Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Made the List

I got an email from AWP letting me know my panel wasn't accepted. I was very OK about it. I mean, with so many panel proposals, I wasn't too surprised. My dear friend Danielle Jones-Pruett's panel on poetic form made the cut, so I was happy anyway, and I sent her a message to be excited with her.

THEN. She had been going through the list of accepted events, and there was my name! It's not for the panel I proposed on the good things you can do for the world with your MFA, but for a panel I'd forgotten I'd signed up to participate in! I'm excited about the panel-- it's on "The Post-MFA Hustle." If I've been doing anything since my MFA, it's hustling. I feel like it's something I know well and can talk at length about:

The Post MFA Hustle: Surviving (Literally
and Creatively) in the Current Climate.
(Christine Utz, Bradley Warshauer, Angela
Voras-Hills, Jon L Peacock, Robert Walker)
Emerging writers write; they also work as
adjunct professors, editors, high school
teachers, arts administrators, performers,
librarians, and volunteers. Many have
multiple income streams. On this panel, MFA
graduates from diverse programs will provide
practical information on career paths and
employment options; offer reassurance that
the MFA remains a viable pathway to a life of
letters; and discuss ways to clear space for
meaningful creative work amidst the
demands of the hustle.

See you in Boston!

P.S. GRE is in 2 days. No matter how much I study, the Quantitative Reasoning section and I DO NOT get along. Grrr...

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Best Poetry Reading in Town

is at the prison where I teach. Granted, it is a bit out of town, but each week I go, the guys' poetry kicks me in the jaw. I'm often left short of breath. I often leave with more love in my whole self for poetry than I can remember having for so long.

The poetry read is so rich because it's read without pretension, and without ego, and sometimes it's even read without confidence, and all are equally perfect. And if poems are read with confidence, they are aways gracious and grateful. In fact, it may be simply gratitude in each poem and joy, even when the poems aren't joyful. When the poems deal with the terrible, they are still alive. And maybe, then, I appreciate the life of it. The poems read at prison are alive. How rare to find living poems.

By which I mean poems that are at once of a person and of themselves. Because many poems are lively, but I have a hard time finding poems that communicate between the writer and the poem written in any concrete way... those are the poems that live. Poetry as survival.

I've stopped reading lit mags, I've been avoiding facebook, I've stopped submitting things and looking at Duotrope. And now, finally, after giving up those things, I remember poetry, and I miss it. I want it back.

Hopefully the birds haven't devoured my trail of breadcrumbs... 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

These are all things to talk about:

First, I need to mention that I am officially a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, which is super fancy AND especially so because a student in one of my Rhinelander courses anonymously gave me membership as a gift! I am incredibly grateful and excited to go to the conference in Stevens Point this Fall! I heard Matthea Harvey was there last year, and I'm pretty sad to have missed it.

I met so many lovely writers and friendly artists at SOA. And Rhinelander was so wonderful that I constantly declared that I planned to move there.  Now that I am home, my plan seems sadly a little less realistic than it did at the time... I want to teach! 

Tomato plants taking over the back porch.
Thirdly, my friend Hannah Baker-Siroty is a Best New Poet! And my friend Rebecca Hazelton just had her second book snatched up by CSU Press minutes after (in Poet-Years) her first book won the Ohio State Poetry Prize. So. I'm happy to know such wonderful poets.

Another thing to talk about: I've been feeling sad about my garden. Matthew says this is just a trial run-- we've learned from our mistakes and will know better next year, but I wanted lots of peas and things to eat this year!

Earwigs have eaten much of the basil, all of the carrots, all of the chard, and all of the peavines. I have planted more peas in a hanging basket and transplanted tiny chards to a container. We'll see how it goes.

My tomato plants are lovely, huge, and bearing little fruit. I believe they'll grow luscious, red tomatoes in Fall, when the leaves are off the trees and the sun can shine into my yard. And in the Fall, if the past is any indicator, it will still be hot.

Also, where have all the spiders gone?
This guy matches my tomatoes.

In other news: it's Hippie Christmas
and I officially have a corner of my own!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Who's the speaker of this poem? Who. No, Who's the Poet.

Last night while discussing poems with my lovely poetry group, I heard myself say, "the speaker" and felt confused. I have long been the champion of keeping things impersonal-- something I think especially important in an undergraduate workshop. But poetry isn't impersonal. Maybe it should be ok to want to cry when someone hates your poem?

This struck me particularly when I was talking about the speaker in my own poem, and I almost accidentally said "I." The speaker was first-person, and though only 1/2 of what I'd written had actually happened to me, I'd imagined the other half, so that had happened to me, too, right? I was conflicted.

I might stop talking about speakers so much if I can help it. I've been trained, of course, but it seems silly to try to intentionally distance the poet from the work when "the speaker" closely resembles the poet. If I write about a 30-something mom who likes goats, chances are I'm writing at least 25% of my own business topped off by 75% of stuff (hopefully) nobody else would think to write. So, from now on, I am the me of my poems-- even if I'm not...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shh... I'm studying for the GRE...

This is why it's so quiet here. I'm also working on poem-a-day. Because I prefer my swords double-edged? Yes.

I've been meaning to talk about how great my time in Rhinelander was and about the Langlade County Fair, AND I have this small essay on 2 poems I'm working on... all of it is kind of on hold. Hopefully I can get the essay done soon at least! I can count it as GRE study time?