Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, and happy Confession Tuesday! Time to fess up. Share a little of yourself and we promise to do the same.

I've been looking for a ring to wear on my wedding finger--think I've finally found it! Can't tell you how happy this little plastic ring makes me. The kids also has matching rings, but mommy is the only one who wears it as a fashion statement.


Last week I set out to write seven poem in seven days. I gave up on that plan on day 3, but was able to write and revise one poem that I really love.

Tomorrow is the next Improbable Places Poetry Tour at the Roller Palace. So I'll find a little time today to write a new poem about skating, parquet floors, and disco balls to read at the rink. Or on the rink--I'm not sure which. Will I be skating while reading a poem? Who knows. I'm up for anything.


AWP or Improbable? I'll take Improbable over AWP in Chicago any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Chicago in winter just doesn't appeal to me. But I do miss seeing my friends there.


Cleared off my desk, finally!

I'll have to find something new to complain about.


To NEA or not to NEA? That is the question. Deadline is March 1.


When I don't post first thing in the morning, my mom worries. Don't worry, Mom, I just got off to a late start.


What two things are inevitable for a writer? AWP and taxes. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam waits for no one.

Happy Tuesday, folks.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oprah on Jimmy Kimmel

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Book Club Fight Club!

River of Words

On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at the Peabody Essex Museum on a play date with Ella's friends. We're in the children's exhibit area and above them flows The River of Words. This section has exhibits on water and ecology with phrases creating the river. The kids loved exploring the area and goofing off with each other.

After we made our way to the Shapeshifting exhibit, much of my time was spent pulling back hands and saying, "DON'T TOUCH THAT!" This was the first visit to an art museum for my kids--the first museum we've been to where they can't touch everything. Quite a learning curve for Alex and Ella. Still, they seems to enjoy walking around the open spaces, looking at art under glass and on the walls.


It's been a while since I've taken pictures for the blog. Wish I had taken better pictures to show off the different spaces at the PEM.  It was lovely just being in the presence of so many beautiful and timeless works of art with my two children. I hope I can foster an appreciation of art that will last them a lifetime.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I love how no two days are the same in my world.

Yesterday, my creative writing students sat in on a class with upper level students as we discussed adding media to poetry. It was great for my class (and me) to hear these students set their poems to sound and music. The passion for their projects was clear. I'm hoping my students will be inspired to experiment with their work, too.

Later in the afternoon, I had a delightful walkthrough at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). They are a major supporter of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and many of our events will be held inside their galleries and meeting rooms. It was a whirlwind visit, but just being in that space was inspiring. Not only was I impressed by their Shapeshifting exhibit, they have a number of exhibits that are perfect for children. I'm thinking of taking the kids on Sunday.


Would like to go back to the PEM and write ekphrastic poetry.


Today, I'm taking the kids to Salem State University to see where I work. I hope they think it's as cool as I do.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Century of Black Voices 3: 1912-2012

Hope you can attend this very special event.


A Century of Black Voices 3: 1912-2012

Saturday, February 25, 3-5 p.m.
First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Black poets of New England read our work and that of beloved writing ancestors

Ms. Toni Bee, Poet Populist of Cambridge, Reading Maya Angelou
Ms. Bridgit Brown, Boston writer, Reading Thylias Moss
Mr. Charles Coe (co-host), Cambridge poet, essayist, Reading Robert Hayden
Mr. Sam Cornish, Poet Laureate of Boston, Reading Sherley Anne Williams
Ms. Beatrice Green, JP composer and poet, Reading Melvin Tolson
Ms. Mignon Ariel King (host)*, Boston-born womanist writer, Reading Rita Dove
Ms. January Gill O'Neil, Beverly poet, Reading Nikky Finney
Ms. Denise Washington, Roxbury writer, Reading Langston Hughes

First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
FREE and on the T (Red Line to Harvard Square. Church Street exit. Cross Church Street. Take a left onto Garden Street. Cross Mason Street. Enter second gate. FYI: You will pass two other churches on the way.)

Contact for more info: mojoeditor@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mass Poetry Roundup

In case you missed these stories the first time …

Did you read Lloyd Schwartz’s “A True Poem”? First line:
”I’m working on a poem that’s so true, I can’t show it to anyone.”
Also, Jennifer Jean's poem "Passing Time" is up on the site (poem and video).


