I am happy and grateful to report that the editors of Litterateur, Redefining World, have accepted two untitled poems of mine for their November issue. These poems were both written originally for the Whole Life Soap Haiku Contest, which asks for haiku, with the winner to be put on bars of soap. As far as I can recall, the “haiku” do not have to be 5-7-5, which is not really haiku according to purists. But they do have to be evocative in a way that sells soap, so (as I recall) they are allowed to go beyond the usual range of haiku subjects.
Mine are not real haiku because they are addressing a person who is being commanded to do things–so neither the proper subject matter nor the proper tone for haiku. They also did not win the contest. Still, I have an affection for them, especially the second one, which references Venus on the half shell–hence the photo above. So I have called them “Two Untitled Poems” (they sort of go together), or “Cleanliness Next to Godliness,” if the publication I was submitting them to required a title (Litterateur did not). The title fits because the first poem is about cleanliness, whereas the second mentions Venus.
They are light little things, and I am not surprised it took a while to place them, but I shall be happy to see them next month in the cosmopolitan pages of Litterateur, which is based in Kerala, India, but publishes a global community of writers and artists. I will be checking out more of the journal while I wait. Perhaps you would enjoy it as well.
I am thrilled to discover that the editors of Angel Rust have nominated my poem, “BEST,” for Best of the Net! I wrote about the poem here. This is especially gratifying because it can be hard to even place avant-garde poems, and as I have mentioned, I was once abused by an editor for daring to submit a couple.
Also gratifying is the inclusion of work by my friend and colleague, Shloka Shankar, in Angel Rust‘s list of nominees. Her nominated poem, Recital, is characteristically dreamy, beautiful, and fraught with lurking violence, so go read it.
And now, Why there will be no more reviews for a while:
My son moved away to take his dream job teaching high school social studies. He is the driver of the reviews project, and by far the more knowledgeable about media (and history). We are hopeful we may have some time to do a review here and there when he comes back, but it is hard to organize when we are both busy and far apart.
I miss him and our projects. Luckily, my daughter is keeping me busy with wedding plans!
I haven’t yet read much in Mulberry Literary, but I think the images the editors have chosen to go with the pieces make a colorful and compelling introduction to the issue. So please check my poem and the whole issue out, and let me know what you think.
In an earlier post, I announced that a poem I wrote about hearing Cohen’s Hallelujah at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., in 2017 had been accepted into a proposed anthology by Editor David L. O’Nan. Unfortunately, he has had some personal issues and is unable to complete his anthology plan at this time, so, with my permission, he put my poem up on his blog, Fevers of the Mind. Please go take a look, and, as always, tell me what you think.
This is very nice news. Although it is expensive, even in paperback, it is quite reasonable on Kindle and may therefore be more often assigned in courses. Neuroscience and affect studies are hot topics, and I hope many people will find the essays in the volume useful and interesting.
I do hope more people will read my contribution. Current woke attitudes about sexual abuse seem to me (this is based only on some conversations I have had) to cause people to suspect that Nabokov’s interest in the topic of sex with pubescent children derives from his harboring pedophilic tendencies himself. These people condemn and eschew the novel. But while there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Nabokov was himself sexually abused by a male relative as a child, his affairs were, as far as I know, with college-age women, so I am inclined to see Lolita more as the work of a survivor trying to sort out his own experience as a victim than as that of a perpetrator reliving his secret desires. N.B.: This is in no way a repudiation of woke attitudes toward violating sexual behavior in general!
Anyway, there are a lot of other great essays in the Handbook. If you are interested in affect theory and neuroscience as they apply to aesthetic experiences, you can now check out all the essays for under $20 on Kindle. As always, please let me know what you think.
I am excited to see my poem, “Poll Watching: Alabama, 2020,” up at Third Estate Art‘s online journal, Quaranzine. Many thanks to the editors.
I wrote about Third Estate Art and the poem here. I will only add that my day of poll-watching was long and very depressing. I had naively hoped that the yam’s mishandling of the pandemic would turn off some of his supporters, but no. Indeed, even though the Dems won that election, the threats to our democracy are by no means over. Nor is the pandemic, and very little is being done on climate change. What is the matter with our politicians of both parties? Do they not go outside? These are rhetorical questions. I know it’s just greed and the desire for power.
