Archive for May, 2012

May Tally Marks

It’s been a relatively quiet month on the poetry front, with two acceptances and two rejections.  I also didn’t get a lot of submissions out the door, either.   Now that the regular school year is over, I’m hoping to regroup a bit and send out some more submissions.  When I first started blogging, I read about the Big Fall Submission (usually starting on September 1), the time when many literary journals open their submission periods.  Is there such thing as a Big Summer Submission period?  I’m not sure, but I do know that more journals are open than one may think, including many great online journals.  Diane has a list of online journals posted on her blog — you should take a look!


Spring Cleaning with Poetry

Anthony and I have spent the last few days spring cleaning.  It’s always amazing to me how much stuff a couple can gather in a short period of time.  So far, we are getting rid of two bags of clothes and four boxes of books.  Plus, I’ve been trying to download my personal library just a bit, so I have placed many other books on Paperback Swap. But we will still have work that needs to be done.

All of this cleaning reminds me of an anthology I just read, Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework  edited by Pamela Gemin. This collection contains poetry from many of my favorite poets including Jan Beatty, Denise Duhamel, Diane Gilliam Fisher, Allison Joseph, and Judith Vollmer, and as with all anthologies that I read, I was introduced to many new poets as well.

Although I do portray working-class/Rust Belt/blue-collar women in my poems, they seldom are working domestic chores.   Why is that?  I’m not sure — Stealing Dust contains my factory women poems, a sequence I’m rather proud of because we don’t see a lot of factory workers in poetry who are women.  But Stealing Dust also contains a poem titled “Canning Season” which talks about my mother’s kitchen in August.  In “Splintered” I make a passing reference to laundry on clotheslines, but that is it.  Have I deliberately abandoned the traditional women’s world of work at home?  (Or maybe it’s because I’m a terrible housekeeper and don’t want to write about it!)  I’m not sure, but I do believe it’s something that I need to explore  if I am going to continue to write about the working-class world.

Hello, Weekend!

One would think that since the regular semester is over, that I would have more time to blog, but that hasn’t been the case.  I’ve spent the week finishing up spring semester’s business.  Plus, I started my summer creative writing class.  Also, Anthony and I have taken advantage of the nice weather to get some yardwork done.  I’ve also been trying to catch up with my reading and writing (and revising!)  I do, however, have some good news to report. Yesterday, I got an acceptance note from Cati Porter, the wonderful editor-in-chief of Poemeleon.  My poem, “Dear Suzy’s Bar & Grill” will appear in the next issue, which is dedicated to the epistolary form.

I also got my contrbutor’s copy of Sugar House Review, where my poem, “Crow Season” joins work by Liz Robbins, Kate Greenstreet, and Jenn Blair (among others).  Thanks to all the members of the Sugar House Review staff for such a beautiful literary journal!

Finally, special thanks goes to Jessie Carty who wrote a review of Wearing Heels on her blog!  Remember, (insert shameless self-promotion here), you can get your own copy (for $10 including shipping and handling) by dropping me a note at

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

May Poetry Pick: Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine by Jesse Graves

This past March at the ASA conference, I was introduced to the poetry of Jesse Graves when I attended a reading where he was paired with a novelist and another poet.  I was struck by the lyrical softness of his language, even though his poetry covered all the hard edges of Appalachia: the landscape, the fading architecture of farms, the people.  I wanted to buy his book that day, but alas, there was more to do and buy at the ASA conference than I had imagined, so I was broke the day I attended his reading. Thus, I didn’t get a hold of his book until recently.

But, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine was worth the wait. From its title, the book  instantly suggests that Graves collection is going to be a work of Appalachian literature, and yes, many of the poems do evoke a strong sense of place.  The opening poem, “For the Frozen Wood” is a poem written in pantoum form, and with its repeating line scheme, the reader is drawn into a world that changes but somehow comes full circle.  

Graves poems are littered with farms and backroads, ponds and forests. Many of his works contain a persona grappling with his place in a world where relationships are evolving and places are changing.   My favorite poem in the whole collection is “Digging the Pond” where a young boy watches his father: “He can name every species of tree, wild root/the compounds of the soil in every field/and knows that I stood off to the side too often/to learn what he was born knowing.”

