My interview with the Eyes On Success podcast!

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Nancy and Peter Torpey from the Eyes On Success podcast. Eyes on Success interviews blind people from all over the world about their careers, passions, hobbies, and challenges. I had a blast doing my interview! I was excited to discuss teaching, writing, and publishing!

My interview was released in today’s episode. Listen here. You can also subscribe to Eyes on Success in iTunes.

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Poetry as Activism, The Rhetoric of Empathy, and The Breaking of Beliefs: My interview with Primal School

I am honored to be featured on Hannah Lee Jones’s fabulous poetry blog, Primal School. Her blog is designed as a place to discuss poetry outside the academy, to go back to basics and understand what makes a poem tick. In this interview, she asked me to describe my motivation and process for “A Phenomenology of Blindness,” which was published by Rogue Agent this summer.

About the interview, Hannah says:

[Emily K. Michael’s] poem ‘A Phenomenology of Blindness’ is a lesson not just in poetic craft but also how to talk about disability: ‘There’s a sense with the average non-disabled person that we should try to minimize or hide our disabilities — as if their discomfort is our discomfort. That’s another reason I write as a blind poet; I want people to know that I’m bringing blindness forward. I’m not ashamed. It’s a part of who I am. It’s something that belongs in poetry — not as a novelty but as a reality.’ Read, learn, and if so moved, please share widely — Emily’s work is vital.

Read the full interview here.

Mosaics Poet Profiles: Elizabeth S. Wolf

Elizabeth S. Wolf lives in MA with her daughter and several pets. By day she works as a Metadata Librarian. Through years of interesting times, her catchphrase was “just another chapter for the book”.

Many of Elizabeth’s poems and stories are inspired by events in the news or in her past. She writes because telling stories is how we make sense of our world, how we connect with our world, how we heal and how we celebrate. She writes poetry to find the sliver of truth within the overload of information.

Elizabeth has published poems in several anthologies (Merrimac Mic: Gleanings from the First Year; Amherst Storybook Project; Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women, Volume 1; The Best of Kindness: Origami Poems Project 2016; Merrimac Mic II: Going with the Floes). Elizabeth’s poetry has appeared in the online journals NewVerseNews and Scarlet Leaf Review and is forthcoming in Peregrine Journal. Some of her earlier poetry is archived in the Valley Women’s History Collaborative, a special collection of the UMass Amherst Libraries. Today she offers three poems:

Dare.

Take chances.
Go to the wall,
and again,
and again:
as a hobby,
as a way of life,
as an exemplar,
as an apology,
as a beacon,
as a trust;
as you must,
as you must.

This Is The Way

This is the way
the world ends: with an orgasmic sigh
and a saxophone wail, with a howling dog
and a gibbering monkey
chanting their prayers, with
whistling teapots falling silent
and rustling leaves whispering
“nevermore”, with lights and sirens
flaring and lovers swearing
at each other, with children reciting the alphabet
backwards as their parents dance to
displaced tunes, and the sky soars away
as the Big Bang shatters into
thousands of lingering whimpers.
This is the way the world ends;
please stand by.

What If

What if today
there were no shootings.
What if today, there were no
beatings, even if dinner is
late or cold. What if today
everyone had enough dinner.
What if today, those who call themselves
lovers actually respected each other.
What if today, children were
seen and believed and
treasured. What if today
we greeted our neighbors.
What if today
is all the time we have;
what if today
is enough;
what if.

Sources:
“Dare” originally published in Methuen Life, Nov 2014.

“This Is The Way” originally published in Merrimac Mic: Gleanings from the first year, April 2015.

“What If” originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, March 2015, and reprinted in The Best of Kindness: Origami Poems Project 2016 Kindness Anthology

Launch Day is here!

It’s here, it’s here, the release of Mosaics 2: A Collection of Independent Women!!! You can enjoy the book in print or Kindle, and the Kindle price for today is $0.99. All our proceeds go to The Pixel Project, so please consider supporting this anthology – the second installment in the Mosaics series. (Did you miss Mosaics 1? Check it out!)

