Anthology Update!

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I’ve been busy at work, compiling and editing poetry and prose for the Cupertino community anthology, Celebrate Creativity. The book is over 300 pages of poetry and prose from local poets and writers. It’s been an honor to compile this beautiful collection of community voices.

The book’s release date is set for February 27, 2020.

On this day, we’ll celebrate with a launch party at the Quinlan Center in Cupertino from 7pm – 9pm. This will also be the date we celebrate the end of my term as Poet Laureate and welcome the next Cupertino Poet Laureate.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us at this fun-filled event! (More details to come in January.)

Celebrate Creativity will be available in both Kindle e-book and paperback.

The Kindle version is available for pre-order effective today. If you select this option, the book will automatically arrive on your Kindle on the release date. Paperback copies of the book will be available to order from Amazon on February 27, 2020. While you cannot pre-order the paperback, I will update if the release date moves up.

In the meantime, enjoy the winter holidays and have a wonderful and safe New Year!

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Poetry Workshop Wonders: List-Definition Poems & Defining Home

This afternoon, I had the privilege of spending time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people: a community creativity workshop.  This October and November, I’m leading my last Lunch Hour Language Artists Workshop Series as Cupertino Poet Laureate.

Perhaps it’s because the end of my term is drawing near, or perhaps it’s because the group of attendees at these workshops never fail to inspire and humble me, but I find myself looking more and more forward to each session.

46R4BWGDYUI6NJK7YYP2B6SSAQThe theme for LHLA 3 is “Poetry of Place.” In the first session, we wrote about our childhood homes. Today the focus was on finding and defining home, and I introduced the concept of List-Definition Poetry — a form I made up that combines the list poem and the definition poem.

I structured the workshop so participants would consider the juxtaposition of “Home Then,” and “Home Now.” I like to join in during writing time whenever possible, and I was amazed by how my brainstorming around “Home Now” centered on the people I’ve met and worked with during my time as CPL and how much I’ll miss hosting these community events.

I feel truly blessed to have had my life touched by so many amazing people and their moving poetry. I can’t wait to see where the poem I started today leads as I continue to work on it over the next few months.

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At the start of our writing period, the group and I brainstormed words and phrases related to the concept of “Home, Then and Now” to generate ideas for our own List-Definition poems. If you weren’t able to join us, you can use the same concept as a poetry prompt!

I thought it would be interesting to turn our brainstorming lists into a poem using every word and phrase generated.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Then and Now

Then we were fearless
running in clean air
with the outside cats
through mustard yellow fields
playing with the neighbors
on rope swings in fruit trees.

Then we were joyful and safe
in our backyard adventures
our trust in friends expansive
jumping from diving boards
into swimming pools.

Then we were playful
trudging through white snow
splashing into cedar hot tubs,
seldom lonely and only
sometimes confused.

Now we are isolated
amidst the tall green spires
in a sea of dusty earthquakes,
suffocating in politics
and exhausting chaos.

Now our expensive empty nests
feel claustrophobic and tiny,
leaving us alone but safe
in our book-filled havens.

Now, as then, we find love and gratitude
hidden in Sunday dinners and boba tea,
waiting between cracks on the sidewalks
and countless cars parked on freeways.

Then and now we are Cupertino.
                                                            © 2019 Kaecey McCormick

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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

SUBMIT YOUR WORK!If you live or work in the South Bay or Peninsula area, consider submitting your creative writing for inclusion in this community anthology! This is a chance for the many varied and beautiful voices of our community to come together. I would love to include pieces in other languages with English translation.

If the work you submit was inspired by a CPL event or program, let me know!

EVERYONE is welcome to submit — kids, teens, adults, new writers, and established!!

Check out the flyer below and email with questions!
Deadline is 9/30.
No more than 10 poems or pages of short prose pieces.
Previously published is fine (include the relevant information).

Email your work to poetlaureate@cupertino.org

First Lines

This week, I had the privilege of spending 90 minutes with sixteen fabulous poets from the community at my Nature-made Poetry Workshop. We explored nature through an up-close and personal lens, and then from a distance. I was humbled by the beautiful poems that were shared with the group at the end of the session.

