Friday Reads - April 19, 2019

We asked our friend, poet Rena Mosteirin, to recommend a book for Friday Reads. She chose We Begin in Gladness by Craig Morgan Teicher.

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Craig Morgan Teicher’s We Begin in Gladness is a must-read for poets and lovers of poetry. He begins the book by looking at the style of poem known as the Ars Poetica; then moves through the works of Sylvia Plath, John Ashberry, Susan Wheeler, francine j. harris, W.S. Merwin, Louise Glück, W.B. Yeats, Robert Hayden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Delmore Schwartz and Lucille Clifton.

Teicher refuses the stereotype that all the best work happens early in a poet’s life. He charts the lives of these poets as journeys, shows us where the work surges and where it subsides. He shows us poets looking at themselves in the mirror. We see the mechanics of the poem taking off, and how the best of them land. This is criticism that makes itself available, and is very readable. This is a lively thinker and an accomplished poet at his best.

Interview: James Crews

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When we first heard the title of the new book of poetry edited by James Crews, Healing the Divide: Poems for Compassion and Connection, we thought: How wonderful! It seems to us that James is the perfect editor for this book. You see we know James. He read his beautiful, compassionate poems at our inaugural Poetry & Pie. And we're still hoping to make it to one of his Mindfulness and Writing workshops. In this day and age, when we're all reeling a little from divisive politics, we like the idea of seeking wise counsel from poets like Ross Gay, Donald Hall, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Marie Howe. A morning meditation perhaps? Flip open this anthology and read some words of hope before moving about your day. Thank you, James, for the work you do!

James will join several other local poets to celebrate the launch of Healing the Divide with a reading at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, on Tuesday April 16, starting at 7:00 pm. It should be a really wonderful evening.

In honor of the today’s release of Healing the Divide, we interviewed James about this book, how it came together, and the work that poetry can do to help bring us together. We hope you enjoy James’ replies to our questions as much as we do.


Literary North: Where did the idea for this book come from? Did someone approach you, or did you approach someone?

James Crews: The idea for Healing the Divide actually came to me one day while I was in the shower. My husband, Brad, ran for political office in Vermont last year, and he had been working on his speech all winter, much of which was about how the power of kindness and community literally saved his life when he returned home from the military, discharged for being gay. He talked about how the smallest gestures—the flick of the wrist waves, the folks stopping to chat with him while on a walk—made him feel that he belonged to a place again, and really began the healing process. It dawned on me that poetry can do the same kind of work, and I have always preferred poems that highlight connection in some way, whether between lovers, family members, friends or strangers. Once I had the idea, the pieces quickly fell into place. I asked Dede Cummings with Green Writers Press if she would publish the anthology, and she instantly said yes. Ted Kooser also immediately agreed to write the Preface, so all I had to do was gather the poems and get permissions from the writers and their publishers, which was no small task. But I was struck over and over with the support and generosity that people showed toward this project.

LN: How did you go about selecting the poems to include?

JC: I have a whole trove of poems that I really treasure and go back to over and over. "Shoulders" by Naomi Shihab Nye is one of those, as is "Small Kindnesses" by Danusha Laméris. So I had quite a few already on hand, but once you start looking for something, you will always find more and more of it. People started sending me poems about kindness, and Naomi Nye connected me with numerous poets I'd never even heard of, who had wonderful work to share. I combed through Ted Kooser's “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column quite a bit, since I knew I wanted as many of the poems as possible to be accessible to a wide readership. I worked with Ted on his column for several years at the University of Nebraska, and I really credit that experience with teaching me how to locate poems that might appeal to a mass audience.

LN: How do you try to include compassion in your own writing practice, towards yourself and your words and your readers?

JC: I often lead workshops on mindfulness and writing as a way to teach (and re-teach) myself the practice of compassion and attention for the world as it is. And if we're really paying attention, we'll see that we are not as divided as we think. Yes, there are disagreements, there are life-and-death issues that must be addressed, but there are also people coming together and being kind to each other on a deeper level every day. I feel it's my job as a writer (as a human being, really) to highlight those moments first for myself —to keep myself out of despair—and then for others too. Writing is an integral part of my spiritual practice, so I feel my poetry is always showing me ways to pay closer attention, how to be more kind and gentle to myself and others. I'm working on a new book right now, a collection of poems, reflections and exercises, which essentially argues that writing itself is a spiritual practice that can connect us to ourselves and each other. Quite honestly, I try to follow Anne Lamott's advice quite a bit in my work: "Write the book you would most want to come upon in the world."

