Friday, September 30, 2011

Strange Days, Indeed









The Improbable Places Poetry Tour makes it into the Beverly police log! Very cool.

Also in the police log for Tuesday, "A dinghy was reported stolen at 11:03 a.m. off Cabot Street."


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Thanks for the advice on titles for m'script #2. Keep those suggestions coming!

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I have been waiting patiently for Terrance Hayes' new chapbook Who Are the Tribes to arrive in the mail from Pilot Books. I placed my order on September 1, the Paypal account cleared on September 7, and still no order. I love supporting small presses but if fulfillment is an issue, that's a problem. Ironically, this is a local small press. I could drive there and pick up the book myself.

FYI, The chapbook has a limited print run of 300.

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Congrats to Kwame Dawes, who was named editor of Prairie Schooner.

(Thanks Rethabile!)

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My kids are learning what it means to be Red Sox fans. All through September, my son, who discovered baseball this year, kept saying “Red Sox stink!” because their AL lead completely evaporated. I kept telling him, “No, no. The Rex Sox will get to the playoffs. Don’t worry. The team will be fine.”

*big sigh*

Yesterday my six-year old daughter said, “Maybe 'The Curse' is back.”

Kids, welcome to Red Sox nation. Go Tampa!

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It's been a weird week. Strange days, indeed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need Advice on a Title for My Second Book

For a long time, the working title of my second book was "Conversion Theory." The current title is "Little Misery." But the idea of having Misery in the title is an easy setup for a bad review.

I envision this: "January Gill O'Neil is back with a miserable book called "Little Misery." Imagine! Ugh, that is my biggest fear. (For those who don't know, the long poem in the m'script is called "Misery Islands," about two islands off the coast of Salem, MA, called Great Misery and Little Misery.)

But the title I do come back to is "Tether," which is the name of a poem in the last section. Carl Phillips has a very fine book called The Tether , which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. But a friend of mine looks at it this way:

"From treading water, walking from Great Misery to Little Misery to the realization that being tethered to loved ones (your children) is keeping things whole (letting you shape the clay on the wheel after you expunge all the air). Maybe consider 'Tether' or 'This Kind of Tether.'"

So, is it bad form to name a poetry collection with the same title as someone else's collection?

Would love to have your feedback ! Thanks. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good Mojo

All hail Colleen Michaels (aka "Poetry Czarina")!

Colleen knows how to bring a community together. The second season of the Improbable Places Poetry Tour opened on a perfectly cool night outside of  Good Mojo Tattoos. With the theme "think ink," it was the largest crowd to date.






I may have been one of the few poets there without a tattoo, but I loved hearing how many markings each reader had, which tattoo artist worked on which poet, etc. And when we went into the shop to read, I could hear the needles in the background as tattoos were being drawn! It was so cool!

What I love the most about this reading is that it brought poetry to a nonpoetry audience. Community members who wouldn't normally read in front of a crowd read in front of a crowd! Also, the tour brings potential customers to local businesses. It's a strange mix of art and commerce that works. If that isn't good mojo, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Welcome to the last Confession Tuesday in September (*sigh*). Share a little of yourself and we promise to do the same.

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I find myself in the awkward position of learning how to write again. Revising a manuscript is more about fixing what’s broken vs. starting from scratch. My journal is filled with saved phrases and half sentences that I’ve abandoned for … oh, you name it … helping my kids with homework or doing a load of laundry.

I know that when I don’t write, my life loses that bit of grace that surrounds me. It’s time to start writing new poems again.

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Gosh, when I think of all that I’ve put off to complete the manuscript it’s nearly overwhelming. Never thought I’d say this but I miss exercising. I have to make it a point to start walking again. I miss the rhythm that comes from talking long walks in the evenings.

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Time for a to-do list.

  1. Write two articles
  2. Look into reading at upcoming festivals
  3. Daily 15 minute freewrites
  4. Send submissions to two publications
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Hope you can make it to tonight’s Improbable Places Poetry Tour at Good Mojo Tattoos, 5 Washington Street, Beverly, MA. The topic tonight is ink.

