Monday, December 31, 2012

Poetry Action Plan 2013

Goodbye 2012. Hello, 2013!

Next to summer, this is my favorite time of year. It’s a time when all of us reflect on the year that was, looking toward the year that will be. Everyone pulls backs, takes stock, and moves forward with purpose. We put our best foot forward. We all, literally, have the best intentions.

A few years ago, I gave my writing goals a real value. My Poetry Action Plan (PAP) was (is) my attempt to structure my writing goals so that the goals become habit. The plan is flexible enough to change as my life changes.

Here are a few tips on you can create your own PAP.

  • Define your goals. What is most important to you as a writer? Is it practicing your craft? Do you want to read your work in public? Is this the year you finally complete your manuscript? Whatever it is, name it, claim it, and put it at the top of your list. 
  • Be realistic about what can you achieve. Having a focus is essential. Pick four or five goals and stick to them. 
  • Track your progress. It’s one thing to make goals, and another to keep them. List items you can quantify so you can gain momentum as you reach your next goal (ex. submit to 25 journals, write two poems a month, etc.). 
  • Prepare for setbacks BUT be open to opportunities wherever they appear. Small acts, such as jotting down a word or phrase or mailing one submission to one publication, will keep you moving forward through times of uncertainty. 

In 2012, my goals were to:

Write a Poem a Week
I wrote 40 poems instead of 52. I’m disappointed about that, but I am considering these poems the basis of manuscript #3.

Read a Book a Month
Poetry, yes. Other genres, not so much. However, because I’m teaching, I am reading more short fiction, which I value as much as reading a novel.

Support the Massachusetts Poetry Festival

Start Manuscript #3
I feel like I indirectly backed into this goal by writing a number of poems this year. I didn’t flesh out what I wanted to do. Didn’t do any research on the topic of race relations in 1960s Boston, didn’t make those connections to my life now. But, having written so many poems toward a manuscript, I can now see what’s missing. The task doesn’t seem so big.

Attend a Weeklong Workshop
I put all my eggs into attending a class at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, but I didn’t find a workshop that fit into my summer schedule and budget. Also, I didn’t get into Bread Loaf. But the truth is I didn’t apply anywhere else beyond that. I need to research and widen my scope. It’s clear that I need a week to myself so I can work uninterrupted.

So in thinking about my 2013 goals, the overriding principle guiding my goals is to be kind to myself. In the past, my philosophy has been to maintain a kind of balance throughout the year. But being a single mother and raising two kids who require more of my time that ever before, I’ve learned that there is no such thing as balance. I have to forgive myself for falling short. I have to accept the limitations of time and energy and work around all the things that keep me from writing.

And I’m willing to do that. Getting up at 4 a.m. to write or getting away for an hour at Starbucks may be the best that I can do for a while. That’s OK. I will still get to where I want to go.

In 2013, my goals are to:

Write a Poem a Week
The writing comes first, no matter what.

Publish Poems in 12 Publications 
I haven’t done much with submissions. Not even sure what poems I have out there working for me. But it’s time to serious about print and online publications.

Complete Manuscript #3
I want to create an arc that ties the past to the present. I’ve decided not to push it through but use this time of thoughtful reflection as an opportunity to learn about myself, my surroundings, and my history. That being said, it would be great to have all the manuscript poems completed by July so I can focus on revision.

Attend a Weeklong Workshop
I have to make this one happen during the summer. Fingers crossed. I will take on four goals in the new year instead of five. I rather complete four goals instead of almost finishing five.

Hope you can use the PAP as you map out your own path in 2013. Don’t forget that your plan is flexible and can change as your life changes. Good luck, and Happy New Year!!

Burning the Old Year

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

“Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Yes, it's beautiful ...

Until you have to shovel it.

For those of us along the MA coastline, we received our first real snowfall in two years. Although, not that much, 2-3 inches, it was still enough to break out the shovels and rock salt.


In between holidays, we've had a relaxing few days. A few playdates and errands, some girl time with my girlfriends, and lots of downtime for all of us. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the year as it comes to a close.

2012 has really turned out to be a mixed year. I became a full-time college professor, which also allowed me to run the Massachusetts Poetry Festival full time. I’ve been able to spend more time with Alex and Ella, who have also tried new things this year. Alex now plays the viola and Ella is a yellow belt in Tae Kwondo. Couldn’t be prouder of them. My parents are healthy and happy and my network of friends is stronger than ever. But this year I lost both of my grandparents. And with Hurricane Sandy, the school shooting in CT, and the looming fiscal cliff, I end 2012 feeling grateful but adrift.

Did not hit any of my fitness, financial, or dating goals. (sigh)

Even my writing goals ended on a mixed note. I wrote 40 poems instead of 52, yet 30 of them I am kinda sorta calling my third manuscript. My blogging is down, way down, this year. I did not participate in a weeklong workshop. And while publishing in journals has never been a huge goal of mine, the lack of publications for 2012 bothers me.

So I accomplished less than what I expected to do, but the things I did do turned out pretty cool.

Tomorrow I will post my Poetry Action Plan, and it won’t be a retread of previous goals. Have I become complacent? I don't know. Time to pick a direction and go.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Sorry, no photo today because we are still in our pajamas!

My son was so excited last night, he had trouble sleeping. After going to bed at 9:30 p.m., he woke himself (and me) up at 11 p.m., 1:30 a.m., and 2:30 a.m. His sister woke him up at 6:02 a.m. All the presents were unwrapped by 6:27 a.m. 


Woke up to snow on the ground! So, of course, we had to stoke up the fireplace.


I spent the most of this morning registering two iPod Touch-es. Good lord, one false move in the registration process and you're in Apple Support-land; although, Apple Customer Support is fabulous!


In the last 24 hours, I have been a cooking fool: crab cakes, chicken noodle soup, Challah French toast (Holla!), chicken noodle soup, center cut pork roast, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cookies, brownies ... I'm headed to the gym first thing tomorrow.


It's been a great holiday. So happy to have my parents here with me and the kids. I love it when the house feels full. Feeling very grateful tonight.


Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Finally ...

My parents are here.
The grades are posted.
The shopping is done!

