Who Writes Better?: A Battle of the Sexes

The fine folks at Grammarly (a grammar checker) were kind enough to share the following infographic with me. I wanted to share it with y’all because I think it’s an interesting debate. What defines “good” writing anyhow? Is it the characters? Plot? Description?

Checking out my Goodreads list reveals that so far this year, I’ve read six books written by women and four books written by men. The thing is, I don’t really pay attention to the gender of the person writing; I tend to focus more on the type of content or plot I’m interested in at the moment. But my statistics would say I prefer women.

Hmmm, what do you think? Are women or men better writers?

Image courtesy of grammerly.com

Image courtesy of grammerly.com

The Resolution Game: 2015 Edition

Image courtesy of becuo.com

Image courtesy of becuo.com

We’re almost two weeks into the new year. I figured it was time to not only wrap up my previous year’s resolutions but to also share my goals for 2015.

2014:
I’ll admit it: I didn’t do as well with these goals as I had hoped. It may have been due to the fact that I had so many goals. It may have just been apathy. It may have been because I planned a wedding in 2014. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I finished what I did, and I’m looking ahead…right after this recap.

1. Read 5 classic books
I read The Hobbit. The problem I found with this goal is that I read one or two more classic books in 2014 but couldn’t count them because they weren’t on my list. The particular list I made was pretty limiting, unfortunately.

2. Read 5 books I already own
Yeah, didn’t do to hot on this one either. There must be a phenomenon among readers where we need to have the shiniest books, but once we own them, they get lost in the shuffle and we go on to shinier books.

3. Read 10 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list
OK, I rocked this one and finished out the year having read 20! Really proud of this.

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years
Aaaand right back into resolutions I didn’t do well with. I’m almost done with one ARC, but didn’t quite finish in time for the new year. I’m hoping to keep my Netgalley review average to about 70-80 percent this year. (It’s currently hovering around 1 percent. Dismal, I know.)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

5. Read the four Gospels
I started this one. I got up to chapter 11 in Matthew, chapter 9 in Luke and John, and didn’t start Mark. This is getting depressing….

6. Send chapbook out to at least five different contests
Yay, a pick-me-up resolution! Not only did I submit to more than five contests, my chapbook, Field Guide to Fire, was picked up for publication by Finishing Line Press. Booyah!

You can pre-order your copy here.

7. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests
This didn’t happen. I kept meaning to and wanted to send out to one or two November contests. I forgot how much time putting together a full-length manuscript takes.

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig
No dice, unfortunately, though I did apply to a few positions. Also, this is largely out of my control because I can only apply, not hire myself (though that would be awesome if I could!).

9. Work on a piece of art every other week
This one went fairly well. I broadened my idea of what “art” is and took off the pressure of having to work on a piece I wanted to sell. I let myself play and got some fun doodles in the process.

10. Blog at least twice a week
*Sigh* This did not happen either…at least not consistently. Many life events derailed me. BUT I made a shiny editorial spreadsheet at the end of 2014. Hopefully it will guide me to a more consistent blogging schedule in 2015.

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards
Ending on a high note, woot! This one’s done and done.

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2015:
Mmmmkay, I want to keep this year simple. As I worked through last year’s resolutions, many people made the good-natured comment, “I get overwhelmed just looking at your list!” I realized I did too, but tried to plow through anyway. The result was much frustration and a lack of focus.

With that in mind, I picked a word for 2015 (“gather), and I’m focusing more on creating habits in areas that are super important to me. Here is my (more manageable) list of resolutions:

1. Cook a healthy meal once a week
Toward the end of 2014, I got super sick. During that time, my husband and I ate a lot of

Picture courtesy of sexyeatz.com

Picture courtesy of sexyeatz.com

takeout food. I don’t feel great about that decision, though I realize there were circumstances in the way of cooking healthy meals. I want to be more conscious of what I consume in 2015.

I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself because I still love chocolate. I want this to be fun. The goal isn’t to lose weight; it’s to take care of my body. I plan on being around for a while! Plus, I love cooking and want to indulge in this practice more.

If you have any recipes you’d like to pass along, feel free to e-mail them to me at michelle.e.greco [at] gmail [dot] com.

2. Meditate once per day
Taking care of one’s spirit is just as important as taking care of one’s body, in my opinion (or IMHO, as the kids are saying these days). My goal here is to be mindful of God each day, whether it be through prayer, yoga, reading the Bible, talking a hike, doodling, etc. I’m of the opinion that you don’t have to sit in silence to be close to God. Sometimes I like to sit still, but sometimes I’m too antsy for that. Keeping the way I meditate open will, I think, help me with succeeding with this goal.

