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 Writing.com Banner

I recently added a Writing.com banner to the bottom of my blog. Writing.com 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: http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping/shopdisplayproducts.asp?Search=Yes 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!