Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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Kelly's News BLOG

My News - announcements, workshops, events & publications!

Kelly's News Blog

Listen: "By Water, By Fire": Reading my Queen Anne's Lace prose poem

Because it's August, and Queen Anne's Lace blooms so gorgeously now, on my daily walks I'm reminded of this prose poem I wrote some years ago about being baptized at the same time as my daughter, and how, on a walk with her, years later, in the meadow at ten, the wet lace inspired this poem. She's twenty-six now. From where I stand now, I see how much it all came true: how we stumbled, how we fell. All these years later, I'm grateful for this prose I culled from that meadow, foreshadowing. I wouldn't alter a word.

By Water, By Fire

It has been raining for days and in the meadow everything upturned is holding water. Barefoot, we slip on sequined blades of grass; wildflowers bloom in crowds on stems as long as your legs. Oh, what is this most beautiful flower I have ever seen? you ask, looking up at me, the lace framing your face like the ring around the neck of your baptismal dress.

You were two then, in the sanctuary, where I stood beside you in my beige silk suit, ready to be baptized too, even at that late date, because rites of passage - like wildflowers - are only awesome accidents. You didn’t know when I was a girl I heard my grandmother swear to her daughter, I love all my grandchildren the same, even the ones who were never baptized. And I saw my mother’s eyes catch her mother’s lie.

In the candlelit church, you seemed too innocent to grasp the mysterious wounds of mothers and daughters. But, when the minister pronounced, Somehow, some way, some day you will be caught – you seized my leg and whispered, I don’t want to be caught, Mommy! Bumped, the altar candle rocked and swung and snuffed its flame against my shoulder. A stream of black wax bled down my sleeve before the candle crashed to the floor. After the service, I showed the minister my scar and said, Now I have been baptized by water and fire.

The truth is I cannot help that you will stumble and fall and lose your way and so will I. But here in the meadow this day, at ten, you look up at me still certain I can solve the mystery of beautiful things. I bend my face in the basin of moist, white thread. It’s Queen Ann’s Lace, I say.
— First published in "*82 Review," 2013; published in "All These Cures," 2014, Lit House Press ©Kelly DuMar

All photos and text ©Kelly DuMar 2018

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Listen: "All These Cures," a recording of my poem, just because I wanted to hear it

On an impulse, I want to share this poem first published in 2014 (Extracts, Daily Doses of Lit) and then in my chapbook by the same name, (published by Lit House Press). Just because I suddenly remembered I hadn't heard or read it in a long time, and because I wanted to share some time with my long-gone imaginary grandmother who inspired it. You can listen here:

©Kelly DuMar All rights reserved

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IWWG 2018 Play Lab - 8 Short Plays/Excerpts/Monologues Have Staged Reading at Muhlenberg College Conference
 (Left to Right: Kelly DuMar, (Raquel Arrechea, not a playwright), Lisa Shapiro, Ingrid Bruck, Mindy Ohringer, Sue Huggans, Patricia Bell-Scott, Suzanne Westhues, Linda Bergman, Marisa Moks-Unger

(Left to Right: Kelly DuMar, (Raquel Arrechea, not a playwright), Lisa Shapiro, Ingrid Bruck, Mindy Ohringer, Sue Huggans, Patricia Bell-Scott, Suzanne Westhues, Linda Bergman, Marisa Moks-Unger

We have only six workshops, six days together in the Play Lab. Is it enough? Never! Is it worth it? Definitely, participants always say on the last day. 

Some of the writers arrive with a draft of a short scene, a monologue, or a ten-minute play they hope to develop during our week together at the IWWG Annual Summer Conference at Muhlenberg College.

What each writer wants is to try something brand new, or to get a project she's been working on for the stage to the next level. She wants to know if she can make it work, and how. She's nervous, and willing to step out of her comfort zone into the unknown.

This year, two playwrights were working to build plays from nonfiction books they had published. Another writer has been working on a one-woman show about childhood incest. One woman brought a draft of a monologue she drafted in our Boston Regional Conference; another wrote a new script on the spot with no prior experience. Every writer found something meaningful to develop, and went all in.

Three years ago, I established the IWWG Summer Play Lab workshop to give writers, many who have never before written for the stage, (and some who are in the midst of full-length plays) a way to be introduced to playwriting in an intimate, supportive environment for risk-taking. This is the most significant aspect of this Play Lab: the generosity of creative support that is shared. It's all for one and one for all. Everyone's script matters and is attended to with great concern and interest, and assistance.

