I’m excited to be taking part in the Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax, VA, in a few weeks. I’ll be reading with two other George Mason University alumni, Matt Burriesci and Alyson Foster, on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 6 pm in the Center for the Arts on the GMU campus.
I can remember attending the earlier (and smaller!) Fall for the Book festivals in the early 2000s in downtown Fairfax and on campus, including an award for Tobias Wolff, a poetry reading by the late Reetika Vazirani, and the hilarity of Julianna Baggott. I’m honored to be a part of the festival and looking forward to revisiting the DC area.
First of all, I’m thrilled that the Kenyon Review Online is featuring a poem of mine, “Kant the Nephrologist,” in their current issue. My apologies to Cincinnati doctor Dr. Shashi Kant, whose name I heard butchered in a medical building check-in line, and to whom I owe the poem’s concept.
The KROnline site features an audio version of me reading the poem, and so I wanted to share a few other multimedia goodies with you. The first is a recording from the Performance and Time Arts series in Cincinnati (which brings together dance, music, poetry, and performance). The March performances featured a song cycle composed by Sarah Hutchings (also the pianist in the recording) and sung by soprano Alexandra Kassouf. The text of the cycle was two of the poems from Full Cry, “Clear and Cold” and “Evening Star.” I had goosebumps as I listened to the performance; it’s an honor to have Sarah devote her time and incredible talent to setting my words to music. Listen here: “Clear and Cold” and “Evening Star”
In addition, last year the amazing Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University animated one of the poems from my chapbook. Here’s a video of me reading the poem to the animation created by a Kent State design student.
We’re still more than a week away from Valentine’s Day, but I have an early gift for my husband: two different love poems that have received recognition lately.
First of all, “Mouth: To Say,” from Full Cry, will be featured on Poetry Daily on Saturday, Feb. 8. Two other poems from my first book have been chosen by the site in the past few years, and I’m eternally grateful to Diane Boller and Don Selby for their support.
“Mouth: To Say” first appeared in New South, which nominated it for a Pushcart Prize, and it was also translated into Spanish for a bilingual reading series by Manuel Iris, who noted that the sounds of words didn’t quite work in the same way in the Spanish. Amor doesn’t really start with “tongue against teeth and end on lips” the way the word love does.
In addition, a revised version of the poem I read my husband at our wedding, now called “Vows,” is part of a set of three poems awarded a prize by the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Foundation. This amazing fund has been supporting young poets with large awards for the past decade, and while it will be partnering with the Poetry Foundation from now on, they will continue to support the work of hardworking poets in their early careers. I’m honored to be a prizewinner for a second year. You can see this year’s poems on the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg website under “2013 Prizewinners.” (My previous win is listed under “2010 Prizewinners.”)
One more note: the final image of another poem from this year’s prize, “Felicity, OH,” was inspired by a Facebook photo of the daughter of friends of mine. Also named Felicity, she preferred to wear her swimsuit to Trader Joe’s one day…
It’s a great day! My book, Full Cry, is now available on Amazon.com. If you prefer to pay with a check, you can buy it through the website of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.
I also heard last week that a poem of mine will be part of the Out of Sequenceproject sponsored by Upstart: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies. My poem, called “Weak Constitution,” riffs on the lines “My love is as a fever longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease,” from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 147.
I’m also looking forward to returning as a contributor to the pages of the Notre Dame Review. Much thanks to Orlando Ricardo Menes for picking up two poems from my second-book manuscript.
Even more fun news! I’m honored to be part of the 2013-14 Observable Readings series in St. Louis. I’ll be reading on Monday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. with Ansel Elkins and Erika L. Sanchez at Llewellyn’s Pub in the Central West End. It’ll be good to reconnect with friends and family in St. Louis that weekend.
Finally, as a sort of summer wrap-up, I’d like to say thank you to all the great friends I made at the Sewanee Writers Conference last month. Thanks for being such a welcoming group, and thanks to the staff who worked so hard! I loved getting to hear what my peers were working on–as well as what the greats are up to. Readings by Robert Hass, Tim O’Brien, A.E. Stallings, Claudia Emerson, Mark Strand, and many more bowled me over–and in some cases, brought me to tears. The picture here captures the last morning there, when fog shrouded the graveyard where Allen Tate is buried.
Two of my poems are featured in the latest edition of Anti-, out today online. Anti- is an incredible online journal run by Steven D. Schroeder and a dedicated staff; I look forward to reading each full issue as well as to seeing their “featured poets” throughout the year. I’m honored to be a part of Issue 12—especially to be on the same contributors’ list as the fabulous poet Lisa Fay Coutley, whom I met at Bread Loaf last year, and some great former contributors to the Cincinnati Review, including Sandy Longhorn and Adam Tavel.
The two poems on Anti- each have special meaning to me. One, “Full Cry,” is the title poem of my new book, which will be available online sometime in the next month or so. I’ve carried the phrase “full cry” in my mind since 2006, when I was at a residency at Ragdale in Lake Forest, Illinois. A friend (Linnea Paskow—creator of the book’s cover art) and I had gone into town, and we stopped at the Deer Path Inn to ask them a question. They had a set of three oil paintings on the wall, each featuring different aspects of the ritualized aristocratic hunt. I remember “first flight” and “full cry” in particular; the latter phrase has stuck with me since then, and I transferred it between a few notebooks over the years before finding the subject of the poem it could lead, when I rode the Number 17 bus one morning to the University of Cincinnati and saw one of those lawn-ornament deer.
“Aggregate” is a little more personal, recounting some of my experiences while I went through a month-long battle with appendicitis back in 2010. It was a little ugly at times; the images in the poem are not exaggerated. I’ve long since recovered, but that period of extreme illness is one that has affected me profoundly. The poem also references the gas-line repair project that has caused major construction throughout the Cincinnati area for the past few years, and it interweaves words from various prayers for healing from illness.
So, it’s an appropriate transition now to also announce that I’ll be taking part in a Generations in Dialogue mentorship program over the next two years with five other writers interested in exploring what it means to be a writer of faith. The program is sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, where we’ll officially be called Mullin Scholars, and our mentor will be Gregory Wolfe, editor of the fabulous literary journal, Image, which has long been a favorite of mine. It’s glossy and beautiful, smart and thoughtful. You can read more about the mentorship program and the other writers who have been named Mullin Scholars here. I can’t wait to get to know these fine folk.