Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Meet Writer, Editor and Awesome Person: Robin Stratton. I think you'll like her!

Sometimes in the course of shameless self-promotion and trying passionately to get your work seen by someone, you meet a person who stands out and becomes an ally. Robin Stratton has been such a person for me. I like her writing and I like her spirit of encouragement. She made an authentic connection with me through my work and continues to collaborate and support me. (Notice how when I asked her to write about herself, she starts out saying nice things about me!)

I asked Robin to say a bit about what she does and here is what she had to say:

"Renee, thanks for the opportunity to participate in your new blog. Isn't the internet great for promoting the writing community? I just love it.

To fill people in on our history... Renee submitted two wonderful pieces to my magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, and I snapped them up and they appeared in our summer 2010 issue. Next I reviewed her amazing chapbook, If There is a Center No One Knows Where it Begins. Renee, as many of you know, is not just a gifted poet, but she's lively and fascinating, and I knew I wanted to stay in close contact with her. When my second chapbook, Interference from an Unwitting Species was due for publication, I asked Renee to write a blurb for the cover, and she said yes right away. I absolutely loved what she wrote - writing a blurb isn't easy, it takes a lot of skill... you probably don't know this until you've written one! Anyway, here's what she wrote:

“Stratton's collection is a feast of engaging narration that illustrates the absurdity of the human predicament, yet never disregards the reality of heartache. With a bit of wit, quirkiness, courage and vulnerability all rolled into one, these poems tackle the matter of mortality. Her words are 'unafraid of the black, unpredictable night' as she explores the unexpected, unknown and transitory quality of life.”

It's no wonder I was thrilled with it! Interference from an Unwitting Species was such a departure from my first collection, Dealing with Men which everyone called "sassy" - a description that flattered me because it was exactly the voice and tone I was going for as I navigated my way out of one very long-term relationship (13 years) into a new one. The new guy was the complete opposite of the old guy, and it was like learning about men all over again... the rules of the game, and where to draw the line between trying to impress him and staying faithful to your own personality. As someone who has been tethered to one boyfriend or another pretty continuously since college, it's sometimes hard to maintain an identity that isn't who I am in relation to a man. Dealing with Men was my attempt to strike that balance. Interference, on the other hand, was written during a tumultuous year as I neared age 50, both parents were battling cancer, and one of my best friends was dying. It was also around that time that I was getting in touch via Facebook with people from the Wilmington High School class of 78, and I was fascinated by how different everyone's life turned out from what we all expected, and reminded me of how I lost touch with all Best Best Friends as soon as they got married. Interference is sort of a coming of age collection that I actually sent to my mom before publishing it to see if she thought it was too sad! But she, like Renee, felt that the humor throughout kept the tone upbeat.

But my true passion has always been writing novels, and I was thrilled to finally sign a contract in January with Blue Mustang Press for my book On Air. Having self published several books (back in the early 90s, long before anyone had even heard of the internet) I know what it's like to have cases of books that you can't sell. And even though On Air is being published by a reputable company, the task of promoting it lies with the writer. So I started a group on Facebook to track my steps as I come up with ideas to get the word out. My hope is that writers can use it as a tool to help them sell their own books. I also think that having to report on what I'm doing will motivate me to keep coming up with ideas. If anyone reading this would like to join, I would love to have you! The name of the group is On Air by Robin Stratton... the dumb thing is, you can't just join, you have to contact me and ask to be invited. I think we have to be FB friends, too, but I'm not sure. But certainly all are welcome!

Okay, everyone go back to your writing. Thanks, Renee, for letting me stop by!"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Upcoming Cyanotype Workshops with Heather Leavitt Martinez

Spending the day at Willow Tail Springs with Heather Leavitt Martinez was a highlight of my summer last year. I attended a Botanical Cyanotype Workshop she taught and it was my second experience with her in using the process of ultraviolet light and water to expose and develop photographic images. Cyanotype was the first print out process in photography and as an amateur photographer, I feel at home with it. It feels impossible to mess up (since Heather has the supplies ready to go) and the process is so fantastically interesting and engaging to produce that with each one I gained further insight into what I could do next. Heather's integration of the local landscape gives the work a place-based and organic quality. We spent time collecting plants, flowers and found objects to expose using treated paper, glass, sunlight and water. I was intrigued that this simple process could elicit continuing creativity from participants. People became more and more enthusiastic as their idea of what was possible to produce with this medium kept evolving. It was a day of shared inspiration, fun and relaxation.

I highly recommend the upcoming workshop. Peggy and Lee of Willow Tail Springs are wonderful hosts. The day begins with a tour of their amazingly intact Juniper/Pinon forested land, lush gardens (including a bowling ball collection that doubles as garden sculpture), and handcrafted buildings and artist studios. Their aesthetic and love of the southwestern landscape will seep into your bones and ignite your creativity just by being around them. Heather is a fine teacher and her humor and energy are contagious.

Beginning Botanical Studies:
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011

Advanced Film and Toning
Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Featured Article on Suzanne Tyrpak's Blog

This week on her blog, author Suzanne Tyrpak featured a short article I wrote about writing poetry and also my first poetry chapbook.

Suzanne is an inspiration in terms of indie-author savvy. Take time to check out her new book, Vestal Virgin, sure to be a great summer read.

Suzanne Tyrpak--Who's Imagining All This?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

FutureCycle Poetry

I have two poems published by FutureCycle Poetry.
You can read, comment, like and share them.

I like that these two are published together. I like their contrast.
Click here to go to my bio at the site.
Or go straight to Behind the Wind and Restless.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

SW Colorado Arts Perspective Magazine Articles

(photo by Heather Leavitt Martinez)

Here are links to two of my articles published by a local arts magazine out of Durango.

The first is about my experience with SOMA bodywork, which is deep tissue work in the Rolfing tradition.
"Reshaping the Body in Collaboration", SW Colorado Arts Perspective Magazine.Winter, 2010

The other is about the photography of Mark Montgomery (he also took many of my portraits featured on this site).
"Mark Montgomery: Juxtaposing Land and Figurative Image", SW Colorado Arts Perspective Magazine. Fall, 2007.