Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 12: Reading of poems from the book SEEKING

Last Thursday, December 12, poet NIKKY FINNEY and artist JONATHAN GREEN were featured at a reading of poems from Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, an anthology edited by Kwame Dawes and Marjory Wentworth. Nine other poets also read poems from the book. The event was held at the Charleston Library Society, and all proceeds were donated to the Library Society. Sponsoring the event were The Poetry Society of SC, LILA (Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts), and the Charleston Library Society.

Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green

Besides Nikky Finney, the poets reading included SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, emcee for the evening, who read a poem by Dawes. The audience also enjoyed hearing from Jonathan Green about how he and Nikky Finney connected a number of years ago, eventually leading to this project. Also reading their poems were these poets:
  • Susan Laughter Meyers
  • Dennis Ward Stiles
  • Linda Annas Ferguson
  • Bryan Penberthy
  • Barbara G. S. Hagerty
  • Mary Hutchins Harris
  • Ellen E. Hyatt
  • Marcus Amaker
The Seeking anthology, published by the University of South Carolina Press, contains both poetry and prose inspired by Jonathan Green's oil painting Seeking, commissioned by Mepkin Abbey and exhibited there. The painting depicts Green's childhood spiritual journey that followed the Gullah tradition of going into the woods as a child to seek one's faith and spiritual understanding.

Three poems published in Crazyhorse, fall 2013 issue

Thanks to Crazyhorse literary journal for publishing three of my poems in their latest issue. I was pleased to have "Dear E," "You Offer Apology," and "Anatomy of a Drowning" included among some fine poems and prose. Other poets whose work is in the issue are these:

  • Lindsey D. Alexander
  • Hadara Bar-Nadav
  • Bruce Beasley
  • Jon Davis
  • Danielle Cadena Deulen
  • Melina Draper
  • CJ Evans
  • Matthew Gwathmey
  • Raza Ali Hasan
  • Matthew Hittinger
  • Robert Huotari
  • Ogaga Ifowodo
  • L. S. Klatt
  • Shara Lessley
  • Frannie Lindsay
  • Cate Lycurgus
  • Marc McKee
  • Michael Metivier
  • Catherine Pierce
  • Mark Svenvold
  • Gabriella R. Tallmadge
  • Jillian Weise
  • Amy Wollard

Congratulations to all.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass is reviewed in JASPER

Thanks to Jasper Magazine--The Word on Columbia Arts, for publishing a review of My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass. I am especially appreciative that reviewer Jonathan Butler gives such a perceptive interpretation of the book. Here is his overview: "These poems are clear-eyed and elegiac, celebratory of life's wonders and mournful for the beings, places, feelings and things we lose along the way, including, eventually, ourselves." He also points out the book's central irony: ". . . [E]ven the songbirds are foreign, ambassadors of a world that is a source of beauty and joy, but also incomprehensible and cruel. The irony is that we are natives to this foreign world, and that our interactions with its other beings often reveal us to be strangers to ourselves."

What poet could ask for a more-articulate, more-thoughtful review?

For up-to-date news on the arts in Columbia, visit Jasper's website or blog to subscribe to this beautiful print magazine.


Poem "Dear Yellow Speed Bump" featured in Poetry Newsletter

I've had yet again the good fortune of beng featured by poet Diane Lockward, this time in her monthly Poetry Newsletter. In the December issue my poem "Dear Yellow Speed Bump" is featured. Immediately following the poem Diane discusses its craft and uses the poem as the basis for a prompt. What a delight for me!

If you're a poet, I hope you'll try the prompt. Writing epistolary, or letter, poems is fun. It offers a good opportunity for talking about surface things while delving deeper at the same time. Be sure to sign up for Diane's Poetry Newsletter, so you'll receive monthly prompts, craft tips, book recommendations, links, and videos--all about poetry. And the newsletter is free! You can go to Diane's website to sign up.

I feel lucky to have my work in such a terrific resource, among the works of so many talented poets!

Here are Diane's two latest books, both available at or Wind Publications.

Diane's book on craft
Diane's latest poems  

Poem "Coastland" featured on Diane Lockward's Blogalicious


Poet Diane Lockward has a blog that is a rich resource for poets: Blogalicious: Notes on Poetry, Poets, and Books, and she periodically features poems on the blog, with an interview and a recording of the poet reading the featured poem. I am honored that a few days ago she posted my poem "Coastland" as a feature. Please visit her blog and see what questions she has about my process of writing this poem, one from my new book My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass. The interview was a meaningful experience for me, giving me a chance to think about how this poem came about and how I arrived at decisions along the way in writing it. I am positive that I know the poem better now than I ever would have without the interview.

