All Rise for Judge J.C. Todd

JC Todd-300dpi-1600 ppi

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

Advertisements

MaryAnn L. Miller; Artist, Poet

MAMiller7_16.jpg

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.

Semi-Finalist in Crab Creek Review’s Annual Poetry Contest

The title sort of gave it away, but my poem “Sixteen” was a semi-finalist in Crab Creek Review‘s contest, along with some thirty-odd other poems selected out of over 2,000 submitted. It was additionally chosen for publication, so even though the judge didn’t pick “Sixteen” as a winner, I am still feeling pretty good about it!

Congrats to winner Connie Post! I look forward to reading her poem “Gardening” in the next issue of Crab Creek Review.

*

In other news, my copy of Women Arts Quarterly arrived with my poem “Everything is Breaking.” A copy is just $7 including shipping, and there is some wonderful work in there! I feel so lucky to be included.

Further, The Orison Anthology is now available for pre-order, containing my poem “I Want to Write a Memoir,” which Rhino nominated for inclusion. I didn’t know much about the project, but when I saw the list of who was included in the book I may have done a back flip. I’m over the moon about the editors selecting my poem among those by greats. A great thank you to them.