Compared to my first residency, I returned to Pittsburgh this time feeling more confident that I knew what I was doing. The agenda was packed and I was determined to get the most out of each day.

Once A Mentor, Always A Mentor

I got to work this semester in a very small workshop, benefiting from the talents of accomplished poet and writer, Gerry LaFemina (, my new mentor, and my workshop colleague, the brilliant Valerie Bacharach (Fireweed).  Our intimate size led to very constructive consideration of each other’s work and Gerry challenged us each day with a new poet quote.  My favorite to reflect on was, 

“Aren’t subjects where we start? Sometimes. But to believe this without question may result in the most common error inexperienced poets are likely to make: to think that one’s first sense of subject should determine the shape and ambitioin of the unwritten poem.”  – Lawrence Raab

This quote told me to open up to everything around me, especially Pittsburgh: its history, its historical places, and its people.

Second Residency Highlights 

Thank goodness Pittsburgh was not as cold this year.  It was inspiring to visit the Andy Warhol Museaum, the Grand Concourse, the Carnegie Library, Jazz Night at the Savoy and more.

Meeting a hero, Sandra Cisneros. With dear old friends at the Grand Concourse for dinner.

With friends about town (Poets Phillip Border and Kara Knickerbocker and writer Jaclyn Reed.

Heard in Residency

Found poems are the ordinary weaving into your life. – Sapphire

Word-by-word, create tiny shocks of energy between them. – Aracelis Girmay quoting Cynthia Cruz

(As a writer,) I don’t want to be an accomplice to impotency. – Sandra Cisneros

Think about the consequences of metaphor; each line is a universe and you decide what happens in that universe. – Aracelis Girmay

How do I know what I think until I see what I say. – Alice In Wonderland Poems fail because they lack ambition or they lack language. – Gerry LaFemina