I’m working on a new poem for the reading. Cool.

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Damn Red Sox.

Steve Almond: God Bless America Book Trailer



New book trailer by Steve Almond.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Poetry Crush
























Right to left: Jennifer Jean (moderator), Walnut "Da Lyrical" Geni, Colleen Michaels, Me, and Rusty Barns

On Saturday during the Salem Lit Fest, I participated in the panel “My Poetry Crush.” The panel was an opportunity for us to talk about the poets we come back to for inspiration.

Our Crushes:
Jennifer – Sylvia Plath
Walnut – a young, Boston-area writer whose name escapes me (sorry)
Colleen – Naomi Shihab Nye
Me – Sharon Olds (big surprise)
Rusty Barns – Frank Stanford

As a participant, the best part is learning new things about poets I thought I knew. And in discussing Sharon, I was surprised that I can “teach” Sharon. Because I don’t teach, being able to go beyond fandom and speak intelligently about someone I truly respect as a poet and artist is incredibly gratifying.

Learning about Frank Stanford definitely was a highlight for me. I had never heard of Frank Stanford much less read his work, but apparently in his short life he was prolific. Frank committed suicide in 1978, yet his appeal has grown steadily in the years that followed. Rusty spoke so glowingly about his work that I have to do more research.


Instead

Death is a good word.
It often returns
When it is very
Dark outside and hot,
Like a fisherman
Over the limit,
Without pain, sex,
Or melancholy.
Young as I am, I
Hold light for this boat.

When the rest of you
Were being children
I became a monk
To my own listing
Imagination.
Nights and days floated
Over the whorehouse
Like webs on the lake,
A monastery
Full of noise and girls.

The moon throws the knives.
The poets echo goodbye,
Towing silence too.
Near my house was an
Island, where a horse
Lathered up alone.
Oh, Abednego
He was called, dusky,
Cruel as a poem
To a black gypsy.

Sadness and whiskey
Cost more than friends.
I visit prisons,
Orphanages, joints,
Hoping I'll see them
Again. Willows, ice,
Minnows, no money.
You'll have to say it
Soon, you know. To your
Wife, your child, yourself.


Frank Stanford, ©1979



If you’re interested, here are a few Frank Stanford links:

Frank Stanton web page
Poetry Foundation
Wikipedia


Thanks, Jennifer, for putting the panel together.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bottles and Cans

The second manuscript is done! At least for now. It is off to a trusted group of friends for feekback. Then I'll review their suggestions and if all goes well, I'll send it to my publisher for a second look.

During the last few months, I've been able to buckle down and really work hard on revising poems. Now that the bulk of the work is complete, I'm thinking about sending a few out for submission. And, more important, I'm going to start incorporating those poems into my readings. That's where I can really hear their music, and see how audiences react to the work.

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I'm just happy to leave this subject matter behind. Time to start a new project.

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Wednesday night, my son, Alex, said the words no poet-parent wants to hear: "Poetry is stupid!"

Ugh.

He has a cold, and was tired and crabby that night. He said it because he thinks poetry takes me away from spending time with him. Maybe he's right. I don't think so, but he is almost eight. I can see how it might appear that way. So I'm trying to come up with ways to find more time with both kids.

I know he doesn't really feel poetry is stupid. He likes writing original poems and reading them in front of crowds. Oh well. Growing pains.

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Speaking of poetry events that take me away from my family (*sigh*), I'll be at the Salem Lit Fest Saturday at 3 p.m. for the session, "My Poetry Crush." Hope you can make it.

Should be a lively discussion.

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Bottles and cans and just clap your hands and just clap your hands.

Happy Friday, folks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Salem Literary Festival

The 2011 Salem Lit Fest takes place this weekend, September 23-25, in downtown Salem, Massachusetts.

