Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer in the City

Natalie Holland -- Poetry Music and Art

Much to my father's chagrin, I've been away too long. So I figured a few short tidbits about what I'm working on and thinking about this summer should appease him (and anyone else who might check in). But the real work (poems!) and the real love (music!) are still in full effect in all this July heat. Here are just a few things I've been doing/seeing/feeling for the past few months:

  • I fell in love with some albums and I've been thinking very seriously about writing a post entitled "Why Pharrell's album GIRL is more Feminist than BEYONCE and Just as Good." But I didn't want to start any more unnecessary beef because I love them both--space, rockets, flaws and all. I will say that I might decide to revisit this in the future because so much more needs to be said.

  • Like everyone else (Beyonce included, I hope), I was glad to fall madly in love with Adichie and her Americanah (what a brilliant way to get lost) this winter. Since then I've been stalking her craft interviews and especially love  her outfit, hair (and if you've read the novel you know it's okay to be obsessed with these things as well) and commentary in this one

  • In the meanwhile, I'm looking for other great books and albums to get lost in this summer. Right now, Sam Smith (fyi: if you haven't heard his haunting arrangement of Whitney's "How Will I Know?" yet, please do yourself a favor and check it out here) and Big Brotha' Doug Kearney  have my attention for the next few weeks, but we'll see what other good things the summer brings. Hope yours is fruitful and bright!

Until soon (relatively speaking, of course...)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Class at The Muse -- Writing Across the Lines: Poetry Exploring Race, Culture and Ethnicity


Well, the new semester has begun and I am rolling for fall. The good people at The Muse Writing Center in Norfolk have invited me back to teach another original course, this time on race, culture and ethnicity. There will be all kinds of open discussion, fabulous work to explore and new bridges to build when we embark. And shouldn't we be building these bridges already??? Just the last few months (not to mention the last few hundred years!) in this country (not to mention the world!) tell us this is so. It's only four weeks and everyone is invited (Come one, what have you got to lose?) Please sign up for the class and join the conversation if you can. Here are the details:


Writing Across the Lines: Poetry Exploring Race, Culture and Ethnicity

We’ve all heard that we are meant to be moving toward a "post-racial" America and society at large, but where do we find ourselves right now? In the age of Obama, Trayvon Martin, the Arab Spring, codeswtiching, revolution and appropriation, race still informs much of what we find in the news as well as how we think about ourselves and each other. How have writers in the past examined race, culture and the tensions that exist between the ever-ready factions? What type of new questioning is being undertaken by contemporary writers and what is still being left unsaid? In this workshop for advanced poetry students, we will explore the works of various poets and writers (James Baldwin, Nawal El Saadawi, Sharon Olds, Tony Hoagland, Major Jackson, Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Jehanne Dubrow, Amy Chua and many, many others) who dare to wrestle with the tension and historicity of race as well as write and discuss our own poems that help define who we are, how we came to be formed and what continues to shape us across the color lines.

Sundays, 4-6:30 p.m. (bi-weekly)
a 4 week session beginning October 20

Instructor: Remica Bingham
Open to: poets with some workshop experience
Meets: October 20, November 3, 17, December 1
Session cost: $155 ($145 returning students)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Muisc Lovers Get This Book...

So, I sometimes wish there were endless hours to read (kind of like that scary Twilight Zone episode right before the poor man's glasses break) but, as a late, I rarely have time to read a book in a few sittings. This week, though, I read ?uestlove's new memoir, Mo' Meta Blues, in 24 hours. I could not put it down. The layout is strange, the way I described it to one of my students is it's kind of like Nelson George meets Junot Diaz. Part-narrative, part-email  correspondence, part-footnote interjection, the book is as much about improvisation as the best music is. I also have an affinity for passion that spills over into nerdiness and complete devotion to craft, which pretty much sums up who ?uestlove has turned out to be. He's a musical mastermind, of course, but just a fierce, intimate lover of music as well. He's like a quasi-R&B/Hip-hop/Neo soul encyclopedia and he's made me return to my own stacks in search of some of the nuances I loved and have missed (Prince's Housequake and D'Angelo's The Root are in heavy rotation this morning).

I'm working on revision today. Still hammering out pieces for a newish manuscript called Starlight and Error (I read a few of the new poems from the new manuscript at the Library of Congress a few weeks back, listen to the podcast here). Much of the work takes its cue from the music of my life, so ?uestlove delving into the crates of memory and melody was right on time. If you're a music lover or just like to hear an obsessive mind recount the multi-layered brilliances of his obsessions, get your hands on the book ASAP.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Thanks so much to Kiala Givehand for tagging me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Here are my responses:

What is the working title of your book (or story)? Starlight and Error

What genre does your book fall under? Poetry

What songs would be in the soundtrack for your book? The book really takes all of its cues from musics, so this is just a partial list:

East River Drive -- Grover Washington, Jr.
If It's Magic -- Stevie Wonder
Fast Car -- Tracy Chapman
All At Once -- Whitney Houston
Lonely Teardrops -- Jackie Wilson
Missing You -- Diana Ross
Adore -- Prince
I Want to Spend the Night -- Bill Withers
Some Nights -- Fun.
That's Why They're Beautiful -- Beyonce
You Bring Me Joy -- Anita Baker
Round Midnight -- Chaka Khan
Music and Me -- Michael Jackson
Baby Be Mine -- Michael Jackson
Love Is Stronger Than Pride -- Sade
Be Good -- Gregory Porter

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Starlight and Error is a book of love poems that spans my life, my parents' lives and the lives of other lovers who've taught me.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'm looking to find it a press/home.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Four years and counting

Who or what inspired you to write this book? My husband and my children

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? It's the most autobiographical book I've ever written and it's not nearly as melancholy as my other work. It's part homage and part mirror.

My tagged writers are:

Nicole Hardy
Patricia Smith
Joel Dias-Porter

Click the links to find out about their Next Big Things!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spring Readings!

Well, the What We Ask of Flesh Book Release Party was a hit (despite the rain and snow) and now we're off to the races. If you couldn't make it to Norfolk for the first event, I hope you'll be able to make it to one of the readings I have set  up for the spring. Here are the details:



What: YSU Poetry Center What We Ask of Flesh Reading

When: 7:00 PM

Where: McDonough Museum of Art, Youngstown State University (YSU)

Cost: Free and open to the public

More Info.: YSU Website


3/7 -- BOSTON, MA

What: Carolina Wren Press and Etruscan Press AWP Off-site Reading with L. Lamar Wilson, Tim Seibles and Lee Ann Brown

When: 6:00 PM

Where: Church Restaurant, 69 Kilmarnock Street, Boston, MA 02215

Cost: Free and open to the public

3/17 -- WASHINGTON, D.C.

What: Sunday Kind of Love Reading with Jericho Brown

When: 7:00 PM

Where: Busboys and Poets, 14th and V streets

Cost: $5

3/28 -- NORFOLK, VA

What: Spring Writing Conference, Alumni Reception Reading

When: TBA

Where: Old Dominion University Main Campus

Cost: $20 conference registration fee

More Info.: Conference website



What: Tidewater Community College (TCC) Literary Festival

When: 7:00 PM

Where: TCC Portsmouth Campus

Cost: Free and open to the public

4/18 -- NEW YORK, NY

What: Cave Canem/NYU New Works Reading with Roxane Beth Johnson and Colleen McElroy

When: 7:00 PM

Where: Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, 58 West 10th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

Cost: Free and open to the public

More Info.: NYU Reading Series

I'm looking forward to seeing folks on the road!

Friday, January 25, 2013

"Won't You Celebrate With Me" -- What We Ask of Flesh Book Release Party, Sat. 2/16

The time has finally arrived for the debut of my second book, What We Ask of Flesh, and I'm having a little book release bash on my campus to celebrate. I'd love to see all of my friends and family there, so please drop in if you can. Here are the details:

WHAT: Book Release Party

WHEN: Saturday, February, 16, 2013 from 3:00 - 5:00 PM

WHERE: Old Dominion Univeristy Village Bookstore, 4417 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508

INFO.: Please come and bring as many guests as you'd like (yes -- friends, children and significant others are invited too!) to share music, laughter and words with us in celebration of the release of my second book, What We Ask of Flesh, forthcoming from Etruscan Press. If you can't attend the party but would still like an autographed book, simply order from my website and I will mail your copy to you ASAP.

To promote the book's release, Etruscan has posted my author Q and A on their website and an excerpt from What We Ask of Flesh including Patricia' Smith's bang-up introduction, so please visit Etruscan Press to take a look. Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fast Animal Nominated for a National Book Award!

                When I was 16, I moved clear across the country to help mend my grandmother and find a new way a being. I loved books more than boys and bought dozens of old paperbacks at thrift stores near my grandmother's house. I spent hours in her back room or in my Aunt Carolyn's bay window  discovering princes and poets, humanity's horror and happenstance. This is the way I found Tim Seibles. His book, Hurdy-Gurdy, fell into my heart and hands and I was hammered by its deft music. I remember, so clearly, reading the poem "Trying for Fire" sitting up in my bed and feeling a little faint, a little dizzy. My head was blaring, heart banging, I couldn't breathe. I'd never had that kind of reaction to anything (the closest visceral, gut reaction before then had come from music), certainly no book, and I'd read plenty by then--many that I loved beyond telling--but none moved me like the work of Tim Seibles in that moment.
                Years later, after I sought him out and followed him (and a boy) to ODU then weaseled my way onto his advisees list so I could sit in his office and marvel once each term, he told me I was a poet, and that this poet's life was possible, even in a stark and dire world. He sent me to Cave Canem (praise be), then to Bennington, then eventually back to Etruscan Press. He has colored so much of the timeline in my life and I am so grateful to know him this morning and know that now (finally) a great many others will love his fire, too. He is, indeed, a Fast Animal, a brilliant mind, an open eye and heart.