2013 Year in Review

After some time off from my own poetry,* I pulled together a book manuscript last Fall and have spent 2013 editing and adding to it, entering it in contests, writing new poems, and otherwise newly engaging in the poetry community as an author. It’s been awhile.

The book manuscript, as yet untitled, was a finalist for the Nightboat Book Prize and in Tarpaulin Sky’s open reading period. Chax picked it up with a tentative release date of 2015. Since we haven’t settled on a title, I describe this as my birds/love/memory ecopoetry project; it’s my normal visual/plastic style, and the subjects are birds/love/folktales/how we remember things. Life-list as mnemonic device. (Samples)

Some of the poems from this manuscript were published by above/ground as Mnemotechnics; here’s a review. rob mclennan’s support this year has been invaluable for getting me back in the game. Not only is he a good friend and editor, but he keeps track of all the above/ground authors’ activity, which is pretty rad.

Thanks in part to a productive NaPoWriMo and kind editors, my poems have been published in aesthetixThe Chapbook , Cordite Poetry Review, The Emerald Tablet, N/AOpen Letters Monthly, Tarpaulin SkyThe Volta, and Word for/ Word in the past year. (Of these, OLM, N/A, TS and The Volta have poems from the new book.) More poems are forthcoming in  La Vague Journal (erasures), The Hat (ekphrastic), and as an installation in a walnut grove outside Smiths Falls, ON. Two of my new ekphrastic poems were featured on dusie’s Tuesday poem series and in the Delirious Hem Advent Calendar. I also contributed to the Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange (brainchild of Melissa Eleftherion Carr) and to a chapbook called Z”l to benefit the family of CJ Martin and Julia Drescher (ed. Ash Smith)

I read in Ottawa, ON (after honeymooning in relatively nearby Lake Placid, NY) and Oxford, MS. Both communities were wonderful and I got to meet a lot of people I’d only previously known online. (Thank you, rob mclennan and Michael Martin Shea for inviting me!)

In an attempt to integrate my love for poetry with my job as a librarian, I was the first libraries editor for Boog City, I guest blogged for The Library as Incubator Project, and I co-curated another year of the Indian Springs School Visiting Writers Series with my wonderful colleague, Douglas Ray.

I think my favorite project this year was editing the Women of Visual Poetry edition of The Volta. After reviewing part of The Last VisPo Anthology in The Volta Issue 32, I wanted to show that there were a lot more women creating visual poetry than had been featured in The Last VisPo (itself an amazing collection of visual poetry, but as editor Nico Vassilakis sees it, “the genre of visual poetry has primarily been a sausage fest“). I had six weeks to solicit, curate, respond to, and prepare poems for publication before Afton Wilky took over the web design portion of the show; I then spent three weeks gathering the poems and the next three preparing them for Afton. The result is an astounding collection of the works of 63 female poets who work with the visual space of the page. I am proud of this collection and overwhelmed by its beauty and the resulting community of poets. Although I don’t want to edit a journal full-time anymore, I enjoyed the guest editing experience and am hoping to do more of it.

* Since my first book, Organic Furniture Cellar, came out in 2006, I’ve changed careers, lived in 4 different cities, started and ended a poetry magazine (Foursquare), married, had a baby, started a poetry reading series… it’s been a busy 7 years, but not busy with my own writing.

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About Jessica Smith

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