Friday, October 19, 2007


Have you read a povel today?

I know, you're going "Huh? What the heck is a povel?"

I povel is simply a novel written in poetry form. Also known as novels in verse. Many of them are targeted to the YA audience. When I was first told about this form, I couldn't believe that something like it existed. I couldn't understand how anyone could write an entire novel in poetry. I did some research, and I was amazed as just how many novels written in verse are out there.

I am currently reading Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes (not completely written in poetry) and "Make Lemonade" by Virginia Euwer Wolff. Another author that I heard was amazing was Sonya Sones. I've requested some of her books from the library. If you want to read something new, check this genre out!

I'm also strongly considering doing my thesis as a povel. Stay tuned for more.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Come See Me!

Special event at the Birmingham Bridge Tavern (29th and Sarah, Pittsburgh's Southside) November 30th at 8:00 PM-- it's Most Wanted Writer's Half-Aversary Event!

Yup, hard to believe that it's been six months already since myself, Courtney, Matt, Marissa, and Sarah rocked the house at Most Wanted Fine Arts' first ever literary event!

Come see me, Kate Homer, and Courtney Lora Lang read at 8PM Friday, November 30th!

If you can't make it, you could always go on Friday October 26th at 8PM to hear the following readers:

Stephanie Wielkopolan
Nathaniel Fuller
Jane Fishman

They're all great writers and people, too!

After the November event, the Most Wanted Writers will go on hiatus until February 29th. So, PLEASE COME!

Marc Brown, and a limo (no, not Marc Brown IN a limo)

This past Wednesday, my Writing Picture Books class took a field trip to Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA to hear Marc Brown speak. Marc Brown, if you don't know, is the highly successful author of the Arthur the Aardvark book series, which has turned into what must be a multi-million dollar coperation thanks to the PBS series and merchandising. Brown had a lot of important things to say about the state of early childhood literacy, which I could appreciate thanks to my position with AmeriCorps and Beginning With Books. I'm currently writing an article for the AmeriCorps newsletter based on Marc Brown's beliefs, which I may post here later.

My only disappointments about the reading were that he didn't give us time to ask questions and that it was so crowded that I couldn't wait in line for him to sign my brand new copy of Wild About Books. Wild About Books is a beautiful book about a lady who drives a bookmobile into a zoo. The animals eventually begin checking out books, then writing, and eventually they open their own branch of the library right there in the zoo!

And then there was the limo. We must be the only six people on earth who have ever shown up to see a children's book author in a limo. We're fairly sure Marc Brown doesn't even get limos. . . or if he does, they're certainly not for free with fully stocked bars. haha.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I received some good news via e-mail a couple of days ago. The Rectangle, the literary journal of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, accepted my poem "The Bradley Family Secret" for publication! Although I was a little surprised that they decided to publish that one (boy, do I feel like my poetry has matured since I wrote that poem!) out of all five or six I submitted, I am more than happy to be published again, especially in a journal that will be read by students and professors all over the country (including some at Chatham as well as my alma mattar).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Experimentally Unexperienced

So, my goal this past week was to write an "experimental" poem, a poem written in whatever style is experimental to me. Basically, I've been trying to write a poem that goes against my usual style. It hasn't been too successful so far. It isn't so much that I don't want to play around with my style, it's just that I can't come up with a topic that I feel deserves it. Or, I can't come up with a form that's perfect for any of my topics.

So, after two false starts, I was laying in bed last night thinking when I came up with this incredibly complex, interwoven subject. I already had an opening stanza that I loved, so I started building off it. Basically, the poem is a series of numbered stanzas interweaving mother/daughter relationships with my current state as a 20-something girlfriend and the complexities of sexual relationships. Yeah. . .

