Archive for February, 2012

February Tally Marks

Alas, dear Readers, the excitement of this past month has worn me down.  First, there was the arrival of my new chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt.  This Thursday, I will be visiting my colleagues and students at the Cattaraugus County Campus in Olean, New York, where I will be giving a reading and talking about the creative process. 

Then, there was the news of my poem being included in 2011 The Best of the Net.  “The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees” was originally published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry.  You can read it here.  My poem joins work by some of my favorite poets including Traci Brimhall and Dorianne Laux.  What is really cool about this anthology is not only have I been introduced to work by poets I didn’t originally know, but I’ve been introduced to many online journals I didn’t know!

In the middle of all this fuss, I didn’t get a lot of new writing done.  I think I can claim four new poems for the month. Submissions have also been slow.  I fell way short of my monthly goal of ten journals.  In fact, I only sent submissions out to two places. Two!!!!  I have to say that the receiving end was a bit quiet, also: one acceptance and two rejections.  I thought for sure that journals would be clearing off their desks in preparation for AWP, but nope, I still have a lot of poems out in the world trying to find a home.

In all this craziness, however, I did manage to read 10 poetry books.  And after reading through my blog posts for the past month, I realized that The Scrapper Poet has turned into a me, me, me blog — which is something that I never intended to do!

So, onto March and spring and more celebrations of poetry!  Happy Leap Year and safe travels to all on the road. I’m looking forward to reading the updates from AWP.


Three at Fried Chicken and Coffee

Special thanks to editor and writer Rusty Barnes, who selected three of my poems for publication in his blogazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee.  You can read them here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  And for those getting ready for AWP, have a great time! (I won’t be going this year, but next year, Boston, here I come!)

February Poetry Pick: Heinz 56

Fans of the Scrapper Poet know how I love poetry of place, and since I went to college in the Pittsburgh area, where else would I want to visit (through poetry and in real life) but Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?  Amanda Reynolds’ Heinz 56 (Main Street Rag, 2012)  invites the reader into both the landscape and history of Pittsburgh.

Reynolds opens up her book with a poem titled “Wishing You Were Here” which invites the reader into her world immediately:  “You can laugh, but I’ll take one look at ketchup/on your plate and tell you whether it’s Heinz.”   In a single poem, she mentions PETA protestors who are naked behind signs, a Weiner World that sits next to a porn shop, and Kennywood, “where each day two tons/of corndogs swirl around stomachs on the Jackrabbit.”   Even if you are not familiar with these landmarks and sights, it’s obvious from her attention to detail that Reynolds wants to capture Pittsburgh’s charm and chaos, so much so that in another poem, “Red Belt” she asks, “Can you replace the love of a man/with the love of a place?”  Her answer suggests yes, although she simply says, “I’ll be alright tonight.”

Reynolds divides her book into the “Belts” of Pittsburgh.  For those of you not familiar with the road formation of this city, the “belts” are different roads that lead around Pittsburgh. Thus, every section of the book suggests both an outer journey, and then of course when we think of extended metaphors, an inner journey.  We see speakers traveling through history in such poems as “The Great Pittsburgh Fire, 1845” and “The Banana Explosion of 1936.”  We see other speakers explore the intersections of personal and local history in such works as “The Molly Maguires.”   Still, other poems focus on popular culture, such as “Tearing Down the Igloo” which traces bits of Penguin history through a personal narrative.

I have always been fascinated with poets who seek to write about a specific city.  Other poets come to mind — William Carlos Williams and Carl Sandburg (although I KNOW they are not the only ones!), and in some ways, Reynolds is following in their footsteps, but in other, more important ways, she is trailblazing her own path to capturing the true spirit of an American city.

First Review

Special thanks goes to Kathleen Kirk, Poetry Editor of Escape Into Life, for her thoughtful mini-review of Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt.  You can read what she says here.  And I love the artwork by Casey Weldon that accompanies the review!

Dreaming of Chautauqua

This winter has brought us “unseasonably warm temperatures” with little to no snow.  Today, it’s sunny outside, and I’m even thinking of getting my bike out of the garage to take a quick spin around the block.  This morning, I swear I heard a robin (although I haven’t seen any robins yet!)  In short, with weather like this in February, it’s easy to dream about summer.  And it’s easy to dream about Chautauqua.

This year, the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival will be held on June 14 – June 17.  There’s a great lineup of writers including poets Martin Espada and Judith Vollmer.  Judith was my advisor and professor when I was an undergraduate at Pitt Greensburg, and I can’t wait to see her again! 

The regular summer sessions look great too!  Poets Marjorie Maddox, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Jim Daniels, Gabriel Welsch, and Julia Kasdorf will all be conducting workshops throughout the summer.  Take a look here for more information.

I know that most people who come to Chautauqua are local (Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York), but the prices for both the festival and the workshops are very reasonable.  If you are looking for a fantastic writer’s vacation, consider trying one of these sessions!

CFS: Redemption

Witness is currently accepting submissions for its 2013 print issue.  The theme for this particular issue is Redemption and submissions will be accepted until April 1, 2012.  Please check out the website for more details!

CFS: Speculative (SF) Poetry

Most of you know that Rattle devotes part of every issue to a specific theme.  What you may not know is that Rattle is currently looking for speculative (SF) poetry!  This submissions window has just opened.  Take a look here for more guidelines.

The Best of the Net!

Since the wonderful editors at Glass: A Journal of Poetry have posted the news, I can too!  My poem, “The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees” has been picked for the 2011 Best of the Net Anthology by Sundress Press!

Thanks to Holly and Anthony, editors of Glass, for nominating my poem, and thanks to judge Mary Biddinger, for picking my poem.

The anthology should be online by the end of February!

A Week of New Poets

This was one of those weeks of 1,000 student papers, but I still made time to read 2011 Best New Poets edited by D.A. Powell.  I have to admit that this is the first time I have read any of the volumes in this series, and I can’t really say enough how much I enjoyed this particular collection.  In essence, I found so many new poets to love.  Highlights? Natalie Giarratano explores a coyote infested landscape in “New Coyote,” Jennifer Luebbers ponders how the world looks for a missing girl in “Recess,” and Chelsea Woodard looks at porn magazines in “Finding the Porn Magazine.”  (I should probably clarify that last statement — Woodard’s poem is really a thoughtful narrative about glimpsing part of the adult world through a 12-year-old’s eyes).

The bad news about reading a collection like this is that when I stumbled upon poems I really liked, I instantly looked at the back to read the contributors’ notes.  And then I remembered:  the guidelines for this collection request that those who enter submissions must not have full length collections of poetry published. Rats.  Thus, no new books for me.  I do hope, however, that some of my favorite poets I pointed out in this volume will have books out soon.

Wearing Heels is Out in the World!

The moment has come!!!! Last night I got my box of chapbooks via UPS! (As you can see, Lola is more interested in the box than what is inside.) For those of you who preordered Wearing Heels, you should have your copy very soon — as for those of you who want to order from me, as soon as I figure out PayPal, I will take orders from this site.  Or if you can’t wait, you can drop me an email here at for my home address so you can mail me a check.

« Previous entries