Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Last Day of January! (Sounds weird, coming from me.) Time for your confessions. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

I’m in a weird place right now. I feel stretched between three jobs and my home life—and not doing any of them particularly well. I thrive on focus, so when I have too many parts of my life competing for attention, it stresses me out. Fortunately (and unfortunately) one of my three jobs will end tomorrow. My hope is by Friday, I can get back to a semi-hectic life.

The lack of writing poetry this month is killing me. But I had to sacrifice writing for sleep.


As I was leaving class at Salem State, it hit me that tomorrow will be my last day at Babson. Yesterday, with the calming words of a good friend, I decided to roll with whatever emotions come. I need to be in the moment for this. I want to celebrate all that I’ve accomplished with a great team of folks. As you would expect, they are working me to the bone until the very last hour. But I am happy to do it. I will miss my friends dearly. We will celebrate as we always do: with food!

*Getting weepy. Must write about something else.*


I’m considering doing a cleanse. But I like solid food way too much to commit—*sigh*


One thing I’m looking forward to is taking my kids to school for the first time in a very long time. I have family help out with all drop offs and pickups. Ella always tells me which moms are standing outside with their kids and I know she feels left out. Just one more reminder that this career move is absolutely the right choice for me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Improbable Places Poetry Tour: All-Skate!

OMG! This may be the best Improbable yet!!

The Improbable Places Poetry Tour

Wednesday, February 29, at 7 p.m.

The Beverly Roller Palace
130 Sohier Road, Beverly, MA

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. Each month, a new venue and theme will be selected. This month's venue is a roller skating rink.

A poem at a roller rink, huh? That’s right, folks. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “good writing is a type of skating,” and on this tour stop we are testing the correlation. Is good writing just like skating when everyone is on eight wheels with leather tongues?

What’s this month’s prompt? Start with a wheel. Now you’re on a roll. Maybe you’ve got a poem about going in circles, or you’ve mastered the rondeau. I’m sure there are some strong poems about weak ankles and broken hearts. Whether your soundtrack is organ pipes, Xanadu, or the silent geometry of a circle, we want poems that move us.

Hey, I've got just the poem for this month’s tour. 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 Friday, February 24. 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 at 7 p.m. While you are welcome to take a seat, you are also invited to grab a pair of skates and circle the poets. The snack bar will be open, the rentals and skating are free, and poets are controlling the DJ booth and disco ball until 9 p.m.

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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Slouching Toward Starbucks

Hello luscious! I've missed you.

All day I have been waiting to get a few hours to myself at my friendly neighborhood Starbucks. I take a sip of my venti hot chocolate and my whole body says, "Thank you!"


What a week! With teaching, working my desk job, and Mass Poetry biz--oh, and being a mom--I'm wiped out. Just one more week of this madness and I'll be done with the desk job. Extremely bittersweet to leave the people I work with at Babson--my second family.


Decided to blog a little, then answer a few emails, and then start a poem or two while I'm here. Amy Winehouse plays on my first-gen iPod (there's no school like the old school). Very crowded at my Starbucks. Not sure if it says more about the patrons or me on a Friday night.

We've got another kidtastic weekend on the books, so I'm happy for the only respite scheduled for the next 48 hours.


I'm on Boston.com!

Carolyn Forché Reads at Babson: February 8

The 2012 Charles D. and Marjorie J. Thompson Visiting Poet is Carolyn Forché.

Who: Carolyn Forché, award-winning poet
When: Wednesday, February 8, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Sorenson Center for the Arts, Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
Info: Admission is free; the public is welcome.

Forché's books of poetry include: Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004); The Angel of History (1994), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; The Country Between Us (1982), which received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and Gathering the Tribes (1976), which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Stanley Kunitz. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993). [Photo credit: Emma Dodge Hanson]

Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Time for your confessions. Unburden yourself. Share a little piece of your life and we promise to do the same.

I saw this tagline attached to a Crest toothpaste ad:

Life opens up when you do.

It’s the simplest little thing (and I’m not sure what it has to do with cavity protection) but it’s true. The past two years have been about change. If you had told me I would be teaching in a classroom and running a major festival, I wouldn’t have believed you. No way. Yet I have tried to stay open to all possibilities, trying to match my voice to my values. And here I am, still standing, a little more tired than usual. I am here.


