Milestones: School began two weeks ago on August 21st with a Monday morning College Convocation and an afternoon viewing of the eclipse from the backyard of a neighbor’s home. We spent most of the afternoon and early evening visiting with friends old and new and enjoying a variety of delicious foods. We also had the unique opportunity to observe the behavior of backyard chickens as well as a growing hive of bees. As you might guess, the chickens were just beginning to settling down to roost at totality and seemed a little confused that it was time to get back to hunting bugs only a few minutes later. The bees, only slightly befuddled, went into their hive one minute then popped back out the next.
None of the resident or neighborhood dogs seemed to notice anything different about the moment, except, perhaps, that their silly pet parents seemed awfully preoccupied with the sky.
Tuesday, August 22nd marked the first day of classes, and like many other first year writing instructors, I found my English 110 classrooms filled with eager deer-eyed students ready to prove they are ready handle a college workload (in most cases), a spirit that was dampened by Thursday afternoon when an active shooter and hostage situation developed in a restaurant near campus.
In fact, two of my students were confined to their dorms, located adjacent to the restaurant, and sent emails notifying me they would not be able to attend their 1:40 PM class. Because police contained the situation rather quickly, and it did not technically happen on campus (though we have an open campus), the president did not cancel classes, a choice that has resulted in a great deal of flack and general outcry from parents. At no point did the alert messages sent by campus security mention that there was an active shooter, only that there was an” incident” on King Street and to avoid the area.
Needless to say, with so many charged events, the first week of classes was both exciting and exhausting; busy and disheartening. Fortunately, and thankfully, the second week of classes was much closer to normal, though I fear my freshmen students are already a little worn out. As you can imagine, their parents have become extra vigilant and are demanding frequent updates.
During these same two weeks in my Intro to Poetry class, we discussed Gregory Orr’s “Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry” as well as completed several in-class writing prompts. Out-of-class poetry assignments have included writing an Abecedarian poem, a question poem, and a student choice poem, so my Labor Day weekend plans includes reading and responding to new poems by new poets.
Now, for this month’s digest.
- Poetry Picks have been filled until March and there are still submissions to consider. I even selected a few extra poems to publish on Holidays – that’s how great this year’s submissions have been.
- Submissions closed on August 31 for this reading period. They will reopen in December.
- I am reviewing poems published between July 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017 with an eye for six to submit to the Best of the Net awards.
- I have selected six poems that were published, or slated to be published, on Zingara Poetry Review in 2017 for submission to the Orison Books 2018 Anthology of Spiritually Engaging Poetry. I am awaiting releases from their authors and will post a notice on the site with the poem titles once I have them.
Of Interest and Inspiration:
I lifted the following Phillip Larkin quote from the August 9th Edition of Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac
and share it here because it nicely encapsulates the spirit practicing poets try most to maintain:
When asked how a young poet could know if his or her work was any good, Larkin answered: “I think a young poet, or an old poet, for that matter, should try to produce something that pleases himself personally, not only when he’s written it but a couple of weeks later. Then he should see if it pleases anyone else, by sending it to the kind of magazine he likes reading. But if it doesn’t, he shouldn’t be discouraged. I mean, in the 17th century every educated man could turn a verse and play the lute. Supposing no one played tennis because they wouldn’t make Wimbledon? First and foremost, writing poems should be a pleasure. So should reading them, by God.”
The Writing Life:
Music for Writing
from the Internet Archive
(Jackpot!), a website of archived works, including thousands of 78 RPM recordings (thanks to friend Erik K. for the tip).
August Poetry Picks:
September Poetry Picks:
“A Glass of Wine Near Birds” by Judith Bader Jones (9/6)
“Inches” by Jamie Lynn Heller (9/13)
“The Artist as Her Own Model” by Andres Rodriguez (9/20)
“The Girl in the Cornfield” by Natalie Crick (9/27)
Monday Minutes (that I know of):
“13 Ways to Sabotage Your Writing”
AND the return of poet interviews!!
Readings and Workshops:
Save the Date: Gary Jackson, Elizabeth Powell, and I will be reading at The Writer’s Place, 3607 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, MO on Friday, October 20th beginning at 7:00 PM.
I will also lead a workshop the following morning, Saturday, October 21st (details to follow).
Hope to see all you Kansas City area poets!