At our summer conference, we're busy from dawn to dark. There are, in fact, twenty-five workshops across genre that conference participants can choose from - fiction, poetry, memoir, creative nonfiction, screenwriting and more. So, it's remarkable that those in the Play Lab are also attending other workshops during the day as well. It's a stretch – but one they always rise to, to revise every day and return with a fresh script in development.

During the first year of the Play Lab, I knew the participants would greatly benefit by a reading of their script in front of an audience, by actors and friends available and willing to jump in to the creative process. Conference director, Dixie King, gamely agreed to squeeze time into our overcrowded schedule to offer the readings to the entire conference on Wednesday. It was standing room only and a huge gain for everyone: This is the learning process of moving from page to stage; hearing your words lifted off the page by actors, (some truly professional ones are always present, available and willing), hearing the laughter and applause and gasps of an audience, and then being able to hear feedback and comments and encouragement from everyone afterwards.

The first Play Lab readings were a huge hit; the rest of the conference attendees crowded into the Red Door Lounge to see what their friends had been working on all week. And the playwrights were awed and thrilled and helped immensely by understanding the art of the collaboration and the elements of production they were exposed to. 

We're a unique conference, in that dozens of women writers are present all week, and many are eager and willing to share acting talents; some who had no idea they even have acting talent. Every actor, experienced or otherwise, was willing to take a risk on stage to support the writers. This is truly one of the most generous, fun, collaborative communities I've ever been involved in. And I really look forward to seeing where the scripts go from here; into production on stages around the world, and then into published scripts. I'm honored, once again, to be part of the development of women's stories for the stage. 

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My June Newsletter: On Farm Pond Poetry & Prose collection is published
  Farm Pond Writing Collective  Members pictured from L to R: Megan Walls, Karen Edwards, Mary Beth Hines, Kelly DuMar, Susan Kennedy, Elizabeth Sheehan, Karin Stanley, Claudia Duchene. (Missing are Peggy Gavin & Leanne Labelle.)  

Farm Pond Writing Collective Members pictured from L to R: Megan Walls, Karen Edwards, Mary Beth Hines, Kelly DuMar, Susan Kennedy, Elizabeth Sheehan, Karin Stanley, Claudia Duchene. (Missing are Peggy Gavin & Leanne Labelle.)  

In the fall of 2015, at the invitation of my friend, Liz Sheehan, I led a writing workshop in her studio space at her home overlooking Farm Pond in Sherborn. The workshop was for women who wanted to write creatively from their personal photos. It was meant to last six weeks. Everyone joined the group at a different level of writing experience. 

 Farm Pond, ©Karin Stanley 2918

Farm Pond, ©Karin Stanley 2918

Using my guide to writing creatively from personal photos, participants spontaneously crafted poetry and prose, much of which they also revised and polished over the course of the weeks. I wanted them to have the risky and satisfying experience of sharing their writing and stories with a wider circle. And so, Liz offered her living room and fireplace and we made delicious food, invited friends and family, lit the fire, and the members read, (some for the first time), their writing in a truly supportive atmosphere. Family and friends listened to their loved ones reading this illuminating writing, and it warmed and inspired and delighted them.

Such a strong connection has grown among members –both to their commitment to their own creative writing time, as well as to the shared support and friendship for each other, we have just completed our third year, and will continue this fall.

 Cover Art & Design by © Karin Stanley,  2018

Cover Art & Design by ©Karin Stanley, 2018

On June 11, we once again celebrated on Farm Pond, outside at Liz's, with food and family, friends and a fire, reading from our just published collection of poetry and prose from our workshop, On Farm Pond.

While introducing her poem on June 11, I was moved by an insight Liz shared about why this writing group experience has been so meaningful to her. She said our workshops were a reason and motivation to bring her cartons of old photos up from the basement. Our workshops have been a chance for her to revisit, with new friends, the powerful past travels she made at another stage of her life, to places in Cambodia and India and Africa, to reflect on who she was then, who she is now, and how the women from other cultures she met in these travels have influenced the woman, the leader, she is today.

Here's one of Liz's travel and discovery poems included in the anthology:

Basket

She was the tall one
with a long braid falling down her back
She was old enough
to fill baskets with fish and
squat at the riverbank.
Her basket was new,
made by her mother’s strong fingers.
This was the vessel that she would carry
across the map of her life.

