I Walked With Whitman

The Walt Whitman Birthplace invited me to host and read and sign books as part of their Walking With Whitman community reading series and it was exhilarating!

Some things that happened:

I made sure everyone knew it was National Donut Day.

A small workshop of poets introduced each other and read poems aloud using the skills they are developing in the workshop.

First Poet Laureate of Suffolk County and Writer-In-Residence George Wallace introduced me.

Former Poet Laureate of Suffolk County Robert Savino was there.

More than several people who didn’t know me before the reading were clearly trying to find out my age. Instead of asking me how old I am, they were asking all the questions I usually get when I know someone is trying to figure it out. The most obvious one is How long have you been teaching? Usually, I say Forever, which is of no help. Then several people also told me, You’re too young to remember but…. And I nodded because sure, why not still be too young to remember? Which doesn’t make any sense when you think about it. To be clear, I’m not annoyed when this happens. I think it’s funny. I have no concept of age, and I frequently forget how old I am if I’m not in a rounded-number-year, like 50. So let’s call me 50 for now.

Two comics were there and were inviting people to come to a maybe-maybe-not-super-secret-speakeasy that was also a hip hop recording studio. A discussion of this venue led to a discussion that confused Jake Tapper and John Taffer, which I very much enjoyed. Since I had plans for coffee because I may or may not be an old lady or child out past my bedtime, I had to decline checking out the venue, which is a pity because stand-up comedy is one of my favorite things in the world. Also, one of them asked if I thought I was funny, to which I responded, Yes, I’m hilarious.

[Sidenote: During one of the year-end student readings, a student from another class asked me if I do improv because I’m funny. Who needs the potential flopsweat of improv when you’ve got a captive audience in a classroom?]

As usual, I held court because I. Cannot. Stop. Teaching.

Christina M. Rau reading

Photo by George Wallace

The open mic included the musings of Tom D’Angelo, Russ Green, Mary Healey, Dan Brown, and several other poets who were simply wonderful souls.

As usual, I made a crazy poet face.

Crazy Poet Face

Photo by George Wallace

The band 1 Step Ahead played, and they are brilliantly talented and everyone should book them for everything.

The Q&A was basically me mentioning 2001 A Space Odyssey about 2001 times.

There were snacks. I ate grapes. They were good.

I ran out of copies of Liberating The Astronauts. Never before have I seen such an engaged audience and sold that many books. Poetry! Is! Lucrative! (not really, but it’s nice to not have to carry back home such a heavy bag of books).

[Sidenote: if you would like a copy of For The Girls, I,  WakeBreatheMove, or Liberating The Astronauts, check out my books page for information on how to do that. Are they sold on Amazon? I have no idea, but instead of Amazon, maybe order from the small presses or from me directly.]

I am so grateful to WWBP and the people who came out to share an evening of words and music.

WWBP Reading 1

Photo Courtesy of Robert Savino

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Mars Mission!

I’m going to Mars, y’all.

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Ooh, take in that NASA realness.

You can go, too. Read all about it here.

“Opposition Night” Is Nominated For A Rhysling Award !

So thankful and excited to learn that “Opposition Night” is nominated for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award in the Long Poem Category. This poem appears in Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press 2017). Here it is in case you’re interested in reading (or voting!).

Opposition Night

I.
You need a supersonic parachute for landing
and even then, it’s still tricky, a terrifying
seven minutes.
You need these simple interplanetary
wads of sticks inspired by
those egg drop experiments in high school
physics. They’ll cushion the impact.

When you awake to see the new horizon,
you’ll need your rations followed by
freeze dried ice cream for dessert.
Then you can begin the mining project.
Resource extraction, that kind of thing.
Once you’re there, life is easy.

II.
A six month road trip to the red planet
and farther: Jupiter, Saturn, alongside
the asteroid belt—possible only in a
sleep state.
No roadside pit stops at hole-in-the-wall
diners, no waitresses in white sneakers
named Luanne.
No off-road shoulder dust kicking up
and settling down on a hood and
through a window ajar.
Only the pod, fitting six, tentatively
called Copernicus, hurling itself
through as humans hibernate
like bears. Only you’re not a bear.
And you’re not on Earth.

III.
Photovoltaic power is all the rage!
Asteroid ablation! Comet ablation!
Every kind of ablation you could desire!
A plume of heat and laser light and
Kapow! Kablooey! Kaboom!

IV.
Even with a strong core
I can’t roller skate.
Melanie mocks me
when her voice comes over
the 70s station.
The starting isn’t a problem.
It’s the stopping that poses
concern.

I need a magnetoshell,
like the ones the engineers
are tweaking for the spacecrafts—
a force field generator that uses
magnetized plasma that would
slow me down upon approach
to anything that I might want
to not crash into.
A building.
A sidewalk.
A tree.

V.
A disappeared notice.
Appearance oddities.
A paraded centipoise.
Panacea diode stripe.
A paradise deception.
Paranoic seeded pit.
Sanitaria decode pep.
Eradicated aeon pips.
Arcade opiates pined.

VI.
To harness all energy
green gold silver
liana lariat lasso
telegraphed from arm to
quasi star non moon

A trap door unhatched
impossible to repair

Catch solar
Clasp wind

Stay aloft as long
until
the asteroid becomes the ship.

VII.
Icy moon
after
icy moon
ocean
under the surface.

If sound could travel
the ice would moan
shifting and old and heavy.

VIII.
Pluto non planet — photographed only in echoes

IX.
Decades spent tooling around
crashing and breaking down

all that debris floats in
angular momentum
its own orbit self-paced.

The dust sits there
a still cloud.

X.
We missed Mars.
It approached Earth over
the weekend, coming
thisclose
as the sun spun to the Earth’s
other side. When the sun set,
the red planet rose, neighboring
the almost full moon, shining
almost as bright as Jupiter.

In its brightness, its redness lessened—
gradient shades of warmth, I suppose.

I was inside, away from windows,
preoccupied with mundane matters
that matter only every day—
what time the sun will come back up
when the hedges will be trimmed
what kind of planet I’ll leave behind
when I leave.

Retropost: Book Launch and Big Wins (Dec2017)

Liberating The Astronauts came out in March. Because of launch technical issues (i.e. every place I contacted about setting up a launch fell through), it officially launched at Sip This in December. Since it was a Poets In Nassau event, and I don’t like featuring for the group I founded, I set it up as a community writing event complete with trivia, prizes, writing prompts, an open mic, and then my own featured reading. It was a fun night.

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Some sort of poetry dance

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Dd. Spungin, host

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Obligatory writer photo

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Oprah Imitation

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Peter V. Dugan, Nassau County Poet Laureate

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Friend

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I literally can’t stop teaching.

Eddie’s sister and our nieces visited for a whirlwind tour of NYC. They’d never been to the city before, so it was fun seeing their faces as we walked through crowds and crowds. The worst crowd was the fifteen minute one-block walk across from Saks. Otherwise, it was pretty and quite warm. Not only did we see the Rock Center tree, but we saw the tree at Bryant Park and one in St. Patrick’s. We saw the Macy’s store windows and the Saks windows and light show. Next time, maybe we’ll see the Rockettes.
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Then I won something. As usual, it was from an odd place. This time, a Capn Crunch box. When they said I’d won a cornhole game, I figured it was a cute little table game. Fast forward to a 60 pound box outside the front door. It is now stored under our bed because we have no place else to put it.
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The rest of December was all holiday cheer. I bought these mini cookies from Southpaw Sweets that got devoured on Christmas Eve.
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Additionally, these two mugs I got as presents sum up everything about who I am.
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