It’s been a rough year. Couldn’t we all use a joyride?
I am delighted to announce the arrival of my most recent book, Joyride, from Red Moon Press.
Hailed as “a triumph” and “a beautifully written book, fizzing with marvelous imagery, energy, joie de vivre,” Joyride: A Haibun Road Trip is a lively mashup of flash fiction, memoir, free verse poetry, and haiku – an expansive take on the Japanese hybrid genre of haibun – that unfolds in offbeat episodes from the road of life.
You’ll meet a colorful cast of characters, and motoring through the collection are the automobiles – food trucks, used cars, moving vans, and others – that take us where we want to go and bring us home again.
Read advance praise for Joyride and purchase your very own copy here.
I am deeply honored and humbled to have won the 2020 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies for my forthcoming full-length poetry collection In The High Weeds.
Here is competition judge and Colorado Poet Jared Smith’s commentary on my manuscript:
In The High Weeds is an extraordinary journey from youth to maturity through an immersion in art, mythology, and family memories that provide a path that glimmers and illuminates our lives through the darkness laid out beneath uncertain stars. It entrances me. The imagery is concise and brilliant, and the craftsmanship is masterful across a wide range of poetic styles as the poet explores the mysteries of childhood, the greater responsibilities and frightening shadows of adulthood, and the challenges of raising healthy children in an uncertain world. Even as, the poet writes, “Time rolls out and ebbs/and ebbs again until the shore is dry/as wasp’s wings,” we find ourselves lifted on the fragile latticework of those dry wings and transported through her words to a meditative understanding of the peacefulness of all things in balance. The poet nears closure with the magnificent poetic statement that “Now is the time to leave/and wander/to bow to the mountains/and breathe the wisdom/of saints and sages/to savor the sweet lantern light/of the pear tree/to shadow the river’s bending banks/and bathe in the petals/of the weeping cherry.” What a wonderful journey to take with a brave and compassionate guide.
To launch In The High Weeds, I will be featured in a reading from the book at the 2021 Convention of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies on Saturday, 12 June 2021 on Zoom. You can register for the conference here.
In The High Weeds will be published by mid-June. Watch here for more details.
My heartfelt thanks to Jared Smith for this honor, and to the NFSPS for offering this and other opportunities for poets across the U.S. to share their art.
I am honored and humbled to see one of my poems featured in former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s newspaper and online column, American Life in Poetry.
“Starry night” came to me in a flash and fully formed. And if the poem is “about” anything, it is this: the safe embrace of oaks and maples and beech trees scaffolding their branches into a haven from the world beyond.
And up above leafless limbs, stars spattered across the heavens like duff dropped on the forest floor, the vastness of the universe expanding me with wonder, and the present living moment holding hands with millions of years ago in the graceful give of acorns underfoot and tiny points of starlight overhead.
The poem was first published in Modern Haiku. My sincere thanks to editor Paul Miller for publishing the poem and to Ted Kooser for republishing it with his thoughtful commentary.
I’m honored to have won the Fall 2020 Sheila-Na-Gig Press Poetry Contest and to have had my poems “Seed,” “Roots,” and “Cut” published in the Fall 2020 issue of Sheila-Na-Gig online.
I am beyond honored for my poems to appear along with those of the poets whose work also appears in this issue of Sheila-Na-Gig online.
These distinguished writers hail from every corner of the U.S., and their poems traverse every field and canyon of the human condition – connection and lineage, brokenness and sorrow, the wonder of love and flowers, the rusty nails of our aching world.
Reading the work of these poets reminded me what a fearsome gift it is to know this thing we call the human heart.
My most sincere thanks to Editor Hayley Mitchell Haugen and Associate Editor Jessica Higgins. And congratulations of my fellow poets whose beautiful work also appears in this issue of the journal.
Home of Denison University, Granville is a beautiful town full of cultural and historical riches. I am excited to be able to live on the beautiful grounds of Bryn Du Mansion during my term of residency, October – November 2019.
The role of Artist-in-Residence at Bryn Du Mansion emphasizes community engagement through the arts. To that end, this fall I will present a series of public events that will feature poetry alone and in combination with music and visual art.
Here’s the lineup:
Poetry reading and community open mic at Bryn Du Mansion
Words and Music – a performance of new works by Denison student composers setting my poetry. Performers include Denison University music students and the world-renowned new music string quartet, ETHEL, Denison University’s Quartet-in-Residence.
Jazz Haiku @ Bryn Du – a cabaret-style event featuring a professional jazz trio’s improvisations in response to my experimental haiku, alongside an exhibition of my urban photographic haiga (haiku + photography)
Poetry writing workshops for senior citizens and for intermediate school students.
It is an extraordinary opportunity to serve the Granville community as Bryn Du Mansion’s first Artist-in-Residence. I am deeply humbled to have been selected for this role, and I am excited to make Granville my home this fall to get to know my new neighbors throughout the community.
I’m extremely honored to have been commissioned to compose a set of original poems as companion pieces for the baroque masterpiece The Four Seasons by Italian baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi. The commission is part of a multidisciplinary collaboration involving music, poetry and visual digital media art.
Each of the four violin concertos in The Four Seasons gives voice to a different season of the year. The concertos were published as a set with four corresponding sonnets, which might also have been written by Vivaldi when he composed the concertos around 1717.
My job is to write new poems on the inspiration of this venerable music and the sonnets that originally accompanied it, and to read my poems in a performance of The Four Seasons Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. at the Columbus Performing Arts Center on Columbus’ Sunday at Central concert series. The performance will feature members of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and will showcase a new multimedia artwork by Denison University art professor Christian Faur.