Get the info on the festival's Small Press Fair.

And check out our Friday night lineup: Robert Pinsky, Major Jackson, and Maggie Dietz.

President Obama Singing "Sweet Home Chicago" at the White House -- PBS -...

Coolest. President. Ever.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. You know the drill.


I wrote my confessions around 5 a.m. but forgot to post until now. *sigh*


Yesterday, I put myself on a Me Plan: seven days of reflection and rejuvenation. What does that mean? Nothing outlandish. It just feels like a good time to reassess and take stock. Figure out how to budget my time.

I'm not ready for a cleanse, but I am ready to align my mind, body, and spirit with a purpose. This is a good start.

1. Write a poem a day for seven days
2. Read one book
3. Lights off at 11 p.m.
4. Drink 48 oz of water a day
5. Eat more fruits and veggies/no eating after 7 p.m.
6. Exercise three times a week/check out a yoga class

The kids are on vacation this week, so why I decided to do this now is beyond me. But it feels rights. Sometimes if I don’t pull back, my life swallows me up whole. I think of it as hitting the reset button.


During the past week, I signed on to do quite a few readings. Go figure. Before, nothing. Now, I have a full slate during the next few months. Feast or famine, I tell you. 

I was also asked to contribute an essay for a very special project. More info to come on that project.


Help us get former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove on Dancing with the Stars (Please).

Short but sweet, folks. Have a great day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Maya Angelou Prank Show

From SNL: Maya Angelou Prank Show

Monday, Monday

Here’s a photo of the birthday cupcake I’m still dreaming about days after the fact. The person who bought it for me says it's a muffin. I don't think so.

I’m sitting in Starbucks blogging, doing some Mass Poetry work, and revising a new poem. Managed to pull back a bit the last few days and take care of myself for a change.

On Sunday, sandwiched between Mass Poetry meetings, I had a lovely brunch with Tayari Jones. Just lovely. Have you seen her red-carpet pic from the NAACP Image Awards? She was nominated for her book Silver Sparrow. Wow! Also, congrats on the nomination to Jacqueline Jones Lamon for her nominated poetry collection Last Seen.

Love it when good things happen to good people.


Did you watch the coverage of Whitney’s funeral? Seeing some of the service was really heartwarming. It was a true homecoming. I was OK with Whitney’s passing until I watched Oprah’s last interview with Whitney last night. *sigh*

Forget the Diane Sawyer, “crack is whack” interview. Forget the stories you’ve heard all week and what you’ll hear in the weeks to come. Seek out the 2009 Oprah interview and remember that Whitney getting her life back together. And, watch this performance on Oprah’s stage with Bobbi Kristina in the audience. I dare you not to be moved. I double dare you.


I’m not going to AWP this year. It’s good to take a year off every once in a while, but all of this AWP talk makes me want to go. Sounds like it will be a good convention. Not snowy in Chicago. In 2013, AWP comes to Boston and Seattle the following year—I will attend both of those. Wonder how massive the book fair will be.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kibbles and Bits

Ahhh, Saturday. Welcome, my friend.

You know I'm busy when I let days go by without a blog post. Wow, what a week. Between teaching and poetry, I'm exhausted. Mass Poetry Festival is in full swing, and I'm trying to get a lot done in a short amount of time. The nice part is that I'm having an impact on the process, which is terrific.   

No two days are ever the same--and I LOVE IT!


Yes, I'm exhausted. But I'm finding these lovely little pockets of time during the day. Though I'm not writing poems, I am freewriting much more. I'm also seeing friends more and working out on a regular basis. Best of all, my kids see me more. For better or for worse, those kids are stuck with me. :)


This weekend: a little work, some kid time, and lots of rest. Would like to take some pictures today; I haven't taken any good shots of the kids in months. It's time to get outside.--this is the warmest winter in New England in decades.

More to come.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Confession Tuesday: Birthday Edition

Happy VD folks! It’s the birthday edition of Confession Tuesday. Woo hoo!


“Go shorty, it’s your birthday. We gonna party like it’s your birthday.”

Translation: I'm working on my birthday for the first time in 11 years. Also on today's agenda: lunch with a friend, an afternoon writing session, and an early dinner out the kids. Sounds pretty good to me.


