Susan Rich invited me to be part of this blog tour, which is focusing on writers in all different genres. You can read the answers to her four questions right here on her blog, The Alchemist’s Kitchen. Susan was among the first poet friends that I made in Seattle, and her support and friendship has welcomed me into an incredible community of writers here in Washington. Susan is a true believer in international awareness, political justice, and living the writing life. Her leadership created wonderful events like the popular Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women, with poet Kelli Russell Agodon, and Poet At Your Table. Her enthusiasms are generous, as are her poems. She first told me about a wonderful writers and artists retreat in Washington state and we have spent two December residencies there at the same time, checking in with each other as we dive deeply into our writing. I am grateful for her work as a curator for the Jack Straw Writers in 2011, as an editor for the anthology The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders published by McSweeney’s and the Poetry Foundation (2013), and as the poetry editor for The Human Journal based in Istanbul, Turkey.
Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently, Cloud Pharmacy and The Alchemist’s Kitchen, which was a Finalist for the Foreward Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Her other books include Cures Include Travel (2006) and The Cartographer’s Tongue/Poems of the World (2000) which won the PEN USA Award for Poetry and the Peace Corps Writers Book Award. She is the recipient of awards from Artist’s Trust, 4Culture, The Times Literary Supplement of London, Seattle Mayors Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the Fulbright Foundation. Susan’s poems have been published in many journals including: Antioch Review, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, and The Southern Review. Currently, she is Professor of creative writing and film studies at Highline Community College. Susan lives in Seattle, WA and writes in the House of Sky, a few blocks from Puget Sound
Okay, here are my four questions and answers:
1. What am I working on? My new book, The Art Courage Program (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014), in collaboration with artist Brian Goelttzenleuchter, will be out in May. We just saw the proof at AWP—so exciting. This project (a parody self-help plan) began as a weird prose piece I wrote as a Jack Straw Writing Fellow and which I made a book-on-tape recording of in the Jack Straw Studios.
The Art Courage Program will be published on multiple platforms: paperback, e-Book, retro book-on-tape with MP3 download card, interactive iBook, collector’s editions—and we will have companion ephemera: Wellness fragrances and aphorism booklets. My second full-length poetry manuscript, The Daughter’s Almanac, is searching for a home, having been a contest finalist and semi-finalist more than a few times in the past four years. I am also working on two other manuscripts—one multi-genre “novel” about traveling in Central Europe and one new poetry manuscript.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre? My answer to the first question is very telling—my new book is a self-help parody! But the love of my life is poetry writing, and I write a lyric/narrative hybrid that uses form in different ways. I love to experiment. My collaborations with artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter, which you can read about on my website, have led my poetry sometimes out of the book and into the art gallery, and definitely into the world of multi-media. I am the co-editor of A Sense of Place: The Washington State Geospatial Poetry Anthology, and co-editor of Cascadia Chronicle: A Geospatial Journal of Place, Environment, and Imagination. I have a passion for working with new geo-visualization media and collaborating with code-geniuses and social scientists.
3. Why do I write what I do? By writing, we know and discover ourselves. I know I will surprise myself if I let myself work. I have loved poetry, reading and writing, since I was very young. There has never been anything else I have wanted to do as well, as badly, or as fiercely. I guess one answer to this question would also be: I have no idea.
4. How does your writing process work? I love it when I can write a new poem draft every day and read read read to my heart’s content. That doesn’t happen very often. These days my job at CWU is very busy, but I never am not a writer. And I keep writing in the front of my brain, even if I don’t have time that day. Giving a reading, teaching a poetry class, and sending a manuscript off all keep me in that space. Writing in my journal for 10 minutes on weekday mornings, and spending some hours of my weekend at my desk are how I manage most of the time---but I am always scheming some longer chunks of time for writing.