Recording a reading of the poem was a challenge, mostly because I don't record often enough to remember how to use the recording software from one time to the next. So I was at it for a number of takes. But I'm grateful for what I learned, and I hope the step-by-step process will stick with me for next time. I can tell that when you know what you're doing, recording is great fun; and I hope--ha!--to one day know what I'm doing. I welcome every chance to get better at it.

Thank you, Diane Lockward!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Poetry of Recovery blog feature

Check out the Poetry of Recovery blog, which is currently featuring my poem "That Year" from the anthology After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events. The feature also includes two poems from My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, as well as an interview that editor Tom Lombardo did with me.

In the anthology poet and editor Tom Lombardo brings together 115 poets from 15 nations. This brilliant collection bears messages of recovery to its readers from the raw beginnings to long-term acceptance, delivered through the language of poetry: Grief, War, Exile, Abuse, Divorce, Addiction, Injury, Illness, Bigotry, Loss of Innocence. So pleased to be featured there. Thank you Tom!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nov. 3: Poetrio reading at Malaprop's in Asheville, NC

Readings by Kathy Nelson, Tom Lombardo, Susan Laughter Meyers
Sunday, Nov. 3
3 p.m.
Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe
55 Haywood St., Asheville, NC
Free & open to the public

Kathy will be reading from Cattails:

Tom will be reading from What Bends Us Blue:

Susan will be reading from My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nov. 9: Seminar for The Poetry Society of SC

The Epistolary Poem: Letters from Within
A Seminar
Susan Laughter Meyers, instructor

“Good letter poems are satisfying to steam open,” says poet Robin Behn. Though their subjects may seem ordinary, beneath the surface lies urgency. Written to an individual but meant to be read by many, they allow the poet to be both intimate and public. We’ll immerse ourselves in the epistolary—with discussion, writing, and letter poems, such as Jane Springer’s “Dear Blackbird” and Melissa Morphew’s “The Missionary Writes to Her FiancĂ© Concerning Blindman’s Bluff.” Let’s delve into the imagination—and, this time, strike up a correspondence.


Saturday, Nov. 9
10 a.m. -- noon
The Charleston Library Society
164 King Street, Charleston, SC
Registration payable at the door:
  •     $10 for PSSC or Library Society members
  •     $15 for nonmembers
  •     free for College of Charleston students

Nov. 8: The Poetry Society of SC -- Reading

I'm honored to have been invited to read for the November program of The Poetry Society of South Carolina, and how I'm looking forward to it. In fact, this is my local book launch, my first reading here from My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass. I'm especially delighted to be reading that evening with Norris Aubrey Moore, author of Cause We've Ended as Children. Aubrey and I met when she was a senior in high school at the Charleston County School of the Arts, and I was her mentor for the senior thesis. Here are the details about the reading:

Reading for The Poetry Society of SC
Friday, November 8
7 p.m.
Charleston Library Society
164 King Street, Charleston, SC
Book signing & reception following the reading
Free & open to the public

Norris Aubrey Moore is a junior at the College of Charleston majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She graduated from the School of the Arts, where she also majored in Creative Writing and received a National Gold from the Scholastic Writing Awards. She published her poetry collection Cause We’ve Ended as Children in 2011 and intends to further her studies in poetry by working toward an MFA degree.

Oct. 16: Mind Gravy Poetry in Columbia, SC

This week's treat was a chance to share the podium with jazz vocalist and poet Eboni Ramm at Mind Gravy Poetry. The weekly series is held in Columbia at Drip Coffee on Saluda Avenue in the Five Points area, and I could tell immediately that the regulars there always have a good time. The host is Al Black, who made Eboni and me feel right at home, as did the friendly audience. Eboni and I performed round-robin sets of poetry and song—well, she sang, not me (lucky for the audience). Afterward we all enjoyed an open mic.

So good to see Charlene Spearen there, whom I don't get a chance to see often enough these days. How we all miss the SC Poetry Initative, which Kwame Dawes and Charlene directed!

