Four Years Later… An Update

In the four years since I last updated the website, the following things have happened:

  1. I completed my residency at Acadia National Park! It was a tremendous experience, the impact of which is still affecting my writing. I am eternally grateful to the wonderful people at Acadia for their support and generosity.
  2. I moved cross-county to Cheyenne, Wyoming. (I’d always wanted to live in the West, and Cheyenne does not disappoint.)
  3. I’ve climbed TWO 14ers in the Rockies, thankyouverymuch. 14ers are what Coloradans call 14,000+ ft mountains, some of the tallest in the entire country: You’re way above the tree-line at that elevation; oxygen is thinner, and you’re basically hiking uphill and/or climbing over boulders for 5-8 hours straight, then killing your knees for the 2,000-4,000 ft drop on the way down. Hikers and climbers in the region collect them like trading cards: “Hey, I just did Elbert. Have you tried Evans Peak yet?” For the record, the two mountains I summitted are Mt. Bierstadt (14,065 ft) and Quandary Peak (14,265 ft), and I plan to knock out a few more in the coming months.
  4. I have a new dog, Maverick, a black lab-mix I rescued from the local shelter. He’s ridiculously smart, kinda stinky, and just wants to be loved up all the time. Also, he snores. I adore him.

Mt Bierstadt– Yeah, I climbed that.

 

In publishing news, I’m delighted to announce that Artful Dodge, the incredible, internationally-renowned journal out of The College of Wooster, will be publishing my long poem, “Service Flag,” in their next issue, due out this spring/summer! 🙂 Special thanks go out to Daniel Bourne and all the editors for their feedback, support, and selection of my poem. I’ll announce when the issue is available for purchase.

Other updates, writing-wise: I AM writing, which is, unto itself, an important update. There have been long periods over the past four years when I wasn’t able to put pen to page or word to Word doc– but in the past year, I’ve taken back my creativity and language and pushed forward. Thanks in large part to my wonderful friend, Amanda Widup, another writer, I’ve started spending significant time each week composing new material, revising, and submitting work. It’s both liberating and terrifying– and feels so good.

There are some fantastic organizations for writers and artists here in Wyoming and the Northern Colorado region, including Wyoming Writers, Inc., the Wyoming Arts Council, WyoPoets. and several Facebook groups for local writers (Cheyenne Writes! and Cheyenne Writers Community, to name two). I highly suggest you check them out, especially if you’re living in or passing through the region.

That’s it for me at the moment– I promise I won’t let another four years pass before updating the website again. 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under News, Poetry, Publication, Residency

Amazing Award News! [Or, Cheers for a Stellar Poet!]

I love it when talent is recognized. I love it when good things happen to good people. And I love it when I get to shout from the rooftops that I’m friends with one of those amazing,  gifted souls. 😀

My best friend, the incredible Jocelyn Heath, just found out that her poem “Orbital” was selected for the 2014 Allison Joseph Poetry Award in Crab Orchard Review!

AHHHHHHHHH! <the sound of stadiums cheering>

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the journal, Crab Orchard Review is considered  one of the most highly rated literary journals in the US. It is hard to get published in its pages. The editors are highly selective –shoot, downright demanding– about the quality and strength of work they accept, even for general submissions.

I should note, Ms. Heath has already had work accepted in COR (Her poem “Plaza in Late Spring” will be available for your reading pleasure in one of the forthcoming 2014 issues).

The winners of the Allison Joseph Poetry Award have gone on to publish significant, critically-acclaimed poetry collections, and that’s only to be expected, because these writers are good. It’s really no surprise Jocelyn is now included amongst their ranks.

Congrats, my dear friend, on your success! It is very well deserved.

[By the way, all current Jocelyn Heath fan mail can be sent to my email address. This arrangement, though, is only temporary: Once these COR issues release, I swear she’ll need to hire someone to run her fan club, because it’ll certainly be a full-time job.]

Leave a comment

Filed under News, Poetry, Woo Hoo!, Writer Recommendation

Big News: Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park!

I got some thrilling news this week: I was just named 2014 Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine! I am beyond thrilled about this, as well as deeply, deeply honored to be chosen. 😀

Autumn at Eagle Lake, Acadia National Park. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, US Dept of the Interior

Autumn at Eagle Lake, Acadia National Park. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, US Dept of the Interior

Artist residencies are vital places where writers, painters, musicians, and other fine art-focused folks can escape the real world and carve out time and space to create. You know how it is: Between work + family + a continual thrum of chores and obligations + daily dastardly distractions (ie the time-suck of online movie streaming and social media), it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find hours and energy for your creative muse. Artist residencies offer a solution: While in attendance, you ignore your regular responsibilities and devote yourself to your craft. Residencies are extremely competitive, but if selected, HUGELY valuable and amazing.

My artist residency at Acadia will take place this October and November. Acadia is giving me a fully-furnished apartment right at the park (thus the “in-residence” portion of the title); I’ll spend a little over four weeks exploring the area’s gorgeous terrain and, most importantly, writingwritingwriting. During my stay, I’ll also volunteer an hour or so each week working with 5th and 6th graders, helping at Acadia’s Halloween Festival, and/or giving a public poetry reading. All in all, it will be a highly productive month. I cannot wait!