The sonnets that originally appeared with The Four Seasons describe some of each season’s typical natural phenomena – spring flowers, intense summer heat, autumn harvest, winter cold and ice. I aim to mine the depths of Vivaldi’s music and of the emotional associations the music conjures in the context of today’s world, and thereby build bridges between Vivaldi’s world and ours.
Here are violinist Dmitri Sinkovsky and the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra with a wonderfully brittle performance of the “Winter” concerto from The Four Seasons:
My sincere thanks to David Niwa, artistic director of Sunday at Central, for inviting me into this fascinating collaboration.
I am extremely honored to have been part of an epic performance recently that marked the culmination of an exciting new poetry and new music project.
Six new works of texted music were given their world premieres May 22, 2019 as the first of two concerts culminating a year-long project. In The Big SCORE, the Johnstone Fund for New Music commissioned six Columbus poets to collaborate in pairs with six Columbus composers and create six new poems in musical settings.
The Columbus contemporary music ensemble CODE (Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble) performed the world premieres of all six new works – including my poem Circles Against the Spin in composer Mark Lomax, II’s setting for narrator and chamber ensemble – on May 22 on the Garden Theater’s New Music at Short North Stage series, in Columbus.
The whole concert was a tour de force. CODE’s performances of all six new scores were stunning, the poets who performed their poems with CODE were all totally on, and the energy in the Garden Theater – raw, real, hip, and overwhelmingly positive – was truly incredible.
Zoe Johnstone’s idea for The Big SCORE was pathbreaking – to pair six Columbus poets with six Columbus composers, commission each pair to write a poem set to music, and see what happened. Zoe and Jack Johnstone selected the 12 artists for the project and, working with their advisors, paired us up.
The Johnstones and their advisors avoided what might have seemed the obvious poet-composer pairings, in the name of shaking things up to see what the resulting unusual collaborative duos would create. For instance, a poet who had collaborated many times with one of the composers in the project was intentionally not paired with that composer for The Big SCORE. The racial and gender diversity of the group of artists was also taken into consideration in making the pairings.
I was paired with Dr. Mark Lomax, II, the winner of a 2019 Governor’s Award in the Arts and a recent Artist-in-Residence at Columbus’ Wexner Center for the Arts. As I told the audience at the May 22 world premiere, Mark’s music for Circles Against the Spin “really found the heartbeat of my poem,” which is about how making a clover chain together weaves two girls into a childhood friendship that, in a very special way, survives the test of time and indeed grows stronger, despite distance and other trials of adulthood.
Mark’s music is playful and lovely and full of joy. And even in the poem’s middle section, where the trials of adulthood put physical distance between the two friends, Mark’s music never loses the youthful innocence that childhood friendships carried into adulthood often have. Listen to the world-premiere performance in the video above.
The other poet-composer duos of The Big SCORE consisted of Dionne Custer Edwards and Michael Rene Torres, the founder and conductor of CODE; Louise Robertson and Jennifer Merkowitz; Scott Woods and composer Jennifer Jolley (formerly on the faculty at Ohio Wesleyan University, currently on the faculty at Texas Tech University); Jeremy Glazier and Charlie Wilmoth; and Barbara Fant and Linda Kernohan.
These phenomenally gifted people are some of the artists who, along with creative pioneers Zoe and Jack Johnstone, are actually making new art happen in Ohio’s Cap City.
Kudos to my fellow artists of The Big SCORE, and deepest thanks to the Johnstones for making this incredible project happen for Columbus.
The next performance of The Big SCORE takes place Sept. 8, 2019 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, on the Sunday at Central concert series.
Please come, and bring a poem to share at the open mic.
Named after a fictitious novel that features in Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom, The Light of Seven Matchsticks blends literary class and sass with a mysterious vibe redolent of the 1920s Prohibition demimonde.
My husband and I are big, HUGE fans of Natalie’s and had heard tell of the speakeasy, so we decided to check it out one evening last summer.
True Prohibition-era speakeasies obviously didn’t have street signs, so we weren’t looking for one for The Light of Seven Matchsticks, either.
But we found the place, descended the charmingly nondescript outdoor staircase, peeked through the peephole in the frosted-glass front door (because you gotta), and stepped into one of the funkiest little places ever.
Inside, we made our way in the low, mysterious lighting to one of the velvet-lined booths, found the menu (that’s part of the fun), and enjoyed some nifty eats and drinks.
I was crunching on yummy duck fat popcorn when I said, “I’d love to do a poetry reading here.”
Fast-forward a few months: I message my friend Rikki, “There’s this great, funky place in Worthington I want to introduce you to.”
Rikki, who loves funkiness at least as much as I do, had heard of The Light of Seven Matchsticks but had never been there. So we met up for drinks and snacks after work.
“I’d love to do a poetry reading here,” I said.
“Let’s do a double feature,” Rikki said.
And here we are.
Please join us Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. at The Light of Seven Matchsticks.
All of the photographs in my haiga mini portfolio, “Ancient Days,” were shot in New Mexico, where earth is poetry in its own right. The haiga above, “waning summer,” shows a wall on a New Mexico pueblo crumbling “back to the earth.” The haiga below, “eroding hills,” depicts the skeletons of mountains that, eons ago, had been submerged in a vast inland sea, and that now stand, eroded and ghostlike, in the New Mexico desert.
In “dust devil,” an ant hill inspires a bit of word play.