Article from The Onion

Oh writers & readers, how true this rings:

Author Promoting Book Gives It Her All Whether It’s Just 3 People Or A Crowd Of 9 People

“Shortly before her reading Tuesday at local bookstore Word Mentality, author Francine Massey told reporters that she does her absolute best for everyone who comes out to see her, whether it’s just three people or a much larger crowd of nine people…” Read more

http://www.theonion.com/article/author-promoting-book-gives-it-her-all-whether-its-19985

That hits a little close to home. Of course, we can change this. YOU can change this. Go to a reading, support other writers, buy books when you can, send fan notes!

How To Write an Acceptance Speech

“How To Write an Acceptance Speech” – I actually googled this because, tomorrow, I have to give one. And what do poets know about such things? I’m sure there was good advice in the sites that popped up, but I’ll never know, because I started writing the poem “How To Write an Acceptance Speech” instead, which was full of not-very-useful advice on a lot of things not related to speechifying, like the correct color of a roux for your gumbo (chocolate-milk color, y’know).

Maybe there are poets who like to give speeches. I’m not one of them, but New England Public Radio is giving me their Arts & Humanities Award tomorrow, so I had to shape up. Over the past few weeks I briefly considered a call-and-response acceptance speech (nixed), then a poem acceptance speech in which the words “new” “england” “public” “radio” were part of a sestina’s end words (nixed), and I dreamed I had to sing my acceptance speech (woke in cold sweat). I’ve gone through all the grief-stages associated with loss as part of my need to write an acceptance speech, and here I am, 36 hours out, finally at acceptance. I’m even excited (which I’m sure is not part of the grief-stages).

NEPR has been fabulous – they even made a broadside of one of my poems to give out to everyone at the event tomorrow. If they let me put it online, I’ll do that in an upcoming post.

Hopefully I’ll see some of your shiny, happy faces tomorrow. I promise I won’t sing.

Poetry Society of America’s 2015 Robert H. Winner award

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Well, here’s a nice bit of news to get while traveling! I just got word that I’ve won the Poetry Society of America’s 2015 Robert H. Winner award. Congratulations, too, to finalists J.C. Todd and Jonathan Weinert. The award “acknowledges original work being done in mid-career by a poet who has not had substantial recognition, and is open to poets over forty who have published no more than one book.” So: look! Recognition, AND a reminder that I’m over 40! Poetry giveth, and poetry taketh away…

Here’s the link to the announcement.

And here’s the fabulous write up by judge Alan Shapiro:

“These poems are distinguished by their sonic and semantic flexibility and range. They take on important subjects—racism, domestic, political and natural disasters, mortality and time, the contingencies of love, the vulnerabilities of flesh (“the soft parts of us…the first thing we give away,”)—in language that feels both improvised and exquisitely controlled, highly cadenced even when it looks like prose. Their tone is nothing if not companionable, good humored, fiercely clear sighted, full of passion and heart wrenching wisdom. From poem to poem, and even sometimes within the same poem, they shift from mode to mode, descriptively precise and essayistic, realistic and surreal, conversational and song-like. Simplicity of means, complexity of effect–that’s how I’d characterize the marvelous achievement these poems embody in every line of every piece.”

If you’ve read this far, it’s because you’re curious where I went on vacation. California: the coast (harbor seals, whales) and the desert – Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley (no seals or whales). We’re warmed all the way through.

2015 Arts & Humanities Awards from New England Public Radio

NEPRlogo2013I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been awarded the 2015 Arts & Humanities Award from New England Public Radio (emerging artist). Big congratulations, too, to the Community Music School of Springfield, MA (2015 Outstanding Organization) and musician Andrew Lawrence (2015 Outstanding Individual).

New England Public Radio has given the Arts & Humanities awards since 2008; I’m the first poetry-only writer, second writer on the list (Jane Yolen received last year’s Outstanding Individual). Go poetry!!

