Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kevin Carey: The One Fifteen to Penn Station











This is the look of a new author holding his first book. I took this picture of Kevin a few days after his poetry collection, The One Fifteen to Penn Station (CavanKerry Press 2012), arrived at his house. The cover image was taken by his daughter, Michaela.

I've known Kevin for a few years now. We are part of the same writers' group and now we have the same publisher. His work speaks for itself: an authentic, honest voice. In one of his poems he says "a half century feels like a history lesson." Kevin's poems are blessed with the gift of hindsight, told in a crisp, clear narrative style. I just love his work. So happy his poems have a home with CKP.

Check out his book. It's terrific!


Crazy Stuff

I hold your hand while you sleep,
your swollen fingers squeezing mine.
There’s a football game on TV,
orange Syracuse jerseys covered in mud
the way we saw ourselves playing,
rainy days on the side lawn in the fall,
while you watched from the kitchen window. 
You wake for a moment and I ask you how you feel,
your eyes fogged and far away,
and I remember what we talked about,
the doctors, my mother, God.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked 
“Sure,” you said, like why not or who doesn’t,
and the few days before that when I told you
“I’m sorry for all the crazy stuff, it must have 
been hard.”
You clutch my hand 
like a frightened, fevered child
holding for a breath that might not return,
and I am reminded of Lucinda Williams,
a Lake Charles country song,
and the angel at your ear 
in those long last moments.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Binding of Past and Present

Wednesday night was the final installment of our three-part poetry and bookbinding workshop, "Artifact, Archive, Orchard: The Binding of Past and Present in Poetry." 























Poet Alicia Churchill called the experience of writing poems with this group inside the Felton House at Brooksby Farm “a shared dream.” And if you read our poems, now bound together in a handmade chapbook, that is the feeling that binds this chapbook together.












(Our chapbooks are the slender volumes with the brownish dust covers in the foreground.) 

Sponsored by The Peabody Historical Society and Montserrat College of Art, the event featured:
  • Readings by poets Alicia Churchill, Crystal Condakes, Danielle Jones-Pruett, Joe McGurn, Dawn Paul, and Cindy Veach
  • A lecture by Todd Pattison, Collections Conservator for the Harvard College Library, on poetry books and bookbinding techniques from the 19th century. (Fascinating for a bibliophile like me!)
  • Banners, 24 of them, created by Printmaking Artist Len Thomas-Vickory













What made the event was so special was the thought put behind every detail, from the initial workshop to physically assembly of the books, to this evening—the vision of the beautiful and talented Colleen Michaels. And with the help of Montserrat Professor Dawn Paul, the evening was simply magical. The event was well attended, but more important, all of us felt invested this process.













We left with our bellies full of pie (it is a farm, after all), and chapbooks in our hands.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 Boston National Poetry Month Festival

Now In Its TWELFTH Year!!!

2012 Boston National Poetry Month Festival

Saturday, April 28
10 a.m.-4:40 p.m.
OPEN MIKE: 1:30-3 p.m.

Sunday, April 29 1:10-4:30 p.m.

The Festival will be held at the library’s main branch in Copley Square. FREE ADMISSION

56 Major and Emerging poets will each do a ten minute reading. Also featuring five extraordinarily talented prize-winning high school students These student stars will open the festival at 10 a.m. SAM CORNISH, Boston’s current and first Poet Laureate will open the formal part of the festival at 11:00 A.M. 55 additional major and emerging poets will follow with a POETRY MARATHON!
(I'm closing on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Hope you can come by!)

 Saturday, April 28
Rabb Lecture Hall

11:00 Sam Cornish
11:10 Elizabeth McKim
11:20 Regie O. Gibson
11:30 Joanna Nealon
11:40 Sheila Twyman
11:50 Chad Parenteau
12:00 Carol Weston
12:10 Robert K. Johnson
12:20 Walter Howard
12:30 Ryk McIntyre
12:40 Kate Finnegan
for Kaji Aso Studios
12:50 Kim Triedman
1:00 Linda Larson
1:10 Molly Bennett
1:20 Irene Koronas
1:30 Philip E. Burnham, Jr
1:40 Frank Blessington
1:50 Valerie Lawson
2:00 Diana Saenz
2:10 Lucy Holstedt
2:20 Michael Brown
2:30 Ron Goba
2:40 Elizabeth Doran
2:50 Tomas O’Leary
3:00 Timothy Gager
3:10 Jack Scully
3:20 Rene Schwiesow
3:30 Carolyn Gregory
3:40 Suzanne E. Berger
3:50 Molly Watt
4:00 Richard Hoffman
4:10 Jan Schreiber
4:20 Mignon Ariel King
4:30 Susan Donnelly

