Poem for the Boiler House Poets!

I am so excited to share this blog post from my poet-friend Gail Dimaggio!

Gail is one of the Boiler House Poets, the inaugural group of poets who gathered at MASS MoCA for a poetry residency in collaboration with Tupelo Press. It was my privilege to be part of this intrepid group of nine poets who shared an amazing, complex, rich, and creative week together.

This month, Gail is participating in the 30/30 fundraiser for Tupelo Press. She is among a group of poets writing and posting a new poem every day. Poems and sponsorship information is available here:  https://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/.

Today is day 11 and Gail has posted a poem that I sponsored, asking her to write about our experience together. She wrote an amazing poem using the technique of found poetry, in which the poet uses words from another source to create a new work. Here, Gail uses fragments of poems from the Boiler House Poets’ video in her poem “Poets Gather in the Boiler House to Read Their Work”.

Most of the Boiler House Poets will be gathering this fall for a reunion at MASS MoCA. Gail and I will both be there.

I can hardly wait!

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Sappho’s Circle poetry reading

One thing that poets are expected to do is participate in readings of their work.

Poets who have books out will give solo readings in bookstores. Famous poets read on college campuses or at public events. There are open mics and group reading opportunities in most US cities on a regular basis.

I have read at Binghamton Poetry Project events and at the open mic at RiverRead Books in Binghamton in the past few years.

But, for various reasons, not in the last year or so…

Tonight, Sappho’s Circle, a women’s poetry group convened by former head of the Binghamton Poetry Project and newly minted PhD Heather Dorn will be offering a reading as part of Binghamton’s First Friday events. We are reading poems that came out of our work with the group, either written from prompts or workshopped in Sappho’s Circle.

We will be reading at 6:30 in our home base, the Annex of the Bundy Museum, followed by an opportunity to discuss our group and answer questions from the audience (she says, hoping that we will have an audience). We want to thank the Bundy for sponsoring our group and hope to attract some new members, as well.

I will be reading two or three poems, which I have printed out in large, easy-to-read type. I have been practicing so that I don’t stumble over my own words – or at least not too often.

It is not at all a high pressure situation, but I am feeling a bit uneasy because it has been so long since I have read in public.

Is poetry reading like riding a bicycle?

 

Happy Birthday, Harry!

Today is Harry Potter’s 36th birthday. Happy birthday to his creator, Joanne Rowling, whose birthday is also today!

Today is also the release date for the script of a new play about the grown-up Harry and his family, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The premiere performance was last night. There were midnight launch parties in bookstores and other trappings of Harry Potter book launches, not seen since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows ten years ago.

And it is happening without me.

I do still love Harry Potter and will probably read the script at some point, but the urgency is absent now.

When our daughters E and T were younger and both still living at home, Harry Potter book releases were major events, which began marathon family read-alouds. The books and the connections they engendered were woven into the fabric of our lives. You can read more about why and how in this post.

I have been enjoying the continued unfolding of the world of Harry Potter. Through Pottermore, I know that I am in Ravenclaw at Hogwarts and in Pukwudgie at Ilvermorny, located atop Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, not far from where I grew up. I am looking forward to seeing the new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, when it comes out in November. Someday, I hope to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida or go on a studio tour in London.

Meanwhile, today will unfold like a normal summer Sunday…

 

SoCS: art, poetry, and 30/30

Last November, I attended my first-ever poetry residency/workshop/conference at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, known as MASS MoCA. It was held in conjunction with Tupelo Press, a non-profit independent press located just down the road in the Eclipse Mill loft.

It was amazing, difficult, intense, valuable, exhausting, overwhelming, and dozens of other adjectives. (Poets don’t use many adjectives. Bloggers are allowed.) Anyone who would like to read more about my experience can check out the November 2015 posts in my archive.

One of the many lasting benefits is that I have written a series of poems about art. I had written a few before that residency, but not nearly as many as afterward. There is a fancy name for poems about art, ekphrastic. Note:  spell check does not know what to do with the word ekphrastic.

