March 30, 2017

In a city that loves the taste of marshmallow pies

Forage Poetry JournalI’m honored to have my poem “As the Story Goes” leading Issue 5 of Forage Poetry Journal on the poetry of personal myth.

My poem is inspired by and roughly modeled after Vandana Khanna‘s lovely poem “Insignificant Beginnings,” the first poem in her award-winning collection Afternoon Masala, which I reviewed here in the Daily News Journal in 2015.

I think this is a great poem to model as an exercise:

  • in the place you were born, what is loved? In Van’s poem, it’s “a country that loves the sound of vowels.” In my poem, it’s “a city that loves the taste of marshmallow pies” – a reference to Chattanooga, home of the MoonPie.
  • what might have been a sign of your birth?
  • what is something specific your mother might have been doing in the days before your birth? your father?
  • what are some of the origins you ultimately feel most linked to?

Remember, it’s your mythology, so don’t be too anchored to the facts.

Read “As the Story Goes”

For those of you who may be finding my work for the first time, thank you so much for reading. You can read more of my poems that have been published online here.  My chapbook is listed on Amazon, however, due to the death of my small publisher, I now have the only remaining new copies. You can order here in my shop.


In the dark may you see all you need…

candle-1280524_1280Today I’m glad to have two new poems online in the O Winter! issue of The Wild Word:

  • “There’s a God of False Starts and Tragic Mistakes” and
  • “In the Deep of Winter’s Forest”

Read the poems

For those of you who may be finding my work for the first time, thank you so much for reading. You can read more of my poems that have been published online here.  My chapbook is listed on Amazon, however, due to the death of my small publisher, I now have the only remaining new copies. You can order here in my shop.

If you’re in the middle Tennessee area, please consider coming out to Poetry in the Boro on Monday, January 23rd, where I’ll be a featured reader along with Joseph Powell.


Poetry in the Boro

Poetry in the Boro Open MicThe poetry scene in the greater Nashville area is incredible. I’m convinced a poetry addict can find an event or two to attend almost every night of the week. But you know what else can be incredible? Nashville area traffic. For those of us who live outside Davidson County, getting to and from events in Nashville is an exercise in unpredictability. One day you can do it in 35 minutes; another day add an hour or more to that time due to the excuse of the moment – a wreck, a rain shower, rubbernecking…

So I’ve been thinking for a while that Murfreesboro should be big enough to support its own poetry event, and I’m thrilled to announce that with the support of numerous folks, we’re going to make it happen! [Read more…]

Talking Social Media at Collective Impact

I’m excited to be leading four sessions at Collective Impact, the conference of the Tennessee Arts Commission, coming up in Murfreesboro June 7-10th. Three of those sessions will be related to making the most of your social media presence as an artist, educator, arts organization, or other constituent in the arts community. While we’ll be talking about different things in each session, there’s also some overlap, so feel free to attend what you can. Here’s some more information to help you decide which session(s) might be best for you. All of these sessions will be in Patterson C.

2:00 PM Tuesday - Making the Most of Your Time on Social Media

Focus: Content calendar and tools to help you schedule and monitor social conversations.

Whether you’re an artist or involved in an arts organization or project, social media may feel like the last thing you have time for – and you may sometimes wonder if it’s worth your time at all. In this session we’ll explore the latest online tools and proven strategies, such as content calendars, to help you better integrate social media into the business side of your art.

3:00 PM Tuesday – Defining and Measuring Social Media Success

Focus: Social media goals and the metrics to measure those goals.

Most of us are on Facebook, and some of us are on Twitter, Instagram, and more, but are we using those platforms as effectively as possible to promote our art or arts organization – and, just as importantly, to interact with the greater arts community? Do you have specific goals with regards to social media? If you don’t, what might  some goals be? And in what ways and with what tools can you measure social media success? In this session we’ll share ideas for taking our social media efforts to a new level – and measuring those efforts.

4:00 PM Tuesday – Saying Thank You, and Other Best Practices on Social Media

Focus: This is a “birds of a feather” peer to peer session, so we’ll definitely do a lot of sharing in this hour. What’s working well for you on social media? What gives you the most trouble? I’ll be sharing a “best practices self assessment” to get the conversation started.

