Waking up to an e-mail saying that I’m a finalist in a poetry contest is probably my favorite way to wake up. 10/10 recommend.
But really, it’s so hard to “make it” in this space (whatever that means), to feel like your words even mean anything sometimes, so to be recognized for them means everything to me. We’re all navigating our own struggles, and I’m really glad this vulnerable poem found such a great home. It’s included in Issue 4, which you can read here.
Many thanks again to all the editors of The Lumiere Review and to the judges!
Congratulations to the other winners, finalists, and contributors of this wonderful issue!
I am coming off of a weekend of writing with the Murphy Writing of Stockton UniversityWinter Poetry & Prose Getaway and it has been such a blessing to spend four intense days surrounding myself with a supportive community of writers, crafting language and navigating new stories, during a time when history is being written, and everything in our world seems bleak.
We celebrated Sunday night with a delightful reading and Q&A by featured speaker Ross Gay, whose humor and gracious spirit lit up our Zoom rooms.
Every day brought on the challenge of a unique writing prompt, and I left the Getaway armed with four new solid drafts, new friends, and a notebook penned with inspiration.
I couldn’t have attended without the financial help of the Toni Brown Memorial Scholarship, so again- thank you to the entire Murphy Writing crew and committee for choosing my work so that I could have this opportunity!
And then we got to witness the incredible force that is Amanda Gorman move the world with her words on Inauguration Day?! It is a good week for poetry, indeed.
Whew! Travel has (obviously) come to a halt, and as as result, I’ve been busy with editing and submitting my creative writing. I almost forgot to update y’all, but I’m happy that some poems have been accepted into these journals.
I was accepted to two international writing residencies! One in Iceland, and one in Finland, planned for 2021. A lot can change before then, but I’ve been informed that I can be granted an exemption due to business as long as I follow appropriate protocol, which I will certainly do. Here’s hoping that there will be a reliable vaccine soon, that things improve with containing the virus, and that travel can safely resume.
In Iceland back in 2016, and the answer is YES, about 47 of them.
I’ve been to Iceland before, but if anyone has any recommendations for Finland, I’m all ears! Or, any tips for a productive writing residency, books to bring, prompts, etc.?
Word to Action is a writing retreat centered on the theme of climate change. My friend, Cathy Wittmeyer, is the creator and host of this incredible retreat, which took place October 12-18 in Liechtenstein.
It featured poets Craig Santos Perez, Will McInerney, Kelli Russell Agodon, Richard Blanco, Enda Wyley, and Tess Barry.
It certainly isn’t easy to plan an international writing retreat in the year of 2020, with travel bans and a worldwide pandemic, but Cathy pulled it off seamlessly. I was lucky enough to help behind the scenes with social media and also attended the retreat virtually, which provided me with fresh knowledge and inspiration, but also, renewed hope.
Just after Day 1, I was speechless! I learned so much from both the featured speakers and the other participants that will carry into not only my future writing, but my way of engaging with the world.
I see a clear picture for moving forward and that picture has a lot of haze in it (a continued or new pandemic, other crises, other demands on time): behind the fog is hope that writing poems and putting them into the world will create ripples. The more of us that are out there making ripples, the harder our words will be to ignore. Poetry changes the world with a collective of small vibrations that move through one, two, or a thousand people at a time.
Check out the link to the video performance and record your carbon footprint here.
As we have seen, this year perhaps more than ever, climate change is so very real. I’m continuing to educate myself on actions big and small that I can take, and want to encourage others to do the same. That’s how those ripples will make waves of change. I’m thankful to Cathy and all those who gave their time in making this retreat one to remember.
Hopefully see you there in person in 2021!
P.S. To keep up with Word to Action, find us on Instagram here or @wordtoaction and Twitter here, or @WordtoAction20.
Some good news– This piece I wrote was awarded 2nd place in The Nasiona’s micro-nonfiction/poetry tournamentrecently:
I feel like all women (travelers or not) can unfortunately relate to this. And the emotions it brings are so complex, aren’t they? A mixture of anger, fear, shame, helplessness… Wanting to stand up for yourself but not knowing how, & being so scared it could backfire.
Let me know what you think of the piece, or how you respond to this type of harassment, in the comments 💛
As much as I can take issue with social media sometimes, it has allowed me to meet and connect with so many incredible people. Many of these new friends are doing such impressive and exciting things. Edher in Peru reached out to me for the Cinnamon Traveler Chats, and Gyovanna (who currently lives in Germany) invited me to be on her podcast, Life’s A Trip. This was my first podcast experience! I’ll admit I was nervous, but Gyovanna and I had so much fun and could’ve talked forever. We actually ended up continuing our convo another hour after we stopped recording!
We covered solo travel and traveling as a woman, of course, but also dove deeper into mental health (not only anxiety and depression, but also excoriation disorder/dermatillomania), the story of how I got my pacemaker, and even poetry. You can listen to the episode here on Spotify. or wherever you get your podcasts.
This was the first time I’ve really openly discussed my BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior) and though I felt so vulnerable, I wanted to share my story with others in hopes that either 1.) it resonates with someone else who is also struggling and/or 2.) it shines a light on these disorders so that others can understand them, which will only help remove the stigma that surrounds them.
I can’t thank her enough for having me, and hope you’ll tune in. She always has wonderful guests on, covering all types of interesting topics. And the name “Life’s A Trip” couldn’t be more spot on this year, can it?
Can’t wait to hear what you think,
P.S. To anyone wanting to understand more about dermatillomania, I cannot recommend this Ted talk by Liz Atkin enough: https://youtu.be/mlt3o6dnGqA
This is actually how I found out that skin picking had a name! Also, there are tons of different BFRBs, and resources/websites for them. Here are some favorites of mine:
Some wonderful folks over at The Poetry Question asked me to list my five must-reads or five favorite writers. There’s no way I could do so, but I tried to incorporate a range of voices, including some I’ve been lucky to learn from personally.
Check out my recommendations listed today on The Poetry Question’s #TPQ5 here.