Here’s picture of us from Sunday at the Roller Palace. The last ones to leave. This is my annual birthday tradition—I love skating. I’m actually pretty good at it. It’s the closest thing to dancing that I can experience with the kids, now that they are past of point of falling with every turn.

The next Improbable Poetry Places Tour stops at the Roller Palace. I'm using this visit as research for my next poem.


So, the contract for my second manuscript (Misery Islands) and the manuscript itself have been sitting on my desk for the last month waiting for me to send it in. I told this to Afaa Weaver who asked me, without hesitation, "Why have I waited so long? Was there some other reason I hadn’t sent it in? Am I having second thoughts?" No. No second thoughts at all about publishing such a personal manuscript. I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve really let the po-biz part of my life slide. But his questions did give me a moment of pause. Good questions to ask from a good friend.

The manuscript is in the mail as of yesterday, finally.


I am just so saddened by the death of Whitney Houston, as many of us are. I’m pretty sure I dressed up as Whitney for Halloween during the “How Will I Know?” phase during the 80s. It’s hard to watch someone who sang about love and resilience not mirror those things in her personal life. And watching the news shows turn her life into a lesson on the ills of drug addiction is sickening.


My favorite quote from this year’s Grammys comes from Mitch Winehouse, Amy’s father, whom Tony Bennett invited on stage after accepting a Grammy for best pop performance for his duet with Amy, “Body and Soul.”

“Long live Whitney Houston, long live Amy Winehouse, long live Etta James. What can I say? There’s a beautiful girl band up in heaven.’’


Last night, I watched Charlie Rose talk about Whitney’s life and death and in his closing remarks, he asked his viewers, “What is your responsibility to your gift?”

For Whitney, her voice was a gift we couldn’t keep. For writers, our gift is writing. If we’re not writing, we’re not honoring that gift. And by succumbing to long bouts of doubt—or worse: writer’s block—we are truly missing an opportunity. Because we never know which day will be our last.


So on my 43 birthday, in the words of the late, great Don Cornelius, I wish you “peace, love, and soul.” Here’s to living every damn day like it’s our last.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

It's not alright, and it's not OK.

Whitney was one of my idols in my teen years. She had that incredible voice, and wasn't she beautiful. I was always hoping she'd come back to her glory days. A true original.

The Grammys are tomorrow night. *sigh*

I love most of her music, but this song, in particular, was an anthem to me as I went through my divorce.

RIP, Whitney.

Mass Poetry Roundup

In case you missed them, here are a few stories from the Mass Poetry website:

Back by popular demand: “Bad Poetry”
Steve Almond is back to judge our second Bad Poetry Contest.

Calling all visual artists: Display your poetic side
We're looking for visual installations to complement the poetry festival.

Massachusetts Presses Publish “Notable” Books
A few words from Tupelo Press' Editor in Chief Jeffery Levine.

Also, check out videos of Saturday night headliners Joy Harjo, Nikky Finney, and Wesley McNair in the sidebar.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Half Time

Congrats Matthew!


The 2012 Kundiman Poetry Prize is now accepting submissions. Deadline: March 1. Winner receives $1,000, book publication with Alice James Books and a New York City feature reading.


Congrats to Stacey Lynn Brown and Oliver de la Paz on the publication of the anthology A Face to Meet the Faces.


Goodbye Prop 8. Don't let the doorknob hit ya' ...

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. This is the early afternoon edition of  Confession Tuesday. The down and dirty, getting it done version. Share a little of yourself with us an we promise to do the same.


I would have posted sooner but I was helping my daughter make a valentine heart out of M&Ms this morning for a school project. We ate the leftovers.


First full week of working two jobs instead of three. I find myself marveling at how things have changed over a short period of time. Wow. I mean WOW!

In my comp class, I assigned an essay from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I had forgotten how much I loved this book. It's a good reminder that writing is not rocket science, but may seem like it sometimes when trying to figure out the right concoction of words. And being in the classroom with nonwriters reminds me how daunting it can be for someone starting out. I tell my students not to get worked up about the writing ahead of them but, of course, they do.