I was inspired this morning by Carolee’s post. I understand exactly where she is right now. Go over and give her a little encouragement. Making a life difficult change and coming out the other side in a good place is worth celebrating.


For the next week, I will continue to transition from one job to the next. It is really too much of a balancing act to stretch myself this thin. But once it’s over, I’m looking forward to having new routines. Being able to set my schedule, spend more time with the kids, and carve out time to exercise and write—I can’t wait!


As I type this, I can hear my daughter singing in the other room. She is the other early bird in the house. I am thankful for those little moments. Collect enough of them and they make a life.


My creative writing class will be writing their first poems to hand in this week. So I’m going to try to complete one by Thursday. It will be my first poem of 2012. *sigh*

To-do list:

1. Write one poem
2. Submit to two journals
3. Mail in contract for second book and manuscript revisions
4. Start reading a new poetry collection
5. Take more photos. My blog has been seriously lacking photos
6. Clean my desk

If I don’t create a list, nothing gets done.


Mass Poetry wrote a nice five-question interview with me. And, here’s a preview of what’s coming for the April festival.


Thanks for all the messages and emails of support. I’m a bit overwhelmed but will try to get to all of them this week.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Quickie

Mass Poetry Website has a new look. Check it out the features to the left and the most popular on the right for stories you may have missed—lots of good content there. Also, check out the article on the Student Day of Teaching with Lisa Stott.


Congrats to Yusef Komunyakaa and Aracelis Girmay, who received National Book Critics Circle nominations!


I have a head cold. And, I’m a little disappointed that my writing is taking a back seat. It will be this way for another week or so. I am, however, taking advantage of freewriting in the classroom. More on all of this tomorrow for Confession Tuesday.


Go PATS! I don’t like football but let’s not kids ourselves: Tom Brady is a tall drink of water!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Meaning of Life

So ...

Toi Derricotte is now a chancellor of the Academy of American poets, Natasha Trethewey has just been named poet laureate of Mississippi, and Sonia Sanchez was recently named poet laureate of Philadelphia. Love, love, love when good things happen to good people. Let's not forget Nikky Finney's National Book Award win.

Good lord, there's something in the air ...


Thanks to Dan Nester for including me in his article, "I, Literary Tourist," at the Poetry Foundation's website. Go read it right now!


After my first full week of teaching at Salem State, working at Babson, and trying to get a handle on the Mass Poetry Fest, I'm pooped. The weekend can't come fast enough. And you know what I'm most excited about this weekend? Waking up early to get organized around Mass Poetry and planning next week's classes. Yes, I'm excited about work!

Yesterday, I was honored with many of my Babson coworkers at our annual Service Awards. I was recognized for my 10 years of service to the college. It was a gratifying yet bittersweet experience.


As you know, I am in love with my iPhone and with Siri. Today, a friend of mind asked Siri, "What is the meaning of life?" Here's her response:

That's exactly the answer I would give. Thanks,Siri.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Poem Flow: Toi Derricotte "Elegy for My Husband"

Congrats to Toi Derricotte, Cave Canem cofounder and my former professor, on being elected a chancellor to the Academy of American Poets!

Toi's new book is called The Undertaker's Daughter.

Toi and me, AWP DC, 2010

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Confession Tuesday ... you know the drill.

7:10 a.m

Today is my first day of teaching! So forgive this quick and somewhat incomplete post. This is a full day for me: Salem State, then Babson, then Mass Poetry. But what I think I'll do is blog a few times today and make it a full day of confessions. So check back in later for updates.


Shout out to Colleen for leaving a yummy soup on my doorstep for lunch today. And thanks to all the well wishes.


Mom: chocolate and Tylenol. Done!


It's a snowy day in New England. And, I can feel a scratchy throat coming on. Great.

More to come!


1:49 p.m.

Colleen, the African sweet potato and peanut butter soup is ... was ... delish!


I am at job #2 eating lunch before I work through a few projects on my desk.

What can I say, I really enjoyed teaching! You would think that an 8 a.m. start would be a bad thing. But the students who come out for such a class really make an effort. I appreciate that. I'm teaching two classes: comp and creative writing. The comp is the one I'm less comfortable with, but I know I can do it. For me, it's a terrific one-two combination. And, I was able to get some freewriting time. Woo hoo!

