Friday, May 31, 2013

The Pulitzer Prizes Awards Luncheon

Rarely do I have days as lovely as this.

Yesterday, it was my great privilege to attend the Pulitzer Prizes Awards luncheon at Columbia University.

Here's Joseph O. Legaspi. Isn't he handsome?

Still not sure of the gelatinous topping on top of this cake. But delicious nonetheless.

The luncheon starts with a cocktail half-hour, the dining portion (salmon was the main course), and the walk to the stage for the 21 recipients.

What made this year's awards special? Watching my former professor, Sharon Olds, receive the Pulitzer Prize for poetry! At the table is Sharon with her partner Carl, Knopf editor Deborah Garrison, Joseph and me. 

Sorry about the blurry photos. 

Just a lovely, lovely afternoon. Can't tell you want it meant to me to share this moment with Sharon. A well-deserved and long overdue honor. She was so gracious. Lovely, lovely lovely.

Special thanks to Jo Jo for the invite. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Share your confessions and we promise to do the same.

I started this blog post on my iPhone at 4:22 a.m. Alex woke up around 2. He had a big presentation today at school and couldn't sleep, poor guy. Third grade shouldn't be stressful.

Update: Just came from his class and he knocked it out of the park. He gave a speech on Jackie Robinson. Woo hoo!

This week has already gotten away from me. Tomorrow, I'm off to NYC to attend a very special luncheon on Thursday. Will post pics--it will be lovely. 

Alex, Ella and I had a great holiday weekend. Despite the rain for the first half of our time off, we spent a good amount of time outside. And yesterday was beautiful, a good day for yardwork and gardening. 

I have started working on my Juno Larcom poems. Having never written about a historical figure, the research is daunting. I'm trying to be optimistic about how much time I can devote to writing 10 solid poems by August. I'm both intimidated and excited by the challenge, which was how I felt when I wrote Misery Islands. Guess that's a good thing.  

So I am tinkering, jotting down lines--trying to life in Juno's skin for short periods of time. More to come on the new project. 


Trying to write a poem about wolves. It started out as a villanelle, but I have since lowered my standards. Just want to finish the darn thing.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sister from Another Time Zone

There are no raccoons at Starbucks, thank goodness.


I do my best writing when when I can get out of my house and out of my own space. I like being in the middle of a busy coffee shop knowing I don't have to wash a dish, swap a load of laundry, or pay a bill. 


These last two weeks, I have been able to take my foot off the gas a bit and slow down. The tension from my shoulders has almost vanished. I've been able to spend time with my kids and not think I should be somewhere else doing something else. It's a good feeling. Last night I was up until 2 a.m. finishing a poem, so I'm a little sluggish today (Hello, Starbucks). But I like working at odd hours occasionally. It's good to shake things up now and then.


Books I'm reading in heavy rotation:

Blue Front, Martha Collins
Mezzanines, Matthew Olzmann
Some Ether, Nick Flynn
Stag's Leap, Sharon Olds

Stag's Leap I can only read in small doses. 


Been popping around to a few blogs, and, of course, Kelli wrote something that spoke to me: 

"You should go on a writing retreat and decide to do this for yourself because no one else is going to give you permission.  You must choose yourself."

And that is what I will be doing at the end of July. And if I have my way, I will go on two retreats--first time in my life and I am over-the-moon excited. Still a lot of details to work out. A lot. I should know for sure in another week if I can do both. No one to look out for but myself. Time away can only make me a better mom and our family stronger family.

(Kelli is my sister from another time zone.)


Happy 10, Collin!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Confession Tuesday

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

There is a raccoon living in our attic. Saw the critter last night entering from the hole on the side of the roof. (Expletive.) He/she's a fat raccoon (maybe she's pregnant?), and when I threw my daughter's beach bucket, the closet thing I could find, and hit it, it looked at me as if to say, "That's it? What else you got? Bring it." Then went back into my attic.



I am writing from the Salem Athenaeum this morning. Every week, J.D. Scrimgeour opens up the space to local writers for a few hours. Very quiet here. I should be working on poems, but my track record for writing Tuesday blog posts on Tuesday has been questionable as of late.


It's been a quiet week since I last wrote. Working with new drafts, but nothing I would mark as a finished poem, which is good. I don't feel rushed or stressed to finish anything. My goal is to have solid work by late July and then make some decisions about what happens next. I'm jotting down lines for poems at my son's baseball games and my daughter's Tae Kwondo practice. That's a good sign.


Damn raccoon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

So Much Depends ...

So much depends

a blue wheel

filled with new

next to the blooming


God, I hate yard work.


Check out Afaa Michael Weaver's article on the Poetry Foundation's website. Another good read: Nin Andrews' piece for Superstition Review. It made me smile.


My pile of unread poetry books is unwieldy. Trying to catch up, one poem at a time.

Current read: Blue Front by Martha Collins.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Confession Tuesday

I know. I know. It's Wednesday.

I've been trying to unwind and reconnect to my life since classes ended and the Mass Poetry Festival has passed. Spent the day with my daughter yesterday only to be sniping at each other day. What a difference a day makes. Still, I've value the time with my family, for better or for worse.


This weekend I made a list of things I want to work on this summer. I like to keep my goals short but attainable, since my goals always carry lots of to-do's with them.

