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Category: Involved in the Arts

Mark Your Calendars! Playground, Ink: New to the Theatre & Playwriting Scene


In the two years I have lived in the Kalamazoo area, while attending Western Michigan University’s MFA program in Poetry, I have been impressed with the level of involvement that is available in the arts—from poetry and fiction readings, to playwriting productions, to plays, to community events, and more.

That being said, there is always room for improvement! Second and third year Playwriting MFA candidates, Jeremy Llorence and Cara Beth Heath, worked diligently this past academic year to establish a greater connection between WMU’s English Department and WMU’s Theatre Department, to offer playwriting students more chances to see their work put on its feet, and to offer acting students more opportunities to work directly with playwrights.

The result of all their hard work is Playground, Ink, a student organization of playwrights, actors, directors, and other theatre artists, established at WMU. Their goal is to produce several student playwrights’ work per month, including short plays and full-length readings. There will also be a final performance each year to showcase the work of those playwriting MFA and/or PhD candidates who are graduating.

The first show will take place in the upcoming two weeks, featuring original ten-minute plays by Cara Beth Heath and Jeremy Llorence, at the following times:

Thursday, 8/28/14, at 11:00pm
Saturday, 8/30/14, at 2:00pm
Thursday, 9/04/14, at 11:00pm
Saturday, 9/06/14, at 2:00pm

These shows will take place in the amphitheater by Dunbar Hall on Western Michigan University’s campus, and the event is FREE and open to the public.

Please come out and show your love, appreciation and support of the theatrical arts. Bring some friends or family members or your significant other! Playground, Ink, is looking to create the largest events possible; and that means great writing, a well-developed production, and a large audience. Looking forward to seeing you there!

STAY TUNED: Once I’ve attended, I will have a follow-up post about this opening event, as well as more information about how you can become more involved in this new organization!!




Mark your calendars! Opening Reception at the Ober Anderson Gallery


Ober Anderson Gallery_Opening Reception_Thomas Patrick HammondNow, I know it’s only five days away, but if you happen to find yourself in Kirkwood, MO., on August 8, 2014, I have an idea of how to spend your evening: attend the opening reception at the Ober Anderson Gallery, with guest artist Thomas Patrick Hammond!

Since I live in the Northern Midwest, I haven’t been to the OA Gallery in person (yet), but I’ve been admiring the work of the artists they’ve included from afar. I originally heard about the Gallery from a good friend of mine who works there as an artist and collaborator, and I am deeply impressed at the progress they’ve made and their inclusiveness. There are truly a wide array of artists, styles and subjects found in this particular gallery—from beautiful portraiture to nature scenes to sculpture to symbolic interpretations… I highly recommend looking through the Gallery’s Artist pages to get a better idea for yourself of the quality they represent.

I adore visiting galleries, because I’m always looking for interesting exhibits, openings, and the like—they’re wonderful. I love watching others become acquainted with the pieces in the show, and I even more greatly value being within a group of people who are admiring, interpreting and discussing new art. It’s extremely refreshing and does wonders for my writing and spiritual life. I think this’ll be quite the show! Go if you can!

Opening Reception at the Ober Anderson Gallery
Friday, August 8, 2014, 6-9pm
101A W. Argonne
Kirkwood, MO., 63122




Insight from a Dreamscape


“One day when I was really pushing through, writing every last word, it occurred to me there is nothing more wholesome than having great knowledge in literature. You are pure, and insightful, and brave in ways you never imagined when you are intelligent in books; and look how much more beautiful you are when you can also be the one writing it all down . . .”


This came to me, in somewhat different form, in the middle of the night, apparently as a quote by Albert Einstein. When I woke, I relaxed, because I firmly believed in that moment that this quote already existed, out there in the world, and that it was generated by none other than a scientist—and how beautiful could it be that someone from a discipline other than English could fathom the beauty of such an involvement with words?

But then I really began to wake up, and the words were going away, and I knew they were mine. So I sat down and kept writing the same sentences over and over again, searching for the exactness of “Albert Einstein’s” observation; and while I’ll never have them back verbatim, these lines feel overwhelmingly true to the originals, and I am happy with them, at peace with them even, and more and more, I realize how beautiful they are.




On Taking a Year Off


It’s about that time again—the act of road-tripping across a series of states, taking large sums of money for a range of books, getting those books signed by authors, seeing those authors read, attending a diverse set of panels that delve into various levels of meaning and importance. . .

This is how I like to describe the AWP experience.