Wow, it doesn’t seem possible that I have reached Day 21 in my Poetry Marathon for Tupelo Press! That’s 21 poems I have written, one each day, this month. Today’s is “Crossing to Friday Harbor,” which is on the Tupelo 30/30 Blog. If you DONATE to the press (please visit the 30/30 Blog for how) and mention MY NAME, I will send you a handmade gift and one of my marathon poems, signed to you. Please check it out and send a gift to Tupelo (gifts will come back to you)! I make gnomes like the guy above, and zombies, vikings, santas, angels, and animals.
A BIG THANK YOU to those who have donated already. I appreciate it so much, and so does Tupelo Press.
To read my marathon poems, go to the Tupelo Press 30/30 Blog: http://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/
Thank you very much!! Kathy
I am participating in Tupelo Press 30/30 Project! To give back during the holidays this year I am in a “marathon” for the month of December with nine other poets, writing a poem every day, and raising funds for Tupelo Press.
I invite family, friends, and colleagues to sponsor me in my poetry marathon (see below for ways to contribute). Every dollar you spend is a vote for my poetry, and for poetry in general! If you make a contribution to Tupelo to support my poetry marathon--I will send you a personalized thank you gift (remember to give my name as the poet you are supporting)! “And if you haven’t got a ha’penny,” wish me luck! 🙂
Running an actual marathon is as hard as writing a poem every day, painful in different ways! I recommend both (I know!), and you can read my poems as I knock them off this month. Take a little time to visit the 30/30 Project Blog and look at my brand spanking new poems here: http://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/
Tupelo Press is one of the best non-profit independent publishers we have. You can join me in helping them survive and continue to put more poets into print.
Here are ways to contribute:
1. Subscribe to Tupelo Press! Visit: http://www.tupelopress.org/books_subscribe.php
Purchase our dynamic 2014 series – 9 books for $99 and we’ll pay the postage! Or choose one of our exciting prior series, or a personalized list of any 9 titles. Put your poet’s name in the “comments” field.
2. Complete the Tupelo Press Donation Form Visit: https://www.tupelopress.org/donate.php
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, fill out the donation form and send it in with a check or fill in the credit card details. Put your poet’s name in the “honor” field.
3. Donate Using PayPal Visit: https://www.tupelopress.org/donate.php
Click on the orange “Quick Donation via PayPal” button and complete the entry with either PayPal account details or credit card information. Put your poet’s name in the “message” field.
If you would like a tax receipt, please provide your mailing address.
Here is what you are supporting: +Independent literary publishers are mission-driven—they focus on publishing literature. +Independent literary publishers provide access to the voices of entire communities. +Independent literary publishers produce over 98% of poetry being published each year, and the majority of literature in translation and works of fiction by emerging writers.
Thank you so much for your support of me and small press publishing.
My best always, Kathy
Please read Midge Raymond's great piece about this group (which includes yours truly!)
A Poet at Your Table – A Rare Opportunity for Book Groups
In cooperation with Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series and Crab Creek Review
It’s one thing to hear a poet perform in a large auditorium … but what if you could listen to a poet talk about her book in the comfort of your own home?
The greater Seattle area boasts an impressive group of poets who want to connect with readers throughout Washington.
Join the second annual A Poet at Your Table season, and receive an evening with an award-winning poet. A poet will visit your book group or gathering to discuss the process of creating her book, read poems, and answer questions about the writing life. We design a presentation that best fits your needs. In addition, your group is eligible to receive discounted tickets for the 2013-2014 Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series.
- Kelli Russell Agodon
- Susan Rich
- Elizabeth Austen
- Kathleen Flenniken
- Katharine Whitcomb
- Annette Spaulding-Convy
- Jeannine Hall Gailey
- Sheila Bender
- Kelly Davio
Frequently Asked Questions…
1) What do we have to do to prepare for A Poet at Your Table ?
~ Besides reading the chosen poetry book, no preparation is needed. Whatever your book group usually does is fine. Just let the poets know what works for you.
2) How far in advance do we need to book our poet?
