This week at Linebreak

Many of you will already have seen this on Facebook, but for those of you who’ve resisted the FB-lure, I’m happy to tell you that my poem is featured this week at Linebreak. You can read it here, with a terrific audio recording by Randall Mann. I love how he takes his time, savoring the line endings.

One of the other cool features of Linebreak is their weekly e-mailing. How neat to receive my own poem in my email inbox! Feel a little like a rock star at the moment. You can subscribe to get your own copy of each week’s poem sent directly to you by clicking on the link at Linebreak on the right side of every page.

While you’re tooling around Linebreaks website, be sure to check out their archives, which include other rock stars, such as Emma Bolden, Karen Rigby,  Sandy Longhorn, and a whole host of terrific poets. Yes, I am bolstering my own ego via proximity to their eminence.

Thank you, Linebreak!

Confession Tuesday, my occasional contribution:

  • Kelli, January, and others have fuller line-ups of participating confessors, so travel yonder for directions. I’m so far behind I’m still mired in September.
  • My bottom’s still broken, but the pain is becoming more manageable/tolerable; also, my husband took a buzz saw to the stairs — the top stair hung over the second by a good three inches, hastening any missteps — it was quite satisfying, I confess.
  • I never used the word “bottom” until I had kids. I remember the childbirth class instructor saying “bottom” at least 10 times per class, and it amused me endlessly. But,without going too deeply into it, using “bottom” averts numerous scatalogical references. It works.
  • Between Collected Poets work & Tupelo work & my broken bottom, I’ve written not a single poem since August. However, I sent my MS to one contest, plan on sending to one more, I’m awaiting word on many submissions, and Cave Wall accepted two poems for next year. Not too shabby.
  • Elisa Gabbert has a post up about top pop songs, and I confess that I adore this sort of thing. Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the 80’s — a dreadful decade for fashion, but arguably the best for pop music. Some perched high on my echelon:
    • A-ha — I actually love the entire cassette that features “Take on Me”  — “The Sun Always Shines on TV” is clever! I need to find this on CD.
    • OMD — “If You Leave” — what teenager doesn’t have this on her personal soundtrack? Don’t tell me, I don’t believe you.
    • The Cure — “Just Like Heaven” — this song makes me want to twirl around and around really fast. It just does.
    • Martika — “Toy Soldiers” — remember Kids Incorporated? Forget Fergie, I loved Martika.
    • Pat Benatar — “Wide Awake in Dreamland”, not as well-known but just as pop-worthy, is my favorite of her albums. She was my first concert; I was 16, only about 6 rows from the stage, and it was a pretty small venue. Spoiled me for life, I can’t stand a stadium-style show — I crave the intimate.
    • Heart — “Alone” — Elisa already has this on her list, but pining was my adolescent art, and “Alone” is the paragon of pining songs.

I haven’t even come close to a partial accompaniment to Elisa’s partial list, but hey, it’s a start. There are wicked big gaps here. Add to it. Confess, c’mon, you know you want to.

 

Sub·mit (səb mit′) — origin: ME submitten < L submittere < sub-, under, down + mittere, to send

It’s September, the first days of autumn — officially here in two days — beginning of migration season — birds & leaves — colder temps and colds. Naturally, my children are celebrating by both of them coming down with whoppers of colds. I’m not the nervous type, but Aidan’s breathing so concerned me last night that we ended up in the ER. Diagnosis, bronchitis, no need for x-rays — at least not yet — we don’t seem to be dealing with pneumonia — at least not yet. Keep an eye on him, etc.

They’re both pretty miserable & subdued, one of the side benefits of which is periodic interludes of peace & quiet, sadly uncharacteristic of our usual household. Which is to say that I’m going to use this fleeting time to catch up on some reading & (gasp!) maybe even do some writing.

But before I go: I always have poems out there, but September is also the month when open submissions begin for many journals, and hence the month that many writers concentrate on sending their submissions, the Fall Submission Blitz (FSB), if you will. In honor of  FSB, below are two witty & simpatico articles on rejection. Let loose the Kraken!

  • Corey Ginsberg on “The Two Faces of Rejection”:  Rejection from the editor’s side and, of course, the writer’s — “You rock fetal on the floor next to the SASEs, and wish you had other life skills. What about juggling?”
  • Claire Guyton on “Fondling Failure”: Because I’ve saved every one of my rejections since the very first submission I made at the green green age of 19, and I’m so glad I did. They’re historical documents, that history being mine. Rejections aren’t, unfortunately, irreplacable — as long as you submit there are bound to be more — but if I’m doing something right, hopefully they’ll be at least unique, with small pen indentations of encouraging words. And that’s definitely worth saving.

Submission Fees: A Manifesto of Sorts

C. Dale Young has a poll going on at his blog asking what, if anything, we various and varied poets would be willing to pay to submit poems to a journal electronically. The comment stream is long and full of thought-out and reasoned opinions. Based on the results of the poll, an overwhelming majority would be unwilling to pay any fee at all. I lean that way myself, and I’m trying to organize my thoughts to explain why.

