Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

Dear big, beautiful blog:

I am sorry for neglecting you in 2015. Poet Mom has been such an important part of my life for nearly 10 years, so much so it's hard to believe I have not posted in six weeks. But the truth is I'm not sure if I want you in my life anymore. 

During the past six months I haven't been motivated to post here. I'm much more active on Facebook and Twitter, which you might have guessed. But I think my reluctance to write here reflects a lack of motivation toward anything and everything. Yes, life is good. The kids and teaching take up a large portion of time, but I've always manage to write. With Misery Islands making its way in the world, I've done my best to support it while planning the next Mass Poetry Festival and get more involved with the larger poetry community. I just don't have the passion for blogging that I used to, and I'm not sure it will return. 

For motivation to mean anything, I need attention and effort--two things I've lacked since the summer. So it's time for me to shake things up. You, dear blog, need a long, overdue overhaul--a look and feel that reflects who I am today. Or maybe we've just outgrown each other. I'm just not sure at this point. 

For the next few months, I will try to post weekly to see if the passion returns. I need to set new goals, even if I'm unmotivated to do so. Do I need a fresh start? A kick in the pants? Time for me to find out.   
 
Time for me to pick a direction and go.

XO

Jan

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Confession Tuesday


Starbucks should put lines of poetry on their cups, don't you think?

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Thinking of Paris, Beirut, and Syria.

****

Ahhh, November. 

I've been a traveling fool as of late. I've been to New York, Washington, DC, and Santa Fe, NM (and hung out in airports in Denver, Albuquerque, and Phoenix--but who's counting). 

It's been a whirlwind few weeks of readings and meetings, yet I'm reassured by is that poetry seems to be thriving. And I say that given the excitement and enthusiasm of people who are working behind the scenes to bring poetry to a wider audience. It doesn't seem like such an uphill battle as it has in the past. 

****

While I have no have time to attend my workshop, I've been writing a poem a day. Of course, I'm off pace. But after not writing for months, I can feel myself finding some kind of rhythm to my writing life. Feels good to get a few drafts in paper. 

**** 

My schedule has changed temporarily so it's been hard as of late to get any momentum. Haven't worked out or had a good old fashioned writing session with my group in more than a month. I seem to be treading water lately. That's fine for now. I'm adjusting and taking deep breaths. Here's hoping I can pace myself for the next few months. My schedule should level out by March.

****
Did I mention Misery Islands won the Mass Book Award for poetry? Yep, that happened. 

Monday, November 02, 2015

What is Poetry? Scenes from the 2015 Massachusetts Poetry Festival



We are roughly six months away from the 2016 Mass Poetry Festival. Dates are April 29-May 1. If you're feeling nostalgic, watch this beautiful festival video created by Joey Phoenix for Creative Salem.

Makes me happy every time I see it.

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Our call for submissions has now closed, and I believe we received nearly 150 proposals.

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Our partial list of headline poets includes Marie Howe, Sandra Beasley, Mark Doty, Ada Limón, Greg Pardlo, David Rivard, and Charles Simic. Visit our site to volunteer, get information about the book fair, and find out general information


Thursday, October 22, 2015

On the Road Again

Hope you can join me at NYU or the Boston Book Fest this weekend!


Friday, October 23
NYU Creative Writing Program Reading Series
Adam Day, Monica McClure, January O'Neil, and Marjory Wentworth.
5 p.m.
Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, 58 West 10th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. The reading will be followed by a wine and cheese reception and book signing.

Saturday, October 24
Boston Book Fest
Sarah Kay, Lynn Levin, January Gill O'Neil
5:30-7 p.m.
Storyville,  90 Exeter St., Boston


Monday, October 19, 2015

2015 Massachusetts Book Awards

Misery Islands wins a Mass Book Award



The MassBooks are the the largest state book awards program in the country.  Each year, the program receives hundreds of submissions. The Center staff, working in partnership with reading advisors and judges from the Massachusetts library community, develop a list of “Must-Read” books and name the award winners.

