Happy National Poetry Month!


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Since 1996, April has been designated by the Academy of American Poets as National Poetry Month! To celebrate, I’m going to challenge myself this year to write more poetry- at least one new original poem a day for the next thirty days. I’ve also recently bought two new poetry collections to read and will hopefully pick up more around Easter.

Some suggestions for my readers looking to celebrate this month:

  •  Participate in the 30 Day Poetry Challenge. Looking for inspiration or a little nudge? Their Facebook Page will be posting a new daily prompt every day for the month of April.

Visit your local library and take out enough collections from the poetry section to last you all month long. Read one a week, and you’ve read four new poets. Double it, and you’ll know eight more. Go for the goal and read a new poet every day- whether that’s through collections or looking up new modern poetry online. (Here’s a good place to start!)

Participate in some of Poets.org’s activities, such as the Poet-to-Poet Project for people in grades 3 through 12, and Poem in your Pocket Day  on April 4th for all ages.

Sign up for the e-mail newsletters from the Poets & Writers website. Stay in the loop with new poets, get prompts delivered to your inbox, find local poets and poetry outlets.

Participate in or go to a local open mic- these are often performed in coffeehouses or local bookstores. For a list of some of those readings in Colorado where I am, visit this website.

For my fellow Coloradeans, visit the Colorado Poets Center– there you can find a comprehensive list of poets near you, read poetry news from your own neighbors, and connect yourself to poets, whether you are a writer or a reader, who live in your own area.

 

Readers: What are your plans for celebrating National Poetry Month? Do you have any prompts to suggest for my own challenge?

 

Review: A Must Read for Poetry Lovers and Those Looking for God


A five star review today from reader Janet Kalmadge- personal reviews like hers just absolutely brighten my day!

I started following Amber on a poetry site. Then I found her blog. She is so open about her life and writing projects. This book is an extension of that openness. Of what she is seeking and questioning. When it comes to God and religion, that is not always easy to do. Her poetry is beautiful, often raw. This book is filled with deep meaning, pondering and answers. I shall always treasure this book.

 

Thank you, Janet, for the kind words! I hope I’ll only be able to get better as I continue to write, and keep being able to give more of myself to my readers. I treasure your support.

Acquisition Notice: devozine


The devotional magazine for teens, devozine, has acquired a second poem of mine. This one, titled ‘Are You Listening?’ will be published in the MA 2014 issue, under the Art of Listening theme. I’m so honored to be able to be a part of this ministry again!

Falling Off the Wagon


As much as I would sometimes like to think I’m the most productive writer I know, sometimes… I get caught up in life and I end up not… writing. Or submitting. Or editing. Or anything having to do with writing, whatsoever. Today, while trying to update my submission tracker on Duotrope, I realized that I hadn’t actively submitted hardly anything since at least mid-June. For someone who had, at one point, been submitting at least five poems a week to different journals, this is turning into quite a dry spell. It’s a bit frustrating, to say the least.  I guess when I finally committed myself to this whole writing thing I had imagined myself as being a bit more of a publishing machine- consistently cranking out new material and submitting (and having my submissions accepted) at a consistent rate. It’s safe to say that, going into this, I most definitely underestimated the time and effort required to really pull off being a professional poet (at the same time as being a professional fiction writer, and student, and nanny, and Sacristan, and newspaper editor….). It’s been a hard lesson to learn this summer, but an invaluable one.  I am coming to learn my limits, as well as my strengths and weaknesses regarding writing and submitting pieces for publication. I’m beginning to figure out how much time, and how much breathing space, I really do require in order to perform at my peak.

So today, I’m hoping to get back on the writing wagon. With a week off from work before returning from school, I’m pledging to renew my efforts in submitting pieces for publication, work out a more doable, and more consistent schedule for posting on this blog, and schedule at least one poetry reading event a month for me to attend (whether its to read or just to sit and listen to others read). I’ve gotten off to a good start this morning- went through my latest Duotrope e-mails and narrowed my efforts today to six markets. After I go to mass, I’ll narrow it down to the markets I will actually submit to and go from there.

Thank you for sticking it through with me, even through this stagnant summer! Here’s to a productive final semester of college!