On social media, do you make a point to interact with your followers? Are you taking part in the greater conversation with other artists and arts organizations? When someone retweets or mentions you on Twitter, do you say thank you? Do you have a consistent profile description and image across all your social accounts? Do you have a content calendar for planning what you want to share on social media? These are just some of the things we’ll discuss as we share best practices across social platforms.

While we’re talking social media, don’t miss this Tennessee Arts Commission page, which has information about tags to use and will have a live social feed during the conference.

So Long to the Good Old Moon

Life magazine article So Long to the Good Old MoonI’m delighted to announce my poem “So Long to the Good Old Moon” has found a home at Ascent literary magazine. This poem takes its title from a headline in the July 4, 1969 issue of Life magazine – one of a trio I have, thanks to some creative gift-giving by my daughter, covering the Apollo 11 mission.

As you’ll see, the poem itself has little to do with the moon, but it has a lot to do with giving up our old ways of thinking about things – or at least, my experience with that.

Read “So Long to the Good Old Moon” in Ascent

Incidentally, one of these Life moon issues also includes James Dickey’s poem, “The Moon Ground” which was commissioned by ABC. You can see James Dickey reading it here.
Ascent has been in publication since 1975, switching to an online format in 2010.

Station Eleven: Beauty in a Ruined World

One mark of a good book is whether it entices me to explore subjects I initially find unappealing. By that measure and others, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, is a haunting success. Read my review of this 2014 National Book Award finalist here in the December issue of the Murfreesboro Pulse.

Speaking of Marvels, and Other News

Here' where I've spent much of my summer, with my basset hound who thinks he's a lap dog, and a stack of good books!

Jane Austen once wrote in a letter, “What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” As I write this, we’re having a heat and humidity spike in middle Tennessee that’s typical for August, and I feel quite inelegant indeed. For the most part, though, it’s been a remarkably lovely, oh-so-temperate summer here. Consequently I’ve been doing a lot more porch-sitting than blogging (and looking quite elegant in my beloved wicker porch swing, I’m sure. Uh-huh.)

So, that’s my excuse this time. But I’m back, and expect to be back again soon, and often, through the fall. Here’s what’s going on:

First, I’m honored and delighted to be featured in an interview on William Kelly Woolfitt’s Speaking of Marvels, a blog project dedicated to “chapbooks, novellas, and other shorter forms.” Will sent over a passel of great questions for me to choose from. I’m very grateful to have the chance to share some thoughts about

  • the genesis of my chapbook
  • how I organized my chapbook
  • my experience – and advice – with regards to publishing and promoting a chapbook
  • the relevance of the chapbook in an increasingly digital world
and more. Check it out here – and go on over to Will’s personal site to learn more about his own poetry and prose.

Second, I’ll be having more poetry book giveaways soon! [Read more…]

And the Winners Are…

Ooh! It is May! May 4th, soon to be May 5th, and I’ve been dallying around in the real world when I should have been online, drawing a winner for the Big Poetry Giveaway! I do have good excuses, including:

  • the fine, fine weather here in Tennessee,
  • the delicious bloom of the honey locust,
  • an early morning trip to Nashville to hear one of my writing idols, Wendell Berry, who I now adore even more, after seeing him in person
  • being unable to put down one of the World Book Night selections a friend gave me, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (I finished it in a marathon session in the porch swing this afternoon)

But – you don’t want excuses – you want to know who won should be watching their mailboxes for poetry.

So, I determined a winner by numbering the comments, then using a random number generator, and here’s what happened:

The winner of our grand prize – the Lisa Coffman book, plus chapbooks by Sandy Coomer and myself –  is #23, Michael A. Wells. Yes, a guy with my own last name. And with my husband’s first name. Yes, dear readers, I know this looks fishy, but I took it to be providential.

And then I thought we should have another winner or two, because, as I always say, why not spread that poetry love? Those winners are:

#4 Rebecca Loudon and #7 Allyson Whipple. Rebecca and Allyson, you’ll be receiving a copy of my chapbook and CD.

