Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Confession Tuesday

 Hi folks. This is the post-festival Confession Tuesday

I am still on a high from this weekend's Mass Poetry Festival, which, by all accounts, was the best one yet. It was chilly on day one buy no rain, and by Sunday the weather was spring-like.

As far as I can tell the festival was flawless. Every year tell our planning team, "It takes a lot of work to make it look everything look seamless. That's what we strive for every year.


Some of my favorite moments included this one pictured above, hanging out with Rita Dove and Fred Viebahn--two of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And Rita's reading with Riichard Blanco on Saturday night was phenomenal.

Another great moment was seeing the crew from Four Way Books: Andrea Cohen, Cynthia Cruz, Rachel Eliza Griffiths and the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner Gregory Pardlo! It was one of those readings that just felt special. So happy to host Greg's first reading since winning the Pulitzer in poetry. Here's video of his reading:


Another special moment hearing Denise Duhamel, Nick Flynn, and Adrian Matejka read at the Peabody Essex Museum. What a magical night that was. You can see photos of these and many of the weekend events at Creative Salem. My favorite photos are of the Poetry Circus!

It was an amazing weekend of poetry. And now we have the pictures to prove it!


The two things I'm struggling with now are exhaustion and forgetfulness--byproducts of National Poetry Month. I'm backed up on poetry books, submissions, and grading. Oh well, good problems to have.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks!

Last week I spent a few days with Kelli Russell Agodon and Susan Rich! It did my heart good to come out to Seattle for the WordsWest Literary Series and to visit Highline Community College for the day. I love them for many reasons, but mainly because they make things happen for their community. They are two of the brightest starts in the poetry universe; I'm privileged to call them my friends. 

If we lived on the same coast, I think the poetry universe would explode!


It's crunch time!

With the Massachusetts Poetry Festival less than two weeks away, all of my attention shifts to poetry. (Well, most of it. There's still grading to do!) My days are organized down to the minute so I don't leave behind any details. I'm also harder to reach, and I get extremely cranky. And, my kids are on spring break this week. Knowing that this festival is going to be pretty spectacular makes the next two weeks bearable. 


Congrats to Greg Pardlo on winning the Pulitzer for his beautiful collection Digest! Couldn't have happened to a nicer person. And, how lucky are we here in Massachusetts that Greg will be at the festival on Saturday reading with Four Way Books!


Maybe the festival is making me a bit crazy, but I had a two embarrassing fails on social media yesterday. Ugh. And honestly, since I've come back into town, I've made some miscalculations with a a few folks in my life. Usually, I'm pretty good at reading people but lately I've been completely off. I mean spectacularly off of my game. I just don't have the time or patience for missteps so I'm crawling back into my emotional hole until May 4. 


Dear universe, 

I'm all set with life lessons for a while. 


Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Pulitzer Prizes - Poetry


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

Awarded to "Digest," by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books), clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: "Reel to Reel," by Alan Shapiro(University of Chicago Press), finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse; and "Compass Rose," by Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon Press), a collection in which the poet uses capacious intelligence and lyrical power to offer a dazzling picture of our inter-connected world.


Yay, Greg Pardlo! Outstanding!


(Jo Jo!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Howdy, folks. It's Confession Tuesday, Seattle edition!

If you are in the Seattle area, come out for the WordsWest Series:

“Death and Taxes: The National Poetry Month Special"
with Kelli Russell Agodon & January Gill O'Neil
Wed., April 15, 2015, 7pm, C & P Coffee Co., 5612 California Ave. SW
This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc.

I'm honored and thrilled to be reading with Kelli Wednesday night. I'm equally thrilled to be at Highline Community College on Thursday with Susan Rich as I talk to her classes about writing and the writing life.


Short and sweet today. No rain in sight, so I'm going to get out and enjoy the afternoon.


I'm still recovering from AWP15. With every conference, I say it was the best one yet. There's some truth to that. Loved Minneapolis. Here's my AWP experience in photos. 

The line for Patricia Smith's Prince Purple Party was no joke. But the reading was one of a kind. Good lord, it's been so long since I've been dancing! No, Prince did not attend--so you know he missed out. 

