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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poetry in the Zoos

Well, it's quite a morning for finding stories about spreading poetry to the people in unusual ways. First, poetry bombing, and now this.

Language of Conservation, a program to increase awareness of environmental issues through poetry, features poetry installations in zoos in cities such as New Orleans, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The projects are curated by such well-known poets as Pattiann Rogers, Mark Doty, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Sandra Alcosser and Joseph Bruchac.

Visit the blog of Poets House (the sponsor) to get more details as well as links to other online articles about this worthy project, including this very comprehensive one at Shaping Outcomes complete with pictures, this one from the American Library Association's Programming Librarians website, and this one from Poetry Magazines' Harriet Blog about their visit to Brookfield Zoo (again with great pictures.)

I loved visiting Brookfield Zoo as a kid when staying with my grandparents over summer vacation. Too bad there weren't any poetry installations back then. Likewise I wish the installation at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had coincided with my residence in Florida. Time for a trip back to the old stomping grounds? Hmmmmm......

Poetry Bombing

Check out Poetry Bombing, the New Knit Bombing, a short video. Thanks to K. M. A. Sullivan of Vinyl Poetry and YesYes Books for posting this video on Facebook. Looks like fun!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Found Poetry Review

The deadline for submissions to the Found Poetry Review is the end of this month, so hurry and submit if you have anything found. In addition to poems, they also accept photographs in the spirit of found poems.

At their website the reader is treated to an assortment of great found poems, definitions of found poetry (so you can understand the difference from erasures), and example found elsewhere on the web. Furthermore the journal cites the following for those who have legalistic minds (from the Found Poetry Review website):

"The editors do not claim copyright on any source material incorporated into the poems published on this site. We believe that publishing found poetry falls under Fair Use standards, and aim to adhere to the Center for Social Media’s “Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Poetry,” which contains the following guidelines for found poetry:

NEW WORKS “REMIXED” FROM OTHER MATERIAL: ALLUSION, PASTICHE, CENTOS, ERASURE, USE OF “FOUND” MATERIAL, POETRY-GENERATING SOFTWARE DESCRIPTION: What is now called remixing is a contemporary version of allusion or pastiche and has long been an important part of poetic practice. In general, it takes existing poetry (or literary prose) as its point of reference. In some cases, however, the stuff of poetic remix may come from other sources, including (but not limited to) advertising copy and ephemeral journalism. Members of the poetry community also recognize that technology has extended the range of techniques by which language from a range of sources may be reprocessed as new creative work.

PRINCIPLE: Under fair use, a poet may make use of quotations from existing poetry, literary prose, and non-literary material, if these quotations are re-presented in poetic forms that add value through significant imaginative or intellectual transformation, whether direct or (as in the case of poetry-generating software) indirect.

  • Mere exploitation of existing copyrighted material, including uses that are solely “decorative” or “entertaining,” should be avoided.
  • Likewise, the mere application of computer technology does not, in itself, render quotation or re-use of an existing poem fair.
  • If recognizable in the final product, quotations should be brief in relation to their sources, unless there is an articulable rationale for more extensive quotation.
  • The poet should provide attribution in a conventionally appropriate form unless it would be truly impractical or artistically inappropriate to do so."

Armed with all this useful information, go out and find some poems today.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Geist Erasure Trophy

Are you interested in erasure? Then Geist out of Canada has a great opportunity for you. (If you are unsure about what erasure is, see my previous post Erasurehead.)

The Geist Erasure Trophy is up for grabs. Just use their predetermined text, follow their rules about order of words and letters, and erase away. Click on the link to get full details.

First Prize gets $500 (Canadian, I'm sure) and the trophy. Second Place and Third Place get $150 and $100 respectively (probably still Canadian currency), and there are small gifts for Honorable Mention. Plus the entry fee entitles you to a one-year subscription to Geist (though I'm not sure how it will work for overseas submissions.)

So get going, American citizens, see how many trophies you can take from the Canadians this year (just kidding!).

Hirshfield on Rembrandt

This poem is from Jane Hirshfield's book After (Harper Perennial, 2006).

Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt

The dog, dead for years, keeps coming back in the dream.
We look at each other there with the old joy.
It was always her gift to bring me into the present—

Which sleeps, changes, awakens, dresses, leaves.