I wanted to highlight two great sessions.


My Poetry Crush
Saturday, September 24
3 p.m.
Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem

Do you have a poetry crush? The term “favorite poet” is too milquetoast for the one you’re really crushin’ on—their work makes you drool, gets you woozy, and you return for a gawky gaze again and again. In the panel “Poetry Crush” four writers will share (read: “gush”) and briefly discuss the poems of their cherished “crush.” Panelists will also share one or two works of their own which have been influenced or inspired by their chosen writer.

Featured panelists are:
Colleen Michaels—curator of The Improbable Poetry Tour
January O’Neil—author of Underlife
Rusty Barnes—editor of Night Train and author of Redneck Poems
Walnut ‘Da Lyrical Geni’— hip-hop-poet whose most recent album Love is in your Face is now available. Facilitated by Jennifer Jean, author of Fishwife
Full bios here.

Books and CDs available at signing. Event to be held at the Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem.

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Stealing the Family Jewels: Writing about Family
Sunday, September 25
3 p.m.
Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem

Stealing the Family Jewels: How writers crack the familial treasure chest without losing their inheritance!

Families provide writers with their best material—secrets, joys, humor and tragedy. But how do we make family members, beloved and otherwise, into rich, multi-dimensional characters, neither saints nor monsters? And having done this, how do we avoid hurt feelings, libel suits and wrath? In this panel discussion, three authors of books that center on family and personal experience will talk about these issues and entertain your questions.

Ethan Gilsdorf (FANTASY FREAKS AND GAMING GEEKS)
Michelle Hoover (THE QUICKENING)
Dawn Paul (THE COUNTRY OF LONELINESS);
Full bios here.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. Event to be held at the Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! It's time to confess. Is there something you want to tell us? Great, because we want to hear it! Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.


Now that summer's over, everything seems to be ramping back up at once. Work, my reading schedule, kids' activities--all areas seem to have gone from zero to 60 in no time. So I'm looking for ways to simplify so I can expend more energy in certain areas while others lapse for a while (read: housework).

This is a good problem to have.

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I've given up on work-life balance. In fact, I put my energy where I need to put it at any given time, and then I pull back as soon as I can. I wouldn't call it balance so much as trying to intergrate the at-times disparate parts of my life and making them play nice.

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I've finally finished reordering the poems in my second manuscript! Huge accomplishment because I find that part of the process daunting. It hard to switch things up after living with a certain order for so long. But it's finished. I have a little formatting to do, but the plan is to send it out to a few friends for review today before sending off to the publisher at the beginning of October.

The manuscript is stronger and more consistent in tone--that's a great feeling. I dropped four poems and added five. And the title Little Misery is still the working title.

Woo hoo!

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Last night I stayed up late working on the manuscript working while watching The Bourne Ultimatum for the umpteenth time. Damn you Matt Damon and those action-packed sequences.

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Needless to say, I thought about skipping confessions because I'm exhausted, and I don't think I've ever skipped a Tuesday post. Then I realized I've never skipped a Tuesday post, so here were are.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fire on Her Tongue




















This is very cool.

Fire on Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry is the first electronic collection of poems by women writing today.

Not sure how poets Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy found the time to do this--they are co-editors of Crab Creek Review and co-founders of Two Sylvias Press, the press behind the e-anthology. But they did, pulling together this project with more than 70 participating poets (including yours truly) canvasing the span of the contemporary women's experience.

Also of note, as an e-book, it has a zero carbon-footprint. The call for submissions, assemblage of the anthology, mailing of contracts, and distribution of the final project is done without the use of paper and other resources. The editors saw an opportunity to use technology that allowed them to produce and distribute it with minimal stress on the environment. 

