So I got this email

“…Although we have not yet determined a winner, I am delighted to tell you that your manuscript, “Why My Mother is Still Afraid of Heights,” has been selected from among over 900 submissions as a finalist in the University of Wisconsin Press’s Brittingham Prize and Felix Pollak Prize poetry competition. Your manuscript, along with the 30 other finalists, has been sent along to our outside judge for a final decision…”

Should know by January. Pardon me if I can’t stop freaking out before then. Professional!

Also,  I got an acceptance from LEVELER, and my poem will be appearing in January.

My poem “Small Talk” appeared in Day One. Buy it here for just $1.99!

Finally, I have a poetry reading on December 10th in Philly. Come!

Malaise Begins and Ends with “ME”

I update this blog every few months to apologize for updating it every few months.

Recent acceptances include:

My poem “Small Talk” being picked up by Day One.

My poem “My Father Requested Excommunication” being picked up by the Milk Teeth anthology.

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Excitingly, the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award Reception & Reading took place this past October! Below are some photos from that event. Congratulations to our fabulous winner and finalists–it was a very special (albeit rainy!) evening. Their words were kept company and rhythm by the steady drip of a leak in the ceiling.

 

Reading: For my IL friends!

The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award’s Judge and Artist/Poet, JC Todd and MaryAnn L. Miller, will be giving a reading at Lake Forest Book Store on September 11th, from 3-4 pm.

MaryAnn L. Miller says the reading “is especially significant because part of our event will be presentation of our artist book FUBAR, which is on the theme of war, in particular, the war in Iraq. It features one of J.C.’s poems written from the point of view of a female air force physician tending to the wounded and dying. The images are prints made from monotypes I did in response to the poem.”

This is a must-see event for my IL friends.

These two create brilliance and beauty with everything they do.

The Winner of the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award: Lisa Grunberger

Lisa’s winning poem, “Genesis: Beginning the In” is a poem that spans generations. Because the mother and daughter figures of the poem are so integral to its narrative arc, I asked Lisa to send me some photos of she and her daughter, Rachel, as well as Lisa with her mother. Love radiates from the photos, as it does from Lisa’s poem, which I’ll reveal in its broadside format after the jump.

Judge JC Todd had this to say of the first place poem, chosen out of over 500:

“Genesis: Beginning the In” kept drawing me back in appreciation of the organic ease of each distilled image opening into the next. Repeated readings deepened its resonance. This poem imagines the profound, non-linear recombining of cellular memory, personal remembrance and family history. Told through closely seen ordinaries of everyday life, it is a homage to the maternal legacy that passes from mother to child to child of child.

As a reminder to the purpose of the contest, it was a fundraiser held by SI/Rittenhouse Square, PA for their Live Your Dream Awards programEach year, this chapter of Soroptimist International gives a $1,000 cash grant to a woman who is head of her household, has experienced hardships, demonstrates financial need, and wants to go to school. A typical award recipient might be a domestic violence survivor who wants to become a social worker and help other women. It is an amazing program, and Lisa’s entry fee to the contest went toward this important cause, as did the entry fees of over 100 other folks.

In keeping with the spirit of the award, I asked the ten finalists, including Lisa, if they would tell me a bit about a woman they admire. Lisa had the following to say:

There are many women I admire and I am indebted to as a feminist and a writer, but I have to say that Barbra Streisand’s career and life (and, not incidentally, her refusal to get a nose job!) is an inspiration; she is a tough, sassy,  artist who I identify with as a first generation American woman who has always felt both inside and outside of mainstream culture.  Streisand has counteracted so many stereotypes of the ugly unfeminine Jewess; her passion and commitment to her art has been an inspiration in my life.  She is a strong woman who has redefined our culture’s understanding of what it means to be beautiful, feminine and powerful.   

I would be remiss if I kept going on about Lisa’s poem and the contest it won without sharing the final product with you, designed by artist and poet MaryAnn L. Miller. Please read on below to see how Lisa’s imagistic poem came to life in MaryAnn’s brilliant hands.

Continue reading

All Rise for Judge J.C. Todd

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Credit: Mark Hillringhouse

Don’t you love it when you go to a party and the host starts out by apologizing to everyone for how messy her house is? I do! It makes me feel better about apologizing to you all about how belated this post celebrating Judge JC Todd, and her contribution to the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award. If you only have a vague recolection of such a contest, let me refresh your memory: It was a poetry contest held by Soroptimist International of Rittenhouse Square, PA with over 500 poems submitted. The proceeds of the contest went toward their Live Your Dream Award, which benefits a female head of household who has experienced hardships, demonstrates financial need, and wants to go back to school. A typical winner of the award is often a single mother who has experienced domestic violence, and wants to become a nurse or social worker.

When I came up with the idea of holding this contest, with its prize of a broadside of the winning poem designed by MaryAnn L. Miller, I knew I needed the perfect person to be judge. I also knew that the perfect person, without equivocation, was JC Todd.

JC was wildly supportive of my brief female and non-binary reading series, and is the type of person who lifts others up, both through her words, and through her actions. I met her first through the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway where she was a teacher and I was a merit-based scholarship student. Everyone was requesting JC to be their teacher in the line, and I followed suit. We worked together on the last day, where it was agreed by the group to do a “gentle” workshop, without teeth. I said I would prefer teeth. When workshopping my poem, JC was brilliant, kind, and then at the end said something quite accurately critical, and her teeth gave a sharp chomp, almost as though she were eating my mixed metaphor. I have been a fan of hers ever since (and often wish other teachers had a signal that they were about to bite into my poems).

I asked JC why she said yes to this contest, and what she enjoys about sharing a dynamic duo with artist and poet MaryAnn L. Miller, and she wrote the following beautiful essay. I hope you enjoy. Continue reading

MaryAnn L. Miller; Artist, Poet

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The above figure is MaryAnn L. Miller, the artist and poet who created the broadsides for the winning poem of the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award, “Genesis: Beginning the In” by Lisa Grunberger.

I met MaryAnn when she submitted to the reading series I used to run, Feats of Poetic Strength. I fell in love with the vitality of her words–what she has to say is so important. At the reading where she read, she captivated the audience with her poems about, in part, hysteria in relation to women’s health-over a year later, I still remember this vividly.

I also remember the first time I saw a broadside she’d created, one for poet Hila Ratzabi, and I found it stunning.

So MaryAnn was the first person I thought of when the idea of the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award, and its prize of a Broadside, came to mind. When I asked her, she enthusiastically said yes, and generously, offering to cover all costs. I was so grateful! I can’t stress this enough. It was a major act of selflessness.

In these profiles I’ve been writing, I asked the finalists to tell me about a woman they admired. In MaryAnn’s case, I asked if she would write about why she said “yes” to the project, and what she admires about the contest’s judge, J.C. Todd. The two are a sort of set of creativity-sisters, regularly working on pieces together. I love stories of women working together, particularly in the arts, and wanted to highlight a modern day duo.

MaryAnn had the following to say:

Working with J. C.  is always a gift because she has a massive intellect and ready curiosity. I can count on her to look at details, examine everything, and enable inspiration. She has the desire to learn anything and brings her total focus to bear on a project. J. C. as judge of the poetry contest is part of the reason I wanted to contribute to the Brittany Noakes Award project. I knew the poem would be fine and full of imagery. The other part is Shevaun’s creating an art pathway that I could take to help a single mother.

If you could just ignore my blushing from the end there, that’d be great.

Our next profile will be on Judge J.C. Todd, and then at long last, the profile of our winner, the image of the broadside, and info on its debut at Soroptimist International of Rittenhouse Square‘s first poetry reading.