Queens University of Charlotte MFA alumni conference: Oct. 4 - 6

It was a treat to gather with other MFA alumni at the Queens campus to attend a weekend of seminars and socials. Debbie Scott and I took it all in and enjoyed ourselves immensely. At the open mic on Friday evening I had an opportunity to read a couple of poems from My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass for the very first time, and, yes indeed, it felt great!

Debbie and I both have joined the newly formed Alumni Council to offer suggestions for future alumni programs. Thanks to Fred Leebron and Michael Kobre, along with Melissa Bashor, for all the work it took to put this conference together.

Monday, September 30, 2013

James Applewhite Prize: my poem won this year!

What a thrill to win this year's James Applewhite Prize, judged by Fred Chappell! The winning poem, along with three others of mine that were in the finals, will be published in the 2014 print edition of the North Carolina Literary Review. Here's the press release from NCLR:

* * *

Susan Laughter Meyers Named Winner of the 2013 James Applewhite Poetry Prize

Susan Laughter Meyers is the winner of the 2013 James Applewhite Poetry competition for her poem "Rain." Meyers will receive a prize of $250, and the winning poem will be published in the North Carolina Literary Review’s 2014 issue.

Susan Laughter Meyers is the author of My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, recently published as the inaugural winner of the Cider Press Review Editors Prize. Her collection Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press, 2006) received the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Her work has also been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Crazyhorse. A longtime writing instructor, she has degrees from UNC-Greensboro, East Carolina University, and Queens University of Charlotte. She is a North Carolina native from Albemarle and Greenville, now living in the rural community of Givhans, SC, with her husband, Blue.

Fred Chappell headshotFormer North Carolina Poet Laureate Fred Chappell selected Meyers’s poem from seven finalists whose work had been selected for publication in NCLR 2014 by NCLR Poetry Editor Jeffrey Franklin. Chappell said of the winning poem, “The language is modest but charged with feeling; the sensibility is wonderfully gorgeous.” Meyers received her award and read her winning poem at the 2013 Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming at East Carolina University on September 21.
Chappell also selected Hannah Bonner’s “Fox” and C.G. Thompson’s “Two Forms of Escape” for honorable mention. Their poems and poems by the other finalists, Debra Kaufman, Joan McLean, Glenis Redmond, and Robert Wallace, will also be published in the 2014 issues of the North Carolina Literary Review.

Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations. The most recent issue includes poetry by Fred Chappell and James Applewhite.

A two-year subscription to NCLR will include the 2014 issue, featuring the winner and finalists from the 2013 James Applewhite Poetry Competition, as well as the 2015 issue, featuring poems from next year’s competition. For subscription information, go to

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

Here 'tis again . . .

Once more, my thanks
to Cider Press Review editors
Caron Andregg & Ruth Foley!

Cider Press Review Editors Prize

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My new book was released on August 15!

My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass arrived at my house on August 14. Here are the first copies out of the box. The book is the inaugural winner of the Cider Press Review Editors Prize. Cover design by Caron Andregg. Cover art: "Georgia Swamp," bromoil by my brother Gene Laughter. I'm elated!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

July 27, 2013: Post and Courier interview

Recently in the Saturday "People" section, the Charleston Post and Courier featured an interview with me titled, "Q & A with local poet Susan Laughter Meyers." Besides including a few poem excerpts, it was a good opportunity for me to say a few things about poetry in general and my writing practice in particular. Here's a link to the article:  Post and Courier

photo by Paul Zoeller

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hats off to Hub City! A few words about their Writing in Place conference

Last weekend's Writing in Place conference, offered by Hub City Writers Project and held at Wofford College, was the 13th annual one—and what a wonderful weekend it was. Betsy Teter, the brain and heart of Hub City, truly knows how to plan a conference. Lots of classroom time, of course, for the workshops focusing on writing something new in the particular genre—but also readings by faculty and workshop participants, casual receptions that gave us time to get to know one another better, a panel on publishing, and a couple of concurrent Sunday workshops on specific topics. Plus plenty of good food! 

In the poetry workshop I taught—“An Arrival of Poems"—there were 13 participants: talented, dedicated poets who came together in the spirit of not only writing new work but also encouraging the others in the class with their own writing. I felt lucky to have such a congenial, hard-working group gathered together for our three sessions. Thank you, poets! 

