before the rain | Owl’s Roost Trail

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” — Aristotle

I set out to check out the Owl’s Roost Trail north of town at Bur-Mil Park. It was grey and chilly, perfect match to my mood and I had a new lens to try. Owl’s Roost is a hiking trail but also allows mountain bikes (I found someone’s fun bike-cam video here that follows the trail.). A couple of times I had to pause and wait for the bikes to pass in fairly large numbers. Pretty cool.

Mid-November and by now the trees have shed half of their leaves. The lake was the color of the sky, a shade of flint or gunmetal, still and sheet-like. (I already miss the lush, warm summer hikes and will until next season. “The green in my eyes.”)

After a little while, a mist began to fall through the thinning tree canopies, down onto the well-worn path. I’d stopped so often to look that I hadn’t gone as far as I thought. With what felt like imminent downpour, and me in just a sweater and jeans and without rain gear, I picked my way back to the car.

Sharing some of the photos here.

Found elsewhere, but related: the Buddha belly tree at Bur-Mil

 

Congratulations to Iman Dancy, 2017 North Carolina Poetry Out Loud Champion

I’ve just gotten back from the 2017 National Finals for Poetry Out Loud, held on April 25-26, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at the Renaissance Dupont Circle and Lisner Auditorium on the GWU campus. What an incredible event.

With Sharon Hill, Arts in Eduction Director at the NC Arts Council, Iman Dancy, Juliet Shepard.

Our North Carolina state champion, Iman Dancy, did an excellent job performing her poems. (“Learning to Love America” and “On Virtue.”) In the regional semi-finals, she made the first cut and had the chance to recite her third poem, “I am Offering This Poem.”

I was inspired to select “Learning to Love America” because it really allowed me to step into the shoes of someone vastly different than me. As an African-American sixteen year old living in twenty-first century North Carolina, it can be difficult to imagine or relate to the experiences of an immigrant mother living in California during the latter twentieth century. But getting to recite Lim’s poem gives me a look into her life that I would not be granted otherwise. I selected “On Virtue” and “I Am Offering this Poem” because the light, positive writing styles (and beautiful simplicity of the second poem, especially) really drew me in. — Iman Dancy

She did not advance to the finals but did an outstanding job in the regional semifinals. For a first appearance at nationals, she held her own with her tremendous talent and poise.  We look forward to many great things from this amazing young person, and also congratulate Samara Huggins, the national winner from Georgia.

Watch Iman recite “I am Offering This Poem, by Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. There are many, many partners who work together to support this transformative program, and the kids who get involved often say that the experience touches so many places in their lives, helps build their confidence and gives them opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

We are already thinking toward next year’s state championship. If you are a North Carolina high school English or theater teacher, consider this worthy program for your students. Read praise for this incredible program, and here’s a handy FAQ to see how Poetry Out Loud can fit in your classroom and lesson plan.  Feel free to contact me with your questions.

 

 

ALL ABOUT BOOK COVER DESIGN with master designer Danny Krawiec

The one job your book cover has — the only job it has — is to sell your book, and in just a few seconds. There are careful considerations to be made in choosing your book’s cover design. Join us this Thursday evening to learn all you can during this FREE and informative workshop and conversation.

Anyone interested in publishing or self-publishing is invited to come and explore the rules of book cover design — and when to break those rules — with master book designer Danny Krawiec, including casual discussion of his designs for Jacar Press and Sable Books, which include three of the four 2014 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame Inductees.  We’ll have lots of ideas, books, and covers to discuss, and if you have questions or have previously published a book of your own, please bring them!  Feel welcome and encouraged to participate in the discussion to talk about design elements, themes, and choices.