Massachusetts Must Read Books for 2015  (poster)
Congratulations to the Mass Book Award winners for 2015!
  • Fiction: Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng  (Penguin)
  • Nonfiction: The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert  (Holt)
  • Poetry: Misery Islands by January Gill O’Neil (CavanKerry)
  • Picture Books: Going Places by Peter H. and Paul A. Reynolds (Simon & Schuster)
  • Middle Reader/Young Adult: Conversion by Katherine Howe (Putnam/Penguin Teen)

State House Awards Ceremony

All winners and honorees will be celebrated at the State House on January 12, 2016, with a short program and lunch with colleagues, librarians, legislators, and -- we hope -- readers like you!  Contact us for details:
bookawards@massbook.org.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Yes, I'm OK.


 

Today I'm at Pleasant St. Tea Company in Gloucester with my friend Cindy. Later, I'll watch my son play flag football and then either grade papers or watch the Patriots football game. Or both.

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Special shout out to Nancy Greenaway who emailed and asked if I was OK. The answer, of course, is yes! I've just been busy with the kids and teaching. I'm also starting festival planning so this blog has not gotten the attention it deserves. But I promise to start posting more regularly.

If I'm being honest, I haven't been motivated to write. And I haven't written a poem in two months. I did finish my third manuscript and it's out for review. I'm not panicked about not writing. In fact, I feel great. You won't find me stressed about not writing (when there are so many other things to be stressed about). Maybe I'm just bored with my own writing and I need a real challenge. 

****

Most likely I will do a Poem a Day challenge in November. I would like to write new poems by the end of the year, and to move with purpose through the New Year. 

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Thanks for checking in on me. I'm still here! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Taken at Wicked Good Books, Salem, MA



Happy Tuesday, folks. Time to confess!


Not sure which was worse today: completing my reappointment file at work, seeing the my ob-gyn for my annual check-up, or realizing that today would have been my 14th wedding anniversary. All of the above. 

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So I had a Margarita at dinner. 

****

I also skipped out of my writers group tonight for time at Starbucks. I need a few hours to process. But it looks like Tuesday are the best nights to hang out at Starbucks (read: cute boys!) 

There's also a group here with a spinning wheel. I kid you not. 

****

The last few weeks in the poetry world have been cray. Really. But there's been some good news too, such as today's announcement of the National Book Awards long list in poetry. So many friends on the list. Good luck to everyone. 

And, today Mass Poetry announced the call for proposals! Submit between September 15 and October 30. (I just can't believe it's that time of year again.) Feels good to celebrate the achievements of these fine poets. 

****

And some good news for me. Misery Islands is in its second printing! And, my third manuscript is finished and with a publisher for review. All this on the heels of a dynamite interview I did with David Roderick at The Rumpus Late Night Poetry Show (with two bonus poems), and this article at Old Dominion University, my alma mater. 

Couldn't be happier. I'm feeling grateful tonight, which takes the edge off a difficult day. 


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

How to DIY a Writers Retreat

Steepletop Barn

A few weeks ago, a group of five of us went to Millay Colony of the Arts in Austerlitz, New York. We had a terrific time, each of us working on poetry and fiction projects in various stages of development. It was not lost on us that we were on the property once inhabited by Edna St. Vincent Millay, a true rock-star poet in her day. There were times when I swear we felt her spirit move through us.

All of us had participated in different writers’ retreats in the past. But this one we planned, meaning, we rented the space and designed the week to our specifications as a group. It was self-directed, with enough interaction to keep us from getting bored. And, of course, we were surrounded by the spectacular vistas surrounding the Millay property to keep us engaged. The threat of bears also kept us on our toes.

Poet Jennifer Martelli lovingly captured our experience for Mass Poetry’s site. But for those who want a more practical approach to a do-it-yourself retreat, here are some tips

Pick a good location
It all starts with comfort level. Retreats don’t have to be expensive. But you need to feel as if you have everything you need, from a quiet space to access to a printer.
Limit the distractions
If you’ve on a retreat, be on retreat and limit checking email and social media.

Have a plan for your time
Are you trying to complete a manuscript or meet your daily word count? Whatever the goal, write it down and follow it. Even if the goals change, at least you have a base from which to start.