And thank you, Hub City, for this gift of time, as well as the chance for each of us to allow ourselves  to wander off in a new direction with our writing, to try something we don't yet know how to do--to risk sounding clumsy and maybe even silly—but ultimately to trust that eventually it's all leading somewhere we need to go.


Sunday, July 07, 2013

My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass is off at the printer's

I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas: my new poetry collection is at the printer's, with an official release date: August 15. So for me the countdown is on. My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass is a book that I began in 2007, poem by poem--not knowing initially that the poems were working their way toward a book. Before too long, though, I realized that there were a few core obsessions holding the poems together. In particular was the epistolary form that had gotten me started, short poems written to such friends and enemies as the constant bark of a dog, melancholy, the atamasco lily, and the loose wing of a dragonfly. In addition, the poems I was writing at the time kept returning to feelings and premonitions about the natural world; about what constitutes (for me) wonder, burden, and danger; about--what else?--love and death.

In 2009 I started circulating a completed manuscript, which went through additional revisions as it would come back, again and again, without a home. I knew I was getting close when the manuscript was a finalist for several contests, including The National Poetry Series, the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and the Anhinga Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. Finally, last August I received the call I'd dreamed of. It came from editor Ruth Foley: the manuscript had won the Cider Press Review Editors Prize. I am most grateful to Ruth and editor/publisher Caron Andregg for their tireless, creative work in producing what I think is a gorgeous book. The cover art is a bromoil--an early 20th-century photographic stippling technique--by my brother Gene Laughter.

Please do visit CIDER PRESS REVIEW and enjoy getting to know their journal, as well as the books they publish annually. I'm now a huge fan!

Hub City Writing in Place conference, Jul. 12-14

It's less than a week until the annual Hub City Writing in Place conference. I can't wait! Invited to be the poet on faculty, I've been having fun putting a class packet together--called "An Arrival of Poems" and completed last night. The weekend conference workshops are for the purpose of generating new work, which is my kind of workshop.

The conference is held on the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg. Other faculty this year include Wiley Cash, keynote speaker; Judy Goldman, Jim Minick; and Susan Tekulve. Betsy Teter is the director of Hub City and the conference. Check it out here. It may be the perfect jumpstart for your writing next year.

Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Poetry Series: A joy to Coordinate!

Barbara G. S. Hagerty and I had a wonderful time putting together the Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Poetry Series programming for the first time this year. We knew we were in for a big job, following in the footsteps of Carol Furtwangler, Coordinator for the Series for the past fifteen years. Carol was a tremendous help in getting us oriented and ready to go as the new Coordinators. The Series consists of ten evenings, Monday through Friday during the Picolo Spoleto Festival, of poetry readings by poets from the Charleston area and beyond. This year's Series featured the following talented poets:

Mon., May 27         William P. Baldwin
Tue., May 28           Lola Haskins
Wed., May 29         Edward Gold
Thur., May 30         Barbara G. S. Hagerty
Fri., May 31            Glenis Redmond

Mon., Jun. 3           Emily Rosko
Tue., Jun. 4            Randy Spencer
Wed., Jun. 5          Alice Osborn
Thur., Jun. 6          Henk Brandt
Fri., Jun. 7             Sandra Beasley

Much gratitude to all the fine poets who read, plus to the wonderful audiences who made it all worthwhile. We're already looking forward to the 2014 Series. Applications will be posted online this fall at the Piccolo Spoleto website .

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saturday, May 18: Two panels at the South Carolina Book Festival

Thanks to the University of South Carolina Press for asking me to participate on two panels at this year's South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia. For the first panel, Sheila Morris moderated a session about the anthology Seven Strong: A South Carolina Poetry Book Prize Reader, 2006-2012. Marjory Wentworth, who wrote the foreword for the book, Ed Madden, Ray McManus, and I were on the panel. We each read a poem or two of our own work, plus the work of one of the four poets in the anthology who were not present: Worthy Evans, Delana Dameron, Julia Koets, and Jennifer Pournelle. Here are the books that are in the series:

Keep and Give Away (my collection), 2006
Driving through the Country before You Are Born, 2007, Ray McManus
Signals, 2008, Ed Madden
How God Ends Us, 2009, DeLana R. A. Dameron
Green Revolver, 2010, Worthy Evans
Excavation: A City Cycle, 2011, Jennifer Pournelle
Hold like Owls, 2012, Julia Koets

Seven Strong: A South Carolina Poetry Book Prize Reader, 2006-2012. Edited by Kwame Dawes. Foreword by Marjory Wentworth.