Happiness and unhappiness
differ as a bucket hammered from gold differs from one of pressed tin,
this painting proposes.

Each carries the same water, it says.

Listen to the poet read it herself here at Slate.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Burning Wyclif

One of the most memorable books of poetry I have read in the past five years is Thom Satterlee's Burning Wyclif (Texas Tech University Press, 2006). Astonishingly, it is a first book, winning the Walt McDonald First-Book Competition in Poetry for that year.

Although this volume is a biography-in-poems of John Wyclif, the philosopher-theologian who translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English in the 14th century and was later condemned as a heretic for doctrinal criticism of the Catholic Church, its beauty and insight have much to offer the reader who is not interested in religion or Christianity, but who merely wants to read glorious poetry with a larger vision.

The imagination with which Satterlee sketches out likely events in Wyclif's life (since little detail is known) provides  glimpses into the thinking and customs of the day in a compelling manner. Whether Satterlee is painting a scene of the young Wyclif entering Oxford and having his head shorn into the tonsure sported by the religious community, or of the older Wyclif wresting with his lustful urges, the details  he offers are authentic enough to draw you fully into the story as though you were being given verified fact.

Other hot topics of the time, including the Black Death and flagellation, are explored quietly by the poet, belying the feelings of horror that may be raised in the reader. Satterlee, it seems, has been able to adopt the attitudes of the 14th century in order to relate a completely believable response by his hero, so authentic in fact, that the poet disappears from the awareness of the reader entirely.

It was by reading "Habitus" on the Poetry Daily website that I first discovered Satterlee's book, and determined that I needed to own a copy. Having now read the entire volume a number of times, I still find this opening poem to be one of my favorites.

Another favorite is "Wyclif Places Himself, His Room Within the Ten Categories of Essential Being," in which the student Wyclif attempts to master the philosophical categorizations of Aristotle while coping with his own growling stomach. Scroll about 3/4 down towards the bottom of the link to find an audio file of this amusing and entirely believable piece.

Fleshing out a likely life story for a historical figure with such reverence for the individual's integrity seems to me to be an extremely worthy poetic project. I wish there were more books of poetry in which a historical personage is completely present and the poet is almost entirely absent. What a gift it is to inhabit this book without feeling the writer looking over your shoulder, wanting to be complimented.

And the subject of such dedicated rendering need not be a religious figure either. I'd love to read the lives of scientists and mathematicians written in a manner this thoughtful and deep. Lauren Redniss's Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout (HarperCollins, 2010) promises to do this much for the Curies, though in prose and artwork, not in verse, from what I've read about it (I have yet to read it).

At her website, Redniss describes her artistic process as follows: "I made the artwork for the book using a process called “cyanotype.” Cyanotype is a camera‐less photographic technique in which paper is coated with light‐sensitive chemicals. When the chemically-treated paper is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it turns a deep blue color. Photographic imaging was critical to both the discovery of X-rays and of radioactivity, so it made sense to me to use a process based on the idea of exposure to create the images in Radioactive."

Go here to see some of the images that accompany her prose in the book.

Such imaginative ways to represent the lives of great thinkers in communion with their own intentions. The writers step aside and let the figures be themselves entirely. That is true generosity, if not genius, in writing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Woman's Place

As a woman living outside her own country, I often think about place, placement, displacement. In my case, this obsession often shows up as roof imagery, which there is a lot of in my poetry. Many of the ex-pat or immigrant women I know living in Japan have similar thoughts about place rather frequently.

So today, when I ran across an online journal's call for submissions (prose only though, no poetry) about women and place, I thought I'd mention it to you all. Check it out below if you are interested.

In what ways does being female affect one's sense of place, placement, and/or
(dis)location? We are seeking submissions of prose writing by women, and
strongly encourage you to submit your work for consideration. We are looking for
fiction and nonfiction stories that wrestle explicitly or implicitly with the
question posed above. We prefer submissions to be 3000 words or less, but will
consider longer pieces of exceptional quality. We will not accept submissions of
poetry. A cover letter is not necessary. Please send your submissions to in the following manner: Subject: Title, name of author, word
count. Body: Title again, short bio, and the entire story pasted into the email.
Replace (at) with @ in sending submissions. Submission deadline is July 31,
2011. Attachments will not be opened. We will consider previously published work
if the rights have been returned to you but please make note of where and when
it was originally published.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cellpoems #3 For Me

I have a new poem up at Cellpoems. Of the three short poems I sent them, this was the one I was least certain about personally. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when editor Eric Smith told me this week that this was his favorite of my three.