Stay open
Follow through on any idea or word. Get it down on paper. Don’t get discouraged. Or maybe it’s better to be discouraged if that’s part of your process. Give yourself permission to try, fail, and fail again.

Have good food
I won’t lie—we ate well. But we also walked, swam, talked, workshopped, fretted, and read lots of books. Chocolate helps.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Confession Tuesday


Happy Tuesday, folks. Time for confessions. Share and share alike.

September is here and we are back to school! I have to say, I'm sad to see summer go. For the past three months, I've taken a break from all duties and obligations. And for the last two months, the kids and I have goofed off, had many water gun battles, eaten too much ice cream, and just enjoyed the warm weather. But not, classes have started for them and I'm back to teaching at Salem State.

Summer, we miss you already.

****

I didn't write very much during the past few months. I'm probably being too hard on myself because I finished my third manuscript. But I didn't have that desperate ache to start a poem, or keep pace against any self-imposed schedules. Admittedly, I was OK with not writing, so I think this has to be a new part of the process. This fall, I'll teach three creative writing classes and one composition class. No way I can get out of writing. That's one of the benefits--even if it's bad writing. Now that classes are back in session and I have three creative writing classes, I'm looking forward to working with students and getting into a more regular routine.

****

This fall I have a lot of travel, more than I would normally take on in a semester. I'd forgotten what it's like to promote a book. By all accounts, Misery Islands is doing well with adoptions and general sales. I'm doing my best to support my little book.

****

You know you're getting older when you start saying things such as, "Where has the time gone?"

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday, Sunday



Feel like the last gasp of summer is happening. Last week, we were in Atlanta visiting with family (photos from the Georgia Aquarium). Today, we’re going to a Red Sox game. Next week, the kids start school—and so do I. *sigh* The last two months have gone by quickly. Here in the Boston area, many schools held their last classes around June 29, so the kids have only been out of school two month. Part of me thinks it’s been the right amount of time. Of course, I wish we had a few more weeks to play around.

Because I’ve been spending most of my time with the kids, I haven’t been as productive. I haven’t written much poetry or read much of it for that matter, nor have I wanted to. Even after the Millay Colony retreat, I really have been distracted by the other parts of my life I tend to ignore. I’ve slept, eaten very well, hung out with friends, and spent some glorious days and nights with Alex and Ella. 



I fine with taking a break from writing. Deep down, I know this is part of the process, but it’s always hard to get back into the swing of things. This blog, in particular, was the first part of my writing life to be neglected. But it’s time to make a move. Time to pick a direction and go.

I should say that I finished my third manuscript, so it’s not as if my summer hasn’t been productive from a writer’s standpoint. All of those other parts of my life—teaching classes, festival planning, and the po biz—need my attention, too. So I am thankful for this summer respite, thankful I have work that sustains me and allows me to spend this precious time with my children. And I’m especially thankful that you still stop by every once in a while. XO! 




Saturday, August 15, 2015

WBUR: Boston Poetry Marathon Kicks Off Friday

It a bit of a surprise, my poem, "Hoodie," was featured yesterday as part of a WBUR story on the Boston Poetry Marathon happening this weekend.



My thanks to Jim Behrle for including me in the segment.

The marathon is in full swing! Go hear some of the best poetry happening in the Boston Area today. Congrats to the organizers for putting together such an amazing event.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Boston Poetry Marathon 2015

The Boston Poetry Marathon Starts today! Look at all the fabulous poets reading during the next three days. Each poet reads for 8 minutes. I'm on the early side, tonight at 7:16. So, I'll read and then sit down to hear most of this amazing lineup.

Read more about the Boston Poetry Marathon.

Hope to see you there!




(click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Audio: Summer Poetry Reading with Meena Alexander, Ross Gay and January Gil O'Neil



My deepest thanks to the Academy of American Poets and the New York Public Library for including me in their summer reading series. Hear Meena Alexander, Ross Gay (with Aimee Nezhukumatathil), and me from our July 14 event.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Confession Tuesday

I am now the mother of a 10-year-old! Where has the time gone? And how did I get so lucky with this beautiful, creative, strong, determined, quirky, amazing young lady?