3. Work on art once per week
I’m upping the ante a bit here. I want to work on art once per week, which hopefully won’t be too hard since I’m OK doodling once per week all year.

However, I’d love to work up to arting three times per week and focusing more on selling my art. My vision goes something like this:
Start out: Once per week (work on doodles and sketchbook ideas, visit craft fairs to get ideas, and make artist contacts)
Continue to: Twice per week (work on both sketchbook ideas and starting art I’m willing to display to build body of work)
End the year at: Three times per week (sketchbook ideas, have several finished art pieces in whatever medium or in a theme, begin forming a plan to sell more art seriously/exhibit more of my work)

Photo courtesy of clipartpanda.com

Photo courtesy of clipartpanda.com

I’ve also given myself a hashtag: #arteveryweek2015. If you want to join in with making art every week, tag your work on Instagram!

The goal with the hashtag (and this goal in general) is to have fun and, hopefully, build a bit of a web presence. I just want people to talk to me about art. I’m not fishing for compliments; I’m just looking for an online community.


4. Read 60 books
 I would love for this number to be broken down as such:
20 books on my “To Be Read” list on Goodreads
20 books I already own
20 ARCs I’ve received

Ideal? Yes. Realistic? I’m not sure. I’m going to shoot for it, but as long as I have read at least 60 books in 2015, I’ll count it as a win.

5. Keep a steady writing practice
This one has steps too. Sort of. There are many things I would like to do this year as far as writing. Here are a few items I’ll keep in mind when I think of this resolution:

  • Celebrate my chapbook!
  • Revamp my full-length collection and send it to two fall contests
  • Aim to have one new draft of a poem to read at each reading I go to (which may translate to writing a new draft per month
  • Work on a piece of fiction or nonfiction (gotta spread the wings a bit sometimes)

Your turn to share: What are your goals for the new year?

Poetry Monday – Mark Strand

Photo courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

Photo courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

The book from which the poem is taken. Photo courtesy of oxonianreview.org.

The book from which the poem is taken. Photo courtesy of oxonianreview.org.

Too many talents have died this year. Among them is poet Mark Strand, who passed this Saturday. I’d like to dedicate this Poetry Monday to his work and memory.

“The Coming of the Light” by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

What I like about this poem: I first heard about this piece when I took a workshop with Jericho Brown a few years back. He featured this poem in a really cool prompt. Since that time, I’ve used this poem in a few workshops with high school students. Because of these experiences, I associate this poem with playfulness and wonder. I often think of the surreal imagery in this poem, particularly the “warm bouquets of air.”

Bonus! Prompt: Here is the prompt Jericho Brown gave us in that workshop I mentioned earlier–
What is the opposite of “up”? Down.
What about “left”? Right.
What about “green”?
What about “the”?
Starting to get more difficult, right?

The prompt is to re-write this poem. The catch is that you must re-write it word for word using the opposite of each word. For example, write down the opposite of “even,” then the opposite of “this,” and continue in this manner until you’ve finished the whole poem. It’s OK if you are not certain of a word’s opposite. Make it up! “Opposite” can be interpreted in so many different ways. This is a great exercise for letting go of expectations and being surprised!

Librarian’s Spotlight – Tara Anderson

Today’s Librarian’s Spotlight features a lovely lady whose blog I’ve been following for some time now. While reading her blog, I’ve found she’s had some really cool things to say about being in a PhD program, YA lit, and many other bookish topics. It’s my pleasure to present this wonderful, informative interview with librarian and blogger extraordinaire, Tara Anderson!

me circleRoaring Out: Please introduce yourself and speak a bit about your background with libraries.
Tara Anderson: Hi! I’m Tara Anderson, and I finished my MLIS in School Library Media in 2010. I worked in a middle school library for three years before deciding to go back to school and get my PhD. I originally wanted to do my PhD in Library Science, but decided that a PhD in education would be me more marketable when looking for tenure-track faculty positions upon graduation. Fun fact: I was voted “most likely to be a librarian” in fifth grade.

RO: What made you want to become a librarian?
TA: I became a librarian with the specific intention of becoming a school librarian. I taught middle school for a few years, and did a lot of lessons in the school media center. The school librarian suggested that I might make a good school librarian with my love of books and my tech skills, so I applied to library school and took the plunge.

