Thursday, April 24, 2014

Confessions

After a week of Mass Poetry Festival planning in overdrive, no fewer than six (not one, not two, not three ... but SIX) rejections, and back-and-forth changes on my next book cover, I'm finally able to share some good news. A drum roll, please ...

I have been invited to be a part of the Dodge Poetry Festival lineup!!! Here's the full schedule.

Woo hoo! If you could see me doing backflips--you would be delusional because I don't do backflips. Just the metaphorical kind.

I've been attending Dodge since 1996 when I was in grad school at NYU. The festival is every two years and I've not missed one. (Now that I think about it, my kids were born in odd-numbered years and Dodge happens during the even-numbered years. No reason not to go--ever.) This year I will be on stage--I get butterflies just thinking about it.

*Big Smile*

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I am in NYC on a beautiful April afternoon. If I could have stopped on the Henry Hudson to take pictures of the cherry blossoms, I would have. Tonight, I'm attending the Academy of American Poets' event Poetry and the Creative Mind. (Thanks, Nicco, for the tickets!) Bought a new dress and slammin' shoes for the occasion.

Pictures to come. Kinda hoping for a selfie with Tina Fey or Meryl Streep! Hey, a girl can dream.

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Sitting at Starbucks. Taking a few minutes for myself before doing a bit of festival work, and then swanky cocktails with Joseph Legaspi.

*Breathe*

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Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. What's in your pocket?

Me? My poem is Tess Gallagher's "I Stop Writing the Poem."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What Makes Pharrell Happy?



It's hard to find a genuine moment these days on television (or maybe I'm just cynical). But this one really meant something to me. Watch this clip of Oprah and Pharrell talking about the worldwide appeal of his song "Happy."

How many of us have put our art into the world and been truly surprised at the effect it's had on someone else?

Confession Tuesday

It's Confession Tuesday. You know the drill.

click to enlarge























This day crept up on me, maybe because last year the Boston Marathon corresponded with spring break for my kids. But here we are, at the one-year mark of the marathon bombings. That whole week in 2013 was weird, for lack of a better word. And then Friday and Saturday turned into a manhunt and self-imposed lockdown for many of us just outside of Boston. It was just a strange and uncomfortable week.

All of my problems seem inconsequential today. This is a day for remembrance and healing. That's all I got--this post and Nick Flynn's beautiful poem "Marathon."

I am grateful for every moment of every day.

#BostonStrong

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Pulitzer Prize: Poetry

Poetry

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

Awarded to “3 Sections,” by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press), a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless.

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “The Sleep of Reason,” by Morri Creech (The Waywiser Press), a book of masterly poems that capture the inner experience of a man in mid-life who is troubled by mortality and the passage of time, traditional themes that are made to feel new, and “The Big Smoke,” by Adrian Matejka (Penguin), an imaginative work by a commanding poet who engages the history and mythology of larger-than-life boxer Jack Johnson.

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Congrats to Adrian Matejka for his nomination!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Staying in the Flow

Spring is always a tough time for me to stay connected to my writing when work overshadows everything. And knowing that this happens to me every spring doesn’t make it any easier. So I have learned to recognize when I am falling into a void and pull myself out of it. That’s what I’m doing now, and that’s why working through a poem-a-day challenge matters. It’s my way of staying out of the void. Or for a more positive spin, daily writing allows me to stay in the flow.

What does a routine mean to me?

A routine makes the writing easier. Many writers I know don’t have a process, but as I get older (ahem!) I rely on process to maintain momentum. Keeps me from feeling detached, and it’s easier than starting from scratch.

A routine keeps ideas fresh. Yes, there is a start-up phase after a long drought, but after that I feel connected and hyperaware to my emotions and surroundings. When I’m in the flow, the phrase “everything is everything” takes on a deeper meaning. On the flip side, it’s hard to maintain any momentum if the work is sporadic.

A routine takes the pressure off. It gives me permission to write something that sucks. If I write every day, no one poem or blog post has to be the greatest piece of literature ever written. Isn’t that how we feel after not writing for a stretch, that whatever we get down on paper or computer has to be amazing? Consistency helps to quell that feeling.

