Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Confession Tuesday

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


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.


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


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:

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.


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. 


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. 


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.


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