Category Archives: Monday Minute

AWP Poets, Writers, Authors, and Teachers Plan Protests in DC

Usually around this time of year my Facebook and Twitter feeds are overrun with cheerful posts about the various AWP events that my friends and colleagues are planning to attend, but with all the attention-grabbing, anxiety-ridden news that has daily shocked social media these last few weeks, it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten.

They haven’t, of course. There are still shouts out among fellow writers and acquaintances trying to connect with each other, tips for first time attendees and, because this year’s conference is in DC, some encouraging chatter about several politically centered events.

Maybe what’s really happening here is that posts about AWP are just getting buried by all the fearful factoids and scary statistics swirling around all forms of media right now. Or maybe, and this is probably more likely, those are the posts I allow to capture and hold my attention.

I am struck, nonetheless, by the auspiciousness of AWP, a conference that attracts a wide range of diverse writers, taking place in DC just weeks after the inauguration and subsequent Women’s March and the more recent protests against the Muslim Travel Ban, and how this confluence of events adds gravity and weight to such typical pre-AWP activities as making travel arrangements, sending ahead boxes of books, making plans to see friends and, most importantly, contemplating what it means to be a writer in “Trump’s America.”

This year, in addition to looking forward to the book fair, after-hours parties, and copping a frenetic high from mixing adrenaline with too much alcohol and too little sleep, some conference-goers are looking forward to converging on Capitol Hill the afternoon of Friday, February 10th to “make a case against the Trump Agenda”(flavorwire.com) while others will be participating in Split this Rock’s  Saturday vigil and speakout on the White House lawn. There is also word of a Cave Canem protest-reading at Howard University and, no doubt,there will be numerous other off-site politically motivated events that are evolving even as I write this post.

It is my hope that these events are heavily promoted and heartily attended and that each receives ample news coverage and sets itself forth as stellar model for a successful, effective demonstrations by which others can emulate. Most of all, I hope these events will encourage other groups and individuals to speak out, to become active in whatever capacity makes sense for their circumstances, and that professionals who have the power and ability to make changes in Washington view these gatherings as encouragement for their continued vigilance in the resistance against tyranny. Most of all, I hope that writers and artists around the globe feel bolstered not to “keep their moths shut” as Steve Bannon would admonish, but to respectfully continue doing what they do best, which, of course, is to write on.

 

 

When a Poet Meets a Hurricane: Life After Matthew

When Hurricane Matthew swept through Charleston last October, saturating the ground with rain water and whipping up high winds, the roots of the large hickory tree in our neighbor’s yard loosened their grasp on the soil beneath them. Like any tree in high wind, especially ones with compromised roots, the hickory thrashed back and forth in the storm until, at last, it fell.

My husband and I, along with our cat, had evacuated to Kansas City and were safe and sound in my mother’s living room, enjoying her company and a sense of being “home.”  We would not know for another day or two that that hickory tree landed on and crushed the back corner of our house, taking the power line and electric meter with it.

file_004The news came via phone from friends who live nearby and who had, when learning we’d evacuated, offered to drive by and check on our house. They sent pictures by text and we cast them onto my mother’s television. The tree, as long as our house is wide, appeared to be swallowing our new home, and though we could see that the roof had been crushed where the tree had hit, we couldn’t tell how much damage was sustained or how far back it went. We wondered if the entire roof wasn’t compromised.

The drive home was somber and tense, our minds full of worst case scenarios. We drove until dark the first day, then checked into a hotel for the night. No sense in driving all the way to Charleston where there were no hotel vacancies, we’d reasoned.

As directed by our insurance company after filing our online insurance claim, I called the file_000mitigation company we’d been referred to as soon we arrived at the house the next evening. The sun was just setting, the sky was blue, and the wind was still. The man on the other end of the line, Lorne, asked me to describe the damage to him. I tried to be as specific as I could as I walked through and around the house verbally noting how large the hole in the roof, how flooded the laundry room, how wet the ceilings and walls, how damaged the flooring throughout…..at the end of our conversation Lorne asked me if the house was habitable.

Well, there’s a gaping hole in the roof and no power, I told him. So, no, I don’t think it is habitable. 