This confession Tuesday is for Ella Rose.

I haven't spoken about this in a while, but about two weeks after she was born, Ella was diagnosed with a coarctation of the aorta. In layman's terms, she wasn't getting enough blood flowing to her lower extremities. When she stopped feeding suddenly and started breathing shallow breaths, I would have dismissed it if it wasn't for my mom who told me just get her checked out just to be safe. Fortunately, there was a doctor on call from Boston Children's Hospital on duty at our local hospital who knew something was wrong. The doctor had Ella sent to Boston for tests. A few hours later she was in surgery. And a few days later, with no more than Tylenol to ease the pain, she was home with us.

About a week ago, Ella visited the cardiologist who gave her a clean bill of health. Not even a murmur. She's never had any difficulty, but we get check ups with a specialists every two years. It's as if the coarctation never happened. Of course, she has no memory of it, just two barely noticeable scars under her left shoulder blade.

So I am grateful that Ella is here, and 10 feels like a real victory over all the dark fears that mothers (and fathers) entertain when no one is looking. I've always known that if she could survive surgery, she could survive anything.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Monday, July 27, 2015

In Retreat


Hello from Millay Colony!

I am midway through a writers' retreat with four very good friends. This is my second time here, so returning feels like a homecoming.

Two of us are staying in the main house (this picture doesn't do it justice), while I'm retreating in the barn with two others. Each room comes with a studio that gets great light all day. The barn has a rustic feel. No cell service. No television. No better way to shake things up for a city slicker like me.



Steepletop Barn

The property, also known as Steepletop, was owned by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. There is the retreat center, and her house and grounds, which have been lovingly maintained and preserved throughout the years. About 600 acres remain of this one-time blueberry farm.

Millay's House



I hadn't read much of Millay's work until I came to Steepletop. She lived from 1892 to 1950, and was a true rock-star poet. She came from humble beginnings, was the poet in the 1920s and 30s, and died young at age 58. Brassy, intelligent, promiscuous--I like to think of her as "a broad" who almost always got what she wanted. Known as one of the best sonnet writers in the 20th century, she's been all but forgotten in the canon of poets. Millay wasn't the nicest of poets, so I wonder about the price an artist makes to pursue her passion.

I can't help but be inspired by the landscape and by my fellow poets as we create in this amazing space. Millay is everywhere. I can't help but be inspired here.




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Actor from The Ride bus tour, Times Square. Photo by Alex O'Neil


Happy Tuesday folks! Time for confessions. Here we go.

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The kids are I are fresh off of our trip to New York City. What an honor it was to read with the Academy of American Poets with Ross Gay and Meena Alexander. It's hard to get on anyone's radar screen these days so it's nice to be included with an organization that has been a part of my writing career from the start.

But what meant the most to me was having Alex and Ella in the audience. What I'm hoping is that they make a connection between me doing what I love and the places your passions can take you. I want my children to realize someday that it was my poems that brought us to NYC. And if they work hard enough, they can create a rich and full life by doing what makes them happy.

Isn't that what we all want?

****
I am woefully behind on my poem a day challenge. I think I'm down by 10 poems. But I should be able to catch up because this week I'll be traveling with some poet friends to Millay Colony for a weeklong writers retreat. I did this two years ago and found the experience extremely productive. I'll work on m'script #3, revise the Juno poems--which may or may not turn into book #4, and catch up on my reading. And, of course, write more poems!

****

I have a few poems coming out, but I haven't submitted poems to journals in six months. And, I'm OK with that. When you write a poem a day, those poems need to sit before being released into the wild.

****

Overall, I've been relatively lazy. I mean, I haven't had the desire to create a to-do list. Even if there are things to do, I don't want to do them. What's wrong with me?

****

God, I *heart* summer.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Poets and a Band: Photos

Misery loves company! And I loved reading with Colleen Michaels and Kevin Carey at Chianti's Jazz Lounge as we celebrated the release of Misery Islands in front of a hometown crowd. And with Greg Allen's Fringe Religion playing an unplugged set, it was a good night had by all.