LN: In what ways can poetry work to help us heal and come together in the face of so much anger, division, and mistrust in the world?

JC: Mark Nepo, one of our great spiritual writers, has said that "Poetry is the unexpected utterance of the soul." It's hard to put into words, but I also believe that poetry comes from some deeper place inside us—whether we call that the soul, the spirit, or the intuition—and as a result, it's what we really want to say, it's the truth as we know it. All art works this way, but poetry has a distinct advantage in that it's made from the material of language that we use every day. Poets turn that democratic, raw material into something strange, harrowing, transcendent, beautiful, and often universal. I admit that I have a personal bias for poems that seek to uplift, and do so in accessible language, but creativity of all kinds has never been more important than it is right now at this political moment, and we need as many diverse voices as we can get to heal us all and remind us of the one human story.

LN: Is there a poem—or a poet—that you rely on to help you remember kindness and connection on really hard days?

JC: Most of the poets I return to over and over are in the anthology: Ted Kooser, of course, but also Barbara Crooker, Anya Silver, Ross Gay, Li-Young Lee, and the late W. S. Merwin, among many others. But I keep coming back to "The Way It Is" by William Stafford, which we were lucky enough to be able to include in the book. In the poem, he talks about a thread "you never let go of," and I've always wondered what that thread was for him, what he meant by that. The older I get, the more I think that the thread is whatever intention we carry with us out into the world, whether through our work, our creativity, and our relationships (to others and to ourselves). And for me, that thread is to be as present and kind as I can be. I will make mistakes, take wrong turns, get distracted, but as long as I can keep holding onto that thread and letting it guide me, as he says in the poem, I know I can't get lost. I hope Healing the Divide can do the same for a few readers as well.

LN: What was the most memorable thing you read in the past month?

JC: I know that I'm a latecomer to this book, but I finally got around to reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I relished every word and so appreciated how she blended memoir and storytelling with science and indigenous knowledge. This book comes at the right time too, since I'm now (slowly) putting together a new anthology called Down to Earth: Poems of Mindfulness and Devotion. This will be a collection of nature poems that honors elements of the living world as having a consciousness and agency of their own. I hadn't thought of it before, but I suppose this anthology is also very much about compassion and kindness, just this time between humans and the Earth. I can't help but think we all need to be reminded of that essential connection right now.

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Friday Reads - April 5, 2019

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I’ve enjoyed picking up Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Currey each morning to read about the creative habits of a fascinating, talented woman. It’s the perfect inspiration I needed for spring.—Shari

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Reading Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic is like reading a grim fable that has come true. These poems speak of horror and love, of war and heartless policy, and of real and imagined humans suffering and finding comfort from each other. Once I started reading it I found it impossible to stop until I’d reached the end. Many of you may have already read the unforgettable first poem in the book, “We Lived Happily During the War.” The final poem acts as a perfect bookend to the first. I won’t link to it here. You have to earn it by reading the book—Rebecca

The Dipper - April 2019

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

April News

Thank you to everyone who braved the lion-like weather to join us, Colin McKaig, Peter Money, and Ruth Antoinette Rodriguez at Poetry & Pints at the Brownsville Butcher & Pantry last month! The Brownsville community warmly embraced the headlining poets with rapt attention and loud applause, then entertained us with their own poems at the open mic. This welcoming community is fostered by Lauren and Peter’s enthusiasm and energy, and their wonderful food. If you’re in the Brownsville area, stop by for a snack, a meal, a drink, groceries, meat, cheese, wine, or—coming this summer—ice cream and bbq! Thank you Colin, Peter, Ruth, Lauren, and Peter for a fantastic night.

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With spring underway, we look forward to our favorite summer event: Poetry & Pie on Saturday, August 3, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm! This year is our third year at the beautiful Sweetland Farm in Norwich, Vermont. We’ll have three amazing poets, plenty of pie choices, and an open mic for your original work. Please save the date! We’ll be announcing the headlining poets soon. In the meantime, can you guess who’s coming from these clues?

