Vernal Energy + Spring Offerings + Reasons to Look at the Sky

Hello and Happy Spring!

We just had another Nor’easter and yet I’ve felt a perceptible surge of vernal energy this last week or so, especially in the mornings, when I’ll wake with a slightly manic combination of intense focus and gathering power. After a period of mental and physical weariness related wholly to the gray and cold, it feels good to remember that a lighter, springy-ier version of myself is coming back (although, in all honestly, part of me wants to linger in the slowness and simplicity of my winter rhythm a while longer).

In an effort to balance these conflicting urges and messages, I’m trying to take little breaks throughout the day to step outside and look at the sky; to breathe in the first, faint notes of sap, and notice any signs of snowdrops or daffodil nodes. Yesterday I even saw a giant snowy owl fly out of a maple across the street. Yes, I’m ready to spend more time outdoors. And I want to wear less clothing (and maybe even go to bed without a hot water bottle to thaw the sheets).

This winter I continued to build dedicated “off-line” time into my schedule, an outgrowth of one of my winter courses, A Secret Life, where I aim to cultivate that part of myself—and others—that benefits when given more space and more quiet to think and study and create, which is more possible when we spend less time in public and online. It felt like the right way to start off a new year, and has made everything feel more spacious, and freer still, of external pressures (and distractions).

Of course, in a very practical sense, I just don’t think as well, and my writing suffers, and I can’t be the friend/parent/partner/teacher I aspire to be, when I’m over-saturated with too much information and imagery. This is not unrelated to poet/publisher Ken Mikolowski’s injunction: You are what you art.

Are you just as sensitive to sensory overload as I am? Do you watch your media diet or wonder what these screens are doing to our brains, eyes, imaginations, and love stories? What are your tools of resistance?

The thing is, the demands of modern life lead steadily toward  different forms of disconnection and disembodiment. Unless we resist, even in small ways, there’s no way we aren’t going to pay a price, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, or otherwise, and will continue to do so into the future.

Writing or even reading poetry carves space for a different quality of mind and way of being in the world.

With all of this in mind, I’m experimenting with new ways to bring more embodiment, and more spaciousness, to my writing classes this year, and I’m taking it on faith that other readers and writers will want to explore this, too. I’d be so curious to know if you share any of the same concerns.

Hanging out at my local botanical garden, especially in the Aromatics Room, has provided consistent pleasure during a season of thinking/writing/sitting in which I’ve continued to write new poems for my Lost Lexicon and polish the contents of a non-fiction project. It’s everything I need, all at once: soft air, the color green, amazing scents, the spring bulb show, crazy orchids and orange blossoms, oh, the orange blossoms. My body softens softens softens as soon as I walk through the doors. Seriously: This is one of my most reliable winter survival strategies.

I have a number of workshops and online classes coming up in April. The spring session of Poetry Immersion (online) begins in two weeks. I really love teaching this course because it allows for a depth of engagement that’s not possible in shorter offerings, and I’ve finally found an online teaching platform that I love.Writers have used this time to bring structure and accountability to their independent writing practice, while others enroll in anticipation of joining one of my manuscript incubators, later in the year. You can expect to read life-changing texts (Audre Lorde essays, for instance) and write at least new 8 poems during the course.

Weekly Topics include 

A Poet in the World

Radical Presence


In the Way of Art

More Human

Natural Idiom

Poetry as Transformation

Not Letting Go of the Thread

In addition to the coursework, which asks you to commit 2-3 hours per week to your writing and reading, I offer private tutorials, live video workshops, and feedback on a final portfolio. Lots more info on my website or just click to enroll via this link. Join us as consider what it might mean to be more human in relation to our poetry.
April 2018 

These In-person workshops and appearances are coming up soon. Please help me plan by pre-registering.

Poetry Writing Intensive: Birthing a Bigger Poem
April 9-10, 2018
Interlochen College of Creative Arts, Michigan

Revision Workshop for Poets
April 11, 2018
Interlochen College of Creative Arts, Michigan

*K-12 Educators: Earn State of Michigan SCECH clock hours by attending either or both of these workshops.


Words on Fire: Hot Lead and Letterpress for Writers
April 15, 2018
at Big Wheel Press, Easthampton, Massachusetts.


Do you live in Seattle? I’ll be teaching a workshop, Working in a Series, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art on April 24. The info isn’t on their website yet, but this will be a rich, full day poetry intensive inspired, in part, by their book arts collection, and by my determination to help poets start thinking about how a single idea can be multiplied to great effect.

I’m also reading with a fantastic line-up of other Broken Broadside poets at the CORE Gallery on April 25th as part of an exhibit called ON EDGE, featuring the work of artist, printer and publisher, Myrna Keliher, of Expedition Press.

I’d love to see you at any of these live events.

I’ll send this letterpress print of my poem, “And Once,” from my chapbook, Pilgrim, to anyone who enrolls in an online class or purchases one of my books by the end of March. I cast the type in hot lead and printed it by hand on 100% post-consumer Gmund paper from Germany. (You can also join me in Easthampton, MA to print your own poem or text! See above.)Thanks for reading this far, staying in touch, and supporting my work, in all the ways that you do.

I send you my best wishes for your writing and everything else you’re cultivating this spring.

With Heart,


It is a function of poetry to locate
those zones inside us that would
be free and declare them so.

—C.D. Wright

poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community


poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community