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Category: Involved in the Arts

My Reading with Write Night! Next Up: Dinosaurs.


Last night, I had the extremely great opportunity to perform as one of the five Selected Readers for Lit Literary Collective’s Write Night in May, organized by Krista Cox and Ultreia, Inc.

Thank you, to Krista and Lit Literary and everyone, for having me. I haven’t read in over a year, and I needed it; the company was great; and my fellow readers were excellent.

Here are a few photos from my little sliver of the night, taken by my wonderful friend, Jenn Adams. Thank you, Jenn, for being there, and for taking these and a video.

And thank you to my friends, Jonathan Adams and Joe Eggleston, for also being there and supporting me. You all make me laugh, and you make me feel more deeply, which is what this whole big artistic world is all about.

Next up in my little world of reading: dinosaur poems in Chicago. Stay tuned!!





My Dumb Heart


                —To my fellow Benders, I threw on my grief.




is open wide and overflows with water. How I manage
to stay alive is beyond me. I like to think that I am more

than a wallflower, that others see something in me, that the love
I feel swells out in swarms, but sometimes I wonder what good

that will do—after the apocalypse, what will be left but a swarm
of beetles—what but exit signs, laundry, and dirt,

my sadness like a cloth underneath—still present and wet
with earth and never clean again, never reflecting

sun or moon or teeth quite like the first time. My sadness goes
with me like a cloud. My sadness rides around with me

in the backseat. It wears a black cape and snakeskin boots
that click down afternoon hallways. It trades, sometimes, for

feather-duster wings when it is a she and she
is in the mood for forgiveness. She eats chocolates by the handful

and offers them over silently. Every time
they taste like tears, because they were not meant

for someone like me, and yet
I try them, because there is a persistence

to them. They bring out the hope in me. I look up, like moon, and I think
that is what I love most about her. Every time she trades

for her wings, she keeps those snakeskin boots.




Dear Emily—


Hope is the thing with feathers.


Here is a truth: I thrive
on hope. But yet, here is another: if you fill

a pillow with feathers, I cannot sleep—
I wake in the middle of the night,

heavy-chested and warm, throwing off the dark
as if it were a spare blanket meant

for the shadow sleeping
in the spare room. I will not lie to you,

I am lonely; I am restless; I dream
that others will recognize

the potential in me like a cloud. You prod
at that hope in me like a swarm of bees.

But when the winter comes, let me throw on my grief
like gloves because my hands will be frozen anyway—

without them, I will not be able to write you letters,
and how sad would that be, how sad your grave

would be without all these folded sheets
of paper—but really, how sad

I would be without you. Dear Emily, how I
have turned back to you

in the fog—


—for Kelcey Parker Ervick’s Letter to Dead Authors exercise at her reading yesterday at LangLab


National Poetry Month Goals!!


Hi everyone!

I hope everyone was able to get out and enjoy the first day of spring a little bit yesterday. It was about 40 degrees here, with beautifully crisp air. We wound up barbecuing out with some friends, so it was a great time. It gave me a chance to pause, and to think about my writing life a little bit, too.

I haven’t really had the chance—or given myself the time—in the past to plan for National Poetry Month, but since I have ten more days, I thought now would be a good time to make some commitments!

First, I’m going to get back into the swing of posting a poem each day. That has been a really fun venture and one that I haven’t stuck with as well as I had originally hoped. So April will be a great time to recommit!

Second, I’m going to do NaPoWriMo and write one poem per day, BUT I’m putting a special twist on it—I have started a blog called “April and May” to invite writers to attempt to write one poem per day throughout April… but if they can only write every other day, or every few days, they’ll have May to make up for it. So I’m hoping to write a poem per day, or every other day, throughout the months of April and May, and I am inviting other writers to do the same.

And third, my largest plan is to review one book of poetry per day. It’s a big venture, and my reviews may not be QUITE as long as usual, but they will be as detailed. If any writers would like to take this challenge up with me, or if anyone would REALLY like to see their book reviewed during April, please be in touch with me (this would also be a great opportunity to get some author interviews in!).

Thank you all for your support! I can’t wait to hear from some of you, and to see your writing popping up around the web! Until Later, All Best ~ from me.




Black & White Poetry Jam This Weekend!

Black and White Poetry Jam

Hi everyone! I have a great event to share with you! This Saturday, right before the Bowl, is the Black and White Poetry Jam at the Potawatomi Greenhouse Conservatory, right across the street from Indiana University South Bend, backed up against Kids’ Kingdom.

Here is all of the information I have on the event, as it is distributed on Facebook:

“The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences are those which create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them.” -Walter Lippman

Do you find yourself questioning why some things are dubbed as ok while others are not? Do you ask yourself “who cares” or “why is no one addressing this” when seeing the news? Are you one of the few who is not afraid to speak out or simply listen about the many injustices happening in our world? If you answered yes to any of these, then the first ever South Bend Black and White Poetry Jam is where you need to be at. On February 6th, 2016 from 8:00pm to 10:30pm at the Potawatomi Conservatories, 15 local poets will perform poetic pieces on injustice. We will gather to change opinions, broaden minds, push boundaries, and overall escape the herd of sheeple so many of us have been sucked into. It’s time to paint a Black and White picture and address the elephant in the room.