RO: You are currently working on your PhD in YA literature. What is your least favorite aspect of getting your PhD? What is your favorite aspect of getting your PhD?
TA: My favorite aspect of getting my PhD is having a lot of freedom in what I do with my days. I get a lot of control over my classes and the papers I write within those classes. And even though I spend a lot of time on studying and research, I can do a lot of it from local coffee shops. My least favorite part is always feeling like I should be doing more. There are always so many things on my to-do list!

RO: Librarians have been pegged with several stereotypes. Are there any that you find particularly amusing?
TA: I find the sexy librarian stereotype rather amusing. I’m kind of the opposite of that. I like the idea that we can be sexy and smart, but I think personal brand of sexy is a little outside of what that stereotype is portraying.

RO: What is your favorite database/online resource? Why?
TA: I was always a fan of procon.org . A lot of middle school projects have students practicing argumentative essays or exploring issues in politics or science. The site is a good starting point for these essays, clearly defining both sides of the issues. It is designed for students, and fits all of the criteria for “trustworthy resources” that we try to teach in middle school: it has citations, a clear creator, and well-organized content.

RO:What book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you would recommend? Conversely, what book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you not would recommend?
TA: I’m currently reading Noggin by John Corey Whaley, and it is brilliant! The premise that a kid has his head cryogenically frozen when he gets really sick from cancer, and comes back to life 5 years later when they connect it to another body. The science is supposed to be a little wacky, but the story itself is an interesting exploration of second chances. As for a book I wouldn’t recommend, I just finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and found it obnoxiously pretentious.

RO: Your blog, The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh, is really such a wonderful place for literary types. What prompted you to start your blog and expand your love of books outside the library’s walls?
TA: My blog started as a blog in my media center, but it become very clear within a month that I wanted to say things a little too controversial for a middle school blog. I decided to move from Blogger to WordPress and pursue a personal blog.

RO: You have a very consistent posting schedule (posting once every weekday. With all that you juggle, how are you able to keep up with all of your posts and the comments they receive?
TA: I schedule everything ahead of time! The blog in general has a posting schedule that forces me to spread my content out. I do reviews on Mondays and Thursdays, quotes on Fridays, I post about graduate school on Wednesdays, and I usually do Top Ten Tuesday lists on Tuesdays. I’ll sit down while watching TV and write 4-5 posts when I’m feeling inspired. I have a calendar that I use to keep up with it all. The nice thing about the schedule is that a crazy week at school can go by and I might only miss 1 or 2 posts, rather than a whole week. If I disappeared tomorrow, the blog would run itself through mid-May!

RO: The Internet is full of wonderful resources for librarians, and you are active on many of those outlets. What do you love about connecting with other librarians/bookish types via social media and your blog?
TA: There is no possible way that I can read all of the books that I want to read or that kids want to read, but I really do feel like I know about a lot of books I haven’t read from reading reviews and musings on other blogs. Some of my fellow bloggers are still in high school, so they are also a good resource for thinking about YA books from the perspective of actual YAs. They have been a great resource, and I’m currently thinking about involving them in my dissertation in some way.

RO: We all know that kids say the darndest things. In your experience as a middle school librarian, what is the funniest interaction you’ve had with a middle-school patron?
TA: Middle school kids are nuts. In a good way, of course! I think my funniest interactions were with my TV news crew. We used to do the daily announcements on the closed-circuit television system. They used to come up with very creative ways to force me to play the news anchor for the day. I was supposed to just supervise and they knew I hated being on camera. One time they all changed into non-uniform shirts just before the news, knowing that I could not let them on the air out of uniform. It wasn’t something they could get away with all the time, but it was hilarious and they were so clever about!

RO: What is something librarians do that, in your opinion, should be considered a superpower?
TA: I’m pretty sure I can tell what’s happening on 24 computer screens at once. The kids used to joke that I can tell who is sneaking on Facebook from across the room.

RO: Going off of that question, if you could have a skill that is traditionally considered a superpower, what would it be?
TA: I would want to be able to be invisible at will. I’m a curious person and I would sneak into all kinds of meetings. I think this is why I want to be a researcher—I like observing people.

