Thursday, November 8, 2007

Public Apology about Shelfari Invitation

I can't get my flaming cheeks to stop.

I am so sorry about the Shelfari invitation that got sent out to my ENTIRE address book. There were two buttons: One under those few people in my address book who were already members... and one under the rest of my address book who were not members.... I intentionally did not invite those people who were not already members. Or so I thought. I did not think Shelfari would send to the second list when I clicked the list for the above group.

I was sent repeated reminders from the "service," so to avoid that happening to all of you, I have deleted my account.

I am mortified beyond belief.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Latest Accomplishment

My most recent accomplishment was re-designing a website for novelist Charles F. Price.

I'm not done yet, but the basic site is up. Granted, I'm no professional and I just use Netscape Composer (a free wysiwyg) and the stripped down Adobe Elements to create graphics... but I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

Price's most recent book Where the Water-Dogs Laughed has just been nominated as one of the 6 potential books for the Together We Read program in Western North Carolina.

The other nominees are:
  • My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams
  • Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
  • Boone by Robert Morgan
  • Anthology of Western North Carolina Poets by Together We Read
  • The Hills Beyond by Thomas Wolfe

Voting Ballots are at local bookstores and libraries... and the public also may be able to vote on the TWR website, though that option is not available yet. The 2008 pick will be announced at their December 2 gathering as the final gala for Lee Smith's On Agate Hill.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Books I've Read

In the last month I have read the following books:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 331 pages
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 627 pages
Signs in the Blood by Vicki Lane 370 pages
and part of How to be Your Own Literary Agent by Richard Curtis
about 200 pages of it

That adds up to 1,528 pages in a month!
I haven't gone on a reading binge like this for a while. 50 pages a day. Now then, I suppose I'd better stop and write something myself soon.

Next on the list:
Vengeance on the Sweetgrass by Charles Price
(a yet unpublished manuscript)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Featured Poet for October!

You have to scroll down a bit, but I am fortunate to be included on the Poet Laureate's page of featured poets for October. See the NC Arts page here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This weekend is the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival and I'm neck deep in it:
  • I will be on a panel with Katey Schultz and Dot Jackson about getting published. Not that I know much more than the beginnings of that.
  • Also, I'll read my own work in a session of local women writers who have all lent their writing talents to promoting the literary festival: Janice Barnett, Alessa Lemming, Susan Bell, Katey Schultz & Bethany Rountree.
  • Most exciting is the Saturday morning (8:30 ack!) session with Charles Price, Loy McWhirter, Eliza McWhirter & Bruce Greene in which Charles and I will read selections of poems from a wide variety of well know Appalachian writers. Interspersed will be traditional music sung & played by Loy, Eliza & Bruce. We went through our "set list" and the flow is really amazing. It will be a treat just to perform with them.
  • I also get to be the "Mistress of Ceremonies" for the Saturday evening banquet and introduce Glenis Redmond -- which makes me really excited and nervous at the same time.
I can't believe the time is almost here!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Kakalak Reviewed by NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer

"The 2007 Kakalak: Anthology of Carolina Poets introduces its issue with lines from Allan Wolf's poem, "The Poet, Not Content with the Ballet of Raking Leaves":

The poem

now left alone, turns into a bird, lights on a high branch

performs a dance, causes the bare autumn tree to bloom.

What better way to open the second edition of a journal devoted to North and South Carolina poetry? This year's judge, Peter Meinke, selected three winners from a final field of twenty, which editors Richard Allen Taylor, Beth Cagle Burt, and Lisa Zerkle winnowed from more than 800 submissions. Anyone who ever thought being an editor is a cakewalk needs to think again! The three winning poets, Steve Lautermilch, Allan Wolf, and Rebecca Warren, have excellent work in the issue, to be sure, but I myself was drawn just as strongly to Kathryn Kirkpatrick's "News from Midlife," Britt Kaufmann's "Corn," Hilda Downer's "Wiley Coyote Takes T-Shirt Inventory," Roy Jacobstein's "Invocation," and Catherine Carter's unforgettable "Vegetable Drawer, Black Mold, " written for poet-friend Mary Adams. The final poem in the anthology, Mark Smith-Soto's "Things Sweeten Toward Their End,” is one of the collection's best, and closes out this gathering with the frisson that all good poetry generates. (I still remember how the hair on the nape of my neck danced when I read young poet Emily Smith's poem, "Interview with the Past," in last year's anthology.) This book contains many poems that will sweeten the reader's day, including some by special guest contributor Alex Grant, who won the Kakalak 2006 Poetry Prize. Their work deserves all the readers they can get.—K.S.B. "

from the Poet Laureate's Page (here)

Did you see that part where she said she was drawn to my poem!?! That made my day/YEAR!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

WNC Woman's Writing Conference

I had such a great day at the WNC Woman's Conference Women and Words that I could go on and on and on about it. But most importantly I told some women I would post some of my resources that I used to develop my session "Reading You Own Work Aloud." Well, actually, I told the one woman who attended that session that I would post it.

