Monday, June 29, 2009

Heart's Migration gets more attention

My new book, Heart's Migration, is getting a lot of attention--or relatively, from my perspective. It has been featured in Kansas City Magazine. There's an article about it coming out in Studio Magazine. The PITCH did an interview with me about its appearing on The Writers Almanac for their blog--don't know if that's been posted yet or not. Then, of course, there were the two readings of it by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac, the lovely post on Letras Latinas about it and on Ad Astra. (See my earlier post for links to all of those.)

Now, Pete Dulin, who with Pam Taylor, does so much for the literary and arts community in Kansas City with their great online city magazine, Present Magazine, has put up an interview with me about the book and a couple of poems from Heart's Migration. Check it out here.

I will be reading Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30 pm at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire, in Lawrence, KS, at the launch of the anthology, Imagination and Place, and celebration of outgoing Kansas poet laureate Denise Low and incoming poet laureate Carryn-Miriam Goldberg. If you can make it to Lawrence or are already there, come join us.

Then, on Tuesday, July 21, at 7
:00 pm, I will read with Phyllis Becker in The Writers Place/Johnson County Resource Library reading series at the Johnson County Resource Library. Phyllis and I have some real fun planned. More on that later. Plan to come out and join us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's hot!!!!

Last night's Big Tent Reading at the Raven in Lawrence was a lovely event. About 35 people attended--a very receptive audience. Sold three books. The woman who introduced me found out about my cookbook just before and told everyone it was easy to find poets but a good cookbook author was hard to find.

One woman drove up from Topeka to Lawrence because my former cousin-in-law had recommended to her that she come. She and Mary Lou are involved in a girls' mentoring project together, and Mary Lou knew that she wrote poetry. I think we'll have a new member of the Latino Writers Collective in Topeka now.

We're in a heat advisory again. It's too early for this. We don't usually get this kind of heat until after the 4th of July. When we have to go outside, we throw ourselves into it, panting like dogs. Thank heavens for the person who invented air conditioning!

Going to hear Robert Olen Butler read tonight. That's certainly something to look forward to.

Stay cool wherever you are!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Exciting Links--At Least for Me

First of all, tomorrow Garrison Keillor reads my poem, "The Sun Grows in Your Smile," on the Writers Almanac, then on June 27, he reads "Meditation on the Word NEED." Both poems are from Heart's Migration. Here's a sneak preview of tomorrow's. And here's a sneak preview of June 27th.

Next, here's the lovely post Francisco Aragon wrote on Letras Latinas today. Francisco is a consummate encourager and supporter of writers. At the AWP earlier this year, I watched as he introduced people to each other, helped them make crucial connections, opened doors for them, made opportunities available to them--constantly! And I never saw him look as mischievously happy as when he had been able to do something kind for another writer. The world needs more Franciscos--that's for sure!

Finally, my dear friend, Denise Low-Weso, who will be relinquishing the mantle of poet laureate for Kansas to Carryn-Miriam Goldberg on July 1, sent around her final official Ad Astra broadside, and this one was about me. The Lawrence Journal-World and several other papers picked it up and ran it as an article. Denise has been a superlative poet laureate who's worked overtime to bring poetry into the everyday lives of Kansans and to showcase poets with Kansas roots. I'll be at the Lawrence Arts Center on July 1 to cheer her out and cheer Carryn in. And to read for the launch of a new anthology in which I have a long poem.

I also received the manuscripts for my Macondo workshop with Ruth Behar and Marjorie Agosin. Wonderful work by a fascinating group of writers. Of course, I'm so excited to be going to study with Behar and Agostin. I'm absolutely looking forward to Macondo!

What a lovely day! Hope yours has been just as fine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Catching Up

Boy, have I been a neglectful blogger! I've been in and out of town and overwhelmed with work and stuff when here. So I need to catch up.