RO: Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is considering going into the library science field?
TA: Jobs are pretty scarce right now, but not impossible. Have a pretty good idea of what you want to do before starting library school. I was able to land a school library job because I was already in the school system and had connections. However, some of my classmates are still looking for school library jobs (3 years later) because they have no classroom experience or connections and the schools are on hiring freezes. For anyone not looking into school libraries, being able to spread your job search across the whole country, or at least a region, will also help. Many of my classmates are unemployed or underemployed because jobs in general right now can be hard to come by. I know that sounds pessimistic, but it is realistic.

 

Thanks, Tara, for your advice and insight! If you’d like to keep up with Tara’s happenings, follow her on her blog or on Twitter.

Musing on Three Years of Waiting

dearsister_newcover_1

Image courtesy of AK Press

In December of 2010, my poem “Smooth as Scales” was accepted to an anthology titled “Dear Sister.” At the time, I knew that the manuscript didn’t have a publisher. So began the wait.

But let me back up a bit—
I should mention that the subtitle of the anthology is “Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence.” Before I submitted to this anthology, I’d gone through an event that qualified me to submit. I tried to convince myself that nothing had happened, but my nightmares and panic attacks told a different story. Looking back on that part of my life, I’m reminded of Jennifer Percy’s quote: “…The imagination of the event is so often more terrifying than the reality.” I know this is not true for everyone, but it was for me. I kept replaying the event constantly in my mind. In some ways, I think that rumination on the negative made me sick and my nightmares worse.

I thought about this event so much that I felt I had to write it out; otherwise, it threatened to poison my body. “Smooth as Scales” came to me. I read it to a dear friend of mine, and she later encouraged me to submit to “Dear Sister.” When my poem was accepted, it was like being told, “What you went through matters no matter what anyone else says.” It was a validation not only of my poetry, but (perhaps more importantly for me at the time) it was also a validation of the pain I had endured.

Spring forward to Winter 2012: Myself and the rest of the anthology’s contributors got an e-mail saying that the anthology was going to be published! Following that e-mail and swell of happiness were proofs and bios and media kits. It was all worth it. The anthology was published by AK Press on January 15, 2014.

Dear Sister Box of Books

In these past few years, the less-than-pleasant part of my story that appears in “Dear Sister” has simply become part of my life’s tapestry. I’m in a very different place now than I was when I wrote the poem. Seeing it in print, I think, has helped me close a chapter. I’m healed…now it’s time to pass that healing on to others.

Since the contributors of this anthology are far-flung across the nation, we were all encouraged to set up our own events. I held a poetry reading at Bernardsville Public Library this past Sunday with some lovely readers from Adanna. We all read works that revolved around the theme of healing and grief. Below are the lovely ladies I read with.

Adanna Dear Sister Reading

Stepping behind the podium to welcome everyone to the reading was an incredible feeling. Everyone read beautifully, and I loved speaking with each person at the small gathering. It reminds me of a quote from the last section of the anthology: “Forgiveness is a possibility that happens in conversation.”

If you’d like a copy of “Dear Sister,” e-mail me at roaringout@gmail.com. I still have some copies. Each copy is $10. I’d be happy to mail one out to you!

Looking Ahead: My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks

‘Tis a new year, hence new goals.  As mentioned in my 2013 resolutions wrap-up post, last year’s goals, more than anything, served to show me what is really important in my life. As a result, I’ve tweaked the focus of my resolutions and broke them up into two categories: Reading Goals and Creative/Lifestyle Goals. Here’s hoping this new format keeps me focused this year.

Reading Goals

1. Read 5 classic books
I’ve recently realized that there are a lot of “classic” books that I was never assigned in high school or college. I’d like to catch up on reading I feel I’ve missed out on.

The cover of the first edition of Adventures o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term “classic” can mean many things, and there are tons of classic book lists out there (seriously, just google it). I’ve come up with my own list to pick from, which is sort of an amalgamation of those I found online:

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
Dracula – Bram Stoker
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
My Antonia – Willa Cather
Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
The Crucible – Arthur Miller
The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Two Towers – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Return of the King – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
The Trial – Franz Kafka
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Tubman
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

2. Read 5 books I already own

I totally failed at this very achievable goal last year. As an attempt at redemption, I’m giving it another go this year.  I posted all the books for this goal last year, so instead of posting them again, here’s a list of some books I added to my shelves in 2013:

Cover of "The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry S...

Cover of The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry Series)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Endarkenment – Jeffrey McDaniel
We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

3. Read 10 books on my “To Read” list on Goodreads

This particular list has grown quite a bit in the last year. I have 450 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list. I came so close to finishing this goal last year so, much like the previous goal, I want to try it again.

