Monday, February 28, 2011
Green Eggs and Ham
May 28, 2010, 1 comment 1,649 Pageviews
Block Island Reading
May 26, 2010, 2 comments 183 Pageviews
NPM Book Giveaway!
Mar 22, 2010, 59 comments 22 Pageviews
Feb 22, 2011 22 Pageviews
Two Upcoming Readings
Feb 23, 2011, 1 comment 17 Pageviews
The lesson from this exercise? If you want to increase stats, add a picture of Green Eggs and Ham to any post.
(Left to right: Mignon Ariel King, Charles Coe, Sam Cornish, and Beatrice Green)
Each poet honored another black poet; I chose Cornelius Eady. I was extremely nervous reading the poetry of a living poet—and one I respect so highly. But I chose well, I think. I read Cornelius’s poem "Gratitude"—and if you know the poem, it’s not easy to read because of the line breaks. It's one of those "in-case-of-emergency-break-glass" kinds of poem for me.
On Sunday, after a good five inches of snow, I drove to Cape Cod for the Calliope Poetry Series to read with Dzvinia Orlowsky and Jadene Felina Stevens. Special thanks to Alice Kociemba and Jarita Davis for setting it up. (Forgot to take pictures after the reading, Drat!)
Both events were put together by people dedicated to the idea of creating community. Good literary citizens. It reminds me that much of the poetry happening today goes on with little attention or support from arts organizations. And yet, poetry seems to be flourishing.
I felt I gave two of my strongest readings in a while. I am very critical of myself as a reader, so much so that my desire to not flub a line gets in the way of enjoying the moment. At both readings, I read new poems from my second manuscript, and of course I stumbled over the new work—haven’t found the music yet. But it will come.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Between work, home, and festival planning, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. So I've decided not to take on any new projects, events, or favors until June. I have a tendency to say yes to everything, but I'm feeling stretched. I can barely keep up with the projects on my plate now. Seems like a no brainer but it's taken me this long to realize my limitations.
Hoping to eke out more time to write, even though I have poetry events today and tomorrow.
In case you haven't heard, the Friday night headliners for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival are Brian Turner, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Jericho Brown! Woo hoo!
Now that I've been behind the scenes, I have a whole new respect for people who put these things together on a regular basis. Whew! Lots of work, but it's good work.
Here's an article about an upcoming Poetry Out Loud contest. I am very excited to be a judge for the March 5 round.
"Poetry Out Loud engages high school students in mastering public speaking skills, building self-confidence, and learning about their literary heritage by taking poetry from the page to the stage. In its sixth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate classic and contemporary poetry."****
Oscars, BABY! Hope you can join the Twitter Poetry Party during the Academy Awards (9-10 EST). Follow hashtag #poetparty to keep up with the conversation.
Friday, February 25, 2011
This is a very cool thing.
Mass Poetry has created a statewide poetry project for April called
Common Threads: 7 Poems and a Wealth of Readers. By April 1, our goal is to have 500 groups across Massachusetts engaged in the common experience of exploring and discussing the same seven poems throughout the month. The poems are:
“The Lost Pilot” by James Tate
“Occupation” by Suji Kwock Kim
“Vita Nova” by Louise Glück
“New England Ode” by Kevin Young
“Samurai Song” by Robert Pinsky
“Love Song: I and Thou” by Alan Dugan
"In the Waiting Room” by Elizabeth Bishop
Today, there are 200 groups registered to receive our free, downloadable kit that will include the text and audio recording of each of the poems, a discussion guide, tips for reading poetry, biographies and interviews, and links to articles and essays.
We want you to organize your school, local library, senior group, or book club to join in an engaging and enjoyable poetry exploration. One popular idea is hosting an April Poetry Potlock with the poems as the main course!
The kit will be ready mid-March. If you'd like to receive the kit, sign up and spread the word!
And visit the Mass Poetry website for updates on the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Every year, I order the annual National Poetry Month poster from the Academy of American Poets. I have posters from the last 11 years--they are all so diverse and interesting--and this year is no exception. I especially like the green theme for 2011.
Sign up for a poster, and check out the other events for National Poetry Month.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
A Century of Black Voices: 1911-2011
Black poets of New England reading our words
and those of beloved writing ancestors
Saturday, February 26
First Church in Cambridge
11 Garden Street,
Cambridge, MA 02138
Contact Mignon Ariel King at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridgit Brown—Reading Alice Walker
Charles Coe (Co-host)—Reading Gwendolyn Brooks
Sam Cornish, Poet Laureate of Boston—Reading Amiri Baraka
Beatrice Green—Reading Frances Harper
Mignon Ariel King (Host)—Reading Langston Hughes
January Gill O’Neil—Reading Cornelius Eady
Lolita Paiewonsky—Reading Claude McKay
Denise Washington—Reading Maya Angelou
Afaa Michael Weaver—Reading Sterling Brown
Authors’ books will be on sale. Cash only.
