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Announcing Two New Calendars for 2020

30 Sep

A friend reached out to me asking if I had a new calendar on sale yet. I was so surprised! I didn’t realize people looked forward to them so much. I love creating them, picking a theme, selecting the photographs, and creating new artwork, but I’ve never had huge sales on them (it’s super hard to make any significant profit since it costs so much to print them because of the color photography) so I didn’t think anyone was paying all that close attention to when they came out. After all, it’s still only September!

Well, I’m happy to announce that I now have not one but two calendars for sale for the year 2020!

Hellas is a calendar featuring photographs I’ve taken in Greece. This one is dear to my heart. I create it with my father in mind because years before I began creating calendars, he always wanted me to get him calendars. My first foray into calendar-making began with creating a calendar that I thought he would like. Now I have the pleasure of sharing my heritage with you and other Hellenophiles every day of the year with this calendar!

My Cup Runneth Over is a calendar devoted to those seeking to cultivate an attitude of gratitude throughout 2020. If Hellas was created with my father in mind, then My Cup Runneth Over, with its subtle coffee theme and optimism, is inspired in part by my mother. If you’re into mindfulness, spirituality, and gratitude and are seeking subtle reminders to find the good in each day, then this is the calendar for you.

 

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Experience the beauty of Greece every day of the year with HELLAS, a 2020 calendar. The natural landscape of the Mediterranean comes to life in the rich, colorful photography of Greek beaches, wildflowers, and lush palm trees. As you record your daily appointments in the calendar, the stresses of life will recede like the tide of the ocean. This calendar features US and Greek holidays. On sale now.

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Cultivate a life of gratitude each day of 2020 with the Your Cup Runneth Over Calendar. Each morning as you savor a cup of coffee, take a moment to give thanks. Every day offers a fresh start and an opportunity to practice thanksgiving. By focusing on the things you have to be thankful for, even if some days they may feel like small things, you will transform your attitude and become a more positive person. Your newfound optimism will help you to enjoy the life you currently have even as you seek to improve it one day at a time. Consider these prompts: What are you grateful for experiencing as a child? What friendships are you thankful for today? What do you appreciate about your neighborhood? How can you tell someone you’re thankful for them today? Each day, take a moment to stop and smell the coffee! On sale now.

Have you started planning for 2020 yet?

Don’t forget to mark your calendars with my upcoming events. Find my list of upcoming readings and writing workshops here. I’d love to mark my calendar with any readings, art shows, and concerts you’re involved in too, so drop me a line in the comments section with your upcoming events.

If you’re new to my page and are curious what else I’ve published, hop over to my Publications page to check out my books.

My Q&A with Ifeona Fulani

4 Sep

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Ifeona Fulani is the author of the novel Seasons of Dust, which follows a Jamaican immigrant family over the course of five decades, beginning in 1950, as well as the more recent short story collection Ten Days in Jamaica. She also edited the nonfiction work Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanites, Women and Music. She is the recipient of the Mitchener Fellowship – University of Miami, New York Times Creative Writing Fellowship, Burke-Marshall Fellowship – NYU, and McCracken Fellowship – NYU. Ifeona Fulani is a Clinical Professor in the Liberal Studies department at New York University. She has taught in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Gallatin School, the College of Arts and Science, as well as, the Eugene Lang School, The New School.

At the Festival of Women Writers this September 6-8, Ifeona Fulani will be teaching the writing workshop NOTHING HAPPENS NOWHERE: Grounding Your Story in Place. Here’s a description:

In this workshop we will explore one of the most fundamental challenges facing a writer of fiction, that of setting your story in a place in which your characters and their actions can unfold meaningfully.

Character is a product of dynamic interaction with place, whether that place is a modern city, a medieval castle or a space station on an alien planet. No matter where, how can setting support a character’s desires and actions? How will it frustrate them and generate conflict?

We will consider these and other questions relating to using setting and place in ways that work with or against your character to develop your story and reveal its ultimate meaning.

You can register for her workshop and mine, Wild Women on the Road, here.

You can read my interview with Ifeona Fulani here.

My Q&A with Marya Hornbacher

28 Aug

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Marya Hornbacher‘s first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize when published in 1998. The book has changed countless lives, is now taught in universities across the country, and has been translated into sixteen languages. I had the humbling opportunity to interview her, and I asked her about what it was like to publish at twenty-three years old and what advice she has to other writers, how she practices self-care while writing about difficult topics, and her latest project on the women’s solitude. Check out my interview with Marya here.