The basket was rough and
the colors matched her boldness.
The woven pattern was as unique
as the light that shone from her dark eyes
flickering with youth’s fire.
On her first day, her catch was bountiful,
her smile radiant and she walked home
feeling all of her power.

Along another river, in another year,
she met him while resting from the calling to serve,
pushing her limits of exploration and endurance.
Together they travelled along the muddy edges
of the Tonle Sap in Cambodia and
made mad love in the dunes
on the edge of the Indian Ocean.
Her basket was full of joy, overflowing with stories,
and landmines and talisman collected to protect her
along her journey.

Then her basket held babies
carried to her on the invisible thread of life.
Her love overflowed into the basket
as she watched tiny movements
change into baby faces that sang the sweet songs
of her beloved.
She was surrounded by the other baskets,
a sanctuary of new lives, all huddling close to their mothers,
their milk overflowing.

Lining her basket was an exquisite blanket woven
from the golden threads of hope and promise,
of tears and disappointments.

Now older and wiser the threads were strong enough
to hold the invisible weight of parenting.

Another layer, another year,
her basket fills with bold ideas and
audacious dreams to change the ways things are.
Now she needs to fill the basket with silver coins,
layer upon layer, asking and thanking,
and thanking and asking for more.
The new patterns woven into her basket
sometimes look extraordinary,
sometimes they look plain and tired.

She asks me how to repair the holes.
How to fix the tears and
stop the pain that cuts too deep.
Her voice is louder asking me to help her
find the dream that slipped out of the tiny holes.
Has the time come to take the paddle out of the water
that rushes by and just float?
Did the rushing push her past
seeing the bounty and
the beauty inside her own basket—
unique and colorful and full of
every thing she ever needed?
— © Elizabeth Sheehan, On Farm Pond: Poetry & Prose, 2018

I want to share with you the short, 2-minute video my daughter Franci surprised us with after our June 11, 2018 On Farm Pond story fire readings. You'll note the whimsical irony of our background music for the video: I love to be snowed in with you, a recording of an original poem, written and set to music by FPC member Karen Edwards, and recorded by her musician friends Satigata and Fendrick & Peck

 On Farm Pond Artwork © Karin Stanley  2018

On Farm Pond Artwork ©Karin Stanley 2018

On Farm Pond includes at least one poem or prose piece by all of our Farm Pond Collective - as well as two writing prompts that I've used in our workshops. If you would like to purchase a copy of On Farm Pond, you can do so on Amazon.com here. All royalties generated will be donated to Care2Communities, a non-profit co-founded by Liz Sheehan to provide community-based healthcare for low-income people and their families in Haiti.

I hope you'll enjoy all the unique voices of the members expressed in this collection from writing on Farm Pond. We're all grateful to member Karin Stanley for her original artwork and cover design.

Want to join me in one of my upcoming workshops, in person or online? Have a look here! And subscribe to my monthly newsletter here to stay in touch.

I look forward to writing with you soon!

My Poem, "Samara," published in Issue 5 of Sky Island Journal

My poem, "Samara," is published in Issue 5, Summer 2018, of the lovely Sky Island Journal, edited by co-founders Jason Splichal and Jeff Sommerfeld. This poem grew out of the woods where I walk every day. It  came whirling into my consciousness like a maple wing in spring. When maple wings fly, I like to stop and notice where they land and wonder at how moist and mysterious, how light filled and  promising, delicate and complex they are.

A tree is a natural starting place for a seed and a poem about growing up and wanting to be graceful.

We all have our own unique way of describing why writing poetry matters to us. Mine is this – I write for what I hope to discover – the secret reveal.  

 ©Kelly DuMar 2018

©Kelly DuMar 2018

. . . my first time drunk, at twelve,
a starry August night. Fluidity, I want too much at once
guzzle a bottle, tilt and sputter, spun, I jerk and Sandy,
Sandy, tallest, handsome of the beach, suntan God of Laurel
by the boulders, beached we kiss, sandy-kissed, I’m Goddess
of the Lake and looser, Queen of the Barre. . .
— Excerpt from "Samara," ©Kelly DuMar 2018

What is a maple wing, or samara? 