Poetry Readings at West Falmouth Library
Sunday, February 27
Open Mike Sign-up, 2:45 p.m.
$5 donation suggested. Refreshments.
575 West Falmouth Highway, West Falmouth. 508-566-1090.
Or visit Calliope's new website
January O’Neil is the author of Underlife, her first volume of poetry. January was recognized as one of 12 Debut Poets to follow by Poets & Writers. She is a Cave Canem fellow and senior writer/editor at Babson College.
Dzvinia Orlowsky is a Pushcart Prize recipient and author of four poetry collections, the most recent of which is Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones. She is a founding editor of Four Way Books, and a contributing editor at Agni. Her poetry and translations have appeared in numerous anthologies. Dzvinia teaches in the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program at Pine Manor College.
Jadene Felina Stevens is the founder of Saltwinds Poets. Her poetry and prose have been included in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, Brevities, and Muddy River Review, and in the anthology Crossing Boundaries: An International Anthology of Women's Experiences in Sport.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This just in: The Eleventh Annual Boston National Poetry Month Festival will be held at the Boston Public Library on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10. If you've never been to this marathon reading, there will be about 100 poets reading in 10-minute spots throughout the two days.
Looks like I'm closing out the festival, Sunday at 4:30! Will post full listing of poets when available.
Here's an article I wrore for Poets & Writers about the marathon in 2009.
Husband and wife Terrance Hayes and Yona Harvey on New Letters on the Air (scroll down for link to podcast). Terrific interview!
Ross Gay and Evie Shockley, two of my favorite people, are blogging for the National Book Foundation, discussing the poetry books of past NBA winners. Ross discusses titles by William Carlos Williams while Evie discusses Conrad Aiken, with more titles to come. Thirteen poets are featured in this book-a-day project.
Paper Nautilus is a new journal looking for submissions for its inaugural issue, slated for October. Submit!
After a visit yesterday to the Museum of Science, I took the kids to our local Borders bookstore. Nothing sadder than a closing bookstore, especially a chain bookstore with deep pockets. It was packed with people clamoring for books priced at 20-30 percent off. Went to the poetry section and didn’t see anything I had to have—mainly because our Borders stocked the shelves with books by dead poets. But the kids, on the other hand, walked out with nearly the entire series of The Adventures of Captain Underpants books. Between Underpants and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (both very fun collections), I’m all set with kid-lit. I must start reading books for adults.
After reading Captain Underpants, my kids’ new favorite word is “inappropriate.” We have had long conversations about what we can say in public and in private. Most of it centering on potty talk. *sigh*
This past Saturday, I did a lot of work for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival (the festival is May 13-14, in case you haven’t heard.). An intrepid group of volunteers went out in downtown Salem to sign up sponsors, and I’m happy to say we have some solid leads. But it was a blustery cold day, and not every shop owner was receptive to us. My friend Kevin said he felt like Willy Lowman out there. Ugh. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a full-time fundraiser.
Guess you can do anything for something you believe in.
Later, I spend a few hours with Jennifer Jean and J.D. Scrimgeour trying to wrap our heads around festival programming. There will be so much activity over the two days that it’s hard to wrap my head around everything. But I do know it will be dynamic and exciting weekend of poetry and community. And I can’t believe I’m in the middle of it all—how did that happen?
Sent off my scholarship application to take a weeklong workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Woo hoo! Just felt good to get the application in the mail. A week focused on nurturing my creative self? I need this workshop like plasma.
I was hoping to start my 15-minute free writes last week, but that didn’t happen. Oh well, this is a new week; I will make the free writes a priority. Even bought a new journal as added incentive.
The universe is calling to me, and I am listening.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I marvel at the wonderment and word play that goes on in Bob Hicok’s poetry. I can’t do what he does, but I want to—which is exciting for me as a poet and a reader. So I feel pretty lucky to have been able to spend a little with him when he came to Babson this week.
Bob read to our students at an evening reading, which was terrific, but he also spoke to a small group of students in our chapel the next day. (My timing was off—did not get any pictures. *sigh*)
Here are a few gems from his Q&A with students.