That is a poem onto itself.


This is the first time in nine years that I have not mailed a holiday card. If I had, I would have used this photo.

Instead, I made a JibJab video, which I think my dad liked more. You can view it on my FB page.


If you're going to MLA in Boston, try your hand at creating a poem with their online magnetic poetry. I did it (scroll down), but I find it hard to believe a poet had anything to do with the creation of it. Those are some of the least poetic words I've worked with, but I guess that's the point. Three winners will receive a $25 gift card to


New poem by Lloyd Schwartz in The New Republic.


I have a head cold. Hate being sick during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Woman Without Umbrella

Woman Without Umbrella from Rachel Eliza Griffiths on Vimeo.

Watch this stunning visual lyric poem inspired by Victoria Redel's poetry collection, Woman Without Umbrella. Created by the beautiful and talented Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confession Tuesday

It's the Confession Tuesday before Christmas,
and all through the land,
every poet was writing,
counting meter and iambs.

I could go on, but I won't. On to confessions ...

At the poetry writing retreat I attended this past weekend, everyone adopts a mug for the duration their stay. It saves on water and is just less work for the staff.

Do you remember Charlie, the cologne from the 70s? Shelley Hack was the Charlie Girl, showing off her 70s flair in the commercials. I can sing the jingle. Anyhoo, this Charlie mug was mine for the weekend. The line at the bottom reads, "Here's to independence." I don't know, something about this mug made me smile the whole weekend. And, I like that Kevin Carey is in the background of the photo.


My heart goes out to the victims, families, first responders, and community of Sandy Hook, CT. While we were at the poetry retreat, these are the poems we kept coming back to for comfort and some measure of understanding.

"The Times," by Lucille Clifton
"In the Loop," by Bob Hicok
"Rock Me, Mercy," by Yusef Komunyakaa

And this poem brought comfort to me but is not the right poem for everyone, Yehuda Amichai's, "God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children." It's a subtle poem, and if you understand Amichai, you know that he wrote from a place of compassion. It may not be the right poem for now but it was (is) the right poem for me.


Today, I am grading, working on Mass Poetry projects, and going to my workshop tonight. The goal is to finish the grades tomorrow, before my parents come into town for the holidays. Then it will start to feel like Christmas.


Makes me want to put on my silk pantsuit and go for a stroll!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Maria, Laura, and Writing Your Way Home

I am back from the writers' retreat!

The Salem Writers Group, Danielle Jones-Pruett behind the camera

This is the third year I've attended the winter session of Writing Your Way Home, an intensive poetry writing workshop run by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss. This year, there were eight of us for the weekend, about 30 of us in attendance. The Massachusetts contingent was deep! We had a terrific time, and I wrote seven poem drafts.


On our way down to NJ, we passed by Newtown, CT, where the school shootings occurred. As we passed the exit on Friday--hours after it happened--there was traffic, police, and sirens in the distance. We mostly stayed away from TV images, but we had laptops. It was all the talk in the hallways. The tragedy entered our hearts and entered our poems. We looked for comfort in the poetry of others--Lucille Clifton, Bob Hicok, Yusef Komunayakaa--and discussed how they were able to capture some aspect of how to feel. I am thankful that we mostly stayed away from the news or we wouldn't have gotten anything done.

On our return, we passed by the airport as the president's plane touched down for the memorial service. There was just a sadness in the air.


Kevin Carey showed his documentary about Maria Gillan, co-directed by Mark Hillringhouse with music by Bob Evans. The film, called All That Lies Between Us, has footage from last year's retreat so it was nice to see some of those past moments caught on film, as well as celebrating Maria's lifetime body of work.

We will show Kevin's film at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival on Saturday, May 4.


We laughed a lot, read poems in a round at the evening poetry readings, sang songs on Saturday night with guitar accompaniment by Bob Evans, and talked about our hopes for our poetry. We went into The Cave and brought back drafts we will revise in the days and weeks to come. It was just what I needed to slog off any doubts or fears I have about my writing and to keep moving forward.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CavanKerry Press: Open Submission Period

I have enjoyed working with CKP through the years. Please consider sending your poetry or memoir in for consideration.


CavanKerry Press will accept submissions for LaurelBooks, Emerging Voices, Notable Voices and Memoir between October 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013.
All manuscripts will be considered for publication in Spring 2015 and beyond.

CKP is partial to the writer whose distinct voice is emotionally accessible and daring. We discourage writers from sending victim-ridden, pedagogic, preachy or sentimental material. Works functioning as soapboxes for political causes are unacceptable. CKP does not publish self-help, how-to, travel, romance, science fiction or novels.

We are eager to receive and read manuscripts from diverse populations. We are interested in reading works from people of color and the multiplicity of ethnicities and heritages that populate our country. Writers who submit must be full-time American residents whose works are written in English.

Poetry manuscripts: Minimum: 50 pages
Prose manuscripts: Memoir only
Maximum: 250-300 pp (double-spaced)
No novels. No collections of essays

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mass Poetry: Common Threads 2013

Each year, Mass Poetry chooses poems by writers connected to our great state and creates a kit, called Common Threads, which will be distributed (free of charge) to schools, bookstores, public libraries, book clubs, and writing groups. We hope to encourage 10,000+ readers to discuss and interact with the selected poems. It’s our way of celebrating Massachusetts’ illustrious poetic past while introducing new audiences to contemporary poets who are shaking things up right here in the present: a way of sharing our common threads.

Award-winning poet Jill McDonough on this year's selections:

“Ten pastorals… as rollicking take-this-job-and-shove-it: ‘Tell the top brass, if/ they ask, I don’t give/a damn about their asses.’ As drunken urban water skiing, but with snow instead of water. And a pick-up truck instead of a boat. As meditation on life and death, on loveliness: ‘Flame and rust, the permutations/of burning.’ [Of] news you didn’t remember could split you inside out. Battlefield close-up, geography of afterlife, ‘countries in which my love/took place.’ As grateful wonder over how your life turned out to be ‘the/center of all beauty.’ 
These 10 fantastic poems are by Andrea Cohen, Martha Collins, Robert Frost, Jack Gilbert, Steven Jonas, Matt Miller, Frank O’Hara, Lloyd Schwartz, Patricia Smith, and Afaa Michael Weaver. Poets we can claim in Massachusetts, bringing us worlds on the page.”

