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COVID Chronicle #6

It’s been since June I’ve written about the state of things here in Maryland.

The first weeks of school really had me stressed. After a short week one, my daughter’s entire grade was quarantined and learning from home as a staff member showed symptoms at school. We were not required to test her and she never showed symptoms, so we were relieved for that, but the week of at-home learning was chaotic and the teachers had little time to prepare. It showed, but it went as well as it could as not only teachers and students had to adapt.

The second week of school, the fourth grade class was quarantined, similar reason. When my daughter returned to school, the only kids at the bus stop were her grade, first, second, and third grade. Kindergarten and fourth grade were out for another week. It was an exhausting start to the year. Now, it seems everyone is doing well and only a few kids are home and quarantined at a time, and yes, my daughter had her first COVID test as one of her best friends in the neighborhood passed a viral infection to others (not COVID).

I’m simply exhausted.

My office is still not required to be back to work because of D.C.’s different restrictions, but our counterparts in Chicago are back to the office at least once per week. It seems as though things are returning to normal, even with Delta around. I’m all for normal. I crave being able to do things we normally do, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can do something for my daughter’s favorite holiday, Halloween. No word on Trick or Treating as yet, but the school is planning their annual Trunk or Treat.

BEYOND this angst and exhaustion, I do have some GOOD News to share (if we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve probably seen this already):

  • My poem, “In the Distance” published in Mom Egg Reviews premiered on The Poetry Channel as a precursor to my first in-person reading in a long time at Poetry at the Port in Silver Spring. Great little restaurant!
  • 3 of my poems were published in Bourgeon Online.
  • You can view part of the in-person reading. and this one here.
  • Forthcoming reading with This Is What America Looks Like Anthology poets at Cafe Muse on Oct. 20 over Zoom. If you’re interested, I can email you the zoom link or you can catch it on Facebook.

I hope you’ll share your good news or latest up dates. I’d love to hear from you.

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?

Poetry Reading Challenge 2021

In 2020, I read 21 books of poetry and listened to one collection on audio. Some were published last year, but some were languishing on my bookshelf for no good reason. All of these books were 4 and 5 stars.

I think last year’s challenge went well, so the options will remain the same:

  • One of the easiest, and possibly most difficult, will be getting people to sign up to read a poem-a-day through the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day service. The challenge is to read a poem-a-day for a week once per month and write about which poems were your favorite and why. You can write up a short blurb on your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or your blog. I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments each month.
  • Second, read at least 1 book of poetry (doesn’t have to be cover-to-cover) and write about your favorite poems and what you learned about yourself while reading those poems.
  • Third, if you want to go all out, feel free to read as many books of poetry as you can in one year and link to your reviews in the comments.

If you accept one of the options or the whole challenge, leave a comment with where you will be posting about your year in poetry.

If you want to leave your blog link, sign up in a post and leave your blog URL to your post below:

Don’t forget to grab the image!

Publications

I spend a lot of time touting the writing of others, but this is my little list of publications.

 

Check them out:

 

Poetry:

 

Essays/Interviews:

  • “What Is the One Thing the Pandemic Has Taught You About Writing” at Brevity (2021)
  • “Writers and Creators Discuss What It Means to Make Art in the Trump Era” at Electric Literature (2017)
  • “The Poetry Scene – Twenty Years Later” at Modern Creative Life (2017)
  • “Overnight Success Is Overrated: A Book Bloggers Journey” at Luna Luna Magazine (2016)
  • “Blogging: Savvy Verse & Wit” at Writer’s Center (2011)

 

Books:

Podcast Interview/Readings:

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

Online Readings:

Poets v. the Pandemic (about 20:55):

 

Poets on the Patio at Literary Hill BookFest 2021 (about 2:57:20):

The Literary Hill BookFest 2021:

The Inner Loop and This Is What America Looks Like (about 14:15):

The Poetry Channel with Indran Amirthanayagam:

The Plague Papers Reading #2 at Inlandia Institute (about 21:39):

Book Spine Poetry

Many book bloggers have participated in online memes where we’ve taken photos of our book stacks and our bookshelves. But have you ever wondered if you took some extra care, you could arrange those books’ titles to create your very own poem?

I’d love to see your book spine poems, feel free to tag @SavvyVerseWit on Twitter and use the #bookspinepoetry

Here’s what I came up with:

Girls like us
partial genius
Other voices, other lives
said through glass

What poem did you create?

Erasure Poetry

I’ve always loved blackout poetry, taking an existing text and erasing parts of it to create something new. Erasure poetry enables not only the poet but the reader to see an older work in a new way.

According to the Academy of American Poets, one famous erasure poet, Ronald Johnson, took the form to a new level when he revised the first four books of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

One of my favorite collections of this type of poetry is from Heather Aimee O’Neill and Jessica Piazza, Obliterations. You can check out my review of that book from 2016.

Here’s Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay (with my erasures):

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Here’s the clean version:

Nature's first green
hardest to hold
early flower
subsides to leaf.
grief,
goes down
Nothing can stay.

Give it a try and see what you can come up with.

Poem: won’t you celebrate with me by Lucille Clifton

Today’s poem I share is from Lucille Clifton and is a poem about hope and perseverance in times of adversity. You can listen to the poem, here.

won’t you celebrate with me

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

What poems have you found during our pandemic lockdown?

Gaithersburg Book Festival Finalists 2020 & Fan Favorite Voting Now Open

UPDATE: VOTING CLOSED MAY 8, 2020

After all the hard work put in my local high school students in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., the Gaithersburg Book Festival will continue to run the high school poetry competition, even though the book festival itself has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click the logo to reach the page with the finalists, and please vote for your favorite. Voting is open to everyone, even if you do not live in the region. Show these poets some love — share the link on social media — cheer on your favorites.

Many of these students also took the extra time to create a video of themselves reading their poem, so please stop by and listen to these young artists.

We’ll be announcing poetry critic Elizabeth Lund’s top 3 winners on May 20, along with the Fan Favorite.

Creative Prompt: Resilience & Poetry

I don’t normally make videos, but I thought it would be appropriate for today’s poetic exercise. Hope you’ll watch below and share your poems/stories or anything you’re thinking about this month.

Visuals & Poems

We’re living in uncertain times, and poetry can provide a modicum of peace. I also have been taking walks and working in the garden these afternoons with my family. I’ve thought a lot about how spring is upon us and how flowers are just beginning to bloom — tulips, daffodils, even trees.

When I took this photo, I had no idea that it would be out of focus, but it’s interesting to think about the lack of focus in the photo as a reflection of the lack of focus and purpose many of us have now. We’re either adjusting to working from home, out of work and concerned for our families, and some of us are navigating the new world of online learning for young children.

I’d love to hear about any visuals that inspire you while you’re walking around with your dog or friends. Share your stories below — in poetic form — or just on your blog.

Poetry Reading Challenge 2019

wordcloud

It’s that time again when everyone makes lists of books they want to read. We’ve already seen a lot of First Books for 2019, so I’m interested to see what poetry books everyone will be reading this year.

I’m always on the hunt for new poetry read, and I hope you are to. Stop by, join the challenge, let us know how many poetry books or poems you plan to read this year.

When you post about poetry, review a poetry collection, or want to talk about a poem that was powerful, feel free to leave a link below:

No pressure in this challenge, just a lot of sharing.

2018 Poetry Gift Guide

Usually at this time of the year, I’m reading to meet my goal on GoodReads or just trying to finish up the dozen books I’m reading at the moment.Not this year, since I met my goal already.

In the middle of that, I’m usually scrambling to find a meaningful or needed gift for friends, family, and others. I love giving gifts to those who don’t expect them.  I also love sharing some of my favorite books in bookstores and on the Metro, and pretty much anywhere where books can be discussed.

In that spirit, I wanted to provide you with a short list of poetry books I love and why I think you should share them — I’ll even give you a couple hints as to who might love them, even if they say they don’t read poetry.

For the Kids:

1. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, is a perfect introduction to rhyme and poetry, as well as a strong girl who loves science and can do anything. The book will inspire children to get the discovery bug and want to find out for themselves how the world operates and what is going on around them. (my review)

2. Fly with Me: A Celebration of Birds Through Pictures, Poems, and Stories by Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple is more than just poetry; it’s a collection and celebration of words and image. This is a collection for bird lovers, young kids learning about nature and birds, and the whole family. Through words and photographs and illustrations, kids can learn about birds in their area, migration, and so much more. (my review)

3. Poe: Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Gareth Hinds, is gorgeous! Any one who knows Poe’s poems and stories will want this in their collection. The graphic novel brings the poems and stories to life. These classics become vibrant, and it will be a great way to show younger readers the gruesome and haunting lines of Poe come to life. (my review)

For Dog/Animal Lovers:

1. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver brings to life the familial relationship people have with their dogs and other animals. There are moments of pure joy and moments of deep sadness. Her poems always carry a universality, and she reminds us that dogs are sentient beings as well. (my review)

For Science Fiction/Science Lovers:

1. Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey is the best collection for those who love science fiction, zombies, apocalypse survival movies, and its a guide written in accessible, fun, and funny poetic verse. You cannot go wrong with this one. Even my book club enjoyed it, and many of them are not poetry readers. (my review)

2. Crumb-Sized: Poems by Marlena Chertock is a pint size collection with a powerful punch that uses science, humor, and space exploration to examine some deep issues, including body image and disability. These poems will have readers looking at space exploration in a more grounded way. (my review)

Grab Bag — Collections for the Adventurous:

1. Saris and a Single Malt by Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a deeply emotional collection about loss and a tribute to a mother gone too soon. Through the various stages of grief, the poet shares her most intimate loss and the anger, sadness, and confusion she felt. Cherish those closest to you. (my review)

2. Story Problems: Poems by Charles Jensen is a creative collection that brings a new level of interactivity to poetry. Open-ended questions about world and self-examination in a collection with the cover of a composition book from school. A collection that deals with identity and loss, and so much more. (my review)

3. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine is so powerful that even three years after I’ve read it, I still think about all the cultural and racial questions it raises. The essays, poems, etc. blur the line between I, she, he, etc. to make it a much more universal commentary on how we are all human and connected to each other. (my review)

4. Point Blank by Alan King brings to life the rhythm and funk of life as a young boy growing up black in America where the color of your skin still taints how you are perceived and treated. Although there are some fun moments and great pop culture references, there’s a great deal to think and discuss with others about race in America. There’s a frankness to these poems that cannot be ignored. (my review)

If you have someone who’s hard to buy books for, perhaps they need something like poetry this holiday season.

If you need a different recommendation, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to offer a collection that would be suit.

I’d love to hear about what books your buying friends and loved ones, too, even if they’re not poetry.