Saturday, November 28, 2009


This just in from Poetry Hut Blog: Psychological Therapy 32 Times More Cost Effective at Increasing Happiness Than Money. Apparently, money can buy you love, but you have to know where to spend it. At the therapist's.

And that is just one sample of why you should read Jilly Dybka's Poetry Hut Blog.

Kelli Russell Agodon has a wonderfully honest and inspiring blog, History of a Manuscript, about how long it took her to win the wonderful White Pine Press Poetry Award with her new book. Read it and keep licking those stamps (and writing the checks). But first read my blog, above, about getting something more for your entry fee than just a chance to win.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Perks in book contests

I'm assessing which contests to enter my manuscript in, and one of the surprising elements are the perks you get just for entering. I find it makes a difference to me to get a copy of the winning book, even if the entry fee is $5 more. It also makes a difference if they name the judge in advance. I mean, there are just some poets who aren't going to like my work. I know who some of them are! (I think.) So I rule out the contests that leave out a giant perk of knowing who might make the winning pick, should I get so very lucky as to get into the final round.

Then there are the miscellaneous perks: a cash prize for a runner-up. Possible publication of a second manuscript if one is found worthy. One of the oddest perks I saw was Gival Press, which recruits the previous year's winner to be the judge of the next contest, presumably for a fee.

Whatever the perks offered, when you crunch the numbers of running a book contest, it becomes clear that not offering some kind of perk is a bit stingy. Though some contests are presumably run to support a magazine and publishing a full slate of non-contest-selected titles, some aren't. One wonders what they do with the money, when printing costs are quite low these days, even in small quantities. One hopes they lavish it on advertising and book tours for the winners.

Interesting to pick and choose based on the perks factor.

Then there's also the lesser-competition factor. I'll save that for my next post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Alchemist's Kitchen + The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go.

Susan Rich's blog, The Alchemist's Kitchen, has just the right recipe to make a delicious read: a little memoir, some travel, tips on such lit-biz topics as how to successfully apply for a residency and the fact that women poets might have an edge now in submitting to the Southern Review, as well as notable literary events, like the celebration of Madeleine DeFrees' 90th birthday at Elliot Bay Books. Susan, I've added yours to my blogroll! Thanks for the riches.

I've been reading Eliot Khalil Wilson's The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go, a beautiful and brilliant debut book. The poems are well-crafted, full of feeling, often tender, and filled with stunning metaphorical aptness. I sometimes feel the strain behind a poem's reaching for the surprising metaphor; never in these poems did the metaphor or simile strike me as gratuitous. This is poetry that has earned its imagination, lived itself out before coming to the page. Here's the title poem, published at Slate. And a poem that just knocks me out, White Slip on the Paris Metro at From the Fishouse (you can hear him read the poem).

Eliot Khalil Wilson, an Arab-American, brings an interesting cultural mix into his writing with a subtlety that makes the shifting cultural landscapes fascinating. I'm really glad I got the book and just hope Wilson's writing more books!