Saturday, January 16, 2010

Discipline & Distractions in a Poet's Life

I know a poet who locks herself in a room early every morning for three hours to do her creative work. I'm not sure exactly what she does in there. Is it always composition and revision, strictly working on specific poems, or does it include reading poetry, a little lollygagging at the window, watching the deer eat another crop of her roses while she fingers the dust from the leaves of pot of ivy? Does she dance a little wildly in the silent room suddenly, then sit down to a blank page and begin writing? Use a computer? Look up something on Wikipedia? Or has she banned the Internet from this room, the way everyone else is banned, crowd pressing against a solid door, the only evidence of the world waiting for her a sudden shudder in the walls when the wind picks up.

I envy this practice and would like to adopt something similar. Even as I write this, I realize I am speaking to you and to myself in a room of that kind, a room that's only my own as long as I keep the door shut.

Lately I've been finding too many distractions are only a tab away. Only a phone away. My door is open, but should be shut. I have made a new poem this morning, revised a recent one two or three times, and considered what I might submit to Alaska Quarterly, whose genial annual rejections I have come to enjoy, oddly, imagining the editors up there in furs, freezing as they write their nice notes on form rejection slips, sending me a little warmth because we all give each other what we really want.

And back to the work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Non-Contest Poetry Book Publishers

New additions to the page I maintain on my website listing these publishers:

Black Lawrence Press - also creative non-fiction: novels, memoirs, short story collections, biographies, cultural studies, and translations from the German and French. (no reading fee; electronic submission)

Press 53 (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction; query first per guidelines)�

Please send me any additions or corrections to the page. I welcome updates and wish to keep the page as current (and growing!) as possible.

Kudos to all those who have the zeal and energy to start and maintain small presses. We should all support them through: (1) not minding reading fees, and (2) buying more books!

Even in a recession, books are inexpensive ways to enhance life. Especially poetry books, which have greater re-readability than most books.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Interesting interview up at Fugue with novelist Anthony Doerr, on the art of being a fiction "alchemist."

Another good interview by Brian Brodeur with poet Sherod Santos. Brodeur's blog, How a Poem Happens focuses on interviews about the process of writing poems and often on the process of creating a specific poem (included in the interview).

I'm thinking about interviews as I conduct several with poets for a couple of journals. An interview can be like a mini-seminar with a poet, a great way to learn about craft. It can also be fascinating background reading, giving a context for the poet's work. I'm persuaded this enriches the reading of poetry, agreeing with Camille Paglia on this subject. I was given a new collection of Wallace Stevens' selected poems with a fascinating introduction by editor John N. Serio that not only analyzes the poetic approach, but connects it to Stevens' life.