It's still in fragments and I have until approx. 6:30PM to finish it. I don't know how "experimental" it is, but at this point I don't care much. . . I'm happy just to be writing something at this point, and the fact that it's something I really believe in is a plus.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spotlight on: Bill Deasy

Bill Deasy is the singer/songwriter behind the catchy music for KDKA's new campaign "My Home." I'm sure you've seen the spot a million times on KDKA. I just discovered this Pittsburgh native myself, and I dig his musical style. I would describe him as rock/folk, but I'm not so good at clasifying music... anyway, check out his website, friend him on Myspace, and all that jazz! Oh, and for those of you in Pittsburgh, he will be having a CD release party and performance at Club Cafe on the Southside tomorrow night, September 8, starting at 7PM. You can check out the details on his website . He will also be performing in my little hometown of Altoona on September 12th at the Railroader's Museum. He's opening for The Clarks.

You may also be surprised to learn that Deasy is also a novelist. His first novel was Ransom Seaborn. I hear he's coming out with a second as well. I can't attest to his skills as a novelist, since I haven't read any of his work, but he might be worth checking it out.

The preceding commercial has been brought to you by a Pittsburgh writer who loves music, other writers . . . and just so happens to think that Bill Deasy is a hottie. ;-)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thinking About Picture Books

As I mentioned before, this semester I am taking a class on writing children's picture books. Part of the requirements for the class is to read and review 25 picture books throughout the course of the semester. I must admit that I am not at all up to date on recent picture books. (I looked up the Caldecott Medal Winners online and discovered that the most recent of them I remember was The Polar Express, which was published in 1986! That makes me feel so old.) So, I am asking the help of my loyal reader(s). Leave me a comment stating your favorite children's picture books, past or present. If I can find them, I will read them. Thanks!

As Promised

"The 30-something man sunbathing in a speedo in Mellon Park" poem. I've been told that my poems tend to throw an unexpectant twist at the reader somewhere in the middle or at the end. The truth is, the twists are unexpected to me as well. I tend to start out a poem based on a small event or image, often from my real life, and the true nature of the poem only unfolds itself to me through the writing process.

That being said, this poem goes a lot of places. A lot of intimate places that I'm not sure I originally wanted it to go. As presented here, this poem is very rough and needs a lot of revision to clarify its purpose.

So, now that I've done all but apologize for this poem, (I will never apologize for my work, no matter how crazy it may seem) I leave you to enjoy "Stranger in the Park."

You lay there in Mellon Park in your black Speedo,
your skin burning to a brilliant shade of flamingo pink.
I watch you from the picnic table where I write,
wonder your age and sexual orientation.
Not because I am interested in you, but because I
have never seen a 30-something man sunbathe in a Speedo before.
I fantasize about replacing you with my own man, his legs
stiff, straight out in front of him, his eyes blissfully closed.
I would lean over him with my bare knees digging into the dirt,
press him into the earth, run my tongue over his lips.
I can’t, so I watch.

You are sitting up now, your legs pulled to chest,
your head cocked to the left.
I think you almost catch me. I look away.
When I glance up again you lay back, pull your shorts
up your toned legs, over your nearly naked hips in a way
that would make me blush had I never seen a man dress before.
I look down at my legal pad, watch you out of the corner
of my eye slide your shirt over your head, fold you towel
into threes, stuff it into your backpack.
You leave with your back turned to me; I don’t have a chance
to transpose Mark’s face onto yours, to miss your presence like I miss his.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I have nothing to say

Ok, so that's not entirely true. I have lots to say, but it's mostly coming out in the form of poetry this week. Since this blog is about my writing news, and I have no writing news at the moment, I have no new blog entries. I haven't submitted poetry anywhere. I haven't been published again. I haven't gone to any open mics or have been featured in any readings. In short, the writing life has been a little boring.

I have my first poetry workshop of the semester tonight. I am also taking a class on writing children's picture books, so that'll be an interesting challenge. In my last children's writing class, I started out writing picture books, decided it wasn't for me, and switched to the YA novel Ice Girl. Maybe being forced to write picture books will help me learn to like writing them.

