This particular activity has been one of my most successful lessons with my poetry students. I work with elementary and middle school students in Detroit as a writer-in-residence. One of the schools I work with on a volunteer basis is a private Catholic K-8 school on the west side. I work with 6-8th graders at this school.
I pass out pictures and information about various birds and have the kids read and learn about their bird. Then we create bird art using construction paper, scissors and glue. Finally we work on bird poems. The kids get really inspired and come up with some amazing poems and (of course) art. Activities like this make me believe that art and poetry are crucial to a good education. I’m fortunate that the Detroit Public Schools regularly contract with InsideOut Literary Arts Project to provide writer-in-residence programs. I also volunteer with cash-strapped schools because I believe these experiences are vital for our children.
I’m excited and grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to work with InsideOut Literary Arts Project this year. I’m working with elementary school students and I met with three of my classes yesterday. These kids are so excited about poetry. It’s really amazing. When one teacher introduced me by saying that I would be coming in each week to help them write poetry, the kids literally cheered. Wow! I wish I got that response every time I talked about poetry. What’s even more amazing is that I’m getting paid for this gig (no small potatoes, either)! I attended an InsideOut professional development workshop on Wednesday at the Detroit Institute of Arts and was amazed at the goodwill and knowledge offered by the more experienced writers-in-the-schools. We also were treated to an arts workshop where we learned how to make accordian-style books. You can see mine below. It is certainly not the most exciting example of what you can do, but it was a great learning process for me, and I know will be for the kids, as well.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be giving a poetry reading with my wonderful friend, Tim Lane on October 25th, 7:00 p.m. at Bella Notte restaurant in Jackson, MI. The reading is part of Jackson Community College’s poetry reading series curated by my friend and JCC professor, John Yohe.
One thing I love about Tim Lane’s poems is their sense of joy, humor, and fun. His poems are fun to listen to and read. I really value humor in poetry and occasionally try throwing it in my own poems, but my humor is not joyful like Tim’s. I can’t wait to laugh my way through this reading. Please come. You will not be disappointed.
I’m very excited to tell you about Richard Hansen and his Poems-for-All project. Poems-for-All is a tiny publishing company, publishing tiny poetry books–all about half the size of a business card! I learned about the project through my friend, Craig Cotter, whose tiny booklet, “Green” was published by Hansen’s Poems-for-All Project, and who kindly sent me a few copies to “plant” around Michigan. I’ve decided to “plant” it on my site, as well. See pics below:
Isn’t it charming?
I fell in love with Poems-for-All and decided to submit a few of my poems to Mr. Hansen, who has kindly offered to publish two of my (tiny) poems, “Manual Transmission” and “When the First Krispy Kreme Comes to Detroit”. Yay!
Mr. Hansen is currently out of the country caring for an elderly relative and won’t be back to work on new books until early next year. That means my poems won’t be published until then, but I’m more than willing to wait! I love the idea of tiny “books” of poems so much. It has really sparked my imagination. Short poems can be so difficult to write. It’s definitely a challenge.
After receiving 3 (count ‘em) rejections within a 24 hour period, it’s nice to have a few publications to show off.
Ramshackle Review #4 is online with two of my poems: Swank Punk Girl and From the Cap of My Stanley Thermos.
Shot Glass Journal also features two of my short poems: Musk and Diesel’s Got the Gutbucket Blues.
Finally, Nerve Cowboy #31 is done and on its way. My poems both open and close this issue, which is a huge honor. Purchase an issue for a mere $6 or subscribe to this excellent literary journal for $22 for two years (4 issues).
Diane and Robert enjoy the after-party
The poetry reading for Diane Wakoski at (SCENE) Metrospace on May 12th was a smashing success. Standing room only crowd. Former students from faraway places came to read. Lots of good wine, good food, even better company. It was a night to remember.
Back Row (standing) L-R: Tim Lane, Angela Vasquez-Giroux, MJ Arredondo, Carrie Preston, Kierstyn Lamour, Sarah Sword (with Elizabeth), boog, Courtney Chapin. Front Row (seated) L-R: Chris Mandenberg, Geoffrey Bankowski, Diane Wakoski, Korey Hurni, Ruth Mowry, Heather Abner.
A life of poetry and friends is not a bad life, at all!
My friend, Robert McDonald, of Lives of the Spiders is currently working on an abandoned poem project that I just love. Poets can submit “abandoned” poems and Robert doles them out to other interested poets who “adopt” them and turn them into something entirely different. I particularly love Jen Besemer’s visual interpretations of the poems she adopted. You can view my adopted poem here. Robert is still accepting abandoned poems, so please do your part and adopt a poem.
Diane Wakoski Tribute Poetry Reading
On Thursday, May 12th at 7:00 PM, former students of Diane Wakoski will gather with her and friends to celebrate and honor her 36 years of service to Michigan State University and her dedication and devotion to poetry.
The event takes place at: (scene) metrospace, 110 Charles St. East Lansing, MI.
Light refreshments will be served after the reading. Please join us for a truly memorable evening.
Also, please consider donating to the Diane Wakoski Poetry Award to benefit a deserving Michigan State University student of poetry.
Send your check to:
College of Arts and Letters Development and Alumni Relations; 101 Linton Hall, MSU, East Lansing, MI 48824
Checks should be made payable to: Michigan State University
Memo line: Diane Wakoski Award, #AE0222
April is National Poetry Month and I usually arrange to do something poetry-related during it. I encourage you to do the same. Get out of your comfort zone and attend a poetry reading.
I will be reading my poems on Tuesday, April 26th at 7:00 PM in Jackson, MI at Bella Notte Ristorante. I will be joined that evening by the poet, Tom Zimmerman. The event is sponsored by Jackson Community College and is free and open to the public.
I will also participate in a Tribute-on-the-Lawn for poet and and Michigan State University Distinguished University Professor, Diane Wakoski. My friend, Tim, has organized a wonderful “serenade” for Diane on Wednesday, April 27th at 6:00 PM on the Morrill Hall lawn on MSU’s campus in E. Lansing, MI. A group of former students, faculty members and friends will read Diane’s poems to her as she and we celebrate her last official office hours at MSU. The Morrill Hall conference room on the second floor has been reserved in the case of inclement weather. Please join us.
Two of my poems are now live at the online literary journal wtf pwm. You can view “Night Classes, Life Drawing” and “Salamandrine.” Enjoy.