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!
In her craft essay in the February 2018 #133 issue of Glimmer Train's Bulletin, Danielle Lazarin tells readers to "Question Everything" as she does in her own drafting process. Her essay opens:
"On some days, my writing notebooks look like an inquisition, my pages topped and ended with questions: in all-caps, underlined, circled. Many are small: What do the kids want to be called? What is her work? Handwriting=obsessive or careless? Maybe she cries on the subway home, after dinner? But they're big, too: What is true, the memory of it, or the moment? Is she lacking? DO WE REQUIRE HOPE? Though they may appear frantic, a series of scribbled questions aren't signs of confusion or desperation but of sufficient curiosity on my part to propel a story forward. At every stage of my work, questions are my most essential writing tools. I use them to move through to the other side of murky. It's only by stepping into that unknown and uncomfortable space repeatedly during my process that I can become more deliberate in the story I'm telling."
Also included in this month's GT Bulletin are Thomas Fox Averill's "Writing Archival Fiction" and Aline Ohanesian "On Rejection." The Bulletin is free to read online and have delivered monthly to your e-mail.