Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Arty Award Winner in Literary Arts

My dear friend Annette Billings has won the 2015 Arty Award for A Net Full of Hope! Here are the blurbs for this book, which I highly recommend:

This collection of poetry reveals why her readers dub Annette Hope Billings “Maya of the Midwest.” Annette Hope Billings writes with clear eyes, original images, evocative rhythms, and unfolding daring in her book A Net Full of Hope. Starting with a tribute to her muse (and many of ours), Maya Angelou, she then calls on readers to awaken so that we can join her on this journey into the heart of poetry, pausing along the way to honor those who went before her, and always speaking to the generations to come. From the freshness of grief to the tincture of kindness, this collection speaks to the depth of hope and range of love. - Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate. 

Annette Hope Billings is a poet’s poet. Her writing pays tribute to those women before her, while inspiring those who have yet to write. She helps guide anyone who looks for hope to the page, that “trail of healing,” with her words of comfort in the midst of a world of struggle and grief. Just like in her poem “Note to Self”: “You are either going to do this love thing / or you’re not,” my hope is for everyone to pick up this collection for her full revelation of love and human connection. She has me dreaming of a shared path, of those “flowers of grace / and forests of mercy” inside us all. --Dennis Etzel Jr., The Sum of Two Mothers 

What a wonderful discovery! Here is so much wisdom and courage; so much love, compassion and honesty. Annette has wrapped it all in an eye-twinkle of orneriness. Max Yoho, poet and novelist

Friday, July 24, 2015

CA Conrad on Compassion

Looking at my notes from a panel I was recently on, in particular when someone at the Q&A was asking about compassion.
Something like, How do we have more compassion here?
My answer at the time was that I am tired of being asked to be the compassionate one, this after my presentation on my reparative poetry rituals for my depression around my boyfriend's murder (my successful reparative poetry rituals I will add).
1000 times over the years people have said Maybe if you forgive the people who killed him---
It seems to me if one is SERIOUS about compassion then just give it.
Don't instruct compassion.
When compassion is instructed it is not compassionate.
ALLOW us to be angry, depressed or whatever.
The beauty of the world will return at its own speed.
It has often felt like being instructed to forgive or be compassionate is because the instructor is afraid of those of us who are unapologetically alive in the cycles we are in.
It seems easier to talk about compassion than to practice it.
Better allies means allowing life to happen and lending a hand.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interview by Laura Madeline Wiseman

I am thrilled by the prospect of a BlazeVOX booktour through Nebraska and Iowa--the NEIA tour--with Scott Ables and Laura Madeline Wiseman. I am so thankful for this chapbook interview!

bell hooks

The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom with all its limitations remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.

from Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

CA Conrad

CA visited for an amazing weekend, arriving to our house on July 17 in the evening. The PACE Project was a wonderful discussion, as well as his reading in the evening. He left yesterday, to spend time with Anne Boyer in KC before heading to France for a workshop.

It was a life-changer for me. I say this because I learned what I should have known--that anxiety and depression are normal for many, and there are things one can do to help themselves.

His ritual in the car: burn sage, then palo santo, then juniper. The moment he lit up the sage, a flood of relaxation came. Carrie said it is also cleansing.

Hold crystals. They work. He charges them with energies, but even we use zinc for our children to hold at night--for health reasons that work.

Also, the rescue remedy pastilles are amazing. CA recommended taking two.

He also HELPS writers by giving each expert (soma)tic exercise rituals.

I'm not sure if I want to share mine here. Contact me via email if you are interested, though.

Another thing: good things can come out of tragedy. We see this with the Vanessa Place and Kenny G fiascoes.

Also, cures are found within poisons.

Finally, I am changing the way I teach.

Vulnerability is a strength. Also, getting to the nuts and bolts of things is very helpful.

Cut through the crap and don't be so serious.

I noticed too many things about Topeka that I have forgotten: the Ronald Johnson tour, Illusions, the WREN wren.