It was an amazing night of poetry! So happy I was witness to this par-tay to end all par-tays. 

Chris Bolin and me.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

The always fierce Patricia Smith

Jennifer Jean and me about to kick off our AWP experience.

Evie Shockley

Evie, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Chris Albani

Sarah Gambito and me, missing Joseph Legaspi at this particular moment.

Rita Dove, Chris, and me

The book fair! Massive.

Kirun Kapur signing copies of her first book.

Jaci Jones Lamont

Nin Andrews

Yours truly with my friend, Tom (below), who was in Minneapolis for something other than AWP!  

Julie Batten, me, Jennifer Jean, Kirun Kapur and Laurin Macios: Boston poets in the house!

Laurin, Jill McDonough, and me

Nick Flynn

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Happy Confession Tuesday! This is a pre-AWP post. Tomorrow afternoon I fly out to Minneapolis to join the madness. I've been looking forward to this trip for months! I hate leaving my family but I need to be with my tribe.

After this long, hard winter, a change of scenery is needed. My wish: All of the snow in my yard will be gone when I return. It could happen.


If you're going to AWP, please vote for me! I have been nominated for Northeast Regional Council Chair, it is a board level position. It's a four-year commitment and, honestly, I haven't been this excited about something in a long time.

Look for me shaking babies and kissing hands ... wait, reverse that!

I'll be around to meet and greet and talk about Misery Islands. My publisher did not schedule a book signing for me. But if you're out and about, stop me in the halls. Text or DM me. Let's catch up!


Four day into my PAD challenge and I've stalled at poem 4. Hoping to catch up at the airport. There's something about airport limbo that's conducive to writing. Here's hoping there are no travel delays.

Will post pics from the convention center! 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

National Poetry Month

I love, love, love this year's Massachusetts Poetry Festival flyer/poster, created by Randi Giles. Festival dates are May 1-3. Planning is well underway, which makes April an important month for me.


The Poem-a-Day challenge starts today. I don't do the big public group-shares anymore (permissions is too much of a hassle to post on a blog), so I work with members of the Salem Writers Group and share in email. Always nice to commiserate and lament how difficult the process is with friends who "get" you. We suffer together.


Check out Collin Kelley's beautiful poetry banner hanging up in West Hollywood. So cool!


And this. The beautiful and talented Kelli Russell Agodon gives an interview with Theatrical Mustang Poetry. She talks about life as a poet and as a publisher with Two Sylvias Press. Also, Kelli reads my poem, "In the Company of Women" at the end of the podcast. Fun fact: That poem almost made it into the April 2015 edition of O Magazine.

And if you haven't caught Kelli's feature in this month's O Magazine, you should.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Confession Tuesday

It is the last Tuesday in March, which according to my daughter is not going out like a lamb.

Well, these are the dog days of spring for me, where time is at a premium. In fact, all of my time is scheduled out. Before I go to bed, I write out a to-do list. In the morning, I go out an make a time map, so I can see how much time I have for festival planning and grading.

In fact, I'm writing this post out in the parking lot of the kids school as I wait for the end of their school day. Nothing is wasted today, not even time. 

It is what it is for the next week or so. 


As I look over to the car next to me in the parking lot, there's another woman typing on her iPad, too. We are all so overscheduled and ridiculously busy for no good reason, I want to be busy looking for buds pushing up through the snow in the front yard. Now that's important. 


One upside to sitting in the parking lot on a warm afternoon (and by warm, I mean 45 degrees and sunny), I'm listening to Krista Tippet interview Mary Oliver on the show On Being. I've heard Mary Oliver read before, but it's been so long I couldn't remember what she sounded like. Her voice sounds strong. 

I'm listening to her talk about the "I" in poetry. She says (I'm paraphrasing) that she wanted the I to represent the possible reader, not just herself. The I is more than ego. It is a way for the reader to join the poet in the poem. I think it gives the poet ownership. 


I haven't written a poem since January, but I'm gearing up for a Poem a Day/National Poetry Writing Month challenge. As busy as I am, this is the one time all day where I make myself sit down and do something for myself.

Goodbye March, Hello April!


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