My wholehearted and immense thanks goes out to the fine people at SERC Institute and Acadia National Park for selecting me for this incredible opportunity!

Friends, you will hear lots more from me in the coming months about artist residencies and Acadia and my official residency writing plan, but for the moment I’ll leave you with this undeniable truth:

I CANNOT STOP GRINNING. 😀

 

4 Comments

Filed under News, Poetry, Residency, Woo Hoo!, Writing

Monongahela Review Issue 9 is now live!

Awesome! The newest issue of The Monongahela Review, featuring a poem by yours truly, is now available online. You can check it out at http://monreview.com/, or click here to go directly to the PDF issue.

It’s a brilliant journal and a fantastic issue, and I’m very honored to be included with such talented writers. Read away, dear friends!

Side note: My poem is the first work in the issue, which I find particularly exciting. It’s a first. 😛

The Monongahela Review, Issue 9

8 Comments

Filed under News, Poetry, Publication

…In which I dispense a brilliant recommendation. (Also, MERRY CHRISTMAS!)

Santa and Christmas Cards. Jen Dempsey.

Christmas cards and Santa from my students!

Hi folks!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your loved ones! I wish all of you warmth, good food, and love this season. I know many in the Midwest are without heat or electricity right now, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything is fixed very soon, and that you remain safe and comfortable in the meantime.

In other news, my latest poetry review is now available at Prick of the Spindle! Between cooking, opening presents, and watching an assortment of holiday movies on TV, you should check out my thoughts on Julie Gard’s beautiful chapbook, Russia in 17 Objects, at this link.

Blessings and joy to all of you! Catch you in 2014. 🙂

3 Comments

Filed under Literary Review, News, Publication

How Cool Is This?

My poem “Five Hundred Crows” is the featured verse today over at Andy Knowlton‘s A Poem A Day blog. Sweet! Thanks, Andy!

Enjoy, all! 😀

Poem by Jen Dempsey Design by Andy Knowlton


Poem by Jen Dempsey
Design by Andy Knowlton

2 Comments

Filed under Poetry, Publication, Woo Hoo!

Much December Goodness (ie, Updates, Character Development, and Publishing News)

‘Tis time for an update, so some say. 🙂 As you might have guessed, the past few months have raced by, filled with writing afternoons, crazy teaching moments, and breathtaking travel. Instead of legitimately participating in November’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the unindoctrinated), I decided to set a longer-term writing schedule to weave a new story onto the page. With any luck (and, err, gumption), in the next three months I will have a solid first draft ready for first readers and feedback.

These initial stages of writing are the most difficult for me. At the beginning of a story, I don’t have an immediate connection to my characters. I may know their names, have a general idea of their appearances, or understand one unquenchable fact about their pasts, but they aren’t yet people. I don’t enjoy or despise the protagonist. I’m not in love with the hero. I  rarely, if ever, instantly care about their futures. My characters start as acquaintances; they have the potential to develop into full-blown help-you-bury-the-body friendships, but at the onset, we can only smile and reintroduce ourselves awkwardly at every engagement. I’ve tried character mapping and profiles, but they feel insincere and inorganic to my creative muse. Thus, I am left to struggle and force banter at the equivalent of a friend-of-a-friend’s fancy cocktail party, where the host is dating my ex and I’m wearing knee-torn, mud-splattered jeans.

It does get easier. After spending a lot of time with my characters, I start to hear their voices in my head (usually at inopportune moments– for example, at the doctor’s office). I begin to understand better their motivations and fears, as well as their intrinsic reactions to other characters. The story smooths out. Plot points are reached. Words fly on the screen, and whole scenes pop into existence in mere minutes.

Until then? My characters and I circle each other dubiously, and the story putters along.

With any luck, I’ll be partying with my characters soon. 🙂

***

Now, in other news, I just learned that The Monongahela Review will be publishing a poem of mine in the upcoming issue! 😀 MR is an awesome online lit journal; you can download current and previous issues for free as PDFs or read online through Issuu.

As soon as this baby drops, I’ll post links and many, many exclamation points! 😛

***
AND… in some other news, one of my poems will be featured this week on Andy Knowlton‘s A Poem A Day blog!

The story of Andy’s and my acquaintance is rather charming, in a You’ve-Got-Mail-without-the-love-affair sorta way. Towards the beginning of my residence in Korea, I read an article online about international grassroots poetry movements, a segment of which was dedicated to his Drunken Poets project. Turns out, Andy is an American writer based in Seoul, South Korea, a mere 3.5 hours from my town of Yeosu. I shot him an email, admiring and cheering on his art/poem efforts… and he wrote back. Thus began an electronic friendship. 😛

Andy creates his own artwork –the epitome of cool– for his A Poem A Day blog. Check out the work he’s done to this point (Day 340)! It’s impressive. I’m very honored and excited to be included on the website!

As soon as the poem/artwork posts, I’ll share it with you here. I may also print out a million copies and mail them to friends and/or random strangers. There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get one. 😉

Check out Andy Knowlton's website for more info on his poetry, The Drunken Poets project, and his A Poem A Day blog! [andyknowlton.com]

Check out Andy Knowlton’s website for more info on his poetry, The Drunken Poets project, and his A Poem A Day blog!

2 Comments

Filed under News, Poetry, Publication, The Novel, Woo Hoo!, Writing