Sunday, April 29
Rabb Lecture Hall

1:10 Tom Daley
1:20 Ifeanyi Menkiti
1:30 Lo Galluccio
1:40 Dan Tobin
1:50 Kathleen Spivack
2:00 Gloria Mindock
2:10 Christine Casson
2:20 Lainie Senechal
2:30 Zvi Sesling
2:40 Rhina P. Espaillat
2:50 Harris Gardner
3:00 Stuart Peterfreund
3:10 Victor Howes
3:20 Alfred Nicol
3:30 Marc Goldfiinger
3:40 Charles Coe
3:50 Doug Holder
4:00 Fred Marchant
4:10 Richard Wollman
4:20 Jennifer Barber
4:30 Janury O’Neil

FOR INFORMATION: Tapestry of Voices: 617-306-9484; Library: 617-536-5400

Wheelchair accessible. Assisting listening devices available. To request a sign language interpreter, or for other special needs, call 617-536-7855(TTY) at least two weeks before the program date.

CO-SPONSORS: Tapestry of Voices and Kaji Aso Studio, in partnership with the Boston Public Library.

I've Got One Hand in My Pocket

... and the other one holding a poem.

"My poem this time around will be William Carlos Williams’ poem 'To Elsie.' It’s a poem I rediscovered recently, one I’ve always loved. And seems more relevant and timely than ever in our supercharged election season."
Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

****

Today is my first visit to Starbucks in three weeks. Oh, how I've missed you so. I'm here with the latest issue of P&W. Don't have to pick up the kids for another two hours. Life is good.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The State of Poetry


"I hope you will also indulge me, because the fact is that I am the wrong person to give any advice about a career in poetry. I am not a successful poet, at least not in the usual sense. Like most poets, my books are published by a small press, seldom reviewed, and never in those few publications that seem to matter. You won’t find my work in anthologies or in discussions of contemporary poetry. This is not a complaint, only a way of offering you my credentials for NOT talking about a career in poetry: I don’t have one."

Richard Hoffman on the State of Poetry, from Saturday's Mass Poetry Festival's State of Poetry panel.

Artifact, Archive, Orchard

Because you can never have enough poetry in April ...

Artifact, Archive, Orchard: The Binding of Past and Present in Poetry!
Wednesday, April 25, 7 p.m.
Smith Barn, 54 Felton Street
Peabody, MA

Montserrat College of Art and the Peabody Historical Society have collaborated to host a three-part poetry event starting with a poetry-writing workshop, followed by a bookmaking workshop and concluding with readings and lecture gala event Wednesday, April 25 at 7 pm at the Smith Barn, 54 Felton Street in Peabody. The event, titled Artifact, Archive, Orchard: The Binding of Past and Present in Poetry, incorporates the three strands of history, poetry and art to celebrate April’s National Poetry Month.

After a week of independent writing, workshop participants created hand-crafted books compiling their poems at Montserrat College of Art’s Bookmaking Studio, taught by book artist and Montserrat instructor Sarah Smith. The books will then be displayed at the final gala event Wednesday, April 25, alongside banners portraying texts, tools and landscapes used in the poetry workshops, created by printmaking artist and Montserrat instructor, Len Thomas-Vickory. The night will include readings by workshop participants, a lecture by Collections Conservator for the Harvard College Library at Harvard University, Todd Pattison, and pie and cider.

Come to the gala event. It's FREE and fabulous! Hope to see you there.

All hail the Czarina of Fun Colleen Michaels for her efforts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Nikky Finney reading at the Peabody Essex Museum







Happy late-night Confession Tuesday! I am one worn-out puppy. I started this post around 10 a.m. but never got back to it. Oh well.

So the Mass Poetry Festival has come and gone, and it was simply amazing! Rough estimates are coming in, but we think about 1,500 people came to the festival—an increase of more than 30 percent from 2011. We had more poets, readings, and workshops this year. And, for the most part, the weekend went off without any major glitches.

Now, from my point of view, I can see things we could have done better. Thankfully, planning next year’s festival will be my primary responsibility this summer. And I’m happy to say we’re close to a date for 2013!