Mosaics 2 Cover

From my initial submission in December through our launch today, this project has been an incredible collaboration. With the guidance of Kim Wells and Pavarti K. Tyler, I’ve created my Amazon Author Page and public Facebook page, managed a Rafflecopter giveaway, and connected with dozens of creative women. All pieces in the anthology went through two rounds of professional edits, and the feedback I received was empathetic, constructive, and encouraging. This is a project that helps women writers feel the impact of their public voice – in Facebook groups, among their colleagues, and in the wider market of writers and readers.

Giveaway winners

Congrats to Emily P, Katie L, and Wendy C who each won a free Kindle version of Mosaics 2!

At tonight’s virtual launch party, I’ll be running another giveaway for a free Kindle version of another feminist anthology in which I was published, I Am Subject Stories: Women Awakening. Stop in and meet my fellow authors!

Special thanks…

To Kim and Pavarti for all their leadership and respect.

To Jessica West for her enthusiastic editing!

To Tim and JJ for their early readings of my essay.

To the friends and colleagues who were able to review the advanced reader copy.

And to all of you who follow this blog! As much as we writers like to imagine ourselves as beacons of solitary genius, working in seclusion, we write for our readers, for the collaborative audience who helps us to feel heard and valued.

Now, go out and get a copy of Mosaics 2! And leave us a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

April Poet Profiles: Travis Lau

Travis Lau is a Franklin/Fontaine doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English. His research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history and theory of the novel, the history of medicine, disability studies, body studies, and gender and sexuality studies. His dissertation, tentatively titled “Prophylactic Fictions: Immunity and Biosecurity,” explores the British literary and cultural history of immunity and vaccination beginning in the eighteenth century. His academic writing has been published in Journal of Homosexuality, Romantic Circles, and English Language Notes (forthcoming). His creative writing has appeared in Atomic, Feminine Inquiry, Wordgathering, Assaracus, Rogue Agent, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Handtype Press, 2015). You can read more of his work here. He offers two poems:

Intended

“I seem to myself, as in a
dream, 
An accidental guest in this dreadful body.”
–Anna Akhmatova

A scan with closed
eyes bears witness
to lines of knots,
ropes for counting
the matter out of
place – a body and
its discontents,
dreadful as only
fathomable in the
ligatures of a dream.
Accidental, she once
did call it, a matter of
error with no trial
or the sin of generation:
what her grandmother
paid for with queer bones
and left for me to clear the
debt. Yet I remain the
interest, what remains
of transits (of genes, of
prayers) unmoving like
a bind that cannot be
breathed through.
So to be is to overstay,
to be the guest who
refuses every comfort
to become host – no
longer accident but
intent.

Disorientation

How it is
to live askew –

but a step
away from awry,

the ruthless tui na
of the world,

other to me, hard
upon pressure points

until I am left
impressed:

the residue of
disorientation

in space that
holds itself

hard against
me despite

its songs
of innocence.

My first guest post for the BREVITY Blog!

Today my piece “Blackbird Habits: A Letter to Virginia Woolf” went up on BREVITY‘s Nonfiction Blog! Check it out! The piece is beautifully laid out with pictures of Mrs. Woolf and yours truly. I get a thrill from seeing my picture on the same page as hers!

BREVITY‘s blog is connected with BREVITY, a literary magazine that publishes concise nonfiction (under 750 words). Pieces for the blog are allowed to reach 1000 words.

Enjoy the piece, and subscribe to the BREVITY blog. It’s an excellent resource for writers.

April Poet Profiles: Trish Hopkinson

Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including Stirring, Chagrin River Review, and The Found Poetry Review. Trish is co-founder of a local poetry group, Rock Canyon Poets. She is a product director by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures here. Today she offers three poems. Click on the first two titles to hear Trish read her work, and click on the third title to see the artwork that inspired it.