Marya Hornbacher and I will both be teaching this year at the Festival of Women Writers, taking place this September 6-8. I’ll be teaching the writing workshop Wild Women on the Road, which you can register for here. If you’re taking my workshop — or are just interested in the topic — I recommend checking out Marya’s Longreads essay “The Ways of a Wandering Spirit.

Marya’s workshop is called INVENTING THE ‘I’: Crafting A Powerful First Person Voice. Here’s a little bit about it:

This workshop will explore the risks and rewards of writing in the first person—the ‘I’ persona.

Whether we’re writing in the voice of a fictional character or in the guise of our nonfictional “selves,” the voice of the storyteller, that narrating I, must be compelling enough to carry the reader from the first word of our work to the last.

This workshop will explore how this voice of I becomes a character in her own right, one with depth and dimension, insights and blind spots, strengths and failures and flaws, one whose perception of reality is engaging enough to keep the reader turning the page.

Through both generative writing exercises and examples from literature, we will explore techniques for finding, strengthening, and clarifying our use of the first person voice.

You can register for the workshop here.

See you in the Catskills for this writing retreat!

 

My Q&A with Yolanda Wisher

22 Aug

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Former poet laureate of Philadelphia, Yolanda Wisher not only writes her own powerful poetry that feeds souls but she also works to build platforms for other writers. She educates, and she entertains. She provokes, and she nurtures. For a decade, she has taught English to high school students, inspiring them to reflect on literature and language. She served as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, founded and directed the Germantown Poetry Festival and Outbound Poetry Festival, and has led workshops and curated events in partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the U.S. Department of Arts & Culture. Now, Wisher’s labor of love is as Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary. Also, she’s one of the first groups of artists with studios at the Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront.

She’s pretty incredible. And, I got to interview her! We chatted about how themes emerged in her writing, bringing poetry to the masses, and her tips for completing projects when one is busy and has LOTS of ideas. You can read her responses here.

Yolanda Wisher will be joining us at this year’s Hobart Festival of Women Writers, taking place September 6-8. She’ll be teaching RAG & RIFF: The Poetics of the Quilt. Here’s a description:

The Gee’s Bend quilts are the work of several generations of Black women quilters in the rural town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

Their work has been shared in museum exhibitions across the country to much acclaim. The quilts, which initially served as functional objects and heirlooms, have been heralded as modern and postmodern art, gospel, and jazz.

They were born out of slavery and sharecropping, the landscape of the South, and the personal stories of the women and men whose lives are sewn into them. Like poems, the Gee’s Bend quilts play with forms—some borrowed and reimagined, some invented and organic.

What can the poet learn from the history, the matriarchal vernacular and the abstract architecture of Gee’s Bend quilts? For starters: the revelatory properties of color, the turn and bend of a line, its asymmetrical rhythms, and the individual voice that must come through the assemblage of fabric.

As Gee’s Bend quilter Mensie Lee Pettway said, “Ought not two quilts ever be the same.” In this workshop, we will riff off the history, craft, and colors of Gee’s Bend quilts as we consider our own inherited folk forms. We will use the quilters’ techniques to create our own layered and vibrant poems.

 

You can register for Yolanda’s writing workshop and mine, Wild Women on the Road,  here.

My Q&A with Diane Gilliam

21 Aug

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Poet Diane Gilliam was born into a family that was part of the postwar Appalachian outmigration, and the region’s people populate her poetry collections One of Everything (2003), Kettle Bottom (2004), and Dreadful Wind and Rain (2017). Among her many awards and honors are the Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist’s Fellowship (2003), the Perugia Press Prize (2004), the Ohioana Poetry Book Award (2005), the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing (2008), and the Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation (2013).

This year, she’ll be joining us for the first time at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. I asked her about why she chose a generational approach in her first book of poetry, how poetry shapes and expands community — which she answered with a story! — and how the Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation has furthered her career. You can read her answers here.

At the Hobart Festival of Women Writers she’ll be teaching LEAPING Poetry. Here’s a bit about it:

We will be talking about energy and LEAPING in poems we admire and in poems of our own.

Some of our questions will be:  Where does vision come from?  What are some sources of energy in poems?  What can we say about the nature of a leap?  How do vision, energy and leaping manifest on the page?  What textual strategies conjure them?

I’ll provide a handout of LEAPING poems and prompts for new poems as well as for revision.  Participants are invited to bring a LEAPING poem of their own or someone else’s, and one of their own that’s in need of some LEAPING energy.

You can register for the workshop here. This year’s Hobart Festival of Women Writers will take place September 6-8. Join us in the beautiful Catskills for this writing retreat!

