Bringing Back Poetry

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Yay! Some good news, for once–according to the article “How young writers are leading a poetry comeback,” by Jennifer Hijazi on pbs.org, “twenty-eight million American adults read poetry this year–the highest percentage of poetry readership in more than 15 years.” The reason for the spike, after what was a downward trend? “Young adults and certain racial ethnic groups account for a large portion of the increase.” According to statistics provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, “U.S. poetry readers aged 18 to 24 more than doubled, jumping from 8 percent in 2012 to 17 percent in 2017,” and “African Americans and Asian Americans are reading poetry at the highest rates.” This is fantastic news! I’ve seen more interest among students not only within my actual poetry courses, but in my literature and other English courses, as well. This recent data shows how reading and writing poetry can connect us with others, and can be an important outlet for individual expression, whether it be read for pleasure (often leading to experimentation), written for oneself, shared online, or via an open mic. Let’s hope the trend continues to grow–I know I’m passionately pushing it in my classes.

Photo credit: DC Youth Slam Team

July Reads

Got my July reading here. I’ve already finished American War, by Omar El Akkad, which is speculative dystopian fiction, about a second American civil war, and I’m almost done with Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk, wherein a thirteen year old girl goes to Hell. I’m really excited about the other two, though–Groff’s collection of stories, Florida, got rave reviews, and Miller’s Circe is the tale of the ancient Greek sorceress from her (Circe’s) point of view, a sort of feminist reimagining, from what I understand. Ah, summer, when I actually have time to read for pleasure!

New Poems Published

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Just got my Summer issue of Third Wednesday, Vol. XI, No. 3. That’s my photo on the cover of the journal, taken at Umbrella Street in Antalya, Turkey, in 2014. I’ve a couple of poems in this issue, as well: “In the Hills,” and “The Final Storm.” A big thanks to TW, and editor David Jibson. It’s nice to be in print again!

Project Write-Up

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Just a quickie post, with a link to a write-up on the Flagler College website about my poetry students and their publishing project in the literary magazine, Third Wednesday.  That’s my school campus above–how amazing to work here every day, eh?

Student Poem Project

SONY DSC(Pictured, left to right: Stephen Cripps, Kate Walsh, Phaedra DeJarnette, Cheyenne Koth, Marissa Hanson, Emily Bloom. Not pictured: Suzy Sutton, Lauren Ward, Alex Garrett).

Congratulations to students from my Intro to Poetry Writing course last semester at Flagler College, who’ve just recently had poems published in the Spring issue of Third Wednesday literary magazine! Ten students’ poems appeared in the issue, with the work curated by myself. Magazine editor David K. Jibson offered us a wonderful opportunity to be featured, so I’d like to extend my gratitude to him, as well. This is a first publication for most students, and I’ve no doubt it may be the beginning of a literary career for a few of them–they’re super talented, and driven to write poetry. Did I mention I’m also hella proud of them?

Third Wednesday is a finely produced print journal based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, quarterly publishing the work of poets, writers, and visual artists from around the world.  Several of the artists they’ve published have been featured by American Life in Poetry. To learn more about Third Wednesday, or to order the latest (or past) issues, visit them at:  http://thirdwednesday.org/index.html.

Open Mic

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I haven’t posted about this before, but I’ve been hosting a regular open mic for Flagler College students here in St. Augustine. We began a couple of semesters ago, holding three per semester, and the turnout has gradually grown. Normal attendance is about 60-70 students, and the events are always held on a Friday night, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Recently, we changed the venue to Relámpago Coffee Lab, at 74 Spanish Street (thanks so much for the space, Relámpago!). I’ve been impressed with these students, and their willingness to share their creative pieces–poems, short stories, and original music–and it’s always a good time. I’m so happy we’ve a comfortable spot for our personal expression, and such a supportive and loving crowd! Our next up (the last one of the semester) is coming up on April 6th.

Featured Poetry in Third Wednesday

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Super-stoked to be the featured poet in the Summer issue of Third Wednesday. I have ten poems published in here, all set in Morocco, which are part of the chapbook manuscript I’m currently writing. It’s so nice to be in a print journal again (really, it’s been years–I mostly have work published online). I want to thank editor David Jibson for the invitation to be featured, which is an honor. And what a beautiful book! Perfect-bound, 108 pages, and jam-packed with poems, fiction, art, and photography, and you can get a FREE PDF COPY. What’s not to love? I’m looking forward to digging in and savoring all the great work in here today. Cheers!

Cover Photo: “Red Robed Nude, Gorlitz, Germany,” by Roger Camp.

Pushcart Prize Nomination

I know I haven’t been on here much lately, but it’s been a super-busy semester. One cool thing that recently happened–a Pushcart Prize nomination for my poem, “Plum Rain,” from the editors at Forage Poetry. I just want to say thank you to Michael Rush and Emma Hall over at Forage. I know the math is probably against the piece winning a prize, but it’s nice to be nominated, and I’m so grateful. Fingers crossed!

Henry Rollins Spoken Word Tour

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Yes! This October, Henry Rollins kicks off his 2016-2017 tour with 80 dates throughout the U.S. The tour starts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, on October 6. He’ll be at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall on October 9 (right up the road here from St. Augustine) and I plan on getting a pair of tickets into my hot little hands, as this is not to be missed. I’ve been a Rollins fan since his Black Flag days, and have followed him up through the Rollins Band, and his stints as a television and film actor, and radio personality–I’ve been wanting to see him live for as long as I can remember. As stated on his website:

“On this tour, fans can expect Henry to mix timely commentary on the current state of politics with anecdotes on his latest L.A. experiences, to perspective gained from his extensive world travels. Always wanting to present fans with the best possible experience, Rollins’ live talking shows are known for their energy, wit, anger and humor. ‘Rollins is many things,’ says the Washington Post, ‘diatribist, confessor, provocateur, humorist, even motivational speaker…his is an enthusiastic and engaging chatter.’”

I can’t wait–Rollins hasn’t done a spoken word tour since 2012, which, like a dummy, I missed. C’mon, October!