Saturday, May 01, 2010

Speed Interviews at AWP

I did four "speed interviews" while at AWP in Denver, now online at Fringe Magazine. Mary Biddinger, Susan Elbe, Carol Willette Bachofner generously allowed themselves to be shanghaied for five quick questions while at this intense conference. Don't speed-read through them, there's lots to chew on here.

Making a run at some favorite journals

Submitting poetry this morning. I don't usually blog about where I'm submitting or which journals have turned me down lately (that would be whiny beyond enduring, and a lengthy list), or even blog about acceptances unless I can link to a poem. But today I'm thinking about the process of submitting, having had a discussion on Facebook about how the proliferation of online submissions may have contributed to lengthening response times due to a deluge of submissions made ever so much easier and cheaper than paper subs.

I find Duotrope Digest a blessing for recordkeeping, superior to the Excel spreadsheet I used to use for its links, automated categories, and generous notes area. I also like online submissions, as I can upload Word files to preserve formatting just as in print. And sending out a packet now costs $1.18, so I'd rather not spend the money. But I note that the better journals rarely take online submissions. Maybe they know it will only increase the amount of reading they have to do in their slush piles.

This morning I'm taking a run at River Styx, Crazyhorse, The Cincinnatti Review, and (blush to admit it because I have criticized their recent taste) Poetry.

And yes, the fact that River Styx and Cincinnati Review only take paper submissions is beginning to be persuasive. I'm beginning to think that $1.18 is worth it to have what might be less competition.

Anyone else finding response times growing longer? I used to get responses on average in three to four months. These days six months seems to be the average. And I don't think it's because my work is getting more careful consideration, as my batting average remains about the same. I think online submitting is swamping the editors.

Anyone looking for editorial assistance out there? I might be available, as long as I don't have to print everything out.

Friday, April 30, 2010


The competition for Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, while exhibiting some of the more lamentable aspects of our poetry world -- such as popularity contests and bogus distinctions that have nothing to do with the quality of writing -- did introduce me to a new blogger whose writing is well worth following. Sina Queyras, blogging as Lemon Hound, eschews the more superficial aspects of the poetry community while providing us with thoughtful commentary on aspects of the art of poetry, such as anthologies, the prose poem, the poet's job as silence (a brief, apt entry), and also great links.

Sina was voted co-Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, along with Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides. He's  professionally blogging for Writer's Digest. Not exactly a level playing field, so Sina's achievement is all the more noteworthy. If you count popularity as an achievement. In both cases, the blogs earn distinction, and I am happy to follow both. But I think I'll be reading Lemon Hound more often, when I want to think about aspects of making, rather than promoting, poetry.

When I went to AWP earlier this month, and found myself amid 7,000 poets and writers all busily shuttling from reading to reading and panel to panel, the sense I had was of a carnival of people hawking their wares. While I love a carnival and enjoyed the frenzied atmosphere -- where else can you be so thickly stuffed into a crowd of your own nerdy kind? -- I noted the general mediocrity of many offerings. Perhaps I picked poorly among the panels and readings, but I heard a lot of bad to forgettable poetry, saw a lot of less-than-qualified people expounding on an art they clearly hadn't mastered. Because of the contest/MFA/tenure-seeking atmosphere that surrounds poetry now, much of what I read seems to have devolved into pop culture literature: writing exhibiting fads, superficiliality, an excessive love of the quirky and novel. Poetry has held a higher place in civilization. I wonder if an emphasis on the newness of a metaphor and the edginess of a theme really creates great art. I wonder and keep reading, and as I read, I find poets who give me reason to hope for a deeper and richer art to emerge from the wild and diverting carnival of today's poetry scene.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Campaigning for Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere 2011

I am hereby officially campaigning to be Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere in 2011. After reading the rules (always a last step for me), I discover that this requires that I post some of my own poetry to the blog.

Here goes, then (they didn't say it couldn't be previously published poetry):

 Ode to My Purse

The three French handbags came
with lifetime warranties. Clasping
heavy straps, I cinch them saddle-tight
against the grasping world.
Dark wells, they incubate details,
stash my days in hidden rooms.
My black postman's case clacks
clock-neat on thigh, ticking tasks.
Weekends I sling a red pouch that eats
torn tickets and topless lipsticks. Keys
to many locks eel through my caramel creel.
Open Purse, I say: swallow phone, glasses, cash.
Bring home to me, magician's hat. I chant,
lovely Coach-crafted clutch, catch! You
soft maw, yawn to gorge and stow
my emblems. Stretch and hold the zoo
of me, the proof, spoil and tool.

-- originally published in The Atlanta Review

There. Hat in ring! I urge you all to do the same.

Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere + guest blogging

Until midnight tonight, you can vote here. Of course, I am a little miffed not to have even been nominated, but I would guess there are something like 8,000 poets blogging -- to judge from a few blogrolls like Ron Silliman's -- so really I'm only disappointed it comes down to a few bloggers I don't follow, except Ron Slate.

I'm conducting my own little poll here. If you avidly follow a poet blogger, please mention it in a comment. This is a small sample, meaningful only to those of us who read and write here.

Speaking of which, I'm thinking of inviting some guest blog here at Rocket Kids. If you have a topic to propose, I'm all ears.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Poems at Prick of the Spindle, bloghopping, more AWP memories

I have two poems up in the current issue of Prick of the Spindle: "Wine Under a Fig Tree" and "Things to Say to the Clouds." If anyone's doing a wine or cloud anthology out there, I'd love to give them a print life!

Prick of the Spindle was a new zine to me, located through Facebook, which is increasingly my form of bloghopping. On Facebook, I learned of Barn Owl Review (hi, Mary!), and located old friends Caketrain Journal and Black Lawrence Press, plus many more. Duotrope Digest and New Pages are great ways to find poetry journals and zines, but Facebook puts personalities behind the publications.

At AWP (offsite), we had a great reading for the anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer's Disease. I'm so glad to have met and read with the wonderful poets and writers who were there, a moving and meaningful reading organized by the editor, Holly Hughes -- especially glad to have met Holly! Here's a picture of the group.