I was shocked, surprised, and thrilled to receive the 2009 Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award from the Macondo Foundation for excellence in writing and nurturing the creativity of others. I will be using the money on a spiritual retreat that I hope will help me finish the book of poetry I'm working on. This award meant that I also was accepted to the Macondo Workshop, and I am so looking forward to that at the end of July! Got my plane tickets and everything. Even joined Facebook so I could get updates, etc. My son was happy that someone had finally dragged me into the 21st century.

Another lovely surprise occurred when I was contacted by my best friend from high school, Jerri Kundiger Garretson. We hadn't heard from each other in over 40 years, but when I was in the final two years of high school, I spent as much or more time at Jerri's house as at my own and her mother was an early role model for me. Our high school class is having a reunion, and by a series of oddities, I'm back in contact and will be attending for the first time. After group emails went out, Jerri emailed me and we spent a lot of one night staying up late, catching each other up on what had gone on in our lives. It turns out she is a writer also and has her own small press, too. And as a final irony, my oldest son Niles just accepted a job near where she lives in Florida. So the chance that we'll get to meet again (even though she can't come to this reunion) is good.

My book launch for Heart's Migration was on May 29 at The Writers Place. Jason Biggers, one of my hermanos from the Latino Writers Collective, played lovely music for it. About 90 people showed up to make a wonderfully receptive audience, and we shoved good energy back and forth to each other, building it all night. And they bought books! Sold 40 that night. It was a terrific evening.

That same day, we had just found out that our first anthology, Primera Pagina: Poetry From the Latino Heartland, had taken 2nd place in the International Latino Book Awards, right after Juan Felipe Herrera's National Book Award-winning title. So Ben brought champagne to toast the Latino Writers Collective's success, as well as my book.

My most recent trip out of town was to Iowa City for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Midwest Book Fair at the University of Iowa. This meant we got to spend time with Joseph, my youngest son (with whom we stayed). The Book Fair was wonderful. Sold books, made connections with lots of people and organizations, even found a new LWC member. If they have it there again next year, we'll definitely go. We had dinner with Stephanie, one of Joseph's friends (with whom he's going to London later this summer), and we made our usual trip to Kalona, a small town near Iowa City that's predominantly Amish and Mennonite. We're addicted to the cinnamon rolls of the Kalona Bakery, and we bought handmade presents at a wonderful crafts store.

I came back to tons of emails, as usual, even though I try to use an out-of-office message when I can't check email daily. While wading through the junk and demands and messages I really wanted, I found a message from the permissions person for The Writers Almanac, saying Garrison Keillor wanted to read two of my poems on the show--"The Sun Grows in Your Smile," June 23, and "Mediation on the Word NEED," June 27. I was almost as speechless for a minute as when I got the phone call from Olivia Doerges, the sweet-voiced director of the Macondo Foundation, to tell me about the Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award. I need to find a better response to recognition than just going dumb!

I'm reading briefly from Heart's Migration this Friday at the Lenexa City Hall for Latino Arts Bravissimo! (where my books and the Collective's books have been on display) at 7:30 pm. Then, on Thursday, June 25, I will be reading at The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence for the Big Tent Reading Series with Peter Wright at 7:00 pm. On July 1, I will be reading at the Lawrence Arts Center in Lawrence for the launch of Imagination and Place: An Anthology and the turnover of Kansas poet laureates (from Denise Low-Weso to Carryn-Miriam Goldberg). Come and join me at any or all of these times and places! Should be a lot of fun.

I'm knitting a special shawl on commission, untangling some incredible grant convolutions, writing a new grant, researching an essay for a book on High Plains poets, writing (or should be) several reviews, writing analyses of a novel and two short stories for clients, trying to dig my house out from under its load of chaos, working on book promotion, and--when I can steal a moment--reading the correspondence between Denise Levertov and Robert Duncan (a wonderful Mother's Day gift from my youngest).

My peonies and irises are gone. The roses are almost spent. Missouri primrose, elder, dahlias, zinnias, lilies, daylilies, sage, and petunias are blooming away. I saw a woodpecker and a flicker the other day among our usual flocks of birds. Saw lots of lovely herons on the drive from Iowa. And thus spring moves into summer here in Kansas City.