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years

I keep requesting ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of books, and publishing houses continue to graciously give me free copies. And I have yet to crack one open and review it. I’m actually pretty ashamed of this fact, so I want to play catch up by reading and reviewing all of the ARCs I’ve received since I first began requesting them two years ago.

Eve and Adam – Michael Grand and Katherine Applegate
Zealot – Reza Aslan
Trying to Be Cool – Leo Braudy
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Back to Christmas – Dennis Canfield
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro – Joao Cerqueira
Dukkha, the Suffering: An Eye for an Eye – Loren Christensen
Empty Mansions – Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Matters Familiar – E. G. Frabricant
Love & Math – Edward Frenkel
After Visiting Friends – Michael Hainey
Hunted – Elizabeth Heiter
The Psychology of Twilight – (Eds.) E. David Klonsky, Alexis Black, and Leah Wilson
The Devil You Know – K. H. Koehler
Defy – Sara B. Larson
I Love My Slow Cooker – Beverly leBlanc
Sugar Hill: Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem – Terry Baker Mulligan
Doing Harm – Kelly Parsons
Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey – (Ed.) Lori Perkins
The Last Stratiote – LeAnn Neal Reilly
Lost at Sea – Jon Ronson
With or Without You – Domenica Ruta
The Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski
A Conspiracy of Alchemists – Liesel Schwarz
Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge
Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli
Son of a Gun – Justin St. Germain
Growing in Wisdom and Love: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation – Susan Stabile
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
You Got to be Kidding! – Joe Wenke

5. Read the four Gospels

I’m really bad at reading the Bible. This goal is my attempt to bring spirituality into my resolutions by incorporating something I already love to do: read. I think the Gospels are a good place to start since they are a manageable amount of content to cover in one year. Plus, I think the research nerd in me will love diving into lexicons and concordances in conjunction with the readings.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

Line art representation of a Quill

Line art representation of a Quill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests

The two years of my MFA led up to this manuscript, and I think it’s time I dusted it off and took it for a spin. I haven’t sent out my full-length collection since 2011 because I didn’t think it was ready. If I don’t work on it, the book never will be.

My writing has changed quite a bit since I graduated three years ago, and I’d like my collection to reflect that. I’m not looking for my book to be earth-shattering or print ready. I just want it to be a collection of poems I’m proud to put out into the world. I’m giving myself until the fall to send it out because that means I’ll have the summer to work on it. This time frame also gives me enough time to save up submission fee money.

Lastly, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with contest entries, so I gave myself the very low-key goal of submitting to two fall book-length manuscript contests. The more concrete and realistic the goal, the more likely I am not to be overwhelmed.

7. Send my chapbook out to at least five contests

This is a tweaked goal from last year. I wanted to publish a chapbook last year, but then realized there’s no way I can predict that. I can make publishing a chapbook a goal for years and never cross it off because I can’t control whether my book gets picked up or not. However, I can control how much I submit the chapbook. As a result, I’m going to give myself a number and stick to it.  This number, much like the previous goal, is very low-key and manageable. And, hey, if my chapbook gets picked up this year, even better!

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig

This goal is a more “grownup,” practical one. I’d like a full-time job that allows me to be creative and have free time. Teaching is great for that. Last year, I sent out quite a few teaching applications. I hope to reap the fruits of these efforts this year.

9. Work on a piece of art every other week

 

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This goal is another tweaked repeat of last year. I tried to work on art each week, which proved to be a bit too hard. Art is still very important to me, and I want to make time for it, so I’m setting a more realistic goal for myself. Hopefully, the amount of time I dedicate to art will increase as the year progresses and I learn to manage my time better.

Note: “Piece of art” here is defined in very broad terms. I’d like to work on a project related to the arts (poetry, painting, mixed media, jewelry, sewing, video, etc.) once a week.

10. Blog at least twice a week

I’ll do it this year, I really will!  I know I may fall off the wagon a few times, but I hope to post twice a week more often than not.

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards

Here’s another “grownup” goal.  Being in less debt will make me happy, so I’m setting a goal for it, even though it isn’t as exciting as getting my hands dirty with paint or ink.

 

One thing I know I will constantly be reminding myself of in 2014 is that while goals are nice, the journey is just as important. I also tend to be super hard on myself sometimes. So, as I mentioned in my teaching post, I’ll also be practicing being kind to myself. Be kind to yourself too in 2014.