That was four months ago. Since then my husband and I have been shuffled from hotel room (where we lived for over six weeks) to two-bedroom apartment  (into which we fit three additional family members over the holidays). I cannot begin to list all the untruths and delaying tactics we have been subjected to or the patience we’ve had to tap into each time someone asks us for our claim number (they know damn well who we are!) or tells us “everything’s behind schedule because of the hurricane.”

It took over a week for both the field adjuster and the tree removal people to arrive. When they showed up the same morning, they got into each other’s way and the field adjuster was unable to make a complete inspection. It took another two or three weeks for the City Building Inspector to look at the property, and that was only because our general contractor waited for him outside his office every morning for a week. More recently, the building permit was delayed because there is no plat for the house and the plat surveyor is behind and won’t be out for another three weeks. New trusses for the roof, which will have to be ordered, are on a four week delay. And even before all of this, it took 30 days for the desk adjuster to provide the (ridiculously low) initial estimate; another 30 for him to respond to the (much higher) estimate our GC provided.

Meanwhile my husband and I are juggling phone calls with insurance agents, adjusters, and contractors, packing our belongings in boxes to be moved out of the house and into we don’t know where (there were no storage pods left in the city), maintaining our teaching duties, preparing for the holidays, checking on our cat housed at friends’, and explaining over and over again to our family and colleagues what had happened. At times, it felt impossible to keep up with all the demands of the situation much less basic needs, like healthy food and quality, anxious-free sleep.

My husband and I are still in the apartment the insurance company arranged for us and while things are generally calmer and we have found a workable rhythm to life, reconstruction has yet to begin on the house and we don’t really know when it will. There’s still a slew of paperwork to wade through and dependence on the cooperation of a couple of other bureaucratic entities to secure. So while the rest of the city has pretty much recovered and moved on from Hurricane Matthew, we continue to wait for resolution.

It was not until this week that I was able to put my full attention on Zingara Poet. I could see that my poor pet project was listing on the waves, submissions and emails neglected since late September despite every intention, even the hiring of an intern, to respond to submissions in a more speedy manner this year. Yet I did not want to bring my anxious energy to my poetry reading. I’ve leaned that the two just don’t mix — so kept putting it off until I was in better spirits.

I am glad to say that, as of this writing, most of the October and November submissions have been reviewed and responded to. In the week to come, I will be looking over the rest of December submissions and sending out my decisions. Likewise, poems for most of the first half of 2017 have been chosen and their dates of publication scheduled (only a few spots left). With luck, I will be able to enter the new submission period (later this year) caught up and, I am keeping my fingers crossed here, from the comfort of my own home.

Thanks to all the poets out there who have waited patiently for a response. As always, I am impressed by the quality and breadth of the selection.

Online Poetry Class Begins Today

Register today for The Poet’s Toolkit at ZingaraPoet@gmail.com, a Five week online class

Attend as many or as few classes as you like: $20 per class or $75 for all five weeks

This five-week course will focus on several of the most integral craft elements of poetry writing and is suitable for writers in any genre. Whether new to the craft or a long-time practitioner, this online class will help you bring focus and new energy to your poetry.

Each lesson will center on a particular skill and will include sample readings and discussion of the week’s craft element. A selection of representative poems meant to spark lively discussion will be included as will a number of fun and engaging writing prompts.

  • Week One: Vivid details and Sensory images
  • Week Two: Creating surprising similes, metaphors, and other figurative images
  • Week Three: Narrative to imagination (moving from chronology to association)
  • Week Four: Reinvigorating syntax and sentences
  • Week Five: Serious fun with serious revision

Facilitator: Lisa Hase-Jackson, MFA, passionately believes that great writing comes from active imagination and a careful eye, two characteristics easily cultivated through playfulness.

 

The Poet’s Toolkit: Online Writing Workshop to Begin in October

Accepting registrations now:

The Poet’s Toolkit
Five week self-paced online workshop for writers

While this five-week course will focus on several of the most integral craft elements of poetry writing, it is suitable for writers in any genre. Whether new to creative writing or a long-time practitioner, this online class will help you bring greater focus and new energy to your writing.

Each lesson will center on a particular skill and will include sample readings and discussion of the week’s craft element. A selection of representative poems meant to spark lively discussion will be included as will a number of fun and engaging writing prompts.