The kit, coming in March, will include a booklet with all the poems, discussion questions, writing prompts, and videos of the poems being read.

To receive notification of the kit’s availability, please take a moment and sign up today!:

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday! Share a little of yourself today and we promise to do the same.

This lovely little chocolate orange was left in my faculty inbox by one of my students! (Thanks, Via!)

Today is the last official day of classes. Whew! I'll spend the next few hours grading portfolios and papers at a rapid pace. Can't believe the semester is over already--I must be getting old. But I am so pleased with this semester and my students.

Admittedly, I'm pretty pleased with myself. I never thought I would have the strength to teach. I mean, I thought I would be an editor for the rest of my life, but that was not my path. By being open to new possibilities, I've discovered this side of me who is vast and contains multitudes, to borrow a bit from Whitman.

Today is a good day.


After spending time with family this past weekend at my grandfather's funeral, I had a chance to see a few friends, including the beautiful and talented Collin Kelley! Our visit was quicker than quick, about 15 minutes before heading off at the airport. But he was kind enough to join me for a cup of coffee, which was just enough time to find out what the other is doing. Boy, is his busy! Keep your eyes on Collin because 2013 is going to be a crazy busy year for him.

We did lament a bit about the blogosphere and how everyone is really too busy to blog and respond to posts, including us. But we still enjoy blogging, mainly because we do it for ourselves.

If we had more time, I would have asked how he balances it all. Just amazing.


On Friday, I am traveling to Mendham, NJ, for a writers' retreat lead by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss. Here's a link to last year's retreat. In 2011, five of us went to this writing-intensive weekend. This year, there are eight of us! I'm so excited! Not only will I get some really good drafts started, I get to spend a weekend with my friends. How cool is that?


My only concern is that I'm in sort of a poetry zone. Hoping the retreat enhances and not derail my efforts.


It's all good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

SNL: Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?

This skit happened after Weekend Update, but it's the best skit I've seen in a while.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Now Boarding

I am on my way to Atlanta for the funeral of my grandfather. I'm wondering if I can post this before the flight attendants tell me to stop. Forgive the typos.


Today was the last day of my intro to poetry class. We had a student reading; all of the poems were terrific. I'n thrilled that I got to teach this remarkable group of students. Of course, I'm relieved that the semester is winding down.


Traveling with me is my iPhone, iPad, and laptop. How sad is that? Also, books by Sharon Olds and Jill McDonough, and the latest version of APR.


Thanks to Danielle Jones-Pruett for hanging with at Starbucks today.


"Please put your tray tables into the upright and locked position."

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Confession Tuesday

If it's Tuesday, it's time for your confessions. Share a little of yourself and we promise to do the same.

This is my last full week of teaching classes.


I've had lots of fun this semester teaching a full course load, and my students are great. But I need a break. Also, this is the first time I will have a month off. Hello! It's not like I won't be busy, however. The O'Neil household has officially entered the silly season (a.k.a. the holidays). And the Mass Poetry Festival never sleeps.


I'm thinking about writing the next poem (not the last poem), which is a good sign. It's too early to say I'm working on a new book, but the poems are coming. They are hiding underneath other poems. I wake up and there they are waiting to be noticed. They wait patiently for me to turn ideas into drafts. So I am writing, scribbling, jotting, musing, singing, twisting, poeming.

Keep calm and write poems.

And on a sad note, my granddaddy passed away this past Sunday. So I will be flying down to Atlanta this weekend for the funeral. He and my grandmama, who passed away last May, were part of a generation quickly disappearing. They enjoyed the American Dream: they worked steadily, they raised a family, they were active in their community, and they owned their own home. Not to say that life didn't throw them challenges, but my grandparents were humble people who prospered. I hope I am that lucky.

My granddaddy lived a good life. He will be missed.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

First Snow

The first snow of the season has taken us all by surprise. The forecast didn't call for flurries, but it's been snowing all day. There's a half-inch on the ground, at least.

Sunday's high temp: 54 degrees.


This weekend, we have multiple kid sleepovers happening. Craziness.


A few days ago, I took a look at my list of published poems for this year, and I was shocked at how few acceptances I have. Clearly, publication has not been my focus. Five journals have taken my work in 2012. Granted, one journal took 10 poems, and another took three. But still, I don't have a lot to show for myself.

In general, I've tried to keep work in circulation with three or four journals at a time. But I don't think I've sent out to more than 25 journals this year. It's not about the numbers; yet, it is about the numbers. More than half of the poems from my second book have been published. I don't send work out on autopilot, however. I research. I query my poet-friends who have had success with certain pubs. And I send when time allows. I feel like I have a relatively good success rate considering how little I send out.

I do have new poems ready to send, so maybe I can get them in the mail, or submit electronically, by year's end. We'll see if I can double the number of acceptances in 2013.


A little later, the tree goes up, cookies in the oven, and a fire in the fireplace. My dining room is going through a makeover, which is taking up a lot of space in my brain.


I'm also thinking about the next poem I want to write, which is another good space to inhabit.

Now on iTunes: "All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray. I've been for a walk on a winter's day."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Confession Tuesday

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

First day back in class and I am wiped out. This is my long day, three classes. Whew! I'm exhausted. And congested. Ugh.

Thanksgiving killed any hopes for catching up on my PAD poems. But I have been writing all along and I feel as if I'm still in a groove, which feels great! This is good momentum going into December, when I will go away for a weekend in Mendham, NJ, for my annual poetry workshop weekend with Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss. So looking forward to the break. By then, classes will be over, grades turned in, and Christmas on the horizon. I need this weekend like plasma.


My poem, "The Blower of Leaves" is in the new issue of Ploughshares!! My first time in the journal. When I first moved to Boston, I was a reader for Ploughshares for about half a minute. It's taken me 13 years in get in print! So many terrific writers in this issue, including Afaa Michael Weaver. Very cool.

Woo hoo!!


