Charleston gratitude

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A million thanks to the College of Charleston MFA program and Crazyhorse literary journal for the lovely visit. We had a robust turnout for my poetry reading, as well as for the talk that I did regarding first books of poetry and publishing. What a gorgeous place to visit, too!

Now we’re heading into the final weeks of the semester, but the warm weather and delightful company surely did some good. Before we know it, we’ll be planning for AWP Portland, though I have a few student poems that need annotating before that happens.

 

AWP Portland Panel Preview

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I’m super excited that two proposals that I am on for the AWP 2019 conference in Portland have been accepted. Here’s the scoop:

Season of the Witch: Feminism, Ritual, and Independent Publishing (Brooke Wonders,
Kiki Petrosino, Joanna C. Valente, Mary Biddinger, Annah Browning)

Helen Oyeyemi writes of “…witches who whistle at different pitches, calling things that don’t have names.” What unnamed experiences might a feminist literary magazine or press want to summon? Join the editors of Luna Luna, Grimoire Magazine, Transom, and University of Akron Press as we discuss how ritual, folk practices, and symbols like the witch provide a way of speaking the unnamed, especially in the wake of the #metoo movement.

Maintaining Beginner’s Mind in Your Own Classroom: A Poetry Reading (Amie
Whittemore, Mary Biddinger, Adrienne Su, Keith S. Wilson, Cameron Barnett)

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,” Shunryu Suzuki writes in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, “but in the expert’s there are few.” This panel refutes this dichotomy by featuring expert poets at play and inviting the audience to join the fun. Panelists will read poems inspired by prompts they have assigned each other, discussing the prompts as avenues to beginner’s mind. Then the audience will try a prompt on the spot, bringing the rest home for personal or classroom use.

If you’re heading to AWP in the spring, I hope to see you there!

AWP recap, and heading into spring.

AWP Tampa was warm and sunny and went way too fast. We were worried about weather heading out, but ended up with smooth travels. We sold a slew of University of Akron Press books and had a magnificent offsite, even if we got stuck in hockey traffic on the way there. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the table, or the event, to say hello!

In unrelated news, I have a new blog post up at The Word Cage regarding that “what’s next” feeling in the writing life.

I am on day one of spring break, and hoping that it’s a productive week.

Behold: a glimpse at AWP 2018, Tampa.

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Here’s the University of Akron Press table looking fancy. I had to give serious thought to the best way to display five new books at once. Challenge accepted!

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It was a delight hanging out at the UA Press table with assistant poetry editor Noor Hindi. We can’t wait to read your poetry manuscript for this year’s Akron Poetry Prize competition.

 

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One of the coolest parts of this conference was reconnecting with friends from my time at UIC. Thanks to Jet Fuel Review for this photo!

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Leaving Tampa was less sad because I got to fly to Charlotte with dear friend Erika Meitner. She has a new book coming out very soon. Can’t wait to read it! 

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Because I was a tourist on this trip, I need to include a touristy photo. Whenever possible, I looked out at the water, especially those nights in my hotel room grading papers and reading thesis manuscripts. I made sure to spend a bit of time in the sun, too. I think it helped. 

National Book Awards Recap

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What an absolute honor to accompany Leslie Harrison to the National Book Awards in NYC, in recognition of finalist poetry collection The Book of Endings. Here are a couple of photos from the trip, which was such a memorable experience.

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I’ll be checking in again soon with some exciting news that I have to keep quiet for now. Thanks so much to everyone who cheered on the University of Akron Press last week!

All the gratitude.

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In the Midwest we love a good underdog story. Whether it’s an unlikely sports victory or the turnaround of a forgotten downtown, we find inspiration in the unexpected triumph over adversity.

Because of this, we University of Akron Press folks are especially excited about Leslie Harrison’s The Book of Endings being named a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry.

In the summer of 2015, I packed up my office at the University of Akron Press, thinking I would never return. Now, in 2017, I’m making plans to go to New York and cheer on University of Akron Press author Leslie Harrison at the National Book Awards, something I would never have imagined as I boxed up my owls and post cards and books and archived correspondence and favorite AWP swag and entered a world where I was no longer an editor.

Today I’m sending gratitude to everyone who helped us bring the University of Akron Press back. To those who advocated on our behalf, to Jon Miller who took the wheel, to Amy Freels (always!) for continuing to make the most gorgeous books on earth, to Noor Hindi, my assistant editor, to Sarah Dravec, Emily Levin, Jay Robinson, Courtney Turner, and Brew Wilson-Battles, who all read manuscripts with me and offered their insights. I also thank all of our poetry and poetics authors, along with Leslie Harrison, for having faith in the University of Akron Press. And finally, thank you to our readers. Poetry lives, and you have kept it alive.

In Print Festival at Ball State University

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What a pleasure to participate in a publishing panel at Ball State University with Sequoia Nagamatsu, Dan Raeburn, and Iliana Rocha. Thanks to Ball State Creative Writing for  capturing us in action with this photo. It was great to bring a bit of Akron (including some #poetrylives buttons) to Indiana, and to talk about my experiences as a poet and editor.

Next week: the In Print Festival at Ball State University.

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Many thanks to the organizers of the In Print Festival of First Books at Ball State University for inviting me to come speak about my experiences as a poet and as the editor of the Akron Series in Poetry. From their website:

In Print XII (2017) will feature poet Iliana Rocha, fiction writer Sequoia Nagamatsu, and creative nonfiction writer Dan Raeburn. Rocha, Nagamatsu, and Raeburn will read from their work on Wednesday, March 15 at 8 PM in AJ 175. They will be joined by publisher/poet Mary Biddinger for a panel discussion about the publication industry on Thursday, March 16 at 8 PM in AJ 175.

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Two Panels for AWP 2017 in DC

AWP 2017 in DC is a little over a month away. How is that possible? I’m excited to be presenting on two panels this year: “Don’t Stop the Presses: On the Enduring Value of the University Press” early Thursday afternoon, and “Stars to Steer By: Rethinking Creative Writing Curriculum for the 21st Century” late Friday afternoon. I hope to see you there. Happy 2017 to all!fullsizerender-3

 

Back to Work.

IMG_0886Even though it ended on a high note, with the restoration of the University of Akron Press, I’m glad to kick August to the curb and get back to work. Akron Poetry Prize stuff! Two excellent classes (one world poetry, one an MFA class on first books)! Plenty of student questions to answer! Once again I am taking far too much time writing, revising, and over-honing my syllabi. But what would a new semester be without all that?

In terms of my own poems, I’m still waiting. I can be patient. Last week we got to announce the good news about The Czar, and any day now Small Enterprise will roll off the press. Nothing against the desolation of the marshes and woods, but I rather like being able to talk to people again.