A Night in Busy Town

From L to R: Andrea Cohen, Me, Chloe Garcia-Roberts, & Kevin Barents

What a great time in Cambridge last night! We made good driving time, and met up with my brother, Ed, who got to experience his very first poetry reading (and I’m pretty sure was not scarred for life by it, or at least not in a bad way). It was the perfect introduction, actually. Kevin Barents began us off, and he had a wonderfully animated style that really carried us into his persona poems, and then Chloe Garcia-Roberts read. She has a soft, inflective voice which my husband compared to eating chocolate flowers. To which I’d add chocolate flowers whose centers hide little frosted barbs. I read last; the audience was very responsive and attentive and friendly — many came up afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed my poems, which is the best, these off-the-cuff and honest reactions.

The reading was followed by mochas and long-overdue conversation with a dear college friend (thank you, Facebook!) who missed the reading but caught up with us after. Nothing could have closed my evening better.

I’m looking forward to reading more of Kevin’s & Chloe’s work out there in po-world — big thanks again to the multi-talented  Andrea Cohen, director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series, for the invitation and getting me out into the big city, or, as Vincent would say, Busy Town. Oh so tired today, but still smiling.

[Oh, and tremendous gratitude to stepson Cassidy, who graciously fell on his sword & babysat the 8 hours we were gone. He had a hard night, poor guy.]

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.

Bugged by a flu.

https://i0.wp.com/www.3dscience.com/img/Products/3D_Models/Biology/Viral/Influenza/supporting_images/3d_model_biology_influenza_web2.jpgMy second reading this week, this time without the 3-ring circus of my kids, was super.  Some friends who’d never been to a poetry reading before came, so it was fun to introduce them to the experience and demonstrate that it’s not that scary after all.  And I enjoyed the mix of themes and styles that resulted by reading with Kim Rogers.  (We’re doing it again in November, this time as part of the Green Street Poetry Series in Northampton.)  AND I sold a few chapbooks, to people I don’t even know, which is new and different and wild.

But all that public contact came at a price.  Starting to feel better today, definitely didn’t catch the worst flu bug around, but being sick and still having to be the mama doesn’t leave me room for anything else at the end of the day.  Especially when the kids zero in on my weakness and cling ever more, my pint-size personal Chinese handcuffs.

With a lot of luck I’ll complete a new poem this weekend along with some books.  And maybe that will prove to be not so far out of the realms of reality as it sounds.  Rain days are good for hunkering down and getting things done and we’re experiencing a monsoon of rain this weekend — some editor of some journal once said that every time it rained he’d end up with a slush pile of rain poems for days thereafter. So I guess the key is not not writing a rain poem, but holding on to it for a while and submitting it during a heat wave, when rain will seem like nirvana.

Weekend Recap, or, I am Launched!

What a whirlwind of a weekend!

Even though I was tethered to a table all day Saturday during the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, I had a grand time.  Unlike some literary festivals where folks ignore the book tables in droves, MassPo is all about poetry & poets, and poets love books, so I was able to chat with a number of interesting people, including

  • one poet who read a blog post I wrote last year about enjoying her book — what a thrill that was! I always think I’m sending these posts into the ether, so it never fails to surprise me when their subjects come upon them!  Which then makes me wish I had written more cogent & detailed posts re: my admiration in the first place.
  • two poets I know & admire from their blogs & ReadWritePoem — meeting online friends in person can be a gamble, but Carolee & Jill were every bit as wonderful & generous face to face as they are electronically.  I hope we can meet up again before too long.
  • Joan Houlihan, who is a HOOT!  I adore her.

Now I have to wait an entire year for the festival to come back around again…hopefully next October I’ll be able to participate a bit more.

*

Also this weekend, last night in fact, was my chapbook release party.  Wow.  I’m so thankful for the nice crowd of good friends that came out on a cold & wet autumn night at the tail end of a busy weekend to help me celebrate.  And I’m grateful it was a patient crowd:  I brought the boys for this first big event, and that added quite the element of unpredictability to the poetry reading!  I’m pretty sure none can say they’ve ever been to a reading like this one before…and nor will they ever again.  Look for some photographs of this singular evening soon, right here, and you’ll see what I mean!  Too bad I didn’t think to have the reading filmed for posterity — with Aidan & Vincent’s assistance, it was, um, quite a night.

In the meantime, I have another reading this Wednesday night, with the ferociously talented Kimberley Ann Rogers…this time sans children.  Because we all could use a night off from time to time.

Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

MassPoFestAccording to their website, 178 poets and presenters are reading, leading workshops or performing at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival this coming weekend, with simultaneous launches all over the state.  There’s a High School Poets Program, a huge slate of workshops, many many readings — and it’s free!

If you’re attending on Saturday, come look me up.  I’ll be at the Small Press Fair, staffing the Tupelo Press table –stop by, say hi, and buy a book or three.

Please note, they’re encouraging all Saturday attendees to check in at Festival Central, and everyone who does will be entered in a raffle. The Poetry Box, according to the website, will contain:

  • A gift certificate from Grub Street entitling you to attend one of their courses.
  • A gift certificate to attend one session with PoemWorks and Barbara Helfgott Hyett.
  • A gift certificate from Grolier’s in Harvard Square.
  • An assortment of poetry books.

Free books?  I don’t need to be asked twice!  There is just an outrageous number of events happening — I hope you’re able to participate. This is the only the second year of the Festival, and this year’s even more ambitious, so here’s hoping it’s wildly successful and sure to return for years to come.

And to whet your whistle, ReadWritePoem, in partnership with the Festival, is running a special series, wherein featured readers at the Festival were asked to answer the question, “What is poetry?”  The results are as varied and intriguing as the poets: a wordle from Joan Houlihan, a pastiche of quotes & frank ruminations from Jeffrey Harrison.  Take a gander, and offer your own thoughts, too — no grades allowed, but class participation is highly encouraged.

Collected Poets Series, A New Season begins.

This Thurday at 7:30pm we’re kicking off our third season of the Collected Poets Series with two amazing poets: Annie Finch and Lisa Olstein.

Annie Finch is the author or editor of fifteen books of poetry, translation, and criticism. Her books of poetry include Eve, Calendars, The Encyclopedia of Scotland, and the forthcoming Among the Goddesses: A Narrative Libretto. Her music, art, and theater collaborations include two operas. Her poems appear in anthologies, textbooks, and journals including Agni, Fulcrum, Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, and Yale Review, and her books on poetics include A Formal Feeling Comes, An Exaltation of Forms, The Ghost of Meter, The Body of Poetry, and the forthcoming A Poet’s Craft. Annie’s book of poetry, Calendars, was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award and in 2009 she was awarded the Robert Fitzgerald Award. Annie lives in Maine where she directs Stonecoast, the low-residency MFA program of the University of Southern Maine.

Lisa Olstein is the author of Lost Alphabet (Copper CanyonPress, 2009), Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006), winner of the Hayden Carruth Award. Cold Satellite, an album of songs based on her poems and lyrics, is forthcoming from singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Centrum. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals including The Iowa Review, American Letters & Commentary, Denver Quarterly, Fairy Tale Review, and elsewhere. A contributing editor of jubilat, with Dara Wier and Noy Holland, Lisa co-founded the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts & Action at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she is Associate Director of MFA Program for Poets and Writers.

For more information on the Collected Poets Series, please visit our website.  And don’t miss this first reading of what promises to be another exciting year!

Note: As I’ll be without a laptop to call my own until early next week, attending NEIBA in Hartford on Saturday, in addition to the CPS reading above, if you’ve sent me an email, please be patient while I scramble for the means of accessing the interwebs.