I like the fact that Cellpoems provides room for a brief explanation concerning the poem on their website, if the poet wants to include one. In this case, I did (I think I did in all three cases, actually.) This poem is an idea that has been haunting me since junior high school. It's high time I exorcised it, don't you think?!. Thanks, Cellpoems, for giving me a venue to do that!

All three of my poems are untitled because I was unclear if the 140-character restriction applied to the title or not. Actually I enjoy titling poems, although for such a short poem, a title can make it seem top-heavy. Although the other poets featured by Cellpoems didn't seem to have any trouble on that front, did they?

Well, live and learn.

On Patience

So I've been having my own private Vonnegut festival this past week, and as it comes to a close, I offer you this paragraph from Palm Sunday, with which I don't entirely agree, and which both heartens and discourages me:

"I would add that novelists are not only unusually depressed, by and large, but have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetics consultants at Bloomingdale's department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time."

And further on patience, I offer this pseudo-quote from the fictional Daphne Kaplan as reported in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves:

"Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brief Explanation of Thermodynamics

The following just really pleases me.

It's a description of the Laws of Thermodynamics given by chemist P. W. Atkins, as cited in Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything (on p. 107, in a footnote no less!).

"There are four Laws. The third of them, the Second Law, was recognized first; the first, the Zeroth Law, was formulated last; the First Law was second; the Third Law might not even be a law in the same sense as the others."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Epic Fail

Epic fail--two words I have heard from my niece quite a bit recently.

And epic fail was how I was feeling about the two poems I worked on this weekend.

The first poem is based on an idea I've been kicking around for four or five months, and I thought that I had finally figured out how to render it. But after investing hours this weekend, no.....

The second poem was an idea I came up with this past week but only this weekend had a chance to execute. So I sat down and followed my idea to its conclusion. And ended up with a poem that was very interesting to write but which does not need to be foisted on any readership.

So I was thinking that the weekend had been a failure, poetically speaking.

But then I had another thought. I realized that while the form I had attempted for the first poem hadn't been fruitful, it had led me to an idea of what I want to try next. So even though the poem isn't any closer to being, one useless idea has been identified and a better one, one that at least will bring me one step closer to bringing this poem into the world, has been identified. While that wasn't the result I was hoping for this weekend, it isn't exactly a failure.

And the second poem, didn't work out. But it was a brand new idea, completely unlike anything I've ever done, and the exercise was interesting. So while it didn't end up as a piece I would ever want to share, it was a creative experience.

My mom used to say I was trying to figure out what to be in life by process of elimination. And it is by this same circuitous route of trying and abandoning ideas one by one by one that I am figuring out poems. It isn't failure; it's process, even when it doesn't feel like progress.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pirene's Fountain Japan Anthology

The journal Pirene's Fountain is putting together a Japan Anthology. They are soliciting pieces about the recent crisis and recovery in Japan. Proceeds from sales of the anthology will go to Japan relief efforts. Contributor's copies will not be offered in order to maximize the amount of money that can be donated, but contributors can further help out by purchasing copies on their own. Indeed, anyone can help out by doing this!

I mentioned this opportunity to on online writing group I belong to comprised of women writers who have a connection to Japan. A good number of them have already had work accepted for this anthology, and due to that success, I thought I'd mention the opportunity to a larger audience.

Here's the submission information.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


So I finished my first political poem the day before yesterday (minus one phrase that isn't all worked out yet). It's not that I was trying to write a political poem. And it's not that I've been avoiding writing a political poem until now either (and by political, I don't mean political in the sense that writing any poem is political, or in the sense that the personal is the political. I mean a poem espousing a point of view about how the world should be and fervently hoping others think so too.)

