Since this is National Poetry Month I've decided to stop fretting over it and just go with it.
This push back to poetry was ushered in when I was asked not too long ago to serve as a judge in the Poetry Out Loud competition at a local high school. So many powerful poems delivered so eloquently! Soon after, I was invited to visit another high school's poetry class to read my own work and mentor the students for an afternoon.
At about the same time I was asked to work with a group of interested adults in something called a Creation Circle, part of a multi-month project designed by my city's current poet laureate. Her project has really reengaged my brain in making new poems. In fact, I find myself frustrated that I do not have more time to devote to the work we are doing.
I was also asked to participate in other public readings this month. Two are to launch and celebrate The Widows' Handbook, a new anthology that I am thrilled to be included in.
Another is new and exciting to me, and at least has some bearing on the novel I have been distracted from. Hosted by The Seacoast African American Cultural Center I will be one of twelve writers participating in a panel called "What Langston Heard: Seacoast Poets Read and Respond to the Work of 12 Harlem Renaissance Poets". I am exploring the work of Alice Dunbar Nelson.
And best of all, because it is National Poetry Month, I get to hear many other wonderful poets read and share their own work. Last week, I had the privilege of hearing visiting poet Naomi Shahib Nye share her work and found her having a strong influence on me. I loved the humor and humanity in her words, and that she shares my avoidance of formality. I began penning a poem in the balcony before her reading was even over, and by Sunday morning (through a mutual friend) she had read and responded to the first draft. She said she loved it. That was kind of her. I know it is still a troubled poem (like this stage of life I'm struggling through right now) but that I will work it out in time. I believe she saw the potential in it though. It was a thrill to have her read and respond to it. And I hope she knows what a gift it is for one writer to influence another to create something they never would have had she not given of herself in the first place.
I am giving over the month of April to do all that I am being called to do, it so clearly filled with surprises. A little lush lawn where poems I hadn't planned to write have been hidden like beautiful and fragile little eggs. I'll seek them out, one by one, and get back to my novel when the gathering feels done.
1. Thursday evening 4/24 What Langston Heard: Seacoast Poets Read and Respond to the Work of Harlem Renaissance Poets
7-9 PM, Kittery, ME Recreation Center (donation suggested)
2. Wednesday evening 4/30 Book Launch and Reception for The Widows' Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival
6:30-8 PM Portsmouth, NH Public Library (free admission)
3. Sunday 5/4 Mass Poetry Festival (This is a major conference.) Another reading for The Widows' Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival
12-2 PM Hawthorne Hotel Salem, MA. (probably not free) The roster of poets will be different than in Portsmouth.
Link to the festival: http://masspoetry.org/category/2014-festival/
Link to TWH: http://www.widowshandbookanthology.com/