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Quintessential Listening: Poetry Online Radio with Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram

Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram is the host of Quintessential Listening: Poetry Online Radio, and he hosts poets on his show to talk about writing poetry, the role of poetry in society, poetic influences, and more.

I was definitely nervous as always reading before “the people” (yes, even when I can’t see you, I get nervous). However, Dr. Ingram has a great style and helps put you at ease about 10 minutes before the start of the show.

I was told to have 10-12 poems ready to read, and I think I had a hard time narrowing them down because I had poems out I didn’t even read. I had a great time talking about some of my favorite poets and providing other writers with advice on the submissions process (thanks, John Sibley Williams).

If you haven’t listened to the July 7 episode, here’s your chance. Click the photo below:

Let me know what you think? Have a favorite poem? Who are your favorite poets?

COVID Chronicle #5

Reopening Hesitation?

The vaccination rates in my county and state are rising, which should signal that we are ready to return to normal. Everything in the state will reopen on July 1, the Maryland state of emergency will end, and masks will no longer be required. But why do I feel like we should still be wearing masks? Is it the contagiousness of the variants that worries me? No.

This is what worries me. My daughter is not of the age where she can receive a vaccine safely. Her age group is the most vulnerable to the virus right now, as more adults and teens get their vaccines. I feel as though the state is abandoning its youngest residents, allowing others to be maskless and social distancing going right out the window. It’s mostly the indoor situations I worry about.

Personally, I’m not ready to take public transit yet, but if I had to, I would. Thankfully, I can still work from home and I don’t see a push for that to change anytime soon.

I’m ready to get out and about, but hesitant at the same time — if that makes any sense at all.

This may be the last post on this topic, but I wanted to see how everyone was feeling and coping with the reopening processes where they are.

Memorial Day — Remember the Sacrifices for Freedom

Memorial Day is a time to honor our fallen soldiers. Wars have stretched so far back to the founding of our own nation, and freedom is hard won.

The problem is the war is not over for many segments of this nation. I think it is time to honor all who have fought for freedom and to do that by providing everyone the freedom to pursue life, love, liberty, and happiness.

You can take the time today to celebrate your fallen loved ones or even strangers by placing flags at the cemetery. You could read poems to the fallen. Or you could read books about the wars fought all over the world.

In Flanders Fields
by Lt. John McCrae

 In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Final Thoughts: National Poetry Month 2021

Each poetry month, I tend to take up the write a poem a day challenge, but I didn’t. I knew that I would be super busy with work and with the Gaithersburg Book Festival, which starts May 1 online at the YouTube channel.

But I sorely missed writing every day this month. I don’t write every day normally, but I missed it in April because I do try to do it every year. I have written a few things and revised a couple things, but I have one giant revision/reworking that I’ve been avoiding. I really need to talk it out with Anna since she knows how the poem germinated in the first place.

Poem in Your Pocket day (April 29) saw Alan Squire Publishing get creative with their own 7 Upbeat Poems from their authors. Printable and shareable.

I saw this poem on Button Poetry; I just love their posts — (be prepared this has some harsh language and triggering moments for bisexuals and others) — they are always powerful readings:

How did your National Poetry Month go? Did you read any great poems? Poets? Find any collections you loved? Share in the comments.

Literary Hill BookFest 2021

The idea for the Literary Hill BookFest began in late 2010, spinning it off of the Hill Rag column about books, authors, and literary events that Karen Lyon had been writing since 2001 and take it “live.” The first BookFest was held in 2011 in the North Hall of Eastern Market. The mission of the BookFest is to celebrate books and authors on Capitol Hill and to make Capitol Hill a respected center for literacy and the humanities in the metropolitan D.C. area.

The annual Literary Hill BookFest 2021 is on May 2, 2021, with lively discussions at 11 a.m. The kickoff features authors Melanie Choukas-Bradley, JoAnn Hill, Ethelbert Miller, Elizabeth Purcell, Garrett Peck, Kim Roberts, and Cindy Vasko. Moderated by Tim Krepp, author of The Ghosts of Georgetown.

Don’t miss out on the Children’s panel at noon or the writing workshops.

My favorite part will be Poets on the Patio! There are some pre-recorded videos from poets, fiction authors, and others, and you may even find one from me.

The festival focuses on our Capitol Hill literary community. Visit the festival on Instagram. Use the hashtag #LHBF2021 to follow the events and reshare the posts.

There’s also a call for a Crowd-Sourced poem, with submissions due April 28.

Virtual Poetry Circle: Liz Brownlee

With the return of the Virtual Poetry Circle, I hope that you’ll read the poem. Today’s poem is really an image or shape poem because today is World Penguin Day, which coincides with the annual northern migration of Adelie penguins.

Feel free to share poems you are reminded of, favorite lines, and whatever comes to mind when reading this poem.

