May 05, 2021

Poetry in Bloom

1:30 AM on the (very) early morning of my 41st year, and I'm giving myself the birthday present of a blog post I started drafting (checks notes)...oh, back on April 11. 

National Poetry Month is always busy, especially with a new book in hand, but this year the events were all from my office--my Zoom corner. I have missed traveling on a profound level, because those long drives turn out to offer the time when I mull new projects. On the upside, never have I gotten to give so many readings while barefoot; two highlights were my event hosted by Politics and Prose, with Teri Ellen Cross Davis, and my event for The Writer's Center with Kim Addonizio. And my husband has held down the fort magnificently in terms of cooking dinner most nights.

April also marked my first experience coordinating an event for the O, Miami Poetry Festival. The challenge in proposing a project for 2021: to what extent would people be interacting? How could we create something fun, but also safe?  I reached out to Neil de la Flor last fall (great poet, lives in Miami, always has interesting ideas), and something came up organically in conversation--that his family had a multi-generational business in floral deliveries. One thing led to another, and we partnered with SWWIM to curate a selection of poems inspired by flowers, which then went out in bouquets delivered by Dolly's Florist. 

My contribution, other than a general habit for task-mastering, was to conceive delivering the poems in origami form--something that could sit decoratively in a bouquet and invite unfolding as a tactile interaction. Since I turned out to be the only origami enthusiast on the team, this also meant the literal hunkered-down time of folding 150 pinwheels. Felt good to do something hands-on, since I couldn't actually set foot in Miami. 

I've loved origami since I was a kid, taking classes on how to make cranes at the McLean Community Center. One thing I thought about as I worked in the (once again, very) early morning hours is how I used to try and rush through the preparatory folds; the moments in process when the paper has to be creased, then uncreased, to ease a later move. Younger Me thought that was a waste of time, that surely I could finesse the move without it. Older Me understands the necessity. Maybe there's a metaphor in there somewhere. I'd like to think that the challenges of 2020 were, in a sense, preparatory folds for some great move ahead. 

Some other things that happened: I logged on at 5 AM on a Friday to hear the work of a friend I made in Cyprus, an international poetry discussion only possible across Zoom; I got to virtually visit my old high school, which has asked me to speak at their (in person!) June graduation proceedings; I wrapped up a semester of teaching creative nonfiction workshops at the undergraduate and MFA levels, which proved a particular delight; we refreshed the balcony planters with a new type of sedum, "Indian Blanket" (Gaillardia pulchella, a wildflower), tomatoes and peppers; Sal the Wonder Cat continued to loll his ridiculous self across every conceivable surface of this apartment. 

Perhaps this is a trite thing to say, but I do appreciate you coming by this blog. I don't update it as often as I could, or should, or want to. But it's a good, sturdy little tether that binds me to remembering the question of whether I would ever publish a book at all, and therefore how quintessentially lucky this life has been. I'm happy you're here.