Archive for July, 2009

Random Writing Prompt of the Week

This week’s Chautauqua workshop under Rick Hilles is a workshop of “jailbreaks” — roughly taking chances with your own poetry and writing “differently” — that is writing a different type of poem than you are used to writing.  So, my jailbreak of the night? The writing prompt is to make a list of 10 things you fear or 10 things that allure  you.  Then, write a poem from the point of view of that thing.  What am I going to write about? Leeches.  Yep, leeches.  They disgust me, yet they are strangely fascinating — believe it or not they have such an interesting history.  So, I’m off to my leeches poem.


CFS: Tilt Press

Tilt Press publishes three to five chapbooks a year and their reading period is now open.  The press is looking for chapbook manuscripts from poets who have NOT published a chapbook or full-length collection.  Please check here for guidelines.

Surviving Revision

I spent the weekend traveling and revising.  Mostly, I was revising while I was traveling.  I find both actions exhausting, but I wanted to work on the poems we went through last week during my Chautauqua workshop.  I was happy with four of them — happy enough, that is, to send them out today.  During the rest of this week, I will be attending another workshop at Chautauqua (with poet Rick Hilles) where I hope to get some new writing done.  After working on so much revision, I’m ready for some new stuff.

CFS: The Hobble Creek Review

The Hobble Creek Review, an online journal of poetry and place, is now open for submissions.  Past contributors include Mary Biddinger, Collin Kelley, Rachel Mallino, Sarah J. Sloat and Brent Fisk.  Stop by and take a look!  Then, submit!

Chautauqua and Some Notes on the Workshop

Today marked the end of the first week at the Chautauqua Institution, a place where I take writing workshops every summer.  This past week, I worked under poet Neil Shepard in an advanced poetry workshop, and I have to say that it was the most invigorous  “poetic workout”  I have had in a long time.  I’ve been a bit down with my work, mostly because I can’t seem to really get some of my poems “just right.”  (And no, I don’t think that is because I am a perfectionist).  This workshop was geared towards advanced writers and we worked on everything from literary allusions to line/stanza breaks to content to imagery.  All in ONE WEEK!  I am walking away thinking about my own work in a variety of new and different ways.  I especially enjoyed the extra feedback about the form of my poems.  I know that I tend to go crazy with enjambment (Sharon Olds, anyone?), so what Neil and the members of my group had to say was very beneficial.

There was something that did happen this week, however, that left me thinking about the workshop/audience format.  I will not provide links to other sites about pros and cons of the workshop format — we all know what people are saying.  However, I am wondering, if we are the best judge of our own work.  In my experience, often what people say in a workshop setting simply echoes what I am thinking down deep inside about a particular piece of work.  Many times workshop members can articulate the questions and concerns about a specific line or image or conclusion.  This week, however, something different happened — I was going to take out a specific image in one of my poems that, to be honest, I didn’t really like.  However, every one in my group including Neil thought that it was a great image.  Am I being too critical about my work?  Should I be sending out more pieces than I do? (I tend to want to be 100 percent sure about a poem before I send it out — that takes a long time).  Should we always have readers for our poems before they get sent out?  These are some of the questions I have been thinking about this afternoon as I weed through my drafts in order to settle down to do some more revising. 


Lowering the Body at Weave

The lovely editors at Weave have posted my review of Stephen Murabito’s Lowering the Body.  Full Confession: (which I already confessed to the Weave editors) Steve was my professor when I was at Pitt-Greensburg (eons ago) and even then, I remember him working on his writing between classes, grabbing every spare minute he could to get a few words down.  And he didn’t have a lot of spare time.  At this point in his career he was teaching, running the writing center on campus, and overseeing the literary magazine. Plus, and my memory is a bit fuzzy here, I think it was while I was an undergrad that he became a father of twins! I always think of Steve when I complain about not having time to write, because he certainly made time.

I haven’t been in contact with Steve in years, but I have kept up with his writing.  Lowering the Body  is his third full length collection of poems and I think it’s his best.  However, The Oswego Fugues and The Communion of Asiago are also great reads.  All of his books are published by Star Cloud Press.

A Sunday Laugh

Okay, many of you probably already know of this blog, but I just discovered it today.  Stop by and take a look! I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to work at a library and this site just cracks me up.

A Mystery or Two

Western New York has had a very wet and cold week — someone told me that this past June was the wettest on record, and I believe it!  Thus, I haven’t been doing the usual summer activities — mostly I’ve been hiding out with my nose in a book.  This past week was a week of mysteries. 

First,  I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, a book that apparently many other people are talking about.  I don’t usually read fictional mysteries, but Larsson’s book had me hooked from page one.  The characters were interesting (although, not always likeable), and the mystery plot complex (but not too complex).  The only disappointment was that I had most of the “who done it” figured out before the ending, so I was not shocked by the conclusion of the book.  Still, the book was a real page turner and I’m looking forward to Larsson’s next book due out later this summer.

I also just finished The Monster of Florence  by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi.  Monster  is a book of true crime — I love true crime books as long as they are well written (not Ann Rule).  Preston and Spezi’s book investigates the serial killer who killed 14 people in and around Florence, Italy.  The Monster case has never been solved, but Preston and Spezi deliver a frank account of the Italian court system and ideas of justice.

Right now I am reading For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the  Murder that Shocked Chicago.  No real mystery here — but a great look at crime history. 

The weather looks like it is finally clearing! Yay — hopefully, I can spend part of the weekend outside.  Have a safe and happy holiday weekend everyone!

Around the Web Updates

It’s July 1st — and you know what that means.  Many online journals are updating their sites with new material.  Take a look — Gently Read Literature’s July edition offers some exciting reviews including book reviews about two collections I just have to read: Usher by B.H. Fairchild and A Brief History of Time by Shaindel Beer. Also,  Broadsided Press offers a poem by Benjamin Grossberg and artwork by Jennifer Bevill.  Check it out!

Summer Poetry Sale!

Anne reminded me of this: The University of Pittsburgh Press is having a summer poetry sale until August 1.  Some great deals here, including books by Maggie Anderson, Reginald Shepherd, Jan Beatty, Jim Daniels, Toi Derricotte, Daisy Fried, Aaron Smith, and Cathy Song.  Check it out!

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