I run the West Chester University Poetry Center and the West Chester University Poetry Conference, I edit Mezzo Cammin,, and I direct Story Line Press, I teach. I also do my own writing—poetry, articles, and reviews. I wear a lot of literary hats.
At the same time, when I speak about entrepreneurship, I mean following through on an idea: creating something where there was nothing. Like most entrepreneurs, I believe in the big dream. When I launched The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project in 2010, I wanted to do it in Washington because of the symbolic resonance of the location. Then I created the event from scratch: the fund raising, the evening, the project itself. That evening at the National Museum of Women in the Arts remains one of the best of my life.
What made you want to be a writer?
You travel around the world with your collaborative partner, Jo Yarrington. You’ve been to Iceland, Venezuela, and Bhutan. What was your most memorable experience?
Probably driving along the side of the Himalayas and realizing there were not going to be guardrails.
Your husband, Pete Duval, is also a writer. How does that work, being a literary couple?
We have the same values in writing. However, our personal writing worlds—our crowds, styles, and topics—are often very different.
My husband is an award-winning writer of religious fiction and memoir. He is also a meticulous, enthusiastic, and passionate teacher. I appreciate what it means to bring that kind of wonder to the moment.
Your son, Nick Duval, keeps a film blog, The Flick Pick Monster. Have his preoccupations changed you?
Absolutely. As a result of his interest in film, I ended up writing a book of film sonnets a few years ago, and we did tours of movie studios and movie sites to trace the careers of Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder. I probably never would have gone to Telluride either, if not for him, and it was wonderful.
However, those are small things compared to the day-to-day unfolding of his life. Watching one’s child grow up is like seeing the future unspool—in the new improved version.
You have done many projects with Russell Goings, the founder of Essence, and you rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange in affiliation with his book The Children of Children Keep Coming. How did you two meet?
He stopped by my office one day after having been to The Million Man March (in 1995). We haven’t stopped talking since.