Archive for November, 2012

In Search of 2013…

Regular readers of The Scrapper Poet know that at the end of December, I like to post a list of poetry books that are scheduled to be published the following year.  I have been making my list, and so far, I have forthcoming books or chapbooks  by the following poets (in no particular order): Todd Davis, Gabriel Welsch, Jack Ridl, Chris Dombrowski, Kristy Bowen, Collin Kelley, Jim Daniels, Bernadette Geyer, Jessie Carty, Brandon Lamson, Karen Scolfield,  Patricia Clark, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Steven D. Schroeder, Glenn Shaheen, Kelly Davio, Jeannine Hall Gailey, and Mary Rose O’Reilley.

If you are one of these poets and a publication date has been changed, please let me know.  Even more importantly, if you know someone who has a book or chapbook coming out in 2013, drop me a note on this blog or by email:


November Poetry Pick: In Broken Latin

Annette Spaulding-Convy’s first full length collection, In Broken Latin, is a spiritual journey. Influenced by the poet’s personal life, the collection intertwines the contemporary world of a Catholic nun with lyrical musings about spirituality and faith. 

From the start of this book, we see the narrator struggling with her role in the spiritual life she has chosen.  In “In the Convent We Become Clouds” the narrator explains, “I lived with women who didn’t move/their hips//but slid like mist/through hallways and chapels.”  She herself wonders why she “hasn’t learn to float”.  While the physical discomfort is very real, the uneasiness the narrator feels with her body symbolizes other apprehension as well. For instance, there’s the discomfort with sexuality.  In “There Were No Rules About Underwear” the narrator explains that her order was progressive when it came to underwear: “red satin,cut/to show the hip, a midnight blue Wonderbra//hidden under my habit.”  The poem turns to narrative, announcing that during, a fireman breaks into her room while she sleeps in the nude:  “I pulled the sheet around my body/as he looked at the black lace on the floor//I need to feel your walls to see if they’re hot.”  

Still, while the body plays a prominent part in this collection, it’s the narrator’s spiritual quest that takes center stage in many of the works. Indeed, several  poems find the narrator pondering her place in this world by also paying tribute to important women in the Catholic faith. Saint Agatha, often considered the Patron Saint of Breast Cancer and Victims of Sexual Assault, pays a visit to the narrator in the poem, “Midnight Snack with Saint Agatha.”  In “Virgin Martyrs’ Chiffon Dessert” the narrator references Sister Dorothy Stang, a Dominican nun and environmentalist murdered in Brazil. And in “You Died Before I Sent a Card” the poet dedicates the poem to a Sister Samuel, saying “You always warned me/about procrastination” and imagining her former teacher in another place: “You flirt with the man making cotton candy/feel the pocket of your denim capris for a dime/while he swirls sugar in a perfect circle/You wonder, Is he God?”

Spaulding-Convy herself was a nun, and thus, readers can assume that much of this book is at semi-autobiographical.  According to her website, she spent five years as a nun in the San Francisco area.  Furthermore, in her acknowledgments page, she thanks many of the sisters who appear in her book, saying “I’m not sure you would have approved of my poetry, but know that I am forever grateful for the love of ideas, literature and art you shared in your classrooms.”    It’s apparent, that through her collection, Spaulding-Convy is passing this love along.

I’ve read In Broken Latin, twice, already, and I can’t help but think of a book I read a few years ago titled The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong.  In many ways, Spaulding-Convy’s collection is a perfect poetic companion piece to Armstrong’s words.

Belated Thanksgiving Wishes & Black Friday

Anthony and I celebrated Thanksgiving early this year.  Since he is a professional cook, he works on Thanksgiving, so we celebrated the day before.  Then, I traveled to my sister’s house yesterday to spend time with my family.  The weather has been gorgeous, with mild temperatures and a clear blue sky.  However, rumor has it that we are in for some Lake Effect Snow this weekend when the temperatures drop. We will see.  Here’s hoping that this post finds my readers recovering from a nice Thanksgiving…

…and perhaps recovering from Black Friday shopping as well.  I don’t do Black Fridays.  I worked retail for years and I saw how crazy people would get over what they perceived as great bargains.  To be honest, I am slightly dismayed to see more and more stores opening on Thanksgiving Eve.  I understand that buying may boost the economy a bit (maybe….), but I really do think we should give ourselves a break. Still, I know many families make Black Friday a family affair event, so maybe it’s our new way of celebrating?  There’s a big part of me that really, really hopes not.

