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

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Reunion residency – welcome!

Friday morning, my poet-friend Jessica picked me up for the drive to North Adams to begin the Boiler House Poets reunion residency at MASS MoCA. (To check out my blog posts from the original Tupelo Press/Studios at MASS MoCA residency, use my archive dropdown list entry for November 2015.)  It is a reunion for me, but not for Jessica whom I invited to fill in a slot for one of our original group who was unable to attend.

In the MASS MoCA parking lot, we ran into residency coordinator Emily with Ann and Kyle, who are my and Jessica’s apartment mates for the week. Emily gave us our keys and info and showed us our apartment, which is on the third floor of a building kittycorner from the museum complex, just across the hall from the apartment I stayed in last year. (My header photo here at Top of JC’s Mind was taken from that vantage point.)  We each have our own bedroom, with shared kitchen and bath.

Emily also showed us our studios. Last time, I was in studio seven, but this time I am in studio two, with a view of the Airstream trailer art installation which is connected by walkway to the top of the Boiler House which gives our group its name due to this video we made during our inaugural residency.

One of the special moments yesterday was when Ann gave us copies of the new book she edited of poems we created in an exercise with Jeffrey Levine of Tupelo Press during our 2015 residency.  It is called Verse Osmosis and is available here. I am honored to be a part of this book and this group!

In the couple of hours before our welcome dinner, I had the chance to catch up with our other apartment’s returning poets, Marilyn, Kay, and Gail and to meet our other new addition this time, Catherine. I was sad to learn that Donna, one of our original members who had hoped to come visit us on Saturday, was taken ill and wouldn’t be able to come see us. I am consoled, though, to have a copy of her new chapbook <Periodic Earth>, published by fellow Boiler House Poet Kyle’s Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press and available here.

Since we were in North Adams last year, a new Italian restaurant, Grazie, has opened on the first floor below our apartments and it was the site for our welcome dinner. We were happy to have another of our Boiler House Poets, James, join us, along with a friend who was celebrating her birthday. Like me, James is from the North Adams area and was back visiting. We had a long dinner with lots of lively conversation. I was happy to have James sign my copy of Verse Osmosis and we passed James’s copy around the table to sign for him. Unfortunately, Vicki, another of our inaugural group, was also unable to make the trip to North Adams for the reunion, so her signature will be missing from our books, too.

By the time dinner was over, it was after ten o’clock and I was too tired to join in the additional visiting that was going on and too tired to write this post. At least I am able to get this out early this morning. I hope to be off to my studio soon…

 

 

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!

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!
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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

 

New header photo

Thanks to all my blogger friends for their advice on my new theme!

I looked through my photos and found one I thought would crop well as a new header image.

Boiler House Poets and people familiar with North Adams, Massachusetts may recognize the street sign. It was just outside the apartments where we stayed during the Tupelo Press/Mass MoCA residency. (If you want to know more about the residency, check my blog archive for November, 2015.)

I will leave it to my readers to ponder the deep inner meaning of Center Street being one way and what that has to do with the Top of JC’s Mind…

I still wish I could make the title/tagline font larger, but I think it doesn’t look quite so tiny with the header image breaking it apart from the larger-font post title.

It just occurred to me that my link to my “About” page got lost in the shuffle of the theme change. I guess that will be my next problem to solve.

I’d appreciate any comments/musing/interpretations on the new header image.

With thanks,
JC

 

Getting back to work

Today, after doing a bit more promotion for my poem that was published in Eunoia Review yesterday, I finally managed to commandeer a block of time when my brain was functioning in a rested, thoughtful mode to work on some poem revisions.

I am happy to report that I was able to produce final(ish) drafts of three poems, including one that was workshopped during my Mass MoCA/Tupelo adventure.  I had been particularly concerned about returning to that one, but found that my own and other poets’ notes helped me to recapture the discussion. I may impose it on a couple of Boiler House Poets or bring it to one of my local workshop groups before including it in my manuscript (she says, pretending that the manuscript existed other than as a list in her head).

There are more poems to revise from Mass MoCA, as well as first drafts and sketches I wrote there that need more drafts before they can be workshopped, plus other poems that I need to research and write to fill some gaps.  Soon, Sappho’s Circle and the Binghamton Poetry Project will be resuming, with more opportunities to write from prompts, workshop, revise, and submit.

Lots of work ahead.

It felt good to make a tiny dent today, getting back to some semblance of a normal schedule after weeks of holiday-making and busy-ness.

Fingers crossed that everyone stays healthy and I can make steady progress.
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This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us!  Start the journey here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/14/just-jot-it-january-14th-motivation/

JJJ 2016

To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today.

2015 poems

Along with reading lots of 2016 resolutions, goals, and plans, I’ve read a lot of 2015 summary posts. I even contributed my WordPress summary post.

One of my poet-blogger-friends posted about her poem publications of 2015, which led me to the realization that 2015 is the year that I began to have poems published in competitive venues.

The one poem that I had had accepted in 2014 before joining the Bunn Hill Poets, my primary workshopping group, became available in the spring.  The anthology, Candles of Hope, is a fundraiser for the UK charity Topic of Cancer.  My contribution had been previously published on my blog. Generally, I don’t put poetry on my blog that I hope to submit as most editors won’t accept previously published poems, but this poem had been one I had written in the middle of the night as a personal cry and had never thought there would be an appropriate place for further publication.

With the help of the Bunn Hill Poets, further sessions of the Binghamton Poetry Project, and the new women’s writing workshop Sappho’s Circle, I was able to refine my poems and match them to publications well enough that I got a number of acceptances in 2015, which was very exciting after meeting with a number of rejection notices previously. Well, truth to tell, currently, too. While I do sometimes write about rejection notices, especially if they come with a compliment or encouragement to submit again, there are definitely lots of rejections when submitting for publication. One of the things I love about the stage of life I am in is that I know I can withstand the rejections and keep on trying. I would not have been so resilient in my younger days.

2015 saw my first appearance in a literary journal, Wilderness House Literary Review. My three poems in the fall quarterly are here.

I am pleased to have developed a relationship with Silver Birch Press. Besides their print anthologies and books, they publish series of poems on their blog, submitted to match their given prompts. I had a poem accepted in five series this year:
All About My Name
My Perfect Vacation
My Sweet Word
When I Hear That Song
Me, During the Holidays
All but one of these were written for SBP. You can hear a recording of my favorite of them “Lessons from Mahler” near the end of this video.

Which bring me to another point in my 2015 poetry story, the Mass MocA/Tupelo Press residency/workshop that I attended in November. It was my first ever experience with a poetry conference of any sort and an amazing, exhausting, overwhelming week. I’m going to be learning from and processing it for a long time. As the inaugural group in the partnership between the museum and Tupelo, we bonded with each other, named ourselves the Boiler House Poets after the setting of the video above, and vowed to have a reunion, which I’m pleased to say has been scheduled for fall 2016.  I’m hoping to have the bulk of the poetry collection that is flowing from that experience and my life-long relationship with the North Adams, Massachusetts area finished by then so that the Boiler House Poets can help me refine and strengthen it.

There is one poem that was accepted in 2015 but will be published this year by Eunioa Review. Yes, there will be the usual happy squealing and posting of the link when it becomes available, although it is not a happy poem.

My last sets of poems published last year came through the anthologies of the Binghamton Poetry Project, to which I will be forever grateful for setting me on the path to publication. Our anthologies are not available online, but you can find my contributions here at Top of JC’s Mind, for Spring 2015 and Fall 2015.

Thank you to all my readers who have been encouraging me on the poetry front. 2015 was a breakthrough year for me and I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.
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This (perhaps way too long to be considered jotting) post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join the fun! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/07/just-jot-it-january-7th-robust/

JJJ 2016