I am backed up on my reading. Lots of new collections and journals to go through. I'm trying to read a few poems a night so I can get through my stack. I always feel wealthy when I have lots of books around.


Congrats to all the NEA recipients in poetry.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday


Hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving break. We stayed local and spent the day with friends. Thanks to Danielle, Josh, Alex, Andrew, and Simon for opening their home and hearts. This is our turkey day photo taken on Danielle's front porch.


Something happened on the way to my computer this past weekend ... I walked right passed it. Guess I took a cyber break from the computer screen.

Needless to say, it was a kid-tastic weekend, with lots of friends, family, and play dates throughout. I rested, read a few books, and watched a few movies, including one of my all-time faves, All the President's Men.


We made a trip to IKEA and bought a new dining room table, which we assembled Saturday night. That's where I am today, at my new table gearing up for a full day of grading. The semester may be winding down, but Mass Poetry Festival is kicking into gear. Lots happening behind the scene with both of my two passions.


Unfortunately, we made one emergency visit to the ER when my son's hand was slammed in a door (OUCH!). He's fine. No broken bones, thank goodness.


I am resisting every urge to buy something today on Cyber Monday but I have a feeling I'll succumb and purchase a few things on sale. We're pulling back on spending this year in favor of house projects, but I refuse to get sucked into the hype about buying stuff to make people happy. I'm really trying to focus the kids on giving and being more appreciative of what they have. It's hard, though, when everything in our culture says BUY RIGHT NOW.


Currently playing on iTunes: Thankful, by Rumer

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Things You Must Do to Make Me Happy (a found poem)

Things You Must Do to Make Me Happy (a found poem)

“Happiness is overrated—you can be happy without it.”

Wake up.
Read my mind.
Hurry up.
Proclaim your love.
Switch the laundry.
Remember what I tell you.
Remember what you tell me.
Let me win.
Think before you speak.
Fantasize about me.
Be real.
Be somebody else.
Be yourself, but better.
Be like me.
Be on time.
Call if you’re going to be late.
Calm down.
Get it yourself.
Acknowledge I’m right.
Read a poem.
Chew in silence.
Shut up.
Give me the remote.
Take off your shirt.
Leave me alone.
Like it because I do.
Make the bed.
Use turn signals.
Laugh at my jokes.
Do my bidding.
Earn more money.
Tell me I’m hot.
Knock first.
Repeat after me.
Speak your mind.
Lower your voice.
Grow up.
Take care of me.
Bring me flowers.
Turn off the lights.
Don’t call me that.
Teach my kids.
Wear your seatbelt.
Learn the words to the song.
Pretend to like my family.
Wipe that look of your face.
Tell me everything.
Use apostrophes correctly.
Remember the punch line.
Be my partner.
Plan ahead.
Call for takeout.
Expand your horizons.
Replace the toilet paper.
Toss the empties.
Plan for the worst.
Get over it.
Stand for something.
Share your fears.
Use a fork.
Kiss me.
Set the alarm.
Wax metaphysical.
Screen my calls.
Get over yourself.
Climb a tree.
Read to me.
Respect me in the morning.
Stop whining.
Stop saying “like” and “um.”
Take the high road.
Open up.
Be the better person.
Express yourself.
Stop mumbling.
Offer to help.
Pay the bills.
Rub my feet.
Make up for everything.
Give a damn.
Hold my hand.
Hold the door.
Put your arm around me.
Last longer.
Complete me.
Log off.
Accept the double standard.
Don’t use that tone.
Pick up some milk.
Drop it.
Watch me.
Look at me when I’m talking.
Get a haircut.
Bring me breakfast.
Tell me what to do.
Stop bossing me around.
Make an effort.
Impress me.
Be more specific.
Get a life.
Give me a break.
Have another drink.
Replace the batteries.
Hit the snooze button.
Act like you mean it.
Mean it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Confession Tuesday

It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Do you know where your turkeys are?

My turkeys are in school and I am missing their Thanksgiving play.* Sigh.* One of the tough parts about being a single mom is not making it to all the kid events.

*big sigh*


Feeling a wave of gratitude move through me today.

The last two weeks I feel I’m tapped into a wellspring of poems. Even though my number count doesn’t reflect the volume, I feel connected to that place where I feel most myself. Does that make sense?
Helps that I’ve been around a lot of creative people working on--surprisingly--creative, non-poetry projects. Attending lots of poetry events helps, too.

And, I've received a boatload of new (or new to me) poetry collections this week, from Ai to Vivian Shipley to Jill McDonough. Very Cool.


Whenever I’m in possession of new poetry books, I feel rich.

This past Saturday, the kids and I went to the library and picked up a ton of children’s books from their annual book sale. We bought about 12 books and six VCR tapes (yes, we still have a VCR) for $10. After the sale, they went into the children’s library section and checked out 10 more books between them.

I’m hoping they are feeling rich, too.


One of the projects I’m working on involves typeset letters that were once slated to be melted down and made into ammunition—I kid you not. So excited about this project, which I see as a collaboration of visual and literary arts.


I hope you can find a reason to be grateful today. Feel free to share it here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Poetry Marathon Fundraiser

Lloyd Schwartz and I did double duty last night as we were one a few headliners at a fundraiser north of Boston. Event #2 was in support of Boston's National Poetry Month Marathon Poetry Reading.

Organized at a private residence by Chris Warner, the audience was warm and welcoming. It was nice to see so many friends from the Boston area supporting poetry. But for many, it was there first poetry reading. Every time I think poetry is becoming extinct, I find people who are hungry ... no, starving ... for words. For truth. For connection.

We asked them to give and they gave. And then they gave more. And we are thankful.

Tom Daley

Lloyd Schwartz

Unfortunately, I had to leave early (I had been out of the house and away from the kids for eight hours). But one of my favorite moments came when Lloyd spoke about Jill's book launch party. Lloyd and Jill are friends and colleagues. So he honored Jill by reading her poem "On Being Asked, "What is Poetry?'". It was a lovely way to honor a friend and a terrific poet--with a poem fitting for the moment.

Congrats to Chris and marathon organizer Harris Gardner for putting together a wonderful event.