Colleen Michaels




Kevin Carey




Greg Allen's Fringe Religion

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Reading Series - Photos

Can't tell you how much fun I had reading for the Academy of American Poets at the New York Public Library for the Summer Reading Series. Such a pleasure reading with Ross Gay and Meena Alexander. And to have my children in the audience was a blessing. Here are some pictures from the event. My thanks to Jen Benka, Patricia Guzman, and the kinds folks at the Academy for including me in the event.

Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil read from their chapbook Letters from Two Gardens. 




Ross Gay



Jen Benka


Meena Alexander





Joseph and David 









Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Poetry Readings with Meena Alexander, Ross Gay and January Gil O'Neil. | The New York Public Library

Join The New York Public Library, in collaboration with the Academy of American Poets, for an evening of poetry with Meena Alexander, Ross Gay and January Gill O'Neil.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
PROGRAM LOCATION:
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room
The event is free and open to the public.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

SolLit Dialogue on RACE, CULTURE & CLASS: Are we Ready to Have the Conversation?

I have not posted very much this summer, but I would be remiss if I did not tell you about the piece I wrote for SolLit on race relations. This is a tough subject, one I'm more comfortable addressing in poetry not prose. But here I am, stepping into the fray. Seems like a good time for it, don't you think? Here's an excerpt.

Are we ready to have a real conversation about race? In order for that to happen, we have to be honest about what’s happening. Having an African American president, famous celebrities of color, and godlike basketball players does not mean we’ve come to terms with our history of slavery. The confederate flag flying over the South Carolina State house is testament to that. Maybe the conversation starts with our own cultural biases and admitting we have them. These come out of our own upbringings, our communities and cultures. This is different than the institutional racism which creates large socioeconomic disparities in education, employment, politics, and the judiciary system. Both are problematic, but these days I’m not sure which is easier to address.


Read more at SolLit.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! Happy Summer!


Ella holding a lobster

The Summer o' Fun has begun!

Even though the kids' last day of school was Monday, we've been in high gear for the last two weeks. It's hard to believe that for 10 years I commuted 80 miles roundtrip for work, which I did year round. Now I'm fortunate enough to teach and not have to work during the summer. So every day, even the tough ones, is a gift. 

Summer is moving a little too quickly for me. 

****

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to line up your values with your vision. There's no recipe or trick to doing it. I'm not sure if I even had a model for it. My parents were hard workers but never used language like that, other than say do what makes you happy. And I did. Poetry and family has always been at the center, and knowing what grounds me makes it easier to decide how I spend my time. So having summers off, being with the kids, and still finding time to write? No contest! 

****

This month I am writing a poem a day. Wish me luck. Much easier to do PADs in July, November, and January than in April. Why do I even bother with April? 

****

Also this month, in theory, I will wrap up the major edits on my next manuscript. And, it's time to take out the Juno poems and decide what to do with them. Not sure what I want for that project but I have some ideas about connecting the past to the present. I think I'm ready. This is a good time to work on new poems because there's so much change happening in places, quite frankly, I didn't think I'd ever see in a lifetime. 




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday folks! Time for confessions.  


This is the last full week of school for my kids, so between end-of-school-year activities and little league baseball, we've been busy. 

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Congrats to Alex and his teammates for making it to the city championship! They played their hearts and lost to a tough team. Couldn't ask for more than that. Alex starts all-stars soon so the second half of his season begins this week.

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The warm weather has restored my soul. But like most New Engenders we're still traumatized from this past winter. Seriously, not a day goes by and I don't flashback to the mounds of snow on the sidewalks are curbs. Not. One. Day. Fortunately, late nights at the ballpark in shorts eating ice cream helps. 

****

Recently, I became poetry co-editor for Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices. I'll be working with Ben Berman (who may be one of the nicest people I've ever met) and Lee Hope (also extremely nice), who's done a fabulous job steering the direction of this online magazine. Also, Solstice will produce an occasional print edition moving forward.  