For the second panel, Charlene Spearen moderated. Artist Jonathan Green was the anchor of the panel, talking about his now-famous work of art titled Seeking, commissioned by Mepkin Abbey and the impetus for the anthology. He also explained the inspiration for the painting: his experience as a child wanting to join the church, a child who first was required to spend time alone in the woods as a part of the Gullah tradition's way of being trained to seek the depth of his commitment and the truth of his own life. Again, Marjory, Ed, Ray, and I participated on the panel. We talked about the spiritual connections that the Seeking project brought to us, and we each read our poem in the anthology. Poets Linda Annas Ferguson, Mary Hutchins Harris, and Ellen Hyatt joined us for a signing immediately following the panel session. It's amazing how much richer such an experience is when a whole group of poets is a part of it.

Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Edited by Kwame Dawes and Marjory Wentworth.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

College of Charleston Advanced Poetry Workshop

Debbie Scott and I enrolled in English 402, the Advanced Poetry Workshop III at the College of Charleston (CofC) this semester, and it was a true immersion for twelve or so weeks. We completed the course yesterday. Professor Emily Rosko, author of Prop Rockery and Raw Goods Inventory, couldn't have been any more teacherly--in a good way!--and focused on being sure that her students grew as poets, readers, critics, and students in general. For the course we read--and discussed and wrote commentary on--seven collections of contemporary poetry. We each led a class discussion of one of the books, and we each twice served as one of two critics for workshopping 5-8 poems of  a classmate. We wrote at least a poem a week, sometimes in collaboration with a partner. And we critiqued the poems written by our collaboration partner. In other words, we were busy learning!

Here are the books we read: Tracy K. Smith's Life on Mars; Kathleen Peirce's Mercy; Beth Bachmann's Temper; Ann Marie Rooney's Spitshine; Shane McCrae's Mule; Mary Ann Samyn's Inside the Yellow Dress; and Wayne Miller's The City, Our City.

The capstone assignment for the course was to put together a chapbook of poems, of about 15-20 pages, and even to design a cover, write an artist's statement, include a table of contents/dedication/etc. I spent a good part of the last few weeks working on that--and a huge chunk of this past Monday and Tuesday trying to figure out how to sequence the pages correctly so that they could be printed out chapbook size in the right order. The process about drove me nuts; but by cutting and pasting a dummy copy, I finally managed to do it.

Thanks to all the bright young poets in our class for welcoming Debbie and me into their poetry lives--and especially to Emly Rosko for orchestrating and teaching such a wonderfully rich, thought-provoking course.

April 26-28: SC Academy of Authors Induction Ceremony & weekend

Once again Debbie Scott and I hit the road, this time to go to Columbia for a weekend of events sponsored by the South Carolina Academy of Authors (SCAA). Friday afternoon was a superb reading by poet Terrance Hayes. I can't say enough glowing things about his work and the reading. He's a poet I met a few years ago when he taught a public workshop-in-the-round  in Columbia that I was lucky enough to be in, back in 2004 or so. It was a South Carolina Poetry Initiative event. I was also honored that Terrance Hayes selected my book Keep and Give Away for the inaugural SC Poetry Book Prize. So it's no wonder that I feel a special affection for him and his poetry. His latest two books are Wind in a Box and Lighthead.

On Saturday night there was a lovely reception at the Thomas Cooper Library, followed by the Induction Ceremony. Jack Bass, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, and Eugene Robinson were all inducted into the SC Literary Hall of Fame. Unfortunately Eugene Robinson couldn't be there; but the others gave meaningful, inspired responses to their inductions.

On Sunday morning there was a brunch at The Big Apple, a beautiful building for such an event. Fiction writer Thomas McConnell, of Spartanburg, and I read as winners of the fiction and poetry fellowships, respectively. I'm still up in the clouds over winning this year's Carrie McCray Nickens Poetry Fellowship. I knew and loved Carrie, so it means all the more to me. Thank you SC Academy--and thank you, Carrie!