Where You Live

Yesterday was a tale of two poetry events for me. Event #1 was the book launch party for Jill McDonough's second book, Where You Live. It was divine.

Jill and me
The shindig was held at a bar called Drink. And we did. Let's just say there was a lot of love in the room.

Things overheard at Drink:

“This drink tastes like a man in a shower!”

“Once you go Tiki, you never go back.”

“Y’know, we were just talking about sheep …”

There's Jill, raising the roof again ...


Jill and Lloyd Schwartz

I'm serious about the love in the room. Wonderful to see so many friends of Jill and Josey's come out to support them. Lots and lots of laughter filling the room. It was a terrific party.

(Cheers to  creating an amazing poetry collection and giving us another reason to celebrate YOU! XO)
The North Shore crew
This coaster was originally created by for the Mass Poetry Festival as part of the Improbable Places Poetry Tour. Nice to see them given out at Jill's party. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Coming Close

(I am so proud to  be a part of this anthology. Special thanks to Mari and Tomas for including me.)

Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine

Editor(s): Mari L'Esperance, Tomás Q. Morín
Prairie Lights Books
University of Iowa Press
Available: May 2013
214 pages, 6 x 9 inches

This collection of essays pays tribute to Philip Levine as teacher and mentor. Throughout his fifty-year teaching career, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Levine taught scores of younger poets, many of whom went on to become famous in their own right. These forty essays honor and celebrate one of our most vivid and gifted poets. Whether in Fresno, New York, Boston, Detroit, or any of the other cities where Levine taught, his students benefited from his sharp, humorous honesty in the classroom. In these personal essays, poets spanning a number of generations reveal how their lives and work were forever altered by studying with Levine. The heartfelt tributes illuminate how one dedicated teacher’s intangible gifts can make a vast difference in the life of a developing poet, as well as providing insight into the changing tenor of the poetry workshop in the American university setting.

Aaron Belz, Ciaran Berry, Paula Bohince, Shane Book, B. H. Boston, Xochiquetzal Candelaria, Colin Cheney, Michael Clifton, Michael Collier, Nicole Cooley, Kate Daniels, Blas Manuel de Luna, Kathy Fagan, Andrew Feld, Nick Flynn, Edward Hirsch, Sandra Hoben, Ishion Hutchinson, Lawson Fusao Inada, Dorianne Laux, Joseph O. Legaspi, Mark Levine, Larry Levis, Ada Limón, Elline Lipkin, Jane Mead, Dante Micheaux, Malena Mörling, John Murillo, Daniel Nester, Sharon Olds, January Gill O’Neil, Greg Pape, Kathleen Peirce, Sam Pereira, Jeffrey Skinner, Tom Sleigh, David St. John, Brian Turner, Robert Wrigley 

Friday, November 16, 2012

You've Been Served

Thursday's Improbable Places Poetry Tour delivered poetry with a side of pie!

Once again, Colleen Michaels served up a hearty serving of verse at the CitySide Diner, a landmark eatery in downtown Beverly. It was packed, and the poems flowed!

I read a brand-new poem--and by brand new, I mean I wrote my poem two hours before the event. Always good to try out new work in front if a local crowd. Unfortunately, I left before the feature, but I heard she was terrific and even had saxophone accompaniment for three of her poems. Very cool.

The poets who read last night ahead of her were terrific. Such a diverse range of talent and styles in our little town. If you haven't been to one of these tour stops, you should make a pilgrimage north of Boston. What a great night of food, diner poems, and fun!

All hail Colleen Michael, the Czarina of Poetry Fun!

CitySide Diner

Colleen Michaels

Tony Toledo

(Side note, I just looked back at my Improbable pictures and noticed I wore the same outfit to the last tour stop. Yikes!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks!

This is the late afternoon, tired-as-all-get-out version of Confession Tuesday.
This is the "I need a nap but have to go home to hungry children" version.
This is "the poetry will wait" version.

By 9 a.m. Monday morning, I had helped my son create a Captain America costume, complete with red, white, and blue outfit and homemade shield. And my daughter had a diamond blue sword made out of foam core. They battled to the death--or until their TV time started.

By noon, I had 9 kids at my house for a five-hour play date. By 2:30 p.m., there was a talent show with the boys dancing Gangnam Style in the front yard (it was REALLY cute!). By 4 p.m., I had baked a dozen cookies, and at 9 p.m. I was in bed grading papers.

All this to say I'm a little tired today.


On Sunday, I went to a reading at Harvard University sponsored by the New England Poetry Club with Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Vivian Shipley. Now, Maria I have known for a few years through a bi-annual workshop she leads in New Jersey. She also runs the Paterson Literary Review--just a pleasure to be in her presence. But it was a real treat hearing Vivian Shipley's poetry.

Shipley is the author of nine collections and editor of the Connecticut ReviewBoth poets are well-published, active in the poetry community, and have too many accolades between them to count. It was lovely hearing them read together. What a treat!


Ahhh, the poem-a-day challenge. I have three poems waiting in the wings, which will bring my poem count up to seven. I hope I can stay awake long enough to type them up. I'm not quite where I want to be but I'm not giving up yet.

Waking up at 4:30 a.m. to write (or grade papers some mornings) has given me a chance to think about my next book project. It's been hard for me to find a way into the past, but I think I will start writing poems of place. I don't have enough of those, and when I'm feeling lost in my work, writing about home is as good as any a place to start.


Just got great news about an upcoming reading that came out of the blue! More info to come.


The AWP Boston Schedule is out! My two sessions are as follows:

Event #1: Lessons from the Field: Poetry Festivals and Community Building
Date: Thursday, March 7
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Location: Room 200, Hynes Convention Center

Event #2: Massachusetts Book Award In Poetry, Past Winners Reading
Date: Friday, March 8
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Location: Room 203, Hynes Convention Center

Cool. My first time presenting.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Benefit: Boston National Poetry Month Festival

Join us for an evening of poetry and spoken word performance to benefit the 13th annual Boston National Poetry Month Festival 

Sunday, November 18, 2012
6:30 to 9:30 pm, Private Home, Boxford, MA
Including light supper buffet, cocktails, and "poetic" desserts. 