When asked how much editing does he put into his work, Bob said he’s one of those writers who writes and then moves on. Most of the revision that he does is across poems. He writes daily, and learned early on how to finish most poems in one sitting. And when a poem doesn’t work, it’s a matter of striking off in a different direction. “When I get distracted,” Bob said, “I remind myself of that thing that interested me in the first place.” Whether you’re writing poetry vs. short stories, it’s all just “… words on a page.”
Another student asked how have his past jobs affected his poetry, and how does his work life affect his writing. This was a great question for Bob with Babson’s business students because long ago Bob owned an automotive dye company in Michigan for many years. (And I’ve always thought entrepreneurs and artists share common bonds.) Ultimately, you have to follow your passion. “If you end up doing work you don’t like, it will crush you.”
In terms of making a living as a writer, “The model people don’t talk about … I’m a plumber … and I like to write stories. … Do you have a lot of energy? Because writers have to publish. There’s no way around it. People have to like your work.” In order to have success as a writer, you have to build a life around work you can do, and then write at night. Bob goes on to say, “You can do both, but you have to do the work.”
When asked about inspiration, and how much he draws from real-life experiences, Bob answered, “I’ve moved pretty far from narrative. I like making things up.” Also, “Boredom is the best thing to pay attention to.” He went on to say that “You’re not going to escape your primal interests or concerns … but you can make the work multifaceted—you can change the angles.” Talking about that “thing” you’re writing about too much will cause you to lose interest. “There has to be something that comes out of the moment that’s different for you.”
Thursday, February 17, 2011
In 1975, Schwartz was at a dead end on his PhD thesis and realized he’d like to write about [Elizabeth] Bishop though he was afraid her shyness would make her reject his plea. But Schwartz says, “She was very generous. I seemed to tap into a maternal instinct. She felt young people ought to finish their degrees. She’d do anything to facilitate that.” In the following year the two met regularly to discuss her poems. “I was one of the few people who didn’t want to finish a dissertation.”
Join Lloyd Schwartz and musician Sebastien Jean for a fund raiser for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival
Massachusetts Poetry Festival Fund Raiser
Thursday, March 17, 7-9 p.m.
337 Essex Street, Salem MA
Suggested donation: $50
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.
Lloyd Schwartz is Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a regular commentator for NPR's "Fresh Air." His poems, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, The Paris Review, The Pushcart Prize, and The Best American Poetry.
Sebastien Jean is a composer, rock guitarist and musicologist. Jean received his MFA in musicology from Brandeis University.
Bob Hicok's reading last night at Babson was fabulous. Today, he's giving an informal talk to students in our multifaith chapel, so I'm going to attend and post about it tomorrow. I had the pleasure of having lunch with him and poet Mary O'Donoghue yesterday--just lovely.
I am going to be an adjudicator for a semifinal round of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Competition. The competition will be held on Saturday, March 5, at the Framingham Temple Association (Masonic) in Framingham, MA. Should be a lot of fun.
And I think I'm going to attend part of the Block Island Poetry Project's Poetry and Faith Weekend, March 31-April 3. Here's a little description from the press release:
The connections between poetry and faith will be the focus of a three-day workshop on Block Island March 31-April 3. Poets, theologians, musicians, and a Native American shaman will share their experiences of inspiration and how spirituality informs their art. There will be two events for the general public on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday night at 8 p.m. (April 1 and 2) at the Harbor Church with readings from visiting poets and music from local musicians. Registration is required for the full Poetry and Faith workshop, but not for the evening events which will be by donation.
And Mass Poetry ... very close to naming names (read: announcing headliners). Very exciting!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
All hail Colleen Michaels and the Improbable Places Poetry Tour! She makes poetry accessible by bringing it to the people, in the most improbable of places.
Here's an article about the tour on AOL News!
I think Dawn Paul sums it up nicely:
"People talk about, 'How do we get more people involved in poetry? How do we make it accessible without dumbing it down?' People are concentrating on the poetry itself. I think a lot of it just is, How is it being presented?"
Also featured is an earlier version of my poem "Denim." And I love this lead-from the article:
The full text of January O'Neil's poem "Denim" runs below. To maximize your reading experience, sit next to a humming dryer.
See the full article at AOL News. *smile*
This piece is was written specifically for the Improbable Places Poetry Tour, held at a local laundromat. Still a work in progress. It's also a birthday poem, so it seems appropriate to post it now.
Alone in the basement,
I take off my pajama bottoms
and slide warm denim
from the dryer over my thighs.