Here's how it happened. At first I was just writing about a personal anecdote, and when I got to the end of it, it didn't seem done. So I invented the next part of the story. Then I got stuck. So I remembered some advice I'd read once about what to try when you are stuck and here's what it is: say the opposite. Whatever it is you just said, say the opposite of it. Abut that opposite right up against the original and see what the tension does, or erase the original and replace it with the opposite and see what happens. Either of those strategies can be worth trying when stuck. And so I did. And what happened was that suddenly there was a point of view to this poem.

And I'm not sure how I feel about having written a political poem. I never thought I would simply because it didn't seem consistent with my...with my what? With my something....

And some people may read the poem and not know it is political. Lots of silly wordplay in it which helps take the edge off for one thing. And for another thing, it's not dogmatic, or I hope it's not. And it's religio-political, or politico-religious. I mean, it's about respect for the separation of religion and non-religion, and respect for the beliefs of others. It's actually anti-dogmatic.

Okay, enough said.

So just by chance I happened last night to also read a book, part-memoir part-rant, which dealt with politics and art and punctuation and more. What I'm talking about is Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005), which you really must read if you are a Vonnegut fan, and even if you are not.

To whet your appetite, I include a few random samplings from the book.

About science in art (a subject dear to me): "As an undergraduate at Cornell I was a chemistry major because my brother was a big-shot chemist. Critics feel that a person cannot be a serious artist and also have had a technical background, which I had. I know that customarily English departments in universities, without knowing what they're doing, teach dread of the engineering department, the physics department, and the chemistry department. And this fear, I think, is carried over into criticism. Most of our critics are products of the English departments and are very suspicious of anyone who takes an interest in technology. So, anyway, I was a chemistry major, but I'm always winding up as a teacher in English departments, so I've brought scientific thinking to literature. There's been very little gratitude for this."

About willfully uninformed political leadership: "Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long, for all of human experience so far, that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on. It is now their turn to guess and guess and be listened to. Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all  the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they could be right. It isn't the gold standard that they want to put us back on. They want something even more basic. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard."

And Vonnegut quotes his friend, the graphic artist Saul Steinberg, whose answer to Vonnegut's query if he (Steinburg) was gifted was: "No, but what you respond to in any work of art is the artist's struggle against his or her limitations."

About semi-colons, Vonnegut has (by now) famously said: "They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."

Thank goodness he didn't come down hard on my favorite punctuation mark, the colon, which I posted about here at Punk Punk-tuation.

Well, this is my third post today, and a long one, and one that dared mention the dreaded politics. So I am sure you've had enough of me and the way I use the word "so" far too often (which Vonnegut does too--yay, I'm in good company). I've had enough of me. So, farewell for now.

Filter in the News

I know I keep inundating you with news about the new volume of Filter coming out at the end of this week, but I have to share the following article with you: "Party in a Box" by Paul Constant on The Stranger website. This gives the best description I've heard yet of what the new box edition of Filter looks and feels like.

Each box takes six hours to put together! Six hours of volunteers' time! Now that's dedication.

I can't wait to get my copy.

If you want to know how to get yours, check out my previous post, Reminder to Check Your Filter. And if you're in Seattle this weekend, go to the party! Where else can you meet people this dedicated to personalized art and publication?

Managing Your Manuscript

New post on the Ploughshares' blog by Peter Kline, about managing your manuscript, ordering your poems, making sure the voice is consistent. If that's what's on your mind these days, check it out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing is Not Lonely

Andrea Cumbo at her blog features a post called Writing is Not Lonely, But Avoiding It Is. She makes the case that when writing one is never lonely--one enjoys spaciousness and wholeness; it's all the things one does to avoid writing that exacerbates loneliness. Check out her blog to be reminded of why we write, and how illogical it is for us to avoid it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poetic Productivity

This has been a hard week. One son and I have run fevers for (slightly overlapping) portions of the week, necessitating staying home and either administering care or resting, and not getting stuff done in each case. One son went off to a 5-day nature camp with his grade at school, requiring much preparation. I finished up a series of job interviews and performed some tasks to show I was qualified for the job (and got the job, yay). Did six interviews in ten days for a company I sometimes do some work for. Attended a memorial service for a relative who died seven years ago (as is tradition in Japan). So basically I am worn out. Just plain tired.