I have also been thinking about my thesis project. I'm starting a semester late, but I want to get a head start. Just the thought of it is making me crazy. Right now, I'm thinking of running with Lauren Alleyne's title suggestion of Summer of No Fear.

A couple of days ago, I started a poem about a 30-something, lobster red man sunbathing in a Speedo in Mellon park. Perhaps I will share it when it's finished.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I have been implored by my friend (and regular reader) Sarah to update my blog, so here it is!

I tend to get so far behind in blogging that I just don't feel like doing it because I know I'll never catch up. This is one of those times.

To briefly catch you up on the past couple of months:

The reading on the Southside was a great success!

This is me, looking all hot, being the poetry goddess God made me. I normally don't say I look hot, but that night I did. This was only the third time I read to a group that was not largely fellow English majors/MFA students, but something about being a featured reader put the needed pressure on me. I walked out of there feeling amazingly confident in my performance. And, I got an A in the class! (Thanks, Jim!)

I spent two weeks in Trinidad with three of my classmates, soaking up the culture and writing about it. Can you believe it? Not only do I have classes that MAKE me write, but I have classs that makes me travel, too! I had such an unbelievable time that I didn't want to come back. We even got to meet Trinidadian writers Merle Hodge (below), who let us swim in her lagoon, and Earl Lovelace (!), who gave us rum and coconut water upon our arrival.

Us with Merle Hodge. Back: Carolyne, Sarah, me. Front: Carmen, Ms. Hodge.

My summer classes are finally (thankfully) winding down, and then I'll have two weeks to relax before they start up again. I'll also be starting AmeriCorps soon (more on that later) and spreading my love of words and books all over Pittsburgh.

And, in other news. Please check out Mark's new website: and even consider buying his new book Writing Poems in the Rain. I'll love you forever if you do. :-)

Actually, I already love someone forever.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Simply Amazing

That pretty much sums up Thursday night's reading by Cave Canem founders Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, and Carl Phillips and Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa at the Hill House in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.

I was sitting right behind Toi Derricotte, with Cornelius Eady on her right and Yusef Komunyakaa on her left. *Was in total awe the entire time* All of them blew me away with their amazing poetry. I especially loved Toi Derricotte's impromptu ode to butter, Cornelius Eady's fun and intellegent style, Carl Phillips' reserved humor, and every single word that dripped from Yusef Komunyakaa's mouth. It was a poetry student's heaven.

Big thanks to Jim for making us go!

My only disappointment was that I had to leave early and couldn't stay to meet them all, buy their books and get them to sign them.

Later, I'll write about our big reading last night at the Birmingham Bridge Tavern! Talk about a fun and inspiring time!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Free Lunch?

So, my friend Sarah told me about this lit mag called Free Lunch that advertises free subsciptions to all who submit. Sarah and I both submitted.

They're liars. Not only did they send both of us scathing "comments" (I'm beginning to believe that all of those journals who just send form letters have the right idea), they also had a box checked that said something like "Cannot provide a free subsciption based on work submitted." Can you believe that? Sarah and I were both upset. They even had the nerve to call one of Sarah's poems "not poetry" and tell me to not use "personal anecdotes."

Needless to say, they'll never get my endorsement, or my poetry, again.

Just a few days away...

Just a reminder that my reading, in conjunction with Most Wanted Fine Arts, is this Friday at 7:30, at the Birmingham Bridge Tavern on Pittsburgh's Southside. That's at 29th and Sarah, for those of you not in the know.

Come support me! Even if you're a stranger, I welcome you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Come Hear Me Read!

In the Pittsburgh area? Well, I've got an upcoming event for you to mark on your calendars!

Most Wanted Fine Arts in Pittsburgh is hosting its 2 year anniversary celebration on Friday, June 29th at 7:30 at the Birmingham Bridge Tavern on Pittsburgh's Southside. The event features a number of bands, artists, and... me!