Things I Do to Stay Sane: Hang out with Children


Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to take a break from being an adult and remember what it was like when stuff like bills were ‘mommy and daddy’ problems. It’s nice to think that entirely nonsensical answers could truly be the way to deal with conflict in one’s life. It’s fun to spend the entire day reading, or playing pretend, or thinking up crafts, or baking, and consider that to be as productive as we need to be today.  Sometimes, it’s downright necessary.

kids

I’ve been getting more than my fair share of this kind of therapy this summer what with being a nanny to two girls (7 and 11) every day from breakfast to dinner time. But if I’m going to be honest, I’ve always been around kids. I have a large immediate family (five siblings, three older), and a pretty close extended family. I can’t really remember a time where there wasn’t a baby or small child under the age of ten somewhere in my family tree. As one of the ‘older’ kids, but not quite the oldest, I also can’t remember a time where I wasn’t expected to hang out with or watch other kids who were either just younger or a lot younger than me. And I’m not about to say that this was always the best of times for me, babysitting or hanging out with younger kids. Most of the time, it’s honestly a royal pain in the behind (though what isn’t, eventually).

But taking time out of your day to just hang out with children can be an awesome thing, too. It always blows me away, the things that children notice. It can be as simple as obsessing over your new hair cut or as out of the blue as pointing out the racism in a Nickelodeon movie. I think a lot of the time, when I tell people that I hang out with kids a lot, they immediately think that I’m cool with it because of the innocence of children. Honestly, I like it more because of the wisdom of children. They’re still in this age where they haven’t become so tired of the world that they don’t truly believe, down in their little bones, that they can change the world. Not someday, but today.

I love when I talk to the girls that I nanny, and one of them, ‘Star’, tells me that she wants to be a banker when she grows up, and that she wants to do a semester of school in Japan in high school.  When we talk together about what kind of work that would entail, she doesn’t get discouraged. She just kind of gets this wide-eyed, goofy grin look on her face and she says, “Well, I better get working on that then”. ‘Snail’, her younger sister, wants to be a gymnast. Not tomorrow, but today. And no statistics or comparing her to other girls is going to convince her that she can’t be. These children have an unwavering faith in themselves, and they haven’t yet learned that the rest of the world has forgotten that. I know my older niece and nephew are the same, and hope my younger nieces and nephews grow into that invincibility as well. And never grow out. So I hang out with kids to remember just how dumb I’ve become regarding my own God-given potential.

Also, specifically as a writer, I love some of the questions kids ask. When I’m writing a poem, I often get stuck in this kind of rut, asking myself (and the world), the same kinds of questions over and over. Appreciating the same things that are within my comfort zone or within my immediate realm of existence. The kids I know are always challenging that. They ask questions that make no sense, are rude, or improper, or ‘common sense’. They never stop questioning. They appreciate the wonder of hairless cats and guinea pig medicine and bubbles and eating pizza with their aunt at the cool kids table.  They remind me not to doubt the importance of what I’m writing. They teach me not to be ashamed of wanting to immortalize a feeling in verse, whether it be appreciation, frustration, loathing or doubt, because to them all feelings and questions and loves are valid and sacred.

So if you’re feeling like you’ve lost your magic, go ahead and take your niece or nephew or little cousin, little sibling to a picnic in the park (or the zoo, or aquarium). Don’t ask them to entertain you with their antics. Don’t expect them to come up to your level. Simply be with them, listen, and absorb all of the wonder that they have had the grace to retain. Remember the grace you were born with, but have forgotten. Recharge, and heal.

Then, write.

Book Blog Tour: Signed Copy Winners!


Here we are at the end of this book blog tour- I want to deeply thank all of the wonderful bloggers who have hosted me this month, whether it be an interview, an excerpt, a guest post, or an exclusive poem. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to examine myself and my writing even further with everyone, and I hoped you all enjoyed the little insights as well!

To end the Book Blog Tour, I have the winners of the signed copies of Drunk Dialing the Divine-

Hannah Long

Amanda Miguelgorry

Katherine Varley

Janet Kalmadge

Sam Cronk

Congratulations, and thank you for participating in this giveaway! I will be e-mailing you all to get your addresses so I can get your copies to you soon.

Remember, for a limited time you can e-mail me directly and order a signed copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine from me for yourself, or if you purchase the paperback from my publisher directly, eLectio publishing, you get both the paperback AND electronic versions.

If you ever want to revisit the posts from this blog tour, they have all been categorized under ‘Book Blog Tour: June 2013’. We will be back to our regularly scheduled postings starting the first week of July!

Book Blog Tour: Different Gifts, Same Spirit


More chances to enter in the giveaway on M.L. Anderson’s blog about writing as a ministry. In this guest post, I talk about how the seeming death of one dream lead to my realization that I wasn’t being open enough in my own sense of vocation. Only one week to win a signed copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine, my debut poetry collection from eLectio publishing!

Guess What?


I’m havin’ a giveaway! As part of the book blog tour for this month, I’m giving away five signed copies of ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’- all you have to do is like my Facebook page, tweet about the giveaway on Twitter or follow this blog!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.