From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Month in Review

     April, National Poetry Month, was a wild whirlwind for me. In large part because I am buying and selling homes (an ever so daunting task) and started a new part-time job, but every year I am pretty busy during the month of April.

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     Since I was too busy/ distracted/ frazzled to post about the literary related events I did make it to as I attended them, I will recap them for you know. 

     I ushered in the month by serving as a judge at a high school nearby participating in the National Poetry Out Loud Contest. A blast! The first Wednesday evening of the month I can almost always be found at the hoot, a reading sponsored by the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program. I was there to cheer on all of the surviving past laureates of our city. Six talented individuals I count as friends.

     That Friday evening, after a couple of exciting days overseeing mold mitigation, I traveled to Maine with my dear friend, the poet Kate Leigh, and at a school that my children attended when they were small, I heard Naomi Shahib-Nye read her work. I was very inspired, by her words as well as the work she had been doing that week. My dream job is to mentor child poets so what she had been doing was special to me. It was clear she was the perfect poet for that residency. I was inspired to write a poem right there in the balcony, and Naomi had read and responded to it by the end of the weekend. A bit of a thrill!

       On Saturday April 12th I was one of nearly a hundred guests at the 90th birthday party thrown by and for my poetry mentor Pat Parnell. We spent the afternoon reading poems to her which was just what she wanted.

       The very next day I took another ride to my Alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, where I heard Sharon Olds talk about and share her work. I wasn't very familiar with her work before I went, but I have been studying since. I have been particularly impressed with the courage her writing reflects. Such powerful words coming out of such a little pixie. I don't think I have what it takes to write about the Pope's penis. Her works really is a force of its own

        The following week I made it to Beat Night for a bit (another monthly event in my town where poets read to improvised musical accompaniment), and participated in my "Creation Circle", a volunteer gig I am doing with five other women. (See www.pplp.org for more info). That always results in me pushing my pressing prose work aside to create new poems. 

        A lot of work went into the next gig which I've written about in previous posts, where I read two poems by Alice Dunbar-Nelson and read two poems I had written in response to her. Learned a lot with that project. Next there were two readings to launch The Widow's Handbook, a recently released anthology that includes my work. One reading was in my home town, and the other was in Salem, MA at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. I spent the day there attending two other workshops, and hearing the headliners for the last day who were Lucie Brock-Broido, David Ferry, and Rhina Espaillat.

      Another Saturday afternoon I left town with a couple of friends to go hear a talk and reading by Lois Lowry. Just wonderful! An entire theatre filled with people of all ages who'd come to hear a writer talk.

       Every other Sunday ends with a meeting of my writing critique group, and last of all (I think) was another volunteer gig I always enjoy, talking with high school students about being a writer. I worked with two classes at Oyster River High School which was a pleasure. I didn't expect that a young man would come up to me after class to shake my hand and complement my work.

      I have also been busy with a volunteer job I perform twice a year coordinating the National Poetry Contest sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. The deadline for your poems to arrive in my mailbox is May 15th. I'd love to hear from you.

     And now, back to my boxes...

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