Couldn't help but think how lucky I am that this is where my life has taken me. Feeling mighty grateful to the universe today.


This past weekend I received the contract for my second book. Very cool.  Also received news that I have been recommended to attend Bread Loaf. I'm thinking of applying. The universe is calling.


Biggest worry with all this activity? How to stay organized.

One more post to follow.


7:16 p.m.

Sitting in a way cool conference room in Somerville, MA, for a MassPoetry planning meeting. This is our meeting to discuss all parts of MassPoetry: the festival, LEAP, and poets in the schools. Still hammering out festival features. Working on a fundraising and volunteer plan over Indian Food.


10:32 p.m.

I'm officially wiped out--it's been a long day's journey into night. Should I stay up and watch The Broken Tower, James Franco's movie about Hart Crane? Maybe I'll save it for tomorrow night.


I'm a professor and an executive director. Wow. I'm still taking it all in.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mass Poetry Festival Update

From time to time, I will post updates for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival here. This update was sent to our email lists last week (here's the abbreviated version).


The fourth Massachusetts Poetry Festival will be held on April 20, 21, and 22. Once again, it will be held in downtown Salem at a number of venues including the amazing Peabody Essex Museum. Our program committee is hard at work trying to determine how many and which of the 123 program proposals (yes, 123 proposals—all of them good) we can actually fit into three days!


Joy Harjo and Shapeshifting

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum, is proud to announce feature poet Joy Harjo for the 2012 festival. Harjo will be reading in conjunction with the exhibition “Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art.” Opening Saturday, January 14, Shapeshifting is one of the largest Native American art exhibitions to open in North America in the past 30 years. Spanning vast cultural, historical, intellectual, and aesthetic terrain, Shapeshifting offers a new approach to Native American art by exploring the conceptual underpinnings and artistic intent of contemporary and historic artworks alike.

Student Day of Poetry

This year, the Student Day of Poetry will be held Friday, March 30, and is being hosted by MIT in Cambridge. Students from across the Commonwealth will have the chance to work with a variety of terrific Massachusetts poets in small workshops as well as participate in a great assembly with special guest poets and performers. The workshops will run the full range from spoken word to sonnets and sestinas. As we are the guests of MIT, we hope to add some very cool science and poetry features. Once again, our own Regie Gibson will be our host. The day is free and is designed for both middle schools and high schools.

Register your school and reserve a space as soon as possible to make sure that your school is included.


Announcing the Launch of Massachusetts Louder Than a Bomb

MassPoetry and Mass LEAP are proud to announce the first Massachusetts Louder than a Bomb teen poetry festival, modeled on the Chicago program of the same name. It was the subject of the documentary shown at the 2011 festival.

This first year, we will limit participation to 24 school and community based teams--Already,we have 15 teams signed up to participate. We are looking for 9 more teams.

Teams need an adult sponsor/coach and generally meet once or twice a week after school up until the festival to write, practice and receive feedback on their poems/performance. MassLEAP can provide curriculum, information, and guidance on how to manage a team but it does involve work. The deadline for Team registration is coming up fast. If you are interested in forming a team or attending the festival, please email the Festival Coordinator Amanda Torres (torres@masspoetry.org), or Tournament Director Alex Charalambides (LTABmass@gmail.com) for more information.

Hello, It's Me

I feel like I've been on vacation from the blog. Trust me, that's not the case. I've been working hard putting together syllabi and picking texts to teach my first classes at Salem State. Woo hoo!

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and support. I am so full of gratitude today I can hardly express it.


Since I'll be working three jobs--my current job, teaching, and running the Mass Poetry Fest--the next few weeks be about maintaining some sort of balance. (Balance ... ha!) So the house may not be as clean, we'll have breakfast for dinner, and five hours of sleep will feel like 20. Most important to me right now is keeping the work flowing, the kids happy, and making the poems happen. That's not too much to ask, right? 


It's MLK Jr. day here in the states. Thinking about all he did so I can be here doing what I do. I want to give my kids a little education on the man and his life's work--they are more than ready. I'm also going to teach the "I Have a Dream" speech in my classes tomorrow. Again, I'm feeling very grateful today.

More to come. Wish me luck.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The BIG News!

Drum roll, please ...

I am leaving my job as Senior Writer/Editor at Babson College to become an Assistant Professor of English at Salem State University AND Executive Director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival!!