Danny’s cover designs include:

Feeding-the-Light-thumb Steal-Away_Shelby-Stephenson widow-poems_betty-adcock  Music-from-small-towns_Al-Maginnes
and-so-she-told-me_barbara-kenyon american-courtesan_ester-amy-fischer how-far-light-will-travel_steve-roberts BDL front cover

JOIN US
This Thursday evening, December 4th,
from 7:00pm-8:30pm 

at the Kathleen Clay Edwards Branch
of the Greensboro Public Library

in the study room

danny_krawiecDaniel Krawiec grew up in Raleigh, NC before attending UNC Asheville for a BA in Interactive Design. Subsequently, he received his Master of Arts in Interactive Media from Elon University. His design work includes logos, identity packages, book covers & interiors, album covers, and websites. He is also a web developer, and has done occasional work in the area of application & interactive systems development. His non-professional creative pursuits include music composition, photography, and illustration.

Women Writers of the Triad Hosts Poets and Open Mic with Tate Street Coffee

GET THIS ON YOUR CALENDAR!3_Wordpress_WWOT_Logo_White

Second Saturday, September 14th, at Tate Street Coffee House, at 7:00pm.

Featured poets are Ann Deagon and Michael Gaspeny. This is going to be WONDERFUL.

Michael Gaspeny won the 2012 Randall Jarrell Prize for “Shore Drive.” His latest chapbook Vocation is available from Main Street Rag.

Ann Deagon

Ann Deagon‘s work includes There is No Balm in Birmingham, The Polo Poems, Carbon 14, and Poetics South. She was named Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for 2011-2012.

After the reading, an open mic follows. Bring a poem, bring a song, or just come and grab a coffee or a glass of wine and listen. We had a huge turnout for open mic last month so space may be limited. Bring your best work and get there early!

Join here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/698475600169186/

On North Carolina’s Moral Mondays, Motorcyclevaginas, and How a Red State Goes Decidedly Blue

(Originally published by The Rude Pundit.)

As much as North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory wanted to rebrand the state, I assume he didn’t mean to have us known as the state of the #Motorcyclevagina.  This fascinating hashtag was born of a bill that was originally written to improve motorcycle safety — but with added legislation in the eleventh hour that would effectively close all but one Planned Parenthood in the state.

Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Moral_Monday_Rev_BarberI have lived in North Carolina for most of my life, and have been attending Moral Monday protest rallies since June 3.  Reverend William Barber, the President of the North Carolina NAACP, is the man behind this movement. The first time I saw him speak, he was in front of a group of about seventeen people gathered who had agreed to go with him to Raleigh to practice civil disobedience that first Monday, April 29, 2013.  Regarding an onslaught of ALEC-sponsored legislation, like cuts in funding that would affect the poorest and most vulnerable in the state, legislation to do away with early and Saturday voting as well as requiring voter ID cards (which ultimately affect minority voting rights in this state above all others), and the imminent repeal of the Racial Justice Act, he said “I never thought I would have to fight for the things my parents already won.”

I will tell you that I was changed after hearing that speech.  I knew I had to get involved, to make my way to Raleigh as often as possible to support this cause.

Fighting for what was already won.

And now suddenly the women of North Carolina are fighting once again for the right to maintain our individual reproductive freedom.  SB353, the now infamous legislation also known as The Motorcycle Vagina Bill will effectively close all but one Planned Parenthood in the state.  Governor McCrory — who, while campaigning for the job he’s holding now, promised to do nothing to infringe upon a woman’s right to choose – has already said he will sign it into law.

I daresay that no one wants to have an abortion.  Should a woman have to make that painful and personal choice, the decisions surrounding that choice are hers alone to make in consultation with her physician.  They are no one else’s business.  Not mine, not yours, and certainly not of a handful of politicians over in Raleigh.

For while they are very concerned with legislating whether or not a woman has the baby, it has become very clear that once the child is born, the Republican party is not interested in any legislation to enhance the child’s quality of life.    The GOP has made cuts in food assistanceearly childhood educationpublic education (don’t even get me started), and limited Medicaid expansion and healthcare.  Talk about your deadbeat dads.

 Separate and apart from abortion, Planned Parenthood offers a myriad of health services to women across the state, and closing them is harmful to a woman’s health, not protective and the Republican party as the bill proclaims.