Students are invited to write a poem each week in response to any of the readings or prompts. While sharing is always optional, students may do so on a private discussion board. Students are also free to simply follow along with the weekly lessons.

Feedback on poems from me is available on request.

  • Week One: Drawing on vivid details and sensory images for your poems
  • Week Two: Creating surprising similes, metaphors, and other figurative images
  • Week Three: Narrative to imagination (moving from chronology to association)
  • Week Four: Reinvigorating syntax and sentences
  • Week Five: Serious fun with serious revision

Price: $20.00 for ala cart classes or $75.00 for all five weeks. Scholarships are available to students and recent graduates. Contact Lisa at zingarapoet@gmail.com for more information or to register.

 

New: “Writing from the Heart” Begins This Week in Summerville

IMG_0586[1]Writing from the Heart
2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the Month
Beginning September 14, 2016
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Serenity Center
820 Central Avenue
Summerville, SC
No Registration Required, Drop-ins Welcome
$12.00 per session

Writing from the Heart

Whether retraining thought patterns or drafting a lyric poem, journal-writing helps normalize the stuff of life. It is where we make sense of life events and give voice to complex and nuanced emotions. It is where we have permission to rant, wax nostalgic for the good old days, dream about the future, or write crappy sentences. Most of all, it is a space where we can deepen our connections to the world in which we find ourselves.

Bring your journal, and your heart, to this bi-weekly workshop to learn techniques that will deepen your relationship with your journal and yourself to discover fresh new ways to approach your writing time. Each session will begin with a brief discussion of a meaningful piece of writing, such as an essay, poem, or excerpt from a memoir, which will be followed by a meditation or invention activity. Participants are then invited to write a response in their journals. There will be at least fifteen minutes dedicated to writing time and participants may share if moved to do so.

Topics include:

  • How to bring a sense of playfulness to our writing (and life)
  • Deepening our inner resources
  • Creativity through self-understanding
  • Overcoming writing blocks
  • Discovering how we limit ourselves (and stop doing so)
  • Changing neuropathways through writing

About the facilitator:
tutor photoA passionate teacher who is dedicated to (and fascinated with) the writing process, Lisa Hase-Jackson has been teaching and coaching writers since 2004 when she was granted a fellowship in the Washburn Writing Fellowship program at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. Since then she has facilitated writing circles, workshops, and seminars in such places as Albuquerque, NM, Anyang, South Korea, Kansas City, MO, Toronto, Canada, Allentown, PA, and Charleston, SC. She holds an MA in English with an emphasis in poetry from Kansas State University and an MFA in poetry from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Her poems have been published in numerous literary journals and magazines as have her articles on writing and the writing life. A few of them have won awards.

A recent transplant to Charleston, Lisa teaches Poetry and Honors English at the College of Charleston and particularly enjoys spending time at the beach or going on bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center. She continues work on her poetry blog, ZingaraPoet.net, and is actively (and hopefully) submitting her poetry manuscript to suitable markets. She is an avid journal writer and has a shelf of journals to show for it. When not writing, teaching, working, or exploring, Lisa enjoys spending time assembling scrap quilts and doing simple knitting projects.

 

Organ of the Soul

Iphone Pics and Videos 007It’s cloudy and wet in Charleston today, the air swampy and pungent as is typical of August in this region. While I am still not used to it, I am less unused to it than I was three years ago when I moved here from Albuquerque. This morning, instead of taking my usual stroll around the neighborhood and down the bike path that runs through West Ashley, I opted for the treadmill at the gym where the air is at least somewhat controlled. I even followed up with 30 minutes of yoga before making a quick visit to the chiropractor for some therapeutic attention to what some call my “boulder shoulders”. I am blessed with a Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule this semester so can look forward to spending my Mondays much in this way — at least until Midterms when grading papers will take precedence over feeling good.

Last week marked the beginning of the fall semester and was filled with last-minute revisions to class syllabi, office hours, and lesson plans. The early semester juxtaposition of high energy and intense focus sometimes makes me feel a little schizophrenic. Though I felt exhausted by the time Friday rolled around, I was charged from meeting this year’s new crop of students. I can already tell it’s going to be a great semester.

