June 4, 2016

If we named seasons the way we name pets or hurricanes, I would name the spring of 2016, Collaboration. Or The Marvelous Capacity of Humans to Create. Or maybe just Damned Lucky. Damned lucky is how I feel to have been a part of two remarkable collaborations this spring, the scale and scope of which have left me both humbled and energized.

 

The Shared Visions Project produced by Thomas Edward Morgan and the Ars Nova Singers was inspired by the idea of art begetting art begetting art. In 2015, Ars Nova invited seven Colorado artists to submit their work for consideration in the project. A collection of twenty-three images was then assembled in an online portfolio and shared with a few dozen Colorado poets, who were invited to write and submit new poems inspired by the artworks. The entire collection of art and poetry was then compiled and provided to four Colorado composers, each of whom chose a poem to set as the text for a musical composition for Ars Nova to perform at their thirtieth...

February 14, 2016

 

I’ve been breathing poetry. 

 

January heralded the release party for my book Lessons on Sleeping Alone, and the happy event kicked off a long weekend celebrating Liquid Light Press’s fifth anniversary in publishing.  

 

Lessons on Sleeping Alone is the fourteenth book LLP has published in five years, and the fifteenth – a forthcoming collection by the luminous poet Eleanor Kedney – will be out this spring. To mark the anniversary, publishers M.D. Friedman and Mariamne Engle Friedman invited the entire stable of LLP poets to come to Colorado for a weekend of poetry and celebrations. Audiences in Boulder and Denver were treated to extraordinary readings by Douglas Cole, Lynda La Rocca, Wayne Gilbert, Rachel Kellum, Eleanor, M.D., and me. Douglas and Eleanor traveled from Seattle and Arizona respectively, just for the event.

 

And as a token of their appreciation, M.D. and Mari gave all the poets in attendance the gift of a complete collection of LLP’s beautiful books. Going forward, they wil...

November 7, 2015

My daughter and I are on a reconnaissance mission investigating prestigious women’s colleges in Massachusetts. In between college tours, we visit Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst and the stomping grounds and (eventual burial grounds) of Louisa May Alcott and the transcendentalists in Concord.  

 

At both houses, our tours are comprised of well-read, retired women wrapped in autumnal scarves. My seventeen-year-old daughter stands out in the crowd, both for her youth and her knowledge of Dickinson’s life and poetry. Our tour guides exude the worshipful reverence of literary devotees, and lead us with quiet authority from room to room.

 

I picture Louisa May Alcott striding up the path to Orchard House after calling on Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Emily Dickinson working the gardens surrounding the Dickinson’s Homestead. I imagine them both traipsing through hallways or flouncing on settees where tourists now file quietly by, pausing to admire the roses on Emily’s wallpaper or the pencil sketch...

August 17, 2015

The height of summer is a season of creative inspiration for me.  I get a month’s break from my demanding day job, which allows me to spend time at higher altitudes surrounded by extraordinary displays of wildflowers and the jagged beauty of the Rocky Mountains. The combination of nature and leisure never fails to reinvigorate my writing practice. 

 

This summer, my writing was additionally bolstered by attendance at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ (SCBWI) annual conference in Los Angeles and detailed manuscript critiques from the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ (RMFW) annual Colorado Gold contest.  Both events, combined with the constancy and wisdom of my critique partner, Heather, have pushed me into a new relationship with the novel I am currently revising, and have helped me break free from creative constraints I had placed on myself.  

 

Two of the best SCBWI workshops I attended were led by HarperCollins’ editor Jordan Brown. His session on voice su...

June 26, 2015

 

 

Like most writers, I have many passions about which I care deeply. When I'm not wearing my writing hat (or out hunting wildflowers on a trail somewhere), I work as Director of Professional Development in a K-12 public charter school. I was recently interviewed about that work when I was in New Orleans presenting workshops on writing and teaching at the National Charter School Conference. The text of the interview is below, or you can read the original post on Procurify's blog.  

 

 

The Procurify business development team just returned from a fantastic trip to New Orleans where the National Charter School Conference took place.  There we met Megan Freeman, Director of Professional Development for Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, Colorado.  We were lucky enough to have a quick chat with her about education, professional development, and the role of technology in schools.

 

What is your role at Peak to Peak Charter School and can you expand on your pro...

April 19, 2015

It was a pleasure to attend the awards ceremony for the first annual Michael Adams Poetry Prize, where my poem "Driving Past Autumn Aspen Groves" was awarded first prize in the natural world category.  Many of Colorado's finest poets were in attendance or represented, including Jared Smith and M.D. Friedman, and the event was judged and graciously hosted by Martin Balgach.  It was a particular pleasure to learn that all three finalists in the nature category were poets published by Liquid Light Press, the press that will release my new chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone, in fall of 2015.  

 

In addition to the showcasing the poetry of Colorado poets, the evening was also a moving celebration of Mike Adams' own work as a poet and a member of the community.  Local poets Karen Douglass and Larry Laverdure each read poems by Mike, and many people spoke about his gifts to the literary world and to the arts and culture in and around Lafayette.  It was an honor to have...

March 29, 2015

A young writer approached me recently about how to improve her writing.  Of course the most obvious answer is, "Write. A lot."  The more we practice anything, the better we become at doing it. But it's also true that practicing bad habits reinforces weak skills, and that's where the need for good teachers comes in. A well-written book read with a discerning eye can teach a writer more than a dozen creative writing classes or critique groups can even attempt. 

 

At last fall's SCBWI conference in Golden, Colorado, renowned children's author, Avi, said in his keynote, "Writers don't write writing; they write reading." Unless we are journaling for our own pleasure or self-discovery, we strive as writers to create text that one day someone will choose to read. Writers write reading. Therefore, anyone hungry to write well must devour as many well-written books as they possibly can. 

 

In discussing this with friend and writer Heather Cyr...

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