A routine sparks creativity. F*ck inspiration. Put butt in seat. Write. Just do it (Thanks, Nike!). Make something happen. Grind it out, because it’s the constant churn that keeps the mind fertile.

A routine sparks routine, meaning it takes less time to get settled. And, it makes you more productive. That’s why a 30 day challenge is not a big deal. I mean really, I’m down a few poems now but by month’s end, I’ll be at a solid 30 because I know how to do this.

A routine allows you to say no. This may be the hardest to do. Right now I am retraining myself not to answer emails at 5 a.m. I’m also trying to keep most mornings, like this one, free to write. I don’t always succeed at it but it’s satisfying when I do.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday, folks! This is the down 'n' dirty version. The "I haven't got time for the pain" version. The "I wish someone would smite me so this day will end" version.

Here we go!

I've been working at a frenetic pace these past couple of weeks getting ready for the Mass Poetry Festival. Fortunately, the new scheduling website has launched! The program book is being designed. The posters, flyers, and T-shirts are ready. The poets are coming. Now, it's just a matter of bringing it all together. 

Every year I fool myself into thinking I can coast into May, and every year I am sadly mistaken.

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I originally wrote this post from Starbucks--my first Starbucks visit in two weeks. *Big Sigh* All day, I had planned to give myself two hours of alone time. But just like every day this month my plans have fallen through. It is really hard to make time for yourself with so many deadlines. 

I have a rule that I don't sit in a Starbucks unless I can devote a solid hour to writing one poem. Not today. I'm here for 20 minutes and I am blogging. It is what it is. After this little respite, I'm to take my daughter to her tae kwondo class. 

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While I am still planning on writing 30 poems this month, I've only written one. In fact, I am judging the day 7 poems on Robert Lee Brewer's PAD Challenge yet forgot to post about it on Monday. How sad is that?

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Finished my taxes today. Yahoo! One thing off the list. 

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Quote of the day: "Take the time to write. You can do life's hard work in half an hour a day"

--Robert Hass  

Thanks, Danielle, for the reminder about what's important. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday! Happy National Poetry Month! Happy April! Let's get right to it, shall we?


This is one of three poems that will be seen in April on Boston's green line transit system, also known as "the T." (Click to enlarge.) The poem is by Joseph O. Legaspi, but not actual T size, so to speak. We mounted the three T poems on poster board for last night's Evening of Inspired Leadership, a fundraiser to support Mass Poetry, in partnership with the Favorite Poem Project and Courage & Renewal Northeast.

Held at the Huntington Theatre, we sold at least 350 tickets and well exceeded our fundraising goal. But the night was really about moments, or as our host Michael Ansara said, "let the readers take us where they want to go." It was a nice balance of poetry, thoughtful reflection, laughter, and inspiration--as if you could ever have too much of any. A very fine way to leap into National Poetry Month. (There's video. Will post when ready. And, there are pictures on my FB page.)

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My only regret: not taking a picture with Governor Deval Patrick. I did meet the governor (woo hoo!), but his staff rushed him out before I could get his attention. Oh well, maybe next year.

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Mass Poetry things happening this week (read: things that keep me up at night):

  • New festival website launch
  • Festival planning
  • Common Threads
  • Poetry on the T


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March went out like a lion. It really was a blur. No, it was a month in which I slept very little, stopped exercising, and lost sight of that balance I've fought so hard to maintain. So in April, I'm embracing that part of myself that occasionally says no to things.

Something I am saying yes to? I'm starting a PAD/NaPoWriMo/30-30-whatever-you-want-to-call-it challenge today.

Do you know why I like doing those challenges so much? When I sit down to write, this is my "me time." It is like having a personal no-fly zone around me to do something for me, by me. Before, these challenges were about writing poems in bulk. Now it's about meditation and reflection. And if I get a good poem out of my writing session, so be it.

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My daughter couldn't sleep, so she came into my bed around 5:15 a.m. and we read poetry. Her current favorite poem, which she read to me: "The Adventures of Isabel" by Ogden Nash. I read her "Kindergarten Boyfriend" by Denise Duhamel. Now that's the way to kick off National Poetry Month. 


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