Collected Poets Series, December Ed.

This Thursday, December 3, at 7:00 pm, the Collected Poets Series is pleased to present Mary Koncel and Kate Greenstreet! Please note our new start time.

Mary Koncel has published two books of prose poems, You Can Tell the Horse Anything (Tupelo Press) which was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and Closer to Day (Quale Press). Her poems have been published in many journals and anthologies,and she was a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship. She has an MFA in English and recently completed her MS degree in Animals and Public Policy at Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine. Mary lives in Worthington, MA, with her husband and many animals.

Kate Greenstreet‘s second book, The Last 4 Things (Ahsahta Press, 2009) includes a DVD containing two short films based on the two sections of the book. Ahsahta published Kate’s case sensitive in 2006. She is also the author of three chapbooks, most recently This is why I hurt you (Lame House Press, 2008). Find Kate’s poems in current or forthcoming issues of jubilat, VOLT, The Denver Quarterly, Fence, Court Green, and other journals. Visit her online at kickingwind.com.

For more information on this month’s poets or the Collected Poets Series, please visit our website: www.collectedpoets.com.

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What’s Sacred.

Laura Didyk, over on her blog, Outloud, talks about a project conceived by her and a friend: In the Eyes of Everyone: A Project for Everyday Visionaries.  The website won’t launch until 2010, but you can go here to read more about it.

In association with that project, Laura has issued a creative assignment: Take three pictures: 1) something historical, 2) something tasty, 3) something sacred.

Technically, these pictures are for the future launch of In the Eyes of Everyone, but I hope Laura won’t mind if I post them here as well.  In the meantime, go to Outloud, read more about In the Eyes of Everyone, and then go take some pictures of your own to send to Laura — it’s fun!

#1. Something Historical:

The Glacial Potholes.

#2. Something Tasty:

Doughnuts. Home-made by ME. Dairy-free, made with coconut milk. Baked in the oven, rolled in cinnamon sugar.

This description is not strictly by the books in regards to the assignment, but seeing as I’ve been playing with yeast doughs this week and baked my very first loaf of bread, which sucked, sad slab o’ dough, and then my second, which, while imperfect, rocked, and then these marvels above, well, I felt the need to crow.

#3. Something Sacred:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Draft of the Week, #9.

My first draft of November, and the month’s three-quarters gone — oy.  I’m accustomed to shoe-horning in a fair amount of me-time rather late at night, after everyone has gone to bed, but lately it’s just not happening.

But after days of a line here, a deleted stanza there, I think this morning’s work has done it.  I always struggle with tone, and a tendency to wrap things up too soon — which is only partly a result of my fractured writing schedule.  Anyway, the draft below will stay up a couple days.

[poof!]

Yet More Reasons Why I Love the Internet.

Because I’m constantly discovering new poet crushes, these poets who write such exquisite lines, whose poems I absolutely covet.  This week’s discovery: Carolina Ebeid. You can find some of her poems online

  • Here at Memorious. “Pale / glyph of dog” — seriously, I felt my heart twinge.
  • Here at Agni Online. “The work of grief is perennial.”
  • Here at Perihelion.  “Evening rested its warm heft / like the young beast / unyoked and susurrous.”
  • And here at 32 Poems, the poem that began my Google quest. “”She’ll curve the paper into the shape of a shell / and listen into the sea, its stammerings.”

I am dumbfounded and beyond disappointed that she doesn’t have a book yet for me to grub up an order for somewhere.  How is this possible? Her poems are published widely & well, another instance of how vast the supposedly small po-world is that I haven’t known her work better until now.

Attention: Someone needs to publish this poet’s first book immediately — a chapbook, a gorgeous letterprint or mimeographed number, I don’t care — I need a collection to carry with me at all times.  I’m going to find it necessary to print out these various poems available online and fashion a pamphlet/totem myself.

2 Days/2 Wildly Different Audiences.

Talking to a rugful of first-graders is a scary business. Keeping their interest, watching for signs of restlessness and disinterest, and then immediately switching course to lure back their attention…I think we chatted 25 minutes all told, but I was exhausted!

The teachers were endlessly patient and encouraging — the kids’ poems are hung all around the school, which I didn’t notice on my way in, and the kids kept getting side-tracked from our question & answer period in order to give me instructions on where I could find their particular poems, though I assured them that I would absolutely explore every floor of the school and read every poem.  One clever girl, after about the fifth time the teachers had gently assured them that their poems would be read, please no more, it’s time for questions only, raised her hand, and when called upon said, “I have two questions: first, you can find MY poem on the door down the hall…”  Nice try.

