Tag: writing

  • Hard lines, soft lines

    Next week I should receive my advance hard copies of Poetry’s Possible Worlds. I feel like I’m facing a portal, a door to strange woods opening at the back of a wardrobe. I know book launches are lucky and thrilling, but they also ramp my anxiety right up, especially the tasks that involve talking up […]

  • Mother of stories

    My mother died early Friday morning of lymphoma in my sister’s house in New Jersey. There’s a lot to process–the good way the family gathered around and helped her through rapidly worsening illness; all that she said to us as we nursed her; great kindness and serious failures in the medical treatment she received–and the […]

  • My brain hurt like a warehouse

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that middle-aged women sleep poorly. Hormones, hot-flashes–pandemic and political ugliness are just icing on the cake, really. From what I can see, middle-aged women, although they don’t seem like an envied or celebrated category of human, do a LOT, and it weighs on their brains. They pile myriad many […]

  • Pacing

    Dear Poetry Professor,How do you get the writing done?-Lots of People This has been a super-hard September, beginning with emotional transitions–dropping my son off for his first year at college, establishing my daughter in her first apartment–and proceeding through too many doctor visits and grant applications on top of the usual stuff. And the usual […]

  • Work: 25 notions & reveries

    This is my twenty-fifth fall teaching poetry at my first real job, at a liberal arts college in Virginia. I never thought I would stay this long. When I arrived, I was twenty-six with a new PhD and limited experience. A bunch of publications and a bazillion classes later, I am a better teacher, scholar, […]

  • Rusting robot poetics

    Lots of stress on this bucket of bolts lately–family, health, and writing-related–but I’m tickled to report that my first poetry comic has been published by the gorgeously-redesigned Split Lip Magazine. My spouse Chris Gavaler and I created it a couple of years ago; he made the images and I wrote the words, although there was […]

  • Dear poetry professor: self-doubt

    Q: I question the worth of my writing on a near-daily basis. Is there a way to just get over it? A: Okay, okay, I admit it, that question comes from Dr. Ms. Poetry Professor herself, but it’s a genuine one. If you have better answers, please post in the comments. In the meantime, here’s […]

  • Commencements

    “I, too, am not unhopeful,” Saidiya Hartman said to Wesleyan University’s Class of 2019 during a long, hot ceremony on a bowl-shaped lawn. Soon-to-be-alumni/ae in the audience, including my daughter, wore robes of Handmaid’s Tale scarlet. I was turning scarlet in the sun, wondering what we were all on the threshold of. I loved Hartman’s […]

  • Imaginary journals with real poems in them

    If you’re not enjoying what you’re grading, maybe the problem lies in the assignment. I think I’m right in attributing this provocation to Paul Hanstedt, either during a faculty development talk he gave here or on a long-ago Facebook post, but at any rate, it was electrifying, and resulted in real changes in my course design. […]

  • “The wonder is that you are here”: poetry, community, and Anne Spencer

    One of my favorite visiting-writer stories involves a New York-based author who, while guzzling artisanal cocktails in a local restaurant, said something like, “I don’t know why anyone would bother to write if they don’t live in Brooklyn.” That was a hilariously awful remark to make to his Virginia-writer-dinner-companions, but I get it. The literary […]