The distinctive fruits are called samaras, “maple keys”, “helicopters”, “whirlybirds” or “polynoses”. These seeds occur in distinctive pairs each containing one seed enclosed in a “nutlet” attached to a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue. They are shaped to spin as they fall and to carry the seeds a considerable distance on the wind.
— Wikipedia

Hope you'll read the whole poem by going to Sky Island Journal Issue 5 and scrolling until you come to my name, and then you click the link to open my poem. 

 

Here's a short slideshow of some of my favorite maple wings:

All photos and text ©Kelly DuMar 2018 unless otherwise attributed

Your Pictures As Poetry & Prose: 4 Week Webinar with Kelly Starts Tues. May 8!
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Pictures as Poetry webinar may 8.jpg

 

"Kelly is a delight to work with and her workshop "Writing Truth and Beauty" was a big hit at our April 2018 Riverwood Poetry event. She did an extraordinary job guiding our new and experienced writers into thinking deeply about their personal photos. With her guidance, our participants wrote pages of raw material and others completed the first draft of a new poem."

~ Brittany Mishra, Writer

 Maple Wings

Maple Wings

Our photo streams show what we care about and hope to preserve, what moves and mystifies us, the people, places and experiences that bring meaning into our lives. In this workshop, we’ll write poetically from personal photos that arrest our attention and unpack why they do. Writing poetry from photos allows us to express the truth of what we feel - and know - and haven’t said, as we capture the beauty and deeper meaning of an image in words. We’ll shape images into poems that reveal our personalities, identity relationships and creativity. Please bring photos to work from!

My Writing Truth & Beauty process guides you to explore the unspoken world of your images. By asking yourself questions, you’ll generate remarkable raw material that reveals insight and emotion you can shape into beautiful, original writing.  You’ll start by sharing a photo with other participants, saying why you chose it, then answering questions to generate your raw material. After that, you’ll craft a first draft you can share if you choose. Then we’ll explore ideas and suggestions for revision.

Writing Truth & Beauty from personally chosen helps you:

1.    Overcome fear of the blank page by using a concrete structure for moving into the abstract

2.   Discover meaning – grasp personal and universal truths

3.   Express the unspoken or unexpressed feelings or ideas at the heart of the photo

4.   Reflect on significant rites of passage

5.    Gain insight from your personal stories

6.   Discover and share your values

7.   Acknowledge how resilient you are

8.   Discover The Secret Reveal:

·      A truth you didn’t know you knew

·      A new idea about an old belief

·      A transformative personal revelation or insight that allows you to live more meaningfully

·      Something you have been unable to see/express/articulate that leads you to a new way of knowing yourself or others and changes your response to the community/world

REGISTER HERE ONLINE

Kelly DuMarComment
MY MAY NEWS/UPCOMING EVENTS

My May Newsletter - Kelly DuMar

 Briana Templeton as ENVIA! New Ideas Festival, Toronto

Briana Templeton as ENVIA! New Ideas Festival, Toronto

 

Every child is an artist until [s]he's told [s]he's not an artist.

~ John Lennon

I love this John Lennon quote. I saw it in a Facebook, on the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association's status this morning, and it's the perfect quote to express why I wrote my quirky, creative character, ENVIA!, her own one-woman show. Because ENVIA!, from the moment she was conceived, is an artist who trusts her creative impulses, and she never lets the critical voices of others dampen her need to express her originality in every situation she encounters. 

ENVIA! hasn't been performed in awhile, but I revived one of her monologues, "Your Casting Call," to use as a live example in my monologue workshop last weekend at the 3rd Annual IWWG Boston Writing From Your Life Retreat, and, for the fun of it, I'm sharing the script of this short monologue with you below. KEEP READING HERE

Kelly DuMarComment
Writing Toward Wholeness - Writing From Your Life - Listen!
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLmFUMv90AQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLmFUMv90AQ

On Saturday, April 28, 2018, I'll be leading our 3rd Annual IWWG Boston Writing From Your Life Retreat in Memoir, Myth & Monologue with my distinguished IWWG colleagues, authors Susan Tiberghien and Maureen Murdock. And so, I'll see them in person soon - but in the meantime, I want to share this recording of our IWWG Digital Village April Book Spotlight, in which Maureen interviews Susan about her new book: Writing Toward Wholeness: Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung. It was an honor to moderate this illuminating conversation between friends about deepening our experience of our writing and lives by paying attention to dreams and images from our unconscious. You can watch it HERE.

