes, which may not be until the end of the month.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cornelius Eady - P.O.P

P.O.P (Poets on Poetry) is an evolving conversation between and about poets. By Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Can't wait to see where this project goes.

(Thanks, Jaci.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

BERKELEY: Tension mount at Occupy Berkeley UC encampment

BERKELEY: Tension mount at Occupy Berkeley UC encampment

Look closely and you'll see former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass getting shoved.

(Thanks for the link, @Powell_DA)

Kathleen Flenniken: PLUME

I met Kathleen Flenniken last month on my visit to Seattle. She’s a terrific poet, and now she and her son have created this terrific trailer for her forthcoming book Plume.

Plume recounts her history growing up in Hanford, Washington, near the Hanford Nuclear Site.

If the trailer is any indication, this book will be amazing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kibbles and Bits

Still hanging with the PAD Challenge. On day 10, I have eight poems written. Yay! Looking forward to the weekend so I can sort my poems and try to revise.


Yesterday, I got a call from the school nurse saying she found a tick above my daughter's right ear. YIKES! Took everything in me not to completely FREAK OUT. It's been warm lately and there are a lot of trees near the kids' school. Ella's fine. Hoping we got it early. Damn tick. (The subject of PAD #8.)


The beautiful and talented Nin Andrews is blogging this week at Best American Poetry. Not only is she a fine poet, she's a wonderful cartoonist. Here's one she did of me! *smile!*


Mass Poetry now has a blog. Go read their blog, which will be updated a few times a week.


I had a conversation last week with poets published by various publishers. I didn't realize the publication cycles of poetry collections are typically three to five years. I think my publisher has a three-year cycle, while others have five years. Can you imagine publishing a book in 2011 and waiting until 2016 for the next title? Ugh. I know it happens all the time; nonetheless, I'm still surprised by the delay.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday, folks! Thanks for stopping by. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.


Day 8 of the November PAD Challenge and I have six drafts. Still haven't found that flow yet. The poems seem forced to me. Here's hoping I get into a poetry groove by this time next week.

I tend to write poems just before I go to bed so maybe tomorrow I'll change it up and use the morning to start a draft. I've been concerned that I wouldn't have time to revise since most of my poems are written on the fly. But I'll have time to look at them more closely this weekend. Once I do, I'll post a few.


And I know this is my process. The fretting. The hemming and hawing. This is the work on top of the work to control that inside voice. I just have to give into the process and not fight it. Easier said than done, however. I want to hit a home run every time.


I'm going to a weekend retreat in December.
Writing Your Way Home: A Poetry Weekend Intensive
St Marguerite’s Retreat House

With poets Laura Boss and Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 9, 10, and 11, 2011
The purpose of this retreat is to give writers the space and time to focus totally on their own work in a serene and beautiful setting away from the pressures and distractions of daily life.

Writing weekend poets will find:
* support and encouragement
* stimulating activities leading to the creation of new work
* workshop leaders who are actively engaged in the writing life
* opportunities to read their work aloud to the group
* a circle of writer friends
* networking opportunities.

I went last year with some friends from my writers' group and we had a great time. It was just the boost I needed to get me focused and motivated heading into the new year.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fall Back

Ahhh, Monday. You know you're in trouble when it's a "Thank god it's Friday--Oh, god it's Monday" kind of a day.


Despite the time change, we had a pretty good weekend (It's not like anyone sleeps in my household.). Roller skating, kids parties, play dates, and flag football. But I was able to find a little "me" time to crank out a few poems for the PAD Challenge.

Writing a poem a day is like building a airplane while flying it. I have five poems in draft stage, with little time to go back and revise. I'm afraid if I wait too long, I won't go back at all to fix them. Meanwhile, I'm down two poems. I hate playing catch up. Oh well. There are worse things I could do ...

("... like go with a boy or two." Name that tune.)


Check out the latest podcast from New Letters on the Air featuring my former NYU classmate Mariko Nagai. Yay Mariko!


My first-generation iPhone is dying a slow death. *sigh* May be time to pick up a new one.


As I type this, my daughter, Ella, is leaning over and watching me type. So much for Daylight Savings.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: Ink

Kudos to the Czarina of Fun, Colleen Michaels, and the team at Montserrat College of Art for this Improbable Places Poetry Tour video.

