Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So Begins the Fall Semester

It's been a good long while since I've felt this exhausted, but it's a good exhausted. Adjusting to my new job as a full time prof and the new schedule's a bit of a challenge, but I'm managing (well, I think so anyway!).

Today was really wonderful. I got my own set of keys to MY office, so I finally feel at home. It's starting to sink in that I belong in this department now, that I'm a part of the university, and that I have a place/purpose here. All good feelings indeed.

This is where the goddess writes, or errr... here's my office.
And there's nothing like being in the classroom. I always feel so alive when I'm teaching. There's really no feeling like it. My teaching load is pretty extreme, but it's kind of nice, in a way. The only thing I'm worried about is making the time to continue working on my own writing projects, not getting absorbed into my students' writing. I've been pretty good for the past few years juggling being an MFA student, working full time, and being professionally active. I just need to make sure to keep writing and publishing a priority, lest I want to remain at a 5/5 teaching load for the rest of my life (which, my twenty-five year old self kind of likes, but maybe my future fifty-five year old self will not appreciate).

So, with that in mind, here are my Fall 2012 goals. By the time the new year ball drops once again, I will:

1. Have survived my first semester as a full time prof. No, I'll have THRIVED, being the best damn teacher possible. I hope to finish the semester smiling, in need of respite, yes, but ready for another set of kiddos.

2. Poem. I want to keep writing  I HAVE to keep writing. By the end of 2012, I want to have written a total of 30 pages of poems for the year, which means I need about nine new ones.

3. Submitting. I still need to keep submitting to reach my goal of 100 rejection letters. I'll keep at it.

4. Fiction. I want to try NaNoWriMo again this year, though it falls at a really difficult time. I've got a novel idea swimming around in my head: Juno's Midlife Crisis

5. ... Scholarly writing. I need to get serious. Like, for reals.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh Summer! Where art thou?!

I'm a poet in transition; transition isn't easy.

I enjoyed the peace of mind that summer provides, the seemingly endless days, the inherent laziness that comes along with it. I wrote, I had the mental "space" to focus on my writing throughout all of June, and produced a good amount of (nearly polished) poetry -- about twelve new poems.

What Plagues the Goddess, my chapbook project, is in a very happy place. I'm pleased enough with her to call her complete, and to begin working on a new project (or really, expanding on this old project into a larger book-length manuscript). And of course, the fact that it cleared at least the quarter-finalist round of the Casey Shay Press annual competition makes me a bit more confident in my efforts.

Speaking of chapbooks, I also, of course, mused on the form. And the fruits of my labor? Why, this just came out: Katie Reviews Black Birds : Blue Horse for Fifth Wednesday Journal! 

This summer was also a time for self-promotion, going out of my comfort zone, putting myself out there as a poet. I went to numerous readings, both locally and far away. It was all good fun.

And of course, The Garden Uprooted was published.

But all good things must come to an end.

As you may have noticed, I haven't been very prolific lately with my blog. The same's true with my writing. My mind is occupied, completely, with my new job. So much theory to learn, books to read, people to meet, things to prepare for... it's all so scary and exciting at the same time. When I'm stressed, I get sick. And... ::sneeze:: oh dear...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Katie on Public Radio

So I sound like a twelve year old girl and I giggle a lot because I got nervous, BUT...

Here's my interview about poetry with Brenda Nettles Riojas!

Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Gentle Asking: A Review of Eve Asks

A Gentle Asking: A Review of Eve Asks by Christine Redman-Waldeyer
Muse-Pie Press, 2011 (50 pages)
ISBN: 9780918453235
Christine Redman-Waldeyer’s chapbook, Eve Asks, is a lyrical journey through everyday life that highlights both the quiet beauty on the surface and the complexities that exist just beneath. The poems are carefully arranged to take the reader by the hand through love, marriage, child-bearing, mothering, and beyond. With emotional honesty, they hit close to home. These poems celebrate who we are as humans, and ask us to dig deeper and examine how we perceive the world around us.

The collection’s first poem illustrates this succinctly. The title “Breast Cancer Survivor” is heavy, but the language of the poem is light, airy, and lyric:

She stays every summer at her shore house

Warm weather in the spring brings her weekends

Her dog waits in the car while she chats

I stop at hello (5).

But as a reader, we can’t just “stop at hello.” We know that beneath the surface of this poem, there is a complicated existence, and that contrast permeates through this entire collection. Waldeyer’s poems show us that the big, heavy topics can be handled with simplicity, honesty, and grace.

Another example of this contradiction is the poem “Endless Summer.” The poem describes “roses // that bloom all summer -- // Hydrangea. Blue or pink,” a flower without thorns that seems to just bloom solely for our enjoyment. A lovely thought, right? The poem ends with a biting conclusion: “…when I cut their precious heads off / arrange them in a vase” (43). With such delicate lyricism, the poems in this collection keep the reader digging deeper and rethinking preconceptions about beauty, gender, and humanity.

Throughout the chapbook, Biblical characters, especially Eve, are introduced and recast through the lens of a contemporary woman. As a reader, I found these characters to be multifaceted and refreshing contrasts to their Biblical counterparts, which, of course, were portrayed through a more patriarchal point of view. In the book’s title poem, “Eve Asks,” the speaker explores the gender roles in the relationship between a modern day Adam and Eve. Adam is asked to “wash and fold the laundry” to “tend / / the children when they cry,” and to “remember / each curve” of her body (18). One cannot help but smile at this thought! It seems as though the gender roles of the past are antiquated, and it’s time to reexamine them. Like “housemaking out of dung,” oppressive definitions gender really need to go (18).

Perhaps my favorite poem in this collection, though, is “Swans in Flight,” a longer poem that meditates on the short life of the “you” the poem is addressed to. The speaker watches a swan on a lake and recounts past memories, imagining “Saint Peter / weighing your good deeds with your bad” and wondering “where … the anchor (laid) of your sexuality?” (36). The poem describes, in exquisite detail, a “lone Swan take flight” as a metaphor for the friend’s afterlife. The swan “hisses like the question hisses now.” The poem ends with a lyrical reflection: “I love her for her slender out-stretched neck, / for her flight in motion” (38).

Though this is a chapbook, Eve Asks asks a lot from its readers. I now look twice at all the surface beauty that exists around me, the big heads of flowers, forbidden blackberries, pieces of driftwood. The best poems ask us to dig deeper into our conceptions of the world around us, and these poems do just that with a gentle, beautiful asking.

Christine Redman-Waldeyer founded the journal Adanna in 2011. She currently teaches creative writing, journalism, and literature at Passaic County Community College. She earned her doctorate with a Concentration in Writing from Drew University. Her book publications include Frame by Frame, Gravel, and Eve Asks with Muse Pie Press. She also has been published in Caduceus, Lips, Motif Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, Seventh Quarry, Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Texas Review, Verse Wisconsin, among others. In 2011 she was selected to participate in the Poetry Project founded by Dr. Mary Ann Miller at Caldwell College. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education with a focus on Higher Education at Rowan University.

Would YOU like to participate in the conversation about chapbooks? I'm currently looking for chapbook authors or publishers to interview about the form! Drop me an email at katherinehoerth@gmail.com if you'd like to join.