1.  Initiate The Summer of Fun. For the last few years, the kids and I have made a list of places we want to go and things we want to do during the summer. And even though I'll work in the summer, if I make a list, then we all have a chance to do a few things that we each would like to do. For instance, my son and I want to see at game at Fenway Park, while my daughter wants to go to a water park. Everybody wins.

2. Get in some exercise. Maybe, just maybe, I will take up tennis again.

3. Work on my poetry. This includes starting the Juno project while revising, sending out poems, and looking for other opportunities to get involved in the poetry community.

4. Dating. It's time.


I've been invited to attend two writing retreats this summer. One is an opportunity I've wanted to do for years, the other came as a surprise. Both are fabulous. Unfortunately, I can't do both. Too much money and I don't think I have the time. Can't imagine spending two weeks away from the kids.

This is a good problem to have, I think.


Since the Charles Rowell-Norton Anthology is out and gaining lots of attention, I realized I don't own an anthology of African American poetry. So Afaa Weaver recommended The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.  Love how it's organized. A real find.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Confessions

I'm at my local Starbucks. They have remodeled; this is my first time here since the new open layout with big tables and couches. It looks nice, but I don't want to share my space, especially with the two chatty college students at the end of the table. Oh well, so be it. 


This past week after the festival I've spent wrapping up grades for the semester. Have I rested post-festival? No, not really. But I did get to spend a little time with my parents before they went home to Virginia. It is quiet in the house without them. We miss them. 

Haven't mentioned this yet but just before the festival, I was hired for a full-time, tenure track position at Salem State University. Great news, indeed. More to come.

After the festival, which, by all accounts was a HUGE success, and getting through the hiring process, I am trying to find my place in the world again. I'm feeling lost today. Trying to move with the drift. The kids are away with their dad until noon tomorrow, Mothers' Day. And as much as we need a break from each other, I miss them, too.


Also just before the festival, I lost my jump drive, which had my most recent poems and info. Damn. Damn. Damn. 

Last year, my laptop was lost in an airport, the year before I had jump drive issues. Now, I am backed up on a new jump drive, as well as Dropbox and Google Docs. I think the universe was trying to tell me something but in my usual, hard-headed fashion I just wasn't listening. 

Still hope the jump drive shows up. Maybe it needed a vacation from me. 


Losing the jump drive was not a total disaster (thanks, Elizabeth Bishop). I backed up six months ago, and because just about every document or poem I've written has a hard-copy or email trail, I have been able to piece together almost all of my work. So I'm taking this opportunity--yes, opportunity--to reconnect with my work. What do I have for a third manuscript? What am I doing with the Juno Larcom poems? I'm beginning to revise my drafts, sifting through the 18 or so poems I wrote for National Poetry Month.

As I continue to figure out what I want, it helps to work on the drafts. Brings a sort of order to my life that I've been craving. 


Blog, I've missed you, too. Promise not to stay away so long.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday! It's a post-festival confession and I can barely type I'm so tired. So I'm giving you my top 10's moments, in no particular order.

1. This photo with Sharon Olds.
2. Sitting with Sharon, Terrance Hayes, and Eduardo C. Corral in the green room on Saturday night.
3. Singing happy birthday to Jill McDonough with 275 of her newest, closest friends.
4. Knowing that unlike last year, festival cofounder Michael Ansara got to see some of the festival.
5. Fewer mishaps, typos, and gaffes with our programming (woo hoo).
6. Listening to the Cinco de Mayo reading with Amanda Torres, John Murillo, and Martin Espada on Sunday.
7. Hearing all the praise about this group effort we call a festival--it never gets old.
8. Seeing the blue shirted volunteers smiling and happy.
9. Introducing Terrance Hayes to my parents.
10. Hanging out with Joseph O., Aimee Nez, and Marie-Elizabeth.
11. Working with a core group of friends and poets again. Couldn't do it without them.

OK, that's 11 top 10s. More to come in the next few days.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Confession Tuesday

I confess it’s Wednesday. 

I thought about writing a post around 11:45 p.m. but at that point I had gotten about six hours of sleep over two days and I needed to crash. And I did. And it felt good. Five hours of sleep and was woken up by alarm, which I never need. This is what happens festival week I’ll sleep again on May 6.


In case you didn’t know, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival happens this weekend, May 3-5, and I have to say things are shaping up nicely. The weather looks rain-free all weekend. The team of people we have in place—some volunteer veterans and some newbies—have come together to handle any problem that comes up. And the small details—posters, programs, t-shirts, buttons, etc.—all look great. Not to mention the dynamic programming and caliber of poets participating all lend themselves to a really exciting three days.


Did I mention Sharon Olds and Tracy K. Smith, our two most recent Pulitzer Prize winners, will be in Salem this weekend? That’s how we roll.


The Calvary (a.k.a. my parents) arrive today to help take care of the kids.


Here’s my article op-ed in the Salem News called, “Why Poetry, Why Now?


A shout out to the folks in Newburyport for hosting a fabulous festival this past weekend. The best part, for me, was hearing the work of Rafael Campo. Just lovely. Also enjoyed meeting Andre Dubus, and seeing Rhina Espaillat, Afaa Michael Weaver, Charles Coe, Dawne Shand and Kirun Kapur.


I have good job news to share. Will save the news for a post next week. Yay!


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