Visit the website for the full list of participating poets. Release date is set for late fall 2011.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

You Can Go Home Again

I just came back from a quicker than quick trip to Norfolk, Virginia, to see my parents. My dad had knee surgery a few week ago (he's fine) but I really wanted to see for myself. I knew once he starting cracking bad jokes, he was better. :)

Of course, when you book with Priceline, you can't pick your flight times. So I left Boston Saturday at 5 a.m., and on Sunday I left Norfolk at about the same time. Fortunately, I've had a good amount of time to run errands before seeing the kids later today. Not tired yet, thank goodness.

Best part of my trip? Making crab cakes for my mom and dad for dinner on Saturday night.


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Gotta love airports with free wi-fi.

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And now, I'm Starbucking. Life is good.

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Still tweaking the manuscript. I decided to write one more poem for the collection, so I'm working on that while futzing with the order. I just want to be done, gosh darnit. Almost there.

Speaking of manuscript sequencing, check out tonight's #poetparty on Twitter, 9 p.m. EST.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lessons from a Shark

Yesterday, I had the chance to meet and help manage a campus photo shoot with Daymond John, founder of FUBU and co-host of ABC-TV's Shark Tank. I won't pretend that we did more than exchange plesantries and take a few photos before his presentation, but in-person he's certainly more toned down that his on-camera persona. Couldn't help but notice the gorgeous pair of diamond earrings he was sporting. A little bling is always a good thing!

John gave a 40-minute talk to our students at Babson College about their business ventures. While he talked about being a successful entrepreneur, I was thinking about how I, as a poet, can take a few of these lessons and use them in the po-biz.

I have long said that poets and entrepreneurs are cut from the same cloth: we are self-starters, we work long hours alone to develop our vision, we can take an idea and make it a reality (or a poem), and we know there are no guarantees about earning any money. In a nutshell, we are driven. Yet, the payoff--and potential for risk--is much greater for a enterpreneur. And that's where the roads diverge.

As I was tweeting a few nuggets from the session, here are a few "shark" lessons I think apply to poetry.

1. It's all about sales. In business, you have to have a product to sell, and enough people willing to buy it. In terms of poetry and book publication, your poems have to be good enough that people want to read them. Talent is not enough in the Digital Age. You have to build an audience in-person and online through readings, in journals/web zines, and with an online presence through social media, videos, networking, etc.

It's almost too much to manage, but you find what mix of all of these things works for you.

2. Love what you do is the last thing I expected to hear from a business leader beacuse it's so basic, but so true. If you're going to spend countless hours pursuing your craft, you really have to love it. You love it and in return you get a big emotional payoff ( 'cause the money just ain't there).

3. Know your brand. I know poets don't like to think of themselves as a brand, but we are. As soon as you take the mike, you have about 30 seconds to win over a crowd. Are you reading what the crowd wants to hear, or reading something you picked out earlier without getting a feel for the venue or the audience. (Are you reading your sex poems at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning? Is that right for this audience?) What about your appearance? Are you bringing your best self to the reading? Beyond good poetry, these are the subtle distinguishing factors that make a difference at the point of sale.

And I thought this was key: if you had to sum up your brand--or in this case, your writing--in three to five words, what would they be? In business, this is your rocket pitch/elevator pitch. As John says, your "brand" is an extension of you. Take FUBU as an example: "For Us By Us." Whatever words you choose, that's your mission statement.

So what's my mission statement?

I write poetry that celebrates the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Nuff said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15

Collin Kelley has a nice interview with Justin Evans discussing his new book, Town of the Trees.

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Check out Jessie Carty’s new book, Fat Girl.

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What do you think of contemporary poetry? Sketch by Nin Andrews.

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Also, today at work I’m escorting a celebrity around campus. Details and a photo to come. In a separate project, I’m on part of a team organizing a flash mob. Weird.

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Today is a weird day. I’m commemorating it by finishing up my manuscript revisions. Also, there's a poem I’ve been trying to write for years. It’s one of those poems people will ask me how long it took to write, and I can honestly say it's taken 10 years. Will post soon.

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I give myself a hard time for not submitting poems for publication on a regular basis, but I have 14 poems coming out, 10 in a journal and four in an e-anthology. Not too shabby for Ms. Lazy Bones.