Suggested minimum donation per person, $35

Featured Poets: 
Lloyd Schwartz
January Gill O’Neil
Tom Daley
The Incredible Christopher Johnson
Nora Meiners
Chris Warner

For more details, and to RSVP (by 11/12), contact Chris Warner, Director of Development for the BNPMF at 617-759-2288 or

All proceeds go directly to the Boston National Poetry Month Festival. And, please, feel free to pass along details of this event to anyone who might be interested!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: Blue Plate Special

In photo, Ellie Topizer '13; Photograph by Jade Brewer '13; Montserrat College of Art

Improbable Places Poetry Tour
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Join us for dinner at 6 p.m.
Poetry will be served from 7–9 p.m.

275 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA
Submission Deadline: Friday, November 9, 2012 (Yikes, that's today!)

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. At each tour stop, a new venue and theme will be selected. This month we’re having a Blue Plate Special at the Cityside Diner.

A diner, huh?
That’s right, folks. We will be serving up poems about the service industry: back of the house, front of the house, line cooks, the hostess station, and your friendly wait staff. And food, glorious, food: Adam and Eve on a raft, mom’s meatloaf, or that bottomless cup of coffee.

Hey, I've got a poem about the best slice of pie I’ve ever had? Can I read it? 
We are accepting submissions of diner poems via email at and in the Writing Studio, located at 238 Cabot Street, Montserrat College of Art. The deadline is Friday, November 9, 2012. We'd love to read your work!

I don’t write poetry, but I sure am hungry for poetry. Can I still attend the event?
Absolutely! Come listen, cheer on the readers, and order the daily special! Join us for dinner at 6 p.m. followed by poetry at 7 p.m.

Wait! I've still got questions! 
Just talk to Colleen Michaels, Montserrat's Writing Studio Director. She's at or 978-969-2301.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Confession Wednesday

Happy Confession Wednesday! A first for me.

I'm still basking in the glow of victory. The people have spoken and delivered a decisive re-election victory to Barack Obama! Woo hoo!!


Did not go to my writers' group last night--couldn't handle it. Instead, I hung out a local restaurant with a friend. The restaurant had multiple TVs, including a flat screen at our table. But the management did not turn on the sound until 8 p.m. and when they did, they changed the channels to Fox News. Ugh. We high-tailed it out of there as soon as possible.


Four more years!


On the poetry front I have been writing drafts for the poem-a-day challenge but I can't quite call them poems yet. That's why my number is stuck at 2. But this weekend, I will spend time catching up with revisions.


Two fellowship rejections last week (Sustainable Arts Foundation and NEA). One publication this week (Sou'Wester).

Last week sucked.


"You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose." ~Mario Cuomo


We are bracing for another storm on the East Coast. It's now raining in Massachusetts so I can only imagine what it's like in New York and New Jersey. Hope we all make it through this one with few incidents and no injuries.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I Voted!

Now, it's your turn.

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Election Tuesday!

I confess I'm starting this on Sunday because my kids don't quite understand the concept of Daylight Savings Time (read: one extra hour of sleep).

Well, Election Day is finally here. Can you believe that after what seems like a campaign full of rhetoric, fact checks, and gaffes, it all comes to an end today--at least I hope it does.

Please vote!


As you might have guessed, I'm voting again for Barack Obama. In 2008, I was a die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter, and if she runs in 2016 I will be there for her. But I was thrilled to be one of the millions of Americans to vote Obama into office then, and I will be doing so again today.

We’ve had four years to evaluate Obama and if I were to grade him, I’d givehim a B+.

Given the economic crisis, collapsing housing market, and failing banks, he inherited a mess from the Bush administration. But four years later, the country is moving in the right direction—the leading economic indicators point to recovery. The president has kept most of his promises, including killing Osama Bin Laden and saving the auto industry. And he’s taken strong stances on issues focusing on women, minorities, and LGBTs. With the specter of re-election behind him, Obama will be able to work with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff and to get the economy growing even faster.

If I am to be perfectly honest--speaking from the heart--I don't want the Obama administration to be looked upon as some grand experiment in sociology (read: "we gave the black guy a shot."). Obama is the most qualified candidate to move this country forward. He has been a symbol and an inspiration to many of us of all races and nationalities. But he has given us four years to decide if we want him back. I do.

I just don't think Mitt Romney should be rewarded for consistently telling lies that have been fact-checked by the media--without any retractions or apologies. (Jeep is not sending jobs to China.) How can this man keep his promises when he's flip-flopped on nearly every issue? I live in his "home state" of Massachusetts and nearly 70 percent of the Commonwealth will be voting for Obama. That speaks volumes.

Given the tragedy of Sandy and the looming fiscal cliff, I believe Barack Obama will get us through.


On the flip side, if Obama loses ... I can't even go there.


Some of the members of Dee-Lite re-recorded this tune for 2012, but I like the original.

Monday, November 05, 2012

You Bring Out the Mitt Romney in Me

Between the PAD challenge and the election, this was bound to happen. In fact, when I gave my students the assignment to write an imitation poem, this one just sprang into being. 

So, this is my imitation of "You Bring Out the Mexican in Me" by Sandra Cisneros AND "You Bring Out the Boring White Guy in Me" by Jim Daniels. Still very new, but timely.

You Bring Out the Mitt Romney in Me

You bring out the Mitt Romney in me.
The republican in me.
The moderate in me.
The severely conservative in me.
No, the moderate in me—
of that you can be sure.

You bring out the lapel flag-pin wearing,
gun-toting, live free or die,
Wal-Mart mom in me.
The Romneycare in me.
The private elevator in the state house in me.
The car elevator in the California home in me.

You bring out the one percent in me.

You bring out the Ann Romney in me.
The father of five in me.
The Mormon in me.
Why do I need caffeine when I have you,
with your Ken Doll square jaw,
gleaming eyes and immobile hair
graying at the temples?

You bring out the missionary in me.
The Harvard-educated lawyer in me.
The Bain in me.
The venture capitalist in me.
The one-term governor in me.
The Olympics in me.
The job creator in me.