Sunday, April 21: Brookgreen Gardens Poetry Series

On April 21 Debbie Scott, Frances Pearce, and I drove up to Litchfield, SC, for an early lunch with Sherby McGrath at Quigleys; then we all spent the afternoon at Brookgreen Gardens. Libby Bernardin and I were pleased to be a part of this April's Poetry Series there, facilitated by Cliff Saunders. The setting for the reading was in the Poetry Garden at Brookgreen, which used to be the Dogwood Garden years ago, and it was lovely. The only hindrance was what felt like a gale-force wind (I think it might have been almost that), which played havoc with any papers that weren't weighted down, with hair in the eyes, and with a microphone that had to be stabilized by a big chunk of a concrete block. So it was poetry in the wind, but we weren't complaining. Thanks to Brookgreen for having us!

Afterward, Debbie, Frances, and I enjoyed the naturalized part of Brookgreen that is woods with a trail and lots of animals. Our favorite part was the aviary with its black-crowned night herons, ibis, and similar birds. A busy place late in the afternoon!

April 6: A Gathering of Poets

Two Lowcountry poet friends and I went to Winston-Salem, NC, on the weekend of April 6 to attend A Gathering of Poets, a day-long program of workshops and readings sponsored by Press 53 and Jacar Press. What fun it was to travel with Libby Bernardin and Debbie Scott for this poetry adventure! I signed up for workshops by Alan Michael Parker, Fred Chappell, Joseph Bathanti, and Kathryn Kirkpatrick--and they were all topnotch.

I'm delighted that I've been asked to be on the faculty for next spring, so I'm excited about that.

March 25 anthology reading at Monday Night Blues

On March 25, Richard Krawiec came to town to head up a reading from his press's latest anthology of poems. He, Terri McCord (of Greenville), and I read from the anthology and love, published by Jacar Press. Richard lives in Durham, NC, and is a leader in the arts community there and in the region. We had a great time taking turns reading one poem of our own, then poems by others in the anthology. Among others, I read ones by Ron Rash, Lola Haskins, Fred Chappell, Michael McFee, and Shelby Stephenson. So many good poems!

March poetry reading at Bishop Gadsden

On March 13, three of us poets from The Poetry Society of SC had the pleasure of going to Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community, on James Island, to read poetry. Debbie Scott, Katherine Williams, and I met with some of the residents in The Cloisters, the healthcare center, and enjoyed spending an hour or so sharing some of our poems, as well as those by poets we admire. We decided to take turns reading in a round-robin fashion, and one person in the audience even volunteered to read a favorite poem of her own. We hope that other poets in The Poetry Society will have a chance to read there, too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Writers' Group of The Poetry Society of SC

Earlier I meant to give a shout-out to the PSSC Writers' Group, which has been going for decades. It's a critique group established for members of The Poetry Society of South Carolina. I had the pleasure of being its facilitator on February 23, and I thoroughly enjoyed the talents of our small group gathered around the table at the Charleston Library Society on a rainy Saturday morning. The Writers' Group meets once a month, with a different facilitator each month.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The anthology Seeking has been released!

It has been a long time coming, but the anthology Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, is now out. Edited by Kwame Dawes, with a preface by SC poet laureate Marjory Wentworth, Seeking is published by The University of South Carolina. It contains the works of twenty-nine poets and writers, as well as the beautiful art of Jonathan Green. The pillar piece of the book is Green's painting Seeking, which depicts a young boy in the woods going through a Gulla rite of passage. The painting was commissioned by Mepkin Abbey and has a wonderful story behind its beginning. I'm honored to have my poetry included in the book.

Book jacket for Seeking

Poems recently published -- NCLR and Heron Tree

Thanks to North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) for publishing my poems "Banding Hummingbirds" and "Beggar's-Lice" in the 2013 online issue, pp. 58-59. Both poems were finalists for the 2012 James Applewhite Poetry Prize.

I'm also pleased to have a poem published in the new online journal Heron Tree: "At Odd Angles Speedily" is now in their archives.

Both of these journals are ones that I'm truly proud to be in.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Initial plans for Brookgreen Gardens poetry series

Sunday afternoon poetry series
The Poetry Garden
A celebration of National Poetry Month
Poems of spring & gardens

Stay tuned for details about a poetry reading series on Sunday afternoons in April at Brookgreen Gardens, the Poetry Garden, Pawleys Island, SC. Cliff Saunders will read on April 7; Libby Bernardin and I, on April 21. Other featured poets to be announced.  All readings will be at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Next Big Thing -- a self-interview

The talented poet Melanie McCabe, author of the newly released History of the Body, tagged me for The Next Big Thing, a series of self-interviews making its way around the blogosphere among poets and writers, one by one. Thank you, Melanie. You can read her self-interview at her blog.

