Category Archives: News

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.]

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

HAPPY DANCE TIME!

Hi friends!

I got some thrilling news this week: I was just named 2014 Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine! WOO HOO! 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. 😀

 

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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

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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. 🙂

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Filed under Literary Review, News, Publication

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

Hi Folks!

‘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!

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

Bellingham Review!~

The latest issue of Bellingham Review, containing two poems by yours truly, is now available! 😀

Since I live, you know, on the other side of the world, I’m still waiting to receive my copies, but based on the listing of writers on the back cover, the issue will be utterly phenomenal. I cannot wait to read it!

You should probably go pick up a copy, too. Right now. 🙂

[For ordering info contact bellingham.review@wwu.edu]

Bellingham Review Issue 66 Cover

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Fireworks Across the Ocean

I am one of those rare creatures always desiring adventure: Fireworks and ribbons, a new project, something to get adrenaline pumping and my mind whirling through galaxies. Growing up, I hunted for treasure in books. Later I relied on school and the occasional amusement park for a fix; taken out of my comfort zone or given new information to digest, I quickly learned and thrived. Yes, I was that girl in the front seat of the roller coaster, hands in the air, waiting for the fall. I soaked in every moment.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to shake up my world. I had reached an impossible plateau both professionally and personally, and my writing idea pool had stagnated under general stress and frustration. I wasn’t satisfied with the direction I was heading in any area of my life. I needed drastic change, something to keep me moving forward.

I am now writing to you from South Korea.

In March I accepted a job teaching English at an all-girls’ high school in Yeosu, a beautiful city on the southern coast, known by many for the 2012 World Expo. I officially settled in to my town and school about a month ago. Friends, I love it here. 🙂

Whisked away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known, I’ve already noticed a big difference in my writing: I’m more focused, more willing to wander in my thoughts without inner critics shutting down metaphors or suggestions. My words are reinvigorated with heart and passion and everything I worried I’d misplaced in the past couple years.

Julie Delpy’s character in Before Sunset (one of the most gorgeous romantic dramas ever filmed, for the record, and one of my all-time personal favorites) explains this feeling well: When describing her time abroad in Warsaw, she says, “After a while, my brain seemed clearer. I was writing a lot more in my journal, ideas I never thought of before. … I had spent the last two weeks away from most of my habits. TV was in a language I didn’t understand, so, all I [was] doing was… walk[ing] around, thinking right. My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy.”

…Hello, Korea. 🙂

Moving halfway around the world to jump start your creative juices or climb out of your rut is not, of course, for everyone. Admittedly, I’m a wee bit crazy. 😉 But I’ve learned that giving myself a shock, moving outside my daily routine, can dramatically impact my creative voice.

Prior to departure, a good friend asked me how I thought my work would change in Korea; I hemmed and hawed and scrambled for an answer.

Then, during my first week here, I looked at a poem I started back in late 2006/early 2007. After slaving over every word and sound for months and months, I had set it aside, saved it on my computer as a work in progress; though I returned to it occasionally over the years, I was never in a place to hear its true ending. Within days of arriving in Yeosu, I discovered what was real and missing from the lines. That poem is now saved under “Finished.”

I find inspiration in the unknown and the strange. The land changing beyond my bus window as we turn corners, drive around mountains and ragged coastline; dodging scraps of burning paper on Gwangalli Beach, watching teenagers shoot firecrackers over the Korea Strait in Busan; navigating different menus and street foods as I walk through market districts around Jeollanamdo Province: all of these things give me a thrill. And that thrill translates into more words on the page and a fresh dedication to discovering my language and ideas.

Don’t settle for what is. Try something new. Rejuvenate your creative life. Trust me, the adrenaline is very addicting. 🙂

 

Hwasun Temple, South Korea

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Filed under Daily Grind, News, Revision