Here’s what NEPR has to say: “Established by the New England Public Radio Foundation, Inc. in 2008, the New England Public Radio Arts and Humanities Award has been recognizing the rich and varied arts scene in the region for six years and counting. The award recognizes the contributions of local talent, and brings greater public awareness to the critical role played by musicians, artists, dancers, actors, writers and teachers in western New England.”

You can read all about the award and the gala and fundraiser on May 12 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke by clicking here. Check out the past recipients of the award, listed at the bottom of the page. I think I’m reading a couple of poems at the gala. There might be acceptance speeches (I’ll be ridiculously brief: one goofy look at the audience, one breathy thank you, how’s that?). I’ve already told my kids they need to dress up: you can imagine the eye rolling. “Again?” my son wailed (he had to wear a shirt WITH A COLLAR at the PEN New England & Hemingway awards last year). My daughter, on the other hand, said “Oh, I’m wearing a shirt and tie!” She’s a flexible dresser. I appreciate this.

My thanks to New England Public Radio for the recognition and for supporting the arts!

BFWW Panel: “From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known”

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Lecture and panel discussion moderated by Karen Skolfield with Amy Dryansky, Susan Kan, Sarah Sousa, and Michelle Valois

Miss Hall’s School, Centennial Hall, 492 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, 11 a.m.

This event will be of special interest to writers submitting a manuscript or about to publish a first book. We’ll discuss the happy but often bewildering aftermath of acceptance: book design, publicity, the vulnerability of being newly published, postpublication contests, second and beyond books, and the importance of continuing to write after a manuscript has been assembled or even published. We’ll also talk about prepublication editing, researching presses, and contests, realistic publishing expectations, and dealing with a difficult publisher. Although the panel will focus on life after an acceptance, we will have handouts that address the business side of preparing a manuscript. Panelists include a publisher/editor, poets, and a prose writer in various stages of their career. Discussion will be audience-driven—bring your questions! Afterward, the panelists and Perugia Press will have books for sale and will be available for some follow-up questions.

Amy Dryansky’s newest poetry collection, Grass Whistle, was released in 2013 by Salmon Poetry and received the MA Book Award for poetry. She’s also a MA Cultural Council Poetry Fellow. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, was published by Alice James, and individual poems appear in a variety of anthologies and journals.

Susan Kan is founder and director of Perugia Press, a nonprofit, independent literary press publishing the best new women poets in the country (first and second books only). Prior to starting the press in 1997, Susan earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College. Many Perugia books have gone on to win national book awards. See http://www.perugiapress.com.

Karen Skolfield’s book Frost in the Low Areas (2013) won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry and the First Book Award from Zone 3 Press. She is a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts, and is the poetry editor for Amherst Live and an associate editor for Sundress Publications.

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections Church of Needles (Red Mountain Press) and Split the Crow (Parlor Press); she also transcribed and edited The Diary of Esther Small: 1886. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Fugue, and Passages North, among others. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and lives in western Massachusetts.

Michelle Valois is a writer and teacher who has published poetry and prose in the Massachusetts ReviewTriquarterlyBrevity, Fourth Genre, the Florida ReviewSlipstream, and others. Her chapbook My Found Vocabulary (Aldridge) is forthcoming. She teaches at Mount Wachusett Community College.

2011 Oboh Prize in Poetry

February 22, 2012: Fabulous email today from Boxcar Poetry Review. The poem they published of mine, “Rumors of Her Death…” (see post below) was selected as the winner of their 2011 Oboh Prize in poetry by external judge Kelli Russell Agodon. Thanks Boxcar!

And if you’ve never checked them out, you should. I love how editor Neil Aitken works at building community: Every time a new issue comes out, all the writers published by Boxcar since the journal began get to vote on their favorite poems. Top three winners from each issue are advanced for consideration for the Oboh Prize. It’s a huge compliment to get chosen by your peers, and Neil Aitken is fantastic about sending along the reviews from writers. I see Boxcar having a really positive effect on the writing community – certainly a very positive effect on me.