National Poetry Month Check-In

"April is the cruelest month, breeding"

So April has been designated National Poetry month and I wonder:

Is it because nobody reads poetry during the other 11 months of the year that we have to force-feed it to folks during April?


Or, is it a wonderful opportunity for poets to pause and celebrate the air we breathe and for readers of poetry to delight in language in all its rarified, tricky, poignant, purposeful, inventive, energetic, (insert sixteen more adjectives) glory?

(well,  yes.)

So it’s both and I’m largely okay with that. I wake up in the morning to poems in my Facebook feed, announcements of readings from hither and yon, friends debating the merits of artificial holidays like National Poetry Month…it’s good!

For my part in all of this, a few items of note:

* I participated in a wonderful Poet-a-Day project created by poet Sarah Blake, and for which I wrote a kind of review/elegy for the late poet Morgan Lucas Schuldt.

* I will be taking part in a panel called “Where Do Poems Come From?” for the Conversations and Connections Conference in D.C. on April 21.

* I am helping to organize a Festival of Poets at the newly re-opening Wesbter’s Cafe in downtown State College, April 26-28.  Three days, seven local poets, one of whom is me!

* I have poems coming out in Literary Mama, and in Noctua Review.  Both acceptances feel a little special as the Lit Mama folks have been like fairy godmothers to my writing, and Noctua Review is housed at Southern Connecticut State University, where my writing life first began to flourish.

* My poem, “Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry,” (which, incidentally, was my first publication back in 1999!), appears in the newly-released anthology, Becoming: What Makes a Woman. Can’t wait for my contributor’s copy–it looks like a great read!

* I wrote a new poem! And it only sort of sucks!

* I’m going to write poems with Rudy today after school. He likes to count syllables. My little formalist!

* I keep trying to find a home for my full-length collection. Some day…

* I found, by Googling myself yesterday (I do this sometimes; it’s fun and instructive and not usually horrifying), that someone has excerpted one of my favorite pieces of writing and included it right next to poems by (deep breath!) Li-Young Lee, Margaret Atwood and Carolyn Kizer on a site called “The Hedonist’s Challenge!” It’s listed under a section called “Poems & Prayers for Eating in Pleasure.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain why this pleases me so to anyone who knows me or my writing well. So happy!

* Finally, I’m happy to announce that my forthcoming poetry chapbook, Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry, is now available for pre-order via Finishing Line Press. I’ll be shilling this thing hard for the next two months, as I must lock in 55 pre-sale copies in order for it to go to print at all. The cost is $14 per book with a shipping price of $1.99 if you order by June 15. The book will be delivered, filled with love, into your hands after August 10. Thanks for your support, lovely friends!

I do have to say, it’s more than a little weird to imagine these poems in the world now. They are all about ten years old and very different from the work in A Woman Traces the Shoreline, which one could really argue is a meditation in prose. (poetry, prose, tomato, tomahto…) These, by contrast, are firmly narrative and steeped in relationships. My relationships. Old, broken, and hugely formative.  No point pretending the poet and the “I” aren’t (mostly) one in the same here. I forged my poetic identity in college as a Confessional and this book definitely celebrates that.

But, as weird as it is to be promoting a book that feels very far from who I am poetically now, I also kind of love that I get to revisit those beginnings and embrace them. I hope you’ll enjoy them with me.

Happy National Poetry Month! Go read a poem!

3 thoughts on “National Poetry Month Check-In

  1. Sharon McGill says:

    Congrats on all the recent successes! I just put in my order for Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry. I’m definitely making it a point to read more poems–not just this month, but all year!

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