Goodbye, 2015

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Out at Fort McKavett in October

Greetings from rural Illinois! I’m out here enjoying winter break, organizing poetry files, and writing haibun. Next week, I’ll be back to the warm weather, kicking off 2016 with a road trip through Mexico.

I’ve been too busy to blog this semester. I’ve even neglected my poor email newsletter. But I thought I’d pop in for a little year in review.

2015 wasn’t without difficulty, but it was much better than 2014. I’ve had numerous friends tell me your 30s are your best decade, and this year, that’s proved to be true.

This year, I successfully co-edited the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar with Wade Martin, and helped host readings for the calendar around Texas. (I also had my license plate stolen at the reading in Houston, which was not fun.) I’m grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of Dos Gatos press and help continue the tradition of this great publication. Wade and I are already reading for 2017 (the deadline is January 15th!) so send along your poems!

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At the Blue Willow Bookshop reading for TPC

I also got to be a featured reader at the Austin International Poetry Festival, and met Nikki Giovanni on my birthday! 31 goes down in the record books as the best birthday ever.

I was fortunate enough to get more teaching work at ACC, allowing me to make education the focus of my career.

I got to attend a friend’s book launch in Chicago. I finished a new chapbook manuscript. I got to teach more poetry workshops.

Last but not least, I began an MFA program this fall. The first semester is over and done, and I’m so happy to be there. I’m looking forward to school starting again soon!

May the last day of 2015 be a happy one. Here’s to 2016!

A New Dawn, A New Day

It’s been an amazing summer. I can’t believe how busy I’ve been, or how fast it went. I started a haiku study group on Facebook. I learned how to make corn tortillas from scratch, and how to deep-fry avocados. I published a very angry and very NSFW poem at Thank You For Swallowing. I featured at poetry open mics in both San Antonio and Waco. I hosted a party for the first time since I was married. I started working on a new chapbook almost by accident. I started learning the Wudang staff form. I joined the Adult Education department at ACC. I quit my office job. I amassed over 30 hours of professional development credit. I got to see the Mountain Goats at the Moody Theater. I joined a wine club. I spent a lot of time poolside with a margarita and at least one of my best friends.

I’ve been very busy, and also very happy.

This morning begins a whole new chapter to my poetry and my career. The fall semester begins tomorrow, and I’m teaching five classes in two different departments. Yes, five classes is a lot, and I didn’t quite plan for this many. It happened largely by accident, due to staffing vacancies, and quite a bit of it ended up getting solidified at the last minute. But even though it’s going to be a lot of work, I’m thrilled. Making your living as an adjunct is tough, and it’s nice to know that this semester, I’m going to be doing well financially. Plus, while I’ve taken on a big workload, I’m finally at the point where teaching is all I do for a living. I’m not making end’s meet with an office job or other work. I get to be a writing teacher, pure and simple. It’s taken a lot of work to get here, and I’m grateful that the effort has finally paid off.

Fall textbooks!

This morning, I also begin my MFA through the University of Texas at El Paso. I’m grateful that technology has evolved to the point where it’s viable for me to study with the amazing faculty at UTEP and still live in Austin. I’m taking two classes this semester: Advanced Poetry Workshop and Writing and Social Action. I’m definitely nervous about returning to the graduate classroom after being away for so long. But I can’t wait. I’m so excited to see how this experience shapes my career.

Summer is my favorite season (yes, even in Texas), but I think I’m going to have a great autumn.

I Am Bad Whether…

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I Am Bad Whether is an up-and-coming feminist press founded by poet, activist, and tech guru Muerta-Paz Con Corazon Sin-Guerra. A few months ago, Muerta decided that my collection Curved Tongue, Forked Road would be the first book she published. After several more rounds of manuscript revision, we’re getting ready to launch!

Of course, as a start-up, the press needs help to get going. We’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to help get things up and running. I’m excited about the perks we have to offer, everything from postcards to books to workshops! So if you want to support feminist publishing in Texas, check out the campaign.

I’m also offering a bonus incentive for readers of this blog. If you contribute, let me know (via comment here or via email), and I will send you a bonus postcard featuring recent work. This applies to donations at any level.

For those of you who want to help but don’t have spare cash, we appreciate you getting the word out on our behalf! Share on social media, talk it up at events, and get people interested.

Muerta and I appreciate your support!

Writing Prompt: Summer Lovin’

Note: Apologies for late and/or absent mailings of these prompts. With the summer weather, I’m more inclined to spend my time out and about than at my computer.

In light of the fact that I’ve been away so much enjoying the weather, I thought a summer prompt would be in order.

Not everyone loves summer the way I do. Some people in Texas outright hate it. For today’s prompt, make a list of all the things you hate about summer. Circle the thing you hate the most. Then write an ode to what you despise about the season.

Weekly Writing Prompt: Tiny Poems About Big Things

Note: Apologies for late and/or absent postings of these prompts. With the summer weather, I’m more inclined to spend my time out and about than at my computer. 

Think of something big. It can be physical, like the state of Alaska or Texas. It can be an event, like World War II. Anything you could consider large-scale. Now, write a poem on the subject, limiting yourself to 15 lines.

Weekly Writing Prompt: Listen

Go to a restaurant or coffee shop that’s has a decent crowd in it. Ideally, it will be busy enough that there will be multiple conversations going on around you at once. Sit down, open your notebook or laptop, and listen. (And don’t forget to order something to support the establishment!) See what snippets of conversation you can pick out. Write things down. You don’t have to follow just one conversation. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Pick out sentences, phrases, and words. Write them down as they happen. Let everything be fragmented and disjointed. I recommend listening for at least 30 minutes.

Once you’ve gotten a solid amount of material, you can go one of two ways. First, you can find a phrase or sentence that really resonates with you, and build a story or poem using that as your inspiration. Alternately, you can take your hodgepodge of sentences and create a poem using only what you’ve transcribed.

AFPF On Hiatus for 2015

I mentioned this over at the official Austin Feminist Poetry Festival blog a few weeks ago, but I’ve decided to take a hiatus from the festival this year. The past two years were incredible! However, I’ve just finished a two-year term on the Austin Poetry Society board and I’ve spent the first few months of the year giving a lot of attention to the Texas Poetry Calendar. I’m at the point where I need a break. Plus, since I’m starting my MFA in the fall, I need to focus on my studies–and running a fall festival is not entirely conducive to that!

I also want to restructure the festival, and get it more in line with my larger vision. That requires time. So I’m going to take this year to figure out how I want things to develop.

I do have some smaller events in the works for later this year, so stay tuned…