****

Some of my favorite festival memories:

  • The carbo-load at Colleen Michael’s house the night before the festival
  • Seeing volunteers line the streets in our brightly colored hazard orange shirts
  • Hanging out—albeit briefly—with Susan Rich
  • Watching poets take over the Peabody Essex Museum
  • Seeing Joseph Legapsi’s poem hang the window of a yarn store as part of the Improbable Places Poetry Tour
  • Carrying Joy Harjo’s suitcase down a spiral staircase
  • Nikky Finny. Nikky Finney. Nikky Finney.
  • My wardrobe changes (oh, the stories I could tell)
  • Taking the poets out for a late-night thank you on Saturday night
  • Hanging out—albeit briefly—with Jill McDonough and Tyehimba Jess
  • All of the readings I participated in (The Mom Egg, Fire on Her Tongue, and Cave Canem)
  • Taking pictures with Annie Finch and our families
  • Seeing a very pregnant Marie Gauthier
  • Meeting Major Jackson’s son
  • Spending time—albeit briefly—with Marie-Elizabeth Mali and Tara Betts
  • The Sunday reading with Frank Bidart, Martha Collins, and Stephen Dunn
  • The hi fives and thumbs up from festival goers
  • Taking the stage with Michael Ansara and Beth Moore Saturday night
  • Having my family visit me at the festival Saturday afternoon

****

If it takes a village to put an event like this together, then I happily than the “village people,” aka the Salem Writers Group! Without their support, I would have never made it through the last few months. Thanks, guys.

****

My heart is so full of gratitude for being a part of such a grand poetry affair. Need a few days to take it all in.

XOXO

Friday, April 20, 2012

Twas the Night Before Festival ...










Twas the night before festival
and all through the town
volunteers were busy prepping
we were looking for nouns.

The buttons were counted
in the kitchen with care
As the Czarina made pasta
with bowls and bowls to spare

****

Fortunately, the pasta last night is better than my poetry rhyme.

Last night Colleen Michael's, aka Czarina of Fun, we did some last-minute prep work. Having the benefit of doing this last year, things were much smoother and there were many more hands helping. We wrapped up around 10:45 p.m. Many hands make light work! This comes after a full day of last-minute behind-the-scene's work. organizing the volunteer and check-in spots.

All this to say that the festival is on track to be amazing.

****

Susan Rich is in town!

****

Did you see this article in the Salem News?

****

Last night I was on the phone with a reporter at midnight. Go figure.

****

OK, back to work. See you in Salem!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Massachusetts Poetry Festival

10. Anne Bradstreet slept here!
9. If the Dodge Poetry Festival and AWP had a baby …
8. See Boston Slam Champion crowned with a pointy black hat.
7. Origami Jumping Haiku Frogs!
6. Thousands of feet, even a few spondees.
5. Admit it: you don’t know the difference between a villanelle and a sestina.
4. April may be the cruelest month, but January is the coolest poet.
3. Rush Limbaugh and Ted Nugent will not be there.
2. Harjo, Pinsky, Dietz, Dunn—Salem, April, Poetry, FUN!

And the #1 reason to attend this year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival
Because Michael Ansara will stop sending you emails!



Here's a few that didn't make the list:

  • Come see Dead Poets among the Living
  • Come see the Dead Poets of Massachusetts
  • Because poetry trains are always on time.
  • Poetry swag!
  • Ghazal some beer at the Gulu-Gulu.
  • Come to Green Land Café where poetry is on the menu.
  • We got your sonnets right here!
(Both the "Dead Poet" references are names of sessions)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Czarina of Poetry




The Czarina of Poetry, aka Colleen Michaels, has outdone herself yet again by bringing the Improbable Places Poetry Tour to the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Watch this lovely, lovely video about the tour at the festival, and read this story about which poets have poems on coasters, shower curtains, and etchings in glass.

Special thanks to Montserrat College of Art student Jack Moffitt for his skillful work in creating this video.

Confession Tuesday



This is Katie, my neighbor and the graphic designer for the Mass Poetry Fest program book. I am looking over her shoulder while she makes last-minute edits. Getting "The Beast," as I like to call it, to print will be a quick and dirty experience. Hoping it all goes through without a hitch. Fortunately, Katie has gone above and beyond for me. 

Feel free to throw laurels at her feet when she walks by at the festival. I owe her a mani/pedi.

