Sunday, January 1, 2017

Self-Reflection 2016

46º ~ lightweight gray skies, calm air, the world moves into 2017 in stillness and quiet


I'm one of those lucky people who has a birthday within a week of New Year's Day, which means my personal annual reflection coincides nicely with the calendar's call for reflection, and I get the proverbial two-for-one. Now, as a consequence of growing up steeped in the Midwestern work ethic, I like to be efficient and get things done quickly, so this delights me to no end.

In 2016, I:

~ stopped teaching first-year writing altogether and moved to teaching creative writing full-time. This has been a dream of mine since I finished grad school in 2003, so it was a pretty thrilling teaching year. I've now taught Intro to CW (for the zillionth time), but also graduate-level poetry workshop, mixed undergrad and graduate-level topics classes in persona poetry and ecopoetics, and undergraduate form & theory classes in poetry and illustrated narrative (encompasses writing for comics/graphic novels as well as writing for video games and creating fine art pieces that blend words and images). As far as differences from teaching comp, the students have actually chosen to take these courses and the number of pieces of writing I respond to may be fewer, but those comments take just as long, and I've got even more prep to do. It was a busy year, and I was thankful, as always, that I am able to take the summer off to recharge

~ completed a book-length project: 20 x 20: A Self-Exphrasis. In the summer, I created 20 collages, attempting to create the collages without thinking about the poems I would write from them, attempting to shut off my thinking brain and let my eyes and hands choose images and placements that might reflect any new poetic obsessions. Then, I wrote the 20 poems in conversation with, in response to, or inspired by those collages. I'm excited to be revising the poems now (and hint, hint, I already have 3 of the pairs forthcoming in February for you all to read/view).

~ became the Director of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference. Oh my, from an informational meeting in February 2016 to today, we have begun paving the way for what I know is going to be a fabulous, annual conference. FYI: we are seeking proposals from women and non-binary writers in ANY field or genre (not just the poets, although, you know the poets are welcome, welcome, welcome!). In this activity, I'm thankful for my colleagues on the Executive Committee and the community members who have joined our Board of Directors.

~ attended The Home School in Hudson, NY. This week-long workshop took me way outside my comfort zone as it is run by poets farther along the cutting edge of current poetry, poets who experiment with typography and hybrid forms, poets who descend from the LANGUAGE poets and the New York School of poets. It was an amazing and exhausting week.

~ went to AWP, as always. This time, it was fun to have a few grad students along to see the conference through their eyes. I was still fulfilling my commitment to Trio House Press, so I spent much time at their table helping promote "our" books. I'm so thankful to THP for teaching me how to exercise my long-atrophied book promotion muscles. At AWP Los Angeles, I also took in several key panels to help with the illustrated narrative class I was teaching, and I'm soooooo appreciative of those panelists.

~ was a reader for Trio House Press during its open reading period and for the contests. This has been a great learning opportunity as I suss out my own process for screening, and as I work with the other readers and editors at THP. I also continued to read for One (an online poetry journal from Jacar Press) and Heron Tree (an online poetry journal I helped create); however, because of all my various other commitments, I had to step back from both of these projects by the end of the summer. I was very sad to stop reading and contributing, but the decision was for the best.

~ celebrated with C. as we have been married 10 years. Here is a man who understands me better than I sometimes understand myself, and he was so patient this past fall when I bit off more than I could chew and was often away from home. He mourned with me as we had to let Gracie (our snuggly, green-eyed cat) go, and he laughs with me as we continue to love the antics of George (our skinny, LOUD, needy-baby-greedy-baby tabby).

Thank you to anyone still reading this blog for making the journey with me. Your comments are always appreciated, and I am sending you all strength & grace for the new year.

Coming up in 2017, I have a very different schedule for the spring semester and hope to make blogging a bi-weekly affair. I'm no longer the unrealistic youth I once was, so I won't claim to blogging daily. :)

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