They unfurl like a blue flag
tighter than I remember,
hanging lower and snugger
around my hips than before.
This is how 42 feels: authentic,
comfortable, dangerously curvy,
a little distressed along the pockets.
I run my hands over the weft and weave
smooth the creases over the inseam,
that junction between the invisible and visible
at the intersection of the crotch.
The long cursive of my legs
is my signature. Blessed be
the soap and hard water
that makes it all come clean.
Like fallen halos,
white rings of snow salt
once around my cuffs
tumbled away in turbulence,
my past sins absolved.
Everything smells April fresh,
of mountain breezes and waterfalls.
My body retrofits to these grooves and furrows,
and the selvage that never fades.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
(Alex, Ella, and me roller skating on Sunday)
I am still blown away that my kids decorated our dining room for a family party. They woke up really, really early (too early for a 7- and 5-year old) to bring out cakes they had baked the day before, presents, candles, etc. They are so special. I am lucky, lucky, lucky that they are the last faces I see at night and the first ones to brighten my day.
Birthdays make me contemplative.
This year, I am trying to center my life in a place that makes sense for my family and me. I’m such a planner—I like knowing where I’m going and seeing the steps in front of me. But I have to believe that the changes of the past few years are bringing us on a journey to a better place. I have to believe that I have a higher purpose.
So I go back to my New Year’s goal:
I’m seeking independence.... I want to put support systems in place so I have more time and less stress (not an easy task). Financial security is also at the top of the list. And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to add love back into this huge equation.I’m looking around to see what’s working and what’s not. Can’t waste my time on people or activities that add more stress than joy. This 42nd year will be a year of transitions—and I’m preparing myself for whatever comes my way.
Part of my “truth,” or what’s at my core, of course, is poetry. My writing has gotten short shrift recently. I’m unable to focus on a my new project until the summer, unfortunately. So I write when I can, even though I’m not happy with the quality of the work.
What I think will help is getting back to 15-minute free writes, and buying a new journal.
Mass Poetry Festival planning is picking up steam. Friday, May 13, is our day for high school students, and teachers, with almost 400 students signed up to participate. As for Saturday, we’ll have 35-40 concurrent sessions of poetry readings, workshops, performances, and surprises. And there's no shortage of talent for this event!
Working with the festival has been a source of joy for me. I’m happy to be on the planning committee.
Tonight, Mass Poetry Festival co-founder and poet Michael Ansara will be on Poet to Poet, Writer to Writer, a community cable access show in Somerville today at 5 p.m. (Yikes!) The program will be hosted by Doug Holder. Hope you can tune in.
On Wednesday, February 16, Bob Hicok comes to Babson College as part of the Thompson Poetry Series. Reading starts at 7:30. It’s free and open to the public. (Woo hoo!)
Monday, February 14, 2011
That's right! I'm 42 today!!
My kids got up at 1 a.m. to decorate. They baked cakes with their Nonna on Saturday--they were so excited to do this for me. Do I have a great family or what?
Friday night, I took my daughter to see the new Justin Bieber movie in 3D, which she loved (my son was having no part of it!). And yesterday, we went roller skating, my new favorite birthday tradition.
I have the day off from work, so I'm going to get a mani/pedi, do some writing, and maybe take in a movie.
Happy VD everyone! XOXO
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I think host Colleen Michaels said it best when she reminded the audience, "We define our community by our poetry." She went on to say how great it is to live in a place where Thursday night poetry in a laundromat is not only accepted in our town but normal. Just another night in Beverly, MA.
Check out what the Boston Globe is saying about the tour!
Enjoy the photos from Thursday night's reading.
Host Colleen Michaels.
I have an iron on my pillowcase because I'm hot! *smile*
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Like Collin, I feel like hitting the reset button.
Tonight is the next stop on the Improbable Places Poetry Tour
The Salem Laundry Co.
304 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA, 7 p.m.
Hope you can make it!
"The Washington native, poet and assistant professor of creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College said he grabbed the life-size cutout of Hughes as a protest - because he doesn't think that the restaurant/performance space pays poets fairly for their public readings." (Oh, Thomas!)
Here is Claudia Rankine's essay from her talk/reading at AWP.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
This is a photo of me from my book signing at the CavanKerry Press table. Underlife is the little book that could. It continues to open doors I never thought possible. So indulge me while I share a few of the things I’m most grateful for—AWP Style!
