I will admit it. The new year has not started off especially well. The cold that will not go away is lingering, with a cough that in spite of prescription medication is also not going away. To make matters worse, we have been engulfed in what I am calling "The Great Chill" - with temperatures barely reaching single digits. Thank goodness, we have now warmed up a bit, with temperatures in the thirties. I have been so exhausted that I have barely been able to keep up with my classes.
Still, somehow I have found a little time to write.
Years ago, I had a colleague who told us that we should try doing our writing assignments with our students. That sounds great -- but I teach five classes a semester, almost all of them writing courses of some sort. There is just no way I could keep up with all that writing (well, I could if there was no grading or lesson planning involved). Still, this semester I have decided to try to keep up with the writing assignments in my Advanced Prose class. Right now, we are working on memoir/narrative writing, and we just read some fantastic pieces by Lori Jakiela and Amanda Leskovac . My students' memoirs are due next week and I am determined to also have a piece done.
Right now I am working on an essay about fishing trips I had with my brothers and father when I was a child. Somehow, the piece is wandering a bit while I also struggle to explore the demise of the Brook Trout from Pennsylvania waters. That, of course, takes a bit of research and I am always distracted by research, so I am trying to stay on task.
I have also managed to submit to ten journals this past month. I haven't kept up on my submissions for a long time, and it felt good to get ten packets out the door. I'm hoping that at least some of these pieces will find homes soon, especially when I have received four rejection notes this past week. Apparently, editors are cleaning off their desks and cleaning out their inboxes in preparation for AWP.
Classes start tomorrow, and because of a minor health setback I had at the start of the year, I am only now adding the finishing touches to my course schedules and syllabi.
What's on the agenda for the new semester? The usual suspects; I will be teaching sections of developmental writing and writing about literature. However, I am also teaching advanced prose for the second time. This semester, I am using an anthology of essays titled Between Song and Story: Essays for the Twenty-first Century edited by Sheryl St. Germain and Margaret Whitford. Some of my favorite contemporary writers have pieces in this collection, including Dinty Moore, Lori Jakiela, Barbara Hurd, Phillip Lopate, and Rhett Iseman Trull. By teaching the art of the personal essay, I am hoping to actually learn more about craft and style found in the world of literary nonfiction.
We have started off the new year with snow and frigid temperatures. That's the bad news. The good news is that I have received my first acceptance for a prose piece. My essay, "Compromising Chiroptophobia or Why I'm Giving Up and Learning to Love the Bat" will be published in The Nassau Review this spring in a special issue on art, nature and science. The piece explores my personal fear of bats (even though I consider myself a small town girl!) and juxtaposes this fear with the very real possibility that many of America's bat species could go extinct because of White-Nose Syndrome.
Regular readers of my old blog, The Scrapper Poet, know that I have been working seriously with prose for about six months now. After suffering through a dry spell of not writing any poetry at all, I find writing prose liberating --I'm not agonizing over line breaks and stanzas and the music of words. Instead, I'm focusing on language itself, strong concrete nouns, specific adjectives and active verbs. I've always loved research, and yes, research plays into poetry. But, in the past, I often found myself so engulfed in the research that I forgot the poem. Somehow, prose lets me incorporate research more readily and smoothly.
I have not forgotten poetry, however. Yesterday, I received contributor's copy of Poetry East. My poem "Yellowjackets" joins work by poets Michael Miller, Molly Fisk, Robert Gibb, and Jason Irwin (who blurbed my first chapbook, Stealing Dust!) I spent yesterday, cleaning out and reorganizing last year's poetry files and I even sent some submissions out. This year may be the year that I finally get my act together and finish my first full-length collection of poetry.
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.