Saturday, September 19, 2015

New Book News, and Hanging with Southern Writers

First things first: The pre-order period for my new chapbook, Hits and Sacrifices, has begun!  From now till Nov. 13 you can pre-order my book from Finishing Line Press for $12.49 plus shipping.  Every copy pre-ordered helps me get closer to the pre-sale goal of 55 copies, which will assure a full first printing. Please help support your favorite poet! (Okay, maybe I'm your second or third or 10th favorite poet, but please support my book anyway.) Click here to order from the publisher's website.

Second, I just wrapped up a wonderful weekend in Hickory, NC, attending the Fall Face-to-Face in the Foothills, as mentioned in my previous post. It was ostensibly a gathering of poets active on Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides blog, organized by two of the group's members, Nancy Posey and Jane Shlensky. (There were six of us members attending altogether.) It was a small conference of about 20 attendees, but the two days were packed with guest speakers giving seminars and workshops, including Robert himself, and three current and former Poets Laureate of North Carolina. It was a unique experience meeting and working with almost exclusively Southern writers.  (We did have attendees from Colorado and Alberta, Canada.) Hickory is a large town with lots of culture going on, including a beautiful art museum which was the venue for the conference. They currently have an impressive exhibit of photography by Steve McCurry (the National Geographic photographer who took that iconic photograph of the Afghan girl in the 1980's). Poets are invited to write about an art work that inspires them and submit their poetry, and if the directors like the poem, it is displayed next to the work and read aloud (by the poet, if possible) at a special quarterly art walk presentation. I plan to send them at least three poems inspired by the McCurry photos. We also had an open mic reading at Taste Full Beans, a great coffee house in town that has music, art and poetry regularly and is owned by a local poet, Scott Owens. (They provided us with coffee and lunch, too.) It was a 9-hour drive to get to Hickory, but it was worth every mile. Oh yeah, and I wrote four poems and cold eight of my previous chapbooks. Thanks to Nancy, Jane, Robert, Scott, The Hickory Museum of Art, and everyone else involved in making the conference a big success.

Poem: Here is one I just wrote about a very scary experience on the way to the conference, on the interstate in Baltimore.  This was for the weekly Poetic Asides prompt to write a "hesitation" poem.

He Who Hesitates is Lost 

I am minding my own business on the interstate,
doing 65 in the middle lane, when out of nowhere,
or more specifically, the merging lane, a pickup truck
careens out of control right at me. Instinctively,
I swerve to the left lane on the sparsely-traveled highway
to avoid a certain terrible crash. He misses me
by no more than ten feet, then somehow
wrestles his truck back under control
and drives off as if nothing has happened. All I know
is if I froze, even for a second, this would have had
a much different outcome. I thank my reflexes,
still quick enough, I guess, or my guardian angel,
if there is such a thing, because otherwise
neither this poem nor I would exist.

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