If you're traveling anywhere near Montgomery, Alabama, consider spending the night in the former home of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald which now houses the Fitzgerald Museum and a two-bedroom apartment. "This historic home houses the only dedicated museum to F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald in the world. The family lived here from 1931 until 1932, writing portions of their respective novels, Save Me The Waltz and Tender Is The Night, during their time here."
The apartment is listed on Airbnb and can be rented for $150 a night. Guests can also visit the museum during its open hours, maybe helping make Montgomery your destination!
As a kid (and adult for that matter) who was forever unable to remember her numerical lock combinations, what3words is the most brilliant invention of all time. And who among us readers/writers can't absolutely fall in love with this concept: The entire planet mapped out in three meter squares with each one assigned a unique three-word sequence.
Download the app to your phone, and no matter where you go, you can find you three-word location. Give your three-word location to someone, and they can find you!
I can only imagine that some poets have already gotten a hold of this and are integrating it into their writing - right? How about engaging young students in both geography and writing. Come up with three words, put them in, and see where that location is - the possibilities are endless and exciting! Check it out for yourself!
Not to rush your summer, but July 4th signals the opening of registration for the annual August Poetry Postcard Festival!
This is a FAVORITE event for me and many others who have been doing it since it started over ten years ago, as well as for newbies - who are always welcome to join!
Visit Paul E Nelson's webpage for full instructions, but the basic premise is this: Registrants are grouped with 31 other participants and each group member gets a list of names and addresses. You start with the name below yours on the list and each day, write a poem on a postcard and send it to that person. The next day, you go to the next name on the list, write, send, repeat.
The idea is to be spontaneous in writing these poems. They aren't supposed to be prewritten (although some folks do type or reprint for the sake of legibility), and as much as possible, written in the moment. In the past, I've known a writer to focus on colors as a theme, another randomly landed on a word in the dictionary and made that their inspiration. Since the only requirement is to write and send a card a day, the rest is up to each writer's imagination and motivation. The postcards can be anything at all - some people make their own, some use photos, others are cheesy tourist postcards, some are vintage - it's totally up to the sender.
There is a $10 registration fee to help handle the oversight. I'm happy to pay this, and the domestic and occassional international postage - considering how much I spend on conferences each year, some of which I walk away from wondering what I gained from them. The APPF has never disappointed. Not only has it inspired my own writing in numerous ways, there is something so uniquely enjoyable about going to the mailbox each day, wondering what I might be gifted from another poet out there somewhere in the world.
Challenge yourself to do this. Participate. Enjoy it. Struggle through it. At the end of the month, you'll feel enormous satisfaction and even a bit a sadness that it's over.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) is a general term used to identify this non-profit resource that can be found in numerous communities across the country. VLAs provide low-cost or free legal aid and guidance to artists and organizations, and some will even provide consultation to artists from areas that do not have their own VLA. In the past, I've received phone consults from the VLA in New York prior to Michigan having its own organization. Some, such as the St. Louis VLAA include Accountants for the Arts as well. The VLAA website has a directory of VLAs with the advice that if you do not see your state listed to contact your state arts council.
[Pictured: Alma Robinson, Executive Director of Califorinia Lawyers for the Arts]
The Great American Read is an eight-part series from PBS that "explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience."
The series kicked off with a two-hour launch in May and continued with five one-hour episodes examining concepts common to the eligible novels. The finale - planned for October 2018 - will announce the results of the nation-wide vote to select America's best-loved book.
The Great American Read website includes all the programs for online viewing as well as the list of 100 books and directions on how to vote for your best-loved novels from the list.
Last month, DM O'Connor reviewed EJ Koh’s collection of poems Lesser Love. In addition to being selected winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry in 2017, O’Connor offers this praise: “It is clear that each page stands alone as an example of true contemporary poetry. It is clear you should buy this book, memorize all the poems, then give it to a friend who need to be affirmed that poetry is far from dead.”
At the close of the review, O’Connor notes that Koh will even write love letters to her readers, just for the asking. Intrigued, I visited her website, where she states, “I am writing a thousand love letters to strangers by hand.”
