As I typed the slash between the months in the title of this post, I thought, “how true.” One month tethers to another as we navigate, slowly, each new step of a new year/an old pandemic. How, then, do I make or recognize change?
One morning this week, I was looking out my garden window while practicing yoga. A black-capped chickadee landed in the lilac bush and remained for the entire time, even though it was -20 degrees. As I was moving into stillness, this little bird was mirroring jumpy transitions and constant shifts in its gaze. But in a small way we were in sync, up early, in our element, perhaps moving to stay warm, preparing for the day.
The coming weeks will be a time of preparation as I look forward to upcoming publications and activities.
April 4, 11, 18 — I’m teaching a 3-class Writing Series for multiple genres at the Northfield Arts Guild (in-person). Classes are available individually or as a sequence. The emphasis is on creativity and play as we learn more about generative practices, metaphor, and the single poem as a book.
April — Watch for details about readings and forthcoming poems and essays.
Although there are no birds outside my window this morning, the sun is shining. Time to go exploring after last night’s light snow. I hope your days bring wild movement and stillness, imagination, and energy.
Earlier this week, I visited a poetry class that was reading my new collection of poems, The Feast Delayed. I enjoy talking with readers, especially college students who are discovering the elements of craft and writing toward a better understanding of their voices and identities. A few of their questions surprised me with their levels of complexity about individual poems and the collection. One student asked why I move backward and forward in time without calling attention to the shift. Are these moves intentional? Is it okay if readers feel disoriented? My response was briefer than the question deserved, but I explained how experience, image, and memory sometimes work as one force in a poem. When the three together spark language that will be the poem, the blurring is the constellation of experiences that Denise Levertov defines in “Some Notes on Organic Form.” If we’d had more time, I’m sure we would have talked much more about the origins of a poem.
This week also brought exciting news in the poetry world. Poets & Writers recognized The Strategic Poet(Ed. Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books, 2021) as one of its Best Books for Writers. It’s a bottomless well of strategies for writers by writers. I contributed a sample poem to illustrate apostrophe, and I’m inspired by the range of poems within and across sections. The collection is structured by the elements of craft (descriptive detail, diction, imagery, and more), so users can follow the sequence or move around according to interest. With craft talks, prompts, models, and sample poems, The Strategic Poet is that essential book to have at a writing residency, for writing groups, and near any poet’s desk. It’s an ideal holiday gift for writers.
As always, some new publications and events are in the works, including a limited series new artist’s book. Check back for details. Wishing you a calm and safe December.
Tonight I’ll turn clocks back an hour and change my relationship to light for the coming months. I’m a morning person, now eager for early light to walk the dogs, write, prepare for each day. I don’t mind the longer evenings. We’re coming into a quiet season of more solitude, more creative time.
I’m celebrating the notions of harvest and fruition with readings and more recognition related to The Feast Delayed.
Creative writing faculty at St. Olaf gathered with community on campus on November 4 for a celebration of recent publications. I was in good company with colleagues Cole Bucciaglia and Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, and special guest reader William Pierce (Coeditor of Agni).
. . . And a reminder that books and literary journals are holiday gifts that can be read, shared, and donated.
How quickly fruition turns to transformation. The mums are a purple chorus in the front yard, with one more holding closed buds whose color I can’t remember. The surprise will be magnificent in a few days. Meanwhile, the maple trees are shedding leaves, layers upon layers in streets and yards. Poet Janet Holmes once noted that poems often privilege sight above the other senses. This time of year I’m reminded to observe and record the smells of autumn, taking up again the challenge to describe the scent of marigolds lingering on my fingers after I pick off the spent blossoms. For now, the words remain “the smell of marigolds,” a placeholder as I go deeper, get closer, live with it.
This time of year, too, means announcements and deadlines. I’m grateful to Sweet: A Literary Confection for nominating “Damage Control” for a Best of the Net award. Sweet has a new look and a delicious new issue. Please visit their site.
“Mountain Quartet,” a new short essay, recently went live in Atticus Review. While you’re there, you can sign up for The Weekly Atticus, all about writing and writers, delivered each Saturday morning.
Much will have changed when I return for a November post. Who knows what new stage of pandemic or recovery we’ll be living in. Like many human and non-human animals in Minnesota, I’ll be preparing for winter. I’ll also be submitting grants, poems, and essays while looking forward to a reading with creative writing friends at St. Olaf. Details on that and new publications coming soon . . . .
Update: Faculty Reading, Cole Bucciaglia, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Diane LeBlanc, November 4, 7:00 pm, Boe Chapel Undercroft
September moves between beginnings and familiar endings. A yellow school bus idling nearby this week reminded me that different places are at different stages of re-opening. Caution and worry hang like wildfire smoke, optimism a weakening sun. Meanwhile, mums in my garden are whispering orange and maroon. The beetles ate more than their share of the roses, which I’m contemplating in a new essay. But onward we go.
