The cover of Feast, Maureen McDole’s upcoming third book of poetry, is an illustration by her daughter, 15-year-old Lily, of a bright red dragon with three heads.
“I’m a three-headed dragon,” McDole explains. “It’s my creative side, my mother side, and my Keep St. Pete Lit side. And I’m always balancing those three.”
The St. Pete native founded the nonprofit Keep St. Pete Lit eight years ago. Life, for her, is indeed a balancing act, particularly because her daily regimen absolutely must include time set aside for writing.
McDole and three other local poets will celebrate their latest volumes with a public reading Saturday at The Factory, as part of the June Second Saturday Art Walk.
Gloria Munoz, JD Scott and Sara Ries Dziekonski will join her at 5 p.m. in the Word Garden, the scenic greenspace behind the main building, which will of course be open so that visitors can check out Factory artists and their studios and galleries.
(Stick around for KSPL’s regular Saturday Poetry Open Mic, from 7 to 9 p.m.)
Dziekonski and Munoz are writing instructors with Keep St. Pete Lit, while Scott previously taught a couple of classes with the organization. “We’ve all worked together,” says McDole. “It just seemed like the right fit.
“All three of them, they’re trying to figure out the hustle. They’re teaching, writing, Sara and Gloria are raising children … they’re prolific. Just last year JD put out a book of short stories. And Sara is working on another book of poems, about her son.”
The fact of this particular matter is that Feast, a collection of poems McDole wrote over the last 10 years, won’t be out for a month or so. The others were just recently published.
New Rivers Press describes JD Scott’s book Mask For Mask as “a kaleidoscopic poetry collection, one that is both formally innovative and an imaginative descent into LGBTQ+ undergrounds and underworlds.” He is also the author of the prize-winning Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day. “He’s a brilliant writer,” McDole declares.
McDole met Gloria Munoz at an early Keep St. Pete Lit reading. “When I first met her, I’ll be honest, I was a little jealous because she was such a good poet,” McDole laughs. “But I immediately switched my brain, as a feminist, and said no, let’s celebrate her and become friends with her.” Munoz’ book Danzirly is described as “a striking bilingual poetry collection that fiercely examines the nuances of the American Dream for Latinx people in the United States.” The Columbian American poet also teaches Creative Writing at Eckerd College.
“Poetry is my language of love, because for me, my poems are mostly love poems to the world, and prayers,” Sara Ries Deizkonski wrote on the Creative Pinellas website recently. “It’s the best and biggest beauty I can give.” At Saturday’s Factory event, she’ll read from her collection Marrying Maracuya. Deizkonski teaches youth writing classes with Keep St. Pete Lit, and was the editor on McDole’s Feast.
Keep St. Pete Lit’s office is at The Factory, alongside the SHNIE Mural Festival and other nonprofits. The “Word Garden” out back was constructed specifically for the literary organization and its classes.
Saturday’s free reading, says McDole, “is also a way to start activating The Factory as an event space, with more literature. Keep St. Pete Lit really hasn’t done anything there yet. We want to start more classes in the fall. So we’re trying it out.”
McDole, who’s constantly in motion, is working on two new books, and pursuing collaborations with other St. Pete artists, including those in dance, visual art and video.
It’s part of her continuing quest to “take poetry off the page.”
And the SunLit Festival, which didn’t happen in 2020 – or 2021 – will definitely return next April.
“The gears will start going in the fall,” McDole says. “It’s been nice to have two years off, to be honest. I needed a break.
“I wanted more time to write. You have to figure out what your sweet spot is, to balance. Especially as a creative, I feel like everything in life is pulling for your attention to not get to the page. Everything.”
Information on the Second Saturday Art Walk is here.