Some of these poems, along with other poems about North Adams, the city where MASS MoCA is located, and the surrounding towns, will become my first-ever-attempt-at a poetry collection.

It’s complicated.

I grew up in a town about twenty miles from North Adams and went to high school in North Adams. We went there to shop and to visit relatives. The city has changed a lot over the years. I’ve changed a lot over the years. The poems deal with generations of our family, small towns and a small city, home, change, geography, and art.

It’s a lot.

It’s also a new experience.

I am about to print the poems that are completed and assemble them into sections and a manuscript, leaving space for some poems that aren’t yet written. I’ll look for holes that need to be filled.  And try to fill them.

I am hoping to have a reasonable working draft by the time our group of poets, who were the first group to experience the Mass MoCA/Tupelo collaboration, return for a reunion residency in October.

We call ourselves the Boiler House Poets, after an art/sound installation at MASS MoCA where we made a video of us reading poems.

I am giving a shout-out here to one of the Boiler House Poets, Gail Dimaggio, who is embarking on another exciting collaboration with Tupelo Press. She will be one of their 30/30 poets in August. She and a small group of poets will each write a new poem every day for thirty days, which will be posted on a special section of the Tupelo Press website. Everyone is invited to follow along! Gail has a new blog to accompany her journey:  https://gaildi.blogspot.com/.

Come join the poetry/blogging fun!
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “art.” Come join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/29/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-3016/

SoCS badge 2015

 

Wounded

Sharing this thought-provoking, heart-breaking post from Nancy of Marginalia.

It is hard not to lead with our wounds. We all have them. Some are personal. Some are from childhood. Many are cultural. Every day we step out into the world

Source: Wounded

continuing reaction to Orlando

I wrote on Sunday about my early reactions to the shooting at Pulse in Orlando.

Of course, even now, on Tuesday afternoon, reactions are still early, but I wanted to add a bit more.

One interesting thing locally is that some of our local news broadcasters have incorporated reflections on the ACA shooting here in 2009 into their continuing coverage of the Orlando shooting. This linkage does not often happen, but I expect that it may be this time because there is a sense of connection about a specific group of people being targeted. With the American Civic Association shooting in Binghamton, it was immigrants; with Orlando, it was the LGBTQ community, or, perhaps, the Latino community.

My own emotions continue to swirl.

Yesterday afternoon, Sappho’s Circle, a group of women poets convened by Heather Dorn, met. In response to a prompt, I wrote a poem about the deaths this spring, including those in Orlando. Heather suggested that I submit it to Rattle Poets Respond, which publishes a poem weekly that is newly written in response to current events. I was honored that she felt the poem was worthy enough to be considered and I sent it through Submittable this morning.

Rattle is a very competitive publisher, so chances of acceptance are slim, but, after these recent weeks of not writing or submitting at all, it is gratifying to have been able to process events and feelings into a poem, to have shared it with my friends at Sappho’s Circle, and to have sent it off into the ether.

 

 

the demise of More

I was perturbed a couple of months ago to receive a copy of Everyday with Rachel Ray when I had been expecting More magazine. There was a letter enclosed, saying that More had ceased publishing and that my subscription had been transferred.

I was not amused.

I didn’t feel that Rachel Ray was a a good substitute, so I contacted the publisher to cancel it, but the larger upset was the loss of More.

More was designed for middle-aged women, featuring articles and interviews on more serious topics than most similar magazines. While there were also pieces on fashion, they acknowledged that women in their forties, fifties, and sixties should be themselves, and not try to emulate the look of someone in their twenties or thirties.

It was refreshing.

Maybe I cursed it, though.

I had submitted a personal essay to them which I had submitted to several other magazines over the course of years. I think More makes the fourth magazine to which I submitted it that stopped publishing, three of them before they officially rejected my manuscript.

Perhaps, someday, I’ll give up and post my essay here, instead.

At least, I have control over the content – and possible demise – of Top of JC’s Mind.