Waiting Around

It so happens, I am tired of being a woman.
And it happens while I wait for my children to grow
into the burning licks of adulthood. The streaks
of summer sun have gone,

drained between gaps into gutters,
and the ink-smell of report cards and recipe boxes
cringes me into corners. Still I would be satisfied
if I could draw from language
the banquet of poets.

If I could salvage the space in time
for thought and collect it
like a souvenir. I can no longer
be timid and quiet, breathless

and withdrawn.
I can’t salve the silence.
I can’t be this vineyard
to be bottled, corked,
cellared, and shelved.

That’s why the year-end gapes with pointed teeth,
growls at my crow’s feet, and gravels into my throat.
It claws its way through the edges of an age
I never planned to reach

and diffuses my life into dullness—
workout rooms and nail salons,
bleach-white sheets on clotheslines,
and treacherous photographs of younger me
at barbecues and birthday parties.

I wait. I hold still in my form-fitting camouflage.
I put on my strong suit and war paint lipstick
and I gamble on what’s expected.
And what to become. And how
to behave: mother, wife, brave.

Footnote to a Footnote

Jacuzzis are holy.
Garage door openers are holy.
Back-up cameras and recycle bins—all holy.
Putting the red flag up on the mailbox, waving at the elderly
getting my toes wet with dew—holy, holy, holy.
Keeping my eyelids open and trying to sleep like fish,
signing my name with less letters and more scribbles,
counting crows feet, counting yellow toenails,
counting haircuts, counting plucked whiskers,
counting constantly.
Bookshelves are holy.
Missing dust covers are holy,
magicians and black and white T.V. shows,
Penn Jillette theories and Andy Griffith justice,
Uncle Walt songs and Ginsberg poems—holy, holy, holy.
Drinking beer before noon, drinking liquor right after,
drinking it warm (or on ice) with a friend (or not).
Waking up drunk, waking up sober,
waking up tired, waking up hungry,
waking—always holy.
Table wine is holy.
Candle sticks are holy,
dishwashers and cloth napkins,
the folk art cricket made from wire and a railroad nail,
rock salt from the salt flats in a salt cellar—holy, holy, holy.
Opening an empty cedar chest to still moths and crumbs,
staring at stretched cobwebs immersed in the sun,
swallowing nests, swallowing nectar,
swallowing chimes, swallowing saliva,
swallows—always holy.
Self-portraits are holy.
Ceramic urns also are holy.
Tape recorders and keyboards,
drawing pads and gold-plated ball-point pens,
calligraphy and stipple—holy, holy, holy.
Unfolding a letter, unfolding a chair, unfolding
into downward dog, from child’s pose, into corpse pose.
Picking apricots, picking green grapes,
picking out a husband, a shower curtain,
selection—always holy.
Twist-off caps, dresser drawers, remote controls,
carpeted stairs, revolving doors, product recalls,
keycodes, passwords,
restaurant reservations,
last-minute invitations,
cell phones, voice recognition,
land minds, and secrets—holy,
holy word, holy water, holy book,
holy soap boxes, bathtubs, soap dishes—holy,
holy drains and draining, empty.

Eurydice’s Cardinal

Mornings are when it hurts most,
like bruising wind bending
the horizon sideways.

Lying on my side, the sunrise twists
in the window, the glare reaches
to the right and into the dawn.

This is the storm before the calm,
the waking state that splits you
from me. You turned to see

me, a step too soon and my organs
plummeted, brick-heavy and distant
into the depths of the mundane.

I sleep through it all, but it’s only at night
you visit me in visions. You come
as a cardinal, your crimson

wings striking against the dark, your heart
behind you, trailing morsels
of tenderness lost.

April Poet Profiles: G.M. Palmer

The next poet in my April Profiles series is G.M. Palmer, a Jacksonville high school teacher and adjunct instructor. I first heard him read his work at the FSCJ Annual Writers’ Festival in October, 2015, and his lines have been running ’round my brain ever since.