It was a very cool opportunity I couldn't refuse.

****

Manuscript #3 is done! It's being reviewed by some of my closest poet friends. The plan is to get edits back by mid-July, and then continue to work on it at our Millay Colony retreat. It feels good to get this book together because this is some of my strongest writing. I'm happy with the title, mostly happy with the order--just feels good to call this group of poems complete, especially since I haven't been writing much at all these past few months. 










Monday, June 15, 2015

Calliope Reading Series
















Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading with the Calliope Reading Series at the West Falmouth Library. Such a wonderful group of poets and poetry lovers on the Cape. I read with Barbara Crooker (far left) and Irene Willis with an open mic after. Our poems seem to complement each other, which makes for a fine reading when that happens. Many thanks to Alice Kociemba for putting us together.

Irene Willis
















Barbara Crooker



Alice Kociemba
















I brought Alex and Ella with me, which I don't do often when I have to drive more than an hour. It helps that the event was help at a library where they didn't have to sit still. There are no kid pics from the reading because they are SOOOOO over mom and the poetry thing. I made the kids a deal: if they didn't complain about the car ride, I would take them to KFC for a meal. Everybody wins.

Kid pic from the beach:




Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks. Share a little of yourself with us and we promise to do the same.

For Mothers' Day, my mother bought me a camera. So I've been playing around with my new toy every day since. Unfortunately, I can't find the directions. I have no idea what to do besides point and shoot.

Here are some pictures of some geese. Or ducks. Geese. I'm not sure what they are.



















****

A few days ago I was speaking with a friend about our poetry careers. After a bit of a back and forth, my friend asked me, "What do you want?" And while I answered the question, I'm really not sure. It was a question about long-term goals, and while I have an answer, I really had to think about it. I know what I want long term, but what do I want at this mid-point in my career? What do I want for my writing?  I need to keep busy, keep progressing. Part of me thinks I've taken my eye off the ball.

****

It's hard to stay focused when the weather rises above 70 degrees.

****

Manuscript revisions are progressing. I'm hoping to finish up by June 15. My self-imposed deadline gives me a month to send it out to friends, and then work on the edits at Millay Colony. That's right! Mid-July, a small group of us will rent out Millay again to work on various projects. It will be heaven. I don't do well with nature (ticks, snakes), but I am looking forward to this.

****

Much of my free time has been spent at Alex's baseball games. The playoffs start this weekend. I'm excited for him now that his hitting is coming around. I love watching that kid play. He's so smart on the field.

Not to be outdone, Ella has been singing music from the Into the Woods soundtrack around the house, which is a step up from Pitch Perfect 2. I wonder if I have Broadway star in the making.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy first week of spring, folks! Well, if you live in New England, it is a rainy and cold 46 degrees on June 2. Tell me again how there's no such thing as climate change?

Onto confessions ...

****

Here's a photo I took of Ella this morning for her PowerPoint presentation on earthworms. First of all, she doing a PowerPoint. Hello, technology. Second, notice she's wearing a winter coat. Ugh. I do love this photo.

Well, before Sunday, we had been experiencing unseasonably warm, dry weather. It spoiled me. After the harsh winter--which most of us are still traumatized from--I really though nature owed us. Wrong. But, of course, she had other plans. This too shall pass, right?

****

THIS JUST IN:

My second book, Misery Islands, has been selected by Mass Center for the Book as a 2015 Must-Read Book in the poetry category, and is a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry!

The full list of nominees:
Liam Day, Afforded Permanence (Aforementioned Productions)
Jeffrey Harrison, Into the Daylight (Tupelo Press)
Fanny Howe, Second Childhood (Graywolf Press)
Jennifer Markell, Samsara (Turning Point)
January Gill O'Neil, Misery Islands (CavanKerry Press)
Afaa Michael Weaver, City of Eternal Spring (Pittsburgh UP)

The winners and finalists are promoted to libraries and bookstores across the state. Winners in all categories announced in September.

I'm thrilled that this book is hitting a stride and finding an audience. And, I love the idea of having books promoted with libraries and book groups. How cool is that?