This image was getting fuzzier and fuzzier as I enlarged it, so please click on the link and head on over to Poetry Roundabout to read the poem.

What animal shapes do you think would be fun to use to create a poem?

Acrostic

As you can see Acrostic poems are poems in which the first letter of each line spells out a word, message, or the alphabet. When I was a kid, these were one of the first poetry forms I learned, and I still write them from time to time as a way to clear out the cobwebs.

I hope you will check out the Acrostic poem generator.

Here’s what the generator came up with for me:

Sea

Seas saw.
Expanses seep.
American sailors slink.

I can’t wait to see yours. Hope you have a great weekend.

Earth Day Poem: If the ocean had a mouth by Marie-Elizabeth Mali

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Today is Earth Day where we advocate on behalf of environmental protection. We only have one planet on which to live, and we should be good stewards of that planet and its resources to ensure humanity has a future.

I found this poem on Poets.org and couldn’t wait to share.

Marie-Elizabeth Mali’s poem personifies the ocean into an entity with human-like qualities. An ocean with a mouth, who may bite her cheek and yell at the moon to stop pulling her hem. What does she want to tell us when she spits out that whale? I imagine the ocean is telling us that we need to take better care and learn to spread less waste in her waters.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, “about 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.”

I’d love for everyone to share their favorite Earth Day poems.

The Poetry Channel with Indran Amirthanayagam

As I took the time before the pandemic to get to know the local poetry community and listen to my fellow poets, I’ve by turns felt inadequate and welcomed. Indran Amirthanayagam has been one of the most open and welcoming poets I’ve met, and he started his own YouTube journey with The Poetry Channel.

Recently, Cornelius Eady has been a feature on the channel, and I wanted to share with you those readings because they are stunning. One of my favorites is “The Racist Bone”:

Yes, even I have been a guest poet on his channel, and I encourage others to send in their own to Indran. He would love more poets who write in languages other than English to submit as well.

Please share in the comments which of these poems were your favorite.

Cinquain

The Cinquain is unrhymed and five lines that are broken down into syllables. The first line is two syllables, the second has four, the third has six, the fourth has eight, and the fifth has two.

These were the first poems I learned how to create as a teen.

Try out today’s Cinquain poem generator.

Here’s mine:

Peace

Peace
Calm, durable
Reposing, lulling, resting
I could never believe it
Tranquility

I can’t wait to see yours. Hope you have a great weekend.

Haiku

Haiku are short form poetry originally from Japan. The poems contain three phrases that contain a kireji, or “cutting word”, 17 syllables in a 5, 7, 5 pattern, and a kigo, or seasonal reference. Basho is one of the most famous of the haiku writers.

Here’s today’s poem generator for haiku.

Check out what the generator came up with for me:

Jovian, largest
discovery of the moons
the electric lights

I hope these Friday activities are enjoyable.

Imposter Syndrome

I debated on whether I would write this post, but I feel compelled to do so. I’m taking it as my moment to stop feeling like an imposter or to at least remember that I’ve worked really hard on publishing poems in the last few years.

Imposter syndrome is something I’ve had as a writer probably since leaving undergrad. It’s the feeling that I’m not qualified enough and that I’ll be outed as a phony any moment. But I read a recent Harvard Business Review article that has me questioning the problem — perhaps it isn’t just feeling but a problem with the systems that oppress others?

What’s less explored is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place and what role workplace systems play in fostering and exacerbating it in women. We think there’s room to question imposter syndrome as the reason women may be inclined to distrust their success.

The impact of systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases was categorically absent when the concept of imposter syndrome was developed.

Is that the case with me? I don’t know that it is. I’m not a social scientist.

My new question is: how can I be a fake poet? What would that even look like?

I do have insecurities about the lack of an MFA — a conversation I had recently with a couple poets I know. I’ve sought advice, and I hope that I can internalize it and change my mindset. A lot of my imposter syndrome is internal – I read widely and write poems (not as consistently as I’d like).

I’m also not willing to go into debt to achieve an MFA. I just can’t put my family in that hole when so many depend on me, and for real, it would really just be a formalized way of getting more time to write. But as a major income in my house, carving out that time is hard enough without having to please professors, etc. I’d rather just use the little time I have for creative writing to write!

Is the lack of MFA the only reason I feel like an imposter? Probably not. It also could be because I don’t talk the poet-talk. I don’t speak in metaphor, and I don’t present myself as an academic at all. I may know things, I just don’t talk about them like many writers do.

Am I really an imposter?

No. I write poems. I work hard to refine them. I submit them periodically if not monthly to journals. I am working on a manuscript. I will complete all of these things while working full time and raising a child and caring for other family members. All of these things take time, commitment, and work. I am not an imposter.