In 2017, Women Speak, the literary portion of the Women of Appalachia Project, was one of the premier experiences of my poetic life. This project was created to address the often negative image of Appalachian women in our society. To quote founder Kari Gunter-Seymour, Poet-Laureate of Athens, Ohio,
"We believe that all women are capable, courageous, creative and inspired. We tell our stories through our art."
The project is celebrating its 10th anniversay. Now Ms.Gunter-Seymour has put together a collection of work from 90 women writers and artists from nine states, and oh, the stories they tell! I am humbled and honored to be one of the contributors to this remarkable collection. If you want to laugh, cry, cringe, and rejoice, and hear the unapologetic truth of being a woman in Appalachia, you must get this collection.
You can get it at Amazon here or go to the Women of Appalachia Project website and learn more about this worthwhile project.
Just a quick post to announce the Polar Vortex has iced the launch of The Curve of Her Arm scheduled for tomorrow night in Coshocton, at the Johnson-Humerickhouse Museum. Hope to reschedule soon! In the meantime, it is still available for purchase by leaving me a comment here and I will contact you, or at NightBallet Press.
After watching the birds gathering at the bird feeder today, I thought I'd share this winter poem with you:
Two grackles descended on the feeder by my window.
The day was bitter, and the snow deep on this,
their first visit to the establishment.
The finches flustered and blustered, most affronted by these leviathans.
The nuthatches honked up and down the trunk of a nearby maple,
And a lone chickadee cocked his head from a branch above,
as if to say, “Who are these clowns?’
The grackles jumped and swung on the feeder like two wild boys on monkey bars.
Suddenly one paused, looked in the window, and - I swear – winked at me.
Then with a flash of midnight blue, the two flew off seed in beak,
Leaving me with monkey bar dreams of my own.
After three years of work, this collaboration with my friend, Holli Rainwater, has finally come to fruition. I am thrilled to announce the publication of The Curve of Her Arm. The poems in this collection published by NightBallet Press are inspired by the practice of qigong, an ancient Chinese practice incorporating body movement, breath, and mindfulness.
Holli and I want to thank Dianne Borsenik of NightBallet Press for her care in creating this chapbook, as well as artist Becky Hernandez for her gorgeous artwork. If you can join us at our reading on January 31, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at the Johnson-Humerickhouse Museum in Coshocton, Ohio, we would love to meet you. We will be sharing poems and some of the related movements. The Curve of Her Arm is also available from NightBallet Press ($12), from Holli, or from me (see the Contact page on this website). Future readings will be posted on this website.
We hope our poems will compel you to, as Holli writes in the introduction, "feel, in a visceral way, our kinship with everything else in the natural order", to "subtly change our way of being in the world."
(See my February 27, 2015 post for "Three Rivers Qigong", a poem included in this chapbook.)
March is my birthday month and I have been given two unexpected but very appreciated gifts this month - publication in two stellar collections of poetry and story. Wow, what a privilege!
On March 11th, the Ohio Poetry Association launched its anthology, A Rustling and Wakening Within, a collection of ekphrastic poetry by Ohio poets, edited by Sharon Fish Mooney. This week, the Women of Appalachia Project released the chapbook, Women Speak, edited by Kari Gunter-Seymour. These two editors have worked tirelessly to produce works of quality. I am both humble and proud to be included in both.
For those who are unfamiliar with ekphrastic poetry, it is poetry based on another form of art, like a painting or piece of music. On the OPA website (https://sites.google.com/a/ohiopoetryassn.com/the-ohio-poetry-association/home) you will find additional information and see a link to the artwork referenced in the anthology.
The Women in Appalachia (www.womenofappalachia.com/women_speak.htm) poets are selected each year by jurors and agree to give presentations in the region to represent Appalacian women and their strength, intelligence, diversity and resiliency; to break the stereotype and celebrate who they are.
I hope you will consider purchasing one or both of these quality publications. Here are the links:
Exciting news! I am honored to have been chosen as a reader in the 2016/2017 "Women Speak", Women of Appalachia events. Here is a link to the details, time and place of the various events, and the list of amazing women who will be reading alongside me. Hope those of you in the region can attend one of these. I think it's going to be fabulous!
all but for a poem Inspiration is often found in the oddest of things:
Only the shell left of what you once were,
you crawl away to let wings dry then lift off
to court another of your kind. You are
no creature of instant gratification.
Seventeen years you grew under our feet,
until, as if by some silent signal,
you burst forth, en masse.
Red-eyed, lace-winged, resilient sapsucker,
you transcend time and darkness
to emerge into the light.
With one final rent, you shed
that which held you captive.
Into a world that had all but forgotten you,
you move in a sensuous, undulating hymn,
singing halleluiah to life, halleluiah to love.
Sing halleluiah, sing.
Two nights ago, our local library offered a program on "found poetry". A poem is formed by the taking the words of others (properly cited) from articles, books, or any other source you choose (one suggestion was fortune cookies) and composing a poem. It was a form I was not familiar with and decided to attend.
This program was for teens, although adults were also welcome. I'm afraid it was not well-attended, as the local teens usually interested in writing were busy with other commitments. I know that the two program leaders were disappointed, but in the end, the five of us that were there had a great time "finding" poetry in the materials that were provided for us. We had a lot of personal interaction and the experience spurred me on to continue the form at home.
Recently, I spent an overnight visit at Malabar Farms (home of Louis Bromfield) with three other writers and we spent several pleasant hours reading our poems to each other, listening to suggestions, and just talking about the local lit scene (and the world) in general. This was not a formal writers group-just some friends visiting another friend who had a reading in the area. Yet, once again, I took home some invaluable advice and insight into my work and poetry in general.
It doesn't take going to a major conference, or even joining a writers group-although these are both worthwhile endeavors-to get inspiration for your poetry. Sometimes it is where you least expect it, in the one-on-one contact with others of like mind, just sharing what they know, what they hear in your poetry, and what truths they have "found" in their own.
Turning 65 sucks. A lot. Yes, I know and appreciate all the blessings I have in my life - a loving husband, three great kids, seven perfect grandchildren (their parents just did an eye-roll), life on a land full of wonder and beauty - but none of that prepares you for the day mortality slaps you in the face. That day, for me, is today. I am now a Medicare maven. I know that I will never be on the Voice. I will most likely never walk the road to Santiago. My calves will never again look rockin' in a pair of three-inch heels. The Grim Reaper may not visit me for another 20 years, but there is a reminder on my neck and in my knees that the last 20 years, the 20 before that, and the 20 before that have flown by like snowbirds in RVs on I-75 in November.
I have spent the last few months of winter contemplating this event and, I have to admit, not exactly taking it like a champ, but here's the thing. Today, on the actual day, I am strangely serene, not celebratory, but accepting of this speed bump in my journey as I have made it over every other bump in the road of my life. I have my loved ones, some lovely friends, my garden, and my writing. And even though there is snow on the ground this morning, the sun is shining. It will soon melt; eventually spring will be here, then summer and fall, the earth continuing to turn with comforting surety. It is in our Mother planet that I find the most assurance. After all, look how old she is, and yet how beautiful. There may be some hope for me yet - I have a great teacher.
Photo courtesty of NASA