Monday, July 21, 2014

Ah, Summer! Taking the Virtual Blog Tour...

Summer is half over already (or something like that), and all of the "real work" I was gonna do has yet to be done. Instead, I have been teaching (2 online classes in June), parenting (more on that later), and plunging into a healthy new lifestyle of plant-based food and regular exercise. Oh, and recovering from one heck of an academic year, both for myself and my kids. As I have learned many times over the years, I really need a deadline, and a metaphorical cattle prod, to get words down on the page and out in the world.

So I was delighted to be invited by a dear and long-time friend, April Lindner, to participate in a "virtual blog tour," aimed at giving more exposure to blogs that readers may not have seen before. It's been quite awhile since I've posted (yikes!), so I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to get Saint Nobody up and running again--in hopes of revving up my own writing. This is the first in a series on various subjects I've saved up since my last post--time to put it out there.

First, meet April, the author of two poetry collections, This Bed Our Bodies Shaped from Able Muse Press and Skin from Texas Tech University Press.  She also has written three young adult novels—JaneCatherine, and the forthcoming Love, Lucy, all published by Poppy. With R. S. Gwynn, she co-edited Contemporary American Poetry, in Longman’s Penguin Academics series.  A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, she lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

April and I were classmates in the PhD program in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati many moons ago. We read drafts of each others' poems in workshops, were roomies at my first-ever AWP Conference (Pittsburgh '95), and walked together for our doctoral hooding ceremony in 1998. It's been wonderful to see April from time to time at AWP and the West Chester Poetry Conference near her home in the Philly area. I've been a fan of her poetry for years, and have watched her career as a YA novelist with admiration ever since my niece, Mary, devoured the signed copy of Jane I gave her in 2012. I'll be posting a poem of April's, which I've used often in my classes, later in the week.

The next component of the blog tour meme is a quick "self-interview." Because this post is already fairly long, I will answer briefly here, and elaborate a bit in future posts.

1. What am I currently working on?

Pulling together existing poems and writing new ones for my second full-length poetry manuscript, The Miracles. Also scribbling and re-reading bits and pieces of a memoir I started in 2007. Trying to collect some fragments and push forward with new material.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a tough one; I think as writers we are geared toward saying what our work is like, rather than what it isn't like. I would say that, like most writers, my subject matter is what distinguishes my poetry and prose from that of my contemporaries--I tend to write from personal experience and observation, and I strive to present my material in a way that seems fresh.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

That's simple: because I have to. It sounds cliche, but it's true. Writing for me, at least the good stuff, comes from a sense of urgency, and the feeling that I need to tell someone about something. 
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

In fits and starts, and inconsistently. This is something I always plan to "fix" by setting up a writing schedule or some semblance of routine, but then life with all its myriad demands intervenes. Excuses, excuses, argh! But to expand on my answer to the previous question, I have to "feel" something, pretty strongly, to start putting things onto paper. I have to feel it even more strongly to push forward through the often agonizing process of completing a draft, revising, and revising again.
And now, I introduce three highly creative individuals whose accomplishments I admire, and whose work you should check out.
Photo credit: Thomas V. Hartmann.
First, Daniel Nester, who is currently recovering from a three-day Queen binge--that is, he went to see Queen + Adam Lambert in concert at Mohegan Sun three days in a row. I've always loved his work for its unabashed entanglement with pop culture, and its nose-thumbing (and often bird-flipping) approach to convention in the face of life's awkward moments.

Daniel Nester is the author of How to Be InappropriateGod Save My Queen I and II, and is editor of The Incredible Sestina Anthology. His writing has appeared in N+1 The New York TimesThe Morning NewsThe Daily BeastThe Best American Poetry, The Best Creative Nonfiction,  Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction.  He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. 

Next, Kevin Michael Reed, whom I had the pleasure of working with in my online Creative Writing class at FIT earlier this summer. Kevin is not only a seriously accomplished photographer with a background in the performing arts, but he also writes a mean iambic pentameter! Fortunately, my colleague Apollinaire Scherr (another writer you should know about), convinced him to minor in English, which is how I had the privilege of being his teacher for a few weeks. 

Kevin is an internationally published fashion and beauty photographer and director based in New York City with solid networks in Miami and Los Angeles. Though Kevin found the camera documenting his travels while growing up on the stage as an actor and dancer, he spent several years working in accounts at advertising agencies before transitioning to photography as a full-time career.

Kevin graduated from Mid-Florida Technical Institute’s Commercial Photography Program and earned an A.A.S. in fashion & commercial photography at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology.  He won two Gold awards and the cover of the Graphis Photography Annual in 2009 and received the honor as one of the 100 Best in Photography 2011 by Graphis. In 2014, he won the Fashion & Beauty Category of the American Photographic Artists New York Photo Contest. Photography equipment manufacturer F.J. Westcott has named him one of their “Top Westcott Endorsed Pros."

He speaks regularly at seminars and industry events; in 2011, he formed Passion of Photography, Inc, which is dedicated to encouraging, motivating and training photographers to succeed in the business of photography.  Kevin is a member of several trade associations including the American Society of Media Photographers where he serves on the New York City Chapter’s board of directors and as the New Media Co-Chair. Kevin is a Founding Member of The New York Fashion Photography Collective.

And last but certainly not least (this is alphabetical, y'all), meet Sandra Simonds. Back in 2009, Sandra was my co-reader in the famous KGB Bar poetry series, and I was captivated by her no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, batten-down-the-hatches poems. Fortunately, she does not use as many hyphens as the previous sentence might indicate.

Sandra grew up in Los Angeles and earned a B.A. in Psychology and Creative Writing at U.C.L.A and an M.F.A. from the University of Montana, where she  received a poetry fellowship. In 2010, she received a PhD in Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She is the author of four full-length collections of poetry:The Glass Box (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014),  Mother was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012) and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009) which was a finalist for numerous prizes including the National Poetry Series. She is also the author of several chapbooks  including Used White Wife (Grey Book Press, 2009) and The Humble Travelogues of Mr. Ian Worthington, Written from Land & Sea (Cy Gist, 2006).

Sandra's poems have been published in many  journals such as Poetry,  American Poetry ReviewThe Believer, the Colorado Review, Fence, the Columbia Poetry ReviewBarrow StreetVolt, the New Orleans Review and Lana Turner. Her Creative Nonfiction has been published in Post Roadand other literary journals.

She lives  in Tallahassee, Florida and is Assistant Professor of English at Thomas University in beautiful, rural Southern Georgia. In addition to the Wordpress blog linked above, she also blogs on Tumblr.

Stay tuned for more about these folks, and others I admire, as the week progresses. Please stop back by!


Kevin Walzer said...

Hi Amy!

How nice to see you blogging again, and how nice to see the updates on your and April's work! It's been a long time since we shuffled into Andrew Hudgins' workshops in McMicken Hall.

Best, Kevin

Amy Lemmon said...

Hi, Kevin--thanks for reading, and it's good to hear from you! Yes, it has been a long time. Hope you and your family are well.