Below is my own self-interview answering the set of questions that is traveling from blog to blog as a part of The Next Big Thing project. My answers all pertain to my second full-length volume of poems, forthcoming this fall.



What is the working title of the book?
My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass

Where did the idea come from for the book?
In 2007 I began collecting and writing epistolary poems in preparation for a poetry workshop I was to teach on the subject, and immediately I was hooked. Besides that, I always loved writing and reading letters.

What genre does your book fall under?

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass doesn’t really want to be a movie. It would much prefer to be a musical composition by, say, Philip Glass. Wouldn't that be a dream!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
What does it mean, this journey of beauty and grief—of the dangerous and the ordinary—when language and love are almost enough to make a connection?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’d have to guess—probably about a year. Or maybe ten. My whole life.

What books within the same genre would you compare yours to?
Instead of making comparisons I’ll just name some contemporary books I much admire for all sorts of reasons: Rose, by Li-Young Lee; Carolina Ghost Woods, by Judy Jordan; Romey’s Order, by Atsuro Riley; A Metaphorical God, Kimbery Johnson; Kingdom Animalia, Aracelis Girmay; Trapeze, Deborah Digges; Columbarium, Susan Stewart; Ornithologies, Joshua Poteat; We Don’t Know We Don’t Know, Nick Lantz; Compulsions of Silkworms & Bees, Julianna Baggott; Bad Boats, Laura Jensen

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Emily Dickinson. A. R. Ammons. Every poet I ever read. The moon. A lack of bees. The South Carolina Lowcountry. Redbelly water snakes. The weather. Back roads. My husband, always.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
How about a few poem titles: “Why I Am Not a Tightrope Walker,” “Dear Yellow Speed Bump,” “Dear Melancholy,” “Why Does Rain Cast This Longsome Spell?” “Dear Morning after the Hailstorm”

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Cider Press Review will release it this fall (Septemberish). I’m delighted that they selected it for their inaugural Editor’s Prize.

Thanks for reading this little sneak preview of My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass. In turn, I've tagged several poets so you can read about their new works.  Here are three poets with their own self-interviews for The Next Big Thing:

Mary Hutchins Harris, Do Not Fault the Mockingbird (ms. in progress)

Al Maginnes:  read Al's self-interview about his book Inventing Constellations on Facebook

Cassie Premo Steele,  Wednesday: poems



Poetry Workshop: Beyond Craft -- Feb. 21

Susan Laughter Meyers, instructor
Thursday, Feb. 21
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Litchfield Exchange location
(exact venue TBA)
Register in person or online at (click on Continuing Ed)
$30, plus OLLI membership

When starting a poem, you are often writing blindly, not following a familiar path or arriving at answers but moving in uncertainty. The overriding issue is not a matter of craft—but how to proceed, how to find your way to the real poem. Class packet included. Within two weeks after the workshop, participants have the option of e-mailing a poem to the instructor for feedback. Lunch can be brought or bought nearby. (You may want to bring your own lunch, since our exact venue is uncertain.)

How important is our poetry?
            “The words you speak
            become the house
            you live in.”                    Hafiz


Yes, we are choosing words. But when we’re deep in the process of writing, they are partly choosing us, too. Without measuring each move, we accrue sounds, rhythms, meanings, connotations, and so much more along the way. Each of us and our words are building something, the poem. It’s a makeshift hut we’re constructing in that first draft. Somewhere in our messy construction site is the real poem, or the path to it, and our job is to find it.

Please come join us for the workshop!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Poems in The Southern Review & its audio gallery

Thank you to The Southern Review for including my work in their fall and winter issues, five poems in all. Two of them are in the audio gallery of the winter issue: "[Let's say you forgot me]" and "Not one single further sorrow." Also in the gallery are poems by Philip Schultz, Brendan Galvin, and Deborah Flanagan. You can listen here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Issue of Cider Press Review

Thanks to Cider Press Review for including one of my poems from my forthcoming book, My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, in their latest issue. They'll be publishing my book this fall, and I'm pleased that "Dear Morning after the Moon Kept Me Awake" serves as a sneak preview in CPR Volume 15, Issue 1.