Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway

I am coming off of a weekend of writing with the Murphy Writing of Stockton University Winter 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.

I was fortunate enough to have intimate and engaging workshops led by Peter Murphy, Dilruba Ahmed, Catherine Doty, Cynthia Dewi Oka, and Emari DiGiorgio.

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.

Murphy Writing of Stockton University - School of General Studies |  Stockton University

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.

To writing on,

sig2

Word to Action

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.

From Cathy:

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.

Cathy Wittmeyer, host

Beautiful view of the Alps.
All for the final performance!

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!

sig2

P.S. To keep up with Word to Action, find us on Instagram here or @wordtoaction and Twitter here, or @WordtoAction20.

“Smile” is Synonymous for Survival

Hi friends,

Some good news– This piece I wrote was awarded 2nd place in The Nasiona’s micro-nonfiction/poetry tournament recently:

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 💛

sig2

Poet Lore

!!!!

My poem, “Crystalline” is published in Poet Lore, America’s Oldest Poetry Journal.

103599920_147430383574645_621320986432430495_n(1)

They’ve been around since 1889 and published genius poets like Kim Addonizio, Carolyn Forché, Sharon Olds, Carl Phillips, and Mary Oliver.

Poet Lore

I’m still shaking to my core with excitement.

sig2

Write Now Read Now Series

I was delighted to be a part of many readings in April— and this one was one of them!

About the Write Now Series, taken from their webpage:

Hosted with the Frostburg State University Center For Literary Arts, the Write Now Series is a collection of workshops, writing sessions, and salon-style literary discussions where student and community writers come together. Members are mentored by presses and established writers from all over the country and enjoy participating in a showcase reading at the end of each semester.

Check out the video, now available on YouTube, and find the Write Now Series on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, YouTube, and Spotify.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Kara Rose, possible text that says 'KARA KNICKERBOCKER FRIDAY| APRIL 24 Write Now Presents READ NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH RICK CAMPBELL'

My segment is a reading of a handful of poems and only about five minutes long, so what are you waiting for?! Also, be sure to check out poet Rick Campbell, who gives a reading and an excellent interview as well.

sig2

Love in the Time of Corona

If you can move past this admittedly trite title, I’d like to invite you to stay with me a while—

Here, in my small, one bedroom apartment, in a Pittsburgh neighborhood that is all too quiet tonight. I’m sitting on the couch I got off of Craigslist five years ago, in sweatpants (although I did wash my hair today!), a silver spoon resting in a jar of edible cookie dough (obviously an essential) that I picked up on my final grocery haul beside me, and nothing but the light from this laptop screen in front of me.

I’m alone. I’m used to it. I live alone, I travel alone, I take care of myself. (Well, sort of.) But in the midst of a pandemic sweeping our nation, I feel alone.

I know that as I write this, coronavirus is carving out its place in history. The world as I know it is changing, the economy is diving headfirst into disaster, people are getting sick, some people are dying. Many people are panicked, some are rolling their eyes. But nobody knows what the fuck is going on, or what to do. How long it will last. What this mess will look like after it’s over. When they discuss 2020 in history books years and years from now, what will they say? Will we have learned anything by this?

I honestly don’t know a lot about the world. I’m a small town girl who went to a liberal arts college. I admittedly find out a lot of my news via social media. But I do know some things: like how I believe in basic human rights. And that the amount of mass shootings in the country I live in is outrageous and unacceptable. And I know that right now, due to the spreading of COVID-19 and hopes to slow it, schools are closed, gyms are closed, bars and restaurants are closed. Countless events are canceled.  Countries are on lockdown. International and domestic travel bans are in place. I’ve read the word “quarantine” more in the last week than I ever have in my life.

This is something I never could have imagined. I come from a generation that uses humor as a way to understand, to heal, and to process. (I mean, we basically communicate with memes.) I come from a generation that some people think is entitled, selfish, and stupid. I come from a generation that I think, as a whole, also genuinely cares about what’s happening to the planet, and all its people— regardless of age, race, etc. I come from a generation that realizes they aren’t experts, but still gives a shit– toilet paper in stock or not.

