I live near Rochester, NY, in a cute little Tudor/Cape Cod/boxy house on a sharp curve, and have lost two mailboxes to winter skids.
I recently retired from 27 years of teaching English to young adults at Hilton High School, where I developed and taught the English curriculum of the International Baccalaureate program; I also taught Creative Writing, Journalism, and Drama. Before Hilton I taught at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado, the Kildonan School in Amenia, NY.
In addition, I have led writing classes for adults and young people at Writers & Books, Rochester’s literary arts center.
Midway through life’s journey I received my MFA in Poetry in 2004 from the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, and enjoyed a residency at Jentel Arts in 2005. Since then, I have been grinding away at what I learned in both places about writing and self-discipline. Also of help was time at the Heartwork Institute, Rochester Zen Center, Endless Path Zendo, my own cushion, and the woods.
Since 1988, I have shared my life and love with Leah Ruekberg, a massage therapist, storyteller, writer, and teacher. As I write in “Cardinal,” a poem in Hour of the Green Light, “My wife likes to say we’re a bundle of contradictions. She’s up early, I’m up late. She’s A, I’m O. She believes in God but not eternal life, I pray for the opposite.” Nevertheless, we share a love of reading, writing, gardening, cooking, and contemplation — and of our son, Brian, and his family.
My first book of poetry, Where Is the River Called Pishon?, was published by Kelsay Books in August, 2018. My second collection, Hour of the Green Light, which was semi-finalist in the 18th Annual Elixir Press Poetry Award, will be published by FutureCycle Press in January, 2021.
I also am a member of the Rochester chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, an activist group which supports bi-partisan legislation to combat climate change through the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Putting a fee on carbon pollution and returning a dividend to households is the easiest and most logical way to encourage industries and consumers to develop and use sustainable sources of energy. Without a healthy planet on which to run it, the economy means nothing. But this solution would be good for the economy, as well as preserving life on our planet.
Planet first, then poetry.
For a partial list of publications, see Poems.
“Earth 17.” Quilt by Janet Schultz, Flagstaff, AZ. (Email available on request.)
Author photos by Leah Ruekberg (solo) and Tonya Kostenko (with child).