  1. One argument for fees is that $3 is what you would pay for a postal submission anyway, why not put that money toward supporting a journal? To which I say, Wha?! Maybe in your spendthrift universe, but not here!  I just bought two reams of paper for a penny per, and I’ll make them last, too. Toner was more, but still purchased at a bargain.
  2. And if you want to argue that time is money, it’s actually quicker to print up a hard copy submission than it is to copy & paste different poems into a single new document to upload to a submission manager or attach to an email. I do it because it saves me money in postage.
  3. And what makes submitting online so free, anyway? I’m paying a goodly amount per month for my internet connection, more than I ever spent on stamps. I do so because it makes my job and home office possible, and endlessly enriches my poetry community. It’s a necessity these days. But it’s sure not free.
  4. The idea of paying a fee for the honor of a form rejection rankles. A lot.
  5. Would this mean that journals would start paying for poems in cash money instead of comp copies? Somehow I doubt it. I’ve never minded receiving comps as payment for my poems — I’m a fan of the journals that publish my poems. To my mind, it’s a deal we’ve struck: I won’t charge you for printing my poems, and you don’t charge me for reading them. Without submissions, a journal would have little to print.
  6. Subscriptions and donations are how a journal should raise money. Reading fees are coerced donations and feel predatory. And punitive.
  7. And for those of you who say, But $1-3 isn’t too much to ask to support a journal you like, $1-3 adds up! How lovely for you if you can afford to spend money on air, but when I send a journal a check, I like to receive an issue in return. For those of you who have that marvelous, ephemeral thing known as “discretionary” or “disposable” income, I’ll put that $1-3 in perspective for you: my 18 month old’s primary food group is yogurt, he eats two 6 oz. containers a day. On a sale day I can find his favorite for 49¢. For $1 I could put him in yogurt for a day, for $3, three days. That’s not nothing to me.

I love literary journals. Anyone who’s been a reader here for a while knows I subscribe to many. But I won’t submit to a journal that raises money on the backs of writers who make little or nothing for their work as it is. I probably wouldn’t subscribe to one either. If you need to raise money, get creative: print up some broadsides from poems you’ve printed, have the poets sign them, &  sell them on your website. Hold subscription salon parties. There are many journals making a go of it without university support, and they do it with great heart and without taxing would-be contributors.  I suggest the folks at hard-up journals have  good long conversations with those editors if they want to keep on keeping on.

We’re all on the side of the angels here. What happens next could change everything.

Thanks for the memories, Rejection Edition.

One of the other things I neglect in order to focus on poems is this blog, and blogs in general. Sorry about that. On the up side, however, I wrote a new poem. I have one more small edit to make — which I’ve been thinking about since last night when Lance read it & pointed out that a line was confusing — and, okay, there’s an image near the end that I’m not entirely happy with yet & is acting as more of a placeholder until I come up the right-er one. But it’s pretty close to done, and I’m pretty close to happy with it. Which makes for a pretty perfect sort of day.

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Literary Rejections on Display today is highlighting the new book, Other People’s Rejections by interviewing its author, Bill Shapiro. It’s an interesting interview, and he closes with this piece of advice:

Risk rejection… and save your rejection letters. No, no—not for me. For you! Not every writer will have the story about the 30 publishers who rejected them before landing on the best-seller list. That’s not what this is about. You’ll look back on the letters years down the line and see them as markers of your passion, your bravery.

Now I don’t know from bravery, but I’ve saved all my rejections since I began submitting too long ago.  I do think of them as “markers of [my] passion,” indicators of the seriousness I take my writing. As unsettling as the idea is that my poems are actually getting out into the world & being read by strangers, I consider finding an audience for my poems part of the work of being a poet.

Some evenings I pull out the bulging file of rejection slips (while also noting with no small satisfaction that the acceptance file is gaining weight too), and, in an act my husband considers masochistic, I page through the papers. But I do this for two reasons. First, it reminds me how far I have progressed: the early days of peremptory slips have given ground to many more personal notes. Second, it reminds me of those encouraging notes, of journals I haven’t tried in a while that I need to send work to. I find that I tend to get in submission ruts, forgetting certain journals for periods of time. My rejection file is a great resource, an archive of journal contact history. I hope I always have it.

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The First Annual NaPoMo Poetry Giveaway was very good to me, to my neverending surprise. My winnings:

  1. from Jennifer Gresham at Everyday Bright, a copy of her chapbook, Explaining Relativity to the Cat. This just arrived today — thank you, Jen!
  2. from Ron Mohring at Supple Amounts, a copy of Deb Burnham’s chapbook, Still.
  3. from Ronda Broatch at After Artist’s Way, copies of her chapbooks, Some Other Eden and Shedding Our Skins.

It was great fun meeting so many new folks, though I’ve been so wrapped up in my own work since then that I haven’t explored the blogosphere much. Thanks again to everyone for making poetry month so much of a real celebration.

Last Day!

How is it possible that tomorrow is May? The days seem to have accelerated, the year nearly half gone!

