My second article at Southern Tier Life Magazine, Evolution of the Poem Through Prompt Writing, is now available for viewing. There are lots of other good articles about local happenings on the website. They are really trying to build an interest in poetry and literature in my area, so please show your support and have a look around the website.
Read. Write. Support small press. Be kind to each other.
You can watch the online reading here which is followed by an open mic by Donna Snyder, Michael Grover and Dan Denton to name a few. This show is the first Monday of the month at 9 pm EST. Thanks for watching.
Read. Write. Be kind to each other. Support the small press.
It’s funny how life work sometimes when you’re minding your own business. Last month I was approached by the managing editor of Southern Tier Life Magazine, Catherine White, about doing a series of articles on poetry for National Poetry Month. She found me through a post about the open mic at Card Carrying Books and Gifts on April 28th in which I am the MC.
So here I am, writing articles for a local magazine. When I was in high school I wanted to be a journalist. My life path didn’t carry me down that road and I went on to be a nurse instead, but have always carried that dream in my back pocket. I get to place a big old check mark next to this line item on my bucket list this month.
The first article is about how poetry has weaved itself into my life. You can read “A Life of Poetry” now at Southern Tier Life Magazine. Thanks for taking the time.
Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.
My favorite person to hike with is Lisa. She was the friend that took me on my Bristol Hills three day adventure that truly changed my life. Hiking has developed our friendship in a way that is very special to me. Our hikes are filled with philosophical thought, discovering flowers and animal tracks, and discussing the deep parts of ourselves that we sometimes feel only the trees can really absorb without judgement. The only problem is we live about 40 minutes apart and each have busy lives so coordinating a hike can sometimes be a challenge.
This was our first hike of the year together and due to time constraints, I chose the M 12 at access 6 Pleasant Valley Road in Urbana. Lisa and I had hiked this part before but not in the winter. I like doing the same hikes in different seasons as it reveals things about the land, but also about myself. It had snowed recently, but it was still soft and we didn’t need ice spikes.
The more I hike this section of trail, the more I love it. The incline of it is just enough to feel the burn, but not so challenging that it is distracting. It has amazing ravines that show off a creek at the bottom for three seasons and some cool ice flow in the winter.
Coming back to this section of the M 12 this year has made me want to hike the whole thing. There are so many great trails that we get to dreaming about hiking them all once we’ve had a little taste of them. I definitely want to finish B 1 and B 3 this year for a sense of completion and then maybe we’ll start knocking away sections of the M 12.
But most of all, I love how this year’s challenge will bring me closer to my friend. Lisa is an amazing soul who teaches me about the strength I didn’t know I had inside me. This hike was my first FLT of the year and my first hike with Lisa, but definitely not the last.
Stay safe out there. See you on the trail. If you hear clinking and chiming, it’s just me.
I was just notified the other day that my poem “(critical) mass” will be included in this anthology that is due out sometime this spring. They publish three anthologies a year, one each for poetry, prose, and art. I am thrilled to have made the cut for poetry. You can check their website here for any news and upcoming submissions.
Read. Write. Support Small Press. Be kind to each other.
The Finger Lakes Trail turns 60 this year! To celebrate they are making the challenge 60 miles instead of 50 miles in a calendar year to earn this beautiful badge. If you are in the Upstate NY region and would like to participate in this challenge, you can go to the FLT60 page and sign up. As an incentive, all non FLT/branch trails count toward your numbers until the end of March, but you have to be outside!
I am going to be logging my miles and journey on here because this is a big deal to me. I found about about FLT50 midway through the year last year, and though I had done 22 miles on my big three day hike, I didn’t do anymore FLT the rest of the year. This year is my year. A girl loves a good badge. Let’s just say the tiny Girl Scout in me is very excited about badges.
This year for the first day of the year hike I decided to go solo instead of hike with a group. There were some things I needed to work out in my head and getting muddy by myself is the perfect way to do this. It was warm and I overdressed, again. This is the story of my hiking life. One of these days I will find the right layering.
I had to park very low before the entrance because it was muddy and my tiny front wheel drive would not have made it up and most likely got stuck. The bulk of this hike is on a logging type road. There are trails per All Trails, but no one had done upkeep on them and they are very poorly marked. Most of the paths are used by mountain bikers by the looks of it. So, I stayed on the road which was sort of boring, but better than getting lost…which I did anyway. The incline was about 18% but it didn’t feel like much after last year’s massive inclines which made me feel really good about myself.
On the map there was noted to be a series of ponds and a pond loop, but I had a hard time finding a singular pond. I did see an older couple hiking up an off shoot to the road and asked them where it was and it was down the road from where they came. I thanked them and made a mental note of the road I was on and how it continued forward thinking maybe there were more ponds that way. But that would have to wait for another hike.
This was my prize for getting lost, getting muddy, for showing up when I really didn’t feel like it. Winter sometimes gets the best of me, but then I hear my father’s voice in my head tell me to put my feet on the ground. He was an avid hiker who completed the AT, something that both fills me with pride and amazes me. I only wish I knew more about it when he was alive. I would have loved to record his stories. So now when I need his wisdom, I put my boots on. I cried at this pond because it was pristine and beautiful. I cried because I missed my Pop. He would have loved it here.
