Sharing in the Age of Social Media

Tara Mandarano recently posted something that popped up on my Facebook feed. She related that a friend of hers had called her an “Internet oversharer.” Tara had an eloquent response to the label, and many of her arguments echoed what I might have said when I first started posting to the Internet in the late 1990s. This was long before blogs were a thing. We called them online diaries, and you needed to know how to code in HTML to have one. You also needed an Internet Service Provider, a web hosting account, and FTP software. Not for the faint of heart.

My attitude toward what I share online has changed since I was in my 20s. It was a less crowded space back then, and easier to keep a wall between my IRL life and my online life. In spite of that, at one point I came close to being dooced because of something I posted on my website. I didn’t think all that many people even read my tiny website, and certainly didn’t think that something I said online would have real-world consequences. This is a mistake people have been making ever since, and it’s often young people who make it. A good rule of thumb is to never post anything about your job.

It’s very interesting seeing how standards for public versus private sharing have changed as a whole new generation of digital natives comes of age. I’m reminded of the video of Alexandra Ocasio Cortez dancing in college that came out a while back. Opponents intended to embarrass and discredit her, but she owned that video and even doubled down by making another one.

I believe it’s important to share life’s challenges as well as its successes. But I’ve also become more discerning about what information I share, and where I share it. There’s a reason why people mostly post photos of their babies and vacations on their social media feeds. Most of us want to project the best possible face to the world at large, and I’m not alone in that. But I also think it’s important to speak honestly about my struggles and how I overcome them. As someone living with a chronic illness, I appreciate the way “spoonies” can find a supportive community online. Illness often isolates those who live with it, and some illnesses carry stigma that make it that much harder to talk about. Meeting other spoonies online has made me feel less alone, and less weird. I’m sure the same is true even for those who aren’t living with chronic illness.

There’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction with people, but social media has its place, especially for those of us who sometimes have trouble leaving the house. I’ll continue to share my struggles and triumphs online, but I’ve learned to think twice before posting.

UPDATED June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

July and August are quiet months for just about everything in Boston, including poetry. So stock up now and avoid the rush later.

Of special note: Joan Houlihan and Kevin Prufer will be reading at Lesley University Monday, June 24 at 7pm. On Friday of that week, I will be one of the graduating students reading at 7pm. You can find the entire reading schedule for the Lesley MFA summer residency (and directions to the venue) here.

Sunday, June 2, 1 – 3:30 pm
Robert Knox and Joanna Zarkadas
Poetry: The Art Of Words
Plymouth Public Library/Otto Fehlow Room
132 South St
Plymouth, MA

Wednesday, June 5, 7 pm
Mar Ka
Brookline Booksmith
Harvard Street
Coolidge Corner
Brookline, MA

Thursday, June 6, 7 pm
David Ferry, Jennifer Clarvoe, Sabrina Sadique
Cary Library Reading Series
Cary Memorial Library, 1874 Massachusetts Ave
Lexington, MA

Friday, June 7, 7 pm
Wendy Drexler, Mark Pawlak, and Kyle Potvin
The Old Manse
269 Monument Street
Concord, MA

Friday, June 7, 7 pm
Steve Ablon and Xiaoly Li
and Open Mic
West Suburban YMCA
276 Church Street
Newton, MA

Friday, June 7, 7:30 pm
Natalie Shapero
Unearthed Song & Poetry
Homestead Bakery and Cafe
1448 Dorchester Ave.
Fields Corner
Dorchester, MA

Saturday, June 8, 2 pm
Jennifer Barber and Gloria Monaghan
Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA

Saturday, June 8, 4 pm
Kristen Case, Karen Weiser, and Jennifer Firestone
MIT Press Bookstore
301 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA

Saturday, June 8, 6 – 7:30 pm
Victor Infante and Lizzie Wann
Bedlam Book Cafe
138 Green St.
Worcester, MA

Tuesday, June 11, 7 pm
Kate Colby, Cynthia Cruz, Joan Houlihan, and Daniel Tobin
Grolier Poetry Book Shop
6 Plympton St.
Cambridge, MA

Saturday, June 22, 3 pm
John Foy and Joan Kimball
Powow River Poets Reading Series
Newburyport Public Library
92 State Street
Newburyport, MA

Monday, June 24, 7 pm
Joan Houlihan and Kevin Prufer
Marran Theater
Lesley University
34 Mellen Street
Cambridge, MA

Tuesday, June 25, 5:30 pm
Catherine Stearns, Richard Wollman, and Susan Edmonds Richmond
Writers Read
Lee Library, 100 Main St.
Lee, MA

Saturday, June 29, 2 pm
Deborah Ogden and Melissa Silva
Cervena Barva Press
Art at the Armory
191 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA

An Embarrassment of Riches

Silhouette of a woman with arms outspread and head thrown back. Photo credit: Jill Wellington via Pixabay.