Some projects have come to fruition. A collaborative poem written by local poets is now stenciled on the Riverwalk steps to the Bridge over the Cannon River in downtown Northfield. I’m honored to be part of this city arts project.
An exciting new craft book, The Strategic Poet: Honing the Craft, edited by Diane Lockward (Terrapin Books) is forthcoming in October and now available for pre-order. I wrote a sample poem included in this new collection of craft essays, prompts, and poems. I’ve used and taught one of Diane Lockward’s earlier craft book with great response. This one promises to add new range and depth to the practice of writing.
I’m hoping to be part of an in-person reading, when such events are safe, with colleagues who published during the pandemic. In the meantime, The Feast Delayed is available and receiving favorable reviews. Stay tuned for updates and new publications coming this fall.
As late summer light shifts and nights come earlier, I wish you strength to navigate your beginnings and endings this month.
While August brings its whiffs of endings–Midwest corn fields starting to yellow, the Olympic Games winding down, and smoke haze signaling areas lost to wildfires–these days offer small beginnings. Home from July wanderings, I resume a writing and making schedule. Lines captured on odd sized pieces of paper will shape into poems, maybe an essay. I rediscover recipes for pesto and zucchini bread. We eat from the garden and stock the freezer. And I begin to think about fall readings, submissions, and publications. Here’s a preview, with more to come.
“How to Keep from Keeping,” a poem extracted from Anna Botsford Comstock’s “How to Keep Bees” (1905), is now in Heron Tree, Issue 8.
On August 8, 5 – 8 pm CDT, I’ll be a featured reader with Benji Katz and Rose Smith for Uncloistered Online. I’ll read from my newest collection, The Feast Delayed, as well as debuting a few new poems. Event is free and open to the public. Registration details here.
This month begins with gatherings, fireworks, flea markets, and summer sales, but for me July is a quiet month. It’s a time of retreat and renew. I write less and read more. I walk and ride my bike with no mileage or stats in mind. I am present at my art table, finishing projects such as Tertia Natura, a simulated field guide to coral in leather and mixed media. I plan new projects, which this year means both small creations and the next book to follow The Feast Delayed.
Last July’s journal entries dwell in uncertainty as the pandemic sprawled. What will I realize next year as I reread this months reflections?
In the meantime, work comes to fruition. Poems and prose are forthcoming in Heron Tree and Attitcus Review. Poetry readings are in the details stage, so please check back for dates.
Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. The trees are blossoming, a crane appeared at the pond this week, and the daffodils are giving way to sedum and phlox. Cautious optimism about re-openings are kept in check with news of struggles and shortages throughout the world. These changes are all reminders of how interconnected the world is.
I’m fortunate to be hearing from readers near and far who have received their copies of The Feast Delayed (Terrapin Books), published on May 3. I’ve met writers and artists through recent readings and look forward to upcoming events.
The new issue of The Briar Cliff Review arrived last week. Grateful to see my essay “Empathy Lessons” in good company.
“The Kite” was the May 10 poem in SWWIM this month.
Through the pandemic, Global Poemic has published poems and images exploring the broad experience of the pandemic. My poem “Open Again” appeared on May 13 with a photo by Sally Lelong.
April is National Poetry Month, an ideal time to write a poem a day with National/Global Poetry Writing Month. Today is April 8, and I’m seven poems into the challenge. Writing a poem a day frees me from the need to polish immediately. It’s all about the practice of observing, reading, discovering new poems and poets, and moving with the momentum of the challenge.
Some publication and book-related events are happening this month.
My new poetry collection, The Feast Delayed (Terrapin Books), is available for pre-order and will be released on May 3.
Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor accepted two poems for Issue Two, forthcoming later this month. I’ll join editor Lori Howe and a fine group of poets for a virtual gala opening and reading on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 6 pm CDT. The event is free and open to the public via Zoom. Details and link available here.
Red Wing Arts (Redwing, MN) is hosting virtually its annual Poet Artist Collaboration Opening Reception on Friday, April 30, 7 pm CDT. I’m honored to have two poems in the exhibit, which will be paired with visual art. Details and link available here.
More readings are in the works, and publications are forthcoming. Please check back for updates.
Spring arrives slowly in Minnesota. One day daffodils and crocuses are pushing their tips through bark mulch, and the next day they are under 5 inches of snow. This push and retreat has been a good lesson for writing.
I’m happy to be in a season of push. The Feast Delayed (Terrapin Books) is available for pre-order through local bookstores and online shops. More information is available at Terrapin Books.
A poets and artists collaboration is happening now at Red Wing Arts. Two of my poems will be paired with artwork for a gallery exhibit April 30 – June 20. Check back for details about the virtual gallery opening event on April 30.
New work is forthcoming in Heron Tree, SWWIM, and few other wonderful journals. Updates coming every month.
Stay well, read, write, and enter spring at your own pace.