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"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."

Carl Sagan said it and I quote it all the time. Each new year can feel a bit like a brand new construction. This year in particular feels like a start from the ground up.

As a writer, you have to find the peace and focus to create new poems. As a community-member, you have to find more ways to connect and share, support your fellow poets. You must read to keep the mind active and open wide to new styles. You must listen to the open mics, go to the readings, seek out the people who are sharing their work and really hear them. You need to gather with peers to review, revise, revisit. And to get your work published, you have to send the babies out into the known but very harsh world of submissions. It can feel overwhelming when you look at it as a whole universe.

I've been trying to find my focus. I take the role of Poet Laureate seriously and want to make the most of the opportunities offered. But at the same time, the slope of good intentions gets mighty steep if you don't dig in hard and hold on to something steady.

First step, take yourself seriously. So I'm updating the website a bit. A proper calendar has been added. A little light tidying up and plans to do more. And I signed up for a couple writing workshops just to keep the words flowing and flex the literary muscles on a more consistent basis. I'm excited to attend AWP Conference in Philadelphia in March and wander among the professionals, even if I will feel mostly like a kid dressed up in a poet suit.

Second step, get specific about what goals you want to act on and how to keep them achievable. I know, I sound like a self-help quip-a-day desk calendar. But seriously. I love big plans and I cannot lie. Grand, crazy, invent a new language and live on a commune plans. But I'm also a skeptic. So coming to ideas that can lead to real change through a series of actionable events can take a whole lotta coffee and post-it notes.

Here's my thought... yes, we need writing workshops available through the library branches and other available institutions. But we also need to hear poetry in more places. Restaurants and bars, coffeehouses and outdoor festivals, senior centers and bus stops. Normalize literature. So much so that the poetry pros want to come here for their conferences. Or want to come here for the conference we create.

February is for planning and creating a framework for some of these ideas. I'm still cutting my teeth as Membership Chair at Ohio Poetry Association, and there's work to do at Of Rust and Glass - two anthologies that I'm so excited to be a part of. And the line up so far for Uncloistered... being able to meet with both the in-person and on-line communities each month is incredible and these are soul-building writers!

I shake off the difficulties of the past month, the cold and the tough, and welcome the slow build of small plans.

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Don Cellini
Don Cellini
Jan 27, 2022

Jonie, I love your plans and encourage you to think big. I love the idea of poetry in bus stops and other places. I'll be back to Toledo in May, so think about how I might help you then.

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