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Whan that Aprill

April 5, 2010

I’ve been in involuntary cyber-silence for the past month or so, because the fun stuff was happening so fast and thick that I had nary a chance to blog. Among the truly wonderful events I’ve been involved with over the past six weeks are the three speakers I brought in to work with English classes at UMary and to give public talks/readings in Bismarck. The first was Jen Woods, who is the publisher of the Lumberyard and the founder of the freshly minted Typecast Publishing. She talked about poetry and everyday life, and worked with my Intro to the Profession class and our Creative Writing class. She also was kind enough to hold a spot in the next Lumberyard for one of our students.

In mid-March, we had Debra Marquart in to read from her award-winning memoir The Horizontal World. Deb also worked with the two classes mentioned above, and I got to play some lead guitar behind her during her reading/performance.

Finally, last week we hosted Peabody and Tony award-winning poet Bruce George, the founder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Bruce gave a creative writing workshop, sat in on three or four classes, gave a talk about Art and Politics, and hosted/judged UMary’s first ever Poetry Slam. The Slam was great fun, and looks to be repeated. Poetry is bursting out all over UMary right now, and it’s been really amazing to be part of it this semester. It’s also been personally rewarding to spend time with creative folks like Jen, Deb, and Bruce. We were able to host all three of them at the house for food and wine and conversation with us and a variety of friends–lots of music and poetry and talk.

In between, I read poetry between performances at the Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra‘s Valentine fundraiser. I read poems by Shakespeare, Keats, Marvell, Neruda, and Roethke, while string quartets and woodwinds skirled around me. This was intensely fun–I so hope I get asked again next year.

I’ve also been furiously working on the novel, shooting for a May 1st deadline. I can’t officially say why/what that deadline means, but I really need to finish a draft by May 1st, and hopefully I’ll have some  fairly big news about that soon afterward.

This week, I’m off to Denver for the AWP conference. It’s my first time there, and I hear it’s BIG–I know that I’m stoked to see Michael Chabon read, and that there will be tons of independent presses on hand, including Jen Woods and Typecast, who I’ll hang with, I’m sure. And, I’ll be doing a reading. The Lumberyard is holding a mystery reading in conjunction with Hangman, Forklift, and Ag Reader at midnight this Friday night, location to be announced (check my calendar tab above if you’re in Denver). I’m particularly excited about this reading, because I’ll be sharing the Lumberyard portion of the show with Karyna McGlynn, whose stunning book I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl I’m reading right now. I’ve never met Karyna, but I have shared space with her in the Lumberyard. I’m looking forward to meeting her and hearing her live. I’ll be doing some monster poems and a Blind Mice song that really wants to be a slam poem.

And as if that weren’t enough, while I’m in Denver I’ll be unfortunately missing the Charleston International Film Festival, where at 11pm Friday night, Cornerboys will be making its festival debut. Kevin Smith, composer for Cornerboys and all-around dude, will be there presenting the film and taking questions. If you’re in Charleston and want to see us on the big screen, you can find ticket info here.

Whew! Lots of good things happening this year. Thanks for reading along and supporting me. I hope to have more good news as we move on into this first year of the new decade.

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