It’s been a week…

A week of grading student essays and seeing their growth as writers. A week of the weather turning toward zero after tornado weather in the area last Sunday. A week of reading, both for work and for pleasure. A week of frantic to prepare for a week of low-key. A week of focusing on everyone but me to get ready for a week of time with family.

But I am thankful for all the weeks – the busy and the relaxed, the frustrating and the uplifting, the winning and the losing. I am thankful to be healthy, to be loved, to have the opportunity to love in return. I am thankful to be a part of a community of writers (my “tribe” as Kelli Russell Agodon would call it) who embrace and support my attempts to get it all down.

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Looking ahead even further than this Thanksgiving week, I applied for two summer residencies and am preparing an application for a third. Last year, my time at Kimmel-Harding Nelson was so fruitful that I am eager to see if I can get that incredible feeling somewhere else. A second manuscript is starting to peek out from the poems I have been writing for the past six months, and a residency would be the best way to encourage it into the light. (I have a back-up plan if none of these applications pan out, but it’s nice to dream.)

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Several pieces that were accepted earlier this year should soon be making their way into the light as well: watch for news about poems in Paper Nautilus, Spry Literary Journal, Blue Lyra Review as well as my fifth chapbook We Build Houses of Our Bodies, which should be out soon from dancing girl pressThis week, my writing got to play with other artists and art forms in two ways: my story “Bottom of the Sky” at Storychord is paired with art and music, and Nic Sebastian has made a haunting videopoem of my piece “Housekeeping” from The Poetry Storehouse. (If you have print-published poems looking for a new life, why not submit to the Storehouse and let them be “remixed” into films and other artforms?)

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I have enjoyed the readings I have done to promote A House of Many Windows so far, and I have three more coming up in the next three weeks! I am trying to create different “sets” of poems from the book so that I don’t get too complacent with my performance, and I am also trying to tailor the selections to different audiences. It’s been good practice for me to think about how the poems live together when they are outside the confines of the book. This process has also helped me to prepare new journal submissions; as I choose poems to send to a journal, I imagine them being read together in front of an audience, which has encouraged some changes to the groupings I had been sending.

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Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday in whatever way makes you happy: with family, with friends, with nature, with football, with quiet evenings by the fire. And always know that I am grateful for you – otherwise, I’d just be writing to myself.

at the risk of being annoying…

There was a moment this weekend when I had a little revelation about a possibility for how to start organizing a second manuscript. I thought about the long trip from the conception of the first manuscript to its recent publication: all of its incarnations over the years (yes, years), all of the rejections, and all of the hard work. And I asked myself if it was worth it, worth perhaps going through all that effort again. And the answer is yes. Absolutely yes.

As most of you have probably heard, my first collection A House of Many Windows is now available for pre-order from Sundress Publications. I couldn’t be more proud of the way it turned out, from the beautiful cover art by Christine Shank, to the meticulous and gentle editing prowess of Erin Elizabeth Smith, to the kind and generous advance praise provided by  Douglas Goetsch, Laura McCullough, and Patricia Smith. The long journey was definitely worth it.

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where I am (not)

I am not in Boston. I am not at AWP. Many poets I know are there, and although I am a bit jealous, I am happy with knowing that I will definitely be attending next year. And I am also more than content with preparing for my romantic getaway with the husband during Spring Break, which will be much less stressful, much more sunny, and still involve lots of books and writing. 🙂

I have been following Kelli Russell Agodon’s #NotatAWP tweets today. She is taking her everyday experiences and making them into typical conference moments. A great laugh! I look forward to meeting Kelli next year in Seattle.

Birds and wings have been sneaking their way into my poem drafts this week – maybe the robins and geese, returned a bit early to the area and already singing, are making an impact. And, in preparing for my reading next week at the local library, I have actually written a cohesive process statement about the three books that are coming out this year. And I may or may not be applying for a scholarship to a workshop this summer for writers over 50. (Ugh. And yay?)

And, to wrap things up, in my seniority statement at work today, I found out that I have been working in this school district for 8,224 days. That number gave me pause. Maybe I will throw myself a party when I get to 10,000 (which should be shortly before I retire…). Sigh.

In Threes?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the theories about both good and bad things coming in threes. For instance, three sets of papers to grade today equals 210 papers, some bleary eyes, and an achy comment hand. On the other hand, a three-day weekend for President’s Day equals time tomorrow to sleep in, work out, and do some cabinet cleaning, which I actually like to do (well, compared to other types of cleaning).

But the really good thing is that, as of this weekend, I will have THREE books coming out this year. (No, that’s not a typo. Yes, I realize how blessed and lucky I am.)

In addition to my full-length manuscript with Sundress Publications and my chapbook with dancing girl press, Redbird Chapbooks has accepted my series called The Imagined Life of the Pioneer Wife for publication later this year. They make beautiful books, and I am thrilled to be working with them on this project, which you first heard about here earlier this fall when this persona hijacked all of my drafting and became somewhat of an obsession.

And from all these threes, what have I learned? That it pays to persevere. That it pays to let yourself be overtaken, whether with ideas or with the need for rest. That the best thing about all the other good things is having people with which to share the good news.

“All the Dictators of my Youth Are Dying…”

Tomorrow’s prompt deals with “stealing” ideas from other writers. And this week, I found myself doing just that. Awesome writer and all- around cool guy Brent Mesick posted the line “All the dictators of my youth are dying” as his Facebook status the other day, and I asked if I could borrow that line for a poem. He said yes.

A couple of hours later, I had a draft that started with that line and spoke of not only dictators but also of the demise of other scary things in my youth. I am still tinkering with the poem, but here is the first stanza. Thanks, Brent.

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All the dictators of my youth are dying, on the big screens of televisions

and on the small screens of cell phones, at the bottoms of oceans, swathed

in rags, covered in blood, exposed, deposed, all the power drained from

their very human limbs. Statues topple. Flags wave. Someone checks a list.

 

Mixed Fruit

Some lovely mangoes. But that’s not the point of this news-driven post. I am happy today to be a part of the first issue of Mixed Fruit. My poem “Rites of Spring” is on page 41 of their very cool Issuu-driven layout, which allows you to read the journal online in a magazine format.

The first issue contains poetry, art, and fiction, including a wonderful poem about Scout and Atticus by Daniel Romo, who I first “met” (virtually) at ReadWritePoem. (Since I have a whole mini-collection of poems about To Kill A Mockingbird characters, I was very excited to read this piece.)

If you are looking for something to read this week, why not stop by?

I Knew I Liked Ducks…

After a long, dry spell of no news on submissions of any sort, I found out yesterday that my chapbook about jobs and obsessions called Ordering the Hours has been selected by Maverick Duck Press for publication in March of 2012. It is a small press that is run by Kendall A. Bell out of New Jersey, also one of the editors of the online journal Chantarelle’s Notebook.  I have really enjoyed reading the last few chaps he has produced, not to mention that he keeps them affordable, which is a bonus for readers.

I have contacted my friend and photographer extraordinaire Tim Venchus to think about a cover concept. I have one idea of my own, but I haven’t exercised my art skills in a while, so between the two of us, I think we should be able to come up with something good.

And speaking of ducks, the weather today finally turned sunny, and a run by the lake found the ducks and geese finally swimming instead of hanging out and shivering their feathers on the shore. Hopefully, the long, cold spring is gone for good.