Nat’l Poetry Month double overtime

As I have been posting about since early April, the Broome County (NY) Arts Council and WordPlace at the Bundy Museum have been sponsoring a series of weekly Zoom poetry readings with Q&A. The final reading in the series, featuring Craig Czury, Neil Silberblatt, and Richard Bernstein, is now available here: https://broomearts.org/education/the-gift-of-poets/

Unlike the other weeks, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any of these poets in person, so don’t have any personal insights to share. Perhaps, I will have the opportunity to do so in the future.

If you haven’t been keeping up with our series, there are links to all the prior weeks’ recordings at the link above or on the BCAC YouTube channel.

And in case you missed my babbling about it, this post is about the week where I was one of the featured poets!

I am also pleased to announce that the BCAC and WordPlace are planning an ongoing monthly series of poets with readings and conversation. I will be sure to post about it here as they become available. As always, stay tuned!

A POETREE

For the recently concluded National Poetry Month, the Broome County Arts Council invited local poets to contribute a short poem about spring, hope, and/or other positive things for their POETREE.

I had hoped to make it down to the gallery to see it and take photos for this post, but I didn’t manage to do that. Instead, I have copied the poem I wrote especially for the project below:

Why We Will Never Use Weedkillers
by Joanne Corey

Every spring, we watch
the jagged-edged three-ness
of strawberry leaves emerge
from the snowmelt-soaked
lawn, the white five-petaled
blossoms attract the bees
to their sunny centers,
the green-white berries
ripen to red in June,
the squirrels feasting.

SoCS: poetic concentration

These past few weeks may be the highest concentration of posts about poetry that I have ever done here at Top of JC’s Mind.

By coincidence, I’ve been involved with several readings and anthology launches in recent weeks.

Well, it may be coincidence or it may be that it was because April is National Poetry Month here in the US, although only some of the poetic activities were connected to Poetry Month.

I’m actually expecting to have several more poet-y posts coming up over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

If nothing else, the poetry posts break up the political ones. 😉

While this may be shameless, I will close with my favorite recent poetry post link: https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2021/04/19/natl-poetry-month-celebration-with-me/. It was my first time as a featured poet in a reading and I’m still super-excited about it.

You may be thinking, but I don’t understand poetry. I promise that I am not inscrutable, though, so maybe you can give it a try! If you do, I hope you enjoy!

(And, yes, it may be cheating to use SoCS to promote other posts. If so, my apologies to Linda.)

*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “may.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2021/04/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-1-2021/

Nat’l Poetry Month celebration with me!

I posted here and here about the first two readings from the Broome County Arts Council in celebration of National Poetry Month. I am pleased to announce that this week, I am featured along with Rindi Tas and kohloa, two poets whom I met through the Binghamton Poetry Project. We were scheduled to be joined by another BPP poet, Anita Shipway, but technical difficulties prevented Anita from joining us. The recording of the reading and our bios are available here.

I’m not sure how I came to be invited to participate in this series but I was honored to be asked. And excited. And nervous. This is my first time as a featured reader with a Q&A component and I was anxious to do a good job, knowing that most of the readers in the series are much more experienced, knowledgeable, and academically credentialed than I. I asked poet-friends to review my selections and practiced my reading, recording myself on Zoom to see how I sounded and looked. I plead guilty to over-thinking and over-preparing, but it kept me a lot calmer when we recorded.

I possibly babbled a bit answering Barrett’s questions. Barrett is part of the Grapevine Group, my local circle of poets who meet on a regular basis to workshop our poems, so we are used to “talking shop” together, but I’m not used to interacting with him in a formal setting. He asked thoughtful questions that flowed from the choices I had made for the reading but I am not great at thinking on my feet, so you all can be the judge on whether I made sense or not.

Because I didn’t take up poetry as a serious pursuit until recent years, I am not that well-known or widely published. I decided to do a mini-sampler of the kinds of poems I tend to write, realizing that I would be an unknown quantity to most prospective listeners. Of the four poems I read, only one is published. It appeared in the Nov. 2020 anthology of the Binghamton Poetry Project and can be viewed here.

The recording should be available on the BCAC website at the link at the end of the first paragraph, at least for the next few weeks. It will also be broadcast locally on the Bundy Museum’s radio station WBDY-FM radio (99.5 FM). Because I’m not sure how long BCAC will have the webpage active, I’m embedding the youtube link here, which I think will be permanent:

If you choose to give the reading a listen, I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to comment here or on the Top of JC’s Mind Facebook page. If you want to send me a private message at topofjcsmind@gmail.com, please put a comment on this post telling me to check for it so it doesn’t get lost among the various digests and posts sent there. My inbox is out of control!

Nat’l Poetry Month Part 2

The second installment of the Broome County (NY) Arts Council (BCAC) series to celebrate National Poetry Month is now available here. This week features readings and discussion with Nicole Santalucia, Wendy Stewart, Mike Foldes, and Joshua Lindebaum.

I owe two of these poets a particular debt of gratitude.