****

Still working on third manuscript. I'm revising poem by poem, which I should finish this week. Then, I'll send it off to poet-friends to read. Out of the 59 poems, I feel confident about 40 of them. Now, does that mean I should cut the weak ones? This is why I need a few semi-objective readers to give it to me straight. My biggest fear is that I'll write new ones and want to add them. Oh well, there are worse problems to have.

****

"Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather."



Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Salem Poetry Seminar

Have you heard about the Salem Poetry Seminar? This is a program where students are selected from public colleges and universities for a weeklong writers' retreat at Salem State. The cost of the program is free. There's a minimal cost to students to stay on-site, but students get campus credit to purchase meals and snacks. Wish I had something like this as an undergrad.  

Jill McDonough, Charlotte Gordon, and J.D. Scrimgeour are the workshop leaders, and I'm reading later in the week. 

This is a really cool thing we do for emerging writers. Hope you make it to some of the readings to see the next generation of Massachusetts writers. 

**** 


The Salem Poetry Seminar is a weeklong event for students at public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. Thirteen students, selected from throughout the commonwealth,have the opportunity to study poetry writing intensively with noted teachers and authors Charlotte Gordon, J.D. Scrimgeour and Jill McDonough. 

In addition to day long poetry study, the seminar includes free nightly readings by established poets and seminar participants. All readings are held at 7:30 pm in the Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex Street.

Wednesday, June 3
M.P. Carver and J.D. Scrimgeour with student poets Julie Fabbo (Framingham State) , Elizabeth Tobin (Bridgewater State), Jessica Tower (Salem State), and Woody Woodger (Westfield State).

Thursday, June 4
Charlotte Gordon and January Gill O’Neil with student poets Taylor Boticelli (Salem State), Mallory Braun (UMass Amherst), Victoria Nicolau (Salem State), Robin Parsons (Westfield State), and Cady Vishniac (UMass Boston)

Friday, June 5
Salem Poetry Seminar Alumni Reading featuring Joey Gould, Lisa Mangini and Enzo Surin.

Saturday, June 6
Jill McDonough and student poets Robert Auld (Salem State), Amy Gaeta (UMass Boston), Andrew Mansfield Westfield State), and Kayleigh Turgeon (UMass Lowell)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Summer Reading

These are books I’ve accumulated since March. Most I have not read, but some didn’t get my full attention.  In alpha order:

1.     The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander
2.       Why God Is a Woman, Nin Andrews
3.       Do Not Rise, Beth Bachmann
4.       The Last Two Seconds, Mary Jo Bang
5.       We Come Elemental, Tamiko Beyer
6.       The New Testament, Jericho Brown
7.       All-season Stephanie, Stephen Burt
8.       New to the Lost Coast, Joshua Butts
9.       The Breakbeat Poets, Kevin Corval, Quaraysh Lansana, and Nate Marshall
10.   Deep Lane, Mark Doty
11.   My Feelings, Nick Flynn
12.   Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay
13.   How to Be Drawn, Terrance Hayes
14.   Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist, Kirun Kapur
15.   You Are Indeed an Elk, But This Is Not the Forest You Were Born to Graze, Kyle McCord
16.   Digest, Greg Pardlo
17.   King Me, Roger Reeves
18.   The Americans, David Roderick
19.   War of the Foxes, Richard Siken
20.   What the Truth Tastes Likes, Martha Silano
21.   In the Kettle, The Shriek, Hannah Stephenson
22.   Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks.


These are my new favorite pencils--the first one says it all. I'm so tempted to send my kids to school with them. 

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My desire to be productive seems to be returning. I haven't felt the need or urge to write every day, but I've been diligently working on manuscript #3. I'm revising peons without worrying too much about publishing individual poems or who will produce the next book. 

Right now, I have 59 poems--some of them long. And I keep adding to it when I know I need to whittle them down. For now, I'm happy with this batch of poems. It could be my best collection yet!

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Misery Islands has been selected for a 2015 Paterson Prize for Literary Excellence! My thanks to Maria Gillan and the selection committee for this honor. 



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