I’ve been blogging roughly once a month for four years, with my first blog post being August 1, 2019 — a little audience and a lot of play-work, with an unformed “why” and unfocused point. This again has me thinking that the whys and the points might not matter as much as the atmosphere and process, because I’ve come to value the work I put in here. From my book reviews and interviews to my Joan Didion- nod-kind of articles to my reflections on Mama-ing and discussions of creative process, these pieces rise to compliment my poetry — providing both more traditional and less structured space — and invite a public space for journal-esque thoughts that I want to share. At this juncture, it seems high time I celebrate these four years of blogging, take stock of where I am, evaluate, and give some shoutouts where due.
I made my website to better my chances of being accepted to a residency. My strategy with creative applications and submissions is to send them off, then forget about them. Sometimes I actually do forget and am tickled to have an acceptance in my inbox. More often, of course, I either hear nothing or receive a rejection, which rarely bothers me much since I wasn’t thinking about it anyway. The unfortunate thing about the rejection to the residency that started this whole shabang is that I’ll always remember that rejection, but also I appreciate that they inspired this site. (And I’ll keep reapplying.)
I didn’t need a blog as part of the website, of course, but being a writer and having a website made it feel like an obvious choice. At least my Writer-Poet Friend Ashley Chatneuff encouraged me and her encouragement has inspired me to do a few challenging and enriching things in life. And, a woman of action as well as words, Ashley helped with technology and set-up of my site. I’m not sure if she reads it. If so, Thanks, Ashley!
Of the different categories of writing, I think my Poet interviews are the most interesting. They have ranged from the easiest of write-ups, to hours of difficult. They’re always a little challenging in requiring multiple steps of planning over time. And it’s happened more than once that I think through a series of questions, usually thinking a few steps ahead with different questions depending on what the Poet’s responses may be, just to have the process stalled by a Poet too busy to do the interview. For that reason, and because I can’t find my copy of Plastic Sunrise (2003), by Steven Allenmay, who I plan to interview next (still looking), I haven’t done an interview in awhile. But I’ve loved each one that I’ve done – getting to know the Poets better, illuminating some aspect of their personality or connections that I find fascinating, and I’ve learned a ton. After interviewing Ann Bracken, I ordered a set of “Metaphor Dice” that have served me well and taken some of my poems on interesting twists. Le Hinton’s thoughts moved me closer into Buddhism. And Jay Hall Carpenter, so smart, provided me a framework of how to discuss my own work. Perhaps my most challenging was my longform interview of the Great Reuben Jackson. It took hours to decipher my hieroglyphics-esque scribble and write it up. I had a couple of people look over it, but still, published it with many mistakes. Getting critical feedback in my inbox, such as, “He deserves better,” than your messy type-o’s and crappy spelling, they all all but said. Thus, a side note, just to be clear, I do my best without spending forever on each post and I welcome feedback. But, please don’t be a jerk. I’m only trying to uplift it all here — poetry, Poets, Musicians, music, my kids, expansive, honest thought.
I love the laser-focused study necessary to draft a review of a collection, but don’t think my reviews are “there” yet; not quite consistently capturing the spirit of the work. It is funny that the review I think I nailed best got amongst my fewest views.
I wonder sometimes, who’s reading this? I’m confident at least that my Writer-Poet-Sister Friend Mabel Ferragut Smith reads these posts. She’s taking a break from blog posting while working on her novel now. I was honored to be a Beta reader and it’s fantastic! (More about that in a future post.) For a while, we’d read each other’s posts, and that was enough. A wonderful partnership! And her posts often inspire me. In addition, most often, I believe my Poet friends from DiVerse Gaithersburg, Serena Agusto-Cox and Luther Jett read my posts. That’s plenty of a valuable audience. Add to that, in response to critical feedback, Beth Riley has been editing my work. Not only is she a great Friend and powerful singer for the band SR3, but an astute copy editor with a wonderful command of language! She’s direct, honest, and doesn’t mind if I don’t take all her advice. She’s become an essential part of my process. She’s also given me valuable feedback on how I play my original songs, which has me entirely rethinking my approach to playing guitar. It’s coming along and I think much better thanks to her.
A couple of my other favorite posts were the one in which I shared about my Writing Fort and the piece I drafted on Cancel Culture. The Writing Fort post inspired many great conversations with Poets about space and solitude for writing. The Cancel Culture post keeps me off Twitter. It was difficult to research and write with many pieces and personalities involved and, while I enjoyed the process of that one less than most, I’m glad to have it under my belt.
I’m not sure where this blog may take me in the months to come. I got an email from someone with whom I’m unfamiliar asking if I might want to review a poetry collection that sounds beautiful. I got the free book in the mail today. There’s a great perk to doing this work! I will also likely blog about hosting a poetry reading series — such a unique experience. And will likely write more about music, as my inspiration steadily pulls me in that direction. Drop a line to say “hi” if so inclined. I’d love to know who else is here. And let me know if there’s anything you’d be interested in me addressing, researching, or ranting about. I’m always on the look out for material. Thanks! All the best to you and thanks for reading!