“I voted for SB353 because I truly felt that it would help to protect the safety of women who choose to have an abortion. If abortion is legal (which it is), then I believe we should try to make it as safe as possible. Due to the fact that abortion is a serious (and sometimes dangerous) medical procedure, I believe it is sensible to require abortion clinics to adhere to certain operational standards (similar to those of ambulatory clinics). Also, because abortion often involves surgery with significant medical risks, I believe it is prudent to require a doctor to be present during the procedure. Instituting these requirements is simply a way to help keep women safe during abortion procedures, and I think that is a worthy cause.”  — Representative Jon Hardister 

 north_carolina_abortion_statistics

Here are some facts for you that render these argument moot:

 Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in the United States. Fewer than 0.5% of women obtaining abortions experience a complication, and the risk of death associated with abortion is about one-tenth that associated with childbirth.  

AND the state’s abortion rate is lower than the national rate — both of which are already on the decline.

(More good information like this at the source.)

IMG_3266The women of this state are not taking any of this lying down.  (Heh.)  E-mails and social media have alerted and rallied women across the state.  Thousands of women AND men braved sweltering heat for last week’s tenth wave of Moral Monday, the theme of which was Women’s Issues.  It was a record crowd for Moral Monday.

After seeing the size of the turnout, I mused to a friend (only half-jokingly) that if the Republicans in Raleigh could repeal a woman’s right to vote, they probably would.  Her response was completely serious:  that with the swiftly-moving proposed legislation to end early and Saturday voting, limiting the vote is exactly what they are trying to do.

I am often asked why I go – why, when nothing seems to be changing, when the state’s Republicans dismiss us and call us names at every turn, and keep right on pushing their immoral agenda through.

 The simple answer is, it is the right thing to do.  I’m in this for the long haul.

 It’s not always easy to get there.  The weather can be brutal.  Conflicts and schedules don’t always cooperate.  But I make it every week that I can.  One thing that always strikes me is that there is no racism on Halifax Mall.  There is no sexism, no misogyny, and no homophobia either.  There is only compassion and respect and love for everyone.  This is the right side to be on.

IMG_3168The next steps for me are to volunteer to help register voters and drive them to the polls on Election Day.

 Governor McCrory continues to brush off Moral Mondays, while his approval rating has dropped 15 points in a single month.  The entire party is starting to feel it, too:  “Unhappiness over the abortion bill seems to be driving a lot of the increased unhappiness with the Republicans in state government this month. Only 34% of voters support the proposal to 47% who are opposed. They’re even more unhappy with the process- 80% think it’s inappropriate to combine abortion legislation with bills about motorcycle safety or Sharia Law.”

 Just today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released their report that put McCrory on the list of the country’s worst governors.

 So thank you, Pat McCrory, Thom Tillis, and all of the Republicans down in Raleigh who proudly declare they are not listening.   The rest of the state, and the country, can hear us just fine.   And you have galvanized the citizens of this state in a way we haven’t been in a long time.

nc_moral-monday-protest Thank you for this movement that brings us together for the greater good.

 Thank you for reminding us that we have to keep fighting for our rights, for what we want and want to hold on to, and be tireless in working to keep it.  For reminding us that there are those who will always want to take it away again.

 We will see you at the polls.

Women Writers of the Triad and Tate Street Coffeehouse announce Second Saturdays

Women Writers of the Triad is pleased to announce Second Saturdays at Tate Street Coffee House, starting in August. Mark your calendars for wonderful evenings of poetry and community.

We’ll have Featured Poets* followed by open mic. Come out and support the amazing talent in the area and have a wonderful evening.

Starts at 7:00pm, goes til about 9:00pm.

August 10 — Featured poets:  Kelly Rae and Jessie Carty

September 14 — Featured poets:  Ann Deagon and Michael Gaspeny

October 12 — Featured poets:  Jaki Shelton Green and Terry Kennedy

November 9 — Featured poets:  Steve Cushman and Jacinta White

*Featured Poets to be announced.