I’ll be teaching the writing workshop Wild Women on the Road, which you can register for here.

My Q&A with Nancy Agabian

14 Aug

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Nancy Agabian is a writer, teacher, and literary organizer working in the spaces between race, ethnicity, cultural identity, feminism and queer identity. She was honored as a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially-Engaged Fiction for her recently completed novel The Fear of Large and Small Nation, which is based on her experiences as a Fulbright scholar in Armenia. In 2012 she was awarded for excellence in teaching at Queens College, where she taught as an adjunct for a decade. She currently is teaching in the Writing Program at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. And get this — this year she’ll be joining us at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers to teach the workshop WRITING LYRICS: Image, Emotion, and Justice! Here’s a little about her workshop:

Though we use the word lyric to describe a line of text in song, rap, or poetry, the word, according to the dictionary, refers to “expressing the writer’s emotions, usually briefly”.

In this generative all-genre workshop, we will write about the emotions that arise from experiencing and witnessing racism, in and outside of ourselves, on the street, in our workplaces and schools, on TV and online.

Looking to the work of Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde and Claudia Rankine, we will do a few writing exercises to explore the use of image, metaphor, and point of view as ways to translate the emotions of our experiences into expressions of justice.

(This 2-hour workshop was featured at the Queens Public Library, sponsored by St. John’s University and The Newtown Literary Journal).

You can register for the workshop here. This year’s Hobart Festival of Women Writers will take place September 6-8.

I had the opportunity to interview Nancy for the Festival blog. We chatted about women as keepers of family history, her writing process, and how performance art has influenced her writing. You can read my interview with Nancy Agabian here.

I’ll be teaching the writing workshop Wild Women on the Road, which you can register for here.

 

My Q&A with Novelist Ellen Meeropol

10 Jul

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I’m so excited to have interviewed Ellen Meeropol, author of House Arrest, On Hurricane Island, and Kinship of Clover for the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. I’m fascinated by the questions her novels pose about where the government should draw the line between keeping our nation safe and terrorizing our own citizens as well as how far is too far when it comes to activism.

Here’s the promotional copy for On Hurricane Island:

As a major hurricane threatens the northeast, math professor Gandalf Cohen is abducted by federal agents and flown to a secret interrogation center off the coast of Maine. Austin Coombs, a young local resident, is a newly hired civilian guard assigned to the detention center. Henry Ames, a man of personal secrets, is the FBI special agent in charge of Gandalf’s case and doubts the professor’s terrorist involvement; Tobias, his second-in-command, disagrees, preferring violent interrogation. As the hurricane slams the shore, conflict detonates and each character must choose a side if they’re to survive the storm.

Told over the five days approaching the anniversary of 9/11, by varying voices on both extremes of the political divide, On Hurricane Island is both a fast-paced political thriller and a literary examination of the sociopolitical storm facing our society. How far should government go in the name of protecting our national security? What happens when governmental powers of surveillance and extra-legal interrogation are expanded? How free are we?

Ellen Meeropol has worked as a daycare teacher and women’s reproductive health counselor before becoming a nurse practitioner. It was in her twenty-four years working at a children’s hospital that she began authoring and co-authoring articles and book chapters focused on pediatric issues and latex allergy. The nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau honored her for excellence in nursing journalism, and she received the Ruth A. Smith Writing Award for excellence in writing in the profession of nursing. She went on to receive the Chair’s Excellence Award from the Spina Bifida Association of America for her advocacy around latex allergy and spina bifida. In 2000, Meeropol decided to pursue a life of letters in earnest and earned her MFA from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. She didn’t leave behind her advocacy though: her novel Kinship of Clover involves a character who has spina bifida.

You can read my conversation with Ellen Meeropol here.

For more Q&As with the Hobart Festival of Women Writers, visit the Festival blog.

Register for the wonderful weekend of writing and community in the Catskills, and sign up for workshops by Ellen, me, and others here.

How much power should the government have to keep our country safe–what if it means less privacy and less due process? What cause would you break the law for? Let me know in the comments below.

My Q&A with Poet Marilyn McCabe

3 Jul

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I had the great honor of interviewing poet Marilyn McCabe, who will be teaching a writing workshop this September at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. We talked about MFAs, her video-poems, and the Adirondacks.

