Texas Weather and Smoked Blood and Lavender

With my newfound free time, I've had the chance to attend two poetry events recently, both of which were delightful in their own ways and for various reasons. Summers tend to leave me feeling isolated, artistically and socially, so coming out of my "cave" for a couple of events is always a good thing.

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of reading at the Texas Weather reading at my local Barnes and Noble. The anthology was published earlier this year by Lamar University Literary Press and was edited by two Terry Darlrymple and Laurence Musgrove, two professors from San Angelo State University. It has fiction, poetry, and essays from authors all around the state. Since its publication, different readings have been held in different regions of Texas. A few months back, Jan asked me what I thought about doing a valley reading of the anthology. Of course, I was game.

The reading went really well. It was well attended and we nearly sold out of books. In addition to Jan and I, Chip Dameron, David Bowles, and Cesar De Leon also read their works. My favorite piece of the afternoon was a hilarious essay about Valley heat read by Jan. I don't normally get nervous at readings, but I did feel a bit nervous at this one. I think in part it was because my family was in attendance!

The Barnes and Noble staff took immaculate care of us, providing refreshments, setting up the reading space, and introducing us. I hope to be back at a future date to perhaps read from my forthcoming book.

After the reading, Jan invited the group over to her house for tea and cookies. How can one refuse such an invitation? It was nice to visit with her and the rest of the gang and get caught up on what everyone's been up to lately as writers. I left with an armful of gifts from Jan as I always do when I visit. I now have a veritable library of writing manuals and books by contemporary Texas writers.

Then, last Tuesday, Diana Elizondo, an alumni of UTRGV's MFA program, had her release celebration at the Dustin Sekula Library in Edinburg. David Bowles, the publisher of Flowersong books (and my colleague at UTRGV and longtime writerly friend) introduced Diana. The library served pan dulce and coffee to celebrate the occasion. Diana's writing style is certainly unique; David described it as a contemporary south Texas Poe. I'd agree with that, but maybe through in a splash of Plath and a bit of a feminist bent. My favorite poem in this collection was "Chatty Skeletons," the last poem in the book.

Next week is another leisurely one for me, so I look forward to making more progress on my manuscript. I've also been working on a short story which I'd like to wrap up. I've been really productive as a writer lately, which I think is in part because I'm making writing a large part of my day. I have the luxury of doing that right now, and will continue to for another week before I return to work for a short summer semester. Meh. It'll probably do me some good to have that routine again, though I also vow to continue making writerly progress in the coming weeks as well. If not now, then when?