Before we started writing our own poems, however, I had everyone participate in a warm-up exercise called “First Line.” In this exercise, the first line from an existing poem is provided, and the poem is then passed around the table with each poet adding a subsequent line.

Like our nature exploration, this exercise has the poet first focusing narrowly on the line that came before, then from a distance to take into account the whole of the emerging poem. What resulted from each group was a meaningful poem, which you can enjoy below.

Interested in trying a workshop?

Come join me on Wednesday 8/7 from 12:00-1:30PM in the final Nature-made Poetry Workshop. You do not need to have attended the previous workshops to join in the fun.

And don’t forget to RSVP to the Nature-themed Community Poetry Night happening on Thursday 8/8. Details and tickets available here.

Enjoy the sunshine and the natural world in its summer state!

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WARM-UP “FIRST LINE” POEMS FROM 7/31/19 CPL WORKSHOP

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Nature-made Workshop Group Poem A
after “Packing” by Sampurna Chattarji

I put in a butterfly, first
and a drop of cherry juice
watched its wings turn the color of sunset
in the blazing sun
brushed with the flowers of the clouds
its wings carried it through, to the heavens
and beyond
into my dreams from which I woke
and rose through the day, butterfly

 

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem B
after “Replication of Desire” by Lee Herrick

How much delight before we collapsesilhouette photo of couple standing outdoors
Thoughts tumble as I grapple with my heart
Hearts expand, smiles abound
We strive to connect to all
Give me ten more seconds, I’ll survive
When you tickle me unconscious

 

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem C
after “California Hills in August” by Dana Gioia

I can imagine someone who foundphoto of person walking on deserted island
a redwood growing in the desert
kelp rising up from a bed of fern
stood there stricken with awe
color, dry sand, green and alive
on this planet, I can thrive

 

 

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem D
after “Beauty is brief and violent” by Snehad Vadher

Beauty is brief and violentflour
Punching a fist in the flour that will be cake
A splash of strawberry icing has lent
Its sweetness to the chill of celebration
Family gathers around and sings, and sings
Until hoorah explodes and the crowd ebbs

My new chapbook, Pixelated Tears, is published!

I’m excited to share that my chapbook, Pixelated Tears, is now available from Prolific Press. Here’s the postcard:

Chapbook Announcement - Pixelated Tears

And here’s the press release that went out this weekend:

https://www.prlog.org/12734824-prolific-press-has-published-pixelated-tears-by-kaecey-mccormick.html?embed

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via My new chapbook, Pixelated Tears, is published!

Collective Poem: Building a Voice Together

Yesterday, at Sonic Boom, the first session in my Sound and Sense workshop series, our warm-up exercise was to collectively write a poem. Each participant contributed one line, but to ensure some cohesiveness and pattern we voted on three things each line must have: each line had to begin with “You,” contain a type of weather, and showcase a feeling. Each writer then read his or her line aloud, one after the other, and it was often serendipitous in word choice, emotion, and weather.

Here is our collective poem (unedited):

All that You Are

You set me on fire in this stormy sea.
You, my dear storm-torn sea,
abcdeplease show me the joyful white tops of your waves.
You look so blue; could it be the last thirty days of rain?
You open summer rains to water my joy.
You make me feel the sunshine when it rains.
You tearfully rain down on my fretful life.
You and your melancholy are the humid summer air,
abcde
choking my love into lifelessness.
You love blustery winds.
You bluster along in a most annoying way.
You look out over the crowd,
abcde
feeling the queasiness that comes before a storm.
You are a drizzle of calm in my fear.
You shiver when gentle raindrops stroke your nose.
You create a hurricane of anxiety in my soul.
You are lost in fog,
abcdefeeling forgotten.

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Lunch Hour Poetry!

The Modern Sonnet ShakespeareI’ve been having a blast running the Lunch Hour Language Artists workshops. Last week, we met for Session 1: Workshop 3 – The Modern Sonnet. I continue to be humbled by the amazing work that participants generate every session, and The Modern Sonnet was no exception.

The sonnet can be a daunting form, so to kick things off and get us in the spirit we broke into four groups and completed a group sonnet. The first three groups each wrote four lines in A-B-A-B rhyming pattern, and the fourth group wrote two stand-alone couplets. We then combined each groups’ work to form an English (or Shakespearean) sonnet. The couplet group listened to the first three sets of lines before choosing which couplet they felt best fit the poem.