G.M. Palmer writes literary and pop culture criticism. He plays the guitar, sings, and directs the music at the Jacksonville Church of the Brethren. With his beautiful wife and four amazing daughters, he raises standard poodles under the name Rivendell Standard Poodles. His literary influences include Eliot, Plath, Dante, Milton, Homer,  Michael Hofmann, A.E. Stallings, Ernest Hilbert and Jill Alexander Essbaum.

G.M. Palmer says that poetry offers people a power to share in experiences and emotions that they may not find on their own. He says that song lyrics devoid of their context are often stripped of their power and a passage in prose is almost never as beautiful as a well-turned verse. Art is uplifting and should be experienced as often as possible. He describes his initial ventures in writing as “terrible imitations of Stephen King.” Alongside his fascination with particle physics and marine biology, he experimented with songwriting. After discovering poetry through a purloined copy of Scribner Macmillan’s American Literature (1984 edition), he continued his imitations—Pound, Stein, Plath, Williams, and Elliot. And once he discovered that girls liked poetry, he never looked back.

G.M. Palmer is currently working on a verse novel about a high school murder.  Follow him on Twitter and find his book With Rough Gods on Amazon. You can also read more of his work at his website. Today he offers us 3 poems:

I Look for Love in Loss

*

When my daughter died,
I could have
frozen up inside;
it was a close shave.

Instead I was saved
by my daughters
who went on living; braved
by their laughter

I am living after
the loss of love.
Now that the broken raft
her 
body was proves

her spirit has moved
to the life that’s best,
it’s the memories grooved
inside of me I miss:

how her perfect fist
fit in my hand,
the happy face I kissed
while I was her dad.

For the Homeless

I wish to God that I were burning two
oak logs on this bickering flame.  It whips
in the wind as if windy arms could steal into
the heat and oxygen shine of the fire’s lips
to take embraces that leave sparks without breath.
More wood, more heat, more crackling hands that grab
the ice that flows on streams of airy death
sticking on faces frozen white and grey and drab;
faces that stare my way as I throw a scrap
of abandoned lumber on red tongues that scream
with the stench of creosote fumes.  They lap
the lumber like a tepid bowl of cream.
They miss their mother’s milk of virgin wood.
I would gladly give it to them, if I could.

Pyramus & Thisbe

Entombed in stone that glints
like voices in a hall
of bright and timbred tile
we touch in broken tangents,
shaking some warmth together,
our words and glances lost,
our laughter fending off
the context and the weather.
Travel is a dream
that we can never live.
But seeing through the seam
I treasure what I’ve missed,
for nothing’s as enchanting
as your lips unkissed.

*”I Look for Love in Loss” was originally published at eVerse Radio.

April Poet Profiles: Emily K. Michael

April is National Poetry Month! Even though poets and poetry-lovers will find any excuse to celebrate poetry, it’s fabulous to have 30 days set aside, especially since there’s a popular idea that poetry is dead. So even though we love poetry every day, let’s treat April as a feast-month, a sacred space to honor poetry!

To that end, this post is the first in a series of brief poet profiles. I’ll be sharing a short bio and a few poems by poets local and distant: some friends, some distant colleagues, some strangers. I hope you enjoy this series—and take this chance to let poetry into your life.

As this is my blog, I’ll go first…

*   *   *

Emily K. Michael is a blind poet, musician, and writing instructor from Jacksonville, FL. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wordgathering, Breath & Shadow, Compose Journal, Bridge Eight, Artemis Journal, Disability Rhetoric, and I Am Subject Stories. She recognizes poetry as an ethical and aesthetic challenge—as a place to express her experiences and to question cultural silences. Her favorite poets include  Rainer Maria Rilke, Adrienne Rich, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Seamus Heaney. She offers two poems:

Cello

It captures the sound of the earth,
creaking with the burden of revolution,
and the roots of great trees reaching deep inside,
curling round the axis. It sounds the dappled,
the luminous golden-green of thick foliage, of sunlight
lapping against wide, aged trunks. It rises,
richly sonorous, and pulls at each filament
of the spirit with familiar notes – the soft mellifluous timbre
sliding like warm honey into perception. Thick, supple,
sweet, an old voice lives in the wood and the strings,
a cantor of primal invocations, of heart-melodies.
Tracing the gnarled bark and the wandering roots
to set the earth reeling for rebirth.