Great literary happenings over the next two weeks in the Triad

Okay, lots of good stuff happening:

Tomorrow is the Soul Collage and Writing Workshop. Judith Behar, Donna Anthony, Kim Goldstein and myself will be facilitating. Cost is nominal. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll put you in touch with Judith.

Monday, June 17, is Monday Night Poetry at the Central Branch of the Greensboro Public Library.

Thursday, June 20, Elaine Orr reads and signs copies of her debut novel, A Different Sun at the Central Branch of the Greensboro Public Library.

Jean Rodenbough is the featured poet at Tate Street Coffee House next Saturday night, June 22, at 7pm. Come out and hear Jean and have a coffee or something sweet. There’s an open mic to follow if you’re so inclined!

On Sunday, June 23, WWOT Critique happens at Deep Roots Market. Sharon Burkitt is facilitating. Thank you, Sharon!

June 25, Andy Irwin’s workshop on Humor, Wit & Storytelling.  Greensboro Public Library, Central Branch,  6:00pm.

 

Whew. I probably forgot some.

Read. Write. Love. Perform. Support the local arts. Be nice to each other.

Love,
m.

Keith Flynn Poetry Workshop Coming to Greensboro

This is a phenomenal opportunity to spend a few hours writing with Keith Flynn and other area writers. Join us for an afternoon of ideas and rhythms to jumpstart the creative process.

Sunday, June 2, 2013, 2:00-5:00pm, Kathleen Clay Edwards Branch of the Greensboro Public Library
Cost $25  | Register at Eventbrite here.

keith_flynnThe photographer, Cartier-Bresson, believed that his lens had to be aimed at the decisive moment, when the photograph was willing to surrender, or when the confluence of events was at its apex. Most professional writers can’t wait for inspiration to strike, or for the abiding image or core theme of the work to emerge.

We’ll use writing exercises designed to spark the imagination and talk about making your work more musical, muscular, and dynamic. Bring a poem to discuss with the group if you like — and you have a chance for publication in The Asheville Poetry Review.

How great is that?

Sponsored by Women Writers of the Triad and open to the public.

Cost: $25

Keith is founder and editor of The Asheville Poetry Review and a tremendous speaker and teacher. His last workshop in Cary got lots of positive response and we are thrilled to have him join us in the Triad!

And don’t forget — you have the opportunity to meet Keith the night before at Tate Street Coffeehouse.  Join us as Keith reads from his latest collection, Colony Collapse Disorder.  Open mic to follow!

Simple (Honest!) SEO Tips for Small Business

First and foremost, your website needs to promote your business in a clear, concise way to attract clients.  But how do they find you?  There is a lot of confusion out there about what makes for great SEO and what doesn’t, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Keep your website clean, keep it simple, and keep your clients’ needs at the forefront.  Your website’s contents should be of value.

Here are a few simple ways to increase your company’s SEO rankings.

    1. Unfortunately, a picture ISN’T worth a thousand words.  At least not with Google and Bing.  Image-rich sites may look incredibly beautiful but the search engine spiders won’t know how to process them or what to make of them.  Keep the images if you like them but please, please caption them well.
    2. Blogging  If you can write a blog about your business to inform your client or offer helpful tips, please do.  Having a blog gives Google, Bing, and Yahoo an extra little nudge each time you post.   Write.  Share content.  Your clients will thank you for it, too.  If you need someone to help you with this task, let me know.
    3. Web videos  Google owns YouTube, so it should be pretty clear why this would be a great idea.  Put together content that best expresses your brand, who you are as a company, and what you offer.  
    4. Maps  Your company address (or addresses), along with a Google map (or Bing, or other) to your location(s) embedded in your site is generally standard practice with most web designers these days.  It moves your rankings up, at least near your physical location(s).  If you are trying to reach a regional or national audience, consider adjusting your web content accordingly with blog posts and videos directed to specific markets that you reach.

Contact me for advertising, marketing, SEO and Social Media strategy.  Located in the Triad but with clients all over the world, we offer services ranging from complete SEO packages and Social Media management to custom-tailored programs to suit your needs.

Melissa I. Hassard
336-937-5319

Your success.  Our driving factor.