poetic convergence

On Saturday, a poet-friend from Sappho’s Circle and Grapevine Group and I went to Ithaca to the Spring Writes! Literary Arts Festival. Our primary purpose was to hear Heather Dorn, the founder of Sappho’s Circle, and her friend Sarah Jefferis read some of their poems. Here is the blurb from the festival program, with links to their author pages:

Reading: What Enters the Mouth and How to Play House 
Dr. Heather Dorn and Dr. Sarah Jefferis will read from their new poetry collections. Heather Dorn is the founder of Sappho’s Circle: A Women’s Writing Workshop for local women poets in Binghamton NY. Her work can be found in Requited, Ragazine, the Kentucky Review, the Paterson Literary Review, and other similar journals. Her first book of poetry, How to Play House, is forthcoming from NeuroQueer Books, an imprint of Autonomous Press, in September. Local author Sarah Jefferis will read from What Enters the Mouth, poems about surviving trauma and poverty in the South. “Fearless poems- a reckoning of the violences of girlhood rendered with grit and clarity.” – Ansel Elkins.

The reading was amazing! Their poems are very powerful and not infrequently heart-breaking. It was especially interesting to me to hear Heather read a couple of poems that I had heard her read previously, as time and a new audience can cause modulation in the presentation. I also got to observe how they structured a longer reading session. I am more used to attending open mic, where each poet reads just two or three poems, so I appreciated how they each chose among their poems to vary the mood and pacing.

The biggest surprise was when Sarah told us that she had just returned from a residency program with Tupelo Press at MASS MoCA. As my poet-friends know, I was blessed beyond belief to attend the first residency collaboration between Tupelo and the museum in November, 2015, which led to the formation of my beloved Boiler House Poets. You can view the video reading from that residency and the collaborative videopoem from our first reunion residency. We also have a book which sprang from an exercise we did with Jeffrey Levine during our first residency. Plans are already in place for our second reunion residency this fall. (There are numerous blog posts on the residencies. You can search the MASS MoCA tag or in the archives for November 2015 and September/October 2016.)

After the reading, we joined Sarah, Heather and her husband for lunch. It was nice to talk about poetry, education, and family over delicious Asian cuisine.

Later in the afternoon, we attended a panel discussion about publishing a first book after forty. We had another nice surprise when two more Grapevine poets appeared in the audience. It was interesting to hear about people’s journeys to publishing a book at 40+; as a poet who didn’t start writing until reaching my fifties, if I ever publish a book, I will fall into that category. I admit, though, that I was feeling insecure because it seemed that everyone on the panel and a good number of people who asked questions in the audience were English teachers and/or MFAs. Given that I am neither of those things nor someone who studied English and creative writing in college, I was wondering if there is still a path for me. Fortunately, on the drive home, my friend was able to offer some perspective for me. So my hope for my book is still alive, even though it will likely take longer to complete and submit than I had hoped.

Life does give poets something to say, but its demands can slow the writing process down.

One-Liner Wednesday: videopoem link

As promised, here is the reactivated link to our Boiler House videopoem:  https://vimeo.com/187387583.

This (somewhat atypical) post is part of Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday series. Join us!  Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/02/22/one-liner-wednesday-rock-is-dead-yippie

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Phoenix Project

I haven’t been using most of the available-but-not-mandatory prompt words for Just Jot It January, but I was struck by the word “detritus” which is today’s last-day prompt.

I used “detritus” in a poem that I read recently. The poem, which I can’t share because it is unpublished, is about the Phoenix Project by Chinese artist Xu Bing.  1186023_10200534417668419_1858818271_n
Two giant phoenix sculptures were created by Xu Bing, using the detritus from construction sites. Part of my Facebook comment on this photo, which is from September, 2013, reads, “They are also a political statement. When Xu Bing went to the Beijing construction site of the fabulously expensive buildings, he found workers being poorly paid and exploited, making shelters for themselves from the construction debris. He decided to make a pair of phoenixes, which in China denote power and wealth, from the debris, to call attention to the plight of the workers. At some point, the building owners decided they would not pay for the completion of the commission, but the artist was able to finish and Mass MoCA is their second venue for display. Next they will go to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in NYC.”