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month, which means it’s the last day to enter the Great Poetry Giveaway, dreamed up by the ever-generous Kelli Russell Agodon. Visit her blog, Book of Kells, to see the master list of blogs participating (55!), but, before you do, don’t forget to leave a comment here to enter in my giveaway: 2 books & a subscription.  You only have until midnight tonight (world time — your time — midnight wherever you are). Tomorrow I’ll post the names of the winners.

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Thank you, yes, I spiffed up the place: new theme, new header, new font thanks to Typekit.  Strange to say after two and a half years, but at last this virtual space is beginning to feel less borrowed and more mine.

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Yesterday was a windy day. When I say “windy,” I don’t mean easy breezy. I would say it was about a 7 on the Beaufort Scale. On the Bridge of Flowers, an 8 — that place is a wind tunnel!

Naturally, the boys wanted to be out in it.  They wanted it with the sort of unrelenting, irrational insistence that grew in direct proportion to my efforts to talk them out of it.

I woke up with a cold, so I was already more inclined to be a lay-on-the-couch-and-moan Mama. Stepping out into those gales wasn’t going to be a good time for any of us.

Where did we go? The Bridge of Flowers, of course, because it’s spring, and the tulips and hyacinths have returned the parade of colors to the Bridge after the long gray-scale drought.

It was awful. And even frightening. The wind was cold, unceasing, walking against it like carrying two times my body weight uphill.

But it was worth it. Took the starch right out of the boys — Aidan went right down for a nap when we got home, and Vincent was subdued the rest of the afternoon, playing with his crayons and coloring books when he normally would be wreaking noisy destruction.

This morning, it was actually eerie, walking out into a windless day. The quiet, the ease. The neighbor’s flowering tree had lost all its petals. I could feel the sun, yesterday reduced to light, memory, warm on my skin.

So on this last day of NaPoMo, this perfect spring day, I give you this poem, which feels spring-like to me, and captures both its brilliance and its transcience, its frisson of forboding. It’s by none other than Carmine Starnino, from his book This Way Out. Look for a longer treatment from me about this marvelous Canadian poet soon-ish. Till then:

The Butterflies I Dreamt in Childhood are Here

Look at you, blown in from Christ knows where.
Shoulder to shoulder, silk kissing silk against the asters
in a bunting of open wing and stem, dozens strong,
seemingly self-xeroxed, an apricot spree of yellow
sprayed on green, and lopsidedly clinging as you feed,

afterward ascending on pillars of altitude, a still life.
You have a week at best, and soon the almanac
will catch up even with that good bloom and leave it
twisted shut, like a burr. There’s something else
to consider in the barn-red, hay-green fact of this place:

a sparrow split open near the willows, in full sun.
But no. It’s you I’d rather watch. Heavy enough
to flag a flower, you are large cups of colour set on such
small saucers, coins to keep a child’s eyes closed.

–Carmine Starnino

Paradise Regained

I’ve been using Apples in one configuration or another since 1989, and there’s nothing like a Mac.  I’m so appreciative of my friend Lea’s generosity in loaning me a laptop so that I could still get work done, but truly, there’s nothing like a Mac.

Budget constraints led me, nervous yet desperate, to eBay for my next laptop, and, badaboom, here I am, $109.50 + shipping later, sitting pretty with a refurbished iBook, leaving me some spare parts (battery, air port, power cord, etc.), plus extra memory from the old machine that I can install in the new, all worth more than my total cost.

Not an entirely seamless transition, unfortunately, as it turned out that when I cleaned up my thumb drive shortly before my old computer hit the skids, I accidentally “cleaned” it of my manuscript (among other things).  I have it in hard copy, but the prospect of typing it over entirely…! My right eye began to twitch.

Luckily, I’ve  begun submitting it to a contest or two, and at least one of them uses an online submission manager. Halleluiah! I logged in to my account and downloaded my ms. from there. I’ve already revised that version, natch, but the editing and work-time involved was much, much, less than retyping it from whole cloth.

Oh, what a (wondrous, useful, potentially addictive, definitely scary) thing is eBay! And is there anything more aggravating and soul-searing than the outrage of someone outbidding you? (WTF? Hey! I really need that, you *#&@$!)

Now April, National Poetry Month, is almost over, and I haven’t written a single poem. There’s much work to be done, rethreading the various scraps of my virtual life, but I’m hoping to fit a poem in before the week, and month, closes up shop.

In the meantime, you still have time, if you haven’t already, to enter the NaPoMo Poetry Book Giveaway, spearheaded by Kelli Russell Agodon over at Book of Kells — go on over to check out the 50+ blogs that are giving away free books. To enter mine, leave a comment here. It’s all over Friday at midnight, EST. On Saturday I’ll announce the winners.

P.S. I’ve been experimenting with Typekit fonts for the blog — feeling like it, too, needs some spring freshening up — but when I click “publish”, nothing about the blog seems to have changed. Either I’m doing it wrong, or there’s an issue with my browser. Do you, Dear Reader, notice anything different?