For Love of Poetry

I’ll be writing 30 poems in 30 days for the 30/30 Project throughout the month of July.  I’m quite excited about this opportunity because it’s a win-win-win: you can get a tax-deductible charitable deduction on 2015 taxes if you wish; I get my poems published on the Tupelo Press 30/30 blog page throughout July, and we all help Tupelo Press, a leading independent publisher of new and established American poets that publishes books, a literary journal, and chapbooks. Donations go not to me (at all!) but to Tupelo Press.The link to donate and read the poems of the day is below.
I have been asked to participate and have set a goal of $400. Anything you can spare will help–but there are incentives for giving a little more. If you give $30 and email me with a poem request, I will write a poem for you (or your occasion, friend, or family member; give me some information to work with, please). If you give $50, I will travel (within the Capital District of New York State) to your venue to do a poetry reading as my schedule allows or will write you a review of your original poetry (up to 20 pages of poems) for your use. For any donor who wishes, I would be happy to mail you an oversized poem postcard (glossy and suitable for mailing or for framing).
If you can give, please do. Go to https://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/ , select “DONATE” and be sure to name “Kathleen McCoy” in the “honor” area to credit your gift toward my fundraising pledge. You will have my eternal gratitude, as well as the pleasure of knowing that you are contributing to a meaningful and innovative literary endeavor.
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Do the Catwalk

Doing the catwalk

Doing the catwalk

This year, I’m challenging myself–and any of you who care to join–to claim your own catwalk to move across steadily and with as much grace as we can muster. I’m not talking about a Kate Moss catwalk, but the kind that’s tethered near the tops of trees, a single cable you inch across for the heady experience, and just to convince yourself you can do it. Mine has something to do with picking up and moving on without one of my biggest cheerleaders, searching for contact with the wire, checking my fear at the tree and pressing on to the next one. (And yes, that’s me in the photo last year, nearly hyperventilating with a fear of heights but moving across as I’d urged my students to do. We all made it, unscathed.) The breeze will blow; my balance will not be constant; the air will grow cold. But walking the line requires trusting I can find some words, some truth. I’m harnessed in, after all, so all I love will break my fall.

In her poem, “Apples,” Grace Schulman writes, “beauty strikes just once,/ hard, never in comfort. For that bitter fruit,/ tasting of earth and song, I’d risk exile.” The act of inching across the catwalk is a deliberate pursuit of beauty, but the risk is real, and it can feel like exile. Waiting months for the response of an esteemed publication. Then getting it. Over and over. There are compliments as well as critiques. There is hope. But the rope is high and the trek is long.

This month, I’m revising (for the twenty-something time) several poems in an evolving book-length manuscript while trying to work up a new class on portfolio development for creative writers and kick out a couple of new poem drafts. Then it’ll be a recommitment to sending out small batches of poems. Step by pensive step, I inch across. I think of my lifelong cheerleader, my confidante, my first reader, whose death still does not quite feel real. She wanted to be a writer, but wrote very little. She did publish one article and write a couple of stories and a song. She really wanted me to succeed. I have to walk the walk for myself . . . but I know it’s for her, too. At this rate I may not break any land speed records, but then, I’m not touching the ground.

So, what is your catwalk? What’s your plan to get across?