And then I got an offer. A writing offer. Which required that I have a certain number of unpublished poems available by a certain time. And guess what? I don't have anywhere near that number of poems ready. There's still time before the deadline, but to meet it I would have to be more productive poetically than I've ever been. But it's an interesting offer and it would be a shame to miss it. So do I try, even if it feels unrealistic, particularly in my exhausted state?

So naturally, I've been thinking about productivity in writing. I've been very fortunate in the last year to have had work solicited from a number of journals, and every time, it wipes out my stockpile of finished work. Not that I'm complaining. It's a wonderful thing to have work solicited, extremely gratifying. But it leaves me in a position in which I don't have much finished work lying around at any moment, making me feel that I've been unproductive. But actually, my productivity this year has been about average, which isn't all that great. It takes me a long time to write each poem (thank goodness I don't do them one at a time, but still....)

So what can I do to increase my productivity, other than spending more hours sitting in my chair attempting to write? Maybe experiment with writing at different times of the day to see if there is a more productive time than the one I usually use as writing time? Are you more productive at certain times of the day?

The periods when I've written more poems than my normal rate have been  when  I committed to myself to write a poem a week, or something such as that. Do commitments like that encourage creativity in you?

Also, writing around a theme helps me. Lines or images I come up with that don't belong in the poem I'm currently working on can often be used in another poem if I'm working on a series. Any similar experiences? Or better yet, any good themes come to mind, as I'm not working on a series right now....

But what else can I do? I'm in need of some ideas here, poets, if you've got any.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reminder to Check Your Filter

Okay, it's not really your Filter, though it could be if you purchased a copy! What I'm talking about is this: Filter Literary Journal is having a release party to celebrate to celebrate Vol. III, which I described in more detail an earlier post, and you should check it out, particularly if you live in Seattle.

For a far better description, go the the Filter Blog and watch time-lapse videos of staff and volunteers assembling these beautiful books by hand.

And don't forget the party next Friday. Details as follows:

Media Contact:
Jennifer Borges Foster (206) 353-7685

Filter Vol. III Release Party

An evening of readings from Zachary Schomburg, John Osebold, Stacey Levine, Maged Zaher, Karen Finneyfrock, Ed Skoog, Elizabeth Colen, Elissa Washuta, Susan Rich and Sarah Bartlett . Freshly letterpressed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Friday, June 17th, the Fremont Abbey, 4272 Fremont Ave North, Seattle, WA 98103

SEATTLE – The 3rd limited edition volume of Filter Literary Journal will be released upon the public!

Filter Vol. III has arrived. This 3rd issue of the entirely handmade journal is a box of wonder: The cover has a paint-by-numbers theme, and the box structure is letterpress printed by Kate Fernandez of Fernandez and Sons. The book will be filled with brilliant work in individually bound chapbooks of prose and poetry, with art postcards and posters that you can remove and display.

The contributors in Filter III are:

Yusef Komunyakaa, Zachary Schomburg, Stacey Levine, Amanda Manitach, Maged Zaher, Sharon Arnold, Martha Silano, John Osebold, Rebecca Brown, Counsel Langely, Ed Skoog, Karen Finneyfrock, Sean Ennis, Sarah Mangold, Gala Bent, Rachel Contreni Flynn, David Lasky, Elizabeth Colen, Sandra & Ben Doller, Brandon Shimoda, Ben Beres, Brandon Downing, Sarah Kate Moore, Dan Rosenberg, Susan Rich, Susan Denning, Sid Miller, Sarah Bartlett, Shawn Vestal, Marie-Caroline Moir, Lucy Corin, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Jill McDonough, Jessica Goodfellow, Jessica Bonin, Friedrich Kerksieck , Erika Wilder, Elissa Washuta, David Bartone, Chris Dusterhoff, Britt Ashley, Becca Yenser, Anne Gorrick

Tickets for the Filter release party are on sale now through Brown Paper Tickets.
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door, and $5 for students and seniors.