– Free Admission
– Ages 21+ only (*ID’s will be checked at the door*)
– Open Bar (Please be prepared to tip the bartender)
– Dress to Impress: Semi Formal, Black and White colored attire
– On-site photography
– Donations towards the event and preceding events accepted (Please contact Jamelle Beavers or Allison LaPlace)
– Sponsorship opportunities available (Please contact Jamelle Beavers or Allison LaPlace)

If you’re looking for someone to hang out with for the evening, look for this girl with thick, wavy brown/blonde hair and a black dress. Hope to see you there!




Poetic Donations! #poeticdonations


Hi, all! The holidays are upon us, and for many of us, so is the winter chill (with or without the snow yet), and I have an idea just in time for the holidays that could be beneficial to everyone!

Contact me, either over on Facebook or at mcklynntozan (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will write and send you a poem, for you or a loved one. You can specify the title you want, the theme, a line you want in it, who the poem is for, anything! Within 24 hours, you will have a nice, new poem to savor or give away.

Here’s the catch, though: When you request a poem, I will ask you for a monetary donation. Of any size. It can be 5 cents, it can 5 dollars, it can be ANY amount, and all of those proceeds will be donated at the end of December for meals and winter coats and warm clothing for families in need.

I have included the original flyer below, which is already circulating on Facebook, as well as the hashtag #poeticdonations. Please help, please share, please donate; it’s for a good cause.

Thanks, all! All my love and warm wishes, this holiday season and every season.

Until Later ~ Best, from me.


Poetic Donations FLYER




Tracey Knapp Reading at IU South Bend Tomorrow!


12122559_461467290703448_6840164226149637173_nHi everyone! Just in case you haven’t heard, poet Tracey Knapp will be reading at IU South Bend tomorrow night at 7:30pm on the Bridge on the third floor of Weikamp Hall. She will be reading from her first full-length collection, Mouth, published by 42 Miles Press, and there will be books for sale and cookies after the reading! This is FREE and open to the public!

Tracey Knapp reading!
October 22, 2015
Weikamp Hall
3rd floor Bridge
Free and open to the public!

And if you haven’t yet read Tracey’s book, there’s still time! You can purchase it here, or read some poems here, or read my review here.

Also, if you are available this evening, Tracey will be visiting David Dodd Lee’s poetry workshop for a discussion and Q & A. This is also free and open to the public, so please come and join in on the conversation! This will be in Weikamp Hall on the second floor, room 2170.

Tracey Knapp Q & A!
October 21, 2015
Weikamp Hall
2nd floor, room 2170
Free and open to the public!

Again, tonight at 7pm for the discussion, tomorrow at 7:30 for the reading. And I also will be bringing something really awesome and poetry-related to sell after the reading, so be on the lookout for that, too! (Details to come…)




Remembering Herbert Scott



                    —after the painting by Richard Diebenkorn


I’m walking east down Lovell in Kalamazoo
in the middle of the afternoon, and it’s hot, July
something, and there’s a man sleeping on the sidewalk—
the way you would in your bed—his body a kind of Z
in a fancy serif font, the curlicue of hands
beneath his head at the top, and the toes of each foot
curved to comfort the other, at the bottom. At first
I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, his skin
the color of burnt iron, a darkness alcohol finally brings.
I remember him from months before, a couple of blocks
west of here. He leaned against my car and wanted
to borrow money, a loan. He wanted a ride to South Haven
where he could get the money to pay me back.
His voice had that desperate familiarity that says:
You know me. You must want to care for me.
I think I gave him something, not much, and drove away.
I couldn’t forget his face, murky with solitude,
like the hard red clay in Oklahoma where I grew up
that won’t grow anything—everything lost to erosion
that brings such desolation you can’t survive.
I thought he wouldn’t survive more than a week or so,
but here he is, and when the cops arrive they know him,
call him Billy, and he’s still alive, maybe
for the last time, and they pick him up.
I head east again, turn left into the cool museum
where I lose myself, sometimes, where I find you
sleeping where I’ve seen you before, paint streaming
around you like water, gathering in the shallows
of your dress. I am always surprised to see you.
I don’t know. Are you flesh, or water? if I move
you will disappear in a startle of color.
The gallery is almost dark—those new-fangled spots
that keep the viewer anonymous—but your face turns
toward me from the crook of your doubled arms,
all about you an unemcumbered sway, an intelligence
of light explicit as a summer evening. Deer quietly chewing.
I balance, in the shadows, between.