This hike to the pond and back was 4 miles. I can’t wait to go back and try to find the Erwin Pond Loop which seems to go around 5 ponds. The muddy season will be upon me soon and this hike will be slippery and challenging, but I’d love to do it again.
See you out on the trails! Stay tuned for the next installment of my FLT60 where I hike part of M12.
I am so happy to announce that my collection of poetry, Running Red Lights, is available today from Gutter Snob Books. Michele McDannold has been a great publisher to work with and I am thrilled to work with her again. She was here a the start of my career and published my first ever collection in 2006. Her belief in my work has always held a special place in my heart.
This collection is largely about observing the small moments in the world that other people glance over. Some of these were observed by me, others were back page stories in the news. Here are a few poems to tempt you:
Staring down a white-tailed doe
Small town factories put the hard line on faces. All of them in a vertical destruction of youth, skin hanging there a wrinkle of time.
Generations pulling long hours sucking in black death, diamond death, poverty death.
It is all tattooed on the inside of lungs, painted over eyes, along the jaw clenched unknowingly.
The subconscious is the only faction aware that there were once dreams of something more than making rent and car payments, of cigarettes and six packs
Parked in front of the KFC drive-thru speaker, a toothless woman hangs out the open window of a rusty blue Chevy truck, arms flexed, and crossed over the door tightly as if she fears falling the two feet toward the ground.
Her right hand cradles her cigarette like a lover dragging its breath hard and long enough to cave her cheeks inward to meet each other over tongue and under palate, cutting off the smoke so it slips weakly from the corners of her mouth.
Do you know how sometimes you are resistant to buying a book? For some reason I couldn’t get myself to pick this one up despite LOVING the cover art. My local book seller had quietly nudged me toward this book several times and I finally caved. She is a voracious reader and said it was in her top 5. That day another patron had also sung this books praises, so it was time.
This book is a journey through the age old question of what happens after we die? This is a speculation of course because we don’t really know, but it is one that I would like to keep close in my memory. It is a book about death, the time after death, and grief that is present in both those who are left behind as well as those who have passed. It is also a book about friendship and selflessness. It is a book about how we keep going in the face of hardship. I cried for the last two hours I read the book. Sometimes they were tears of joy and others sadness. I don’t always recommend books, but I don’t think it matters what genre you usually love, you will love this book.
This is a quick read both because it is more novella sized and the writing is very good. I had never read a book by this author, but picked it up because I am a nurse and it sounded relatable. It is a story about a girl from an immigrant family who lives in NYC and works as an orderly in one of the county hospitals. It is a book about family and friendships and about having the faith in yourself to move forward and upward in life.
This book I listened to which was a good choice. The setting is India and there I’m sure the pronunciation of many of the cultural items and names of things would have been butchered in my mind. It was nice to hear them pronounced as they should be. This is a story about a girl and her mother living in Pune, India. The mother is a bit eccentric for the times and they lived in an ashram for some time. In the present day, the mother is showing signs of dementia and the daughter feels obligated to care for her. Their relationship, through their whole lives, had not been close or comforting. The daughter often left to the periphery of everything. It is a story about family dynamics, breaks from culture, and personal identity.
This is another book that I listened to and it was read by the author. I had no idea what this book was about before I chose it, but did so because I currently have an obsession with birds. It is non-fiction and discusses the life of the author as a naturalist and her memories of birds and green spaces in the UK as she was growing up. It chronicles some wonderfully personal accounts of her adventures in nature while also providing information on several species of birds and their migrations, and what this means for the lands we live in. It also looks at how urban sprawl has changed or destroyed nesting areas for birds and what this means for the species.
Come on, who doesn’t love Samantha Irby? I listened to this as an audio book because Irby reads it herself and the way she describes her own life is both hysterical and bold. This was a great book to listen to in February because I need as much laughter as I can get stuck in the gray days of Upstate New York. Her honesty about how she lives her life in such an unapologetic way is refreshing. It made me take notice of my own habits and procrastination and investigate their origin. And sometimes, I just looked in the other direction. A delightful book.
I found this book at last year’s fall library book sale. I often try to scoop up as much poetry as I can possibly find, especially by author’s I’ve never heard of before. I find that it helps me to look at my own words in different ways. This entire book of poetry is the imagining of Barbie in different life settings, with careers, with comical thoughts about articulated limbs. It made me nostalgic in a way. I had Barbies and yes, they did make me feel like I didn’t fit in the class of a pretty girl, but they were also my therapy. I could dress them how I wanted, they were stand ins for people I couldn’t really express myself to. Sometimes, when playing Barbie with other girls, we explored cultural, sexual, and relationship ideas that our mothers were not willing to speak about. They were an education on what we thought being older might be like. There are some great poems in this book.