Green time

Soft sun, wool coat, warm coffee, crisp wind.
Raucous laughs – two distinct
     greetings.
          Strangers in passing.
     Voices
          I don’t know.
Golf cart loud music lawnmower
     spilling leaves.

Inside a swell of familiar sounds
we sit close
     on a wooden bench,
     damp
          with morning dew.
I lean into your orbit
     and inhale
          woodsy cologne
             hints
             of orchid and plum.
Through my shades,
     your blurry outline
          ripples as you toss
          your head.

Sources:

“Cello.” Artemis Journal 21.1 (2014): 19. Print.

“Green time.” Bridge Eight 1.1 (2014): 63. Print.

Launch Day Giveaway!

On May 1, I will be celebrating my first official Launch Day! My essay, “Border Talk,” is part of the anthology Mosaics 2: A Collection of Independent Women! Mosaics Vol. 1 launched on March 8 (International Women’s Day), and I was so excited to celebrate with those authors. Now we’re gearing up for a second round of celebrations!

Look at our beautiful book cover!

Mosaics 2 Cover

(Image description coming.)

And this is the promo art for my essay:

Border Talk Promo Image

(Image description: Blue grey bricks outlined in an almost graphic novel style are contrasted with a dark black skeletal bare tree shadow. The words “Border Talk” appear in the upper left corner in a brush handwritten font, in red. “By Emily K. Michael” appears in the same red font on the bottom right.)

To kick off the festivities, I’m hosting a giveaway through Rafflecopter. I’m giving away 3 copies of the Mosaics 2 Kindle ebook! Want to win? Check out the info below:

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Essay: “Stylish Negotiations”

My latest essay, “Stylish Negotiations,” was published in the March issue of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. This essay decodes the submission guidelines of several disability-related journals and magazines and offers a course of action for handling stories of disability. It begins as follows:

“Submission guidelines rarely make me angry. Perhaps because I seek out publications that share my interests–ecology, feminism, disability, music, language–all the specifications can start to look the same. Most journals want a well-rounded submission, free from religious agendas, offensive stereotypes, and one-dimensional fables of inspiration.

When I find a publication that seems promising, I scroll through the journal’s ‘About’ page and submission guidelines. Here is where I can make some serious assessments. Journals lose my interest if they proclaim, ‘send us your best work’ or ‘we only publish good poetry.’ I won’t let my students use ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as standalone terms for evaluation, so I hesitate to send my work to a journal that won’t express its own agenda in more vibrant language.

Among publications that promote the work of disabled writers, the guidelines evince a similar aesthetic. Here are excerpts from three journals committed to sharing the work of writers with disabilities…”

Read the full essay here.

Two Poems Published!

The December issue of Wordgathering is out, and it contains two of my poems: “Wordbomb” and “Old Music.”This is the 36th issue of Wordgathering, rounding off its eighth year as an online publication.

Just above the text of each poem, there is a link to the audio version, which I recorded. I love that this journal offers poetry in audio and visual formats. Poetry isn’t confined to one kind of perception; each sense shades a poem differently.

Read the poems here.

October Interviews: Blindbeader from Life Unscripted

Blindbeader, age 31, is an office assistant and blogger from Northern Canada. She writes the blog Life Unscripted. She enjoys jewelry design, board and card games, running, cooking, goalball, and drinking too much coffee—which obviously pairs better with some hobbies than others.

Blindbeader was born with low vision and learned to read braille. She has no vision in her left eye, and her right eye can see “light, dark, and really really big things in my way. But everything looks two-dimensional, like a pancake.” She travels with a guide dog and loves the fluidity of their movement together. She agreed to join in the conversation about blindness and blogging.

What is the most consistent challenge or frustration you experience with your low vision? How do you handle it?

