Boston Area Poetry Readings for December 2016 and January 2017

Without further ado I present the latest missive from poet Daniel Bouchard: a listing of most of the poetry happenings in Boston and environs. All towns are in Massachusetts except where noted. Give the gift that keeps on giving, and help a starving poet or two and buy their book. They make great holiday presents and the Muse will love you.

Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 pm
Adam Scheffler and Clint Smith
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge
Free parking available in garage accessed from Broadway

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for December 2016 and January 2017”

Back to School: Boston Area Poetry Readings for September and October, 2016

In August, I lean and loaf at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass. In September we stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store / and the gas station and the green market and

then we make time for poetry.

The listings below will bring you right through to Halloween. As always, thanks to my informant Daniel Bouchard for compiling this list.

Sunday, September 11, 2 pm
Plein Air Poetry Walk
Ellie Coolidge-Behrstock, Zachary Bos, Lucinda Bowen, Polly Brown, Helen Marie Casey, David Davis , Linda Fialkoff, Lynn Horsky, Terry House, William Lenderking, Moira Linehan, Franny Osman, Dawn Paul, Mary Pinard, Joanne DeSimone Reynolds, Susan Edwards Richmond, Hilary Sallick, Georgia Sassen, bg Thurston
Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio
Harvard, MA Continue reading “Back to School: Boston Area Poetry Readings for September and October, 2016”

Dispatches From an MFA Program: The First Packet

Creating my very first packet for the Lesley low-residency MFA program was both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s difficult to get over that voice of self-doubt in the back of my head, the one that says both “your work must be perfect” and “your work will never be perfect.” In one of her seminars, Erin Belieu observed that the voice of self-doubt is just as much ego as the voice of complacency and overconfidence. And it’s impossible to get into the flow state so necessary for writing when the ego is up.

Listening to the program’s professors reflect on their own practices as writers was a tremendous help to me. In a getting-to-know-you session with our mentors, I asked “what was the most difficult poem you wrote?” Their thoughtful answers led to some wonderfully deep discussions about the very reasons for writing. My mentor Sharon Bryan made a comment about a poem’s emotional truth that resonated with me. Even though poetry is a powerful tool that uses words in semi-rational ways to appeal to that emotional mind, it’s not something I’d ever heard talked about in previous workshops.

I came to Lesley with a certain amount of emotional baggage.  Continue reading “Dispatches From an MFA Program: The First Packet”

April 2016 Poetry Readings in Boston MA and Environs

NOTE: You can find an updated version of these listings here.

April is National Poetry Month, which means that readings and classes abound. Here are my top picks:

Listings follow. All venues are in Massachusetts (USA) unless otherwise noted: Continue reading “April 2016 Poetry Readings in Boston MA and Environs”

Boston Area Poetry Readings for January and February 2016

January always feels like a holiday hangover to me. So far, the temperatures are bracing cold and the skies clear — two good signs after last February’s record snowfalls. Please Skadi, send us enough snow for snowshoeing and not enough for epic shoveling. Daniel Bouchard sets us back on the path of poetry with the listings below. All locations are in Massachusetts (USA) unless otherwise noted.

My poetry workshop in Roslindale, MA also reconvenes in February. Priced for starving poets, focused on generating new work.

Friday, January 8, 7:30 pm
Dan Johnson, Deborah Melone, and Jan Schreiber
Chapter and Verse
Loring-Greenough House
12 South Street
Jamaica Plain Centre

Saturday January 9, 3 pm
Elizabeth J. Coleman and David Berman
Powow River Poets Reading Series
Newburyport Public Library
94 State Street
Newburyport, MA
Free and open to the public

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for January and February 2016”

"The Kitchen Poem" in the Summer 2015 Issue of Dirty Chai

This spring I was delighted to learn that “The Kitchen Poem” had found a home at Dirty Chai Magazine. I missed the issue when it came out, so here it is now. Here’s a PDF download of the Summer 2015 Issue of Dirty Chai.

And since it’s more 90 days since it appeared there, here’s a reprint:

The Kitchen Poem
for Adrienne Rich

A kitchen is where a woman belongs sometimes
not because I should cook for you

but because here when one sits at the table
with a bowl of something one realizes
what it is to slow down

Because here there is always food
and yet I can go hungry

Because there is a smell of things cooking,
and the smell is good.

Because I can spread tablecloths
and be unmolested.

Because God loves a kitchen
and I feel powerful here.

Because a kitchen is where civilization began.

Because some men are shy of the kitchen
and those men I can do without.

Because kitchens come in many shapes and sizes.

Because Allen Ginsberg never wrote a poem about a kitchen.

Because in a kitchen, a woman can take what has been
dismembered,
                        forgotten
                                             and remember it.

