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 . . . .
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.
In March, I’ll join writers and visual artists for Ruminate Happenings. During this annual fundraiser, March 6 – 13, 2021, participating writers and artists go live on Instagram to create poems, stories, short essays, and art for ticket holders. I’ll be live on March 7, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. PST writing poems in response to images and memories from ticket holders. If you’d like an artifact created just for you by any of the participating writers or artists, get your ticket here.
The Feast Delayed, a new full-length collection is forthcoming from Terrapin Books in April 2021. Check back for the cover reveal in a few weeks.
A few other creative things are in the works, so please check in again.
Like many friends, I’ve been waiting for this transition, rehearsing the sound of “2021,” and preparing to leave a difficult year behind. So here we are: January 2021. A new calendar isn’t magic. The old problems exist. But measurable change is possible and happening.
Meanwhile, the year has begun with new publications that introduced me to new editors and writers while connecting me to longtime friends in new ways.
Eastern Iowa Review posted “Winter Self,” a prose poem in which I am “a cave dweller in January.” This issue’s theme is “Winter,” and new selections will appear periodically through the coming weeks.
In the the inaugural issue of Book of Matches, a brilliant new journal edited by Kelli Allen and Nicholas Christian, my poem “The End of Early” is in stunning company.
The coming months will bring several more publications, including The Feast Delayed, a full-length poetry collection forthcoming in April 2021 from Terrapin Books.
Two weeks ago, a surprise arrived at my door. The connection it carried began much earlier, in March, when I saw a friend from a distance on the prairie, each of us walking with our dogs. Coronavirus was new and masks not yet mandatory, so we kept our distance. I went home and wrote a poem for this friend, and months late later she delivered a commissioned broadside by Minneapolis artist Marni Kaldjian. I’m grateful for these moments of humanity and art in the midst of so much uncertainty.
So while September and October slipped away in a blur of pandemic-response teaching, all is not lost. Sheltering and staying safe have opened opportunities for virtual lectures, literary events, and classes at Minnesota Center for Book Arts.
I’ve also begun the reflection and work that prepares the way for publication of a new book. A full-length poetry collection, will be published by Terrapin Books in 2021. If you’re not familiar with the gorgeous books they produce, please check out their titles.
Take care, be well, and, as always, check back for news of forthcoming poems and essays.