From the International Women's Writing Guild (Marj Hahne)

When the Soul wants to experience something, she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.

So said Meister Eckhart, 13th/14th-century German theologian, philosopher, and mystic, quoted by Susan Tiberghien during this month's Member Book Spotlight, illuminating her new book, Writing Toward Wholeness: Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung (Chiron Publications, 2018).

On Tuesday, April 17, two of our longtime Guild teachers, Susan andMaureen Murdock, met in our Digital Village, across the miles between Geneva, Switzerland, and California, respectively. Maureen interviewed Susan about her writing process, particularly how dreams "open the door to the invisible, to the deeper life, to the unconscious."

If you missed this divine conversation, you can watch it HERE.

Heads-up: The video unfortunately freezes at 49:10 (ten minutes before the scheduled end-time), and the recording stops at 49:36, thanks to the Front Range's 60 mph winds that took down my WiFi and hence my laptop's recording functionality.

What got lost to the wind are Susan's answers to these questions from attendees:

  • What does it mean to have "a strong soul"? 

  • Have you noticed cultural differences in any aspects of your writing experience (e.g., one's personal process of writing, the subjects one writes about, the publishing process, publicity, balancing the writing life with other work (e.g.,teaching) and family)?

  • Some of Simone de Beauvoir’s writing (Mémoires d'une jeune fille rangée, trans. Memories of a Dutiful Daughter) reads like memoir. Was that book considered strange or scandalous for that reason?

Big thanks to Kelly DuMar for moderating this discussion and keeping it going after her Zoom "recording engineer" went MIA.

In the spirit of The Guild,

Marj Hahne, one of your Digital Village moderators

 

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Student Discount for Creative Writers Available at IWWG's 3rd Annual Writing From Your Life Retreat

April 28th: International Women’s Writing Guild Retreat!
April 12, 2018 at 12:37 PM

RE-POST FROM THE BOSTON UNIVERSITY CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM BLOG

The International Women’s Writing Guild is offering a reduced rate for students to participate in its upcoming annual writer’s retreat.

On April 28th, The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) will host its 3rd Annual daylong writing retreat. Entitled Writing From Your Life, this immersive experience invites writers of all stages to discover how to unlock the power of their own life story toward realizing their writing goals. Through three workshops, participants will explore how to weave the autobiographical into memoir, myth and monologue. The event also provides networking opportunities, a book fair, and a catered lunch. The retreat will be held in the center of Medfield, at The Montrose School, 29 North Street, Medfield, MA from 9:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Kelly DuMar, author, poet, playwright and Sherborn native-describes the day’s three workshops as distinctly ‘writer generative’. This is a chance to create original work in collaboration with a vibrant, creative community, guided by three outstanding facilitators that are accomplished writers in their own right. DuMar is joined by fellow workshop facilitators Susan Tiberghien, author of “The Zen of Writing: Clear Seeing, Clear Writing Toward Wholeness” and the newly published “Writing Toward Wholeness: Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung” and Maureen Murdock, author of “The Heroine’s Journey, Spinning Inward.”

Marisa Moks-Unger, Poet Laureate of Erie County, Pennsylvania attended the retreat last year and describes it as “a fantastic opportunity for writers of all genres to deepen their craft. I found all three of the workshop leaders’ presentations to be valuable in developing literary images which I have applied to my poet laureate project, as well as a lecture I gave on the ‘The Power of Poetry; The Persistence of Prose’ at The Jefferson Education Society. Also, a number of my published poems were incubated at this workshop. I highly recommend attending the entire day to experience the brilliance of Susan Tiberghien, Maureen Murdock, and Kelly Du Mar.”

IWWG has served as a support system for women writers in over 60 countries. Members of the Guild have published over thousands of books, and the organization provides one of the longest running literary conferences in the country.

To learn more and to register online, http://www.iwwg.org/events

http://blogs.bu.edu/crwr/

Have a look at Talking Writing Magazine

When I walk daily in the trees, the meadow, swamp or sand or mud or grass I take pictures of what arrests my attention, what I wonder about, the organic beauty I behold. Pictures compose themselves. The woods and beaches on any day of every season are full of nature's spontaneous art. When Jennifer Jean contacted me about using some of my nature photos for the next issue of Talking Writing Magazine (she's managing editor) I said sure. She had some wonderful poems for this Science and Society themed issue, and she was looking for some specific images. Lovely, for me, to wander through my daily nature photos, knowing a lucky few would have a place and a purpose beside someone else's exquisite writing. The issue just launched. You can read it, AND listen to it, and look at it, here and see my photos sprinkled happily in and around the poetry.