Shoot. If I were faced with a choice with hearing Kathryn Stripling Byer or myself speak, I sure wouldn't choose me!

However, I really learned a lot finding and reading the following articles:

Probably the most helpful thing I learned from all the reading and preparing is the audience wants you to do well. Why? Well, for lots of reasons: they want to enjoy themselves, they want to feel like they've made a good decision to come hear you, they want to have a one-of-a-kind never-to-be-repeated experience. They don't want to be nervous for you nor do they want to hear you diminish yourself or apologize for anything.

As an extension of that, the audience wants to know they are important to you--that you care about them. And if you can make them feel that way, you buy that much more time, they cut you that much more slack, they'll listen that much longer... You can show this by something you say at the beginning, or by really taking the audience and the occasion/location (specifically) into consideration when you choose your poems/prose and plan the duration of the reading.

I could go on and on (since I had a two-hour presentation planned). But I know the average attention span for an on-line surfer is 8 seconds... and I've exceeded that already!

Friday, May 4, 2007


... and here Matt has linked to my blog and I finally get around to thanking him, and giving him credit for the photo below...

I hope better late than never applies in this case!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Reading on April 1

No Joke! I was asked to read as a part of Malaprop's "Poetrio." (Brilliant name, eh?) I was the representative "local." Left to right: Susan Meyers, Me & Susan Tichi.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I have found I have reached a new point in my "career" where it would behoove me to list events.

Women and Words is a one day conference in Asheville that I have been asked to participate in.
I'll be giving two sessions: one called "Getting up the Gumption" and the other is a workshop about how to read one's own work in public. For more information visit WNC Woman's website.

Also note that women who register can sign up for 15 minute sessions with NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer!

Friday, April 6, 2007

New Blog

I have posted a few of my old blogs from my old account, but am making a fresh start of blogging.

from December 2005 - "Eve's Night Out"

Last Friday night was Eve's Night Out (a local open-mic (mostly) poetry reading).It was such an amazing evening, I must go on record about the group and the several factors that make this an exceptional reading. First, it is only for women's voices. Men are encouraged to attend, but they may not read. If this seems exclusionary, it is not intended to be hurtful. Rather, the emphasis is on this being a safe place for women to speak their minds/hearts/souls. The fact that this reading is just for women has been very healing, nurturing, and empowering for many who attend.

Second, most women have worked through The Artist's Way which sets the tone as one where each voice, no matter how divergent, is supported -- every creative attempt, encouraged and lauded. This atmosphere is critical and there are few other poetry readings where it is so evident.Third, this is just a reading. There are no critiques, but there ARE compliments - genuine ones. This is not a "pat ourselves on the back and tell each other how great we are" group that pumps each other full of hot air. However, when someone does read something literarily exceptional, you can be sure she will be praised. When a woman writes her own healing and closure into a poem, you can be sure she will be affirmed for doing so. When someone opens her mouth and sings some divine melody (or one rendered in a quavery thin whisper), you can be sure we will hummmm along and sing her praises when she is done. If someone would write something truly terrible (which we don't believe happens), we see the gem in it.

The last thing that makes this group exceptional is the fact that we are located in the middle of nowhere - in a county pop. 16,000 sandwiched between two counties pop. 18,000. Yet we draw women from an hour away who drive winding mountain roads because we are so well fed by the positive energy of the evening. We leave inspired to write and to be kind.

Five months ago I was honored to be asked to co-host Eve's Night Out. I hope I do the evening/energy justice. The group has provided me so much inspiration and confidence that I am utterly indebted to it. I am completely dependent on it too. It spurs me to write (I must have new stuff to read each month). It inspires me to write (I get such good ideas from the women who attend). And it validates my work, because finally, I have an audience (it is not just my chicken scratchings).

The first night I attended, I knew something inside of me had shifted -- that I was on the right track to finding and using my voice.

I love the fact that the Eve's Night Out women have dedicated themselves to writing a peace poem a month. The fact that we always start late because we are so busy chatting with each other. The fact that we stay late continuing those conversations. The fact that all this takes place in an independent bookstore that we support.

Long live Eve's Night Out. Be well, all you women who have ever attended.

from December 2005 - "Love Stamps"

One of my favorite parts of the day is when I sneak out of the house for forty-five seconds, run down the slope of my drive, cross our bridge over Jack's Creek, and get the mail. (If I run, I get a teeny-tiny bit of exercise and the children are unlikely to come to much harm in so short a time.)

Every so often, among the bills and junk, I get one of my SASEs back from some literary journal. I can recognize them instantly because they were once tri-folded, have a return address label in the center, and bear a LOVE stamp in the upper right-hand corner.

