Sabbatical Roundup

The new academic year is here, and I’m excited to return to the classroom. The 2014-2015 academic year was productive and restorative, as I suppose a sabbatical year should be. Writing-wise, I finished my fourth collection of poetry, Cold Pastoral, and am incredibly fortunate that Milkweed Editions will be publishing it in early 2017.

I also completed a novel and have begun the process of querying agents about it. I’ve been blessed with lots of amazing fiction-writer friends (Bri Cavallaro, Chloe Krug Benjamin, and Jesse Lee Kercheval, to name a few) who are assisting me as I navigate the entirely new world of New York publishing.

I spent Spring 2015 as the visiting writer at Bowling Green State University and had the opportunity to work with talented students and faculty.

In addition to all of that, though, I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to spend time at home. I mean, the house is (relatively) clean and I’ve cooked (!!!). I even managed to spend time canning this summer. Spending time with my children this summer has also been fun, especially after a semester spent commuting between Wisconsin and Ohio.

Confession: I also read a ridiculous number of “fun” novels under the pretext of furthering my understanding of where my novel-in-progress fits in the current (commercial) literary scene. Best research ever.

So, sabbatical was great. But returning to the classroom and a regular routine is equally enticing. I just need to stock up on the ever-elusive dry erase markers before the school year begins…

New book forthcoming from Milkweed Editions

I’m thrilled that Milkweed Editions will be publishing my fourth collection of poems, Cold Pastoral (a.k.a. “the oil spill book” for those who’ve heard me talk about the project over the last couple years). It’s different from my other books in its focus on environmental crises, and after having spent time in the Gulf region interviewing those impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it feels gratifying to know their stories will make their way into print. Given Milkweed’s commitment to publishing environmentally transformative literature, as well as the wonderful experience I’ve had working with them on Glass Armonica, I feel incredibly lucky to continue working with the press on Cold Pastoral.


I just officially signed and mailed in the paperwork: I’ll be the Spring 2015 visiting writer at Bowling Green State University. Spring has only arrived in Wisconsin within the last couple weeks, so I am trying to avoid thinking of next winter but I am honored, delighted, excited (all those good things!) to get to work with BGSU’s students and faculty next year.

A Happy New Year

I can’t believe we’re already in January 2014. I am full of more resolutions and projects than I will have the time to complete, but it also promises to be an exciting year. I’ve settled on the resolution to take more pictures — so many fun and ridiculous and beautiful moments slipped by this year, unrecorded. (And my daughter is someday going to wonder what happened during her toddler and preschool years, given the dearth of photos!)

Of course, I already forgot and/or took dreadful pictures yesterday while celebrating. Highlights: I baked bread and felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Big Woods, and then went to a New Year’s lunch at Jesse Lee Kercheval‘s (where I had to literally saw my bread out of the pan, since the melted cinnamon and sugar had glued it into place…).

Here’s Judy, though, having a lovely time.



My name in lights!

I just got back from my book launch reading in Minneapolis at Open Book — the team at Milkweed Editions is amazing and it was great to meet everyone I’ve been corresponding with over the last few months. I also got to meet Maggie Bergeron of Bergeron & Co, who will be producing a dance version of Glass Armonica.

Open Book has a marquee, as well, and one of the wonderful and hilarious highlights was seeing my name in lights. Probably the one and only time that will happen for me as a poet, and I got a kick out of it.

name in lights


I was so excited yesterday to get to read the blurbs for Glass Armonica. I’m incredibly honored that G.C. Waldrep, Nicole Cooley, Scott Cairns, Cate Marvin, and Joanie Mackowski all wrote for the book.

I’m also delighted to report that the writing isn’t being compared to sewing and other elegant female arts. They’re like magma and shrapnel, unsettling and lens-shattering. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Interview up on Milkweed’s blog

Glass Armonica Cover

Last month I exchanged questions with Patricia Kirkpatrick, author of Odessa, and now our answers to one another are up on Milkweed’s blog. It was a fun exercise, and it was great to get to know Patricia and her work better.

Here’s a highlight from the interview:

“I remember Mark Doty saying in a talk that the longer you can stay underwater, the farther you can see in the dark. He also said that the best metaphor for a poem’s first draft is a file folder because you can stuff anything in it that might be relevant. I once heard Tess Gallagher say the way a poem comes to you might not be its final form or order but to let yourself write down the poem as it comes. You can always change it.”