Archive for April, 2011

Wrapping Up April

April has not been a complete poetry bust for me.  Yes, it’s true that I didn’t write anything this past month except official reports for school and a presentation for a conference.  I may have a scribble or two in my journal that may be worth saving.  But that’s it.  Still, in the past week or so, I got three acceptances via email, so somehow, I still feel like a working poet.  I’m especially excited about my poem, “The Union Steward Switches Back to Third Shift” which will be published in Motif’s thematic book/journal about work later on this year. 

The time for entering for a chance to win a poetry book from the Big Poetry Giveaway is running out. On Sunday, May 1, I will choose three winners.  If you haven’t dropped me a note, stop by here, and take a chance!


Walking Through Victoria’s Secrets

Poet Kate Daniels doesn’t know this — but we have had a long history together.  When  I was an undergraduate, poet Judy Vollmer used the book  Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life in my composition class. I loved this book in so many ways, but was especially taken by one of Daniels’ poems, “Self Portrait with Politics” a narrative work about family politics at the kitchen family where a sister disagrees with her brother about work, politics and life choices.  The poem reminded me so much of my homelife (and in many ways, it still does), that I knew I just had to find other work by Daniels.  So I trotted to the used bookstore in town, and found a copy of Daniels’ The White Wave (winner of the 1983 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize) on the racks.  I read the copy over and over again until the cover curled, until the pages started to tear at the corners. 

When I was an adjunct at Penn State Altoona, I actually got to see/hear Kate Daniels read.  I remember sitting in the back row, a lonely adjunct who taught one night class, grasping my beloved copy of  The White Wave, waiting to go up after the reading to get my copy signed.  But I was going through a stage where I was embarrassed to ask for signatures.  So I didn’t — instead, I tucked my copy in my worn backpack, so that poetry and student papers acted as one, and went on my way.

Since that time I did purchase The Niobe Poems and  Four Testimonies, Daniels’ other collections published after The White Wave, but it has been years since I had read anything else by Daniels.  So I was very happy when Anthony got me Daniels’ newest collection, A Walk in Victoria’s Secret, for Valentine’s Day this past February.

Daniels’ newest collection did not disappoint — A Walk in Victoria’s Secret traces a southern upbringing intertwining personal and public history.  In “Autobiography of a White Girl Raised in the South” the poet explains, “From the beginning, then, there were always two: me and not-me./The one I was, white and skinny/straight brown hair.  And the one/I wasn’t but could’ve been—that black or brown girl, hair coarser/than mine, eyes darker, skin gleamier and smooth.”  In “Late Apology to Doris Haskins” the narrator offers a belated invitation: “Come in, lone black girl, and sit among us/And if there are twenty whites and only/one of you? No matter. New laws say/it must be so…”

Race issues intermix with class issues, and as Daniels explains in this brief interview, “I will always be thankful to Warren [Robert Penn Warren] for that sense of permission.  It allowed me to write about my people without apology or shame, and to claim the first-person details of our own experience as working people  – excluded until recently from Southern literary history.”  These working people’s lives are seen in such poems as “Doc” and “The Shampoo Girl.”

I haven’t done at lot of poetry reading lately — April has been overloaded by work from my day job — and this book has been sitting on my to-read shelf for weeks now.  I’m sorry it took me so long to pick it up.



Hot Summer Ahead for Finishing Line Press

My chapbook, Stealing Dust, was published by Finishing Line Press, so I always try to support Finishing Line writers…I have known for some time that Kristin Berkey-Abbott ‘s chapbook will be out this summer and that the press is currently taking preorders.  (Note to those who don’t know much about Finishing Line Press: the number of preorders determines printed copies.  So it’s important to the poet to get as many preorders as possible).

Imagine my surprise (in a good way) when I looked at Finishing Line Press’s summer lineup — some of my favorite poets have chapbooks coming out. Susan Grimm, one of the poetry editors for The Barn Owl Review, has a collection set to be released in late July.  I worked with Susan a few years ago at Chautauqua and have been watching the poetry world for news of upcoming work.  And finally, (Big excitement and drumroll, please), I discovered that Pittsburgh poet Lori Jakiela has a new collection coming out!  The title of her chapbook?  The Mill Hunk’s Daughter Meets the Queen of the Sky.  Now, come on all you working-class writers…you have to be at least a little bit curious about the poems in this collection!

My invitation to you?  Take a look at Finishing Line Press today and see what upcoming collections you could support!

CFS: The Short Poem

I’m a bit too long-winded for this, but many of my readers may be interested.  Court Green’s thematic issue for this year is “the short poem.”  How short, you may ask?  The quick answer is one to ten lines. (But they are not looking for haiku!) For more information, please check out the guidelines.

Cruel Month

April is always crazy busy, and this April has been much more crazier than usual.  I’m backed up with student work, and my office is a mess!  (Okay, it’s usually a mess, but right now, I have to actually push piles of paper out of the way to get to my keyboard and my phone.) This past week, I also received three rejections in the mail.  I do love when rejections come in groups of three. 

I confess, dear readers, that I have not written any poetry in over a month.  And the last time I sent out a submission was on March 21.  To make matters worse, I have not picked up a poetry book in three weeks.  Three weeks!  I will need to remedy this right away.

Still, my giveaway is still open — as per the rules, I will draw three winners’ names on May 1.  If you have not entered to win, please do so, now!

Fiddleback Friday

I’m home again, it’s Friday, and I’m ready to settle down for the end of the school year.  In the meantime, if you are celebrating the weekend, take a look at the newest issue of The Fiddleback with work by Ann Lightcap Bruno, Josh Peterson, Jon Thrower, and Brandi Homan.  I’m humbled to have my poem published with these authors in this new online journal.

Away, Again

So, I’m off again.  Tomorrow morning I leave for the Catskills in eastern New York to attend another conference/workshop for my day job.  I would be looking forward to the trip, but it seems like all I have done the last few weeks is rush, rush, rush, bounce, bounce, bounce, from one place to another.  When I get back on Wednesday, I am looking forward to some downtime where I can wrap up the semester. 

So, dear readers of The Scrapper Poet, I know that April is National Poetry Month, but I don’t know if much poetry is going to get written/revised/read on the homefront. Still, there are plenty of things to keep a willing poet busy.

First, there’s The Big Poetry Giveaway.  Don’t forget to sign up for a chance to win one of three great choices.  If you are new to my blog, please leave a comment and I will approve the comment when I get back from my trip.

Second, there are plenty of poetry prompts to go around, including Poetic Asides where Robert Lee Brewer has kicked off another PAD challenge for the month of April.

Third, have you seen what Dave Bonta is doing?  He is reading one book for every day in April and reporting his findings on his blog.  Quite ambitious.  I’m looking forward to reading his blog.

Finally, take a look at the newest edition of Broadsided, where my friend/fellow Pennsylvanian poet Gabriel Welsch has his poem, “No Diving” posted, along with artwork by Jim Benning.

I will be away from my computer from Sunday morning until Wednesday evening!  Thus, if you email me, you will have to wait a bit for a response.

Happy April, everyone!