It was a fun experience to watch unfold, and it helped the workshop participants loosen up and get into the mindset of sonnet writing (I hope!). If you haven’t joined us for an LHLA workshop, next week is your chance – we’ll be diving into our final form, cinquain!

Lunch-Hour-Language-Artists Sonnet #1

The flickering warmth of a candle light,
a beacon shining through the dark.
The warmth of your hug is my delight
enveloping my heart with your loving bark.
A Valentine, a lacy, red, dripping heart;
I give to you. What will you give to me?
My heart and gifts fill an every-growing cart
that overflows until we make our love into three.
Love is surprising, catches us off guard;
pulls me in undiscovered directions,
blurs my senses, stumbles into my backyard;
hijacks my unrelented affection –
but since I don’t possess a Shakespearean wit
I was not able to finish it.

15 March 2018

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Cupertino’s Sixty Year Sonnet

To honor Cupertino’s 60th Birthday, Jennifer Brown wrote this poem, which was published in the Cupertino Courier, September 25, 2015.

Sixty Year Story & More

You can’t be born or buried in Cupertino—
no hospitals, no graveyards. People come
to our city to work, to go to school, to live
with the likes of us, right here. Weirdly square
on the map, we stand on land both old and new.
Change is great and terrible and never ends.
The creek where first Ohlone stood – now dry.
The apricot cannery corner gone – except
in memory. A father brought his family
to streets where paving over prune trees was
the modern way. Now buildings named for new fruit
crowd the proud roads, green with bike lanes glittering.
60 years of safe and happy homes—
you might just be the coolest city we know.

You can read the article that accompanied the poem, “Telling the poetic story of Cupertino as city turns 60” at this link.

With thanks to Matt Wilson of the Courier for all his encouragement.

 

Cupertino Library Diwali Celebration

On October 24, 2015, the Cupertino Library hosted a Diwali Celebration of song, dance, crafts, and food. Amanda Williamsen and Jennifer Swanton Brown (incoming and outgoing poets laureate) presented two poems, one each they had composed from comments and memories shared by visitors to the Cupertino Library booth at the Chamber of Commerce Diwali Festival the previous weekend. Many thanks to Gayathri Kanth, the Cupertino Community Librarian for inviting us and making us feel welcome.

diwali yellow card 2 diwali yellow card 3

Over 60 people left memories, feelings, thoughts, and drawings about Diwali. Amanda and Jennifer split them up and wrote poems that are complimentary in their style and substance. Here is Jennifer’s poem:

Diwali Voices

Diwali is, Latika reminds, the festival of joy and light,
which makes our lives even more bright.
Meera and her daughter eat lots of sweets –
the new lehenga is orange and gold –
and the henna tickles.
Aditri likes the colorful creative beautiful rangoli

Diwali is the festival of lights,
which even small boys know
celebrates the victory of Rama.
On Diwali, I go to the temple –
Aarav celebrates with family and friends –
Sanyay does nothing and something –
Yash burns firecrackers.

Oh, the firecrackers!
Noopur lights candles,
Kashish puts lights outside the house
and everyone loves the firecrackers
everywhere. On Diwali I light firecrackers –
on Diwali I hold and play with friends
and do stick fireworks –
on Diwali we all fire firecrackers –
At Ria’s house there are 50 candles in the pool!

I feel more in touch with my community –
the lights fill me with warmth –
I study for an hour –
I have fun praying and celebrating our family –
I love Diwali –
I look forward to Diwali –
I call my friends to my house –
I decorate my house –
I celebrate I celebrate –
spreading happiness and love –

On Diwali, I wear a bright green saree
and listen to the voices of Cupertino.

Written with the voices of Cupertino residents from the October 17, 2015 Diwali Festival.

Visit the library in the upcoming months to see the collection of Diwali cards and the poems on display.

Here are some photos of scene on October 24th in the Community Hall. What a wonderful celebration.

Library Diwali Amanda and friends from Amanda Diwali Library 1 girls used Diwali Library 3 altar use Diwali Library 6 program use