5:00 PM EST * Sunday 18 April 2021
Join me for Part 2 of this Reading + Open Mic series
on poetry’s role in civic engagement, and in the world at large.
This April 18 program features poets from the English Department at Old Dominion University:
Janet Bing * Robbie Ciara * Elaine Fletcher Chapman * Benjamin Naka Hasebe-Kingsley *
Drew Lopenzina * Kole Matheson * Kelly Morse * Renée Olander * Alison Reed *
Noah Renn * Tom Yuill * Tim Seibles
Register for the Zoom event here, or watch live from The Muse's FB event page.
Thrilled to be in this WILD & PRECIOUS LIFE Reading Program
with Randall Mann, Matthew Olzmann, and Nikki Wallschlaeger.
Joining link here.
Mark your calendars!
I have to thank my colleague Sheri Reynolds for sending the link to this global community poem/collaborative poetry project, "DEAR VACCINE" sponsored by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University & The University of Arizona Poetry Center.
The instructions are simple:
- You'll read the starter poem "Dear Vaccine" by Naomi Shihab Nye, then
- Add your own line/s in response to a specific prompt connected to the poem.
(The only "technical"-ish part of the instructions is to remember to put slashes where you'd put a line break.
Also - there was an odd last question about your "Spanish sentence" - I think you can type in any character because apparently it can't be left blank; I just typed in an asterisk.)
This is something I haven't done in such a long time - but friends and (former) students have asked me if I would, again—because they still remember the month of prompts I posted two, three years ago. So here is a list of (what will be) 30 prompts that I hope will be fun and productive. Come back to this post throughout April as I add to it.
Happy National Poetry Month, and happy writing !
1 Think of something you'd like to give to someone but can't, for whatever reason —distance, pandemic, separation, estrangement, falling out? or maybe just the ordinary silence of not having been in touch for a while. Write a poem about that.
2 I'm fascinated by words which look so much alike, but are separated in meaning by just one letter. For instance, world and word; laughter and slaughter; swarm and warm. Think of a pair and find a way to use it in a poem.,
3 There's so much in the news of late about racially motivated hatred and violence directed toward bodies perceived as "other" (black bodies, AAPI bodies). Write a poem of salve and healing for them; write a poem of shelter and care.
4 Write a letter-poem to a part of your body that you may have neglected for some time.
5 If a poem were a plant or animal that could regenerate itself, what would it be? If it doesn't exist in the world, can you imagine one and show readers what it's like?
6 In her book The Hour of the Furnaces, poet Renny Golden echoes the words of Cuban writer José Martí ("Now is the hour of the furnaces/ only light should be seen"), and uses the word acompañamiento to describe a solidarity based on the idea of "walking with" or "being with." Write a poem of solidarity without acrtually using the word solidarity; instead, find (or make up) a word or concept, image or description, that is more organic/indigenous to and respectful of what you describe in your poem.
7 I love the magic that metaphor makes happen. In part, this sense of magic is produced through a method I call surreal juxtaposition, when two or more unlike elements are brought into sharp and immediate overlay. I also see this used in surrealist art (like that by, say, Odilon Redon, Remedios Varo or Leonora Carrington). Clouds begin to float out of a wardrobe in "Mimetismo;" "The Eye, Like a A Strange Balloon, Moves Toward Infinity." Write a poem using surreal juxtaposition as a way of thinking about or showing its subject.
8 When my family and I visit Chicago (as we did two summers ago), we usually visit either the Art Institute or the Museum of Contemporary Art, or both. One work that struck me consisted simply of the phrase "time isn't real" painted across the canvas. Write a poem in which you play with time: indefinitely suspend it, advance it, slow it down, stop it, disguise it, randomize it... Open a poetry book to any page; incorporate in your own poem the line that you land on there.
9 Write a poem in which every line (or every other line) is a made-up title in an invented playlist. In the title of this poem, include what you've made such a playlist for.
10 Imagine that any one of the words we use today disappears from usage. As its curator or archivist, write a poem about some of the histories of this word.
11 Write a self-portrait poem, with some form of rescue in it.
12 Eggs are easy, a writer once told me (referring to her go-to for whipping up a fast meal out of practically nothing). What about a difficult (or complex) food? What would that be for you? Write about it.
13 Lucky, unlucky... Or just a baker's dozen? In grade school history classes, we learned about "Trece Martires" (13 Martyrs) - 13 Filipino patriots executed by the Spanish colonial government in 1896. In some countries, an end of year bonus given to government employees is sometimes called "13th month pay." Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13; and Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th. Write a poem on the number 13, incorporating a formal element that you might also build on the idea of 13.