Here's one of the entries I really like, Moths in the Kitchen, by Ellen McGrath Smith, (art is “Phyllira Tiger Moth” © Janel Houton) Listen!

 http://talkingwriting.com/moths-kitchen

 

 

 

On Writing, Walking and My Awesome Experience at AWP18
Joy—that sharp, wonderful Stab of Longing—
— Kevin Ott, from "Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey Into Joy and Healing"

I fly away from Boston a day early to escape the oncoming winter whiteout to attend AWP18 (the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference, March 7-11, 2018). The first thing I love, on landing, is the location: tropical winter sun in Tampa, and the convention center’s water view and easy access to Tampa Bay. Which means, late afternoons, after sitting all day in artificially lit and cooled rooms, I can be outdoors under cloudless blue, breathing in miles of fresh air walking the Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk.

 Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida

Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida

Choosing among dozens of AWP panels, I’m most attracted to what my favorite poets have to say. And I’m sharing what I see and hear on social media  for the International Women's Writing Guild on  @wearewomenwriting, Instagram, and @IWWG on Twitter. One of the first panels I go to involves Aimee Nezhukumatathil on a panel, “Poetry, Myth and the Natural World." When she steps out from behind the podium to show us her glow-in-the-dark glitter skirt, I share a picture on @wearewomenwriting. She's wearing the fun skirt, she says, because “I never heard an Asian woman writer talk about joy before.” And she writes about joy, because, “joy is an act of resistance.”

   wearewomenwriting “Joy is an act of resistance” thank you for your  #poetry reading today at  #awp18  Aimee Nezhukumatathil  #womenwriters

wearewomenwriting“Joy is an act of resistance” thank you for your #poetryreading today at #awp18 Aimee Nezhukumatathil #womenwriters

. . . when I sit at my desk to write, there is a sense of urgency and a deeper sense of gratitude and celebration for this planet and its inhabitants. I know that my heartbeat is closer to the surface of my skin, so news about hate and violence affects me more than ever before, and I can’t help but feel sometimes that the only way I can push back against all this darkness in the world is to find ways to record instances of delight and beauty on this planet for my sons.
— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, from an interview on http://thejournalmag.org/archives/3827

Walking Bayshore, I wonder if I’ll be fantastically lucky and spot a dolphin in Hillsborough Bay. I don’t have an expectation, but I have a longing. Because seeing a wild dolphin suddenly breach is a quick, momentous splash of delight. And sadly, the last dolphin I saw on one of my daily walks was dead, washed ashore, an early August morning last summer on the beach of Vineyard Sound, Martha’s Vineyard. I wrote a short essay inspired by a picture I took of this dead dolphin, (recently published in Storm Cellar). Finding its beautiful, lifeless, body on the beach brought a stab of horror and grief – what I called “the enormity of lifeless.”

 Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard

Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard

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The last afternoon of AWP18, I walk the long stretch of sidewalk, busy with bikes and strollers. The boulevard is famous for its length and stunning white balustrade edging the bay. Beside me, saltwater laps, calmly, against the white cement. Ahead, I notice a subtle rippling of water, something disturbing the surface from just below, and I hope and I wonder –

Earlier, during lunch this day, on a panel called “The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got,” I listened to another favorite poet make a point of the importance of writing about joy. Ada Limón shared her own experience about giving herself permission: “I didn’t think you were allowed to write about joy,” she said. But she realized, “I can write whatever I want.”

There is an ancient Chinese Proverb that says, ‘A bird sings not because he has an answer, but because he has a song.’ That is how I have come to think about poetry—that a poem isn’t a problem to solve, but rather it’s a singular animal call that contains multiple layers of both mystery and joy.
— Ada Limón, from an article on https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/01/mystery-birds-5-ways-to-practice-poetry
   wearewomenwriting “I didn’t think you were allowed to write about joy,” poet Ada Limon on a panel bad advice for writers  #awp18  “I can write whatever I want”  #iwwgawp18   #womenwriters

wearewomenwriting“I didn’t think you were allowed to write about joy,” poet Ada Limon on a panel bad advice for writers #awp18 “I can write whatever I want” #iwwgawp18 #womenwriters

I catch sight of a fin, walk faster, chasing it. I’m already smiling, hoping for another surfacing, a better view. I see the dolphin breach – her, or him – ahead in the distance, then submerge in quick flashes, too quick to catch with my camera. When I’ve walked as far as I can for today, I turn around, heading back to the conference center.