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Truth is, I don’t give myself enough credit for the things I have accomplished, no more important than being a single mom to two wonderful kids. I have a rich, full life filled with friends and family, poetry, and joy.

So today, I celebrate myself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Confession Tuesday

It’s Tuesday … time for you confessions. We want to hear from you. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

Yesterday, I caught a rebroadcast of the Oprah Winfrey Show on satellite radio. In this segment, probably a replay of the show's finale, Oprah was telling her audience, “Your life is whispering to you. What is it saying?” After commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and approaching what would have been my 10th wedding anniversary on 9/15, I’m quite certain I can’t hear what my life is saying right now.

They say (OK, Oprah says) your life will give you clues to whatever direction you are supposed to move toward, so I’m watching and listening. It’s hard to hear when everything is shouting at me at once. Too many opportunities and options.

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I'm looking forwards, not backwards.

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Back to Sunday. I read an original poem in a church on Block Island as a part of a 9/11 remembrance. It was certainly a solemn day, but in the sermon, we were reminded that there is much joy in the world. My poem touched on life on the island, and how we are a part of something greater. Not sure if I want to post an occasional poem. But I was happy to lend my voice to the day, and to include my kids into this part of my life.

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While Hurricane Irene delayed my trip to Block Island a few weeks ago, I believe I was supposed to be in that church on that day for a reason. Sometimes my life speaks to me and I do listen.

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Block Island in September. Vermont and Seattle in October. I am thankful for the opportunities that poetry has opened up for me.

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Mini to-do list
  • Re-order poetry manuscript
  • Send manuscript out for review
  • Write two articles
  • Write a poem a day—pick up where I left off
  • Clear desk/get organized

(My desk has been shouting at me for months!)
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The Massachusetts Poetry Festival is looking for proposals for the 2012 festival, April 20-22. Visit the website for more information. Deadline is December 1.

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Happy Tuesday, folks. Hope your life is speaking to you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back on the Mainland

Back from Block Island and what a weekend! I think my kids have fallen in love with the island, just as I have. Every time I go, I wonder, "How can I find a way to live here year round, hmmm ..."

















My thanks to Pastor Steve Hollaway for inviting us to stay on the island, and to read at the Soup and Song Coffeehouse at the Harbor Church. We had a terrific time Friday night. I split the set with a local musician--a lovely combination of words and music.

Then on Saturday, we explored the island, with our first stop at a zoo, of sorts. The local animal farm/petting zoo boasts a wide variety of exotic animals, including llamas, lemurs, emus, camels, alpacas, water buffalo, black swans, and my personal favorite—the zedonk.

Ella feeding a llama.

Later in the day, we went to a little estuary known as Andy's Way. A quiet, undiscovered spot--perfect for small kids. No waves but plenty of nature around, including hundreds of fiddler crabs.


Ella and Alex practicing their moves















On Sunday, I had the distinct pleasure of reading a poem at Harbor Church's morning service on 9/11. I think I'm going to post about the experience tomorrow in confessions. Just seems weird to talk about 9/11 in the same post with zedonks and surfing.

All in all, it was the perfect getaway to close out summer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: Good Mojo

The Improbable Places Poetry Tour
Begins Its Second Season








Tuesday, September 27
7–9 p.m.
Good Mojo Tattoos
5 Washington Street, Beverly, MA


What's this tour all about? Well, It's Montserrat College of Arts' 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 the front window of a tattoo parlor. Think Ink!

A poem about ink, huh? That’s right, folks. Tattoo, fountain pen… giant squid? Really, there are so many directions here. We’re looking for poems about your full sleeves and stained hands. Poems about ink blots, printmaking, and, of course, getting inked are all welcome.

Hey, I've got a poem about my giant squid tattoo. Can I read it? We are accepting submissions via email at colleen.michaels@montserrat.edu and in the Writing Center, located on the 2nd floor of Montserrat’s library. The deadline is Tuesday, September 20th. 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 and meet the fine artists at Good Mojo.