Now, onto confessions.

****

I confess that I am running on empty tonight. And if I don't post now, I won't post at all.

I confess I walked across the street in fully dressed but in my bathrobe. That's what crazy will do to a person.

I confess I have two more hours of work ahead of me. So I'll probably cut it to one hour, and just get up at the crack of dawn to finish.

I confess I miss the Alex and Ella, who are visiting their dad for a few days.

I confess I needed the time without them to work. We would not have had fun if they were stuck in the house with me while I was at my computer. They return home on Wednesday.

I confess I'm looking forward to my parents' visit on Wednesday. And, they'll watch the kids for me during the festival. I'm excited that they will visit Salem with Alex and Ella to see what's been keeping me up at night. Also really excited to show them my new digs at Salem State. Poetry trolley, anyone?

I confess I'm looking forward to my parents doing the grocery shopping for me. (Thanks mom and dad!)

I confess I feel like a Don Henley song. All of them.

I confess I don't know why Don Henley came up as a reference.

I confess I'm stalling to avoid all the work I really need to get done.

I confess--The Mass Poetry Festival will knock your socks off!

I confess I'm looking forward to April 23.

****

Three more days!

XO


Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Pulitzer Prizes: Poetry and Fiction

Congrats Tracy!!!

****

1. POETRY For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Awarded to "Life on Mars," by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press), a collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain. Also nominated as finalists in this category were: "Core Samples from the World," by Forrest Gander (New Directions), a compelling work that explores cross-cultural tensions in the world and digs deeply to identify what is essential in human experience, and "How Long," by Ron Padgett (Coffee House Press), an enchanting collection of poems that juggle delight, wit and endless fascination with language.

2. FICTION
For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

No Award Nominated as finalists in this category were: "Train Dreams," by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate, heartbreaking calm; "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf), an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years, and "The Pale King,” by the late David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company), a posthumously completed novel, animated by grand ambition, that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mass LTAB Finals

"The points are not the point--the point is poetry!"

Last night, I had the great privilege of being a judge at Massachusetts Louder than a Bomb finals. The room was electric! This sold-out, standing-room-only crowd was pumped and jacked for this event, which brought together four teams from the cities of Somerville/Boston, Peabody, Newburyport, and Worcester to compete in this spoken word competition for high school students. After four tough individual rounds and a group round, the team from Worcester took the title! All the teams were tremendous, but Worcester earned that trophy.



And look at this trophy!





















Here's a photo taken at intermission. Last night's event was held in Villa Victoria in Boston's South End. Excellent turnout. Packed from start to finish.
















Big ups to Amanda Torres, Alex Charalambides, Regie Gibson, Ayano Strickland, Jade Sylvan, and Anna West for making it happen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

One Week to Go!













Good googly moogly, the festival's almost here! Even if you can't attend, go to the site and check out the list of events and cool stuff happening April 20-22. Here's where I'll be next Saturday for readings. Be sure to introduce yourself if you see me walking by!

The Mom Egg: Reading and Discussion
April 21 1:30PM
Calling all mothers – current, past, and future!
Ever fought hard to stay up just one extra hour to read and found yourself asleep? Trying to balance kids and achieving the one moment of silence that might allow you to finish one line on the poem you really think could be good? Balance, harmony, the space to think, the space to write. Somehow, mothers have to find a way. The Mom Egg is an annual journal with a mission to increase the opportunities for mothers, women and artists by expanding the conversation to include different, sometimes conflicting perspective by and of mothers. Join us for a panel of poets of all ages who are mothers and about to be moms:Marjorie Tesser, Marie Gauthier, Jennifer Jean, Colleen Michaels, January G. O'Neil, and Nancy Vona. They will read their work and open up the conversation about poetry, creativity, time, expectations and motherhood. We offer great poetry and a frank discussion.

Fire on Her Tongue - The First E-Book Anthology of Women Poets
April 21 12:15PM
Fire on Her Tongue is the first and only anthology of contemporary women poets created for the eBook. Produced with a zero carbon footprint, Fire On Her Tongue represents more than 400 pages of poems by well known poets Kim Addonizio, Jane Hirshfield, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Annie Finch, Elizabeth Bradfield, January Gil O’Neil, Susan Rich, Rachel Rose, Natasha Sajé,and Peggy Shumaker. The program, featuring Susan Rich, Annie Finch, Elizabeth Bradfield, and January G. O’Neil will include a reading and a behind the scenes look at how the editors put their first ebook together.

