This has been one of the most amazing years in my whole life. I read at venues that deeply connected me to the American poetic tradition: The Walt Whitman Birthplace; the Poetry Center of Passaic Community College; the UA Poetry Center; the Fine Arts Work Center. It has taken 4 decades of work to get to these places, but I am the poster child for persistence and persist I did. I thank all of the organizers and audiences for their hospitality and generosity and embrace of my work. In February, I was at AWP on a panel about capitalism! And I read from TRUTH TO POWER from Cutthroat Journal, one of my fine volumes emanating from political turmoil of these times. But more importantly, I got to hang out with Joy Harjo-we have known each other for 4 decades and this year she received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the most prestigious for American poets and then I received the Poets and Writers Jackson Prize–little did we know that on the day before my birthday in February.
For my birthday this year I left NYC and my usual confab of friends and went to the 2017 Conference and Bookfair organized by AWP. I only went for 2 days of the 4, so missed many panels and events and moments to schmooze. But I did get to participate in the Truth to Power reading organized by Pam Ushuk and the wonderful people who put together Cutthroat Journal. Joy Harjo, whom I missed started off the 2 hour event. I’ve known Joy since we were young and upcoming poets in the mid 1970s. She already had a couple of books out, looked like a model and was just all embrace the world. We were at a CCLM aka CLMP meeting–I ran the Grants Program and she was one of the jurists. We were in Austin, Texas and somewhere after a day of deciding how to give some money to several different kinds of literary magazines, we along with Cecilio Garcia Camarillo, a Chicano poet, decided to go dancing in a local rock and roll club. As soon as we walked in the door we INTEGRATED THE PLACE! And we had a ball. Nothing like being in your 20s and dancing to loud loud music while folks drank beer and the scent of marijuana wafted through the club. Good times! I’ve not seen or heard from Cecilio since the 1970s although I hope he is alive well and writing. But Joy andI have remained friends and it is good to see her still look like a model and write even more amazing books of poetry.
Next day I got to hang with Metta Sama who is a more recent friend. She’s an amazing writer, critic, educator, caretaker and arts enthusiast. My kind of people. People who love knowledge. Who care deeply & who have a strong sense of style. We were able to get tickets through the help of other friends. It was great to do this with her and pay her back for the great hospitality she showed me and the writer Meera Nair when we read and workshopped in North Carolina.
Good people. Creative people. People who love to dance make life worth living. Great women poets and artists.
I have those people in my life. #gratitude.
This summer I have poems in very different places: Upstreet, a print journal frm Massachusetts. Cutthroat, a journal from Colorad0–this one is a tribute issue to Joy Harjo and Linda Hogan. And two poems http://www.brooklynrail.org/2015/07/poetry/patricia-spears-jones
Whispers and prayers in The Brooklyn Rail was created in response to the horrific killings
in Charleston, SC. Blossoms in the gyre in Cutthroat is a way of connecting nature, spirit and the struggle for justice. Poets are working. Poets are working hard.