Tag Archives: Underwater Panther

College of the Ouachitas

Macri_EncoreRose.jpgYesterday, at the College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, I visited with a creative writing class and then read from Underwater Panther outside in the Atrium. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day, in terms of place or people. My old friend and colleague Jason Hancock and new friend and fellow artist Tricia Baar and the COTO library helped me feel at home, and the students were engaging and open. To read by climbing roses in April in Arkansas while a phoebe repeats its name–it doesn’t get any better than that.

What is your passion? I asked each student in the class. They seemed comfortable in their skin in a way that enabled them consider this question better than I could when I started in the same class back in the day. The box that the world and I took turns putting me in (be a good girl, be seen not heard, know your place) is something that I still see.  But art breaks down walls, and I’m thankful.

With appreciation to COTO for celebrating the power of words to move us in a good way.




Harding University



Yesterday my writing took me to Harding University. I met with an Intro to Poetry class in the morning, visited with students and faculty over pizza, and read in Cone Chapel in the late afternoon. This marks my third visit to Harding, and it was as beautiful as ever, maybe even more so, not only because I was teaching and reading in azaleas and dogwoods, but I was honored to be introduced by Terry Engel as a friend of its English Department.Macri_ConesChapel_Harding.jpg

Between events, I sat out on campus, read a little, and watched the world go by. A student who couldn’t come to my reading took the time to find and talk with me.

Oftentimes as I prepare for events like these, I think of what I want to say, but in this visit, I realized I was thinking more of what Harding has been saying to me. The students were fun, funny, curious, and kind. Nick Boone has always had a knack of encouraging me to take myself seriously as a writer at the exact moments I doubted my work. So yesterday was the first time I felt comfortable to read from each of my three books, Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past, with a title that speaks for itself; Underwater Panther, with its look at the past we’ve inherited; and Ore Horizon, with its question, when our environment is being damaged, both our natural world and how we deal with each other as people, what do we do?

Macri_Harding_March2017.jpgAll this is colored with my deepening sense of mourning, as the first anniversary of my father’s passing draws near. But something my husband said to me weeks ago has stuck in my mind: some people approach the world from a foundation of fear. They cling to the past because they feel frightened. But some people approach the world from a place of hope. They feel scared, too, but they look to the past to help create new ways to move forward to something better. Poetry is part of such hope, as are the people and places who celebrate it.

With thanks to Harding for a good day.



Delta Visual Arts Show

This spring, I’m grateful to be part of three events. The first is this Saturday, February 25, the Delta Visual Arts Show in Newport, Arkansas.Macri_tulipFeb2017.jpg

This show focuses on the Delta’s significance and its potential. It isn’t about going back. It’s about moving forward. The Blue Bridge Center for the Delta Arts project is a collaboration between an economic development commission and an arts council that recognizes the powerful role that the arts can play in a region’s renewal.

The show includes over 180 artists of every type in booths, solo shows, competitions, workshops, presentations, performances, and readings. There will be activities for adults and children, and the downtown itself is part of the action as art fills its buildings. You’ll find me with Underwater Panther and Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past in the W.A. Billingsley Memorial Jackson County Library with more than other twenty authors in the Authors’ Corner.

A writer I look forward to seeing again is Annie England Noblin. We met when I read at ASU-Mountain Home, where she teaches. Her book is the perfectly titled Sit! Stay! Speak! and she’ll be reading at noon. My favorite character in her book is the Delta itself. She captures how it testifies in a way that no one can ignore.

Come by and enjoy this day.

Arkansas Review


A review of my book Underwater Panther appears in the latest Arkansas Review, along with my review of A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems by Patricia Spears Jones. Many thanks to Marck Beggs for his words on my work, as well as to Patricia Spears Jones for the fire of her collection. Let there be no doubt that Arkansas yields some of the best literary company in the world.



Southern Festival of Books

The last event this fall in celebration of Underwater Panther takes me to Nashville, Tennessee, to the Southern Festival of Books this weekend.

Our panel is titled “Light in Darkness,” and I’ve thought a lot about that phrase. No matter where we come from, we all know how darkness can make us feel small.

Near Nashville is Stones River National Battlefield and Murfreesboro. Two of my grandfather’s great-uncles died there within five days of each other in February 1863. They were twins, about 19 or 20 years old.TindallStar.jpg

We don’t know much about them, and we’ll never know what motivated them to serve the Union. But idealism did run high in our family. This branch had owned slaves in Delaware, but they left that behind when they moved to Illinois in the 1830s. The twins’ big brother, my greater-grandfather, was a Baptist minister full of the Word.

When I think of light in darkness, in this place, I can’t help but think of these two young men, and I am encouraged to think past death, and grief, where I have been struggling, to the gift of possibilities that they bequeathed me. This, of course, is only a very small part of a much larger picture.

We inherit the world created by the people before us. Our children inherit the world we are creating now.

When I was little and my father tucked me in, he would say, “Good night, sleep tight. Wake up bright in the morning light, to do with right, with all your might,” and he would pause, and I would say, “with everybody.” By definition, light makes darkness go away.

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. in the Nashville Public Library, I’ll be part of this panel with the fantastic Christina Stoddard and John C. MannoneHumanities Tennessee works to bring together a wide variety of writers from across the country for this festival. Look over the list here and see what you might enjoy.

Henderson State University

The second event in celebration of Underwater Panther this fall is tomorrow at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

Kathy Strause 095.jpgWhen my book went into production, my editor Susan Swartwout gave me the chance to choose the image for the cover, and I immediately thought of the work of my former colleague Katherine Strause. Kathy invited me to look through her pieces to see what we might use, and in time we settled on Bow and Arrow. I’ve come to realize, in part as I reflected on what drew me to this piece, that this book is the story of a woman taking aim.

Kathy and I wanted to keep the good stuff going, so last winter, I sent her the first poem from each section of the book as well as its first poem, and her painting students used them as inspiration for six pieces.

So Kathy is going to display those paintings, and I’m going to share those poems. She will display bring some of her own paintings as well, as will another artist Tricia Baar, who will share her paintings and poetry.

With thanks to another artist Marck Beggs and the HSU Ellis College Margin of Excellence, this Poetry & Painting Coffeehouse will take place at 6 p.m., Tuesday, September 13, on the Arkansas Hall Main Stage.




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.