Marilyn McCabe is a poet with a penchant for video-poems, an essayist, a fiction writer, and a singer of jazz and classical music. A Room of Her Own Foundation awarded her poem On Hearing the Call to Prayer Over the Marcellus Shale on Easter Morning the Orlando Prize in the autumn of 2012, and Los Angeles Review published it. Judge Gray Jacobik selected her poetry book Perpetual Motion for publication for the Hilary Tham Capital Collection by The Word Works in 2012. The same publisher went on to publish her second full-length collection of poems, Glass Factory, in 2016. She blogs at https://marilynonaroll.wordpress.com.

Check out the interview here.

Read more of my interviews with guest authors at Hobart Festival of Women Writers here.

Register for the Festival here, and don’t forget to sign up for my writing workshop Wild Women on the Road!

What are your thoughts on MFAs? Are they great for connecting with authors, mentors, and agents … or not worth the hefty price tag?

Here are a few of my posts on MFAs:::

 

 

The Mad Are Holy: Mental Health in Ginsberg’s “Howl”

26 Jun

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So excited to share with you that Geez published my essay “The Mad Are Holy” in their current issue about the poetics of resistance. I explore how Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem “Howl” was met with legal resistance because of its language and sexual content, but how the poem was a call to embrace the people society had determined were “mad.”

Special thanks to my editor Aiden Enns and the entire team at Geez for putting together this great issue focused on the Poetics of Resistance. You can purchase the magazine here.

Recap: RA Araya’s Music Jam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

12 Mar

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Stephanie Nikolopoulos reading at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, accompanied by flash-back-puppy and Elinor Speirs. Photo by David Lee.

 

On February 16, 2019, RA Araya’s Music Jam rocked the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E 3rd Street, NYC).

The initial advertised lineup included Good Leaf, acoustic “Piedmont style” guitar picking vocals original compositions; Chris Barrera, guitar vocals original compositions; Cherylina, harmonium vocals yoga chanting; Professor Nancy Mercado, poetry; Alvaro Kitsa-to Andrade reads John Trudell’s poetry; Jeff Wright, poetry guitar vocals; FOAMOLA!! Sparrow, Violet Snow, Sylvia Mae Gorelick, Lawrence Fishberg, Gabriel Quigley; Michael Robinson, vocals guitar; Willie Martinez, drums and timbales, vocals; Gabriel Castellar, lead guitar; Angelo Segarra and his salsa merengue cumbia band, congas timbales piano sax bongos vocals; Antoine Alvear, piano; Joi Sanchez, poetry vocals; Paul Skiff, poetry drumming; Lorena Mnemosyne Cabrera, belly-dance; Alexie F., comedy; Ronnie Norpel, novelist actress comediane, Tract 187: Culture-Clatch hostess; Sasha Smith, poetry; Ahda Hann, performance art; Stephanie Nikolopoulos, poetry; Rachel Printy, poetry; Sebastian Gil, trumpet; Lydia Cortés, poetry; James Peach, free-style hip-hop; RÁ Araya, poetry vocals congas tabla harmonica….; Lighting Design by Julia McCabe; Photography, documenting this event by Katie Grammes.

Some weren’t able to make it, but there were a few surprise guests, including Bowery Poetry Club founder Bob Holman, and the open mic readers.

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Poet Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

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Poet Bob Holman

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writer Rae Printy

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poet Ahda Hann

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Paul Skiff read his ode to Loisaida (the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as Puerto Ricans renamed neighborhood after our friend poet and educator Bimbo Rivas wrote his poem “Loisaida” in the 1970’s. Avenue C in Manhattan was renamed Loisaida Street after Bimbo Rivas passing. It was a very deep emotional moment to all of us that know and knew all the Nuyorican and bohemian poets Paul Skiff mentioned, deep history.” ~RA Araya

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Ronnie Norpel, author of Baseball Karma and the Constitution Blues

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It was a sold-out show, full of energy!

It was such an honor to read my poetry with these legends! RA has been a huge supporter of my writing over the years, and I’m so thankful for all the opportunities he’s given me. As I always say, he is my Allen Ginsberg.

A heartfelt thanks for  Elinor Speirs for playing classical jazz violin while I read my poetry. She will be the musical guest for this upcoming jazz-poetry event I’m producing.

Special thanks to artist David Lee for capturing photographs of me reading at the Nuyorican and to writer Rae Printy for video some of you might’ve seen on social media.

Also thanks to all the friends who supported the event, including author Norma Jaeger Hopcraft.

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Photo by David Lee.

 

 

Find about my other upcoming events, in the Appearances section.

If you’re interested in booking me for a reading, book club, or writing workshop, you can contact me at snikolop {@} alumna.scrippscollege.edu.