~ A month in advance would be great, but you can contact A Poet at Your Table on shorter notice, and they’ll try!
3) Do you have a web site where we can review the books and learn about the poets?
~ Visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/APoetAtYourTable. Please also check out the websites of the featured poets to see which seems the best match for you. All of our poets have websites and many have blogs.
4) Our book group is in Kitsap County — is that too far for A Poet at Your Table?
~ Poets live and work throughout Washington.
5) Can we choose more than one poet to visit?
~ Absolutely! You could invite two poets to come on the same evening or one poet per month.
For more information please contact: PoetAtYourTable@gmail.com
My Jack Straw Productions podcast!
The recording is from my May 2011 Jack Straw Writing Fellows reading in the Jack Straw studios. Being a fellow for 2011 was a fantastic experience that introduced me to warm, generous people and talented writers. I was privileged to meet my fellow "fellows" and the directors and staff at Jack Straw. I continue to benefit from these attachments!
The readings by the 2012 fellows are going on right now and I would urge you to attend! Here's the schedule.
My colleague here at the University of Pecs, Joseph Horvath, produces a podcast called "Take Off," which features interviews with students and recordings of classic literature. I guess I fall somewhere in between. Joe interviewed me on one of the nicest days of autumn here; we sat outside at a cafe by the cathedral near my apartment. I read a brand new poem, "Dream Map-Vienna" at the end of the podcast. And we are laughing because earlier we had watched two girls walk past us wearing angel's wings.
Below is a video I made inside the Alte Bibliotek in Vienna (the Old Library), which is basically a museum. It's quite a place--if you have 5 minutes (warning) I show the ornate painted ceiling, old globes, statues, huge book stacks, and treasures.
I'm back at La Muse in beautiful Labastide Esparbairenque, France with photography professor Alex Emmons and our class of eight students enrolled in "Creative Writing and Digital Photography in Medieval France."
Today was our first chance to get out into the sunshine and explore the area. Suzanne Blons and Brandy Dohrman (right) relax on the overlook before our extraordinarily long hike.
Well,though the novelists have grabbed November (National Novel Writing Month--NaNoWriMo) as their own, in the spirit of prolificacy, I am taking on November as KaNoPoMo (Kathy's November Poetry Month).
In April I wrote a poem every day for NaPoWri Mo; and I had 30 poem drafts as a result. I had as added incentive an agrreement I made online with the cool website ReadWritePoem to post a link to each new poem draft. About six of those new poems have been published already in journals, like Sweet and Pif. Some of those poems have ended up in my second full-length collection, Summer, Posthumous.
I was telling a poet friend the other day that the process of writing a poem every day took away the pressure that I would have "writer's block" or that my best poems were behind me. I kept surprising myself with my new poems--and it delighted me to have some much new material to revise, explore, work on. The experience of writing daily, in the middle of a very busy quarter, also showed me that there is no end in an artist's life---the intimate world of writing a poem is there for me as long as I am alive and as long as I am willing to enter it.
While I won't be posting new poem drafts in their entirety, I will post related material and some fragments/ideas. I have 15 drafts for November so far—I hope you will keep checking in! I'm also knitting lots of stripey birds in November (I'm on sabbatical)!!
La Muse in Labastide Esparbairenque
Even the flight attendant on my Air France flight who was from the Languedoc had trouble pronouncing the name of the town which was my destination. But after missing my first flight to Toulouse, then barely making my train to Carcassonne, I was picked up at the train station by John Fanning, the director of La Muse. La Muse is a Writer's and Artist's Retreat in the Aude "department" in the Languedoc region of Southern France.
I was so pleased to be given a residency here. The above left is the hallway to my room, while the right shows the street side of La Muse. To the immediate left is the back, which faces the valley. When the weather is warm, the patio is a great place for dinner. The town is in the middle of the "Black Mountain" region, basically in the middle of a huge chestnut and pine forest—no one ever knows what part of France I am talking about when I try to describe it. Check it out on the map!