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[joy] has a lithe, muscular lightness to it. It’s deft. It produces longing that weighs heavy on the heart, but it does so with precision and coordination…
— Kevin Ott

I hear a loud splash beside me – but it's gone before I see it. Still, I scan the surface, see the rippling, hold my camera ready. There’s the dolphin! Next to the balustrade up ahead, breaching and swimming, and I catch only a flash of fin here and there. Until, suddenly, the dolphin is leaping up out of the water with its fresh catch in its jaws! and the fish, still alive, thrashing it's bright yellow fins.

  "[joy] dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away." ~ Kevin Ott

"[joy] dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away." ~ Kevin Ott

I’m struck and stunned by this moment of aesthetic awe – like experiencing a perfectly wrought, arresting image in a poem – and I realize, yes, a poem is like a dolphin, a dolphin is like a poem - as Ada says, "a singular animal call that contains multiple layers of both mystery and joy."

It pricks, then vanishes, leaving a wake of mystery and longing behind it.
— Kevin Ott

– leaving, yes, but not only a wake of mystery and longing. A moment that leaves me with a fresh image to write from:

Dolphin, alive and thriving; fish, alive and thrashing.

 

 

All photos and text copyright Kelly DuMar 2018 unless otherwise attributed

A Visit to Jardin de Balata, Martinique
 Thanks to my friend, Karin Stanley, for taking this photo of me during our visit

Thanks to my friend, Karin Stanley, for taking this photo of me during our visit

A slideshow of my visit to Le Jardin de Balata, Fort-de-France, Martinique

Usually, I'm afraid of heights. I'm not a fan of crossing bridges. When I was a child I would crouch on the backseat of the car if we needed to cross a high one on a family trip. The first terror I remember, a drive from Maine to Cape Breton Island along the Cabot trail.

As an adult, I've learned to keep my eyes entirely open crossing the Bourne Bridge to get to Cape Cod. But, even ten to fifteen years ago, on trips to New Mexico and Corsica with my young children, I ducked my head and trembled and moaned with misery driving on the edges of cliffs on skinny, mountainous roads. But, On Monday, March 26, 2018, when we visited the the Jardin de Balata in Martinique, it was the Robinson Crusoe-like hanging bridge in the mahogany trees, La Balade Dans Les Arbres – "A unique walk to the top of a Botanical Garden" – that gave me the most thrilling, satisfying experience of my Caribbean island stay. I was eager to climb and circle the garden from above, and thoroughly enjoyed bouncing along, stopping to appreciate stunning views of the garden, the sea, the mountains, the sky.

We visited the famed garden on a warm, overcast, sometimes rainy day, very pleasant under the lush, exquisitely planned garden. Once or twice we ran under shelters to stay dry during a downpour.  

All paradises are gardens, thus it is not surprising that the magic of the place feeds the visitors with unexpected feelings.

Once upon the year 1982, Jean-Philippe Thoze, horticulturist, landscape designer and poet comes back on the trail of his childhood, in the Creole house of his grandparents. From then was born his passion for botanicals which will lead him worldwide.
The Garden built around this typical creole house is the result of a perfect alchemy between a «back-to-childhood» experience and a one-of-a-kind artist.
— Le Jardin de Balata

Here is a slideshow, pictures in no particular order, of my favorite sights in the garden. Not pictured here, the way I felt –my skin, my spirit, cleansed, refreshed, hopeful, and the tremendous awe I felt at the way plants and trees share the comfort and strength, breathtaking beauty, the zest and joy of their existence.

All photos and text copyright Kelly DuMar 2018, unless otherwise attributed

My Nonfiction, Hybrid piece published is in Storm Cellar - Death, Sex, Celebrity: My Vacation Status

My flash, hybrid lit piece,"Death, Sex, Celebrity: My Vacation Status," inspired by three original photos I took last summer on Martha's Vineyard, is published today by StormCellar literary magazine. It's composed of three faux "Facebook status" updates inspired by the real life photos I took on the remote beach in Chilmark on #mydailywalks last summer. My story features a real dead dolphin, a real clay penis, and an imaginary encounter with an ex-president. I hope you'll have a look. Details about how to purchase the issue follow.