About Filter Literary Journal
Filter is a literary journal made entirely by hand. Each issue contains erasures and other literary art alongside unaltered poetry, fiction and visual art. Filter seeks to represent the work it holds on a visceral level, so that the book is as carefully crafted as the poetry, fiction and art that it contains. Copies of Filter may be purchased at:

Filter Literary Journal is grateful to 4Culture for their funding and support.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

End of My Pollster Career

So I am taking down my poll today, even though there are three more days left to vote. There are two reasons for my decision:

1) In the four days my poll has been open, it has only received two votes, one of which was mine! So that means it engaged only one voter really. And this during a week of an all-time-high number of hits to my blog (see reason two below). Either the topic of prompts is not interesting to most people, or my question was badly written, leaving people who wished to vote without an option that represented them. Or maybe people couldn't find the poll in the sidebar to my blog since I couldn't figure out how to embed it in the text of my post.

I'd ask you which it was--I'd take a poll--but given my experience with this poll, that doesn't seem like it would be helpful.

2) The second reason I am taking down the poll is that Blogger has some troubles with polls that get phantom visitors to the blog, hits to the blog that aren't really people. I'm not sure what Blogger is counting, but it isn't really people coming to look at the blog. Some people who post a poll on Blogger actually get tens of thousands of these phantom hits (see this discussion concerning extra views generated by polls), but I actually only got 33. Not enough to invalidate my all-time-high, but enough to skew the data incorrectly. So the poll must go.

For anyone interested, here are the results for the poll.

I asked: What is your favorite kind of writing prompt?
Answers:  Form-driven (1 vote, 50%) - this one was my vote
                Content driven (1 vote, 50%) - thanks to the one kind person who voted on my poll!
                A combination content- and form-driven (0 votes, 0%)
                I like both kinds equally (0 votes, 0%)
                Something else entirely (0 votes, 0%)
                I never use prompts (0 votes, 0%)

I actually only started using prompts recently myself; hence the poll, which failed miserably. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

For Fans of Anne (Carson)

Will Aitken interviews Anne Carson on the Paris Review blog.

This extraordinarily personal interview reveals Carson's process behind her book-in-a-box, Vox, an elegy for her older brother. About which the poet says, "I finally decided that understanding isn’t what grief is about. Or laments. They’re just about making something beautiful out of the ugly chaos you’re left with when someone dies. You want to make that good."

When Carson is asked about the line "My personal poetry is a failure," (from the poem "Stanzas, Sexes, Seduction"), a conversation ensues about the sense of failure upon finishing a poem, whether or not its a function of the persona, and how the deeply the thinking is ever finished in a poem compared to how much it remains a surface experience, to which finally Carson answers, "...this capturing of the surface of emotional fact is useful for other people in that it jolts them into thinking, into doing their own act of understanding. But I still don’t think I finished the thinking." Which is a stunning thing to hear from a poet's whose words (particularly in "The Glass Essay," about which Carson and Aitken are discussing in particular at this point) jolted me into my own act of understanding, or it not understanding exactly, then thinking at least.

Which is what Anne Carson's writing does for me almost all of the time.

And which made me question: if Anne Carson doesn't feel like she has finished the thinking, how can I feel that in writing a poem, I have ever finished the thinking, with my intellect and instinct so less developed than hers? Indeed, have I ever felt that I was finished (the thinking, not the poem), or rather do I feel that I simply have no more to add that would be useful to the surface, without presuming about the deeper thinking? Or do I attempt the deeper level (honestly attempt it) and fail once again, a la Beckett, each time? Is a good poem always more useful to the reader than to the writer? And if it's not, is it not then a good poem?

Discussing her academic work, Carson explains, " I never found it possible to think without thinking about myself thinking. And I’m not sure if that’s a casualty of being me or a casualty of being human, so I decided to assume the latter and just go ahead with the project of thinking of me as if it were a legitimate human enterprise and would be enlightening to other humans. So my scholarship, such as it is, is intensely subjective. But because I am aware of this as a problem, I make an attempt to continually bridge the gap between that subjective self and the reader. So although it’s a private vision, it also brings the reader into its vision from time to time."

The entire interview winds around and around the self. Take your self over there and have a look.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hands Down, No Contest!

If you would prefer to submit your manuscript to presses with open reading periods (instead of or in addition to contests), then poet Rachel Dacus has compiled a great list for you.

Click here for her recently updated lists of presses who entertain open reading periods. Some have fees; some don't. If you know of a press fitting the criteria that is presently not on the list, please let Rachel Dacus know.

