My first book of poetry– What Changes and What Stays the Same

Happy End of 2014! We’re all getting notices from WordPress, facebook, and twitter about what we’ve done this year, and the notices have provided me with a good reminder to make my own meaning that’s not curated by an algorithm.

10687252_10153350688483502_1711150883098955763_oIn November, MG Press published Autoplay, my first book of poetry. It was amazing to see this book in print, especially to see the kickass cover that Jeff Pfaller designed and to have some beers with the inestimable editor Robert James Russell, and to celebrate my book launch at Ann Arbor’s fabulous independent bookstore Literati. Other amazing things: poets I highly admire devoted their time and thought to writing awesome blurbs. Thanks to  Marianne Boruch, Keith Taylor, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Christine Butterworth-McDermott, Alex Lemon, Matthew Olzmann, Nate Pritts, and Mary Biddinger for their generous and smart words. Some reviews are coming out, and I’m looking forward to reading them as well. It is a surreal experience to hold your own book, to read from it, and feel it so clearly separated from you.

I’ve been long out of an MFA, and had long-ago outgrown the strange notion I had when I was 22 that publishing a book would radically change my life. Part of the joy of this book coming out was the confirmation that most things keep going like the already are. I started working on Autoplay several years ago, and since then, I have another poetry collection and a short story collection pretty much finished, wrote and abandoned a novel, and am in the midst of writing another novel now. During all this writing I’ve had lots of life changes, the biggest being I bought a house, had a child, and became a widow at the age of 36. Writing has been a constant companion to me through these changes. It has never asked me to prove myself or work harder (things I tell myself too many times every day). Instead, writing has assured me, that wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I can pick up a pen or open my laptop and choose words. Choosing words to write for yourself is always an act of agency and freedom. It is a celebration of connecting the external world with an internal one. It is a hope that it will make a bridge to a place we need to go.

I know that writing doesn’t always feel like that. But I think the best companions in life are often ones who, even when we take them for granted, remain steadfast until we are able to quiet our own bullshit and pay attention more mindfully.

Love, Peace, and Writing in the New Year,

Julie

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