What creative children, though, and how wonderful to be in a writing workshop when you’re seven.  That day’s work involved brainstorming “the just-right title” for the poems they’d been working on.  One girl’s: “Let Me Blow Away”.  Who knows how many of theses kids will continue to write into their adulthood, but I think that such creative nurturing can’t help but inform the people they’ll become — future poetry book buyers at the very least!

@ the Green Street Poetry Series.

Interesting how much more nervous I was reading to that classroom than to the audience of adults at the Green Street Café the evening prior.

Not that I wasn’t nervous at all! There was a nice turnout, and the audience included a number of poets who had never heard me read before, which always gives the internal eternally insecure “please like me” beastie a kickstart.

But I’ve discovered that I deeply enjoy the act of reading my poems for an audience, the quiet listening we all do as I mine each line for its sounds and cadences.  And it’s so much more satisfying to participate in a featured reading, where you can read for 20 minutes or more, and really find your rhythm and ride it, than the open-mic quickie.  I’m glad I have more events on the horizon; only wish I had the time, and childcare funds, to do more!

Do You Realize There Are Only 7 Weeks Left to the Year?

Egads, where has the time went?! There’s micro-time, this week, wherein:

  1. I drove to North Adams for a meeting,
  2. have my reading tonight with Kim Rogers at the Green Street Café (which I am so excited about; that and the dinner provided — Green St. has an excellent menu!),
  3. and tomorrow afternoon I’m visiting, in my capacity as local poet, a classroom of first-graders at the Smith College Campus School.

Add that to all my regular doings & whatnot with the boys, and that’s a pretty action-packed week for me.  The last item is of special note — I’m not altogether confident of being able to keep one 7 yr old’s interest, never mind a roomful of them.  I’m going to read them two poems from Hunger All Inside, “All Souls'” and “Night Visits”, and we’ll talk about Halloween and what a metaphor is.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

And, as if the reading tonight weren’t event enough, yesterday was Lance’s birthday.  He’s coming with me tonight, and our dinner will be our first without the kids since Aidan was born.  Our first night out together, alone.

Which brings me to macro-time, this year, which is almost over!  Too soon to start enumerating blessings etc., but oy! This year has slipped by me as sneakily as Vincent hiding a bread knife (a.k.a. his “sharp sword” which he needs to fight the “bad witches”) behind his back.  That Thanksgiving is a mere 2 weeks away, and you-know-what soon after, doesn’t even bear thinking about. Oy.

The Thing about Publishing.

I’m drinking coffee at my desk.  The baby’s napping, Lance took Vincent for a walk. https://i2.wp.com/www3.timeoutny.com/newyork/upstaged/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/critic.jpgAnd I’ve just noticed a couple phrases Lance scrawled on the legal pad on my desk at some point in the last day or so: “Robust incoherence” and “transcendent vacuity”.

I don’t know if he was criticizing something himself or quoting someone else in awe, but, Ouch!

I have alway felt sympathy for the pain of a bad review, hoping in a vague amorphous way not to ever experience it myself, while also thinking, A scorching by M. Kakutani or W. Logan? I should be so lucky!

But now that I have a chapbook, which actual other people who are not my mother or husband or best friends are reading, I understand those writers who avoid reading reviews, a querulous mention in PW, or tart dismissal in the back section of Poetry.

(Though again, really, I should be so lucky.)

As a poet, I’m used to not being much remarked upon or noticed (and I’m not suggesting that will change). But what I’m coming to terms with now is the very tangible fact that when you publish a collection, not just a poem or two in journals but a pile of poems all together for compare-&-contrasting, people will have opinions about it.

Obviously. I know. And yet. When your focus is writing and publishing, getting your work out there, “out there” is far away, and you’re removed from what “out there” means: strangers, who may or may not think your work is shite.

So it’s a delightful surprise when someone out there reads your work, and likes it, and then tells other people about it, an unexpected peach: “Marvelous things will happen”: Thank you so much to Sandy Longhorn for her generous post about Hunger All Inside!   Sandy’s blog has turned me on to many other poets, she’s an abundace of poet-advocacy — I’m happy to have been noticed and noted so positively.  Lucky me!