Pace News: June

Hello, friends! May has been a whirlwind of activity, so I’ve been taking a break from the blog. Now that it’s June, I’m feeling new energy, I’m ready for summer, and I want to write all the time. Look for me here on Fridays for Reading Rainbow (I post about what I’m reading), Sunday Poetry (I post about poems I’ve written or read), and hopefully some other writing stuff in the middle.

Image result for june quotephoto from picturequotes.com

Here’s all the writing news from the past few weeks:

🌸 My flash fiction story, “The Lighthouse in the Lake,” was just published in Issue 9 of Barren Magazine. You can read it for free here: The Lighthouse in the Lake.  I highly encourage you to check out the rest of the contributors, too. 

🌸 The Aspiring Author Blog is a wonderful writing home for me. My latest post, Poetry: To Whom do you Write?  went up last week. I write about poetry or creative nonfiction every fourth Thursday.

🌸 My poetry is published in the Spring issue of borrowed solace, and I’ll have more coming out in Riggwelter Press on August 1st.

🌸 This summer, I’ll be spending 3 weeks with The Rhode Island Writing Project (a group of incredible teacher-writers), delving into Social-Emotional learning, writing daily, enjoying book clubs, and integrating my teacher self with my writer soul.

🌸 From June 22-29, I get to attend the Kettle Pond Writer’s Conference in the Adirondacks in New York. I am so looking forward to a beautiful week of writing poetry and meeting other writers. I’ve never actually taken a class in poetry writing; in fact, I’ve only taken one semester-long class in creative writing, and it was on fiction. So I am very excited to take this thing I love doing to a new level, and to write in community.

🌸 I am trying to write every day in June! If you want to do the same, comment below and let’s connect – I have a facebook group with some other writer friends.

🌸 Reminder that you can find my pithy and ridiculous thoughts / Little Mermaid conspiracy theories on twitter @MsPaceWrites

 

Have a wonderful June! I’ll be back soon with some news about what I’m reading. After a BIG library day yesterday I am feeling the book love.

Tell me your writing news below!

 

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If We Were Having Coffee…

If we were having coffee, I’d say “Sorry I’ve been away so long!” My last Sunday poetry post was on March 31st. You ask, “Why, what’s up? What’s been going on?” I’d look down and study the handle of my coffee mug and say “Nah, don’t worry about it. I’m here now. I’m okay.”

If we were having coffee, we would have to clink mugs and toast to TWO YEARS of writing poetry. Okay, so I wrote some poetry intermittently before then, but the style in which I write in now, my intensity of purpose, and my willingness to actually show my work to people– all of that was born two years ago when my heart was broken and I decided to write a poem every day for a month. I’m so glad I did.

If we were having coffee, we could take it to-go and walk through my neighborhood. Today I saw daffodils, abundant purple crocuses, a few snow drops, and some mystery stalks poking their heads out of the ground. I’m on a quest to find tulips; do you want to come with me?

April-dresses-in-all-its-trim

If we were having coffee, I’d speak to you of the benefits of self-care. All hail the bralette! All hail the scrunchie! It’s so important to hit the reset button sometimes, whether that means a massage (I got one of those this week and I feel more moisturized than ever before!), yoga, meditation, crappy romantic movies or a soapy TV show (I highly recommend Hart of Dixie), eating whatever you want, or extra sleep. Don’t forget, though, self-care can also be strengthening your will or getting stuff done (adulting! taxes!) and preparing for whatever challenges are going to come next.

If we were having coffee, the subject of the impending AP Test would come up — my kids have been working towards this all year, but now is the exciting time when they actually realize what they’ve learned, and go through the final push to make this big accomplishment! I’m nervous for them, but I’m also so excited. There’s definitely something to be said for a big culminating performance to celebrate the work that’s gone into mastering difficult material. Here we go, May 15th!

If we were having coffee, I’d do a little bit of self-promotion. You can read two of my poems in the Spring issue of borrowed solace (which, by the way, is currently open for submissions). And next week I’ll have another post up at The Aspiring Author Blog. You can read my last one here: Practicing Poetry in case you missed it. There’s a lot of great writing coming from the other contributors on the blog, too.

Have a wonderful rest of your April, Chag Pesach Semeyach to those who celebrate, and Happy Easter too! If you’re writing and living in this world, leave me your updates in the comments!

~ ☕️ ~

Poetry Class

Poetry Class

Oh what joy! 🐦

My poetry class (for 11th and 12th graders at my amazing little public high school) has started for this semester, and I am loving it. I designed the course last year with a small group of incredible students who gamely jumped into writing their own poetry and followed me down the path of reading poetry. This took guts — most of them weren’t already poets, and many had those stubborn, thorny views of poetry as a whole: it’s old, boring, and hard. 

Many people think that to get high schoolers to engage with poetry is impossible, but I believe that it is just a matter of getting them to try it. Like when you’re a kid, and your Dad makes a deliciously refined dish — or broccoli– and you are required to take three bites. Three bites, and if you still don’t like it you can go make yourself a PB&J. If I can get kids in the classroom to write three poems and read three poems without realizing that they’re really doing ~POETRY~ then usually they’ll kind of keep going. I know not every kid I teach is going to wholeheartedly embrace poetry, but I think that I can at least open the door.

I said it this way to a junior student who is thinking about taking the course next year: “It is definitely a class that requires creativity and a willingness to just try stuff, even if it doesn’t work. But by the end of it, the goal is that you could read poetry on your own for enjoyment, you have a way of writing poetry that you can always return to,  and you could succeed in a poetry course in college.”

black ball point pen with brown spiral notebook
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned previously in this blog, writing beside my students has been simultaneously the best thing to spur my writing practice forward and the best thing to help my students’ writing growth. So, in concordance with this mission, I’ve started producing more poetry again.

We start with memory poems, inspired by Geraldine Connolly’s The Summer I Was Sixteen, then we move on to lists. I write what I assign the students to write, and ended up with a flawed poem about the sky that reminded me of afternoons waiting for my mom to come home from work, and a few different lists of things I see and notice.

An easy way to write a list poem is to write “I Saw” three times, creating three stanzas, and then fill in the blanks. Here’s what I wrote in class, on the whiteboard.

I saw the fog over Providence this morning on the bridge.

I saw a bird looking suspiciously down at me as I walked out my door.

I saw the steam from coffee brewing.

 

It’s simpler than what I usually write, but there are things I like about it. I like that it includes both fog and steam, which are relatively hard to see. I like the story it suggests about birds — in every house I inhabit I seem to make bird enemies, who yell at me or haunt my windows when I’m waking up, or guard their chicks from me up in the eves. I think it’s funny how birds like to yell at us, expecting us to understand what they mean.

My students are always invited to comment on these in-class rough drafts, and I often ask them to help me revise. In this case, one girl was adamant that I should switch the order. It made no sense, she insisted, that I started with driving to work and then went backwards back into my house. She’s right, in a way — it would be clearer to the reader if I swapped the first and last lines. But I like how the morning chases me back inside, into a quieter space. It’s often how I feel in the mornings, boldly venturing out in the cold to drive to a job I love, yet somewhat inclined to go back, bundle into bed once more, return to the warmth of reflective, quiet morning.

Does the poem mean that to a reader, or just to me? If I expanded it or added more entries to my list of things I saw, would it add to the sense of the poem, or just make it seem cluttered? When I write frequently and within a community, I get to have this thought process. Poetry happens spontaneously most of the time (at least in my life), but the handling of the poems once they have come into existence is where great skill is needed. I’m still learning that, and I LOVE having my students around me to help.

Stay tuned for further adventures in poetry!

January Sun(day)

January Sun(day)

Hello from my adorable kitchen!

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  • The most exciting news — I have finally gotten an acceptance for my poetry!! Ya girl is going to be published this spring! It feels great to have someone pick me. More information coming soon on where you can read my work when it’s released!

 

  • I do love those cold, sunny winter days, when I can actually take a walk around the neighborhood and breathe in some fresh air. Maybe I’ll set an intention to take a walk every day this week, but I’m also proud that I exercised at home 2x last week and attended a great yoga class. With my health always a little blah and my anxiety always a little “AAH!” it’s important for me to exercise often in very small, non-threatening ways.

 

  • 2019 is the year in which I am 27, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. No fear about getting older, just feeling a bit more settled and solid in my life. Then my students say, “You’re THAT old??” and remind me that no one knows what my face looks like or how old I am. Am I even real?

 

  • My new semester of classes starts tomorrow and BOY am I unprepared but excited! That also means I’m buried in grading as the quarter closes, but I’m not minding it too much. Lots of productive thinking about my students’ writing, what progress they made, how they can show me what they learned. I think I’m ready to set some goals for teaching this semester, as I am very interested in my own professional development right now instead of just letting it fly.

 

  • My novel is inching forward oh so very slowly. (about 1450 words) I’m reminded, since I’m writing by hand, that my best thinking never goes linearly. You should see some of the pages, with their arrows and * and ** and ^ to show where each thought ends up when I run out of space and jump around in my thoughts. It will be so fun to eventually type it up — not.

 

  • One of my best friends is getting married in October, and we’re going through some wedding dress exploration. I get to wear a really pretty bridesmaid dress! Eek! My femininity is jumping for joy like I just fed it a cheeseburger.

 

  • In this spring semester, I get to teach a course of JUST poetry — ah, how lucky am I to have this job! That means I’ll be reading a lot more poetry (stay tuned for more regular weekly reading lists on Fridays), and writing a lot more, too. When I teach this course, I commit to the discomfort/ vanity of letting my kids read some of my poetry, because I believe in writing beside them and it only seems fair to bare my soul when I require them to bare theirs and also get grades. Looking forward to it.

What I’m writing

What I’m writing – January 15th

I had the lovely fortune to have dinner with two dear former students at a taqueria in my old neighborhood this weekend. They made googly eyes at each other and I cracked jokes- it was a grand time. The conversation came around (as always) to what I do besides teaching, and I mentioned that I’ve been writing a lot. She asked me to send her some poetry, he said 12 words was his limit for reading, and I brought up THE NOVEL that I am writing. He insisted that he be put into the book, but we had to think for a moment to decide what role he could play in a 19th century Western.

“How could you exist in a time without cars? What would you be?”

“A farmer!” he said eagerly. His girlfriend laughed.

“I think —  a blacksmith.”

We decided that he’ll play a minor role, that my main character will go to town and casually remark, “Why is the blacksmith so fucking skinny?” and that will be that.

 

So when I came home that night, naturally I had to write. And since so far the novel lives in fragments that have come to me at random times, I had to actually decide on a place to start and on where I would go next. After re-reading my first page, I decided to have my narrator go back to what she sees as the beginning of her story:

We met in the Spring, Alfie and I, when the magnolias were throwing blossoms up like excited praise at the sky. I was a slip of a thing at 15 and he was already his broad farm boy self. I remember the first time that he came to call for me. It were somehow different than all the hundreds of times he’d come from his Daddy’s farm to mine to help with haying or raise our new barn or borrow a horseshoe.

I didn’t think I’d start this quite so linearly, but one of the hesitations I’m facing is that I need to make a lot of fabric for this story. It can’t be sparse like poetry, made of twisted strands and beads. It needs to be woven, thickly, so it can stand up to all the important embroidery with which I intend to embellish it. I think that I’ve been writing poetry with such focus for a while now that I need to reconsider the demands of volume that prose presents. In a way, this takes the pressure off a little. I don’t need to make each word perfect (yet!) and instead can just focus on putting them together on the loom and building something.

 

Other writing notes:

  • I’ve been looking at the number of submissions for each poem in my basket, and I’m surprised by how few times each one has gone out. That makes the fact of my non-publication a little easier, because it means that each poem has not really had its full chance to shine yet. Many of my best poems are recent, so they’ve only been traveling the world for a few months or a few weeks. There’s hope! I’ll be working on getting those numbers up in the next couple of months.
  • Have been following some great writing blogs and sites these days:
  • My freshmen will be writing “This I Believe” Essays this week, and I’m thinking of writing one, too, but I’m so unsure of what I’d write about! Maybe something about how it’s essential to show people you care, but since that’s born of a very recent personal story of someone NOT caring, I’m not sure I’ll choose to expose that part of my tender soul right now. I’ll keep you posted if I do.

 

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