When I'm not teaching, I'm waist-deep into Mass Poetry planning. We've selected panels and now I'm working on a team to get the actual schedule finalized. There's a ton of work to be done, but many of last year's team have signed up to help out again. There's an excitement and anticipation in the air. Again, WOW.

This is good work. All of it.

Wish I was going to AWP this year. I'm just too busy to go. But I'm all over AWP Boston. All. Over. It!


Tonight I have my regular workshop (I have nothing to show--again!). But tomorrow I get to participate in a writers' gathering I have been unable to attend until now. We'll have a space to gather and write, sort of a Starbucks without the coffee and customers. I'm being given too many opportunities to write not to produce something!


We are all being graded on a curve.

Happy Tuesday, folks!

Monday, February 06, 2012

I Did It All For the Nook

This is Ella holding my new Nook Tablet. It was a gift from Babson, and I have it admit it's pretty nice. She's watching a kids' show on it--the picture is amazingly sharp. Haven't downloaded any e-books because, quite frankly, I have stacks of books waiting to read. I definitely see value having an e-reader around, especially on long trips and flights.

Why do I feel as if I'm cheating on the Kindle? More important, why do I feel as if I'm cheating on books?


Aaaah, the Super Bowl. I spent the last 17 seconds of the fourth quarter consoling my son after we realized the Patriots were not going to pull off a victory. Hard to tell an eight-year-old that if you're a New England sports fan, you're in for a world of hurt. With four really good sports franchises calling Boston their home, we're bound to lose a few games. Instead, I held him until the tears stopped, got a big bowl of ice cream, and watched the TV show Man vs. Food Nation. Watching someone eat a ridiculous amount of food in under 30 minutes always makes us feel better.


Could not get in a writing groove this weekend but I did eke out time for free writes. I know the poems will come. In my writing class, however, I've been using The Poet's Companion as my text, which has been helpful in teaching poetry as well as reviving my own work.

Saturday, February 04, 2012


No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.

As I was driving home Wednesday afternoon, red-eyed and exhausted from saying goodbye at my last day of work at Babson, I heard someone on the radio talk about the Pauli exclusion principle. (Yes, I listen to discussions of quantum theory on my long commutes). No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.

The spiritual side of this theory is that you can’t heal if you’re stuck in a rut. We have to move, and keep moving, to grow. Our bodies—our muscles in particular—are made to tear and repair. That’s how we build muscle mass. We are made to do the hard work of healing, and as a result, we get stronger. Maybe this is why Mark Strand’s poem “Keeping Things Whole” is a touchstone for me.

Fast forward to Friday. I wake up, get the kids off to school, and go to the gym for the first time in weeks (and find out that I haven’t gained any weight since the last time I checked—woo hoo!). I met my friend Colleen for morning tea. Then off to Salem State to do some work and attend a faculty lunch. And later, I attend two Mass Poetry Festival meetings, after which I feel completely weighted down. Yet, I come home completely satisfied. Dare I say it? Whole.

Keeping Things Whole
In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

~ from Selected Poems by Mark Strand. Copyright © 1980 by Mark Strand

Friday, February 03, 2012

Ode to An Exiting Poet

My friend and now former coworker, Melissa Jolly, wrote and designed this lovely poem for my last day at Babson (click to enlarge). For those who don't know, Melissa designed the new Mass Poetry logo and her graphic design company created the famous ink spot Mass Poetry Festival logo.

Thanks, Melissa!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Mass Poetry Updates

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival has just announced three of its headline poets for Saturday night, April 21: Nikky Finney, Joy Harjo, and Wesley McNair.


Our 2012 selection of Common Threads, our group reading and discussion program, has been announced. Here are the selections:

“The Author to Her Book” – Anne Bradstreet (2012 is the 400th anniversary of her birth)
“The Fire of Drift-Wood”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Poem 1129 – Emily Dickinson (tell it slant)
“For the Union Dead” – Robert Lowell
“The Hardness Scale” – Joyce Peseroff
“Horseface” - Sam Cornish
“if see no end in is” – Frank Bidart
“Out at Lanesville”- David Ferry
“Baseball” – Gail Mazur

This collection of rich and varied, yet interconnected poets have a Commonwealth commection.

And for students, here’s info on our Mass Poetry-sponsored student events: Student Day of Poetry and the slam festival, Louder Than a Bomb.


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