Thursday, June 13, 2024

Look, Mom! "We made the cover!"


I wrote and submitted this piece to the Association for Gravestone Studies in December 2021. For various reasons, it was delayed until now.
Mom was admitted to Memory Care in fall 2022 but she still shared stories about this trip and would have been thrilled to see the story of our trip to see the grave of the Greenbrier Ghost in print. She passed this April.
She had worked at a newspaper and knew the importance of the printed word and storytelling. She would have yelled, “we made the cover!” 🪦🖤👻

Monday, April 29, 2024

TLAN Virtual Salon

TLAN's Virtual Salon of April 7, 2024. 
Seven TLAN members -- writers and poets who use written, spoken, or sung word for personal and community transformation -- share their work. After the reading, there is an artist talk-back for questions and conversations with the audience. For more about TLAN:

Friday, April 12, 2024

Illumination Series at The Poe Museum

Join me Wednesday, May 8th to hear about The Souls Close to Edgar Allan Poe: Graves of His Family, Friends and Foes.

Tickets to the event

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Poe-it Like Poe Poetry Reading event by The 6 Degrees of Edgar Allan Poe

More details about the TLAN Virtual Salon!

Please join us this Sunday, April 7 for TLAN's 2024 Virtual Salon! Register to attend for FREE here:

This event will feature TLAN members, who all use the written, spoken, or sung word for personal and community transformation. TLAN members have incredibly generous spirits, and oftentimes their work in the community overshadows their personal writing and accomplishments. We are excited to provide a venue to feature TLAN members' artistic work to the general audience.

The Virtual Salon is free and open to the public, and will take place online via Zoom. 
After the reading, there will be an artist talkback and time for questions and engagement from the audience. 

You must register if you would like to attend: a Zoom link will be sent to all registrants the day before the event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Presenters include:

  • Emilee Baum:  Emilee is a researcher and writer based in Atlanta, GA. A former chair of the TLA Network, she was introduced to TLA at Goddard College where she completed her MA in Embodiment Studies. She is continuing her studies in Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. Her book The Agency of Bliss was published in 2012.
  • Chad Gurley: A poet and artist. After witnessing the tragedy of 9/11 and the trauma of violent loss, Chad began writing poetry and short stories to promote peace, hope, and understanding. "Though a poet and artist, I am foremost an Advocate for Love, for Love is the one thing that buoys my life above all the currents of its bad."
  • Autumn Konopka: Autumn Konopka is an award-winning writer, a runner, and a trauma-informed teaching artist. A former
    poet laureate of Montgomery County, PA (2016), Autumn’s poetry chapbook a chain of paperdolls was
    published in 2014, and her debut novel Pheidippides Didn’t Die was released in 2023. "I write serious things, but don't take myself seriously." 
  • Tanya Lewis: Tanya Lewis loves words and playing with language. She believes authenticity and imagination are superpowers. Her creative work includes poetry and Moth-style true stories. Recently she has been immersed in exploring ways in which poetry and reflections on word meaning can support trauma recovery. She is committed to using creativity to inspire, empower, and uplift. "I am a courageous extroverted introvert, a seeker, and a recovering perfectionist committed to exploring life with a joyous open heart." 
  • Oyah!: A Transformative Language Artist, Soothesayer and Inspirational Speaker whose words and rhythmic voice provide an easy road to travel through the difficult stories she tells.
  • Sharon Pajka: professor of English at Gallaudet University. She is the author of Women Writers Buried in Virginia (2021) and The Souls Close to Edgar Allan Poe: Graves of his family, friends, and foes (2023). "My writing combines my love of words and the stories of those who came before us."
  • John L. Swainston: Poet, TLAN Board Member, retired Finance Executive, College Adjunct Professor, and Army Veteran. "I never imagined that I would embrace the title of “poet,” but writing and reading poetry as well as studying the craft of poetry and connecting with other poets has become the mainstay of my life."

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

TLAN Virtual Salon

Join me on April 7, 2024 (5pm ET) for the Transformative Language Arts Network Virtual Salon! I'll be reading my poem, "The Cemetery Kitten's Meow" about the cat family living in Shockoe Hill Cemetery. 

Want to watch? 

Registration is FREE and open to anyone, not just members of TLAN. 

Register for the Virtual Salon.


Not familiar with the Shockoe Hill Cemetery Kittens and Cat Momma Situation, check out this post: 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

World Storytelling Day- sharing one of my favorite storytellers

Today is World Storytelling Day and I don't have much of a voice for an oral story (re: allergies) so I am sharing two posts from Elizabeth, A Suitcase Full of Books, who is a a librarian/archivist turned literary traveler. I love her videos because she takes viewers on a journey. She recently won GoTraveler's Next Travel Star Contest. Her work shares her adventures with literary inspired travels. 

Below, I have included one her posts about haunting/ visiting authors' graves and another collaboration we had. Go check out her work! 

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Novelist and Travel Writer Blair Niles

The Daily Item (Lynn, Massachusetts)

15 Apr 1959, Page 6

Novelist and travel writer, Blair Niles was born as Mary Blair Rice on June 15, 1880 in Staunton, Virginia. She was educated at home by her mother. As a teen, she attended the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in Massachusetts and later the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. 

In 1902, she married but we're going to skip over the details since she would later divorce him in 1913 on the grounds of cruelty. 

While she was married, she went on numerous scientic expeditions to Mexico, Venezuela, Trinidad, British Guiana, Europe, Egypt, Ceylon, India, Burma, Borneo, China, and Japan. She co-authored Our Search for Wilderness (1910). 

After her divorce, she married Robin Niles and briefly worked as a New York delegate to the Congressional Union ofr Woman Suffrage.  She would become a renowned travel writer in the 1920s with her new approach to travel writing called "the human travel book" where Blair Niles would link contemporary culture with the past through the exploration of history, traditions, and legends. 

In 1925, she founded the Society of Woman Geographers. 

She wrote for numerous magazines. In 1926, she published Black Haiti: A Biography of Africa's Eldest Daughter, a story of the largest slave revolt in history led by Toussaint L'Overture.  In 1928, she published Condemned to Devil's Island, the fictionalized account of the escapes of René Belbenoît, a prisoner on the Devil's Island penal colony in French Guiana. And, in 1931, she published Strange Brother, a compassionate portrayal of gay men in Harlem.  

She authored eighteen books with seven of them as fiction. She received numerous awards including the Constance Skinner Award, which is now the Women's National Book Award. Blair Niles died on April 14, 1959 in New York. She is buried in a family grave in Lakeview Cemetery in Blackstone, Virginia. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

January 18 Hanover Tavern Speaker Series: “The Souls Close To Edgar Allan Poe”

Saturday January 6th, 2024 Pop-Up Book Fair and Meet & Greet at Hatch Local Food

Pop-Up Book Fair and Meet & Greet 
Saturday January 6th, 2024 @ 12:00PM - 4:00 PM 

 Signing books and chatting with folks at a casual meet & greet. 

Grab lunch and some signed books to support local business and authors! Location: Hatch Local Food Hall 400/414 Hull St Richmond VA 23224