In addition to the kick-in-the-pants jumpstart that the Whidbey MFA visit gave me a week ago, I’ve also been getting inspired by what I see young women poets doing in the literary space lately. Sometimes, it seems that our literary world is dominated by old, white men (perhaps because, well, it is), and it’s tempting to feel that anyone who doesn’t fit that description is necessarily sidelined in discussions of poetry. While it’s true that we’ve got a long way to go before all good writers have equal access, I’ve been excited lately to see younger women writers making space for themselves in the literary world by contributing something wonderful to the collective conversation.
Amber Rambharose of Portland powerhouse YesYes Books has started a new and lovely blog that I’m excited to be part of: Forthcoming Poets. Amber describes her inspiration for the blog this way:
As a college student, my favorite part of poetry readings was always the post-reading Q&A session where the visiting writers would open up, crack jokes, and share slivers of wisdom that they’d discovered on their paths as artists. Even more than their work, these shards of shared knowledge sunk into my consciousness. I remember walking away from such talks with my head humming with new approaches, angles of access, and cartographies of the written word’s vast expanses…I started this blog to provide writers with an extended post-reading Q&A experience.
I love this notion, because I too have always benefitted from what happens when writers extemporize with other writers. It’s not always the lecture a poet gives but the sometimes the practical tip, the encouragement boost, or the new approach to poetry that a poet gives in a guard-down moment that sticks with me. I can’t wait to read what the weeks and months ahead bring to the collective pool of knowledge and inspiration.
Lisa Marie Basille, a poet I met years ago when I judged a contest for her journal, has been up to impressive feats in launching her new online magazine, Luna Luna. It’s impressive enough that somebody can, in addition to writing, giving readings, having books come out, and holding down a day job, launch a popular online mag, but I’m continually impressed by the sheer amount of enthusiasm that Lisa is putting into her work and the amount of ferocious honesty and emotional vulnerability she’s able to put into cultural space.
Tanya Chernov, whose name regular readers will recognize as that of my writing partner, has been inspiring me over the past many months with her long hours and careful attention to the work in her forthcoming poetry anthology, The Burden of Light. A followup to her 2012 memoir about the loss of her father, The Burden of Light marks Tanya’s return to poetry, and, having read the manuscript, I can vouch for the fact this anthology is both heavy and healing at once. 100% of the proceeds from The Burden of Light will benefit cancer research, and I have no doubt that the experience of reading the book itself will be a gift to anyone who’s experienced illness or loss.