I live part-time in Chapel Hill, NC and in Sandisfield, MA, a small town in the southeast corner of Berkshire County, the wildest area of Massachusetts, a place where seeing wild turkeys, bears, and an occasional bobcat (or is it big enough to be a mountain lion?) is not uncommon. Both Chapel Hill/Carrboro and the Berkshires have wonderful arts communities and have been very congenial environments for writing.
As a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Poet in New Jersey, I did poetry workshops in schools for children of all ages, edited Teaching for Delight: Ways of Doing Poetry in Schools, published and distributed by the Foundation, and also read at several Dodge Festivals. Some years, I had the privilege of introducing poets including Mark Doty, Marge Piercy, Andrew Motion, and Tony Hoagland. The Festival, work in schools, and other activities sponsored by the Dodge Poetry Project are a high point in anyone’s writing career, and began lifelong friendships with many wonderful, generous New Jersey poets. A fellowship from the NJ State Council on the Arts supported some of my early (return to) writing, and a fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts provided a quiet, well-fed, companionable environment for completing the (ragged) sonnet sequence, “Away,” that is in my September 2015 poetry collection, The Scheme of Things.
In 2003, Elizabeth Stone and I invented and began teaching a class in veterinary medicine and literature at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine where Elizabeth was then head of the Clinical Sciences Department. This class led us to found the Society for Veterinary Medicine and Literature to help others wanting to introduce literature into the veterinary medicine curriculum. When Elizabeth became Dean at Ontario Veterinary College, she sponsored a wonderful international conference on the topic in 2010, which included talks and readings by the peerless Molly Peacock and Lorna Crozier. We also co-edited an anthology published in 2012, Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal People: Poems, essays, and stories on our essential connections. In August 2014 my short poem, “Diagnosis,” appeared in the Sunday NY Times Education Life in “The Joy of Becoming a Veterinarian“, a nice piece on vetmed and lit and the anthology.
The animal connection and interest in the mysteries of human-animal relationships (plus regular encounters with wild creatures) have inspired quite a bit of my recent writing, including “The Pity of It,” a poem ‘after’ Robert Frost’s essential “The Most of It”. “The Pity of It” won second prize in the 2014 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers contest and introduced me to the Festival, a yearly treasure every cold, dark March (and now becoming year-round).
My poems have been published in many magazines (Ms, Prairie Schooner, Cincinnati Review, CALYX, The Wilfred Owen Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Lips, Paterson Literary Review, The Sun…) and my first collection, The Scheme of Things, was published in September 2015 by David Robert Books.