Well, to be fair, I'm only one of five featured poets. The reading includes great stuff by Marissa Schwalm, Courtney Lora Lang, Sarah Adkins and Mathew Gaitens as well. Talented people, every one of them!

Come check it out. The Birmingham Bridge Tavern is located at 29th and Sarah Street, Pittsburgh, PA (in the Southside). See you on June 29th!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pittsburgh Poems and More

So, I've started to write "Pittsburgh Poems." I suppose it's a sign that I'm becoming more comfortable with my surroundings, but I'm not so sure about that. I think I heard someone say once that every writer that lives in Pittsburgh eventually starts writing about the city. I don't find that I have a particular connection to a lot of places here, so I'm not sure why I feel the need to write about it, but I do.

In other news, I'm really enjoying my class with Jim Coppoc, even if it is mostly online. It has been more productive so far than many of the workshops I have had in grad school ever were. I don't know what that says about the quality of those workshops. (I'm thinking about one in particular.) I believe that a professor has a duty to make his or her students see and think in different ways, about their writing, themselves, and the world. When a professor fails to do that, he fails his students.

Just my two cents.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

About the Banner

I recently added a banner to the bottom of my blog. is the place where I feel most comfortable sharing my writing. It is a wonderful community full of people willing to review your work.

By clicking on the banner, you will be directed to my personal portfolio, where you can read my work, although some of it is accessible to members only. If you want to join after looking at my port, I get credit for referring you to the site, and you get an awesome place to share your work!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Poet's House

Today, I went with Sarah and the rest of the AmeriCorps people to the North Side of Pittsburgh to visit the Chinese poet Huang Xiang. His house on the North Side is called simply "the Poet's House," and anyone who has been in the area knows why. Mr. Xiang has actually covered his wooden house is his poetry, written in Chinese caligraphy with white paint. To meet Mr. Xiang is a great experience. He has a passion for the spoken word that transcends language barriers, and delivers his poetry with such passion. He performed seven poems for us, and each one blew us away.

Perhaps Mr. Xiang's passion is due to the fact that he was exiled from his own country because of his writing. He was frequently imprisoned in China for writing poetry and advocating human rights. In 2004, Mr. Xiang was invited by the Pittsburgh chapter of the City of Asylum organization to begin his residency in Pittsburgh. He and his wife Zhang Ling now live in Pittsburgh as legal refugees.

Can you imagine a place where one cannot even be a poet in his own house? Where people are forced to flee their country in order to express themselves creatively and pursue their passion? Where one must literally leave his or her home to make a home in a new land, just because they want to write? I can't.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Well, since I haven't been working, I'm been writing. . .

With Mark's book coming out and everything, it's got me thinking a lot about getting a book of my own out into the world. No, I don't have a complete mansuscript done yet. But I have been working on that YA fantasy novel of mine for some time now. I know it won't be done for years, but I'd really like to try to get it published, and that incentive has got me working on it more lately. I have this habit of getting on a roll, writing a bunch of pages, and then leaving the manuscript sit for months before I pick it up again. So, I was very happy when I started my computer up and wrote over 1,000 words on it two days in a row! I hope this is the beginning of something great.

I've also been researching PublishAmerica, where Mark published his book, as a possible publisher for my YA novel. So far, I haven't seen any negative feedback on it, and Mark has had a good experience. I've also been looking at LuLu for a special project that may happen a lot sooner. (I'm not sure how many details I am going to include here.)

My summer classes start next week. I'm taking the Craft of Nature and Environmental Writing, a special topics course on performance poetry, and a trip to Trinidad, all of which I am sure will generate lots of new work!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Here's the link where you can find Mark's new book of poetry, Writing Poems in the Rain: It was published by PublishAmerica. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Disappointment and Celebrations!

