Sunday, January 18, 2015
Well, it's just about time for me to go back to reality, back to teaching. We start up again on Tuesday.
This break has been really good for me. I've spent a good chunk of my time there, in my home office, with the cats :-) Pictured above is Rascal, napping on my desk. I've also spent a good deal of time focusing on my health, which is absolutely essential.
I've been thinking about what I want to do this semester, and this year, and most of it centers around just finding balance, time, and energy to do the most important things. This year, of course, I want to focus on keeping my writing routine. My goal, by 2016, is to have a good draft of my next project in the works. During the spring semester, I'm teaching less than usual (yay) which should allow for the time to focus on writing. I'm going to dedicate my mornings to writing. I hope to average about a poem a week this year, so that would leave me with 52 to write.
I'm not so worried about submissions at the moment to be honest, though I want to continue to get work out there, it's not going to be an absolute priority. My goal is to send out a packet of some sort once per week, but to keep the focus on generating new work, at least for now. That might change once I have a decent body of work completed.
I'd like to continue my reviewing, because reviewing works, I think, helps me rethink my own.
I've also got the big hurdle of AWP coming up. I'll be moderating a panel about revisionist myth that I'm really excited about, but nervous, too. Travel is difficult on my body, though as long as I give myself enough time, I should be able to manage. So my goal is to have a successful AWP, to make connections, and to leave inspired.
And, I'd like to focus on health, to do everything I can to provide my body with the best environment for healing and strength. Right now, I'm working on building up muscle strength. I'm also changing my diet, trying to get more protein through supplements and natural, vegetarian sources. So, while most people resolve to lose weight in the new year, I'm resolving to put some on :-)
So, in a nutshell, here are my goals:
1. Write 52 new poems
2. Submit, but not obsessively.
3. Continue reviewing. Aim for 12 reviews.
4. Survive AWP
5. Avoid back surgery!
They're not ridiculously ambitious, but I think they're realistic. Let's see how I do in 2015.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
I know I'm a little late, but I figured it was still more than worthwhile to reflect on what 2014 was for me as a writer. It was a very, well, let's just call it "eventful" year. One of my writer friends, David Bowles, shared a picture of his writing achievements on his facebook page on NYE, and I decided to copy him and do the same :-) So there, pictured above, is my 2014! Books, magazines and journals I either had something published in, edited, or wrote entirely myself.
First from the left, we have Edward Vidaurre's book, Insomnia, which I had the pleasure of writing the introduction to. It was the first time I'd ever written an introduction to, well, anything really, so it was a bit intimating. I really love the idea, though, of helping others celebrate their successes. And that's exactly what Edward's book was, a success. Here were are at this release party!
Next to Edward's book, is RiverSedge, the new literary journal of UTPA that I've been helping revive. It's a serious honor to be a part of this project. RiverSedge was started decades ago by none other than Jan Seale, former Texas Poet Laureate, quintessential Valley poet, and, I'm really honored to say, someone who's become a friend and mentor to me over the past year. ANYWAY, while most of my duties with RiverSedge have been administrative, I did help judge the poetry contest and edit the thing. Not only that, but I attended the neat soiree celebrating it's re-release back in October. Below, that's Chris Carmona (poetry editor) PW Covington (contributor) and Dr. Amy Cummins (fan) at the release party.
The winter 2014 issue of Pleiades is right next to RiversSedge. Why? Well, 2014 was the year I began to take reviewing more seriously, and I had a review of David Bowles' Flower Song Dance (Lamar University Press, 2014) in that issue. I've also been busy, busy reviewing for Inside Higher Ed, publishing reviews of I Have Always Been Here by Christopher Carmona (Otras Voces Publishing, 2014), The Parkinson Poems by Jan Seale (Lamar University Press, 2014), Frost in the Low Areas by Karen Skofield (Zone 3 Press, 2014) and Crownfeathers and Effegies by Jerry Bradley (Lamar University Press, 2014). I often criticize myself for not being a big enough reader, for focusing too much on my own writing and not enough on the writing of others, for being a poor literary citizen. I think I did pretty good last year though, and I hope to continue doing this in 2015.
Speaking of reviews, my book, which we'll get to in a moment, was reviewed in Harbinger Asylum by PW Covington! That's what's pictured next to Pleiades. Maybe it's book review karma? :-P David Bowles also ran a wonderful review of Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots in my local newspaper, The Monitor.
The last book pictured in the first row is the Texas Poetry Calendar. 2014 was my second year being a part of this wonderful publication. I also have a poem in 2015. For 2016? Well, I haven't gotten around to writing anything worthy of submitting yet, but that's on my to do list :-)
Ok, now for the back row!
See that anthology up there? Boundless 2014? I co-edited that little sucker. Which brings me to one of my "things" in 2014 -- the poetry festival! I had the absolute honor of being a featured poet this year, which meant a lot to me. This was back in April/May.VIPF is, for me anyway, mostly about community, reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, seeing what the other Texas and Valley poets have created over the course of the year. It's always, always a pleasure to edit the anthology. Pictured left is our release party. I'm standing next to fellow-featured poet Rodney Gomez, who was my MFA classmate from way, way back in the day :)
In the back, right, is the Twenty Anthology, another title through El Zarape Press that I helped edit along with Edward Vidaurre, Daniel Garcia Ordaz, and Jose Chapa.
And, last but not least, my book, Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots. This was my most significant (aside from, you know, surviving) accomplishment of 2014 and I couldn't be prouder of it. Here we are, smiling at the release party in the kitchen of Schneider's Gasthaus and Beer Garden. It's a feminist book, so Ileana, photographer goddess, thought it was be silly if we took a picture in the kitchen. It was :-) I like this picture because I'm surrounded by strong, incredible, and generous women that inspire me. From left, we have Vanessa Brown, Linda Romero, Olga Valle-Herr, Diana Dominguez, and Myra Infante.
Some of my other, noteworthy, events and accomplishments of 2014 included teaching creative writing for the first time, presenting at the Langdon Poetry Weekend in Granbury, and having a panel accepted into AWP 2015. I also dabbled in short fiction writing, learned to write in Sapphics, and, of course, wrote a crap load of poems, both for my old collection and a new project I'm working on about the body and healing.
Any reflection on 2014 wouldn't be complete without thinking about probably the most life-changing event, which was my illness. 2014, you made me realize that I'm mortal, that the body can and does break down. You also taught me that life goes on, that I can't (and shouldn't) do everything alone, and that with a support group of friends, family, and colleagues, I can and will thrive despite my disabilities. Going forward into 2015, I'm a different person.
I haven't quite cemented my goals for 2015 just yet, though I know that I want it to be filled with poetry, inspiration, community, friendship, and love. I'll be back with some goals in the coming days :-)