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

Friday, September 09, 2011

Block Island: Soup and Song

My Block Island reading, rescheduled because of Hurricane Irene, is happening tonight! Hope you can join me.

Soup and Song coffeehouse
Block Island, RI, 7 p.m.

Soup and Song is located in the Harbor Church just up the hill from the Point Judith-Block Island ferry in Old Harbor. Free soup and sandwiches are offered at 6:30 p.m. Coffee and baked goods, also free, are available through the performances. Donations are received which go to the artists. Soup and Song is sponsored by the Block Island Prevention Task Force and Harbor Church.

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On Sunday, I've been invited to read a poem or two at the Harbor Church. Admittedly, I'm a little nervous about reading a poem--my or anyone else's--on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But I am honored to do so.

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Bringing the kids with me. They are so excited to go a ferry. Let's see what they say when I tell them there are no McDonald's on the island. No Happy Meals, kids! (Insert evil laugh here.)

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TGI Starbucks! Happy to have the day off. And the sun is out, which makes it all the better.

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Was invited to submit a batch of poems to the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative. What a terrific publication. Fingers crossed.

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There's been lots of activity happening with upcoming readings. I need to update the blog, post new information, make a to-do list. Have not had time to write but planning on doing so, starting today.

Will post pictures from our island getaway!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New Poem

(I've never been able to make tabs work in Blogger, so the formatting is slighly different than what you see here.)



Home Improvement


Friday nights are the best nights to meet men
at Home Depot. I travel down the aisles like a tourist
in the kingdom of tools looking for a weekend warrior,
someone a full score younger than me helping re-stake
friend’s a fence post, or building a rocking horse for his niece.
I need wrenches, screws, a drill—things taken when my ex
left for good.

Home Depot, home of the handy,
the amateur professional, and me with my Hi,
can you help me? look. Give me the guy
with the ratty college shirt, slim build, and galvanized grip,
a real DIY-er with the I-haven’t-shaved -in-two-days-grin.
Can you help me? I need hardware to mount
my flat screen. The smell of cedar is everywhere.
I’m fingering an edger in a wall full of edgers.
And what about spackle?

I need a sledgehammer.
Walls torn down and put back up. A fresh coat of paint
on new life. How unfair to be in this beautiful store
with its rows and rows of normal. I need a satin finish.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

2012 Massachusetts Poetry Festival


Yep, that's right. The 2012 poetry festival will be held in Salem on April 20-22. Mark your calendars and visit the MassPoetry website for updates.

Yippee!

Confession Tuesday

Happy First Tuesday of September! Time to hear your confessions. Share a little of yourself and we promise to do the same.


I am in a post manuscript revision haze, so a short post today. I'm also thinking about all the other poetry goals that I let slide. Don't think that's a bad thing, but it is time to shift my attention to writing a poem a day, submissions, and writing projects that need my attention.

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With the kids back to school, it does feel pretty good to get back into this routine. Don't get me wrong--I'll take more summer vacation in a heartbeat. But our routine is more reliable and allows me to plan my days better. In theory. Even as I write this I have a feeling this week is going to kick my ass.

This week has the potential to be soul crushing if I'm not careful. Too many competing interests and not enough balance.

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It's early, but I'm really hoping my September 9 rescheduled reading on Block Island is not interrupted by a hurricane for a second time.

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Happy Tuesday, folks!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Hello from Manuscriptland!

Happy Labor Day, folks. Hope you all have had a nice weekend.

I have sequestered myself in order to finish my manuscript revisions. After some much needed encouragementand feedback on Friday and Saturday from poet friends, I did nothing all day Sunday but work on my manuscript. And now it's nearly complete. Woo hoo!

