Poetry Reading

On Saturday, December 2, I joined a few of my poet friends at Paradigm Coffee and Music in Sheboygan, WI for Stoneboat Literary Journal’s 8.1 issue launch event. My poem “Mantodea”* is in this issue as well as many other fine poems, stories, essays, and visual works. You can order from Stoneboat’s Website.

Today’s poetry is not like the esoteric verse of earlier generations, but is, instead, visually and emotionally evocative, often shoving that mirror of society right up to one’s nose.

I heard so many good poems that day. I hope you’ll get a copy of the journal to see what I mean.

*It’s a carpe diem poem featuring a praying mantis dressed in her finest clothes.


Poem accepted

My poem “Russula Crenulata” (about a mushroom) was accepted for publication in Inscape, the literary magazine from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas. The 2018 issue is due out in May.


Residence at Write On Door County Productive

September 23-29

I spent a productive week at Write On Door County, a fantastic non profit organization that supports writing and the arts. The week there was part of my Hal Prize award for my poem “The Obligation.”

During the day the quiet, respectful staff worked in their office spaces, while I inhabited “my space” in the house where I spread out my work at the kitchen table. From there I had a view of the deck and the back yard. I went to Door County with the intention of finishing my second novel, On Summit Road. Except for an epilogue chapter and a couple of tweaky things, I accomplished that goal, working about six hours a day.

But I did not chain myself to the computer. Every morning I took my coffee outside, at noon my lunch, and when I needed breathing space, I walked the trails on the Write On property. In the northern woods, a poem began to write itself in my head.

One day, after the hot weather had moved out, I took a picnic out to The Coop, the coolest little writing space (once the personal writing nook of Door County’s best known writer, Norbert Blei). While out there I returned a wasp to the wild instead of ending its life, I ate my picnic lunch, and I worked out details for the climactic scene in my book. I wished there had been a padded bench, for besides writing, the little coop with a woodsy breeze blowing through the screens would have been an excellent place for a little nap.

I met three very nice Door County poets at their monthly gathering in Ellison Bay and spent a second evening in Ephraim at my friend’s condo, where she was entertaining three friends from home. Both events were fun, but it was my solitary time that I cherished the most. Each day I did not fail to remember what a remarkable gift I had been given.

But by Saturday I was ready to come home. I had accomplished what I had set out to do.

Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY!

My Hal Prize Arrives in the Mail

Who would have thought a little poem about picking currants could mean so much?

In the mail today came my Hal Prize, the tangible prize beyond the honor and the publication: a monetary prize, a week’s stay at Write On Door County, and a lovely hand-crafted mug from Clay Bay Pottery, which may be, after all, my favorite thing.

As you can see by the photograph, the mug screams Door County: pottery, art, nature, even its implicit humility, as far away from pretension as can be. I will use it for my coffee tomorrow morning and cherish it forever.

About my poem “The Obligation,” which you can find on page 11 of the digital version of Peninsula Pulse, the poetry judges Alessandra Simmons and Tobias Wray of cream city review, wrote:

“In direct, clear language ‘The Obligation’ draws a scene of surprising depth. The speaker of the poem carries out a mundane task that reveals how we relate to others. With lines as lush and insistent as the fruit they describe, this poem serves up the simple solitude of circumstance and, in the last line in particular, transcends the poem to implicate the reader.”

Book Launch for A Hollow Bone is a Success

It may have been raining–downright stormy–on August 10, but over thirty people turned out to hear me read selections from my debut novel, A Hollow Bone. The Plymouth Public Library was the perfect place for me: plenty of room and the staff were so gracious and helpful.

I choose three pieces:

  • The first chapter, which I like because it sets the tone for the novel and gives readers a good idea of June’s conflicted personality.
  • Part of the chapter where June and Frank move to 10th Street after Frank comes home from the war. I like the frustrated domesticity of that chapter as well as how layered it is. There’s the “fun” scene when June meets her neighbors and the heart-rending scene when Angelina is forced to accept her parents’ move away from her beloved grandparents.
  • Lastly, I chose the Easter Egg Hunt chapter, as it gives us a glimpse of Angel as a mom, Sophie as a child, and it was one of the very first pieces I wrote in this novel.

Thank you again to everyone who was able to attend. I hope to do more events like this one in the future.

On Summit Road update

On Summit Road is well underway. My second novel set in Sheboygan County, WI, features Marion Goodman, a woman whose company I am enjoying. It has been fun getting to know her. She’s in her early sixties, a former middle school teacher, a relatively new widow, who probably sees her life playing out quietly in the country where she lives. Of course, I can’t give her any peace.

One view from Marion Goodman's back porch.

One view from Marion Goodman’s back porch.

I’m about a third of the way through the first draft, but I’m not sure how this novel will end. I read recently that Toni Morrison always knows her endings; then she goes from there. I don’t think I know with certainty where this novel will end. I have a few ideas, but I’ve not written an ending.

Probably every writer’s process is unique. On Summit Road came to me one day, the idea for the main character, her main conflict, and a couple of minor characters. Once I decided the idea was worth pursuing, I began taking notes. Once that process begins, it seems I’m almost obsessed with my new universe. The more the characters live in my mind the better. Writing does not always mean pushing a pen or keys, though of course, at some point it comes to that. The process of imagining cannot be undervalued or rushed.

I am at the point now where I must set a deadline for myself as I did with A Hollow Bone. Without a time goal, I’m too likely to procrastinate. But unlike this experience, A Hollow Bone lived in my head for many years before I starting plunking on keys. I’d like to speed up the process this time.