2018 was a lucky and joyful year for me, filled with a handful of finalist nods, the birth of my son Theodore in August, and two book acceptances in December!

My chapbook I Almost was Animal won the 2018 WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook Prize hosted by Writer’s Relief and has just been published through Amazon. It has been such a cool experience working on it with the teams at Writer’s Relief and at Amazon, and it was a particularly cool moment when Amazon sent me an email suggesting to me that I might like my own book. 

My full-length manuscript Somewhere to Go won the 19th annual Poetry Awards from Elixir Press and is due out later this year.

Both of these collections are comprised of poems I’ve been writing, revising, and compiling for the better half of a decade, and amazingly they were accepted at a time I’d almost resigned myself to the idea that they may never see the light of day.

I’m so grateful to so many people for their support and friendship that helped me create these books and get them out into the world, and I’ll be telling them so in the pages of Somewhere to Go. But I’d like to just say now a thanks to a couple of the key organizations and friends who helped me with them—in particular friend and mentor Fred Marchant, Colrain faculty Joan Houlihan and Peter Covino, and magical friend and poem-intuiter Hannah Larrabee. Also, many of the poems in these books were sparked when I was a resident at the Noepe Center’s Martha’s Vineyard Writer’s Residency, run by the wonderful Justen Ahren. I would be a very different writer had I not spent time there, and I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity.

I Almost was Animal is available here (or as an e-book here). More to come!

Poems by Heart

My parents just visited for my birthday and we talked a lot about memorizing poems. My dad is currently memorizing a handful, and while here, he memorized one of my favorite poems, "A Scrawl," by James Whitcomb Riley. It's the poem that ignited my love of poetry, and it's in Afterwhiles, a book given by my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother in 1900, when she was 15 and they were friends, not yet married. That book was on the bookshelf in our den as I grew up, and I was enamored with it, constantly pulling it from the shelf and reading the page it naturally opened to--page 63, to the love poem "A Scrawl." 

Click to enlarge

I read that poem so many times I unknowingly memorized it by sixth grade, and it has always been with me. I love its music, and as a kid I always loved that it's doing what it says it cannot do, which is express the speaker's feelings. It was a hint early on that with a poem, you can say what you might not really know how to say. A few years ago, one of my best friends, Jane, read it at my wedding. 

Click to enlarge; rings by Sparklegarden

Another poem I love and have memorized much of (not all! maybe one day...), is Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," which I read constantly on my mostly-solo 17-country backpacking trip after college. It's a poem I still recite to myself when I'm stressed or feeling anxious, and for my 32nd birthday this past weekend, I had rings made that bear the first three words, which are sometimes all I need for a sense of calm to start flowing. "Afoot and lighthearted..." Just saying those words to myself, I already start to breathe a little more easily.


Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

Read the full poem here and check out...
...this Dover edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass for <$5
...this paperback edition of James Whitcomb Riley's Afterwhiles for <$10
...this New York Times article on memorizing poetry
...Sparklegarden on Etsy for [custom/poetry] jewelry