In what feels like a bizarre parent-child role play, I’m now pleading with my mother to stay in. I’m thinking of who is going to take care of my grandmother, now that my parents aren’t only a mile down the road to help her. I’m thinking of the students I support who can’t see their families, or have the great commencement they were expecting, especially those who are first generation international students. I’m thinking of my friend who just had a newborn baby, and the one who is currently six months pregnant. I’m thinking of my fellow writer friends who had upcoming readings scheduled and book launches they wanted to celebrate. I’m thinking of the artists and performers that prepared endlessly, who had to cancel shows, and the heartbroken fans who worked extra to save up for tickets and counted down the days to the event. I’m thinking of my fellow travelers who are stranded in airports, or out hundreds of dollars, trying to figure out what to do next in the chaos of a foreign place. I’m thinking of my friend who is knee-deep in training for a marathon that now may or may not happen- all the miles running into a question mark. I’m thinking of my friend who has an upcoming wedding, and all the planning that went into what was supposed to be the perfect day. I’m thinking of the kind, bright-eyed woman that bags my groceries, how she tells me she’s afraid for her family. How she doesn’t have a choice. I’m thinking of the parents who are worried they will lose their jobs, and for the ones who already have. The schools that close their doors, the children that need meals. The families scrambling to find arrangements and answers for what to do next. I’m thinking of the teachers who are navigating a new world of online classes and a now jumbled course plan. The janitor I usually see every day at 2 p.m. in my office wing, who always tells me to have a nice day. I’m thinking of the elderly, who matter. I’m thinking of the immunocompromised, who matter. And I’m thinking of those closest to them, who are terrified for them, trying to be careful and cautious with every action. I’m thinking of those struggling with mental health who soldier on, their battles intensified by this crisis, but still invisible to most. I’m thinking of the small businesses who are on the brink of collapse, trying to crunch numbers, just trying to stay afloat. Employers who cut corners to ensure they don’t have to cut the wages of their employees. I’m thinking of those who have already lost their lives to this, all around the world, of their families and friends still reeling in the wake of a sudden absence. I’m thinking of those who are currently experiencing symptoms and scared, suffering. I’m thinking of those who don’t have health insurance. Those that don’t have the ability to work from home. Those that don’t have someone to help them. Those that don’t have the money or resources. And I’m thinking of, and especially grateful for, those in the health care industry that are putting tireless and thankless hours in, risking their own health, separating from their own families, and more— working to help fight this.

So yes, right now, I am just a girl in sweatpants, sitting on my couch. It’s the least I can do to not put myself and others at risk. I am embracing self-isolation fully, freely, and openly. Before all of this, I was desperately needing time to myself. Now that I have some, I feel the pull to be productive…to write, to work on new projects, etc. With that, I am also feeling the heavy guilt that comes with not constantly doing or accomplishing something. But fuck that.

We aren’t machines. I need to remember that I am human, and especially as someone who struggles with her mental health, I am learning to just be. Not cross off every to-do list or bucket list item, just for one moment! Breathe in, and just be here. That’s absolutely enough, especially right now.

Since Monday, I’ve been working from home and will be for the next unknown amount of time. It’s both strange and wonderful. Today, I hopped on a video conference call with two of my dearest friends/colleagues, Holly and Chloë, and almost cried because I missed seeing them in the hallways of the university we work at, or taking our regular lunch break walks together.

Tonight, I FaceTimed with my family- who are all together at my brother’s house in Florida. Him, his wife, their two daughters, and my parents. While I’m so grateful for the technology that makes these 963 miles between us feel closer, and although I will say that this is one time in my life I am so glad to not be traveling… damn. I miss them. Those candy-sticky hands and full hearts, my dad’s quiet presence, my sister-in-law’s radiant smile, my brother’s contagious laugh, my mother’s undeniable warmth.

Earlier this evening, I read a book cover to cover. I can’t tell you how long it has been  since I’ve done that. I’m going through old notebooks of poetry. I’m retracing steps in my travel photos. I’m letting myself binge a little Netflix. I’m resting.

I know I said I’ve been feeling alone, but I’ve also never felt so connected. I say it every time, so I don’t know why I’m still surprised that when some form of tragedy happens, it always seems to bring people together. This continues to amaze me. The people volunteering their time, those offering online services free of charge, those raising money, those stepping up and showing up in all corners of the universe. And the connections from my circle- love that flows through telephone wires with a long distance friend, the FaceTime with family, e-mail chains with my Madwomen writing group, “meeting” new people on Instagram and Twitter. What’s more, I’m connecting to myself again, using the time I’ve been given to get back to the thing that always has nurtured me most: the written word.

So, hang in there, friends. We will rise together.

Sending you love and light,

sig2