When Nicole Santalucia, who is a Broome County native, returned to do graduate work at the state university, she founded the Binghamton Poetry Project (BPP). I first heard about BPP when Nicole read at a 2013 National Poetry Month episode of Off the Page, a radio program hosted by Bill Jaker on WSKG, our local public broadcasting radio station. Off the Page invited listeners to send in poems to their website and I was thrilled when they chose to read mine on the air! I began attending BPP’s free community poetry workshops for the general public, led by Binghamton University graduate students, in spring 2014. The connections I made there, particularly with Heather Dorn who has been a workshop leader, assistant director, and director of BPP, led to my joining the Grapevine Group, my local poetry critique group which you will hear more about shortly, and Sappho’s Circle, a women’s poetry circle which is, sadly, not currently active. The BCAC supports BPP through grants, so I was able to connect with them, as well. I was even invited to contribute a poem to BCAC’s Heart of the Arts award dinner in 2016. (Video here and text here.) I don’t think any of that would have happened without Nicole Santalucia and the Binghamton Poetry Project, so I owe her a huge thank you.

A shout-out also to Wendy Stewart, who is a member of the aforementioned Grapevine Group. Wendy always offers thoughtful advice on my poems and is supportive of me when I am being insecure, which happens with some frequency. Sometimes, we joke that she is just being Canadian!

I love the way Wendy uses language. I’ve learned a lot of new vocabulary from her. She is also masterful in the way she juxtaposes seemingly unrelated things so that we are invited to make connections we otherwise would not. She often uses her sly wit and penchant for understatement, both in her writing and in conversation, in a way that I admire, although cannot emulate.

Thank you, Wendy!

I hope you enjoy the recording. I’ll be back next week when I will be one of the featured poets.

Celebrate National Poetry Month!

In the United States, April is National Poetry month.

Broome County Arts Council (BCAC) is joining the celebration by hosting a series of virtual poetry readings by poets with ties to our area. The first reading, featuring Elizabeth Cohen, Dante Di Stefano, and Andrei Guruianu is available here.

Enjoy!

I’ll be back with additional posts as the celebration continues, including a more extensive post the week that I am featured along with other poets from the Binghamton Poetry Project.

One-Liner Wednesday: painting and poetry

In honor of US National Poetry Month:
Painting is poetry which is seen and not heard and poetry is a painting which is heard but not seen.
– Leonardo da Vinci

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Details here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/04/08/one-liner-wednesday-life-is-too-short/

Binghamton Poetry Project

In this post , I wrote about participating in The Binghamton Poetry Project and my first ever slam(ish) poem. This evening, we will have our poetry reading for all the different workshops, children, teens, and two adult groups, and the distribution of our anthology. Yay, publishing credit!

I have three poems in the anthology, but we will only read two poems apiece. I will first read “Moonlight,” because it is the poem that bought me to the Project in the first place.  Last April for National Poetry Month, our local public radio station WSKG had an edition of Bill Jaker’s book-themed show “Off the Page” devoted to local poets, one of whom was Nicole Santalucia, founder of The Binghamton Poetry Project. Nicole is a native of this area and had returned here to pursue a PhD at Binghamton University. She read some of her own poems and talked about starting The Binghamton Poetry Project to give a space for people in the community to learn about and create poetry. Bill Jaker had previously invited listeners to send in their own poems and I had submitted “Moonlight,” which he chose to read on air. I was so excited to hear my poem on the radio, although it was a bit surreal to hear another voice, and a male one at that, read a poem I had written. I decided to look up more info on The Binghamton Poetry Project and join in when I could, which turned out to be this semester’s session in March/April.

I will also read “Constancy,” which I wrote during the workshop, when we were writing from prompts about family relationships, including “Married” by Jack Gilbert. I usually work poems out in my head over the course of hours/days/weeks before writing them down, so writing a poem in twenty minutes from given prompts was a challenge for me. You have to decide on an idea very quickly. I wrote the first draft of “constancy” in the workshop but was too choked up to even consider reading it that evening. I did a bit of work on it over the next week and decided that I should share it with the workshop at the time reserved for that at the beginning of the next meeting. I practiced reading it aloud to myself and then to my other daughter who is at home to make sure I could get through it without breaking down. It was the first poem I read to the group and is the “prior week’s poem” that I refer to in the linked post.

“fingernail” was written in April 2012 and previously appeared in the fall 2012 newsletter of the Samaritan Counseling Center. Given that all three are now considered previously published because of the anthology, I can post them on my blog without having to worry about breaking any publishing precedence rules. So, here are my three poems from the Spring 2014 edition of the journal of The Binghamton Poetry Project.

 

Moonlight
by Joanne Corey

In the narrow valley of youth,
the moon was distant,
as though at perpetual apogee.
Cocooned in darkness,
I slept soundly.

In the broad valley of adulthood,
the moon is close,
casting sharp shadows.
Bathed in eerie light,
I lie awake.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

fingernail
by Joanne Corey

the nail splits
not breaking entirely
but calling attention to itself
every time a sock needs to be pulled up
or a shirt pulled on
or hands need to be dried
after some chore or other

scissors
files
emery boards
only smooth the rough edge

bandages only protect
from tearing further into the quick

the split is still there

a dead nail can’t heal

only growth
makes it possible
to get beyond the split
and restore wholeness

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Constancy
by Joanne Corey

You were eleven,
the child that’s born
on the Sabbath Day,
“Bonny and blithe
And bright and gay.”

Blond and blue-eyed,
Smart and vivacious,
Quick-witted and talented,
With a beautiful soprano voice.

Who knew then that you were always in pain?

No one, not even you,
Who thought this was what
Growing up felt like.

There were the unexplained illnesses,
Mysterious fevers,
The eight month migraine,
But you were twenty-one
Before we finally knew its name.

Fibromyalgia/
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Always in pain.
Always exhausted.

Even when you were singing
Or smiling
Or reading
Or talking around the dinner table.

But I am your mother.
How could I not have known?
It’s the only pain I have
That is a constant.