I had been planning to write on the latest news from the fallout of DT’s travel ban/refugee executive order, but I didn’t have the heart. Detritus may be all that is left of the US government soon, too.
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It’s the last day to join in with Linda’s Just Jot It January! Many thanks to Linda and all her blog community who made it such a great experience! If you want to add your voice on this last day, you can find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/31/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-31st17/

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poetry reading tonight

One of the things that poets are expected to do is participate in readings.

As a – let’s call it – late-emerging poet, I have done relatively few readings, so I tend to get nervous when I need to do one.

Like this evening.

Sappho’s Circle, the women’s poetry group convened by Heather Dorn, is going on the road to read at an art gallery in Callicoon, NY, about seventy miles from our home base in Binghamton. The reading will last about an hour and include five members of the Circle.

Because we are reading in an art gallery, I am planning to read some of my ekphrastic poems that came out of my residencies at MASS MoCA, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. These are poems that I am planning to make part of my manuscript under development.  I have chosen some of the shorter poems from the MASS MoCA section of the collection, as I feel they will be more accessible when there is no visual component involved.

A bonus is that looking through my poems to choose which to read reminded me that I actually have quite a few poems that have been through revision and that I might be close to making a first draft of the manuscript.

Which is exciting!

And daunting.

Maybe next month, after T is settled in Missouri with her new job and E goes to London to visit L for ten days, I will attempt to print the poems and order them and write a forward and end notes. Then, I can look for holes that need to be filled.

Maybe.

First, I have to get through the reading tonight.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! It’s easy and fun! Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/19/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-19th17/

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2016 in Poetry

2015 marked the first year that I published poetry available outside the Binghamton area. I had planned to submit to journals on a regular basis in 2016, but lots of unexpected things happened and I submitted very little.

I did have two poems in Eunioa Review, a new poem “The Last Night” and a reprint “Fifty-four”.

My poem “Crowning Glory” appeared as part of Silver Birch Press’s “My Mane Memories” series.

I did keep up my participation with the Binghamton Poetry Project and published in both the Spring and Fall anthologies.

Binghamton Poetry Project also brought me an unexpected and wonderful opportunity to write and present a poem at the annual Heart of the Arts award ceremony. This blog post contains the poem, as well as links to a video of my reading and the story of how the poem came about.

I was thrilled to return to North Adams and MASS MoCA for a reunion residency of the Boiler House Poets. It was fantastic to be back and to have a chance to work on my collection under development. There is a series of blog posts on the residency beginning on September 30th.

There are two exciting developments that bring the Boiler House Poets out to a wider audience. The first is the publication of Verse Osmosis, an anthology that grew out of an exercise from our first residency in November 2015 in conjunction with Tupelo Press. The second is a new collaborative videopoem that Marilyn McCabe produced which we recorded in and about our beloved Boiler House. It is currently entered in a contest, but when the link becomes publicly available, I will return to this post to do an update.

Given my track record with making plans, I know better than to make any firm commitments for 2017. The three things that I will dare to state here are that I will continue to work on my collection under development, I will attend the Boiler House reunion residency this fall, and I will continue to stay active with my local poetry groups, Binghamton Poetry Project, Bunn Hill Poets, and Sappho’s Circle, to which I owe a debt of gratitude. I have learned so much from you all and admire your work and generosity in helping me become the poet I am today and the poet I am becoming in the future.

Update 2/22/17:  The Boiler House Poets’ videopoem is once again available to the public. You can find it here:  https://vimeo.com/187387583

Videopoem from the Boiler House!

I am thrilled to share with you a new videopoem from the Boiler House Poets!

During our recent reunion residency at the Studios at MASS MoCA, we collaborated on a poem about our beloved Boiler House and each recorded her own lines.

Marilyn McCabe, one of our stalwart Boiler House Poets who has experience with videopoems, graciously handled all the photography and editing to produce the amazing final product.

Enjoy!

Last MASS MoCA moments

I posted my final MASS MoCA reunion poetry residency piece right before the Boiler House Poets’ last lunch together, but wanted to add a postscript.

The marvelous Marilyn McCabe had already completed a first draft of our Boiler House videopoem and gave us a viewing before we departed.

It looks fantastic and I am anxious to share it with you all, which I will do as soon as Marilyn puts the finishing touches on it and releases it to the public.

Stay tuned!