Tara Betts is the Poet of the Day!

Tara Betts is featured today in the Poem-a-Day series of the Academy of American Poets!

You can read Tara’s poem “Gentle Collisions” as well as her note on the poem and her bio, see her photo, and click on the audio link to hear her read her poem.

We were blessed to have Tara here for a few years while she earned her PhD from Binghamton University. I met her through Binghamton Poetry Project and Bunn Hill Poets. With her bright, shiny doctorate completed, she headed back to Chicago to teach. We all wish her well but miss her!

Tara Betts

I’m sure all my poet friends will want to read this interview with Tara Betts – and read her new chapbook 7×7 kwansabas.

Speaking of Marvels

tara betts7 x 7: kwansabas (Backbone Press, 2015)

What are some of your favorite chapbooks? Or what are some chapbooks that have influenced your writing?

Right now, I am excited about Amber Atiya’s chapbook, and I am looking forward to reading Fatima Asghar’s chapbook. I just got a stack of chapbooks from dancing girl press, but I have enjoyed some from Belladonna, Button Poetry, and Carolina Wren.

What might these favorite or influential chapbooks suggest about you and your writing?

I think it’s a good way to explore a suite of poems or an idea, but I also think there’s not the same sort of pressure that foments when you are trying to develop a full-length manuscript. It allows you to zero in on a theme without feeling like it has to be 50-100 pages. I think that’s what I’ve loved in particular about Barbara Jane Reyes’ chapbooks Cherry and For…

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Mass MoCA poetry residency: Sunday

Sleep helps.

I woke up a bit before six and had revisions for my poem that we had workshopped yesterday swirling about in my head. I did a new draft in a different style. Then, I decided to play with writing a kwansaba. One of my poet-friends, Tara Betts, recently published a chapbook titled 7×7 kwansabas (Backbone Press) entirely in kwansaba form, which is seven lines of seven words each. So I did another version of my poem in the form of a kwansaba. I don’t know which of the two works better, but it felt good to be able to write first thing this morning.

I went to 8:30 Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary church which is just across the street. The church used to be called St. Anthony and was the parish home of my Italian grandparents and many other Italian immigrant families. The building still feels like St. Anthony in many ways. It is located on St. Anthony Drive. The interior design is unchanged. The dedications on the windows and pews are all Italian names. But, continuing my riff of same-but-different experiences, this is not the same church family as it was then.  While there were once five Catholic Churches in North Adams, there is now only one. Technically, the original churches were all suppressed and a new parish formed. As it happens the feast day of St. Elizabeth is coming up and the deacon spoke about her in the homily.

The most important thing for me today at mass was the opportunity to pray corporately for the victims of violence in Paris and for their loved ones. The most beautiful expression was a message from the diocesan bishop, which ended with a call for dialogue and solidarity to create peace.

Mid-morning, we headed to the Tupelo loft for brunch, but there was a bit of a mix-up about groceries, so we snacked and workshopped poems with Jeffrey instead. The early afternoon found some of us continuing to workshop while others went to Mass MoCA. We took a break from workshopping mid-afternoon and all came back together at the loft at five for a couple more hours of workshopping. We heard a lot of wonderful work today. I was excited that there was even a haibun! I so admire all the other poets in our group and am learning so much from every one.

We actually had a homework assignment tonight. It’s unlike anything I have ever done. I’ve given it a shot. We’ll see what happens with it tomorrow.

And, because we have now workshopped one poem from each of us, I may be up again tomorrow.  I have a poem picked out, but may change my mind – several times. And my pulse is up a little bit, just to get me ready for tomorrow.

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