Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lessons learned from my first Miami Book Fair poetry reading

I know not all venues are like the Miami Book Fair but I learned so much just from this first experience that I thought I'd share what I gained from it; I also want to remind myself what worked for me and what didn't for next time (if there is one!):
  • Hydrate your throat.  Bring a bottle of water--the hosts didn't provide one at the tables and the lights shining on us were HOT!  (This is Miami.)  Also, make sure you have shine-blotting paper on hand or wear lots of make-up because those lights make you look pale (and scared!).  Singers suggest warm honey and/or potato chips (something salty) to smooth the voice. 
  • Bring a clean copy. Bring two copies of your book--one to show, prop up on the table or have pictures taken with, the other to read from.
  • Facilitate page access. Read directly from your book but use some sticky tabs to mark your pages--I noticed several readers hunting around for pages while I was able to transition smoothly from one poem to the next by using color-coded sticky tabs with a keyword from the title on each one so I could see which poem was where. 
  • Consolidate your notes. All your notes should be stapled inside your book so as to not be noticeable--print them out on a separate sheet and then staple or tape it inside your book (cut down to size if necessary) at the same orientation so you don't have to hold your book sideways!  If you want to make a few remarks before each poem, write them at the top of the page on which the poem begins.
  • Avoid fumbling. Do NOT use loose sheets with your poems printed in large print unless you have rock solid nerves because your hands may tremble.  Some people suggested this and it sounded like a good idea at the time, but I'm glad I decided to read directly from the book.  Most of the other writers did, also.  On that note, make sure you use the book during all your practice runs.  Make sure the page turns occur at a natural pausing time in the poems that run over more than one page.
  • Manage your time. Know exactly how long it will take you to read each poem; that way you can mix and match them and know how long you will be reading.  Your watch can fail you and the reading venue may not have visible clocks.  Do NOT read over your time limit and keep in mind that things rarely begin at the exact time, so you have to subtract that time from your reading accordingly.
  • Communicate enjoyment. Remember to smile and act like you are enjoying yourself (if your acting skills are up to it!)
  • Connect. Bring business cards or their equivalent to hand out to the other poets you connect with or fans.
  • Be grateful.  Thank everyone involved in the reading and/or preparing the venue and learn the volunteers' names so next time you can greet them by name! (I hope I remembered to thank the room host in my case.  He was really nice; not only did he pinch-hit when our presenter didn't show up but he also put us at ease and asked the first question during the Q & A. Unfortunately, I did not remember to get his name!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015 Miami Book Fair International presentation

I read from Shining from a Different Firmament at the Miami Book Fair International last weekend!  It was a great experience but that smile on my face is the pure happiness of relief after it was over!  It was the first time I'd read my poetry in public and doing so at the largest book festival in the U.S. probably wasn't the brightest idea in the world!  But I'm glad to say I survived, met and heard some great poets read (Julie Marie Wade, Kay Ryan, Juan Felipe Herrera, among others) and even glimpsed some celebrities up close!  (John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez were talking about their memoirs in the same building and I saw them as they were escorted to the authors' lounge.) 

After the talk, the weather had cleared and we came out into a beautiful evening as the book fair volunteers began wrapping things up.  I grabbed some mementos, including the sign from my autographing table!  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pay Attention Journal acceptances; FIU News; #100!!

Pay Attention Journal just accepted two of the longer (read: hard-to-place) pieces in my chapbook:  "Her Last Cotillion" (about Doc Holliday's cousin) and "Richard the Lionheart's Mummified Heart Examined."
 Pay Attention is an annual, print literary journal founded to print verse that makes for dynamic reading performances.
The mission on the journal, in particular, is to collect and promote high quality poetry that may be performed on the high school and college forensics circuits and taught in classrooms that feature the oral interpretation of poetry.

I was in Forensics in high school and I also had difficulty finding material I was comfortable with, so I ended up writing my own and performing in the "Original" category.  I'm happy to know my work may be performed by others!

I never would have found Pay Attention without using Duotrope, which I can't recommend enough!
Duotrope helps you find the perfect fit for your poetry or fiction.

From the Editor:
To tell the truth, these two poems
epitomize what I’m hoping to collect in the journal. I love the
interesting voices you’ve created and the precise images you’ve filled
these poems with. It’s very clear that you knew what I was looking for
in forensics-worthy pieces.

I will probably read one of these pieces at my Miami Book Fair International poetry reading, which was advertised in this FIU News story yesterday!  Many thanks to Ashley Garcia for the great article (and publicity!)  I wasn't joking about wanting an empty room to read to, though!  As my reading takes place at the same time as Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo's talks, not to mention Brian Weiss' of Many Masters, Many Lives fame, I doubt I have much to worry about!

(P. S. This is my 100th post!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Minerva Rising Literary Journal publication

Minerva Rising Literary Journal's new issue "Wide Open" is now available for purchase and includes my poem "Emily Brontë Addresses Her Creation."  This poem is my current favorite!

Miami Book Fair International appearance

The Miami Book Fair International has announced its final schedule and and I am listed as one of the featured authors!  My presentation of my poetry chapbook, Shining from a Different Firmament, will be on Sunday, November 22nd, at 5:30 pm, along with two other local poets/writers.  Now, it's time to begin panicking!  It will be in the Centre Gallery, Bldg 1, 3rd floor, Room 1365.

I'm very excited one of my favorite poets, Kay Ryan, former U.S. Poet Laureate, will be speaking earlier that day!

My poems "Renascence" and "Caernarfon Retreat" are now available on When Women Waken's Wildlife issue:


Caernarfon Retreat

Click on the titles to read the poems and read the whole issue of poetry by women from all over the world!

Banned Books Week begins today!

To celebrate Banned Books Week, I've created two different displays in the library; one is especially for Banned YA Lit Authors, since YA Lit is the focus of this year's BBW.

This is the one for adult banned books:

Friday, September 04, 2015

"Homeland" and "Crows" in The Light Ephrastic along with Laura Smith's artwork

"Heartless" appeared on Words Dance Publishing's site in February with a photo by Tyler Rayburn

One of my own favorites--inspired by the eponymous Twilight Zone episode and more distantly by Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

Old blogs, new blogs, old poems, new poems

I just realized my link to an old poem is gone from my old website, so I'm adding the image here so I don't lose it.  "Respiratory Tech at the Vietnam Memorial, 1989" began my poetry for publication efforts by winning the grand prize in Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Poetry competition (out of almost 4300 entries).  I was very pleased with the presentation--at that time and even now, they don't always publish the winning poem, but they paired mine with a perfect image that really captured the emotion.

Even though it took me two more years to venture into publishing, I now have more than 50 poems published in a variety of journals and websites, from children's magazines to refereed academic journals to mainstream poetry journals, both print and online.  I am slow but steady, or at least I have been the past few years!

Respiratory Tech at the Vietnam Memorial, 1989

he sees the names carved on the slick black wall
the names appear in death order
he sees the letters that make up the names of the dead
but he cannot read them
he sees the light reflecting on the black wall that bears the names of the dead
he sees his face reflected on the shiny black wall
he sees the names of the dead written on his face
but he cannot read them
the black wall turns white and he sees the faces of the near-dead on their white beds
he sees the black pictures of the black lungs of the near-dead
he sees the blue lips of the black-lunged men as they rasp for breath
their lips shape the names of the dead written on the black wall
but he cannot read them
he walks and walks beside the long wall the color of old blood
he sees the names blur into shapes that writhe like the lips of dying men
he sees the first name and the last name but he knows that is a lie
the names go and on
the pain
the pain
will never die.

(originally published in Writer's Digest, August 2007)