Saturday, January 30, 2016

FEM Magazine interview



FEM Magazine interviews me!

THE FEM is a literary journal that publishes feminist, diverse, and inclusive creative works and interviews with writers, artists, and creators twice a week. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Poetry Press Week 2016 in Miami-- an exciting new way of presenting your poetry!

Poetry Press week is currently accepting submissions from South Florida poets for our 2016 show at the O, Miami Festival, April 22-23. We are honored to have three distinguished poets who will select invitees from the submissions pool:John Brehm is the author of two books of poems, Help Is On the Way and Sea of Faith, and the associate editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. His poems have appeared in POETRY, The Southern Review, New Ohio Review, The Sun, Prairie Schooner, The Writer’s Almanac, and many other journals and anthologies. He teaches for Mountain Writers Workshop and Literary Arts.Ashley Toliver is the author of IDEAL MACHINE (Poor Claudia, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Caketrain, Front Porch, PEN America and Third Coast, among others. A Cave Canem graduate fellow, she currently lives in Portland, Ore.Beatriz Fitzgerald Fernandez is the author of Shining from a Different Firmament (Finishing Line Press) which she presented at the Miami Book Fair International this year.  Her poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, FLARE: The Flagler Review, Label Me Latina/o, Verse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest, among others. Submissions for Poetry Press Week at O, Miami close January 31.

I am one of the judges!

From Poetry Press Week's site:

Poetry Press week is currently accepting submissions from South Florida poets for our 2016 show at the O, Miami Festival, April 22-23.

We are honored to have three distinguished poets who will select invitees from the submissions pool:
John Brehm is the author of two books of poems, Help Is On the Way and Sea of Faith, and the associate editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. His poems have appeared in POETRY, The Southern Review, New Ohio Review, The Sun, Prairie Schooner, The Writer’s Almanac, and many other journals and anthologies. He teaches for Mountain Writers Workshop and Literary Arts.

Ashley Toliver is the author of IDEAL MACHINE (Poor Claudia, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Caketrain, Front Porch, PEN America and Third Coast, among others. A Cave Canem graduate fellow, she currently lives in Portland, Ore.

Beatriz Fitzgerald Fernandez is the author of Shining from a Different Firmament (Finishing Line Press) which she presented at the Miami Book Fair International this year.  Her poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, FLARE: The Flagler Review, Label Me Latina/o, Verse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest, among others.

Submissions for Poetry Press Week at O, Miami close January 31.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Post-Writing Workshop Wrap-up

Now I know what people mean when they talk of coming "back to reality" after a writing workshop! After attending a poetry workshop in Key West, it is difficult to process all the feedback I got from fellow writers and the teacher, as well as try to retain everything I learned.  I think my brain is two days behind, still downloading data! It was nice to immerse myself in writing and think of nothing but poetry and where to have dinner for five days, but now I must start thinking about dental appointments and home repairs, etc.   I wouldn't really have the stamina for a longer workshop, anyway!  I produced three poems which are close to being in publishable form.



Monday, January 04, 2016

First acceptance of the New Year!

Ah, how sweet it is!  The first acceptance of the year comes from the Quarterday Review for their Imbolc issue. (The editor also offered candid feedback from her and her staff readers, so that was very helpful.  It's always interesting to see what other readers focus on when reading your poems.)

They accepted my latest ghazal Maid Marian's Many Silences!  This poem was inspired by the film "Robin and Marian" starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn which must have made an impression on me since I have never forgotten it!  Contrary to most portrayals, this film showed an older Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

Right now I'm working on a free verse poem entitled Plague Graffiti and another one about Joan of Arc.  I guess I'm sort of mentally stuck in the Middle Ages right now!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Writing Year in Review

Wow, this year ended with the Big Bang of Book Fairs: my Miami Book Fair  presentation/reading experience was eye-opening and even fun on some levels.  But it was a banner year in many other aspects as well:  first of all my chapbook, Shining from a Different Firmament came out in March, (very appropriately for Women's History month); I also had a record of 20 acceptances (for me!--I know this number may be laughable to some people but I wield a slow pen!)  and 15 publications, not including the 20 poems published in the actual chapbook, 5 interviews or articles featuring my poetry, 2 book giveaways, 1 book auction,  1 review of my chapbook in the Quarterday Review and 1 judging experience!

Along with the publications came precious feedback from readers and fellow poets, who were very generous in their comments and it was very encouraging to realize that I am not delusional but actually making some progress in my poetry.

I was fortunate to begin this year by publishing one of my favorite poems "Nothing in the Dark" and ended with the publication of another:  " "Emily Brontë Addresses Her Creation" -- as well as the acceptance of some hard-to-place longer poems in the perfect venue which I hope will go forward.

Next year begins auspiciously, (I hope!), with 1 writing workshop acceptance (with poet Campbell McGrath).  They have so many activities planned--readings, receptions, sunset sailings--that I'm wondering when exactly we are supposed to get any writing done!  But it all sounds like fun.

What do I want to accomplish next year?  I think my main preoccupation is to learn to self-direct my writing so I'm not so dependent on outside stimulus.  Since my tutorial with Andrea ended, I think I'm suffering from the equivalent of the post-M.F.A. limbo that many students find themselves in.  Our tutorial lasted about the same length of time as an M.F.A. and I think accomplished the same, more or less.  Now I have to learn to do it on my own.

Another highlight of the coming year:

Portland-based Poetry Press Week will be debuting in Miami and they have invited me to be a judge, so that will be a new and fascinating experience!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Sparrow's Trill - Minerva Rising's special issue on Race in America

I'm very honored that Minerva's Rising's special issue on race in America:  Sparrow's Trill will include my poem "In the flesh."  Poetry editor Emily Shearer's revision suggestions improved this poem quite a bit and I'm happy it will appear in such an important issue.  From their page:

"After the racially charged act of hate that killed nine people in a Charleston church in June, Minerva Rising no longer wanted to be silent. We wanted to start a dialogue for social change--a dialogue based in love. We wanted to fuse the schisms and unite as one voice writing to heal the open wounds of the heart, writing to change the world we inhabit. That dialogue created this special edition."


 The title, Sparrow’s Trill, comes from the poem "Tapestry I (Mississippi, 2015)" by Jessica Lanay.
the thick
rope groans against a high
bough and it sounds
so much like
the end of a sparrow’s trill that
I look for birds

Subscribe to Minerva or purchase this issue here.


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!)