Priority Time

I am in the process of rearranging my priorities. It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. I did this exercise, called Clarity Cards, and there I was shuffling all the things I am responsible for, all the things I love to do, all the places I have to show up and then trying to prioritize them. It helped when I narrowed the scope to say 6 months, because priorities shift and expectations change.

Still, it gave me courage to peer into my life as it lay across our dirty dining room table and make plans. And let go. I gather up projects and responsibilities like wildflowers and they are lovely until I realize I have been sneezing for days and not doing the work I really know, deep in my heart, I want to do. Letting go is very difficult for me. Putting everyone in front of me is very easy.

Was it weird to discard and discard and discard? Yes! But I recommend this exercise even if it’s just to show you HOW MUCH we take on. HOW MUCH we are responsible for. AND maybe why we feel like we are always five steps behind.

And as part of prioritizing my writing and The Notebooks Collective (top two priorities), I signed up for Homework Club which will help work out some of the kinks of my practice and soothe the suffering artist soul. Hearing an intelligent, sparky, beautiful person tell me each month that the world needs my art is worth the price of admission. I’m learning to internalize this, but I expect it to take a while. All this to say, I hope this newsletter picks up its frequency. I hope it begins to be filled with the poems I am bringing into the world, with the art we make together.

I hope that you will join me in the things I list below.

  1. Clarity Cards, shared by Nancy Reddy, produced by Dan Blank.
  2. Homework Club / Beth Pickens. If you don’t/can’t join, her podcast / instagram / book are super helpful as well.
  3. Mass Poetry Festival: I’ll be signing books at the Solstice MFA table at the book fair on Saturday, May 6 at 11:30 am. Please say hi!
  4. May 8, 7:30 PM we’re hosting Sara Moore Wagner and Pauletta Hansel in conversation with Ellen Austin-Li. Ellen has raved about the joint reading these two women do and I am super excited to hear it & the conversation about persona and the personal, teaching, building community in Cincinnati, etc.
  5. As a treat, I have posted a small letter I wrote in one of my zines probably 20 years ago. Please enjoy.

From Random Words in No Particular Order Vol 2

“Dear ___, Regarding the subject of holes. I am in agreement. I found a few references to suggest that this is a common occurrence. See, “potholes in my lawn” by de la soul. See, exhibit b, in which Lesley and Becca fall into a sand hole. See, exhibit c, dental x-rays, exposing the hole in the back of my mouth.
I feel like there are pits of time I can’t remember, but by going back and peering down into each one, I can begin to piece me back together. I feel there are many times in which I fall down into one hole and it becomes my reality. Once I climb back out, I find that the world is a much bigger, warmer place. Other times, like “potholes” I must be careful to navigate my surroundings, for we never know what pitfalls we will encounter.
Really, it comes down to the fact that the world is not flat. We have known this for hundreds of years, but we forget, from time to time, that this means more than natural geography. It means our life, our encounters, our friendships, can slip into holes occasionally.
There are those cliché “ups and downs,” “Life is a bumpy ride,” “Hang in there.” I wish us all spelunking equipment, bridges and fillings, but I think we need to fall down once in awhile. It makes being above ground that much more thrilling.