The only thing you need to do to be a poet is to write poetry. But occasionally, if you do the footwork and let go of the results, you get rewarded with some accolades. I’ve had a string of successes recently and wanted to share:

  • In March, the Lambda Literary Awards selected my chapbook Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore as a finalist in the bisexual poetry category.
  • On April 24, Athena Dixon interviewed me for the New Books in Poetry podcast. We had a great conversation about the writer’s journey, how things have improved (or not) for marginalized voices, and how writing practice can change over time.
  • On April 29, new Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola selected my work, along with that of 17 other poets, to be displayed at Boston City Hall as part of the Mayor’s Poetry Program.
  • On April 27, I performed alongside a slew of talented poets, musicians, and actors in the Solidarity Salon, an event started and organized by fellow Lesley poet Lisa DeSiro. The crowd that showed up to Third Life Studios in Union Square, Somerville was wonderfully warm and appreciative, and True Story Theater brought three poems to life–including one of mine!
  • On May 10, three of my poems appeared in the Heavy Feather Review #NoMorePresidents online feature.
  • On May 13, The Rumpus published my interview with Kwoya Fagin Maples about her moving book of historical persona poetry Mend (University Press of Kentucky, 2018).
  • On May 15, the Harriet blog on the Poetry Foundation website picked up the article, thus causing something rather unlikely: my name on the Poetry Foundation website. It’s a far cry from having my poems up there, but it’s still pretty cool.
  • On May 18, I walked in the Lesley University commencement ceremony with a brown hood to signify Master of Fine Arts. Lesley won’t award me the degree itself until I complete my graduating seminar at the June residency, but taking part in the ceremony was quite moving. My mother, brother, and sort-of-mother-in-law all traveled from out of town to celebrate with me and Mark, my partner and biggest fan.

Yes, Dispatches from an MFA are not up-to-the-minute coverage. More to come.

The interesting thing about po-biz success is how short-lived the good feelings can be. Lesley faculty member Tracey Baptiste has talked about the moving goalposts, and others seem to agree with her. I’m sure I’ll be eyeballs deep in existential angst soon, but for the moment, anyway, I feel like the Poetry Gods are smiling upon me.

Thanks to you, dear reader, for supporting me in these endeavors.

May 2019 and June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

All that energy from National Poetry Month seems to have spilled into May and June this year. Of special note:

  • U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith reading at Harvard TODAY, May 2
  • Rafael Campo in Cambridge Monday, May 6
  • Gabrielle Calvocoressi in Belmont Thursday, May 23
  • New Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola in Roslindale Thursday, May 23
  • Cervena Barva’s monthly readings at the Somerville Arts at the Amory

Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings.

Thursday, May 2, 4 – 5:30 pm
Tracy K. Smith
Harvard Arts Medal Ceremony
Agassiz Theatre
5 James St.
Cambridge, MA
free ticket required
617-496-2222

Thursday, May 2, 5:30 pm
Dawn Lundy Martin
Brown University
McCormack Family Theater
70 Brown St.
Providence, RI

Continue reading “May 2019 and June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

Come See Me Read at the Solidarity Salon, Saturday April 27, 2019

Flyer for Solidarity Salon, April 27, 7pm at Third Life Studios in Somerville MA

Thanks to Lisa DeSiro for organizing this event.

Solidarity Salon
Saturday, April 27, 2019
7:00–9:00pm (doors open 6:45pm)
Third Life Studio
33 Union Square, Somerville MA

Featuring:
Paintings by Andrea Lynne
Poetry by Robert Carr, Frances Donovan, and Kelly DuMar (with members of Playback Theatre)
Music by Robin Ginenthal (soprano) and Lisa DeSiro (piano)
Hard Stones, a song cycle written by Griffin Candey with texts by Lisa DeSiro,
performed by Ann Moss (soprano) and Lois Shapiro (piano)

Admission $5.00
Reception afterward including refreshments
Books, CDs, and art available to purchase

Directions and parking information: https://www.thirdlifestudio.com/directions

April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

National Poetry Month means an explosion of poetry readings in Boston and environs. The Mass Poetry Festival is on hiatus this year as they work with Grub Street and the Harvard Bookstore to open the new Narrative Arts Center in South Boston’s Seaport District. The Boston Public Library is holding its own festival April 3-7 though–details below.

Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings. Check out his new book Spider Drop from Subpress Collective.

Of special note:

Continue reading “April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

March and April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

Expect lots more listings to arrive before National Poetry Month begins in April. March’s reading listings are rather rich as it is. Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings. Feel free to comment with your own announcements below, or submit your event for listing on the Mass Poetry website.

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATED LIST OF APRIL 2019 READINGS

Friday, March 1, 7 pm
Paula Bonnell, David Miller, Steve Rapp
The Old Manse
Concord, MA

Sunday, March 3, 1 – 3:30 pm
Tony Brown and Dzvinia Orlowsky
Poetry: The Art Of Words
Plymouth Public Library/Otto Fehlow Room
132 South St
Plymouth, MA

Monday, March 4, 8 pm
Mark Halliday and Adrian Blevins
Blacksmith House Poetry Series
56 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA
$3

Continue reading “March and April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

Song and Compression in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry

Photograph of poet Emily Dickinson

Last semester I wrote a craft annotation on the subject of poetic structure and nonlinear time. Now I can see that this is very much an element of lyric poetry. Where narrative poetry moves like a road, lyric poetry unfolds like a flower, spiraling out from a single image or moment into a flurry of associations and other moments.

In The Flexible Lyric, Ellen Bryant Voigt calls out compression and song as two characteristics of lyric poetry. Emily Dickinson’s poems feature both of these qualities prominently. Her poems have a basic pattern: quatrains with alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter lines. But the thing that set her apart from the dominant aesthetic of her time was the way she broke from the pattern. What her contemporaries might have called spasmodic, imperfectly rhymed, and lacking in form, we today consider a masterful interplay of meaning and music. Some of her poems adhered more closely to convention than others. Consider “Because I could not stop for Death” (poem 712):
Continue reading “Song and Compression in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry”