A common question I get, since I wrote poetry and creative nonfiction, has to do with how I know what genre a piece of writing should be in. One answer I have given to this question is to say that the work will teach you its form, to just write, and see what shape it takes on. But there are other ways to think about genre, form, and what that thing you are writing wants to be.
I was really delighted to have the chance to do a reading and conversation with John Gallaher about conversational rhythms, tones, and rhetorics as sources of inspiration towards poetic forms. Before the reading, John and I put together a list of books that have influenced our thinking about talk.
I’ve had a few requests for materials I can share with book clubs reading RUE so I’m making the book group discussion guide for RUE available here for anyone to use. And I also want to share a couple resources for book club organizers who might be wondering how to have a great discussion about poetry.
I spent this week attending the thesis defenses of my graduate students. I don’t love the word “defense” in this context, as it implies an adversarial stance between mentors and student and suggests that an authority’s approval of a creative work matters. I tend to think to think the task of an artists is to imagine a way through and beyond what has been done before; “defending” requires very opposite impulses. But I do love defenses!
Whether or not you are seeking publishers for your work, studying the publishing landscape can be a really helpful way to imagine how your work might speak to its readers. There are so many fantastic magazines with such a diversity of aesthetics flourishing right now. But this abundance can make it hard for emerging writers to find the writers, publishers, and readers who will be most inspiring to them. To help navigate this terrain and find their place among the many writers flourishing right now, I give students the following assignment…
I’m a recent convert to Instagram — I missed the pictures-of-food years — but I have loved transforming my private practice of spotting and researching plants into a more public one that incorporates photography into the exercise. This practice has been reminding me how much the craft of poetic imagery overlaps with photographic techniques.
I’m so grateful to The Social Distance Series Reading Series from Green Mountains Review for adding me to their line-up. You can see my 15-minute reading here…
My essay, “Medusa and the Poetics of Spells” up at Guernica today. The essay began as a craft talk for a poetry class and evolved into something much more historical and much more personal, so I’m sharing some outtakes of poems and ideas that informed the earlier, more crafty version.
Southeast Review just came out with their new issue, which includes “A History of Disrepair,” one of the poems I’d hoped to share on the AWP panel, Science at the Source, this year. Unfortunately, but necessarily, the panel was cancelled due to the pandemic. Go here to read that poem, which is about Genevieve Jones, a nineteenth century ornithologist, climate change anxiety, and what it means to love each other in a crisis.
I’d also like to share some of the remarks I’d planned to make on that panel, which was organized by Rosalie Moffett and also included John James, Nomi Stone, and Rushi Vyas…
It means so much to me that the first review of RUE was written by Karen Craigo, the poet laureate of my home state of Missouri (and the landscape that forms the backdrop for the book). It also means a lot to me that Craigo understood and appreciated the way this book was born of myriad interlocking misogynies, including those in the medical profession and those surrounding the experience of motherhood.