Each submission I send out now has a SASE with a LOVE stamp. These LOVE stamps are reserved for the mail I'll be getting. Any stamp will do for the actual submission, though I prefer the pretty & unusual ones.

As I jog back up to the house, tearing the envelope open, the stamp reminds me - regardless of the news I receive, I loved myself and my work when I sent it out. Each time I send out another submission and affix that LOVE stamp, I remind myself again.

It takes time. Every good and published writer has a stack of rejections and persevered with self-love, rarely self-loathing.

I have begun my stack.

from November 2005 "On Writing Poetry - Part I"

I am overly competitive. To a fault. Part of the problem was that this trait served me well while in the academic world: I excelled in the classroom and received a lot of praise for my accomplishments. And despite a late start, it propelled me in athletics. I was not the most skilled player, but I sure wanted to be and I wanted to win. Still do.

I struggled, because of my competitive nature, with my husband’s continuing education once I had graduated from college. After four hard years of study, he finally finished medical school. People would ask me, “What does your husband do?” And I would reply, “He just graduated from medical school.” I couldn’t actually call him a doctor. What, like he was smarter than me?

I’ve come around on this by now, six years later. But I still struggle with my own identity. Especially since I am not currently employed and stay at home with my three children (the ages three and under). I don’t want “mother” to be my only identity because it sets me up to only find value in myself based on their “performance.” (But this is another diatribe for another day.)

This summer, at a 4th of July picnic, I was introduced to a friend of a friend. “What do you do?” another picnicker asked her. She replied matter-of-factly, “I’m a poet.”

I was floored. She claimed it. Outright. Granted, she does have a book of poetry published and is the editor of a literary journal. (See Maria Tabor at and Homestead Review.) But still.

Even though I have yet to land a piece in a magazine or journal deemed “literary,” I have had a few things published. I co-host a local women’s poetry reading. But I still considered myself someone who wrote poetry, not a poet.With the modeled example of Tabor, and the 12 step program outlined in The Artist’s Way, I began the work of changing my self-perception, and the language I used to describe myself.

So, this summer, when I was taken with sudden urge to have a business card, I followed the whim. I bought the perforated sheets, designed the layout, printed them out, and keep them in my wallet. (I have even handed a few out – with plenty of sheepish giggling.) But I put out there, in ink. I claimed my identity because I want grow into it, just as much as I am it now:

Britt Kaufmann
@home mother

from November 2005 "Skeptical of Soapboxes"

While blogging has its merits (predominately calling attention to news/causes/events ignored by the popular media) the fad of blogging has yet to reveal its merits to me. Nonetheless, I find myself joining the ranks.

The blank page has always drawn me. I would create stapled books of reject green and white striped computer paper for myself to write “novels” in when I was 10. I’d buy notebook after notebook, journal after journal, and later, reams of computer paper. So the allure of a blank screen and a supposed audience is not surprising.It is the perceived audience that is troubling.

When teaching high school psychology a few years ago, I know I ran across a phenomenon common among preteen and teenage girls that described them feeling, and subsequently behaving, as though they were always being watched – like an audience followed them. (I don’t remember if this was in Reviving Ophelia, the psychology text, or in one of the countless articles I clipped and photocopied for the class.) It was almost like they were the stars of their own Laguna Beach – their own reality show. But that was just at the beginning of the reality TV show boom, and I can only imagine this self-as-star notion has continued.I can even remember snippets of this from my own experience as early as elementary. As I completed everyday tasks, I would narrate out loud, imagining I was one of those cool kids on ZOOM. The nature of adolescence itself typically places a teen in the middle of two maelstroms: the one swirling about him/her externally and the one somersaulting through his/her insides. Both lend themselves simultaneously to self-importance and self-doubt. I was no exception.

All this comes to mind as I embark on blogging.I have a real fear about self-absorbtive blogging. Even as I type this, I am imagining an audience who cares about what I write as much as I care about writing it – and that is a farce. I pretend I will be “helping” people, but underneath, I am more largely aware that I am self-promoting. I am building the soapbox on which I will stand and proclaim my twisted version of the truth.Always leery of self-publishing, I recognize that the essence of blogging is editorializing with no editing – no one to answer to, no one to fact check you (which is ironic since blogging has been a great tool for fact checking our current presidential claims), no one to help hone a piece to its essence.

So, to begin this blogging endeavor, I feel I need to state my skepticism for the record. State it to remind myself not to fall into the lure of self-aggrandizing. State it for my imaginary audience, so that you too will know I am aware of the fallacy of you. State it so that if someone does stumble across this they know I know the sheer nature of blogging sets me up for a false sense of self importance. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Addendum: I will note that my friend, Katey Schultz, who convinced me to start blogging does use this blogging as part of her daily writing practice to find her style and hone her voice. She has done so quite well, and I’m very proud of her for logging her 100th consecutive day recently. Unlike I predict for myself, she has done a good job of avoiding the pitfalls I will become trapped in.