I opted to teach two classes this semester so that I might focus on other projects, namely submitting poems and poetry manuscript to suitable markets. Though it means tightening my belt and cutting out quite a few extras (and not so extras), I think that the trade-off will be worth it, even if it’s just more time to write and submit. Up until this year, my submission activity has been pretty light. I will be buckling down this semester and getting my work out into the world.

Meanwhile, poems for the 2017 Zingara Poetry Picks are streaming in at a nice pace and my community Creative Writing classes are going well. It’s great to be back in full-swing again.

I want to share with you a few of the thoughts that are running through my mind grapes this day; little odds and ends – snippets that might deserve further development or investigation:

  1. I think it is Borges who is credited with the theory that the soul is contained in the voice, at least that is what David Isay, founder of Story Corps, said in an interview by Krista Tippet in the May 12, 2016 “On Being” Podcast. When I google the phrase, I also get “the human voice is the organ of the soul” from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I like both of these ideas, especially when  thinking about, and writing, poetry. I’m going to ponder it all this week.
  2. The law of attraction suggests that like things are attracted to one another. In the physical world, this phenomenon is observable in H20 wherein polar molecules are attracted to one another like magnets: water molecules actually glob on to other water molecules. In the world of human constructs, it also seems that wealth attracts wealth, privilege attracts privilege, and power attracts more power. From these observations our culture has developed the theory that positive thinking can attract positive experiences and lifestyles; that we can manifest the life we want. It makes sense that this theory is not confined to what we consider desirable circumstances. Isn’t it also true that poverty attracts more poverty, addiction more addition, and violence more violence? Manifesting something other than what one is experiencing in these circumstances, while possible, is no easy feat. The move from poverty to wealth, for example, or violence to peace, requires nothing less than Herculean effort.
  3. And finally, this : able-bodied-ness is a temporary state for pretty much everyone.

That’s it for this Monday Minute. Leave your comments below and have an interesting, curiosity-filled week.

Z-Poet

2016 Zingara Poetry Picks Complete

This morning, I selected the last poem for 2016’s Zingara Poetry Picks and am happy to report that this will be the first time in the site’s history that a poem will be posted for every week of the year. It also represents the achievement of a goal I have been chasing since re-visioning this project in 2010.

Zingara Poet is a labor of love, one that requires a lot of time which must be carved out of a of a busy life filled with such activities as grading papers, taking the cat to the vet, having the car repaired, paying taxes, fixing dinner, spending time with the husband, seeing the dentist, moving across country, finishing an MFA, and, oh yes, sleeping.

Still, I always approach the project with anticipation and always look forward to reading the submissions in my inbox. I am frequently impressed by the quality of work and often find myself contemplating a poem for several days — which often means my readers will, too. And because this year’s submissions have been so wonderfully awesome, I’ve lingered even longer than usual in making final selections.

Let me reiterate that previous point: This year’s submissions were truly wonderful. I am humbly grateful.

All this careful reading and busy life-living, however, imposes a longer wait-time for those who submit work. Some poets waited for as many as as eight months before hearing from me this year, and though no one has been unreasonably grumpy about this situation, I am looking into ways of cutting that wait-time down.

Firstly, there will be two submission periods for 2017. Poems submitted during the first submission period, August 15 to December 30, 2016, will be considered for the first half of 2017 (January – June, 2017). See submission guidelines for complete details.

Poems submitted during the second submission period, February 1 to April 30, 2017, will be considered for the second half of 2017 (July-December) 2017).

As always, I reserve the right to extend these submission periods.

Secondly, beginning August 1, (that’s today) I will be bringing an intern on board to help with administrative tasks, thus freeing me up to read and respond to submissions in a more timely manner. I will be introducing her to you in the next week or so.

Thirdly, well, there isn’t a definite third thing yet, though it is developing and involves a lot of brainstorming on my part. In any event, more great features and opportunities will be unveiled in the weeks and months ahead. Just know that I am moving toward making the project more visible and viable. Besides, building something carefully over time is preferable to doing too much too soon. Two big things can be enough for now.

Let me close by once again thanking all of this year’s contributors and readers. Zingara Poet means to be the change I wish to see in the publishing world. If you like the direction in which this project is moving, please submit your poems, subscribe to the site, and share widely with your friends.

Write On!