But enough about my country. Let’s go to France and then do A Review:
I am happy to announce that after a one-word revision, Editor Matt Potter has accepted my poem, “Snow Globe,” for a love-themed anthology to be published by Pure Slush. This is the second time I have worked with an Australian editor, and both were exceptionally sensitive and caring about details in the poem. This leads me to conclude that Australians take their poetry seriously, or maybe they just don’t rush through things the way the rest of the world does. Whatever the case, the last word of the poem is probably better for Editor Potter’s suggestions, and I am grateful for them.
This poem was one of three inspired by my unpleasant encounter with a narcissist (in an earlier post I said there were two poems, but that was wrong). One of the more hurtful aspects of relationships with narcissists is future faking, when they give you a glimpse of possible futures with them in order to control you. The pain of discovering you were believing in a manipulative delusion is what this poem is about.
Luckily, I was able to process my belated understanding of the future faking I had experienced in the context of a loving marriage and a reasonably happy family, because I had moved on. But although I feel empowered by this understanding now, I still harbor a horrified fascination with the fair number of seemingly ordinary people I know who are manipulative, entitled, and low on empathy.
I am pleased that Editors Katie Lynn Johnston and Darcy Dillon accepted my poem, “Mercy,” for the October first edition of Mulberry Literary. I wrote the poem, which compares the speaker’s initial limited notion of mercy to the situation of a hermit crab grown too big for its house, in response to a Unitarian Universalist service about mercy. As I recall, we were supposed to do something other than write a poem, but I’ve never been great at following directions, especially if I can get some written work out of going my own way, and Unitarian Universalists never mind mild rule-breaking anyway.
My mother’s death, my constant, stressful hostility toward the quislings in my country, and my experiences with a few other individuals have all recently led me to try to overcome my defensive response to the toxic actions of others. Although I don’t believe it is possible to move on together with people who do not take responsibility for the harm they inflict, I have worked at transforming my partially suppressed rage to understanding, an openness to sympathy, and a greater sense of responsibility for my own toxic behavior.
So that’s what this poem is about. Again, thanks to the Mulberry Literary editors. I’m looking forward to the poem’s appearance and to reading some of the material already up on the site.
Editor David L. O’Nan, over at Fevers of the Mind, recently accepted a poem I wrote about Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” But he did not stop there. When I expressed an interest in being interviewed by him, he immediately sent me questions to respond to, and now my “Quick 9” interview is up at Fevers. Besides sending the questions and posting the interview, Editor O’Nan took the time to find images of the books I mentioned as being influences. It was fun to see the jacket of A Paper Zoo again. Thanks to Editor O’Nan for the opportunity to talk about what made me the writer I am and to plug my books, especially The Jesus Wars.
So if you’d like to know a bit more about my hyper-intellectual TV-less childhood, my love of British wit, and my literary struggle against fascism, head on over.
If not, here’s A Review for you anyway. I’m sorry about the 50-second false start last time. My son left it on his page, and I posted it without realizing it was the wrong one. So here is the actual Lupin review:
David L. O’Nan, at Fevers of the Mind, is putting together “A Sequel Anthology to Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen,” and he is soliciting submissions for the volume, which will be called Before I Turn Into Gold. I am researching the third part of my everlasting science fiction novel project and trying not to get caught up in producing new things for calls for submissions, but I happened to have an immediate idea for this one.
Although I am not a big Cohen fan,* at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., I did have a moving experience listening to Hallelujah. Unable to get to where the famous speakers were because the crowd was jam-packed, our little group sat on a slightly elevated bit of terraced landscaping, eating our snacks on a sheet of plastic and participating in the chants from the sidelines. A group next to us formed a circle and began to sing the song. Even though I had not been particularly moved by Cohen’s passing, I was moved by the damage being done to our democracy, and something about “Hallelujah,” sung sweetly in subdued tones by a circle of women, seemed uplifting and appropriate to the moment.
So when I saw Editor O’Nan’s call, I pulled up the lyrics and composed a series of three-line stanzas about this incident. Every third line rhymes with the last two syllables of “hallelujah,” just as Cohen’s stanza-endings do, and I also used some phrases and vocabulary from the song throughout. I’m happy to report that O’Nan accepted “Hearing ‘Hallelujah’ at the Women’s March, 2017,” and I look forward to reading Before I Turn to Gold.
*I don’t dislike Cohen; I’m just neutral. Maybe I don’t know his work well enough.