(… which explains why I haven’t been blogging this week. I'm prepping for classes.)

I’ve been at Babson almost 11 years. It’s not easy to leave this family to start a new one. But when Salem State came calling, they made an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I will be teaching two classes, comp and creative writing. The rest of my time will be spent coordinating all of the poetry festival efforts, from marketing and promotion to fundraising, logistics, and programming. I’m looking forward to getting from behind the desk and in the classroom. And being able to help the festival grow and thrive and become sustainable ... YES!

This is all new territory for me, and for the next few weeks I’ll be working at both institutions until February 1. Classes at Salem State start next week! It will be busy to say the least, but I am more than ready for the challenge. I mean really, this is my dream job. And it doesn’t hurt that Salem State is about six miles from my house. Anyone who knows me knows my commute to Wellesley, MA, is 40 miles, door-to-door, on one of the worst highways in North America. Goodbye long commute!

Too many people to thank for making this happen. You know who you are. Thank you for your continued support.

*Me doing the dance of joy!*

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Confession Tuesday

It’s Confession Tuesday. You know the drill!

What a surprise it was to wake up this morning to find snow on the ground! Just a dusting, but enough to make the kids go crazy.

My daughter was so disappointed that we didn’t have a white Christmas. Fortunately for me (unfortunately for her), the high temp will be 46 degrees. So far, this has been the mildest New England winter I’ve seen in the 15 years I've lived here!

(Wait. I've been in New England 15 years? How did that happen?)


As important as my writing is to me, it’s the one thing I always manage to put off. Why is that? I’ve got to end this bad habit soon before the year gets away from me.


Much of this year has been about clearing out clutter around the house. I'm going through old manuscripts, copies of poems (that I have electronically), journals and books I've never read, bills, kids schoolwork. It all adds up. But if I don't do it now, it will never get done.


Feeling like a bit of a crankypants this morning. Too much on my to do list, not enough time. And there’s not much I can put off until later. Sometimes the only way out is through.

I’m in a bit of a holding pattern in some other parts of my life. But one I get some clarification I can move forward. Lots of good things waiting around the corner. Sorry to be so vague.


I’m keeping this short so I can get a freewrite in before work. Time to stop complaining and start writing.

Happy Tuesday, folks!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Monday, Monday

Week two into the New Year and I have yet to write my first poem. I did revise my first poem of 2011 yesterday. That's got to count for something, right?

The next two weeks are going to be hectic. Lots of Mass Poetry Festival responsibilities due this week, including reviewing program proposals. I’m looking forward to all of it, I’m just trying to not work into the wee hours of the night. This poet mom needs her sleep. And, I would like to find time to write my weekly poem.

I know. I know. I can always find 10 minutes in the day to write.


This past Saturday, I attended a lovely brunch thrown by Danielle Jones-Pruett for members of the Salem Writers Group. Poetry, friends, and food—what could be better! Thanks, Danielle.


The beautiful and talented Erin Dionne is one of three local authors featured in a Sunday Boston Globe article.


Congrats to Marilyn Nelson for receiving the 2012 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. Also, congrats to Kwame Dawes for being named the 2012 recipient of the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award by Poets & Writers. Woo hoo!


Elizabeth Alexander is now on Twitter! She’s created The Twitter Poetry Project. Throughout the year, she will be regularly writing and tweeting poems using the rules of Twitter as a poetic form or catalyst. Follow her at @ProfessorEA.

Friday, January 06, 2012

CKP at Fairfield University

Yesterday I traveled to Enders Island, just off the coast of Mystic, CT, to speak to students at Fairfield University's low res MFA program. CavanKerry Press authors Joan Cusack Handler, Judith Hannan, and Joseph Legaspi (pictured above) also spoke as part of a panel on getting your first manuscript published.

We read on the last day of their 10-day residency. Instead of meeting on campus for the classroom portion, the program meets twice a year (January and July) at St. Edmund's Retreat, which is a lovely campus about 75 miles from the college. Program participants stay on site the whole time, working and writing together in this unique setting. Having the ocean as your backdrop makes for an intense learning experience.

To hear the students talk about this program reminded me of my days at NYU. So much energy and excitement in the air. It was truly wonderful to spend the afternoon with such a talented group of students and professors.
Can we come back in July?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

On the Set with Nick Flynn

Playwright/poet Nick Flynn speaks to us from the set of the Focus Features film based on his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.