The poetry reading was held at Good Mojo Tattoos in Beverly, MA, on a warm October night. I love the tattoo footage as backdrop to the readings.



Save the Date: Next stop on the Improbable Places Poetry Tour:

Wednesday, November 16
7 p.m.
People’s United Bank
240 Cabot St.
Beverly, Massachusetts

Come and make a deposit ... of verse!

One word: Occupy

Friday, November 04, 2011

It's Just Lunch

While I will not attend the AWP Chicago conference (Chi-town in the middle of winter just doesn't appeal to me), I'm over the moon excited that AWP will be coming to Boston in 2013!

Yesterday, I attended a meet-and-greet luncheon for regional organizations. It was an opportunity for AWP get their boots on the ground, while offering exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities for orgs during  conference.  

Did you know ...?

  • The last time AWP came to Boston was in 1982.
  • For AWP Chicago, of the more than 1,000 proposals submitted, about 420 were selected.
  • The AWP Bookfair is the largest bookfair in North America, with about 550 organizations and presses participating in Chicago. There will be more exhibition space available in Boston so there's the potential for the book fair to grow. Impressive!   

OK, I kinda wish I was going to Chicago, but knowing AWP will be local in 2013 gives me something to look forward to down the road.


My little cold is slowing me down, but I have three drafts written for my poem-a-day challenge. I may post one or two this weekend.


Just confirmed that Afaa Michael Weaver and I will be reading at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop on December 1. That good news was tempered by a rejection from Poetry magazine. Oh well. Can't win them all.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Hump Day

Poem #1 of the PAD Challenge--done!

I forget how much effort it takes to just let go when doing a month-long challenge. The bad ones always bubble to the top. But poem #1 has the potential to be a sonnet. So I hope to tweak it in the next few days while I still have the desire to revise it.

Poetry Reading
Rosa Alcalá, Eduardo C. Corral & Aracelis Girmay
Tuesday, Nov 8, 6 p.m.
Cambridge, MA
Thompson Room, Barker Center, 12 Quincy Street.
Harvard Universiy


Poetry Reading
Patricia Spears Jones, author of Painkiller, is coming to Simmons College.

November 14
6:30 p.m., Room C311
Simmons College
Boston, MA
Sponsored by the Zora Neale Hurston Center of the Department of English
English Liaison with Support From President’s Council
ZNH Center contact: Znnzen@Gmail.Com

I hope I can make it to both readings.


I think I'm coming down with a cold.


I'm wearing open-toed shoes today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Goodbye, October. Hello, November! And, Happy Tuesday! Share a little of yourself and we promise to do the same.

My trick-or-treaters. I can’t believe how big they're getting. Here are Alex and Ella waiting to hand out candy.

Despite the weekend snowstorm, the temperature was chilly but mild enough for trick or treating. Not much snow on the ground at all. In fact, it was a great night for some ghostly fun. There were more kids out and about that I’ve ever seen in our neighborhood. Lots of parents handing out hot cider and hot cocoa. Lots of good will in our neck of the woods. We had a great time!


And just like that, it’s November. Where the heck did the year go? I mean, I bought my first Christmas present yesterday. Yikes!


Because October was a busy month with readings, November will be a month for writing. If you haven’t done so already, pop on over to Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog and read up on his Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge. I use this challenge as a kickstart for getting into a groove. I will be writing poems and posting most of them online, but not producing a chapbook.

Of course, I have no idea what I will write today. And my writers' workshop is tonight so today I am a poet in search of a poem.


Planning for the Mass Poetry Festival is revving up. We’re in the process of confirming features and scheduling programming. Between those responsibilities and whatever I am tasked to do on the AWP Boston committee, this fall and winter promises to be a busy time. My goal, however, is to stay as balanced as possible.


My focus for November:
  • Wellness (eating right, sleeping, exercise)
  • Family (kids, kids, kids!)
  • Poetry.

With a few exceptions, I had a great October. Here’s hoping November moves just as smoothly.

Reasons to Survive November

As is my November tradition, I am posting Tony Hoagland's poem "Reasons to Survive November." With each passing year, this poem  resonates with me more and more.

(Listen to the audio.)

Reasons to Survive November

November like a train wreck –
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.

The sky is a thick, cold gauze –
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.

– Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.

I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself

with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.

But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.

(Tony Hoagland, from What Narcissism Means to Me. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf, 2003.)


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