The Houston Chronicle published my essay on Pride month, discrimination, and there’s even a Godzilla poem included for good measure. It appears on the front page of the Sunday paper (6.6.21). In the article I share some of my personal experiences and try to assess how much the LGBTQ+ community has progressed in my lifetime and the work we still have ahead of us. If you cannot access it through this link, try using this download link instead:
I’m thrilled that Brazos Bookstore will sponsor the official book launch for INTO THE THE on June 11th at 7pm CT. I am honored that Tonya Foster and Timothy Liu will join me on Zoom for this event. Tonya, Tim, and I were classmates together at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. This will be a reunion of poets and a celebration of poems.
A few copies are my book’s first run are still available from Backlash Press and Brazos Bookstore will be selling them too. The event is free, but you must register on the Brazos website. I hope you can join us.
I’m delighted to be a part of the Friendswood Library #NationalPoetryMonth Celebration. In collaboration with Mutabilis Press, Matt Riley produced a series called Primary Sources. This video features David Cowen and me reading poems published in Mutabilis Press books. My part starts at 5:21.
April is National Poetry Month, and there are lots of ways to celebrate. You can:
- Write a poem every day with NaPoWriMo. Daily prompts and encouragement are provided!
- Read a poem every day on Poets.org.
- Watch young people perform slam poetry from Brave New Voices Festival on YouTube.
- Explore the organizations that love poetry: Canto Mundo, Cave Canem, Kundiman, Vona, Split This Rock, and so many more.
- Send someone you love a poem.
“Without poetry, we lose our way.” — Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate
INTO THE THE is officially published! The publication date, March 21st, was on World Poetry Day. If you would like your own copy, please purchase one through Backlash Press. They have created a beautiful book, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
I am the guest expert on The Education Game podcast this week and got to talk with Matt Barnes and Scott Van Beck about writing, student-centered education, Writers in the Schools (WITS), and parenting. It was great fun! We talked about texting, journaling, how to get kids to love reading, and even my new book of poems, Into The The (Backlash Press, 2021). Please check out this interview and subscribe to The Education Game.
In Houston, poet laureates were in the news two weeks in a row. First, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the opening of the application process to become the 5th Houston Poet Laureate. I cheered, but some complained. Then 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, stole the show at the Presidential Inauguration, perhaps even outshining J-Lo and Lady Gaga.
I wrote an essay about those two events because I believe that there is an important role that Poet Laureates can play in American civic life. The divisions in society were exacerbated in the past four years. Amanda Gorman’s poem gave people hope that our nation can face our problems and begin to heal. The essay appears in the Houston Chronicle, and here’s the link. Let me know what you think.
Backlash Books has revealed the cover design for my new book of poetry, Into The The. I’m so grateful and excited about this!
The Pandemic provided more time for reading, and here are six of my favorites books from the past year. Most but not all were published this year. These are books I loved that I read this year. Each of them made a tremendous impact on me.
OBIT by Victoria Chang (Copper Canyon)
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Graywolf)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Ecco)
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Penguin)
What were your favorite reads this year? Please share yours in the comment section.
I retired from my leadership position at Writers in the Schools (WITS) in September, and the editors of Teachers & Writers Magazine invited me to write an essay about what I learned. When I became the Executive Director in the late 90s, the most talked-about book in our library was Wishes, Lies, and Dreams by Kenneth Koch. When I left in 2020, the text on everyone’s mind was Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire. In Teachers & Writers, I use these two “book ends” to explore what I learned about teaching and writing. Please check out The Presence of Joy.
Ever had a “damp, drizzly November” in your soul? Check out my essay about reading, listening, pandemic, isolation, and self-healing on RIFF, a publication by Writers at Large.
Huge thanks to Thea Temple and the editors at RIFF.
Take a moment and your phone, and you can access a short poem by texting one of these key words: “LOVE, AMOR, POP, ART, VOTE, SOLDIER, HOPE, LEGACY” to this number (830) 468-9600. A few seconds later, a poem will pop up just for you!
The McNay poetry bot sends out 86 different poems by local writers. They were selected through a competition. The one (below) is by Lucy Griffith.