People’s perceptions of what my life is like. I get comments about how great it is that my husband takes care of me (which inspired a blog post), or how proud they are that I hold down a job (which is a pretty big deal given the unemployment rate of the visually impaired). But it’s often the little things people think of as being so hard… like doing laundry or cooking, or dressing myself… people’s ideas that a blind person couldn’t possibly do these things is probably the most demeaning.

But things that I, personally, struggle with, I would probably say it’s the not feeling like I really fit in anywhere. The blind community at large generally has certain social mores, hobbies, or interests that I don’t share, and I don’t really fit in with pop culture either, so much of what dominates contemporary sighted culture eludes me, too

What resources have helped you to handle your low vision best, either in everyday matters or in moments of crisis?

Friends! Oh, my friends! If it weren’t for friends, I doubt I’d be happy as a blind person at all. I have a couple of friends I reach out to when things are rough, and even when they’re not. They’re the friends who will laugh with me, cry with me, and tell me to snap out of it when I get obsessive and down on myself

What do you look for in a good blog, whether it’s writing your own posts or reading someone else’s?

I look for well-rounded writing. Everyone comes to the table with their own experiences, biases, and ideas. If a blogger can persuade me to their point of view, or at the very least make me re-evaluate mine and/or consider theirs in a different light, then they’ve done their job. I have NO use for blogs that are just mundane daily happenings (“I ate cereal for breakfast, I went to the store and they were out of milk”) or are so vitriolic and angry that they want to brow-beat the reader.

Is your blog your main writing outlet or do you write or publish elsewhere?

It’s my main one. I do write music, but it’s like reading my diary, so I keep it fairly close.

What would you say is the most harmful or annoying belief that people have about vision loss? How do you cope with this belief?

That we are not able to speak, think, or do for ourselves. I tend to be a little more abrasive than most, especially when someone asks anyone with me what “she” would like. I either answer for myself, which hopefully redirects the conversation back to me, or if that doesn’t work, I say something like “You CAN talk to me…”

What’s your favorite way to celebrate autumn?

Running. Autumn is one of my favorite times of year here, with cooler nights and warmer days, leaves crunching underfoot. I LOVE running through the leaves, and this year I’ve started taking my guide dog as my guide runner, which she adores!

What is one dream you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?

To have children. I know that perceptions of blind parents really need to change, and I hope that I can be a small apart of that change when I become a parent one day.

*  *  *

Throughout October, I’ll be conducting more interviews about blogging, education, employment, and access. I’ll be asking the questions blind people always get asked—and the questions they’ve always wanted to answer. Stay in the loop!

October Interviews: Susan from Adventures in Low Vision

Here at On the Blink, I’m celebrating Blindness Awareness Month by interviewing my blind friends and colleagues. The first interview in this series is with Susan, the creator of Adventures in Low Vision.

Susan, age 33, is an administrative assistant in a law office. She enjoys reading voraciously, writing thoughtfully, and cooking with abandon. At Adventures in Low Vision, she writes about her experiences of vision loss in “Mayberry,” Maryland. She describes her low vision as “a tug-of-war of changes in the past decade or so.” When asked why she chooses a white cane, she says, “It empowers me to move freely and independently and signals to others that no, I’m not drunk or a snob, I have a visual impairment.”

What is the most consistent challenge or frustration you experience with your low vision? How do you handle it? 

Hmmm. Probably not recognizing people/faces like I used to before my vision loss. Friends who understand my disability will announce themselves or whatever, but for all those times I’m in a group or interacting with the general public, I can feel like I’m lost and struggling to understand what’s going on as silent communication like smiles, nods, gestures escape me. I focus on people nearby. When I don’t know what to do, I ask and if appropriate, let them know I have a visual impairment. Later on, when I’m just with him, I’ll ask my husband about things to catch up. Sometimes I’m frustrated, sometimes I can roll with it.

What would you say is the most harmful or annoying belief that people have about vision loss? 

