Rhyme. Activism. Speculation. Revision. Pumpkins.

I still don’t have exact dates for my forthcoming essay collection, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, but I can see the light in the distance now. I’m STOKED to have a version of the Introduction appearing in the new American Poetry Review, where lots of people will see it. I just finished revising the whole ms according to my editor’s notes, too. It feels polished and good. I need to reread it as a whole to make sure I haven’t introduced other errors, but I’m nearly ready to share it with others!

Yet carving out this Saturday, jack-o’-lantern style, for processing those edits (and this morning for contacting finalists for Shenandoah‘s Graybeal-Gowan Prize) was HARD. I think this week and next may be the busiest of my fall–unless I’m just deluded about things easing later. My pumpkin-head is so full these days I don’t know how to quiet it. Some of the lovely too-muchness:

  • I’m preparing a craft talk and a reading for UNC-Wilmington’s Writers Week this week–all Zoom, all free–and full of luminaries. See the schedule and Zoom links here. My craft talk, “Led by Sound,” is about using rhyme as a way of getting past your rational brain to access the weird stuff that makes a poem powerful. It’s based on a workshop I gave years ago, but I felt the need to renovate it deeply, so it’s taken lots of time.
  • I’m ALSO preparing for the World Fantasy Con in Montreal next weekend, where I’m giving a reading plus participating in a panel on speculative poetry (which I haven’t prepped yet, but I know this stuff, right? I’ll pull it off, right?). Never mind packing, doing the Covid tests, etc. I’m vaccinated with Moderna and not scared of flying (casting no shade on people who are, which I think is a reasonable position), but flying was always a pain and now is an even bigger project.
  • Two wonderful poets, Ashley M. Jones and Sally Rosen Kindred, visited different classes of mine via Zoom this week, and each hour was an oasis of forest, music, inspiration, and transformation. I also visited two classes, the Shenandoah internship to talk about poetry selection and a fiction writing class to talk about Unbecoming. I LOVE doing that. But my head is buzzing with everything we said and didn’t say, as well as the regular discussions happening in my classes and office hours. I’m teaching books I’ve never taught before. Students are devising final projects. There’s a lot to talk and think about.
  • Setting up W&L’s Task Force on Chairing–wait, you do NOT want to hear about that!! Much more interesting are the whirlwind days coming up of a campus visit by Eric Tran; presentations by finalists for our tenure track job opening in postcolonial and indigenous literatures; and doing some advance training for my late November-early December gig as a Fulbright evaluator in creative writing.

In short, not much time to answer messages or haunt social media, so I’m sorry if I’ve been a Bad Art Friend by not liking your posts. I’ll catch up.

I’ll close with a Halloween scare: I am full of dread about the upcoming Virginia governor’s election. I voted weeks ago, but the outcome is very iffy because of what they call an “enthusiasm gap” (Trump fans love Youngkin; McAuliffe is the better candidate by miles, but he doesn’t warm the cockles of anyone’s heart). Youngkin, by way of one small example of potential future horrors, is encouraging book-banning. I just started reading the excellent YA novel Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez because local right-wing parents are bombarding the high school with demands to remove books from the collection, including that one. Everyone needs to marshal arguments to keep them in the stacks. As activism goes, that’s definitely my speed, but what a stupid battle to be fighting when the world is burning.

2 Comments

    1. I think everyone who hopes for a better world burns out on working toward it sometimes. But I do think apparently small efforts and moments can add up and snowball. I see that in teaching all the time–that some big effort I made was completely unappreciated, but someone reports back years later on how a small kindness, something I don’t even remember, made a difference. You never know–but we also all need a break sometimes!

      Liked by 1 person

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