In early October I headed to College Grove, Tennessee (about 45 minutes from Nashville) for a beautiful week-long residency at The Rockvale Writers’ Colony, won with a poem (based on a time-themed contest back in May), Two Gardens, which is live today in Rockvale Review’s Issue Five . You’ll find beautiful artwork by Henry L. Jones paired with poems as well as a selection of poems chosen for musical response with music by Jeff Byers. The issue also features work by two finalists for the 2019 poetry contest, Shahé Mankerian’s Learning to Swim and Michelle Peñaloza’s Self-Portrait at Thirty-Three.
Given the daily hours of living in divided writer’s brain—body present for the raising of the family, mind trammeling the pathways towards the next poem, this kind of a gift feels incredible. I told Rockvale Founder and editor of The Rockvale Review, Sandra Coomer (kind, gracious, welcoming), that I can’t thank her enough. The residency continues to give back to me long beyond the actual hours there; it brought me back to my desk at home (and the beloved family maelstrom) witnessed, encouraged, validated, inspired…and ready to believe in my work again.
From Oliver the cat to the Colony’s resident scurrying armadillo, from fireflies at dusk one stormcloud night to the dawn jack-rabbit, from creek-startled heron to the horses, I settled into a routine, walking and writing from sun-up to sundown. And by night, I wrote at a sweet little green desk in a room blessed with a bouquet of roses and calla lillies gifted by my sweet Aunt Rose; she’s likely one of the few people besides my mother to remember the calla lillies in my wedding bouquet. Of course I wept when Sandy knocked on my door and delivered the flowers into my arms (with joy).
The residency coincided with the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville which meant I had the honor of hearing Sandra Coomer read from her latest poetry collection, Available Light. I also enjoyed discovering Coomer’s artwork, which you can find in the main house on the Colony. I know I will be back to write again at the Colony. I loved my high-ceilinged bedroom (positioned along a corridor of bedrooms); the main house is full of rooms in which to write, peruse artwork, borrow books, or simply gaze out the windows at the sky. You’ll find rocking chairs and a porch swing to curl up in on the side porch and beautiful grounds to explore. Time at Rockvale afforded me the chance to revise The Heart’s Compass Tarot Workbook (forthcoming from Saddle Road Press) and pass it along to beta readers as well as time work on several other poetry manuscripts.
Additional Links of Interest
Do come write with me in person at San Diego Writers, Ink every second Saturday of the month; walk-ins welcome. You can read more about our heart-centered, lively ongoing poetry read and critique class here:
Keep an eye out for new January on-line course offerings! I’ll be announcing those shortly.