Three contributors from After Shocks read at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center Poetry Series on March 11 in Atlanta. The series is held in the renovated greenhouse on the grounds of the old Candler mansion. Two frinds of mine played a short classical violin set as the audience arrived. David Bottoms, Stellasue Lee, and Alexa Selph read their poems from After Shocks with the Lenten full moon shining through the glass-paned ceiling. About 50 to 60 people attended the reading in this magical setting, and my violinist friends Al Pieper and Molly McDonald play another short set during the book signing.
I was fortunate to be the guest speaker at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church adult Sunday school on March 8. I used readings from After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events to discuss issues surrounding recovery from death of a spouse and other loved ones, exile, war, addiction, bigotry, abuse, divorce, loss of innocence. Approximately 25 church members in attendance engaged in a deep discussion of the issues. They asked questions about how the anthology was compiled and whether there were submissions that raised the relationship of God to recovery. Thanks to Rev. Tricia Templeton for inviting me to speak.
An interview with After Shocks contributor Jericho Brown appears on Poetic Asides blog. The interview, conducted by Writer's Digest editor and blogger Richard Lee Brewer, focuses on Brown's new collection Please (New Issues, Western Michigan, 2008). He also talks about his job as speechwriter for past New Orleans mayor Marc H. Morial as well as his writing technique.
At a reading/panel discussion of After Shocks poets at the South Carolina Book Festival last Saturday that question in the headline above was posed by a 22-year-old audience member named Zack. The responses of the panelists could be summed up this way: Yes, in the short term, it does hurt, but in the long-term it helps healing, and not only for the poet, but hopefully for readers, too.
The After Shocks contributors on the panel that I moderated at the Columbia-based festival were Laurel Blossom, Clinton B. Campbell, Susan Meyers, Marjory Wentworth, and Ed Madden. In answering this perceptive question, the panelists brought up issues of buried grief or ignored addiction problems or post-traumatic stresses and disorders that when extracted by the poet's pen cause wounds to re-open, or open for the first time if they've been buried from the very beginning. And thus the act of writing--a self-examination--may cause great pain. We all seemed to agree that in the long-run, we were better off for the writing.
Recovery from a life-shattering event like the death of a beloved family member or expriences in war, from exile, acts of bigotry, illness or injury, acknowleding and dealing with addictions--recovery from these events doesn't truly end--ever. There is no closure. There is no point where you can say "I'm totally healed." These events become something that we learn to live with, like a scar, something we wear, like a medal. We are marked forever, though over time, the pain diminishes, and in the long-term, writing helps us move down that asymptotic curve.
I am poetry series editor of Press 53, based in Winston-Salem, NC. I'm also editor of After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events. This anthology of poetry comprises 152 poems by 115 poets from 15 nations, all speaking the language of recovery. Chapters cover Grief, War, Exile, Bigotry, Divorce, Abuse, Illness, Injury, Addiction, and Loss of Innocence.
My poems have appeared in many journals in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and India, including Southern Poetry Review, Subtropics, Ambit, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, Kritya: A Journal for Our Time, Orbis, Salamander, Ars Medica, Pearl, Asheville Poetry Review, and others.
My essays, criticism, and other nonfiction have appeared in New Letters, North Carolina Literary Review, South Carolina Review, Chrysalis Reader, IEEE Spectrum, Leisure magazine and other publications.
I was the founding editor-in-chief of WebMD, the world’s most widely used health web site, and I live in Midtown Atlanta, where I work as a freelance medical editor. I have earned a B.S. from Carnegie-Mellon University, an M.S. from Ohio University, and an M.F.A. from Queens University of Charlotte.