Category Archives: readings

Mid-South Book Festival

Underwater Panther has been in the world a year now, and I have three events to celebrate it this fall. The first is the Mid-South Book Festival in Memphis this weekend.

I’ve had the chance to read in Memphis twice before, first at a launch for The Pinch and then a few years later in the Impossible Language Poetry series, so returning feels friendly. And that’s good, because a week after my last reading this spring, my father passed away as I sat by his side.

Alzheimers was so horrible, I thought grieving his death would be easier. People have been more gentle to me about this than I’ve been to myself. I’ve found myself trying to handle grief as I’ve approached any challenge in my life: identify the steps to master the situation; do what needs to be done well and ahead of schedule; check that off and move on. But grieving doesn’t work that way.

So I find myself feeling lost, which isn’t the best way to feel when thinking of speaking in front of a group of people. But then again maybe it is. Art, and love, those things don’t eliminate chaos. They just illuminate beauty so that if we look, for a brief moment, we might understand.

IMG_4879Saturday at 1 p.m., I’ll be discussing a few poems from Underwater Panther in a session called “The Real Narrative,” with George Hodgman, Daniel Connolly, and Cathryn J. Prince, moderated by John Bensko, a diverse panel offering a lot of possibility.

Literacy Mid-South has worked to cultivate a wide variety for this festival. Check out all the authors here and enjoy.

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Arkansas Literary Festival

Tomorrow finds me in Little Rock at the Arkansas Literary Festival. I’ve been there in the past leading workshops and serving on panels, but the 2016 Festival is particularly special, not only because I’ll be reading as part of two sessions, but because this year my name appears on the new Readers’ Map of Arkansas.

When I first came here, Arkansas was known as the Land of Opportunity. This has come true in ways I never would have dared to dream. I am thankful and humbled.

ArkansasReadersMap.jpg

At 10 a.m., I’ll be reading from Underwater Panther in a session called “Mississippi Pinocchio in Jaguar Pajamas” with Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis and George David Clark, moderated by Heather K. Hummel of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and then at 11:30 a.m., I’ll be reading from Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past in a session called “On the Map” in celebration of the Readers’ Map of Arkansas with Tyrone Jaeger and Suzi Parker, moderated by Hope Coulter of Hendrix College.

The Central Arkansas Library System has done a great job putting together a great festival. Check out full schedule here and see the opportunities you might find!

 

UACCM

IMG_3761.jpgTomorrow finds me at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, one of my favorite campuses to visit. I’ve been there through the years, as faculty or department chair or writer, always in the spring. This time my friend Lyndsey Daniel has invited me to talk about publishing and Underwater Panther with her creative writing class. UACCM is a bright, welcoming place, and I look forward to this with joy and a sense of renewal.

This trip comes on the heels of good news, which I can only vaguely explain. This year has been one of change and realization and hard challenges. Friends and family have given me so much, even when they didn’t know how much I needed. Before walking into UAMS yesterday, I reread the Poem of the Day that had shown up in my inbox, Lucille Clifton’s “blessing the boats“:

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear…

 

Encouragement is a word I’ve come to realize more fully: to fill someone with courage. Not meaning that the fear is gone, or even the problem itself, but that you empower people with the faith that they can handle challenges, and handle them well. With love, all things are possible. You help them know that everything will be okay.

And it will be.

 

 

ArkaText Literary Festival

It’s an early spring, and I have a few events planned to continue the celebration of Underwater Panther. Tomorrow, March 8, takes me to the ArkaText Literary Festival, hosted by the University of Central Arkansas Department of Writing, with a craft talk from 11-11:50 a.m. and UnderwaterPanterSLAMa reading from  1:40-2:30 p.m.

These past months have been the hardest in my life. To say that my father is dying sounds too simple for what is happening. What makes it harder to explain is that while this time is painful, it has also been rich, when the simplest acts of kindness are realized as the gifts that they have always been, and the love of friends and family evolves and deepens.

To share Underwater Panther in this hard time sometimes makes me feel upset. It isn’t fair that I don’t get to enjoy my dream coming true. Instead I’m mourning that my father doesn’t know me anymore, just when I thought I’d finally figured it all out. Nothing makes much sense anymore, and a book really doesn’t seem to matter. But as I look back through the book, I remember what the underwater panther means: change and disorder, a junction between one world and another. Of course that threshold is a hard one.

To be able to be part of a festival that celebrates the heart and art of writing is a wonderful gift, and I appreciate my friend Sandy Longhorn and everyone at UCA for welcoming me there.