What a great resource for poets who are, for the most part, pinching pennies.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Poll About Prompts

When I want to start a new poem and don't have any ideas at hand, I like to start with form, as I mentioned in my previous post, Vroom Vroom, a Pantoum.

However, I know lots of people like to start with content-based prompts as opposed to form-based prompts.

So I thought I'd take a poll. Since I haven't yet figured out how to create a poll inside a particular post, my poll is on the sidebar of the blog in general. Please vote about your favorite way for generating new poems with prompts.

And for plenty of good prompt ideas, largely content-driven, check out the blog Creative Writing Prompts for Writers.

Please vote! This is my first poll and I'm kind of nervous about it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Floating Wolf

Recently I learned about Floating Wolf Quarterly, an online journal that publishes two chapbooks each quarter. This quarter's chapbooks are Matthew Zapruder's The Odyssey and Nick Vagnoni's Victual.

Each quarter one chapbook is by an already established poet and one is by an up-and-comer. Past chapbook contributors include some of my favorites, such as Campbell McGrath, Denise Duhamel, Catherine Bowman, and Gabrielle Calvocoressi.

This is a great way to get to know a poet's work in more depth than the one to three poems usually showcased in journals. And it comes with cover artwork, like a real book. Fun artwork too, like pomegranates on a television screen, or beds, all kinds of beds. You can even download these chapbooks to your Kindle.

Especially for people living abroad who have a really difficult time getting access to current poetry without breaking the bank, this is a terrific way to become familiar with poets in order to decide which books to spend our meager poetry budgets on importing.

And what's with poets and wolves anyway? There's Graywolf, Concrete Wolf, Floating Wolf.......

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summertime, and Submitting is Easy

Well, submitting is easy if you know where to submit, since during the summer many journals are closed to submissions. Thankfully, Diane Lockward at her blog Blogalicious has put together a list of journals open to submissions during summer months.

The link above lists journals whose titles begin with letters A - F.

For G - P, click on this link.

And for Q - Z, this is the link you want.

Thanks to Diane for putting this list together and making it available to everyone. It's a big timesaver. Now there are no excuses: you can submit and still have time for fun in the sun.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jewish Poetry Anthology: Call for Submissions

The New Promised Land: 120 Contemporary Jewish American Poets is accepting submissions from Jewish poets born in the US in or after 1945. Previously published work okay. Click on the link for more details.

Not Capital, My Good Man

Today a prominent poet asked the following question on Facebook: How do you turn off the automatic capitalization of first words on new lines when writing poems in MS Word? This is something that has been driving me crazy too, but when I'm in the middle of writing a poem, I don't want to spend the time to figure it out, and when I'm not writing a poem, I forget about it. So I was glad that many people responded with the solution.

Most of you probably already know how to do this, but just in case you are like me and never got around to fixing the problem, here are the steps.

1) Open MS Word.
2) Click on the tab File at the top, and in the drop-down menu, go to Options, near the bottom, and click on it.
3) In the new menu that appears, click on Proofing.
4) On the right, click on the AutoCorrect Options button (it is blue).
5) Uncheck the box that says Capitalize first letter of sentences.
6) Click the OK button at the bottom of the page, and you are done!

And that's the end of that annoying little problem. Yay!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I have a poem in the newest issue of the online literary journal, Arch Literary Journal, out of Washington University in St. Louis. It's called "How to Find a Missing Father in a Town that Isn't There," and believe it or not, it doesn't have the longest poem title in the issue! I'm upstaged by both Karen Rigby's "Love Notes from the Firefly Spanish/English Visual Dictionary" and Tom Daley's "After a Stroke, My Mother Denounces a Nurse in the Rehab Clinic."

I discovered Arch Literary Journal because I ran across some poems by the poet Willie Lin, and was so impressed that I decided to learn more about the poet and her work. That search brought up the fact that Willie Lin is a poetry editor at Arch, and so with the hopes that she would recognize our sensibilities as somewhat kindred, I submitted some poems there, and voila.

Here are a few on Lin's poems online at the Boxcar Poetry Review, another in a later edition of Boxcar, and some in Linebreak, Anti-, and Diagram. Enjoy!