Cave Canem
April 21 2:45PM
Join R. Dwayne Betts, Tara Betts, and Jarita Davis for a reading and discussion with members of Cave Canem, hosted by January Gill O’Neil. Founded in 1996 by poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in MFA programs and writing workshops, Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. For more information, visit cavecanempoets.org.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kibbles and Bits

Let's see ... After a fire drill on campus this morning, half of my students decided not to return to class. Nice.

****

Later in the day, I bent over to pick up a pencil and the one day I wear a dress, it rips in the back from slit to zipper. *sigh* Fortunately I have a sweater to cover my goods and services.

Damn.

I've had the dress for years and I look great in it. Must be weak threads. Or all the muscle I've been building up on that part of my body. Yeah, right.

****

Before the dress-ripping incident, I did a walkthrough of the Peabody Essex Museum, our main venue for the Mass Poetry Fest. Let me tell you, the building is spectacular. And it's just so lovely to be in the presence of that kind of architectural grace. We are lucky to have them as a partner.

Still a mountain of work to be done before the festival, but it will happen. Many hands make light work. I'm just looking forward to sleeping more than three hours a night.

****
If you haven't done so, enter to win Mass Poetry's Bad Poetry Contest. The "winning" poems will be read by Steve Almond himself at the festival (Steve is a fine poet and writer, BTW). Last year's reading was a laugh riot. Yep, I said laugh riot. Deal.

****

Tomorrow night I'm attending the Louder than a Bomb Massachusetts Youth Poetry Slam Festival finals:

LTAB Poetry Slam Finals
Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, (85 West Newton Street in Boston's South End).
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance.

****

I really just want to crawl into bed and write a poem. I think it will happen tonight. Not a bad poem, a good one--I hope.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Confession Tuesday















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


I'm feeling a little mad these day. And by mad, I mean crazed. And by crazed I mean crazy busy. Wish I could completely attribute it to spring. But no. I attribute it to poetry.

****
I've been carrying a lot of stress lately. It is a tightness in my chest, like my skin is pulling toward a center.

****

The card above is from the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA. The card itself was a gift from Lis, a friend and festival volunteer. This is one of the many kindnesses my friends have given me during the past few weeks. Little gifts, invites for dinner, hot chocolate in the afternoon, an extra hand watching the kids--all from friends who know the late nights and early mornings I've been working between festival planning and teaching.

My undying gratitude, folks. Thanks for keeping me sane in an insane time.

****

After the festival, I want to take a day trip to visit the Emily Dickinson grounds. Maybe I'll spend the night in Amherst to explore the town for a mini-writing retreat. 

****

As you might expect, I've been off on my poem-a-day challenge, but only by a few days. I have freewrites waiting to be turned into drafts. Hoping to work on them tomorrow morning. Ahhh, blessed by my Wednesday mornings at the Salem Athenaeum. That's where a small group of writers get together to write. Most weeks, I can get a solid hour or two of writing in. I'll take a picture tomorrow of this quiet, cozy space.

I may pick up the poem-a-day challenge in May as a self-imposed "do-over." But I haven't given up on April yet.

****

In conversation with my six-year old daughter, she confused Red Sox great Johnny Pesky with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. We've been listening to Pinsky's new CD POEMJAZZ so when she saw Pesky's name in a Red Sox book, she confused the two.

Pinsky. Pesky. Pinksy. Pesky. It can happen.





Monday, April 09, 2012

Where in the World Is Jan O'Neil?















I am running around the city of Salem checking venues, talking to merchants, working with program producers, and distributing posters for next week's festival. I really should be at home taking a nap. Not today. I put the roots in grassroots, baby!

This is a picture of The Gulu-Gulu Cafe in Salem. Notice the Mass Poetry poster in the window? I put it up! The Gulu is one of our venues; they are also selling festival buttons for us.

Last week I had to take a break from writing to get a few things done. I'm hoping this week won't be as stressful. But, the festival is coming together nicely. I'm starting to see a finish line in sight.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Book Art

Last Sunday I attended a handmade books workshop at Montserrat College of Art. This was the second phase of our Brooksby Farm Poetry Workshop experience--first poems, then books. Led by Book Artist Sarah Smith, we spent the morning learning about paper, grains, stitches, and bone folders. It was way cool. (When I grow up, I want to be a book artist!)
