 

 

 

finale

Hot Springs holds Gallery Walk the first Friday of every month. Stores downtown stay open so that people can enjoy art, shopping, and refreshments. Tomorrow night’s Gallery Walk finds me in the nave of First United Methodist Church, 5:30-7:30. This is the last of my readings this fall.

When we moved from Little Rock, we heard that FUMC’s Child Development Center was the best daycare in Hot Springs. Our daughter thrived there. FUMC’s emphasis on social justice appealed to our family as a whole, and in time we became members. We have listened to so many thoughtful words at FUMC. It is humbling to be asked to share Underwater Panther there. Thanks to Reverend Michael Mattox and FUMC for being part of our home.

Macri_GalleryWalkAt my reading earlier this week, a former student, now a friend, asked how poets learn to read their works out loud: pauses, emphasis, tone. As always with her questions, I’ve been thinking about this ever since. As a child, I would record myself reading to study my voice, then go back and do it better. My parents read to me, so I learned the rhythm of a piece that way. But it’s fitting to realize now that my upbringing in the church also taught me the way a text can rise from the page. In parochial school, for eight years, I read the Bible every day, and cadence and sound play were key to memorization and performance of its verses. But more than this was the voice of our pastor, Reverend Theodore Michalk. He had gone to India as a missionary in 1945 and worked there for over 25 years, and while he rarely mentioned that time, words were never just words to him. When he spoke, words became everything: communion, action, love, grace.

Since Gallery Walk is a walk, my reading needs to be somewhat fluid. I’m planning for four 15-minute segments on the half hours (5:30, 6, 6:30, and 7), with time in between for people to visit, enjoy refreshments, and come and go as part of the scene of Central Avenue.

reading in central Arkansas

This week takes me to Pulaski Technical College, where I’ll be reading with Sandy Longhorn. We’ll be on the Main Campus in the Campus Center on Tuesday, November 3, at 6 p.m., the finale for the year in the Big Rock Reading Series. Thanks to Werner Trieschmann for the invitation and his work on organizing and promoting this event.

Longhorn Macri Big Rock Reading Series PTCSandy is reading in celebration of her latest book, The Alchemy of our Mortal Form, winner of the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press. This is her third book, after The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, winner of the Jacar Press Full Length Book Contest, and Blood Almanac, winner of the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. She teaches at the University of Central Arkansas now as part of their Arkansas Writers MFA Program.

Sandy and I met when I was the chair of the English Department at PTC and she was looking for a position that would enable her to move to Little Rock. We’ve worked on more campus initiatives than I can count and encouraged each other as writers. The Arkansas Arts Council awarded us individual artist fellowships at the same time. She kept my children when I went into labor with my youngest. Just as there’s no way to do justice to her many accomplishments, there’s no way to encapsulate a friendship in a paragraph. My life is richer because she’s in it.

It’s equally impossible to describe how much my thirteen-year career at PTC meant to me. What was a department when I started is a multifaceted division now. Being part of that from the beginning is too much to explain. We had so many hopes and dreams. The best times were when we worked together.

I’m thankful to have been asked to return to PTC to read with a friend one more time.

for you, southern Illinois

Last but not least, I will be part of the Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, on Friday, October 23, reading from 2 – 2:50 in Morris Library.

SIUC is where my parents fell in love, a New York-Italian who talked with his hands and a quiet dreamer from the little southern Illinois town of Ellis Grove. SIUC and Carbondale were high school competitions, taking the SAT, the mall, movies, and the Italian Village, my parents discussing educational philosophy as they worked on graduate degrees, a bookstore on the edge of campus where I wandered the aisles in the possibilities.

Now I realize that I feel at home on a college campus because I grew up with SIUC. There was no line between Real World and Higher Education. They were so woven together that I still can’t distinguish where one ended and the other began.

SIUC was where I won my first award for writing, from the Southern Illinois School Press Association. Until then, I never knew that anyone saw good writing as an achievement. People strong in math were honored at my high school. You could do Something with that.

SIUC wasn’t known for creative writing when I was in southern Illinois. Now SIUC’s MFA program is recognized nationally. Part of that is due to their focus on community.

Devils Kitchen award-winnersMacri crab orchard poetsEach June high school kids come on campus for the Young Writers’ Workshop, and each October the Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival pulls great writers to campus for free readings and discussions. Respect to Allison Joseph, Jon Tribble, Sarah Jilek and Grassroots, Annie Waring and the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, and everyone who works to weave college and community.

The Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival is a celebration, and it’s for you, southern Illinois. Come and see.
Macri_devils kitchen literary festival