12 Winters Blog

Some readings and other literary happenings

Posted in May 2011 by Ted Morrissey on May 29, 2011

The last few weeks have been very busy, both academically and literarily. Besides the always hectic conclusion of the academic year, several creative-writing-related things have been afoot as well. As such, I’ll only devote a few lines to each.

This past week, for example, readings for Men of Winter resumed with a very nice affair at Benedictine University at Springfield, in historic (and haunted) Brinkerhoff Home. A few folks who were counting on coming to the reading had to send last-minute regrets, but otherwise it was well attended as such things go, especially when scheduled after the regular school year has ended. The fine folks of Quiddity planned the reading, and I must say no one does a reading in finer fashion than Joanna Beth Tweedy and the Q staff. Unfortunately Joanna Beth had to be out of town, but associate editor Amy Sayre-Roberts stepped up to host the event, which I very much appreciated.

Then yesterday poet Lisa Higgs and I read at Jane Addams Book Shop in downtown Champaign, Illinois. Lisa read from her chapbook of sonnets, Lodestar, plus some really interesting new work. We were in the shop’s third-floor “Mystery Room,” reading while a noisy thunderstorm moved through the area — a thunderclap or two were serendipitously timed for dramatic effect. On the downside, the weather probably discouraged attendance somewhat, but we had a quaint and appreciative group. Lisa and I don’t have any other dual readings on our calendar at the moment, but we’ll both be participating in Chatham Public Library’s Local Authors Panel June 11, from 1 to 3 p.m. However, we may try to schedule another reading or two before summer’s end.

Speaking of authorial events, I’ve also signed up to be part of Authors Row in Peoria Heights, Illinois, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., sponsored by I Know You Like A Book¬†bookstore. The event is part of Duryea Days.

On June 30, from 6 to 9 p.m., I’ll be participating in Poets and Painters in the H. D. Smith Gallery at Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois. This is a very cool event in which local writers compose original poems based on works of art by local artists they’ve selected. (This event especially deserves more “ink” so I’ll be sure to blog about it further beforehand.)

Recently I also had the honor of showing around town and introducing writer Meagan Cass, who will be teaching creative writing at University of Illinois at Springfield starting this fall. With local commencements and so forth underway, it was an especially busy time, and unfortunately a lot of folks’ calendars were overflowing, but we did have a chance to have dinner with Anita Stienstra, president of Springfield Poets and Writers; and we stopped by the campus of Benedictine University for a nice chat with David Logan, prose editor of Quiddity (among many other duties); we also met with Ethan Lewis, our UIS English Department colleague, at Barnes & Noble for a cup of coffee and a delightful conversation. To say that the local creative community is excited about the energy and expertise that Meagan will be adding is a gross understatement. Read her terrific story “Girlhunt, Spring 1999,” recently published in Devil’s Lake, to get a sense of why we’re so looking forward to her arrival.

In terms of my own creative writing, I’ve completed a draft of my new novel, tentatively titled An Untimely Frost, and have started revising and editing the manuscript, which runs just over 400 pages. I hope to be completed with the revision process by July 1 or so. For my main read, I’ve been enjoying Tolstoy’s War and Peace (after this morning’s reading, I’m on about page 470, out of 1200 or so). My bedstand read, though, has been Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, which I’ve also been enjoying very much. Years ago I skimmed through the novel as I didn’t have time to read it carefully, but now I’m soaking in every word at a decidedly leisurely pace. And I’m always absorbing a few lines now and again out of the Good Book, by which of course I mean Conversations with William H. Gass — America’s greatest living writer.

tedmorrissey.com

Readings in Sherman and Galesburg

Posted in May 2011 by Ted Morrissey on May 1, 2011

I wanted to do a quick post as it’s been awhile. Sundays were always my best blogging days, but in recent weeks Sundays have been among my busiest days, and today is no exception. On April 20 I had an enjoyable reading for Men of Winter at Sherman Public Library. I was joined by my friend and University of Illinois Springfield colleague Lisa Higgs, who read from her newly released chapbook Lodestar. We had a nice little crowd (though one always imagines it might be larger). Timing is always difficult. ¬†The Springfield-based Poets & Writers Literary Forum, of which I’m a proud member, had one event scheduled for April … also on the 20th, so that diverted some potential audience members; and the Cardinals were at home in St. Louis that night, which also siphoned off one or two folks. What can you do? Nevertheless, we were appreciative of those who did attend, and of Anita Walters, director of the library, and the library board for organizing the event.

Yesterday I was at Stone Alley Books & Collectibles in Galesburg, Illinois, my (and Carl Sandburg’s) hometown. It turned into more of a book-signing and not so much a reading, and crowd control wasn’t an issue, let’s say — but, on the plus side, my novel and I got a little exposure, achieved some potentially useful networking, and I got to hang out with my parents for a few hours.

There aren’t any readings planned in the next few weeks, which is just as well as I’ll have my hands full bringing my academic lives to closure, but on May 26 I’ll be reading at Benedictine University at Springfield and am very much looking forward to that event. Joanna Beth Tweedy and the fine folks of Quiddity international literary journal & public-radio program (for which I’m a proud reader) always do a splendid job of hosting a reading. Speaking of which, I’ve been enjoying the newest edition of Q, especially the CD of interviews with Scottish writers and other literary types.

Then May 28, Lisa Higgs and I are joining forces again for a reading at Jane Addams Books Shop in Champaign, Illinois — also a terrific independent bookstore. I’m hoping to get a few other events scheduled for the summer, and a few are in the works, but I don’t have any firm dates yet.

On the creative writing front, I’ve finished a complete draft of my novel in progress, which I’ve tentatively titled An Untimely Frost (I know, I know … Men of Winter … Frost, etc., etc. — luckily Weeping with an Ancient God is scheduled to come out next spring, thus breaking up the whole titles involving winter thing). An Untimely Frost is loosely based on Washington Irving’s supposed courtship of Mary Shelley. Before getting into the revising/editing too heavily, I’m in the process of re-reading the collection of Irving’s letters that I used to develop the novel’s “voice,” plus some other Irving pieces. I’ll probably spend a few weeks reading and note-taking; then in June roll up my sleeves on the revising/editing, hoping to have a finished draft my midsummer — that’s the plan anyway.

Meanwhile, I’m getting antsy to work on something totally new. Ideally I’d like to knock out a few short stories that I could try to have published in journals, and my noodle is brimming with ideas, but they all seem to be novel-length; and I’m beginning to wonder if I can even write a short story. I definitely want to write these other novels that I have in mind, but I didn’t necessarily want to launch into another two-, three-, four-year project immediately. First things first, though … fully finishing An Untimely Frost.

I continue to read and enjoy War and Peace (though I did take a teeny Tolstoy break and read Charles Portis’s True Grit a couple of weekends ago — and it was great fun!). Now onto my busy Sunday. . . .

tedmorrissey.com

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