How do you cope with this belief?  That people with vision loss are helpless. I cope with it by being myself and showing by example a disability means you learn new ways to do the things you want to do. I work and play and am a part of society and I happen to use a white cane and magnification to do so. (Has anyone seen my iPhone charger by the way?)

What resources have helped you to handle your low vision best, either in everyday matters or in moments of crisis? 

Wine. OK, seriously. My state’s rehabilitation services helped with services like OT, orientation and mobility therapy, job searching and assistive equipment for work. My iPhone in all kinds of ways. My husband and immediate family and friends, (my Stocktons if you read my blog!) provide incredible emotional support when needed, too.

How has blogging affected you as a writer?

The outlet allows me to experiment and get feedback from different styles.   It’s helped me to find my voice and connect with others.

What do you look for in a good blog, whether it’s writing your own posts or reading someone else’s?

Evidence of edited passion. I cast aside rants and long diaries of daily activity. When I find a piece that’s entertaining, interesting and thoughtful, I am drawn in and stick with it.

Is your blog your main writing outlet or do you write or publish elsewhere? 

My blog’s my first outlet, hopefully not the last. The Baltimore Sun published an essay I wrote. I’ve submitted other essays elsewhere and I’ve finished the draft of a manuscript, but I’m making major changes to it. We’ll see what the future holds.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate autumn? 

Sip mulled cider, perhaps spiked with a little bourbon, and sit by a crackling fire with my husband. Reading whilst wrapped in my Buffalo Bills snuggie with a terrier at my feet is a close second.

What is a book that you could read over and over again? Why do you feel this way about it? 

I don’t tend to re-read many books. I revisit my childhood favorite, Matilda, every few years. Oh, I do have a soft spot for the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale, too. And, once I discover a writer I like, I will plow through most of their work. I’m more of a movie rewatcher.

What book, person, or perspective makes you feel most centered as a writer? 

The kind of mindset I hold after I’ve meditated or done yoga. Also, when I read something from a writer who conveys their thoughts honestly and efficiently with a dash of humor, that resonates with me and reminds me to hold true to that kind of writing.

What is one dream you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years? 

The welsh terrier farm is probably unreasonable. I want to publish a book or two.

*  *  *

Want to know more? Head over to Susan’s blog to read some “evidence of edited passion.”

Keep reading this month! More interviews are on the way. It’s exciting to have some new voices around here.

Open Letter

Most people try in vain to put words to loss. Even as I sit here, with the fresh urge to write this post making my fingertips itch, I am staring at a blank screen. I have a date, a title, a few lines.

I believe that this wordlessness marks our most intimate experiences—sensations born in a wordless moment defy expression on the page. My urge to write this letter came from a burst of sorrow that I did not expect. It’s an old grief, but I know its shape now; it comes in sudden storms.

In a week, I’ll be turning 28. And as I sat in front of my computer, checking email and eating Greek yogurt, I imagined how I would celebrate. But my mind found a snag and it tugged—a long and powerful string connecting me to the friend that won’t be there.

Christina died in July 2012, just weeks before I started teaching my first writing courses. When I knew she was sick, I wrote a tribute to her—to the memories we’d made. She read it and loved it. Since then I’ve written her letters, some public, some private. Now that the grief is three years old, I think I understand it a little more—even if I can’t predict when it will find me.

This is my open letter to grief and everyone it connects. I am writing also for the part of myself that needs this letter.

Grief comes from my emersion in a concrete world. Everyone says that Christina is always with me, that I can still feel her spirit. But I have a body that desperately misses her physical presence—the sound of her voice, the clicks of her power chair, the suddenness of her laugh. Replaying these memories is painful because I know I’m replaying them; I know that my supply is finite. I want more from her.

It is not enough to say that I miss her or that she is still with me. I believe that grief wakes us up to the uselessness of words. No sentence can save me from this deep sorrow.

And I don’t think writing is meant to save me. I can’t write to escape because there is no escape. I write to walk around my grief, to take its coat, to comprehend it. My letters form a silhouette, but even as they land here, the feelings change.

I write to keep pace, to show that I won’t be swept away or left behind.