Herb Scott_The Other Life Selected Poems of Herbert Scott_David Dodd LeeThat is easily my favorite Herb Scott poem; it is the one, when asked, or when I think of him, that I turn to. My first exposure to him was through The Other Life: Selected Poems of Herbert Scott, edited by David Dodd Lee. I devoured this book upon its purchase, and read it again and again, before entering the MFA program at Western Michigan University. Since attending WMU, and volunteering and working at New Issues Poetry and Prose, I have realized the impact one poet can have on a literary community: the friendships, the press, the poetry, sharing the word; he was one of the hinges on which everything ran. I never met him, but my praise for New Issues is never-ending, and his poetry continues to startle me. He challenges me as a poet, and as a member in this community; it’s a gift I wish for all other poets, all other writers, as long as there are literary communities.

Herb, today would have been your 84th birthday. It’ll never be enough, but I like to think turning to your work, raising a glass of white wine, and thinking about what I can do in the literary communities I touch to make them better, I’ll be able to do a fraction of what you’ve done, and continue to do.

Happy Birthday, and happy memories. Cheers.




Tomorrow!! At the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts!!


Art Hop Second Sight Insight IIEveryone! Wonderful news: I have plans for you for your Friday night!

As a part of the Greater Kalamazoo Art Hop, the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts will be hosting a reading for their art exhibit, Second Sight/Insight II, which is in its second year of ekphrastic pairings.

Back in October, poets were encouraged to submit their work for consideration to be a part of this exhibit; and upon selection, they were paired with a local artist’s piece, which they then needed to create a poem from by the beginning of November. The Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts now houses the fruits of their labors (myself included), pairing on the walls the original artists’ works with the poets’ literary renderings (like the one shown above with artist Jay Seeley and poet Marion Boyer!).

Friday evening, from 6:00pm-7:00pm, some of these poets will read their poems from the exhibit and offer a few thoughts about their ekphrastic process. I will hopefully be there to read my poem, “For My Doppelgänger,” and to talk about its pairing with Flo Hatcher’s A Box with a Sky Window. Needless to say, I am extremely excited!

Hope to see you all there! It’s a really wonderful and beautiful exhibit!




[Spoilers] It was Awesome!: The First Edition of Playground Ink


I am always so impressed at how talented my friends are. As I mentioned in a previous post, the first edition of WMU’s new student organization of playwrights, actors, directors, and other theatre artists, Playground Ink, has been running its first set of plays for the past two weeks, with the final of four shows produced today. WMU Playwriting MFA-candidates Cara Beth Heath and Jeremy Llorence presented new one-act plays, which I’ve included synopses (no spoilers) for below.

Cara Beth’s one-act play, “On Age, Aimlessness, and USB Ports,” emphasizes our over-involvement with, and extreme reliance on, the technology we use—particularly, our smartphones (for those of us who use one). The play centers on the very well put-together Alison, who is trying to plan a (very lovely) lecture, the frazzled undergraduate student Sage, who is trying to use Google Maps to find a building on campus . . . and Sage’s smartphone, who apparently can do next to anything but load Google Maps today—and who also tremendously enjoys launching into song in response to, really, any key words (just think about the potential there for a minute, okay?). Through hilarious antics of cueing music, changing languages, and seeming to have a mind of her own (as our smartphones sometimes seem to), Sage’s Phone reminds us of the side-splitting results of our over-involvement with technology, while Alison challenges us to rely more heavily on our own abilities, our minds, and leave technology for the harder stuff. Though light and comical, this was a very smart, very well-written, even poetic-in-places, play.

Then, to following up with a more somber tone, Jeremy’s one-act play, “This Place is Death,” explores drug addiction and getting clean. Using this as a foundation, his characters then muddle through the difference between drug administration for the purpose of fulfilling addiction and the administration of “medication” (still drugs) to cure addiction. Through the always-beautiful split-scene technique, we watch as Tank moves between being administered a brand-new, not-yet-FDA-approved medication that is supposed to cure him of addiction without any of the nasty withdrawal side-effects and his existence on the streets with his similarly-addicted friend, Cliff. As the play continues, we are reminded of the importance of motivation and how having an agenda can later destroy our careers, our families, our goals, even our lives as a whole. A dark play, to say the least, but one that is extremely thought-provoking and feeling and leaves us wondering about the differences between drugs and medication, who is administering them and why, and what implications that may carry for us personally.

Both of these plays were spot-on, intelligent and thought-provoking; and it was such a beautiful day to see them done. I absolutely cannot wait until the next edition (coming at the end of September)!

Again, if you’re interested in getting involved, please read the program information I’ve included below this nifty image gallery; it includes a little info about the organization, who to contact to get involved, and where you can get more information!


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And here is the info from the program, in case you can’t read the picture!




Written by Cara Beth Heath
Directed by Alex Langmesser

Dramaturg—Nick Thorton
Alison—Marissa Harrington
Sage—Sarah West
Sage’s Phone—Emily Mckay



Written by Jeremy Llorence
Directed by Phil Vasquez

Allison—Anica Garcia-DeGraff
Tank—Micah Hazel
Jasmine—Sarah West
Cliff—Aaron Rutherford


Special thanks to Steve Feffer


Playground Ink is a Registered Student Organization dedicated to collaboration between WMU writers and theatre artists. If you would like to get involved, please send an email to and You may also check us out on Facebook.