You bring out the red state in me.
The Ronald Regan in me.
The George Bush in me, 41 and 43.
The Paul Ryan in me. 
The Sarah Palin in me.
The Ann Coulter in me.
The Newt Gingrich in me.
The Eric Cantor in me.
The John Boehner in me.
The John Sununu/Grover Norquist /Todd Aiken in me.

You bring out the Birther in me.
The Tea Party
The blue collar in me.
The middle income in me.
The non-Hispanic white voter in me.
The pundit in me.
The policy wonk in me.
The political hack in me.
The electoral college in me.

You bring out the Colorado-Florida-Iowa-Michigan-Nevada-New Hampshire-North Carolina-Ohio-Pennsylvania-Virginia-Wisconsin-swing states in me.

You bring out the voter fraud in me,
and I like it.

You bring out the recession in me.
The unemployment in me.
The fiscal cliff in me.
The self-deportation in me.
The welfare state in me.
The voucher program in me.
The school choice in me.
The Detroit in me.
GM employee in me.

You bring out the pro-choice in me. 
The pro-life in me.
The multiple choice in me. 
There’s only one choice for me, 
Mitt. Tell me what I want to hear.
No, really. Tell me what I want to hear.

You bring out the Let Detroit Go Bankrupt in me
The You didn’t build that in me.
The I like being able to fire people in me.
The Corporations are people in me.
The I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there in me.
The I’ll bet you $10,000 in me.

You bring out the 47 percent in me.

Facts don’t matter, Mitt. The polls
are wrong. We have momentum, baby.
your red states against my blue states
your elephant against my donkey
your right against my left.
Mitt, let’s double down.
Let’s make a final push.
Take me out of your binder, Mitt.
Strap me to your roof rack and call me Seamus—
I’m waiting for you.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Nikky Finney at Dodge: A Recap

I am somewhat disappointed in myself for not typing up my notes from Dodge sooner. But maybe this is the right time. The kids don’t understand Daylight Savings Time (*sigh*), so I’m up, using my time before the day gets going.

These notes are from three weeks ago from the Geraldine R. Dodge Festival, a Sunday morning craft talk with Nikky Finney. Here are a few gems (mostly paraphrased) in bullet points.

  • Why do you avoid certain subjects in your writing? If you are, then there is something to look at in that equation.
  • My models were people who understood work. We seem to be moving away from the sacredness of work.
  • Epigraphs can be a way into a poem. Sometimes I like to come in through the window, not a door.
  • It is really important that we not look away. Not avoid. As a poet, it’s my job to see the hard thing, try to get it right.
  • On language: I’ll use a phrase I use often in another form, through enjambment or hyphens. “I love hyphens.”
  • Learn then rules and then break them.
  • You want to innovate and steal, but you want to be inventive.
  • Writers keep growing if they keep failing. Writing is about the whole body, the whole self, changing and acquiring.
  • Circle your verbs in your drafts. Are your verbs lifting your lines?
  • You have to write often. I do not believe there is this thing called writer’s block. Take the words out of your vocabulary! You have to fight your way through it. You have to hand yourself over to the process.
  • How do I find time to write? You’ll never find time, you’ll have to make time. You have to find where you can build that house. I love 4-7 a.m. This is the last hour of safety. I set up what I am going to work on the night before. I get up still in the dream state. Don’t get that get that first cup of coffee, don’t wake up fully.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

All Hallow's Eve

What a motley crew! I miss the days when the kids dressed as superheros and cute animals. Nonetheless, we had a great time trick-or-treating with the kids' closest friends. Ella was an agent from Men In Black (no mistaking that mane of hair), and Alex is the ghoul holding the staff.


Reasons to Survive November

November is not the same for me without Tony Hoagland's poem "Reasons to Survive November."

(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.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Confession Tuesday

It's Confession Tuesday. You know the drill.

I confess I am thankful that the only impact in my next of the woods from Superstorm Sandy are leaves. Lots and lots of leaves. Fine. I'll take it. It's sunny and nearly 70 degrees north of Boston.

My heart goes out to the cities along the East Coast in its path. Wow! Footage from NY, NJ, and WV is unbelievable. I mean, it's snowing in West Virginia. Yikes!


Been on the phone today with friends and loved ones in affected states. Everyone is OK.

My college is closed today, so I'm catching up on Mass Poetry work, and trying to get a few submissions in the mail.

I am cheating on Starbucks with Panera today and boy is it crowded. There must be a lot of people not working because of yesterday's storm. Just can't imagine any Panera being this busy, like weekend busy, on a Tuesday.


Just found out that I did not receive another grant I had applied for. Entering these contests feels like playing the lottery--very random, and I have zero chance of winning.


Robert Lee Brewer's November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge is just around the corner. I am giving it a try this year. I like to write under self-imposed duress, apparently.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Front

Happy Monday, folks. We are bracing here, north of Boston, for a visit from Hurricane Sandy. Schools are closed today so I'm thankful not to be out in this weather. The eye of the storm arrives around 8 p.m. The kid in me hopes schools will be out on Tuesday, too.

Here's hoping we all make it through the hurricane without incident.


I swear, there are no size D batteries left in Massachusetts.


Between play dates, I'm doing as much as I can while we still have electricity. I don't think it will go out, but you never know.


I am finishing up my application for the Room of Her Own Grant. Deadline is November 1.


Also, deadline for Mass Poetry Fest proposals is October 30. Get those apps in today!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Poetry Soup

(Right to left, Debbie Szabo, Rhina Espaillat, me and high school students from the Newburyport area.)

Last night I dined on Poetry Soup!

Run by Debbie Szabo, she brings together students from Newburyport High School and other surrounding high schools for an evening of poetry and good conversation at Jabberwocky Bookshop.

First of all, these students are tremendously talented. Some have even participated in Louder than a Bomb MA poetry slam competitions. They are poised and can riff on the spot. I was so impressed that I did something I normally don't do: rather than reading from a set list of poems, I asked for random topics and read poems that fit the topics. Sorry, no cat poems in my collections. Cows and flies, yes!