With the kids away this weekend, I really had no excuse but to finish the damn thing. How long have I been talking about revisions? Since May? Well, part of yesterday was about forgiving myself for not doing this sooner. I also had to give myself to be a big ol' slob and let the day unfold without any pressure to do housework or errands.

Here's the rundown of Sunday's revision marathon:

  • Wake up at 6 a.m., work on m'script until 9 a.m.
  • Watch CBS Sunday Morning (because I never get to watch it uninterrupted with the kids around)
  • Work on m'scrcipt from 10:30 a.m.-noon
  • Lunch (tilapia with sweet potato fries and yellow squash)
  • Work on m'script from 1:30-5:30 p.m.; take breaks to watch the Red Sox lose to the Texas Rangers (*sigh*)
  • Stop to mow lawn, my only chore for the day (also, first time out of my pjs)
  • Shower and dinner (made best pasta of my life: angel hair with shrimp, tomatoes and basil from my garden)
  • Watch Bourne Ultimatum and work on m'script 7-10 p.m.
  • Drift off to sleep in an uncomfortable position
  • Get up and watch the Bourne Ultimatum again. (sad)
Once I freed myself of the bazillion other things I needed to do, it was easy to gain clarity on individual poems. Looking at the tone, making sure I'm conveying the right emotion, and tweaking the language has been paramount for me. Going back into this material is like opening a vein every single time, but the work now is stronger for it.

Today I will print it out and work on the order, which I think will be harder than the revision process. I've rewritten some poems and replaced others--and now the arch has changed slightly. But by the end of the week, I'll send the work out to a few friends for quick feedback. Then, off to the publisher. Fingers crossed.

Working manuscript title: Little Misery

Friday, September 02, 2011

2012 Poet Stamps

Not sure how the U.S. Postal Service came up with this selection of poets to honor on stamps, but I can't complain too much. I'm just happy that these stamps are forever stamps.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Poetry Round-up

If you're looking for some solid advice on how to put together a manuscript, read "Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Poetry Manuscript: Some Ideas on Creation and Order" by Jeffrey Levine, editor in chief, Tupelo Press. From the January 2007 issue of AWP Job List.

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Terrance Hayes has a new chapbook out titled, The Day I Got Burned I Wanted To Be Burned. A review is up at The Rumpus:

If you like Hayes, if you like little books, if you like political poetry, or, if you are like me and like all three, you’ll find this book compelling. Tactily pleasing, the physical properties of the book accentuate Hayes’s muscular poems. It’s a great marriage of author and publisher.

Read the full review.

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A review of Jennifer Jean's In the War is up at Fiddle Crab Review (check out the right side of the page).

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Have you been reading Oliver de la Paz's blog? He's been working on three manuscripts simultaneously and using his blog for his process notes. Poems are posted and taken down within a day, but his notes are fascinating. And, I'm in awe of his dedication.

The Book of Arrows






The Book of Arrows
by Mike Amado
Cervena Barva Press (August 2011)
Edited by Jack Scully and Nancy Brady Cunningham
$15.00 | ISBN: 978-0-9831041-4-8 | 62 Pages


In January 2009, poet Mike Amado passed away far too early. His friends have edited this collection in his honor. From the press release:




Accept life
In all its beginnings
Accept life
In all its blooming
Accept life
In all its endings

-Mike Amado, December 2008


In this book, we try to show you a picture of Mike's early life in Plymouth and his family (Beginnings). How his poetry evolved from the dark to tell us about things which he believed were wrong and should be changed, especially the wrongs done against "Native Americans," and the warehousing of kidney patients into dialysis units (Blooming). In October 2008, Mike knew that his time was coming to an end and this book includes seven poems written during the last months before his death (Endings). Mike had almost 500 unpublished poems. In his final months, he put some of them in collections on his computer in what he called books. Most of the poems in this volume were under the heading of The Book of Arrows; thus, our title.

This collection is fondly dedicated to Michael "Mike" "Spokenwarrior" Amado (April 23, 1975-January 2, 2009).

~Jack and Nancy


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