This is a smaller book of poetry from long time small press writer Michele McDannold. The poems in here feel like that space in life where you disconnect for a minute to wonder why people do the things they do. Or why you do the things you do? It is a book of quiet interactions and self assessments. Definitely worth the read.
I picked up this book from the local library for two reasons. #1 My boyfriend loves Lorca. I thought I should read some of his work because this in turn tells me something about my boyfriend. I had heard of Lorca as a writer, but honestly, I had never taken the time to read his work. #2 “Little Ashes” was an amazing film about the connection of Lorca and Dali. It moved me and made me cry so again, I thought I should dip into the work. There is merit to his language and in some poems I felt connected, but like all poetry from a time when I haven’t lived, it is harder to find a passion in the stanzas because I didn’t experience the hardships and cultural restraints of the time. It was still worth it for reason #1.
I just finished listening to this book before opening my computer to write this blog. Listening to this book made me realize just how little they teach us in school about black history. I vaguely remember hearing about the great migration, but not really understanding how long it was. It ended only 3 years before I was born. How could it be so absent from our education?
This is a non-fiction book that chronicles the journey Morgan Jerkins took when trying to find more information about her family history. So much of the facts of family history come from oral tradition and this makes it harder to trace if your family isn’t willing to talk or the elders pass away without ever having been asked what they know. This book is about the great migration but it was also a history on blended cultures with Native Americans of the southern regions and the persistent racism present in this country. It was interesting to follow the journey as she gathered more snippets of family story or a random name of a distant possible relative. Definitely an eye opening historical story.
When I write a new poem I always share it with my boyfriend first. Then I send it around on messenger to a few souls who are online. It’s random. I like random sampling for feedback. These poems only ever have a quick once over for glaring spelling errors and to maybe adjust a line break and then I let them fly before tucking them in a folder to marinate awhile.
“The Moment Before the World Wakes Up” was one of these poems. I sent it to Chris Bodor from AC Poets. Often, I don’t get any responses from people. I might get an acknowledgement they saw it or a few kind words, but this time Chris thought my poem would be great for a project he knew of elsewhere. It was unexpected, but I love the idea of new directions though I struggle with the transitional area of change. He added me to a group and shared my poem with a musical group called brotherwell.
The project itself is called re:covery. He takes our poems about recovery and makes music behind them, with them, all around them. He adds his own lyrics and together, we have written a song that I feel is full of truth and vulnerability. brotherwell really captured the feeling beneath my words and I was certainly touched by his lyrics and the thoughtful way he created music to merge them both. At some point in time, the collection of all of these collaborations will be available to buy or stream with the proceeds going to a recovery charity. Stay tuned for that information down the road. But for now, you can enjoy my collaboration with brotherwell: The Moment Before the World Wakes Up.
Read. Write. Be kind to each other. Support the small press and its writers.
Durable Goods: The Missouri Collective is a micro-zine that fits in the palm of your hand. Once upon a time it was filled with writers from the small press and traveled all over the world, was archived in libraries, and touched every continent. It was a zine about connection and tangibility. It was something to look forward to. It still is, only in a different way.
At the end of 2021, I revived this zine which had been out of print since 2013 or so to begin a collaboration with the editor of Rusty Truck, Scot D. Young. He is also an educator. He is a man who cares about children. He’s a man who loves poetry. In rural Missouri, he teaches a class of poetry to children who are stuck in a trauma loop. These kids are abused in ways we never want to imagine and what he has given them is a way to vent these atrocities and to make some sense of the good parts of their identity.
Scot had the students and I had a zine. We formulated something on the fly and got the kids to work. We reached out on Facebook to see if any folks were interested in receiving this work and we had 70 folks subscribe. DG has never been about making money and always about connection. The cost of a subscription covers the cost of basic materials and all the extras that come in the mail are my own donation. Keeping the zine inexpensive has meant accessibility to everyone. This first year we have had several benefactors who donated books for the kids, their time to educate them, funds to purchase new poetry to expand their horizons, and even money to buy food because these kids often don’t eat. Scot and I are forever grateful to these people who have opened their hearts.
Durable Goods #4 featuring Angel Hill went out earlier this month. This leaves 4 more issues for the year. The purpose of this post is to start generating interest for the 2022-2023 series of Durable Goods: The Missouri Collective. Subscription prices are based on the number of issues, which is based on the number of students in the class. I do send internationally, but this cost is a bit more. This year there were 8 students so the cost was $6.50 domestic, $13.00 international. I imagine the class size will be similar each year, but you never know how popular Scot will get.
There will only be 75 available subscriptions each year because I am a working woman with other creative projects and active endeavors. Currently, 25 of the 75 spots are already either verbally reserved or paid for. If you are interested in taking a chance on poetry from these teenagers and would like to be a part of the Durable Goods experience, you can send me an email about your interest. Please place “Durable Goods” in the subject line so I can properly file the email. You wouldn’t have to pay until the new cycle is about to begin. This is just a place holder. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read. Write. Be Kind to Each Other. Support Small Press.