Because in a kitchen we put things together
that have been cut apart
and call it food.

Interview with Poet Lesley Wheeler, Author of Radioland

Photograph of poet Lesley Wheeler

A much-decorated poet and academic, Lesley Wheeler’s accolades include a Fulbright scholarship, an NEH grant, the Barrow Street Poetry Prize, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award Honor List, and publication in many prestigious journals, including Poetry and Slate. She teaches English at Washington and Lee University and is an active member of the WOM-PO Listserv, an email discussion group for women poets that’s been around since before blogging and social media overtook online community platforms like Listservs. Her third book of poetry, Radioland, came out in October 2015. In spite of her rise to fame in recent years, Lesley remains a warm and generous correspondent. She took the time to answer some questions about her latest book, the po-biz, and the difference between writing and publishing.

Cover image of Lesley Wheeler's third book of poetry, Radioland
Radioland, Lesley Wheeler’s third book of poetry

You’ve gotten a lot of recognition for your work in the past few years. How have these changes in your career affected your writing?

It’s funny how happiness works—successes don’t warm you for long but difficulties worry you constantly. The life change came with my first two books, Heathen in 2009 and Heterotopia in 2010. Suddenly I felt able to call myself a poet. After the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize, people seemed to take my work more seriously. The judge, David Wojahn, is highly respected by other writers, and that made a difference. “Fulbright” is a magic word—as well as representing an amazing opportunity—but I won that for scholarly, not poetic, research. My scholarly credentials remain fancier than my poetic ones and the two networks have surprisingly little overlap. In fact, having a foot in both worlds invites suspicion from both sides.

Continue reading “Interview with Poet Lesley Wheeler, Author of Radioland”

"Grief Ambition Knot of Self" Published in the Fall 2015 Issue of Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing

My poem “Grief Ambition Knot of Self” appears in the Fall 2015 issue of Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing. Many thanks to Jacinta White for her work on The Word Project and Snapdragon.

grief, ambition, knot of self that won’t untangle, fear of my own
banked fires, caught between frost and sunshine, caught between

Read the entire poem here

Literary Pursuits or Lack Thereof

I try to cut myself a break in the summer. It’s natural to slow down a little when the weather is hot and the sun is plentiful. And while I’ve spent plenty of time sitting in the garden and bobbing in the ocean, I’ve also been keeping my hand in the game. Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far this summer:

  • Started a poetry workshop that ran from late June to early August. The next term starts in September. I’m in the early stages of publicizing it.
  • Submitted individual poems to an average of five publications or contests a week and had five pieces accepted. I expect a 20:1 ratio of rejections to acceptances, so this is better than expected. Twenty-one other journals are still reviewing my submissions on Submittable.
  • Sent my manuscript Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore to a few different small presses, some of which were running contests.
  • Published two articles over at Gender Focus. The most recent is an essay about Princess Leia, my first feminist role model. Yes, I like science fiction. Don’t judge me. I’ll repost it here once it’s been up on Gender Focus for a while.
  • Typed and revised at least a few poems.
  • Started the MFA application process. Even though I don’t plan to start a program until summer of 2016, one of the programs I visited asked me to start a file with them now. In spite of my chops, I found filling out the initial application form incredibly daunting. It took me about three weeks to send it in.
  • Finished a review copy of Tawnysha Greene’s gorgeous and devastating new novel A House Made of Stars. I’m in the process of conducting an author interview.

Maybe that’s enough.

 

Ebb and Flow, Walking the Po-Biz Labyrinth

Since I stopped posting drafts of poems to this blog, I find myself writing fewer drafts of poems. The instant gratification of a blog can become addictive, but without a workshop or some other audience — some other incubator of the work– my poetry becomes like a tree falling in a forest. Of course, the squirrels and sparrows and voles are there to hear the tree falling, but they don’t really give very productive feedback. Neither do the random strangers who click “like” when I post an unformed draft.

Going back to Barbara’s workshop would help, and I’ve been taking some baby steps in that direction. I rearranged my schedule so that I might go, but I still need to take the plunge, make the call, set the date that I will return. And figure out how to pay for it.

Photograph of a turf labyrinth
Walking the Po-Biz Labyrinth

Poetry seems like such a slow crawl right now — like that point in a labyrinth when you see the goal in sight, but turn away from it on your journey toward it. It’s not that I’ve been stagnant, it’s just that generating new work has taken a back seat to polishing old work and sending finished work out to journals. Submitting work is strangely exhausting. It gets easier with time, and then again it doesn’t. But I need to trust that there’s no wrong turning, that there’s only the inexorable journey toward the center.

Continue reading “Ebb and Flow, Walking the Po-Biz Labyrinth”