When I was a junior in my undergraduate, I received an invitation in the mail regarding AWP. The front had a mailing sticker with “McKenzie Sanders, Poet.” I was still a Sanders, then, hardly weeks engaged to my husband, and the “comma Poet” made me giddy. While I know retrospectively that the “invitation” was sent because of my subscription to the magazine, rather than my actually being of any real importance in the literary world, I was hooked on the idea of attending this thing. Later receiving an email confirming my beliefs that this would be a big deal, the attending, it was final: I was going.

Because I was young, and because I’d never gone across multiple states alone before, my mother simply required that I have someone along for the ride. Eventually, my then-fiancé consented, and we drove the sixteen hour trip from Northern Indiana to Denver, Colorado—the place I would love to live for the rest of my life!—for the Tuesday through Sunday experience. . . which amounted to driving all day Tuesday, picking up AWP registration materials and exploring Denver on Wednesday, Conference on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (which consisted of my day-long fascination of the conference, followed by an evening spent having dinner with Dragan and, either, exploring Denver or attending a reading), and driving all day Sunday. We still look back as a couple as that trip being some of the six best days of our life together.

That trip was the decision-maker: I went back to AWP the next year, 2011, in Washington, D.C., and again in 2012, in Chicago. While both of these trips were fantastic, there was something particularly special about Denver—perhaps because it was my first AWP, or because it was in Denver, or because, let’s face it, I had my best companion by my side for the trip. But something about the vibe, the excitement, the overall involvement in literature and language, was more deeply woven in Denver, Colorado.

Then there’s the 2013 rendition in Boston, Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, due a range of issues, this will be the first AWP in four years that I will not attend.

I cannot say that I am happy about it, or that I have truly come to turns with the fact that I am not going, yet. What I continue to remind myself of is the fact that it is fairly unlikely that I will be able to attend EVERY rendition of AWP for the rest of my life, but also that missing one year will not automatically result in a rockslide of never-attending-again-itis. There will be more AWPs, under better conditions!

So, for this year of taking some time off, I’ll be giving myself a little retreat, as it were. For the most part, I intend to disconnect from technology—Facebook, texting, etc.—though I will have to check my email every once and again for my students’ needs, and I will probably post here daily, simply for commitment’s sake. Otherwise, it should amount to time for reading, writing, and relaxation. It should be a good, much-needed, writing time.

To those of you out there planning to attend AWP, I wish you all the best enjoyment. Safe travels, and please do read something good for me. Until later ~ Best, from me.




Remembering Art Beat 2010

I’m planning on closing down my other blog, The Ink Traveler, so I can focus on this one and implement some of the more important focal points, such as reviewing and keeping to the plan of writing daily. And then I found this one post on that other blog, and I realized how ready I am for another Art Beat…

August 29, 2010: Art Beat 2010

Today was one of those days when I really got to thinking about that stereotype of writers and artists being bred in the city, while I – hoping to eventually be at least an established poet, if not an artist and writer as well – was born and raised in small town, out-in-the-cornfields-country, settings. While I went to school in the PHM District, while I traversed the South Bend-Mishawaka area with friends, South Bend and downtown South Bend on their own are something new to me. As I sat in a lawn chair under a tent, as I spoke to aspiring writers searching for communities, as I showed children several feet shorter than I how to use a typewriter to add their thoughts to a long and growing community poem, as I read and took transactions for books by poets I know from the university I am being taught under, I looked up and down a typically very busy street of downtown South Bend, filled with bustling and rushing and honking cars, now filled with people walking along peacefully, absorbing the art scene around them that many – or most – of them never see, never have the time to see, never have the initiative to see unless it is placed so conveniently in front of them. I got to thinking about how beautiful a city would be to me if cars were not allowed. What if everyone who wanted to enter the city simply parked their car in this massive parking lot gating the city, rented a bike and helmet (or walked), and went on their journey through the city? Life would be calmer, safer, friendlier, when we are not so impulsive and loud with our horns and rushes through yellow lights, when we simply take the time to walk and windowshop, to make eye contact with a stranger when walking down the middle of a typically busy and gasoline-vapor-filled street, to smile at the simple scene of a cute dog or a small child asking if she can type another line for the community poem, just one more line. These are the beautiful things I saw today at Art Beat, during my few hours I was there. While it may have taken an hour to find parking, while I stayed behind to take transactions rather than watch my professors read their writing down on another street corner, while lines may have felt a mile long to get a hot dog, there were still possitivities within those negatives, and everything else was beautiful. Art for art’s sake. Art creating the beauty it is always stereotyped to create, and art creating the beauty of human beings walking peacefully amongst each other and taking the time to notice the world around them. Now that, my friends, that is beauty. Until later, Best ~ from me.