  • Mystery poet #1 grew up going to Al’s French Frys in Burlington but currently lives out of state.

  • Mystery poet #2 lives in the Upper Valley and champions writing and books every day.

  • Mystery poet #3 was a former writer-in-residence at Paris’ Shakespeare & Co.

Calling all slow readers! The beginning of April means it’s time to announce our second selection for the 2019 edition of the Slow Club Book Club. This season’s book is Swallowing Mercury, by Wioletta Greg, translated by Eliza Marciniak. The author Sarah Perry's blurb for the book immediately had us intrigued:

“Greg writes with a precise, strange charm, and the poet’s acute sensitivity to detail. Little by little, I felt the presence of young Wiola appear beside me—vital, quick-witted and curious, picking her way through the dark woods of faith, family, sex, and politics as if in some melancholy fairytale. I experienced the book like a series of cool, clear drinks, each more intoxicating than the last.”

Can you resist? To join us, just get a copy and read. To be in the know about future titles, please subscribe to our Tiny Letter.

Fantastic poet and all around good guy James Crews has edited a new book of poetry entitled Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Compassion. Yes! This anthology, which comes out on April 9, has a preface by Ted Kooser and includes poems by Mark Doty, Ross Gay, Donald Hall, Marie Howe, Naomi Shihab Nye and many others. The poems in this beautiful book prove to us the possibility of creating in our lives what Dr. Martin Luther King called the “beloved community,” a place where we see each other as the neighbors we already are. Attend the launch for Healing the Divide on Tuesday, April 16 at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont. And look for an interview with James on our blog about this project soon.

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Last month we let you in on Allie Levy’s plans for the Still North Books & Bar in Hanover, New Hampshire. We’re happy to say that renovations for Still North are well underway and the latest news is that a beautiful, original brick wall has been revealed. Allie is still looking for donations to buy the books. Any amount is welcome. If you donate even $1, you get to tell Allie your favorite books, which she’ll compile into a list available at the store once it opens. Let’s all help Allie buy the books!

Always looking for ways to make this newsletter more useful for you, we’ve made some changes to the Submissions and Workshops sections to make them a little less wordy and a little easier for you to scan quickly. We hope you find this change helpful!


April’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month! and

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  • Word House in Brattleboro, Vermont, has us giddy. Check out this new venture started by one of Vermont’s finest writers, Robin MacArthur. Workshops, mentoring writing space, and readings! We’re looking forward to visiting regularly. —Shari

  • Author and artist Katie Holten has created a free downloadable tree font from her alphabet based on the the trees in NYC Parks. Let’s all welcome spring by writing poems in Tree! —Rebecca


April Highlights

Randolph and Montpelier, Vermont, celebrate National Poetry Month with their annual series of PoemTown and PoemCity events, beginning with dinner and a reading with poet Kerrin McCadden at the Black Krim Tavern in Randolph at 6:00 pm on Monday, April 1. Check our calendar (and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library website) for more PoemTown and PoemCity events.

Jo Knowles, YA author, roller derby queen, and all around good human, is launching her latest book, Where the Heart Is, at Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, Vermont, on Wednesday, April 3, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.

Laurie Sheck

Laurie Sheck

On Thursday, April 4, poet Laurie Sheck will be reading at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, at 8:00 pm.

The first annual Exeter Literary Festival takes place Friday, April 5, through Saturday, April 6, in various venues around Exeter, New Hampshire. The Festival features a keynote talk by Dan Brown, book discussions, a picture book scavenger hunt, book trivia competitions, a literary cosplay celebration, panel discussions, readings and signings, and a gala poetry reading at The Word Barn.

Bloodroot Literary Magazine celebrates the launch of its fourth digital edition at Left Bank Books in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, April 9, at 7:00 pm. Come celebrate with readings, an open mic, and snacks.

Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li

On Thursday, April 11, at 4:30 pm, Yiyun Li reads as part of the Cleopatra Mathis Poetry & Prose Reading Series at Sanborn Library at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

As part of PoemCity events (see above), Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, is hosting a group reading to celebrate the launch of Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection. This special reading features James Crews (who edited the book), Mary Elder-Jacobson, Megan Buchanan, Alison Prine, Patricia Fontaine, Laura Foley, Carol Cone, and others. The reading on Tuesday, April 16, begins at 7:00 pm.