 Excerpt from Storm Cellar 2018

Excerpt from Storm Cellar 2018

 

Print copies are available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/595464377 and ebooks are available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/581660816

 

StormCellar is a nationally distributed, independent, literary arts magazine rooted in the Midwest, a journal of safety and danger in many senses since 2011. More details at stormcellarquarterly.com/about.

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Poetry, Politics & The Power of Change - My Interview with Yun Wei
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Making the female perspective the universal perspective.

This is Yun Wei’s answer to the question “What will women bring to poetry/fiction in the next few decades?”


On Tuesday, February 6, Kelly DuMar, our Digital Village Chair and Social Media Coordinator, interviewed poet and fiction writer Yun Wei in our Member Book Spotlight.

If you missed this graceful conversation, you can watch it HERE.

Yun and Kelly discussed poetry, politics, and the promise of change. If you want to get your singular female perspective out into the world, check out these journals (list provided by Yun, compiled by Rattle’s “Poets Respond” team) that publish “news” poems:
— Marj Hahne, IWWG
Mystery Shopper in Memory Care - Poem for Today

This morning I took a picture on the ice covered brook of this beautifully aged leaf. It inspired me to make and share this audio recording of a short poem I wrote for my father in memory care. It was first published in Foliate Oak in 2014 and then on the Alzheimer's Support website where you can read it now as you listen.

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Georgia O'Keeffe: A Slideshow of My Visit to her Abiquiu Home; A Visit to the current Peabody Essex Museum Exhibit & A Cultivating Place Podcast About Georgia O'Keefe's Garden
my photo of Georgia O'Keeffe's Blue #2 on exhibit at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem

Yesterday, I toured the O'Keeffe exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA: Georgia O'Keeffe: Art, Image Style (through April 2018). In early November, I toured the garden and home of O'Keeffe in Abiquiu (here is the slideshow of my pictures of her home).

So, today, I found the perfect podcast to listen to two days before New Year's day: Cultivating Place: A New Year Vision - The Abiquiu, New Mexico Garden of Georgia O'Keeffe - bringing together three completely satisfying and exceptional experiences of cultivating place in nature and art. I'm delighted to share them with you - and hope the exhibit, the slideshow of my visit to her Abiquiu garden and home, and the Cultivating Place podcast will inspire and delight you as well!

Copy of My Visit to Georgia O'Keeffe's Home & Studio, Abiquiú - A Slideshow

On my recent trip to New Mexico, I spent a warm autumn day visiting Abiquiú, where I had a tour of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe's home, garden and studio. It just happened to be October 31, Day of the Dead. The cottonwoods were a gorgeous gold.

Photographs are allowed outside the property, but not in the interior. This slideshow is of my experience in the home she created from the buildings and land she lived in from 1945-1984.

All photos copyright Kelly DuMar 2017

Places of Origin & Her Loaf, Half Baked Published in Crab Fat Literary Magazine

Two of my short prose pieces about childhood memories of grandparents, imperfect and un-charming, Places of Origin and Her Loaf, Half-Baked, are published in the December issue of Crab Fat. You can read both pieces online here.

They let you eat cake on White Pond Road

. . . I make trip after trip across the piazza in front of all the mothers and fathers and grandparents, helping myself, plating slab after slab in my hand, to the yard, melting every leftover rose on my tongue, caring so much for a cake everyone has forgotten, I feel queasy and crawl with my ache, my rose blue lips, onto my mother’s lap. . .
— http://www.crabfat.com/article/kellydumar
http://www.crabfat.com/articles/kellydumar
My Visit to Georgia O'Keeffe's Home & Studio, Abiquiú - A Slideshow

On my recent trip to New Mexico, I spent a warm autumn day visiting Abiquiú, where I had a tour of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe's home, garden and studio. It just happened to be October 31, Day of the Dead. The cottonwoods were a gorgeous gold.

Photographs are allowed outside the property, but not in the interior. This slideshow is of my experience in the home she created from the buildings and land she lived in from 1945-1984.

All photos copyright Kelly DuMar 2017