I have a love of fonts and typography, so it was just fun being in this creative space with letter presses and old-school printmaking materials.

















Can't tell you how excited we got when Sarah brought out a paper cutter that makes curved edges for our books! Of course, when she asked us to make measurements with a ruler, that's when she lost this group of writers. Sad, really.
















But we quickly recovered and went on to make four wonderful little books.

















By the end of the class, we left with the skills put together these books on our own.

The poems we wrote a few weeks ago at the workshop will be bound in a lovely little edition, each a one-of-a- kind booklet, and read at an event on April 25 at the Brooksby Farm barn. At the evening event, there will be lectures on the history of the farm and on bookmaking of the time, a poetry reading, and apple pies made with apples from the farm.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! It’s not just any Tuesday … It’s the first Tuesday of National Poetry Month! Share a bit of your poetics selves with us and we promise to do this same.

I thought I had it all: health, happiness, great kids, dream job. But I was wrong. I was missing this:



















A fascinator!

This fascinator, as modeled by Ella, was given to me by my good friend Colleen. She’s knows I have been really stressed lately. It was an impulse buy (I mean, who plans to buy a fascinator?!). We were just making the rounds in Salem, stopping in on festival venues when we passed at hat store. We started trying them on, and while there were certainly flashier, more expensive fascinators, this one spoke to me. I will be wearing it on Easter Sunday.

Maybe I should make one for Ella. (Yeah, in all my spare time!)
Thanks, Colleen! XO

****

Festival planning has completely taken over my life. When I sleep (if I sleep), I dream of the online schedule. When I’m speaking to people, I’m looking into their eyes but thinking about the 10 other things that need my attention. The only time I seem to be focused on other things is with the kids, and rightfully so. Hard to think about venues and button sales when I’m shooting hoops with my son.

****

Things I will do the Monday after the festival:

• Sleep
• Not work
• Get a back massage at local spa
• Go shopping with my mom
• Take kids out for dinner, something other than McDonalds and Chuck E Cheese's

****
All of this work has been offset by these moments of complete satisfaction. Today, for instance, when I received my invite to read with The Mom Egg panel, I was psyched. Even though I scheduled the event, I was kinda jazzed about reading with the lovely ladies on this panel (will post a listing this week). Beyond the numbers and the room assignments and book orders and hotel reservations, there is poetry here.

****

NPM poems written: 2. Poem no. 3 is waiting to be born.

****

If you know someone working on the Mass Poetry Festival, send your light and love to them. They are working extremely hard to make it all look seamless.

****

Fascinating!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Mass Poetry: Student Day of Poetry

After last year's Student Day of Poetry, I didn't think it could get any bigger or better. But this past Friday, 750 high schoolers descended upon MIT for a day of poetry, workshops, spoken word, performance, and collaboration. It was fantastic! Students and their teachers from as far away as the Berkshires, the Cape, Western Mass, and the North Shore came in buses--leaving as early as 5 a.m.--to spend the day in Cambridge. For Poetry!

Under the leadership of Amanda Torres, the day couldn't have gone smoother, with performances by a diverse array of poets and artists. But the students were the story. Hearing their words, listening to them pour their hearts into their rhymes on stage and within their groups--amazing! Across the board, the workshop leaders said the energy in their classrooms was much better this year than last. 

The day kicked off a weekend of Louder than a Bomb competitions in Boston. Really, it was a great, great way to kick off National Poetry Month in Massachusetts.

When you hear kids getting on their busses talking about the poems they've got to write, you know their lives have been changed.

Congrats Amanda!

Enzo Surin leading a workshop.


Michael Ansara, Beth More, and Amanda Torres speaking with a student.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Happy National Poetry Month!

Can you believe it's April already? Happy National Poetry Month! All the poets I know are busy planning readings, community-wide celebrations, and online events.

It's also time to write a poem a day!

You may be asking, "Jan, you are in the middle of planning a major event. Why are you writing a poem a day?" The answer is quite simple: I am crazy. And crazy busy. But giving myself an hour a day to write actually keeps me grounded. It focuses my energy on something entirely for me.

Unfortunately, I will not officially participate in NaPoWriMo and PAD challenges. But I will be cheering others on from the sidelines. I can't post daily but I will post a few during the month. And if I stop writing a poem a day closer to the festival, I'll pick up the challenge in May with members of my writers' group. I've written my first poem already so, I'm off to a great start!

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