Namwali Serpell reads from her new novel, The Old Drift, at Sanborn Library at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, April 16, at 4:30 pm.

Margaret Atwood. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

Margaret Atwood. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

Margaret Atwood (yes, that Margaret Atwood), prize-winning author of over fifty books—including The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace—will give a lecture at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, April 18, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.

Justin Torres, author of We the Animals, gives a reading at Dartmouth College’s Sanborn Library in Hanover, New Hampshire on Friday, April 19, at 4:30 pm. The following evening (April 20), Torres hosts a public screening of the film based on his book at the Loew Auditorium in Hanover, New Hampshire, at 7:00 pm.

PoemTown Randolph hosts Farmer Poets Night on Saturday, April 20, at 7:00 pm, featuring Taylor Mardis Katz, Carl Russell, and Caitlin Gildrien. The reading at Silloway Sugar House in Randolph Center, Vermont, will be followed by sugar on snow and other light refreshments.

On Tuesday, April 23, Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, hosts a Poets for Migrant Justice fundraising reading, featuring Nico Amador, Cynthia Dewi Oka, and Natalie Scenters-Zapico. All donations given during this reading will benefit Migrant Justice.

Next Stage Arts Project presents Green Writers Press’ 4th Annual Earth Day Celebration and Reading on Friday, April 26, at 7:00 pm at Next Stage Arts in Putney, Vermont. The evening will feature short readings by Vermont authors, book signings, and cake.

Close out National Poetry Month by seeing Alison Prine read at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, on Tuesday, April 30, from 8:00 to 9:00 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

  • Isabella Hammad will be at the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, April 17, at 7:00 pm for a reading and talk about her debut novel, The Parisian, which has been receiving rave reviews.

  • Jane Hirshfield will be reading at Smith College’s Weinstein Auditorium in Northampton, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, April 23, at 7:30 pm.

 

Worth a Listen

 

We're Looking Forward to These April Releases


Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The Frost Place 2019 LatinX and Gregory Pardlo Scholarships
The winners receive a full fellowship to attend the Conference on Poetry at The Frost Place (July 6-12), including tuition, room, board, and travel.
Deadline
: April 15 | Details

The Hopper
Accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art.
Deadline: June 1 | Details

The Hopper 2019 Poetry Prize
Judged by Kathleen Hellen, the winner receives $500 and publication by Green Writers Press.
Deadline: July 1 | Details

The 2019 Fall MacDowell Literature Fellowship
A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months.
Deadline: April 15 | Details

2019 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry
The prize includes a cash award of $3000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 20 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. This year’s prize is being judged by Oliver de la Paz.
Deadline: April 30 | Details

Barnstorm
Accepting unpublished work in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry
Deadline: May 31 | Details

New England Review
Looking for submissions in all genres: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, translation, creative writing for their website, cover art, and art for their website.
Deadline: May 31 | Details

Howard Frank Mosher First Novel and Story Collection Book Prize
This publication prize is for a novelist or short story writer who writes about Vermont and/or the themes that resonate so well with Howard's work: nature, small-town stories, love, friendship, forgiveness, Vermont, solitude, and rural life, that are part of Howard 's literary legacy.
Deadline: June 1, 2019 | Details

Frost Farm Poetry Conference
Accepting registrations for this year’s conference (June 14 to 16). Registration includes workshops, a one-on-one meeting with your instructor, keynote with Bruce Bennett, critiques with poet-in-residence Rhina Espaillat, panel discussions, readings, a reception, breakfasts and lunches.
Deadline: registration until full | Details

Juniper Summer Writing Institute
Accepting applications for this summer’s institute (June 16 to 22). The institute includes manuscript consultations, craft sessions, workshops, readings, and other events, led by a wide range of instructors, including CAConrad, Gabriel Bump, Ross Gay, Khadijah Queen, Bianca Stone, Ocean Vuong, Dara Weir, and Joy Williams.
Deadline: rolling admissions until full | Details

Mud Season Review
Accepting submissions of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Mud Season Review pays authors and featured artists $50 for their work. Artists whose images they select to pair with writing receive $15.
Deadline: Reading period begins April 1 | Details