Kibbles and Bits

Two kids + one stomach bug = no writing (or rest) for mommy.


Tomorrow I'm speaking on a panel at Fairfield University with CavanKerry Press authors on getting a manuscript published. The talk will be geared toward fiction and nonfiction writers in their low-residency MFA program. There's a Q&A and reading to follow.

I'm thrilled to be there with CKP founder Joan Cusack Handler, Judith Hannan, and Joseph Legaspi.


Just booked a reading for 2013. Wow!


In the words of Sam Cooke, "It's been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come."

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy 2012! This is my year! I suspect it's your year, too. Share a little of yourself with us as we make our first confessions for Twenty-twelve!

The new me:

This is me on New Year's Eve before our city's annual parade. It's part of our First Night celebration. The costumes are mostly made of paper mache and created by the woman standing behind me. It was a perfect night. No snow. Moderate temps. The events are geared toward families, so we saw lots of friends, neighbors, and classmates from Alex and Ella's school. I'm a Virginia girl at heart, but it's nights like this that makes me love living where I do.


I love, love, love the idea of new beginnings. Maybe it's because the root of January is Janus, known as the Roman god of beginnings and endings.

Besides my poetry goals outlined in my PAP, I have a few other goals I'm working on for 2012.

Fitness: A healthy outlook plays so much into everything I do. Eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising are essential for my total well being. To help this along, I've signed up for yoga classes, which I hope to start near the end of the month.

Save Money: This is my line-in-the-sand year when it comes to this goal. I'm making moves that will help me save a decent emergency fund and secure my family's future. Gosh, Alex will be college age in 10 years--I'd like to be able to help both kids pay for a portion of it, while paying off my mortgage early. But short term, I need to get my spending in check.

Patience: As the kids get older, I am finding myself less patient with them. These are the people I care about most, so I need to remember that we're all doing the best we can and not put too much pressure on them to do more. I think yoga and working on my other goals will help with stress.

I have a lot of balls in the air to juggle. But I'm excited everything that's coming our way in 2012.

Change is in the air. That's all I can say for now.


January poems written: 0
2012 poems written: 0

Working on a new poem now.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Fire on Her Tongue Is Published!

What a way to start off the new year!

Congrats to Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy, co-editors of Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry. Created for e-readers in mind, this anthology has been entirely produced with a zero-carbon footprint. ZERO. And as of January 1, it was the No. 1 poetry title at Amazon.com. I'm thrilled to have my poems featured in this collection.

Look at the poets in Fire:

Kim Addonizio, Deborah Ager, Ivy Alvarez, Nin Andrews, Betsy Aoki, Elizabeth Austen, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Dorothy Barresi, Judith Barrington, Mary Biddinger, Elizabeth Bradfield, Ronda Broatch, Gloria Burgess, Jill Crammond, Barbara Crooker, Rachel Dacus, Madeline DeFrees, Susan Elbe, Patricia Fargnoli, Annie Finch, Kathleen Flenniken, Rachel Contreni Flynn, Rebecca Foust, Suzanne Frischkorn, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Maya Ganesan, Arielle Greenberg, Kate Greenstreet, Lola Haskins, Eloise Klein Healy, Jane Hirshfield, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Anna Maria Hong, Holly Hughes, Ann Batchelor Hursey, Luisa A. Igloria, Jill McCabe Johnson, Tina Kelley, Janet Norman Knox, Keetje Kuipers, Dorianne Laux, Jenifer Browne Lawrence, Kate Lebo, Carol Levin, Rebecca Loudon, Erin Malone, Marjorie Manwaring, Frances McCue, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, January Gill O’Neil, Alicia Ostriker, Nancy Pagh, Alison Pelegrin, Susan Rich, Rachel Rose, Natasha Sajé, Peggy Shumaker, Martha Silano, Judith Skillman, Patricia Smith, Ann Spiers, A.E. Stallings, Joannie Kervran Stangeland, Marilyn L. Taylor, Molly Tenenbaum, Ann Tweedy, Nance Van Winckel, Katrina Vandenberg, Sarah Vap, Kary Wayson, Katharine Whitcomb, Wendy Wisner, Rachel Zucker.

Go to Amazon or your favorite bookseller and buy this book now!


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