Friday, May 30, 2014

A Fellow Poet on the Life and Legacy of Maya Angelou

The kind folks at Cognoscenti posted my tribute to Maya Angelou.

Here's a excerpt:

"Fierce on the page, Angelou was brutally honest, and never shied away from her difficult childhood or the harshness of life. In retrospect, so much of what Angelou achieved seemed symbolic. Her life was about transcendence. Best known for her 1969 autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” she shined a flood light on the lives of blacks in the Jim Crow South. Her story was one of race and identity, but ultimately her story was one of resilience. Her six memoirs, which cover her first 40 years, sit handsomely on my bookshelf as a reminder of the power of possibility."
 Read the fill article.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Share and share alike.


My current reads:

Someone Else's Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone. (Gosh, I studied with her grandmother.)
The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka
Rice and The World Is Round by Nikky Finney (re-released by TriQuarterly/Northwestern).
Not pictured: The Gift by Lewis Hyde

These titles, with the exception of The Gift, are random picks I made this weekend. But as I think about these titles, I realize that they all connect to the work I'm doing now with my fourth (yes, I said fourth manuscript), so it's no wonder I was attracted to these books.

First of all, I'm thrilled to have the chance to read Nikky Finney's older work. At the last Dodge Festival, she spoke about how difficult it was to get her early titles into the hands of readers because of distribution issue. And I like to see how a writer's voice changes over time. So often we look at one poem or one collection as the definitive work of a poet. But an artist grows and develops over the span a career. Can't think of anything better to do this summer than study--really study--Nikky's work.

I should have bought Adrian Matekja's book last year. But it comes to me at a good time as I try to figure out how to write about a historical figure in poetry. In truth, I'm hoping to glean something from Nikky's and Adrian's books that I can use in my work.

Carolee recommended Bianca Stone's book, she was right. I like what Bianca's doing with form. She has a strong voice and an ear for language.

I'm stealing something from all of you, poets.


Mass Poetry's Poetry on the T campaign is in full swing on IndieGoGo! Even the smallest donation will help us replace ads on Boston's transit system with poetry. Donate today!


I'm reviewing first page proof for Misery Islands. Yahoo!


Last week I met with a few friends to workshop a few poems, and it seems as if we all had been experiencing a bit of bad energy lately. Our little group has been the recipients of multiple rejections. Maybe it has more to do with time of year, but back-to-back-to-back rejections will shake anyone's confidence, no matter how experienced a writer. Here's hoping the energy shifts in our favor sooner rather than later.

Word on the Street

Lots of good news out there in the poetry community.


Did you see this article on the Dark Room Collective? Read: "The Dark Room Collective: Where Black Poetry Took Wing," from The New York Times

And from TSE's FB page:

"You heard it here first. While I am always happy to see Black Poetry make its difficult and, nowadays, sometimes easier-than-before way into and through the world, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing in this article (except maybe the photos) that I agree with. And its resemblance to why I co-founded the Dark Room Collective is less than a very thinly mirrored non-skin."

--Thomas Sayers Ellis


From WBUR's Here and Now, an interview with Natasha Trethewey as she ends her tenure as two-time U.S. Poet Laureate.


Dan Chiasson profiles' Rachel Zucker in The New Yorker: "Mother Tongue."


And, have you seen Austin Kleon's Blackout Poems? Very cool.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Just go with it ...

Two words: head cold. I can work through a lot of things, but when the allergies I didn't know I had turned into a hacking cough and a head cold, that's all she wrote! I mean, literary, I have not been writing. (Am I using "literally" correctly?) I have not written a poem in a week.


While I wait on galley proofs of my second book, I'm working on manuscript #3. It's coming together. As I organize the work, I can see the holes. Fortunately I know how to fill them. So on a day like today, when my head is foggy from allergy relief medicine, I take the m'script out, shuffle a few pages, think I've written the worst thing ever, shuffle a few more pages, and then fold laundry.


