Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In the Mail Today

Contributor copies of GRIST Issue 2. The issue contains several old friends, not the least of whom is the cover artist, Mark Cherry. I have always loved "Wedding Day," the painting on the cover of the journal, and now I have my own replica. Yay! It was a great surprise to tear open the packaging and see a familiar image there waiting for me. Inside, I find two poet friends as well, Adam Clay and Al Maginnes. The list of contributors is awesome, and I can't wait to dive into the issue! I'm glad to count Charlotte Pence, the editor, as a new acquaintance, although we missed a "live" meeting at AWP. And, thanks again to Joshua Robbins, the poetry editor, for taking one of my poems.

Also in the mail, a new issue of Gulf Coast. Always a treat.

Those of you who interact with me on a regular basis know I've been going through a bit of a funk when it comes to writing and poetry. I've experienced downtime in the past, and I do buy into the thinking that downtime can be good, a natural recharging of the batteries and all that. However, this time has been different. I have felt lost and empty about not only writing but also about reading. It has been a struggle and it has been scary. What am I if not a writer? What would my life be like if I just stopped? (It recently dawned on me that I could, you know, just stop. No more worrying about it; I could just go on being a teacher and general citizen of the world.)

Slowly, in the last few days, I've felt a slight awakening. I won't say too much, lest the freeze return, but at least now, there is hope.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pictures from the Arkansas Lit Festival

Allison Joseph

Allison Joseph

Andrea Hollander Budy

Geoff Brock

Marck Beggs

Arkansas Literary Festival

This weekend is the Arkansas Literary Festival, and yesterday, I went to two fabulous poetry panels. Here's the info on the panels:

POETRY PANEL I with Andrea Hollander Budy, Ann Fisher-Wirth and Allison Joseph. All three poets are featured in the anthology When She Named Fire. Moderated by Andrea Hollander Budy.

POETRY PANEL II with Marck L. Beggs, Geoff Brock and Suzann Steele Saltzman. Explore poetry, multicultural training methods, translations and more through three very different poets' words. Moderated by Marck L. Beggs.

I've known and admired the work of Marck Beggs and Geoff Brock, as well as Andrea Hollander Budy and Allison Joseph, and I was pleased to be introduced to the work of Suzann Steele Saltzman and Ann Fisher-Wirth. It was also great to see the room packed for both events. We were in the new Arkansas Studies Institute building in the River Market. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Impressive When

a journal is so good I can't stop reading and re-reading BOTH the prose and the poetry, let alone looking at the art. That's where I am with Copper Nickel. It's been my bedtime reading companion for the last week or so. I picked up a couple of issues at AWP, and I'm currently reading Issue 11. The story "Throw Him in the Water" by Matthew Kirkpatrick was so engaging and haunting that I keep replaying it in my head, days later. The next night, I read "Limo" by Cate Witter, another fresh and interesting voice, this time reframing the theme of loss in an indirect light, exposing a facet I hadn't considered before. There are so many poems that deserve notice in the issue that I'm not going to single any one out. Just trust me that you NEED to read this journal. I love the large size that allows the poems to play out on the page as they need to, either with tight/concise lines or sprawling/crawling ones.

One thing that draws me to this journal is its publication policy. Here is the blurb from the website:
Unlike traditional campus literary journals, Copper Nickel publishes work by student authors and by professional authors. Selection is competitive, and more like a national literary journal's editorial process than a traditional campus literary magazine's. The idea is that the best student work is worthy of publication in the best journals, so we created one of those "best" journals so our students could have the best showing possible. Copper Nickel is recognized as a national literary journal, but unlike other national journals our staff is 96% undergraduate students.

One last note, the staff is sponsoring a subscription drive for National Poetry Month. See the info on the website linked above.

Happy reading!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pictures from Friday

The ATU English Dept website now has pictures and a blurb about my reading on Friday. Check it out here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thank You, Arkansas Tech

I spent a wonderful day on the Arkansas Tech University campus yesterday. Many thanks to the English Department for hosting me in their kick off to National Poetry Month. Special thanks go out to Dr. Ritchie, Paul Lake, Dr. Brucker, and Wanda Choate. During the day, I visited Mr. Lake's Intro to Poetry class as well as his Intro to Creative Writing class. I did get the chance I was hoping for to interact with the students and answer some great questions. During lunch, I met a wonderful senior who is about to embark on her pursuit of an MFA, and I wish her all the best in that adventure. The audience for my reading was a pleasant mix of students, faculty, and members of the community. A very big thank you to everyone who chose to come and listen to my poetry on a beautiful, sunny, spring Friday evening. I was charmed by you all!

Friday, April 3, 2009

End of an Era

Thanks to the Hayden's Ferry Review blog for this news article. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is unlikely to write any new work. Garcia Marquez is one of my top 5 novelists, and I wonder what it must be like to have lived a life long enough and full enough to be satisfied and stop writing. I cannot wrap my mind around it, but I certainly respect the decision. I may re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude as my first book of the summer.

On another summery note: three days until Opening Day for the Cubs!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Looking Forward

to Friday. I'll be traveling to Russellville, AR, to help Arkansas Tech University kick off National Poetry Month. I'll be meeting with two different creative writing classes and giving a public reading in the evening. One of my favorite things to do is talk to students in creative writing classes. Don't get me wrong -- I love to read, but the discussions with the students are special in a different way. I remember vividly the visits that published writers made to my undergraduate creative writing classes. Each writer took the time to answer student questions with care and patience. Each one treated us as writers not as "students" in the traditional sense. I hope I can connect with the writers at ATU in the same way.