December 2021

Cover Art: Molly Keenan RetroFutures Designs

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.

September 2021

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.

Rising stairs painted orange and yellow with a line of poetry stenciled on each step.
Northfield Poets Riverwalk Steps Poem 2021 (Author photo)

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.