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The Poet Is In...

Society seems to glorify dedication to the point of obsession, call it genius, and then shame anyone who is less than fully infatuated. And we focus on volume, ask how many books written or what awards won, as if they are the only goals a writer can have.

We all understand, those of us playing this poetry game, that we will never get rich from our writing. So as artists, it's important to focus on WHY you write. What you are getting from it that feeds you like nothing else quite can. And what aspects of this poetry game you treasure the most.

For me, if I spend five hours in a day working on poetry, it's 4/5 on something involving others - organizing an event, editing for a journal, updating memberships for a poetry non-profit, leading a workshop, judging for a contest. Acts of service are important. Not less important than writing or seeking publication. Equally important. Acts of service in a literary community build the community, which feeds each artist and creates more inspiration and professional connection.

Community-building is an important artistic endeavor. And yet, I know when I am hiding. Often women place their own words and thoughts at lesser importance than everything else around them. So it's easy for me to prioritize event-planning above solitary writing time. (Also, I have got a vicious inner-critic. And writing means facing her. And that is SCARY.)

All of this is to say, I am finally working on putting together a full-length manuscript. I have to let those poems find their homes so I can focus on new work.

In order to help myself focus, I have set up an office in the Collingwood Arts Center. (I have no idea how people write in their houses when so many things need folded/cleaned/put-away/fixed/packed/woken-up and fed.) This big, ghost-filled monster of a building has housed (literally) artists of all kinds for generations.

I want to share that purpose-driven space for others as well, when they need clarity or help or just a quiet non-home spot to focus on their writing. So I started Poet Laureate Office Hours... 4-6pm every Wednesday at the Collingwood Arts Center in Toledo. It started in March and every week I've had incredible conversations with writers of all sorts.

Thank you for inspiring me to take my own work and words seriously. And let me know if you plan to stop by.

Also, if you don't have a copy of my last chapbook Semidomesticated, winner of Red Flag's 2020 Chapbook contest, now in its second printing by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2022, then now is the time to order a copy! April is Poetry Month and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions authors receive 60% royalties on all books sold through the Sheila-Na-Gig site for the entire month. Look around the site, try out a new poet and buy a book for a friend!

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