I am grateful …
to have a book. I know how hard it is to get a collection published these days.
to have a few minutes to speak with Toi Derricotte. I’ve known her since 1987, and I consider her a friend and mentor. It was wonderful to be able to catch up with her about what I’m doing and the interesting projects she’s working on.
to speak with Marie Howe, who took the time to have a real moment with me at her book signing. I’m hoping to take her workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown this summer.
to finally meet Kelli Russell Agodon, Martha Silano, Deborah Ager, Mary Biddinger, and so many poet bloggers. I am equally thrilled to meet some of the people I follow of Twitter—what a pleasure.
to catch up with old friends and make a few new ones.
I could go on, because I am grateful for a lot. So many AWP memories I'm still unpacking.
I had a really bad cold in D.C.—just starting to feel better. Thanks to all who put up with my hacking and nose-blowing. Hope I didn’t infect anyone. Ugh.
Because I was sick, I didn’t take as many pictures or talk to as many people as I had hoped. I was really off my game. Didn’t even make it through the entire book fair. Oh well, maybe next time, which will probably be Boston in 2013. I don’t do Chicago in February, which is the 2012 location.
Still playing catch-up. The kids are happy to have me back and need extra attention from mommy. Lots of hugs and kisses flying freely in the house. Alex was just happy I didn’t visit the White House—he was afraid I’d meet the president without him. HA!
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Reggie Harris from Poets House
Catherine Doty and Teresa Carson
Saturday, February 05, 2011
I've been tweeting for AWP, which is terrific (Thanks Caleb!) but I'm starting to have that feeling that every conversation I have is potential blog content. And I have developed "AWP eye," that roaming eye syndrome where I'm speaking with someone but my eye starts to drift to see who's passing by. But I have to say I've had a lot of little moments that add up to one fantastic conference.
Saturday has been the busiest day at AWP. It's also the day booksellers unload their inventory for cheap or free because no one wants to hall anything back home. Needless to say, I have picked up a few freebies.
Here are a few pictures from the conference.
Jacqueline Jones LaMon and me
Poet-bloggers unite! Me, Kelli Russell Agodon, Kristin Berkey-Abbott, and Susan Rich at the White Pine Press reading at Busboys and Poets.
And the two photos that follow are from VIDA and the Men Who Love Us. Sixteen fabulous male writers read short selections by women writers. It was a very cool reading.
Friday, February 04, 2011
This year's AWP experience is surreal. I keep meeting people from the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook--all my worlds are merging. Cool.
I had a surprising number of conversations yesterday about being a parent and a writer. Many of us have young kids, and we're all struggling to figure out how to be artists and a good parents. (In fact, my daughter spiked a fever after I left. Poor baby. She's fine today.) This is an important conversation I want to explore in more detail, so I'll hold off on elaborating more until next week.
These AWP updates will be quick and dirty. I am on the move, but will try posting updates on the fly updates during the day.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
You can find me at the CavanKerry Press table on Friday, February 4, from noon-3 p.m. Stop by and say hello!
And, I will be blogging/tweeting/you-tubing for the AWP’s Conference Blog.
Books I will pick up while at AWP:
Aimee Nezhukumatathil: Lucky Fish
Jacqueline Jones LaMon: Last Seen
Ross Gay: Bringing the Shovel Down
Evie Shockley: The New Black
Finally! I never thought tomorrow would come. I’m spent most of the day shoveling snow and ice, and keeping the kids occupied on a snow day. I’m so ready for a little “me time.”
D.C. here I come!
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Lawd have mercy, can you believe this snow? New England is going to get walloped again this afternoon and then throughout Wednesday with accumulations between 16"-21" inches, on top of the five feet of snow that's on the ground now. Seriously, Winter, we get it. I'm saying "Uncle!"
Save travels to those heading to AWP D.C. I've heard that West Coast flights have been canceled ahead of the storm. And Chicago--ugh. By some fluke, I'm flying out on Thursday. Originally, I was bummed that I wasn't flying out on Wednesday. Not anymore. I *think* I will be OK to fly on Thursday but who knows. I'm hoping the storm is not as bad as predicted. *sigh* Fingers and toes are crossed.
I packed my bags on Sunday--that's how excited I am! Besides, I wanted to make sure I had room in my suitcase for a few extra books. And packing winter gear is a pain.
While I will miss the kids dearly, I can't tell yo0u how much I'm looking forward to the break. Mommy needs her me time. What better way to get it then surrounded by poets and writers?
I will be blogging/tweeting/youtube-ing for the AWP's Conference Blog and my blog. Woo hoo! Will post my AWP whereabouts soon.
Have you seen Nin Andrews' AWP cartoons? They're terrific.