Here’s to a quiet weekend of catching up on writing and school projects.  I have promised myself that I am going to clean out the spare bedroom, so that is another project that is in the works!

CFS: Poems about Work

Good news for working-class poets and poets who find art in work! The Iron Horse Literary Review is looking for poems, short stories, and essays about work for their Labor Day issue.  Submissions will be accepted until December 16, 2012.  Click here for more information.

An Hour or Two for Saints

It’s that time of year again.  I call it the November lag.  Students are tired, professors are worn out, and people are either looking forward to the holidays or dreading the craziness that comes with all of the festivities.  I’m surrounded by piles of papers to grade, and haven’t done a whole lot of writing.  I should know by now — this time of year is not designed to start any new projects.  It’s best to just try to keep one’s head above water.

Still, last night, I took a break from the real world and read a novel.  Yep.  A whole novel.  In one night.  I haven’t done that in years.  I hadn’t planned on devouring the book in one night, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. So what enticed me away from all the grading I need to do?  Saints at the River by Ron Rash.  I don’t have time for a proper review but the book does deserve a synopsis.

Rash’s book takes the reader to rural South Carolina, where a small town is torn apart by environmental issues. At the center of this battle is a father whose daughter has drowned in the Tamassee River.  He and his wife want to retrieve their daughter’s body but environmentalists are convinced that rescue attempts will cause damage to the river.  Rash articulates the gray areas between human rights and the environment.  Furthermore, he explores the intersections between environmental and rural/working class issues.

Rash’s work is new to me, so I was excited to find out that he has published many novels and even some poetry! But right now, I can’t go out and buy any more of his work.  I’m afraid I may get sucked in and fall further behind with my grading.

Get People Reading!

As writers, (and for many of us, as educators), we want people to read more!  Here’s a program that can help.  World Book Night will take place on April 23, 2013.  What is this event, you may ask?  World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. go out into their communities and give a total of half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers to encourage more reading.  World Book Night is a non-profit organization that could use your help!  Take a look at this year’s booklist and apply to be a giver!

Novel Reading

I have put both poetry and short story collections (and the chaos of the recent election) aside while I catch up a bit on my novels.  Next semester, I am scheduled to teach The Modern Novel, a class I haven’t taught in years.  This course is a general English/Humanities elective with no real guidelines except that the time period starts with the Modernism movement and the books are supposed to be by British or American novelists.  I already know that I will be teaching Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (a student favorite), and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. 

This past weekend I re-read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, a book I have not picked up in years.  I forgot how much I enjoyed this book, and I think it’s a good pick, so it’s probably going to go on the required reading list as well.  Since the end of the world is all the rage, I would love to find a book that fits into this subgenre; however, most of the books I have read fall into the young adult category.  I read The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, and I really liked that book, but it’s not out in paperback yet.  If anyone knows a good end-of-the-world novel geared towards adults, please let me know.

In other news, I am currently reading  Son, which is the sequel to The Giver  by Lois LowryThe Giver is one of my favorite books and I’m still debating whether or not it was a good idea for a sequel, but so far I am really enjoying Son. We will see what the conclusion brings.

CFS: Superheroes

I just caught this interesting call for submissions, so I thought I would post a quick note on my blog even though the deadline is just around the corner. Barrelhouse is currently looking for stories, essays and poems regarding superheroes! Submissions will be considered until November 15.  Take a look here for the guidelines.

….And Autumn Moves On…

Somehow in the past week, in the chaos of Hurricane Sandy and local Halloween happenings, November has fingered her way through.  Since we live in Western Pennsylvania, we did not see the damage from the Hurricane that my neighbors to the East did; however, we did experience plenty of rain and wind.  My thoughts go out to those on the East Coast.  As I write this post, the clean up continues.

In other news…well, there isn’t a lot of other news.  In the last month, I received four rejections.  However, I also found out that my poem “Landscape with Starving Deer” won an honorable mention in the Muriel Craft Bailey Contest sponsored by the Comstock Review.  The judge was Dorianne Laux — one of my favorite poets! 

Next week, I hope to be back to regular posting.  But this weekend is dedicated to raking the lawn (we had neat piles before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy) and eating all the leftover Halloween candy!