I’m writing from a mixed place of anger and grief as well as one of joy-seeking. When the semester wraps for me, my own reading and writing is able to take a seat at the table for a season, and that’s where I’m at, soaking in a beautiful spring that feels fleeting and like it is spooling out generously all at once. But this May is darkened by war continuing to rage in Ukraine and, here at home, a siege on reproductive rights for women while at the same time we have failed once more to protect children and teachers from being murdered at their elementary school and Black people from being murdered while shopping. It’s a lot to take and take in, and poetry is once again one of the only things that helps me to process such violence. Some poems that have been speaking to me are “Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz” by Matthew Olzmann, “Just before twenty-five fourth graders crouched beneath a table to be instructed on the imperatives of silence and calm,” by Martha Silano, “Green Means Literally a Thousand Things or More,” by Matt Donovan, “26” by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and “The Gun Joke” by Jamaal May. Not “speaking to” as in solace, but as in urgency, as in response, as in adding something constructive into the void.
Usually I post here to share writing news, and I will. We need to let the light in beside the darkness, not to ignore the “rough winds,” but to appreciate that we get to live, to try to live fully, to strive for balance. Reading poetry in community has been a balm. Earlier in May, I read for Straw Dog Writers Guild in their “Writers Night Out/In” series (see the recording here) and was interviewed by Mark Luebbers for their blog feature “Author Interview Showcase.” I was also able to read in my hometown at the Sawyer Free Library (where I worked as a teen) with Jennifer Martelli (my book is at the library beside her gorgeous new Queen of Queens below). And here’s an Instagram post from the host, The Bookstore of Gloucester, featuring my book on their doorstep with other collections by local authors.
I have two readings coming up this week: Tomorrow, June 1, I’m reading with Doug Anderson at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA at 8:30 (open mic at 7:30), and Sunday, June 5, I’m reading with several poets at the amphitheater at Roseland Park, 205 Roseland Park Rd, in Woodstock, CT.
And a generous literary citizen posted this picture on Instagram of the books she bought from McNally Jackson Seaport Bookshop in NYC, where I read last November and left some signed copies for their shelves. It was pretty thrilling to know someone had gotten one, let alone in the good company of Diane Seuss, Victoria Chang, Ocean Vuong, and others. Thank you, Erica Abbott! Swoon!
Finally, I was pleased to learn that my book Uncertain Acrobats was named a 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist by the Eric Hoffer Project! This means my collection was one of about 200 honored in this way – it was in the top 10% of 2,000+ entries in all genres. Thanks to them and to all of you for giving my book its sea legs, and me too, through these beautiful but storm-tossed waters that are our life together on this planet. I’ll close with Shakespeare again and ask you to remember that “summer’s lease” is “all too short” – I hope you can soak in the sun alongside all the rest of what there is. Be well.