These students also created--I think they created, haven't heard of this anywhere else--the "Haiku Slam." Poets are given a topic, and they have to create Haiku on the spot. Here are two of mine. Can't remember exactly what I said but they went something like this ...

On Nature:

Leaf in my pocket
Yellow maple a small hand
A gift from my girl

And on sports:

Red Sox Haiku

No more Valentine
Sox acquire John Farrell
Time to sign Ortiz

OK, hard to create out of thin air but it was fun trying. It was really kinda cool. After, there was a Q & A with some of the most thoughtful questions I've received from an audience.

Rhina Espaillat is affectionately known as "the Grandmother of Poetry Soup." She comes every month to support poetry in the community.
Upcoming poets include Amanda Torres, Alfred Nicol, John Hofstra, Jamele Adams, Simone Beaubien, Richard Wollman, Nicole Rodriguez, Febo (and maybe some of the Free Verse slam team), Elizabeth Thomas, and Valerie Lawson.

Hats off to Debbie and the students! Nice work!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Poem

It's been a while since I posted a new poem. Since publications are less inclined to publish someone that's been on a personal blog, I have shied away from the practice. But posting my work is something I have always enjoyed doing. With the November PAD challenge just around the corner, I can't think of a better time to start.

No guarantees how long the poem will remain posted.

Feedback always appreciated. I have received the approval of my Intro to Poetry class, so have at it!

For the Couple Kissing at MoMA

What was it about Salvador Dali’s
The Persistence of Memory that
made you kiss each other so passionately
time stopped in the middle of a Monday afternoon
amidst throngs of tourists and art students,
parents with teething infants, and the lone clouds
drifting from peak to valley, clocks flaccid
and spent, dripping like tongues?

Why not kiss in front of Klee, Pollock, Kahlo,
or Monet’s Water Lilies,
which expands and shimmers at all angles?
It was all too surreal, even for me,
too much beauty under dimmed lighting
grazing the scuffed wooden floors.

Why not van Gogh’s Starry Night
which makes me sadder every time I see it,
that feeling of losing a dream again and again,
the night howl of stale air—which happens
when you discover the world was never yours,
never the way it’s supposed to be.

You treat midlife tightly pressed
against each other, sealing something between you
like two pages in a threadbare book, lips folding over
and under, filling the space around you and between you,
your bodies impossible with want. You are a work of art
standing against the cosmic force of love,
drifting out of this world and into your own.

Tom Hanks Performs Slam Poem About "Full House" (Jimmy Fallon)

I'm pretty sure if Tom Hanks performed this on a slam stage, he would be booed out of the room. Still, it's fun watching him try. Reminds me of a certain slam poet I know making the rounds ...

Showing My Support

My first lawn sign!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Confession Tuesday

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

In a few weeks, it will be November, which means our fiction friends will be participating in NaPoWriMo. I’m seeing a few blog posts and tweets already. Once again, I’m going to attempt to write a poem a day. Admittedly, my last few attempts have only yielded a few poems. But something in me likes the extreme pace. And even if I only get a few poems written, it makes a huge difference in how I approach managing my time. So for the next month, managing my time around poetry becomes a priority.


This past week, I’ve woken up at the crack of dawn—before dawn, really—and spent two hours writing. Before morning tea, before the kids enter the room, I was able to let those dreamy thoughts hit the page. Love it. It’s a feeling I definitely want to repeat to the point of habit


It’s been a while since I posted a poem. Will do so soon.


Yesterday, I took the kids to the library. We go quite often during the school year as my daughter is a voracious reader, reading books well above the second-grade level. She picked up four new chapter books and read almost two books in one sitting. She’s amazing.


My life is so complete and full. It is so complete and full that if I added anything to it, it will explode. So I have been giving serious thought to ways I can simplify and streamline how I do the routine things around the house. Everything from using a grocery delivery service, to having someone clean the house once in a while--you name it, I'm considering it.

November will be a month of change and reevaluation. By the time the holidays come around, with any luck I'll be able to enjoy them.


A question for you dear reader: what do you do to help you manage your time?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Writers Series Reading Recap

I like this photo better than the split pic from the previous post.

Thursday night's reading with Steve Almond was terrific! Our event at Salem State University was packed with students, faculty, and community members. Steve was in rare form, reading from many of his titles, including his three DIY books: Bad Poetry, Letters from People Who Hate Me, and This Won't Take But a Minute, Honey.

I was pretty good, too. (*smile*)

It was a raucous reading (read: we went there) with a good Q&A session after. Lots of thoughtful questions about the writing process, from writing habits and inspirations to how to stay motivated. But my favorite part of the evening came during the book signing. As Steve signed copies of his titles, he asked every student in line if they were registered to vote. His question caught a few of them off guard, but most said they planned to cast their vote on November 6. Yay!

On top of being a great storyteller with the soul of a poet, Steve is passionate about the political process. It was great reminder to us all--our voice and our votes matter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writers Series: Steve Almond and January Gill O'Neil

Join Steve Almond and me as we read together this Thursday at Salem State University.

I'm quite dizzy with anticipation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7:30 PM
Martin Luther King, Jr. Room, Ellison Campus Center
Salem State University
352 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970

Steve Almond is the author of 10 books of fiction and non-fiction, three of which he published himself. His memoir Candyfreak was a New York Times bestseller and was named the Booksense Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year. His short stories have appeared in the Best American and Pushcart anthologies. His most recent collection, God Bless America, was short-listed for The Story Prize. He is a regular contributor to the literary website The Rumpus. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine,GQ, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere.

January Gill O’Neil is the author of Underlife (CavanKerry Press, December 2009), and a forthcoming collection, Misery Islands (CavanKerry Press, fall 2014). She is the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and an assistant professor of English at Salem State University.

January's poems and articles have appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review, The MOM Egg, Ouroboros Review, Drunken Boat, Crab Orchard Review, Literary Mama, Seattle Review, and Cave Canem anthologies II and IV, among others. Underlife was a finalist for ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, and the 2010 Paterson Poetry Prize. In 2010 she was featured in Poets & Writers magazine’s Inspiration issue as one of its 12 debut poets. Her poem, “Chocolate,” was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize.

This event is free.


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