Archive for September, 2012

September in Retrospect

It’s been a busy month, and in general, a month filled with good news. I picked up three acceptances, and of course, I’m super excited about all three.  I’ve (mostly) caught up with my summer reading (all the books I collected over the last three months) and am ready for some new material. 

I’ve also managed to get some more submissions out the door.  September is when many literary journals open their doors, and if you have been keeping up with my blog, you have seen many of the posts where I announced various calls for submissions.  This past month, however, I’ve  taken a close look at some of the poems that have been rejected again and again, and thinking a bit about a recent post at Indiana Review.  For some reason, my WordPress link button doesn’t seem to be working, so I will just paraphrase what the editors have to say in their post about what’s wrong with often-rejected poems: boring first lines, too many images clustered together, failure to transcend,  abstract or clichéd language, and weak endings.

Right now I have a pile of those “often-rejected poems.”  One poem, in particular, has been rejected 12 times.  My plan in the next few weeks is to take a look at these poems to see what needs to be revisited.  Is it the beginning?  Do I make big leaps between the lines that may confuse the reader?  Do I have predictable, blah last lines?  What can I get rid of? And maybe, what should I keep?

September Poetry Pick: How The Losers Love What’s Lost

Patrick Ryan Frank’s book, How the Losers Love What’s Lost, is a collection full of, well, losers.  But a reader shouldn’t enter  thinking that the characters in these poems are all wearing a big letter “L” on their foreheads.  Instead, How the Losers Love What’s Lost, which won the Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, is a collection that explores the idea of loss in its many aches and forms.

I am often attracted to poetry books that are organized into some kind of narrative arc. Frank’s book, on the other hand, is a balance of narratives and lyrical poems.  Sometimes, we read the stories of seemingly lost souls.  For instance, in “The People in Those Places,” we are placed in the Beggar Moon Motel, where a businessman listens through thin walls to a hooker and a boy. In another poem, “Given a Gift Certificate to a Fortune Teller” a narrator explains a bleak encounter with a woman who says, “I had the saddest hands in town/my palms like movies made from Russian plays//bad lines, bad lines.” Yet, there are many poems with unknown narrators exploring more abstract feelings of loss such as the speaker in “Toward Nebraska and After” who gives directions about surving a barren landscape.

What really amazes me about this collection is the variety of speakers and the variety of explorations about loss.  In one poem, we may hear the story of a werewolf, in another poem we hear the prayer of a gambler.  Because I am currently struggling with the order of my own manuscript, I’m at awe with the ease of the order of this collection.

Frank is a new poet to me, and I’m glad that I caught up with his work on Justin Hamm’s blog when he posted a short note about this collection.  Like many other first book poets, I’m looking forward to Patrick Ryan Frank’s next collection.

Dear Monday,

If you could write a letter to Monday, what would you say?  The newest issue of Poemeleon, dedicated to the epistolary form, may give you some ideas.  In this issue, you can read some fantastic poems by Anthony Frame, Greg Rappleye, and Kathleen Kirk.  My poem, “Dear Suzy’s Bar & Grill” is also featured.

And Autumn Settles In….

I love the snap of color in Autumn, the bright yellow goldenrod, the orange  leaves, the red edges of Sumac.  Anthony doesn’t like  Fall because he says he knows “what’s coming” but I love this time of year. I love the weather, the colors, the food (yes, I have already drank my share of Apple cider for the year) Yesterday, when I drove home from work, I suddenly felt lucky.  Lucky to have a job, lucky to have my friends and colleagues at JCC, lucky to have my family, heck, even lucky to have my two happy and healthy cats (even if they tend to wake me up at 4 am). 

I’m even lucky to be grading.  (Did I just write that?).  I have been busy with piles of papers.  For the first assignment in my Writing About Literature class, I asked my students to write about their favorite book or their favorite children’s book.  I held my breath, waiting for their written responses, mostly because everyone says “No one reads anymore.”

I never really thought that statement was true.  After all, students probably don’t read what we as English Professors think they should be reading (Moby Dick, anyone?), but many of my students are reading.  Thankfully, no one mentioned Twilight, but many students did talk about Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and other Young Adult dystopian novels.  For my readers who work with young people, you know that dystopia is the trend.  (See this article here) Since I too indulge in dystopian literature, I found some great book recommendations!

CFS: Weird Poetry

Has a ghost ever lingered in one of your poems?  Has an alien wandered in?  Then, you may find this call for submissions rather interesting.  Eye to the Telescope is looking for weird poetry.  Click here for more information and for guidelines. Submissions will be accepted until October 25th.

Wet Weekend

I’m recovering a bit from Earth’s Eye, a festival of nature writing  (I mentioned this event here.) Of course, since the day was devoted to outside fieldwork, it rained, so I spent Saturday a bit soggy, but happy to be in the company of writers who want to learn about nature writing as much as I do.  (To be honest, the weather cleared Saturday afternoon, so I wasn’t that soggy).  It was a stunning day at Presque Isle; furthermore, Scott Russell Sanders was our field group leader for the day, so not only was I in the company of fellow writers who wanted to learn, I was also in the company of Sanders, who is a fantastic person (besides, being a great writer!) Hats off to the English faculty at Penn State Behrend, especially Kim Todd, for organizing this event!

I don’t want to end today’s post without mentioning that qarrtsiluni is currently taking submissions for the next theme issue: animals in the city.  Take a look here for more information.

CFS: Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts

The Crab Orchard Review (One of my favorite journals)  is now accepting submissions for its next theme issue: Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts.  Take a look here for guidelines.  The deadline for this submission period is November 2, 2012.

CFS: Journeys

I may be saying goodbye to the summer, but I’m not saying goodbye to ALL of the summer activities quite yet!  Chautauqua,  the official  literary journey of the Chautauqua Institution, is now open for submissions. Past contributors have included Todd Davis, Neil Shepard, Jim Daniels, and Jan Beatty.  Journeys is the theme for the 2013 issue.  The editorial staff will be receiving submissions until November 15th. See the guidelines here.

Hello September!

Saying hello to September means also saying goodbye to the summer.  I won’t dwell on what got done and what didn’t get done in the last few months.  Instead, I want to reset my goal of trying to submit to 10 journals per month.  I know that will be a bit tricky, but I’m going to try.  I also have a few books left over from the summer that I want to read as soon as the start-of-the-new-school-year craziness stops.

I am  leaving the summer behind while laughing a bit about the writing life.  I often go weeks without hearing anything — no acceptances, no rejections, no notes from writing friends.   And yep, one day this past week, I left my email account for three hours, and when I came back and logged on, I had a request for my chapbook, a thanks for my chapbook, an acceptance and a nice rejection.  Go figure.

In other news, the AWP panel I was on didn’t get accepted, so now I have to make a decision about AWP.  I’ve never been.  And I love Boston.   But it’s an expensive trip and while I do get some travel funding from the school, a trip to AWP will wipe out that funding.  And I will be traveling during the weird winter/slushy/icy time of the year, which can be problematic.

Still, I love Boston.