It’s been so nice to have people from all around the country – and the world – visit and express an interest in poetry. For you fellow writers, I look forward to keeping a watch out for your writing and blogs. Thanks again to Kelli Russell Agodon for curating this year’s contest!


Middle Tennessee Poetry News

We’re well into National Poetry Month, and besides the Big Poetry Giveaway happening on my blog (and many others), I have more poetry news to share, with a focus on middle Tennessee:

The first of two double page spreads on poetry in April's Inside Brentwood Magazine. That's me in the top left picture, reading Lisa Coffman's LESS OBVIOUS GODS.

First of all, my friend and fellow poet Sandy Coomer has the article “April: A Time for Poetry”  in Inside Brentwood Magazine. In addition to discussing the importance of poetry and National Poetry Month, Sandy also covers many middle Tennessee poets and poetry events, including – with photos – the poetry open mic group at Landmark Booksellers and the Nashville Poetry Meetup Group. I’m especially glad to see two of my former MTSU Writer’s Loft mentees, Walker Bass and Kelly Bills, pictured.

Next, I’m glad to have the article “A Trio of New Books for National Poetry Month” in The Murfreesboro Pulse. If you’ve read my Big Poetry Giveaway post, it won’t surprise you one bit that one of the books I briefly review is Lisa Coffman’s newest, Less Obvious Gods. I also review Irene Latham’s latest, The Sky Between Us, and the sure-to-become-a-classic, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee. Read a much more in-depth review of the anthology in the article, “New Anthology Spotlights Tennessee Poets,” from Chapter 16. I’m delighted to have a poem in this anthology from Texas Review Press.

MTSU poets Gaylord Brewer, Marcus Jackson and Matthew Brown are featured in April's Murfreesboro Magazine.

And that’s not all! There’s also a nice article by editor Laura Beth Payne in April’s Murfreesboro Magazine about the latest happenings of three poets affiliated with MTSU: Gaylord Brewer, Marcus Jackson, and Matthew Brown. I don’t think the article is online, but here’s an image from the MTSU Department of English blog.

Finally, I want to mention two more blogs related to Tennessee poetry:

The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee is one of the books mentioned in April's issue of The Murfreesboro Pulse.

    • The My Name is Tennessee blog hasn’t been updated in a few months, but I’m hoping its author will continue her mission of sharing and writing about poems by Tennessee authors. She’s already featured some of my favorite Tennessee poets, but as the above mentioned anthology establishes, there are many more poets to feature. (I was honored for her to share one of my poems in the post “Kory Wells: Mixing Past and Present” , although, to be clear, she’s not talking about verb tense, although I probably do that sometimes, too.)
  • Poet and professor of English Jeff Hardin, another fellow middle Tennessean, blogs about poetry and specific poems by writers from across the state and nation. Poets will find careful, detailed analysis, insight and ideas for their own poems here on Jeff’s blog. Several of his recent posts have focused on the first poems of various poet’s collections.

Are there other blogs by or about Tennessee poets that you read? Or other recent articles about middle Tennessee poets? Please share them in the comments!

The Big Poetry Giveaway

Leave a comment and be entered to win in the 2014 Big Poetry Giveaway.

It’s April, it’s finally spring in Tennessee, and it’s National Poetry Month – all great reasons to emerge from my blogging hiatus and participate in this year’s BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY being curated by Kelli Russell Agodon. Be sure to visit Kelli’s blog for a list of all the blogs participating in this event.

How it works: I’m supposed to give away my own book and a copy of a poetry book I really love. I’m also throwing in my poetry and roots music CD and another chapbook from a fellow Tennessee poet. And for all that value, all you have to do is leave a comment below and hope to be the lucky winner at the end of the month. (And do a giveaway on your own blog, if you’re so inclined.)

Something about me (per the Poetry Giveaway guidelines): My bachelor’s degree is in computer science and I work in technology, so I tend to be very logical, and therefore my poems – especially my drafts – tend to be very logical, orderly, if-this-then-that creations. This is not necessarily awful, but it’s also not necessarily good. While I know that the “unexpected” in a poem is often a great part of its delight and power, it’s often one of the hardest things for me to achieve. [Read more…]