Writers must be the only folks who will go through a bad patch in their writing. Whether it's a day or a week, we think will never write anything good again. After a bad day, I bet dancers think it was just a bad day.


Good article in The Atlantic on Frank O'Hara.


Have you seen the Dodge line-up? The list keeps growing!


Looking forward to the next five weeks of doing nothing but writing. Once the kids are out of school, however, that's when Summer O' Fun 2014 begins.

Monday, May 19, 2014

TED Talk: Elizabeth Gilbert, March 2014

Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating

"... I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live."

I needed to hear this today. Time to go "home."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Confession Tuesday

Howdy! Share a little bit of yourselves with us and we promise to do the same.

I turned in my grades today. Yahoo! I taught two great advanced composition classes, and I can honestly say that I learned as much from my students as they learned from me. Well, I hope they learned from me. I liked seeing the surprised faced when they wrote something they never expected. Love that! 

Now, I can concentrate on my own kids. 


Speaking of kids, I've made a hard left back into mommy mode. My parents and extended family have been pitching in lately, but now that the three of us are sinking back into routine, there's been a lot of bickering. I'm hoping that by having more free time, I can relax and be there for them more. Lack of time with Alex and Ella is the biggest sacrifice I make leading to the festival. Things should be better soon, I hope. 


Short but sweet! Have a great day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Happy Mother's Day!

Extra special Happy Mother's Day wishes to my mom, Rosemary. Do you know what that makes me? Rosemary's baby.


Alex and Ella spent the weekend with their dad--that's just how our weekends tend to work out. Even though it's Mom's day weekend, I really needed the time alone. I slept in, graded some papers, cleaned house--even wrote a poem. This was my time to decompress after last week's festival. I did catch Alex's little league game and made dinner after. The perfect end to Mother's Day.


The photo above is from Dead Horse Beach in Salem. I knew of the beach but never made a connection with the name until this weekend. Once I heard the name, I needed to write a poem about it.


To-do list

1. Write poem for an anthology
2. Work on another poem (I've had an idea rolling around and I don't want to lose it) 
3. Organize third manuscript
4. Revive Juno project
5. Set up reading dates for second book
6. Submit poems to two journals


I'm starting to feel that connection again to my writing, which means I'm connecting to my life again. The last two months took a lot out of me. But this time I know I'm not too far away from my center. The cosmic tumblers are clicking back into place.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Post Fest Wrap-up

The 2014 Mass Poetry Festival came and went, but not without a few incredible moments. Here are my favorites:

1. Getting 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with Phil Levine. Here's a pic with Carol Ann Duffy and our emerging poet Heather Tressler.

2. Selfies with Oliver de la Paz and Li-Young Lee.

3. Lucie Brock-Brodio's closing reading on Sunday. She was so funny and engaging--a nice way to end the festival. Also, watching Michael Ansara and Lucie untangle themselves. (Lucie's hair and Michael's festival button. No photos, you had to be there.)

4. Hearing Cornelius Eady perform with his two of his band mates. I've known Cornelius for nearly 20 years but have never heard him play an instrument or sing. This was a real treat. Hope to have the full band back soon.

5. The State of Poetry panel. Jennifer Jean always does a nice job moderating that panel. I appreciated hearing the variety of perspectives that contradicted and complemented each other.

l-r: festival cofounder Michael Ansara, Kim Addonizio, Oliver de la Paz, and Poetry editor Don Share.

6. Feeling the good energy reflected back at me as I introduced poets on Friday and Saturday nights.

7. A beautiful Saturday afternoon after a tricky weather forecast. I'm just thankful I didn't have to move the performance stage or the small press and literary fair inside.

8. Seeing our volunteers leave, only to come back to work another shift. Such dedication.

9. The reception.

l-r: Vivian Shipley, Kim Addonizio, Oliver de la Paz, Joseph O. Legaspi, Susan Rich, and me.

10. Sunday afternoon after headquarter closes and our immediate team goes out for a round of celebratory drinks!


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