Her July 26, 2016 blog post entitled, “It’s Okay, I Love You” explains how she came to this task, beginning the entry with:
“The past nine months, my life has become unrecognizable. When I say this out loud, it means who I am is unrecognizable. But I now see myself for the first time.
“In February, I hoped to write again; beginning was also deciding. I’d once said, 'I’m sick of writing because I’m sick of myself.' To be kinder towards my person, I didn’t go back to that place. On a Friday evening, I was pressed for new perspective. I decided to handwrite a thousand love letters.”
She goes on to explain why the handwriting, why the love – which seems it needs less explaining in our current world that feels imbued with endless hate.
So, I wrote to EJ. I sent her an e-mail, including some details about myself, as she requests, “& add a struggle,” which I did. A couple weeks later, I received a hand-addressed envelope postmarked from Seattle. By then, I had forgotten about my request, and didn’t know EJ was on the west coast, so I was pleasantly surprised to open the envelope and find a two-page, handwritten “love letter.” Mine was numbered 62, and included thoughtful commentary and insight gleaned from information I had shared with her, including my struggle.
A love letter? If love means reaching out to a total stranger, to recognize the work they do, what they care about and what they are struggling with; to treat someone with concern and care and affirmation; to not judge and to just be kind and share in someone’s perspective with seriousness and some humor – then yes. This was the best love letter I’ve ever received.
What a difference writers can make in another person’s life. And all it takes is who we are and what we have, shared with another. So simple, so (nearly) free, and yet – so profound.
My thanks to EJ. I hope others who share in this experience have as great an appreciation. May we all “promise to notice our light every day.”
Journal of the Month is an incredible resource for writers, readers, teachers, students, librarians – does that leave anyone out?
As a general subscriber, you will receive a new literary journal by the tenth of each month, never receiving the same publication twice during your subscription. If you already subscribe to some journals, you just let them know, and they will choose others for you. Yes, there are human beings making these selections, not automated machines!
For teachers, Co-Founder Jenn Scheck-Kahn (aka one of the humans behind this marvelous enterprise), will work with you to select four magazines you’d like to teach. Each student will then receive one publication a month – based on a delivery schedule you develop together, so that the publications arrive in advance of when you plan to teach them. Instructors receive a free set of the copies they plan to teach. Now is the time to plan those readings for the next school year!
Journal of the Month is a super easy gift idea! If you have writers or readers on your holiday or birthday list, what better way to support their interests!
Subscribers can select from 4, 6, 8, 12, and even 24 months.
Try it! See if you like it (how could you not?!), then sign up for more!
Join in National Poetry Month celebrations!
While supplies last, you can request a free copy of the 2018 National Poetry Month poster from the Academy of American Poets, designed by AIGA Medal and National Design Award-winning designer Paula Scher. The design celebrates typography and is suggestive of concrete poetry and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
April 26 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Carry a poem with you and share it with others! The Academy of American Poets provides a PDF Guide to Celebrating Poetry in Schools, Communities & Businesses, which includes a selection of pocket-sized poems (also cellphone, snapshot sized). Carry and share!
Teach This Poem features a poem each week from the Academy's online collection accompanied by commentary and interdisciplinary resources and activities. Good for K-12 as well as early college.
Dear Poet Project invites grades five through twelve (Common Core lesson plan available) to write letters in response to poems written by poets connected with the Academy of American Poets. Deadline: April 30, 2018 for consideration for publication on Poets.org in 2018 as well as select letters receiving a response.
ReadWriteThink, the educational resource partnering with National Council of Teachers of English and International Literacy Association, provides classroom activities, websites, and related resources for teachers and parents of K-12 students.
Reading Rockets, the national multimedia project from WETA Public Broadcasting, has a full page of resources: Poets on Poetry videos; Learning Through Poetry links to resources and organizations; Poetry Booklists; Video interviews with children's poets; ideas for librarians; and a full list of activities.
American Life in Poetry features a weekly poem with brief commentary from Poet Laurate of the United States 2004-2006 Ted Kooser. Print and online news sources can sign up to reprint the columns.
NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April. Best to sign up early, but check it out this year to prepare yourself for next!