Lifelines Magazine
Accepting submissions of original and unpublished short stories, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork for their 2020 issue. While they consider a broad spectrum of subject matter for publication, they are looking for pieces that speak to the experience of medicine in some way.
Deadline: October 31 | Details


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Poetry Month workshop with Mary Jane Dickerson
Mondays in April
A workshop for those interested in reading and writing poetry, with a culminating reading at the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library in Underhill, Vermont.
Location: Jericho Town Library, Jericho, Vermont | Cost: by donation | Details

The Gifts of Story workshop with Rebecca Rule
Mondays, April 15 to June 10, 10:00 am to noon

An exploration of the art of story. By writing, telling, and sharing their stories, participants will build bridges to the people, places, and experiences that have shaped their lives.
Location: Upper Valley Senior Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire | Cost: by donation | Details

Spring Writing workshop with Robin MacArthur
Tuesdays, April 23 to May 21, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
This supportive, encouraging, and semi-formal workshop is for writers of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. Both new and established writers are welcome, though we do have an application process for this intimate session.
Location: 103 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont | Cost: $180 (scholarships available) | Details

Touch Your Words: Teaching Indigenous Languages through Making Symposium
April 12, 9:30 am to 4:45 pm

The recent purchase of metal type in the Cherokee Syllabary has prompted new interest in our Book Arts Workshop. This symposium seeks to bring together makers of all kinds (students, scholars, librarians, writers, artists, and printers) to exchange their experiences and knowledge in tactile learning and explore new possibilities.
Location: Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire | Cost: free | Details

People Need Stores: League of Vermont Writers Spring Program
April 13, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm

Explore the art of storytelling and learn how to shape your writing to tell a compelling story. The agenda includes talks by three writing professionals, a tour the town library for a librarian's perspective on books and writing, and a generative writing exercise with local writer Amy Braun. The program concludes with a Q&A on storytelling and books. Register by April 9.
Location: Pierce Hall Community Center, Rochester, Vermont | Cost: $54-$74 | Details

Matter of Life and Verse: Writing Poetry workshop with Michael Metivier
Tuesdays, April 16 to May 21, 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Learn to create resonance, heightened urgency, and a timeless quality to your work. $25, regardless of AVA membership.
Location: AVA Gallery and Art Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire | Cost: $25 | Details

Fun with Forms poetry workshop with Rebecca Jamieson
April 20, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
This workshop explores the poetic form and why poets use them. The workshop is open to ages 15 and up. All levels of experience are welcome!
Location: Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vermont | Cost: free | Details

603: Writers’ Conference
April 27, 8:00 am to 5:30 pm
The theme of this year’s conference is “The Art of Storytelling.”The keynote speaker will be New York Times bestselling author Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked.
Location: Saint Anselm Sullivan Arena, Goffstown, New Hampshire | Cost: $95-185 | Details

Cartoon Studies Summer workshops
June 3 to August 9

This year’s workshops include Graphic Memoirs with Melanie Gillman, Creating Graphic Novels for the Young Adult Market with Jo Knowles and Tillie Walden, and a Graphic Novel Workshop with Paul Karasik.
Location: The Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont | Cost: varied | Details

Friday Reads - March 22, 2019

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I’ve been making my way slowly through Jamel Brinkley’s impressive debut short story collection, A Lucky Man, since the beginning of the year. I’m reading slowly because each story invites reflection. The stories haunt me for days and sometime weeks, and I like staying with the imagery and characters until I feel like I’m ready to move on to the next story. Not to be missed!—Shari

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I've been waiting so many years for a new book by Barry Lopez (one of my very favorite writers) that I was a little worried I’d be disappointed by Horizon. Silly me. We’re in very capable, generous hands. Horizon is part autobiography, part travelogue, part nature writing, and part rumination on human history, the state of the world, and how we’ll ever save ourselves. Complemented with maps, illuminating notes, a list of scientific binomials, a compelling bibliography, and, glory of glories, an index—his book is beautiful and important and full of tenderness. I’m only 60 pages in out of more than 570, and I’m going to go slowly so I can stay in Lopez’s language for as long as possible. —Rebecca