What’s one resolution you’re making in 2014?

Poetry Monday – Dean Young

Thanks for much for joining me today for Poetry Monday!  And Happy Labor Day 🙂  Today’s poem comes from the summer issue of the Threepenny Review.  It’s called “Remake” by Dean Young.   Enjoy!

(side note before the video: I mentioned earlier in the summer that I would only continue the bi-weekly poems through the end of August.  I’ve decided to make Poetry Monday bi-weekly on a permanent basis.  This will allow me to write other content on the blog.  Thanks for understanding ya’ll!)

I’m Just Not Into Romance in Book Form: A Review of David Levithan’s “Every Day”

English: A photograph of a heap of candy heart...

All the candy hearts. Yes, all of them.

I received my first Advance Reader Copy (ARC) in the mail about three weeks ago.  I subscribe to an e-newsletter called Shelf Awareness Pro.  I saw the add for “Every Day” by David Levithan and thought the premise was interesting.  A 16-year-old boy named A wakes up in a different body and a different life every day.  This is how it has always been for him.  So, he just coasts through life (or, in A’s case, multilife) and tries to make as few waves as possible.  Until he meets Rhiannon.

Ok, let me stop here.  Generally, I’m not into romance books.  But because of A’s unique situation, I decided to give it a shot.  I figured, “Hey, what if this Rhiannon chick becomes the catalyst for him to find out why he jumps from body to body and they become tangled in a search for a conspiracy?”

But this does not happen.  A is not interested in figuring out why he is the way he is or trying to stop it.  He’s not interested in finding out if he has a body all his own.  He’s only interested in seeing Rhiannon every day after he meets her.  This need comprises most of the book.  It was fun at first to see how Rhiannon would react to all of the different forms A takes.  But after a few encounters, I found these meetings to be a bit tedious.

That being said, there are a few qualities that I liked.  A says quite a few things that ring true, such as (and I’m paraphrasing here) that sometimes a moment or a situation just is and that’s ok; you can be content without struggling to change it.  He has quite a bit of experience what with living a different life every day and I found that really intriguing.  Though, since his circumstances are constantly changing, I had a hard time believing he could have all of the life experience and insight he claimed.  There is something to be said for routine and having the same parents/friends/significant other for an extended period of time.

Usually I have no stomach for romance, as I mentioned before.  But I thought the progression of A and Rhiannon’s relationship was done well.  Ultimately though, it lacked the adventure and curiosity I expected from these two youngsters.  It ended at a juncture that I thought was actually a good starting point (with A hungry to experiment with staying in a body longer than one day and delve deeper into what makes him the way he is, albeit with help from a somewhat shady character.  Lots of grist for the novelist’s mill here!). Also, there were no explosions.  I love explosions (Expendables 2 anyone?).

“Every Day” is well written and has the start of a really cool idea.  It just wasn’t fleshed out in a way that suited my taste, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. While it was not my cup of tea, I would recommend “Every Day” for those who like a good teenage romance story.

Poetry, Cobblestone, and My Orange Shirt: A Weekend in Massachusetts

Poetry can be a solitary task what with all the writing and revising and talking to your raven.  So two weekends ago, I decided to volunteer at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, MA.  The festival was headed by a friend of mine and I was happy to help out.  The weekend started with the nearly 5 hour drive up after work on Friday.  The drive was actually pretty relaxing and I saw some really great scenery.

On Saturday, I spent the early part of the day directing volunteers and poets to check in and get their shirts, like this one!

I did get to spend some time volunteering outside in the beautiful weather.  After my shift was over, I walked around Salem and took some pictures of the scenery.

It’s funny what you’ll see around town.  This is probably the most uplifting (and literary based) “graffiti” I’ve ever seen in a bathroom stall.

Afterwards, I attended the panel “Enduring Song,” led by my friend, Monica Hand.  She and Katie Rushin spoke of African-American poets and their link to song and singers.  I didn’t take pictures there since it was a small venue and it would’ve been distracting.

After the panel, all of the volunteers and poets were invited to a reception with yummy food, live music, and great company.

After dinner came the headline poetry reading, featuring Joy Harjo, Nikky Finney, Sherwin Bitsui, Wesley McNair, and Susan Cattaneo.  Here are some shots I took from the night:

I headed home the next day after a full weekend.  All in all, it was a fun experience that melded the practice of writing poetry with action!

Want to see more shots of my time in Massachusetts?  You can check out the Flickr gallery here!