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April: A Month for Poetry

April is National Poetry Month and it's shaping up to be a busy one. In addition to participating in the annual poem-a-day writing challenge, I have a few events and a workshop on my docket. I hope you might be able to join me for some of them!

Come write with me in April! A Nature Poetry Workshop

I'm excited to lead "Before the World Is Green," A Nature Poetry Workshop for the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. We will meet online on four Saturdays in April, writing together through the muddy but glorious early weeks of spring!

No experience is needed for this generative workshop. We’ll slow down to observe the blooming of a new season, reflect on the memories, meanings, and concerns that nature holds for each of us, and locate images and language to contain them.

Over four weeks, participants will write several poems, both during and outside of the workshop sessions, and we’ll even compose a collaborative poem together (if people are up for a fun challenge, we might even create a video of it!). Each writer will have the opportunity to workshop one piece with the group, providing individualized feedback with revision strategies.

Workshop Info:

Saturdays, April 1, 8, 15, 22

11am-1pm, on Zoom

Register here.

$60 for 4 sessions for Native Plant Society NJ Members

Plus $20 Annual Membership for nonmembers; membership grants access to year round events, webinars, and workshops (and is a valuable resource even for those who don't live in New Jersey!).

Jersey City Poetry Fest Is Back!

Jersey City Writers announces the 2023 5th Annual Poetry Fest: Jersey Proud! They are honoring home-grown wordsmiths with a special series of hybrid events over the next four months, and I am delighted to participate in The Path of a Poet kickoff event on April 13.

Co-sponsored by JC Writers, the Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs, Jersey City Poet Laureate Ann Wallace.

Jersey City Poet Laureates Rescue Poetix (2020-2022) and I (2023-2024) will share what it takes to go from an emerging writer to an honored wordsmith. Join our panel discussion at City Hall in Downtown Jersey City to discover your path to poetic success.

Event Info:

Thursday, April 13 at 7:00pm

City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd Floor

Jersey City, NJ

Register here for this free event

ASL interpreters will be present at all JCW Jersey Proud events.

Other upcoming Jersey City Poetry Fest events include (for more details see here):

HOMETOWN ADVANTAGE with Danny Shot May 10 at 6:00pm Dineen Hull Art Gallery Hudson County Community College POETRY Ayscue (Mariah Ayscue) June 14 at 6:00 PM Dineen Hull Art Gallery Hudson County Community College HOW TO BE A SLAM POET WITH RADI the Poet July 12 at 6:00pm Jersey City Free Public Library Miller Branch

Keynote Address at NJCU Pedagogy Day:

“The Words to Survive: On Teaching and Writing through Illness and Long Covid”

I'm honored to have been invited to give the keynote address at The Sixth Annual NJCU Pedagogy Day: Functi@ning in a Distr@cted W@rld on Monday, April 3.

Pedagogy Day brings together scholars, educators, and students to exchange ideas on current evidence-based teaching and learning practices. The theme for 2023 focuses on how the human mind functions in a distracted world through sustained attention.

In my keynote, I will share how decades of living with and through the disruption of illness—beginning with a cancer diagnosis as a college student—informed my approach to surviving, writing, and teaching through the early months of the pandemic. Through this time of profound disruptions and scarcities, both personal and communal, I drew from past crises and relied on a spirit of innovation and empathy, to develop literacy opportunities for myself and my students.

I will be joined by my colleague Prof. Joel Katz, whose spark talk inspires educators and students to embrace technology and sheds light on ways of teaching techniques that foster creativity, originality, and fun.

In-Person and Online Event Info

Monday, April 3 from 4:30-6:00pm

Join in person:

Gothic Lounge (Room H202), Hepburn Hall

Save the Date: April 18 Reading at Drew University

I will be giving a reading, followed by a Q&A, at my undergraduate alma mater, Drew University in Madison, NJ, at 4:15pm on Tuesday, April 18. More info to come soon!

Jersey City Women of Action Recognition Ceremony

While I have you, I want to share one last Women's History Month event. Every March, Jersey City council members each select two extraordinary local women to celebrate for their leadership. As Poet Laureate, I have the honor of reading at the Women of Action ceremony on March 30.

Join me in congratulating the 2023 honorees: Tami Weaver-Henry; Julie Chambers; Myesha Foster; Melida Rodas; Anna M. DePaula; Corrine Hughes; Holly Smith; Meredith Burns; Jonnetta "Jai" Allen; Marisa Syed; Tere Fox; Rene Ruhangiz Gonzalez; Jeannette McRae-Braswell; Pamela T. Jones; Tatiana Y. Smith; Hassna Alhyane; Glenda C. Icabalceta; Elizabeth Schedl; and Bishop Tinia Bland.

Event Info

Thursday, March 30

5pm Reception; 6pm Ceremony

City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd Floor

Jersey City, NJ

"To Live Deliberately": A Pandemic Poem

Just over three years ago, in early March 2020, on our way home from a conference in Boston, Konstantin and I stopped in Concord. We visited Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott near the end of her life, and then Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau went "to live deliberately" in a small cabin. As we walked around the pond, we thought of the fast-approaching coronavirus and reflected on Thoreau's stretch of voluntary solitary living in the woods. We did not yet know that the virus was already here and that I would return home to a teenager who was already sick.

I leave you with the poem I wrote reflecting on Thoreau. It is included in the new issue of Thimble Literary Magazine.

Take care, my friends,


When I walked ‘round Walden Pond on a warm March day, I traced the foot- print of the small cabin and wondered about Thoreau and his solitude, deliberate yet close to all he held dear. Days later, home in my city, my eldest simmered and coughed. I gathered her and her sister, pulled the door shut behind us and spun a soft space where we might keep safe. We did not know then that the thick walls would hush and dim the sounds of the street beyond, quiet and quieter, and create an echo chamber for the cough unending of my fevered daughter. The cough resounded in each chime of my phone, the CNN, NPR, New York Times alerts, texts from friends, calls from the doctor. We heard the world shutter as she, then I, grew sick and sicker. Alone in our city, I thought of Thoreau, of his small pond and his long saunters, of his dear Emerson who would come sit for a spell in the cabin in the woods, and leave his friend replenished. When Thoreau emerged from the woods two years later, he was a changed man returned to a static world. But as we fought for sleep, for air, for life, we had no idea what strange and silent world would await our return.


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