In many ways, this is a collection of journeys.  Several poems contain the metaphor of travel through roadtrips.  For instance, one poem  “St. Paul” tells the story of a young boy traveling with a favorite uncle who spoke to his young nephew “like I might actually know something/which none of the other grown-ups did.” Another poem, the almost bittersweet “Detroit Muscle”  tells a narrative of a young man who works diligently on a car and then takes it for a spin: “I lost it-the front tire slipped the road and I went/spinning, one ditch swallowed me up and spit me straight/into the other and I landed upside down in a tobacco field/wondering where the road went and why I wasn’t on it.”   While many of these poems stick close to the narrator’s home, others wander elsewhere, sometimes traveling to the Finger Lakes region in New York state, sometimes traveling to Louisiana.

All in all, Graves’ book is collections of human histories steeped in landscape.  In his world you can read about young boys who kick up “devil’s snuff” in the back woods of their homes and a fisherman who hopes for a bite from a fish who “wouldn’t take a red worm/if it swam into their suction-cup mouths.”  In his world, you venture into the past through both tangible photographs and abstract memories.  With other poems, you venture into a fast fading rural landscape that has scars of both family loss and strength.

You can read more about Jesse Graves and his work at his website here.

CFS: In the Dark

I’m a bit late in posting this call for submissions, but Hayden’s Ferry Review is looking for poems and stories about the dark.  The deadline is June 1, 2012.  Full guidelines can be found on the journal’s website here.


My grades for the semester are done, and it looks like I will be teaching a creative writing class this summer.  So, yes, like everyone, my endings aren’t really endings, but starting points for new beginnings — in my case, new classes, new students, and hopefully, some new work. 

In the last week or so, I have managed to draft some new poems.  I’ve also received a rejection or two.  But today, I got the news that Adanna has accepted one of my poems.  I loved Adanna’s debut issue that was published last year, so I’m super excited to be included in this summer’s issue.

In other news, two great poets have chapbooks coming out from Finishing Line Press.  As most of my readers know, my first chapbook, Stealing Dust, was published by Finishing Line Press and I’ve been grateful for the Press’s support of my work.  Thus, I try to support them whenever I can.  Consider preordering Sheila Squillante’s Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry and Laura E. Davis’s Braiding the Storm.  (The links go directly to their blogs where you can learn more about their work!)

Now, I’m off to prepare for my summer course!  With the warm weather and bright sun, it does indeed, feel like summer.


In the last month or so, I have collected a huge pile of poetry books.  I have to tell you, dear Reader, that I don’t often get this behind in my reading, and poetry books seldom are left unread in my household, but because I have picked up so many new books in the last month or so (I even won three books of poems from the Big Poetry Giveaway), I am swamped.

And I have not yet mentioned the piles of student papers that are here (or will soon be here) because of the end-of-the-semester rush.  Anthony once calculated how many pages I typically read at the end of the semester.  His final verdict was 800 pages.  I wish he hadn’t told me.

Of course, this is all coming with the spring celebrations of graduations and family reunions.  Plus, I have to get some yardwork done (right now, it looks like we are living in the middle of a hayfield, our grass is so long!)

So what does this all mean?  Basically, the blog will be silent for at least a week.  Also, emails may go unanswered.  I’m also behind in my reviews.  In the last month or so, some of you have written about posting information and reviews on my blog, and I’m behind in those activities as well.  But, I will catch up after final grades are turned in! Promise.

CFS: The Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize

Seven Kitchens Press is now accepting chapbook submissions for a new annual series co-edited by  Ron Mohring and Eduardo C. Corral.  This series honors the vision and teaching of Rane Arroyo and is open to all poets.  The deadline is June 15, 2012.  For more information, please look here.

Mayday Winners

I’m up a bit early today, trying to work on some new poems before I head off to school.  But before I open my word processing documents, I want to announce the two winners of the Big Poetry Giveaway!  Renee Emerson is now the proud owner of my chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt and Barbara Young has won a copy of Local World.  Congrats to both, and I will be in touch soon!