The Diving Board of December
I’m not entirely sure how we find ourselves in December already. I bet you’re feeling the same way. And I bet we both felt this way last year, and the years before that. And yet, it still surprises, the year drawing to a close, the coming winter. Snow falls softly outside as I write this, our first of the season.
As a teacher, I’m always marking milestones. Each semester, I get the chance to start fresh with new groups of students and re-visioned syllabi, while we also consistently hurtle toward endings. I’m both hyper aware of the weeks as they pass and at the same time they blur by in a whirl of planning, presenting, conversing, listening, and evaluating. I’m glad when we also find time for celebrating the work we’re doing together. This fall, there’s a lot to celebrate. I’ve been teaching creative writing at Westfield State University and I’m in my eleventh year there, and I’ve had the pleasure of teaching poetry writing at Amherst College for the first time this autumn. In our final classes, we’ve been collaboratively generating new writing and reading aloud selections from what has been made in the months we’ve shared. It’s a blessing, and it feels more like we’re jumping off of diving boards than pulling doors closed. I’m so grateful for the students with whom I’ve spent this semester, for their bravery, imaginations, attentiveness, kindness, engagement, and wide-open hearts.
Speaking of celebrating, I’m looking forward to reading with Doug Anderson this Wednesday, December 14, at 7:00pm at the A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton for the launch of his new book, just after the first anniversary of my debut collection. We’d love it if you could join us for this in-person reading in a beautiful local space.
The publisher of my book Uncertain Acrobats, CavanKerry Press, is currently having a holiday sale during which you get 25% off select titles and receive a free mystery book with your purchase to keep or gift to a friend! My book is one of the titles on sale. You can’t go wrong with any CKP collection, so do check out their sale while it’s on this month.
And check out this conversation I had with rob mclennan for his “12 or 20 Questions” series that was published earlier this month, in which I talk about my first book, how I came to poetry, my influences and inspirations, what scent reminds me of home, and more! I’m grateful to rob for making the space for these wonderings and wanderings.
I’m also honored to have had my poem “Wycinanki” appear online in Hayden’s Ferry Review‘s fall 2022 web issue “Tiny Architectures”. “Wycinanki” is the Polish folk art of papercutting. This poem is a tribute to the couple who owned the row house in Northampton where I lived with my daughter Monica from when she was 1-5. Monica used to call our landlord “Old Friend”. They are now deceased, as is their son, who makes an appearance in the poem and became a friend of mine. The sleeping-on-cut-grass image I owe to my friend and Westfield State colleague Regina Smialek, who once told me a story of how she had done that while growing up in Poland.
May the end of your year be a springboard into a creative 2023, with new beginnings, soft landings, happy endings, and time and ample cause to celebrate along the way.
See you weds Rebecca! Stay warm.
Rebecca Hart Olander
You too – looking forward!
Many blessings for a very happy 2023!
Rebecca Hart Olander
Thank you, and same right back to you!