This weekly series highlights people in my writing circles who are exemplary literary citizens. I encourage you to look them up, buy their books, find them in the library, or otherwise read or support their writing lives.
This week, we meet literary citizen Michele Bombardier
When I first met Michele Bombardier, it was at the Port Townsend Writers Conference, and funny enough, neither of us knew we both lived in the same small island town just an hour south!
She, like me, is a “regular” at the PTWC, and we have many writer friends in common. It turns out we also have something more unusual in common: a link to MS. Her husband works with MS researchers.
Again, an island connection. It happens frequently that, when you live on an island and you need to take the ferry, you carpool a way there and/or back. They gave me a ride home one night from the ferry and that’s when I learned of this connection.
It’s so refreshing to meet another writer who understands the ins and out of MS, such a complicated disease.
What was even more refreshing… watching Michele in action as the host of the Fishplate Poetry Series. A graceful and inclusive emcee, she ran a monthly reading event featuring some amazing writers right in our little town. Both the series and the venue are now gone, more casualties of COVID-19.
(It’s heartbreaking to witness the erasure of community connections to live literary events. Virtual readings are still happening, but they’re just not the same as the ones where you interact face-to-face with people.)
After I had the good fortune to link up with Daniel Edward Moore to host my first virtual book launch, there was scarcely a week left to find a second host for the second event to happen on that same night.
I can’t say that I had to wrack my brain… it wasn’t like that: Michele was top of mind as a potential emcee for the event. She knows how it works, she’s a lovely presence, and I knew she understood my challenges as a debut writer during a pandemic.
Of course, being so very last minute with my request, I expected her to politely say no, but she didn’t! And I’m forever grateful. She did a delightful job with the launch.
I’m hoping we can stage a reading together this summer, as we write, think, and care about a lot of the same themes. Thank you, Michele!
Read Michele’s work
These are poems to read over and over again. I can pick her book up at any given time, select just one poem, and discover a layer I hadn’t seen before.
This is the kind of writing I love, these gifts that keep on giving, words that take on the day’s truths like they are rays of sunlight poking through different filters at different times of day.
In Germany, they have a saying: Immer etwas neues (always something new). That’s the phrase that echoes in my mind’s ear when I think of this book.
The repeating elements of loss, familial connection, natural spaces, and health anxiety shape a life steeped in the complex beauty and resilience that belies the human condition.
Fishplate Poetry is Michele’s unique effort to provide workshops and retreats for writers while raising money for humanitarian work. While her live events are not happening right now, she is still running her workshops in Zoom. (There are limited spaces for this; you will need to inquire if you’re looking for an inspired group meeting every other Wednesday night.)
These paid workshops ($30) support SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), which provides direct medical help to refugees in camps in the Middle East and North Africa.