Very Vernal

I’m currently nursing a sunburned shoulder as the gods of Vermont blessed us with a summer day this week, and I was not prepared for how pale I had become over the winter months. But it is definitely spring here, which makes me happy!

Therefore, this post will be a bit of a news and miscellany update from a very vernal Cammieland:

In Writing News: My unpublished story, “Frozen Locks,” received an Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train Short Story contest for New Writers! While it didn’t make it far enough to get published, the acknowledgment still excites me enough to want to dance on a few tables.

In Music News: My days have been sounding like “Laura” by Bat for Lashes, “Time for Space” by Emancipator, “Summertime” by Angelique Kidjo, “Le Temps de L’Amour” by Francoise Hardy, and “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens. I know, I know, a bit of an odd cocktail of sunshine and rain, apricot juice and red wine, but it’s all about balance, right?

In School News: We have just over two weeks left of the semester, which is just crazy. The second years will graduate and go on to do great things, and my cohort will take their place as the suddenly seniors. After classes end, I’ve been asked to act in my friend’s staged reading of his thesis, which is such an honor. We’ve rehearsed his play for weeks now, and I’m so excited to bring my role as the character, Ashley, and the story alive in front of an audience.

In Summer News: Here’s a list of things I am looking forward to in the summer/artsy projects I want to tackle:

  • Writing as much of my thesis as humanly possible before the end of the summer
  • Attending the Kenyon Review Fiction Writer’s Workshop in June.
  • Spending Memorial Day exploring New York City with my love.
  • Speaking with the brilliant teens at Fuente Collective about my beloved Hunger Mountain and submitting to literary journals.
  • Choreograph a new tap dancing routine and perform it impromptu in a downtown city street (any music suggestions?)
  • Construct a massive collage: of what images I do not know yet.
  • I’d love to teach a writing workshop to adults or teens, based around returning to the five senses and igniting the wonder within us in order to generate seeds for future writing projects; maybe at Story Studio in Chicago? Yoko Ono will be our spirit guide.
  • Research multimedia/multi-genre anthologies. This seems like a thing that should exist, and if it doesn’t already, I want to breathe life into one.

That’s all for now. The list will undoubtedly become longer and longer. For now, I am off to bask in the sun (with shoulders covered) and write to the “Mystery of Love.”

April is a Good Month to Buy a Beer for Frank O’Hara

I haven’t been posting here as much as I mean to because my days seem very routine lately, but in a very good way. It’s Poetry Month, perhaps my favorite month of all, and perhaps the most challenging of months because I slap this extra task each day on my head like an old-school Big Red gum wrapper that says I must write one new poem each day. It’s exhausting and yet it is the one thing I’m most proud of accomplishing at the end of the day.

I haven’t been writing any fiction lately, but I’ve been wholeheartedly delighted to explore storytelling, my thoughts and obsessions, and language in my play with poetry. To me, April is my sandbox and I can kick down and smooth out and build up sand structure after sand structure with all of the architectural creativity I can imagine. Note: Writing everyday is a great way to find out what your subconscious obsessions are.  Perhaps the most exciting thing is that I have created a poetry exchange this entire month with several writerly friends in my cohort this month. Sharing work can be extremely difficult, especially if the work is personal in any way (and it always is, one way or another). And yet, I feel an immense sense of trust and admiration for my poetic confidantes, due to these daily correspondences over our work.

This poetry month (the fourth one I’ve actively participated in) is especially exhilarating because of where I am geographically. Each April, the city of Montpelier waxes poetic, and in fact changes its name (unofficially) to Poem City. Over 400 poems cover the windows of downtown establishments as part of a “walkable anthology.” Buying groceries? Walking to work? Catching a movie at the Savoy? Picking up meds at the pharmacy? Wherever you need to go, a poem is there, waiting for you. In addition to the poems, events are held every night in various reading spaces, featuring local Vermont and New England poets. I’m still thinking about the event I went to: a poetry/music mash-up performance by the group Los Lorcas (comprised of poets Partridge Boswell and Peter Money and guitarist Nat Williams). In the spirit of Federico Garcia Lorca, the performers fused spoken word with song in an eclectic variety of pieces, ranging from blues, rock, folk, jazz. Thanks to Peter Money, I also learned what a drone poem is. (Hint: where the narrator’s point of view is that of a drone hovering over a city, seeing life lived in little pockets of individuality below).

Serendipitously, Poetry Month also collides with our craft module class taught by Matthew Dickman. He’s assigned us brilliant collections of poetry and other writings, based on the topics of Grief/Mourning, Violence, and Love. Each of these topics are perhaps the most human of qualities, and yet it’s astounding how stilted our conversations in class can feel, due to our inability, or rather discomfort and lack of practice, engaging deeply in these topics. Which is partly why this class is so essential! Through our readings, we explore the work of writers who also have a difficult time writing about the challenging topics that can so easily become banal and cliched, but who do so with such fiery innovation and eloquence.

Our reading list includes:

  • Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes
  • Book of Hours by Kevin Young
  • The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
  • Vice by Ai
  • Eros the Bittersweet by Anne Carson
  • Fort Red Border by Kiki Petrosino


I’ve also recently discovered Frank O’Hara this month. Not sure why it took me so long, but I am hooked. I even started copying down a few of his Lunch Poems on paper to tape up in my room. I also could watch this acrobatic video of O’Hara at work on repeat for days. I mean, who else could type up a poem while talking on the phone and talking to a camera for an interview? Oh, Frank, let’s go to the pub so I can buy your ghost a beer.

More poems await me now. Tomorrow, my class is off to Boston for the weekend. We have plans to meet with a few godly literary journals and presses (Agni at BU, The Harvard Review at Harvard, and Black Ocean Press). Maybe when I return to Vermont, spring will remember itself. The poems, though, will continue to bud.