It's been a long time since I've posted. I've been meaning to write about my disappointment last month. Mark, Sarah and I were supposed to go see Ted Kooser read in Pittsburgh. Sarah and I even got our tickets for free. But Mr. Kooser got sick and couldn't make the trip. I was rather upset for awhile. Those of you who know me well know that I absolutely idolize Ted Kooser. It has been my dream since I was an undergrad to meet him. I hope he's feeling a lot better now, and understand his situation, but I feel like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has passed me by.

Now, for some great news! Mark's book "Writing Poems in the Rain" is now available from PublishAmerica! I'll try to get the URL where you all can order it later, because I've seemed to misplaced it. It's worth it, trust me!

And more great news: Two of my poems have been chosen to be published in Love's Chance Magazine next year! Yay!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Open Mic-ing it again.

So, I read at the open mic at school on Friday night. There was a small group of MFA students collected in the Mellon Livingroom. It was so small and comfortable, really not menacing at all. I read the three poems I wrote this semester that I actually like, without the aid of wine! Woohoo. And I had three or four people come up to me afterwards and tell me that they liked my work. That made me feel good. I'd like to be a featured reader next semester. We'll see if that happens.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Making Connections

I've been super busy. The end of my first year in grad school is coming up fast, so I have a lot of projects and papers to finish in a short period of time.

Last Friday night, March 23, my friend Sarah and I went to this place called Connections in Oakland for an opening of Sarah's friend Moshe's art show. They had delicious food, wine, and an open mic. Sarah and I were the only two people to read poetry. I must say, Sarah rocks at delivery. She really wants to get into slam poetry, and I can see why. She's a natural. I was nervous about going on after her, but things went pretty well. I read some old work, written for a poetry workshop last year, that I have already read in public, so it was the cliche piece of cake.

I'm not normally a public reader. This was the first time I have ever read to a room of almost complete strangers. But afterwards I had a guy come up to me and started talking to me about my poetry, and I started to think maybe I should go out and read more. Although I don't think my poems are meant for oral delivery as much as Sarah's are, just knowing that their are intellegent people out there who want to hear and discuss poetry is amazing, and Pittsburgh is a hub for poets. So, watch out! I may be coming to a venue in the Pittsburgh area near you sometime soon.

I've come to realize that making connections is a major part of being a writer. A lot of writers are, by nature, shy and reserved. But to really make it, one must break through that, travel outside their usual four walls, and take risks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So, this is who I am. . .

Well, I thought it was about time I actually wrote something here. I'm always setting up websites and blogs and not writing in them. I think I'll start off with a little bit about me, since I'm procrastinating anyway. . .

My name is Crystalee and I am a 23-year-old native of Central Pennsylvania. I am currently living, attending school, and not working (long story) in Pittsburgh, PA. I am in my second semester as an MFA in Creative Writing student with a poetry emphasis at Chatham College. Looking back, I always knew that this is where I was going to end up. Maybe not in Pittsburgh, but definitely going to school to write. And I worked my butt off and went against my parents' well-meaning but bad advice to get here. Why? Because I love to write. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and reading even longer. I love the fact that I now live in an environment that encourages me and even requires me to write something new every day. The people here are just as passionate as I am about writing and, for the most part, welcome me into their worlds and allow me to learn from their work.

Poetry was my first love. My poetry tends to be free verse, personal, and unsensored. I am also currently working on my first Young Adult fantasy novel called Ice Girl. My horizons have expanded greatly from my time in the MFA program. I now have experience in writing for children and travel writing, two disciplines I had never considered before.

My first REAL romantic love is my boyfriend Mark Bradley. He's a poet and fantasy writer too, and we love to bounce ideas off each other and help each other with our projects. He's the one who pushes me to keep working on Ice Girl and I can always count on him to give me a confidence boost when I am in a slump. You'll hear more about Mark in this blog, I'm sure. I'll try to keep it writing related though. ;-)

That's me in a nutshell: writer, poet, professional student, lover of life, girlfriend and dreamer. Welcome to my world.