14 Vintage postcards, old photographs, sepia-tinted portraits have an unmistakeable aura of "pastness" about them. Look for one such image (whether from family photo albums, or more randomly sourced). Write a poem in which you write yourself into the scene/write from inside of the image.
15. In "The Story of a Letter," Filipino writer Carlos Bulosan tells of a letter written by his brother Berto that took years to arrive at its intended recipient because the latter could not read English. The story of the letter's trajectory until its contents are finally decoded is a bittersweet reflection of the conditions faced by those who live in the diaspora. Write a letter-poem conveying some urgency you feel in the moment, even though you cannot be sure it will ever reach its destination.
I'm so excited to be rolling out one of my VA Poet Laureate projects, this one in conjunction with the Slover Library in Norfolk, VA: Poem-a-Day Virginia 2021. Please bookmark, read/discover a Virginia poet every day this April.
Starting on the 1st of April for 2021 National Poetry Month— I've had the privilege to curate a whole month of daily poems from VA poets: thank you to the wonderful poets who participated and made this all possible!
Here's the poem with which I kick off this year's NaPoMo series - "If I Could Bring You Things You Never Had."
Friends, please mark your calendars for the inaugural program in a Poetry & Conversation Series spotlighting Virginia poets, which I am hosting in my capacity as Poet Laureate of Virginia (2020-22).
At my swearing-in ceremony in late July, I'd mentioned my interest in programs/projects/collaborations that might contribute to a greater public awareness of the wealth and diversity of poetry/poets in Virginia. Surely, I said to myself, there are more poets here than there are listed, for instance, on this Wikipedia page. Surely, there are poets who are right in our communities, who we may (also? or only?) know as nurses or firefighters, elementary school teachers, runners, plumbers, or undertakers...
I'm excited to begin with this program at 6:00 PM EST on Saturday, 24 October - featuring 4 amazing poets: Latorial Faison, Kindra McDonald, Dr. Irène Mathieu, and Kiki Petrosino, (Joining links will be posted closer to the program date.)
(If you would like to recommend poets for potential inclusion in this series, please fill out the contact form here on my website.)
We're looking forward to the 43rd Annual ODU Literary Festival, this year offered as virtual programs from 4-8 October.
This year's theme is "Grit & Grace" - to honor writers, artists, and makers who give us the grace, even hope, living as we do in a world fraught with a myriad difficulties and challenges..
We have a lineup of AMAZING writers— so please mark your calendars and we will see you there!
4 October, Sunday
Thesis/Graduation Readings, Writers in the ODU MFA Creative Writing Program
5 October, Monday
Hanif Abdurraqib * Marie Mutsuki Mockett * Nishat Ahmed and Joanna Eleftheriou * Maggie Smith
6 October, Tuesday
Grace Talusan * Daniel Mueller * Marcel0 Hernandez Castillo
7 October, Wednesday
Jake Skeets * Rebecca Bengal and Luisa A. Igloria * Kishi Bashi in "Omoiyari:" A Musical Conversation
8 October, Thursday
Suzanne Strempek Shea * Aimee Nezhukumatahil
If you are in Hampton Roads, you can purchase these writers' books at the ODU Bookstore on Monarch Way.
June 1990 ~ My first published book, Cordillera Tales, Retold and Illusrated (in the picture above); I was all of 28, a very young instructor at the University of the Philippines in Baguio. Seven years prior, even younger (and a new mother to boot) I'd entered poems for the first time to the Palanca Literary Awards in the Philippines. To my great shock my entry won first prize. When Cordillera Tales came out, I wasn't even sure what "page proofs" or "royalty" meant.
September 18, 2020 ~ My newest book, Maps for Migrants and Ghosts, is scheduled for release from Southern Illinois University Press. Each book, and every book in between these 2, has been a leaving and a returning: to find and lose and find the self again.
In this strange pandemic time that we inhabit, as forests burn and deltas flood and winter comes to places that never knew it before, we count our daily dead, grieve everyone and everything that has passed too soon, and keep close what's most important (family, friends, community). It's heartbreaking work, this living we must do. And yet we do it, for all we love and hold sacred in the world.
I haven't given a thought to any book launches or readings yet, other than the one in a program shared with the brilliant Rebecca Bengal for the 43rd ODU (Virtual) Literary Festival (Wednesday 7 October at 4:00 PM EST).
But I hope you'll show this book some love—whether it's through personal purchase or through course adoption. Please try to purchase directly from SIU Press so as to keep low the number of books that might get remaindered. (And did you know? For poetry books, writers start earning 5% royalty only after a thousand copies have been sold).
And I look forward to the time, hopefully sooner rather than later, when we can all convene again in person and in the same space to laugh, hug, read and share poems,