April 18, 2014

The Next Big Thing: Is There Still a Novel in This Poet’s Future?

When my writing friend Candace White of aintgotenoughgravy blog fame asked if she could tag me for “The Next Big Thing” blog hop, of course I said yes. After all, 2012 was a good year for my writing life. Decent Pan of Cornbread, my spoken word and old-time music CD with Kelsey Wells, came out, and I had a bit of other poetry and nonfiction published in various places. Similarly, 2013 is off to a good start. I’ve been writing almost every day and am looking forward to a couple of publications this spring.  So I must have a Next Big Thing to talk about, right?

Ummm, sure!

In truth, my Next Big Thing – in the form of a completed novel – has been lurking on the lower shelf of the coffee table in my office for a few years now. [Read more...]

Poetry Book Giveaway and Talk with Irene Latham, The Color of Lost Rooms

I’m not sure if it’s a late new year or an early Valentine’s here on my blog, but I’m excited to be celebrating any day with a poetry book giveaway. The book is THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS, a new collection from Irene Latham.

The Color of Lost Rooms by Irene Latham

In The Color of Lost Rooms, author Irene Latham examines themes of love and loss through art, history and nature.

I’m a big fan of Irene’s first full-length poetry collection, WHAT CAME BEFORE, which was named Alabama State Poetry Society’s Book of the Year and earned a 2008 Independent Publisher’s (IPPY) Award. More recently, she’s been attracting a lot of attention with her debut midgrade historical novel LEAVING GEE’S BEND (G.P. Putnam, 2010), a Depression-era story that stole my heart – and, perhaps more significantly, Booklist called “authentic and memorable.”

Imagine how the cup/misses the weight of tea Irene writes in “Blue Still Life,” one of the poems in THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS. These lines hint at much of what this book is about: love and loss, desire and duty, regret and the return of hope. But if this book is about life and love, it’s of art and history and nature. After I read the book, I was very curious to learn more about the genesis of many of these poems, and Irene graciously answered a few questions. [Read more...]

MTSU Writer’s Loft Graduate: "Well-Directed Program, Wonderful Mentors"

Poets & Writers just published their rankings of both traditional and low-residency MFA programs for creative writing. I confess, I took a peek. The idea that I somehow need an MFA nags at me ever so often, although to date I haven’t quite mustered any full-board justification or enthusiasm for starting to file my applications. But as I scanned the rankings, something unexpected caught my eye.

It was an eight point – disclaimer, if you will – posted in the rankings’ Guide to the Methodology. (Scroll down in the guide to find this section.) It’s worth reading all eight points, but in the interest of brevity I’ll repost only the first one:

(1) MFA programs are not for everyone, and many poets and writers will find their energies better spent elsewhere as they attempt to explore and augment their existing talents;

I’m glad to see P&W acknowledging this truth and making the other recommendations they do, including #5, don’t go into debt for an MFA.

The Writer's Loft at MTSU

Click the image above to visit The Writer's Loft Facebook page.

P&W‘s comment offers a great segue for me to talk about The Writer’s Loft Program at Middle Tennessee State University. The Writer’s Loft is a low-residency certificate program in creative writing that is built around two main components: orientation/workshop weekends and one-on-one mentoring. (Full disclosure: I am a new mentor in this program, although I’ve been a fan a long time. I am not one of the “wonderful mentors” mentioned below.)

Sandy Coomer is a recent graduate who’s representing the Loft well: [Read more...]

Where Have I Been? Writing More Than I Thought About a Creative Life

Kory and Kelsey Wells perform poetry and old-time music.

One excuse I haven't been blogging: Kelsey and I do our best rock star imitation at a recent poetry/old time music performance. Tens of thousands of chanting fans not pictured.

So, when I last posted in late April, I really wasn’t planning to take off from blogging for the entire extended summer! But here we are in September, and I find myself with plenty of ideas to share with you. First, though, I’ve realized I should cross-link to some of my posts on the Risk a Day blog, where I did NOT take a summer vacation. Here are several which relate to writing and/or living a creative life:

  • A Daily Audacious Goal: Can I Do It? Can You?
    Twice in recent months, I’ve heard people mention a commitment to daily goals which struck me as totally audacious. First, my mentor Bill Brown mentioned that he and his friend Jeff Hardin were writing and exchanging a new poem EVERY DAY. That’s my emphasis, not Bill’s. Every day? How in the world? I thought.  [Read more...]

Our Lady steps out in faith…into the blogosphere

I first started writing creatively nine years ago this month.  I am sure of this because my youngest child started kindergarten that year. Theoretically, I thought, I should have a little more free time now that he was in school everyday, so I seized the opportunity to take a creative writing class in the continuing education at MTSU (similar classes now offered through The Writer’s Loft at MTSU).

Now, as that youngest child is a 5′ 11″, deep-voiced man-child starting high school and our oldest is going off to college, I have two new children: my first collection of poetry is coming out this fall, and my husband and I have purchased a little “fixer-upper” house to be a writing retreat and, perhaps in a few years, our full-time retirement home.  Between those projects, family obligations and my “real” job, I have no business starting a blog. None whatsoever. If I had any spare time, I should be using it to clean off my desk. Improve my aerobic fitness. Scrapbook eighteen years’ worth of family photos. Call my mother.

But no. Here I am, drawn to the page in yet another of its incarnations. [Read more...]