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The Emerging Form Podcast

February 2023

I share about "opposite habits," creativity dares, & writing challenges I've arranged for students & university colleagues.

Emerging Form: A Podcast about the Creative Process, hosted by Christie Aschwanden & Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

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The Premier of"Modlin Songs"

Fall 2022

"Modlin Songs," an original piece for orchestra & voice by composer Robert Gross, featuring three of my poems as text.

featuring Sharon Campbell

David Nabb & Alison Gaines

National Poetry Month, 2022

Thurs 4/7

Reading hosted by the University of Southern California Literary Society

Sun 4/10, 2pm EST, Zoom

We're All Poets workshop

"Hosted by bestselling authors and poetry-nerds Jennifer Pastiloff and Kristen McGuiness, We’re All Poets is a quarterly workshop where live reading, craft-talk, free write and group share come together to remind us that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we do in this world, we’re all poets."

Maybe we met at the previous We're All Poets, led by Naomi Shihab Nye.

If you can't make this one, next is Maggie Smith, then Brenda O’Shaughnessy.

Wed 4/20 3pm EST, Zoom, free

Mindful Poetry Moments

"The Well & The On Being Project collaborate for the fourth year to bring Mindful Poetry Moments to schools, individuals, & social service organizations for free during National Poetry Month." Every Wednesday. Events are thoughtful & fun. After a mindfulness meditation, we read a poem & write our own responses.

Once again I'll lead a workshop. This time, the organizers asked me to use my own poem, “On the Last Day of the Semester, the Library Is So Crowded with Raucous Historical and Literary Figures It’s Hard to Tell People Apart."

Every day in April, free

Poetry readings emailed to you

30 Poets in 30 Days. Larksong Writers Place has video-recorded poets giving 5-10-minute readings. Debra Marquart, Allison Hedge Coke, Hilda Raz, Sue William Silverman, yours truly, & 25 more.

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The follow-up to the best selling How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope comes out this month. I'm happy to have a poem part of it, with a reflective prompt responding to it. (Order here.)

What You Missed that Day You Were Absent


Art Show

This show at the Marisa Newman gallery in Brooklyn, NY took its title from my poem & featured Natasha Sweeten's abstract expressionist painting titled “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade.”

Reflecting on pandemic isolation, Sweeten created work both individually & in collaboration with others.

Giving a reading at the exhibit's conclusion let me see the thoughtful, varied works she & collaborators had made.

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What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade, painting by Natasha

One piece was a flag at the rooftop of a busy intersection.


I was invited to create the four-word poem in response.

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This Is a Poem

The Buxton Contemporary Art Gallery at University of Melbourne (Australia) commissioned me for its This Is a Poem show. Poets from Australia & the world wrote in conversation with visual art. I chose Tracey Moffatt's captivating photoseries Scarred for Life. Gallery curators hung her captioned photos, and a recording of my poem "Compassion" played overhead in the space.

Some of the Photos

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Scissor Cut, 1980

For punishment the Kwong sisters were

forced to cut the front lawn with scissors.

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Useless, 1974

Her father's nickname

for her was useless.

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Because compassion means “suffering with,”

you must learn it. What you depended on

must crumple up like newspaper in a bonfire.

You must look into the liar’s smile and say,

honestly, “I trust you.” The window will break

into your hand. An authority will laugh at you

without so much as covering his mouth.

You must lose your grandmother’s watch

in the move, or you must never meet her

at all. The cut must leave a mark everyone can gawk at.

You must watch as the church where you finally believed

burns on TV. You must sense people like you

are not supposed to be in this room, and you

must force yourself to stay seated, to clutch

that metal chair until it cuts into your palms.

You must wonder if your father

actually likes you, if your parents

thought they made a mistake.

You have to be picked last, and picked last

again. You must find the first cupboard empty,

the final airplane full, the funeral too

early. You must have your secret stolen

and passed around the jungle gym,

or a veterinarian must tell you, “I’m sorry.”

The lightning of just-a-statistic must strike

the soft spot of your head, the spot

that used to give off that indescribable

baby smell. I’m speaking to that baby

now, and to that adult. I’m speaking to me

until I believe it. I’m speaking to the part

of you that lived

through the very worst day of your life

and kept living the next day too:

Every sorrow, no matter how

impossible or small, is preparation,

is a gift to the next person who will need you.

Reading, School Assembly, and Class Visits
American School of Paris Speaker Series, France
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Delivering the Keynote Speech
at Philosophique Poetica's World Poetry Conference, Punjab, India

Other recent readings:

The Winter Wheat Festival of Writing
Murray State University visiting writers series
Western Kentucky University visiting writers series
Workshop faculty
Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop Festival
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