A poem I wrote when my husband was away and I was lonely is now up at Right Hand Pointing (please scroll down to find it). I wrote about this poem here. I’m especially fond of it. The ending might be seen as clichéd, but I think it is dramatically effective, and the earlier part conveys the sorts of creepy thoughts and the feeling of emptiness that loneliness can engender. So many thanks to Editor Dale Wisely and the other editors who saw fit to include it in this issue.
Before we get to the review, I realize that in my last post, I forgot to mention the artistic backgrounds in Poetic Sun. I find them effectively evocative and in keeping with a synergistic approach to art that seems to me characteristically Chinese, though I’m basing this only on my personal friendships. At the same time, I also like the Spartan clarity of Right Hand Pointing, which leaves the poems to shine alone, albeit on a warm background and framed with mysterious pointing hands that seem consonant with the dry wit of the editor’s introductory “Note.” I see the contrast as just another reminder that the many ways of doing things well enrich our world.
I am happy to announce that my poems, “Where the Machine Can’t Go” and “Mother and Child,” are now up in Issue 3 of Poetic Sun (please scroll down to pages 28-30). Many thanks to the editors. As I said in my previous post about these poems and Poetic Sun, the site features compelling emotional story-telling that is well-worth checking out, so you know what to do.
I would just add that “Where the Machine Can’t Go” went through a lot of revision, as I was sending it out and wondering how I could stop the rejections. I really liked the poem and felt it had something to say, but this blinded me to its lack of clarity. Also, I had decided after reading some more formal poetry by a poet I particularly admire, that I should try to use form more too, but unfortunately this led to syllable-counting and awkward lineation. I am happy with the more natural form I finally chose, and have resigned myself, at least for now, to writing freer verse, except when explicitly tackling a formal scheme (I recently wrote a pantoum, for example).
In fact, overall, I have decided to embrace the types of poetry I write naturally and not to worry if they’re not fashionable. But I’m still a little worried that this is a reflection of my limitations as a poet, or of my not having gotten an MFA (five degrees ought to be enough, gosh darn it). As Kurt Vonnegut says, “So it goes.”
The other poem in Poetic Sun is about cats, as I said in my post about its acceptance. Although some of the language bothers me (is it ever OK to use the word “amidst”?), the ending is strong, and I like what it says about single moms.
In my last post, I talked about publishing my fantasy story, The Pool of Good Purpose, on Kindle Vella. I also published the story above, The Pussy Hat, which is a feminist horror story. I wrote about this story here, when it was accepted by What the Writers Wrote podcast. Unfortunately, What the Writers Wrote stopped producing podcasts before they had my story up. This is the third time I have had something accepted and the publisher went defunct before they were able to publish my work. It is annoying. I know life happens, etc., but when I am left hanging, I can’t help but feel these people are akin to those who adopt animals only to return them when they turn out to require attention and money.
Anyway, this is why the story is now available on Kindle Vella. As I said in the previous post, it is about a young man whose girlfriend leaves him and her pussy hat behind. He develops an obsession with the hat, and later with anti-feminism of the type that throws around terms like “alpha” and “cuck” a lot. Soon, these pursuits generate a monstrous comeuppance.
I invite you to read and enjoy. As I mentioned in my last post, the first three episodes are free, so you have nothing to lose. Cheers.
Amazon’s Kindle Vella is available to readers, and I have two stories on it. The first is The Pool of Good Purpose. It is a fantasy story about two lovers separated by war who are reunited, in a way, by the magic of the pool. It is experimental, because I imagine multiple courses the man might pursue to solve his problem, but in the end all of them come together.
The first three episodes of all stories are free, and after that you can decide whether or not you want to pay for tokens to read the rest, so you have nothing to lose. Just click on the name of the story, above, and the link will magically convey you to a world of dragons and enchantment.
I am happy to see my poem, “Best,” remixed from text on a can of Bush’s best chili beans, up at Angel Rust Magazine. Once again, many thanks to the editors. For more information about my can poems, hit the “Can Poems” category below this post. I discussed the poem here.
I am looking forward to reading more of the work in the first issue of Angel Rust, the more so because I notice that my poem is in the fine company of works by fellow poet, visual artist, and editor of Sonic Boom, Shloka Shankar. I always enjoy her work, which is at once varied and focused on bodying forth the speaker’s inner life by mixing fragments of expressed emotion with images that blur the line between the outside world and the speaker’s inner state. Her mosaics are often composed from remixed text and often mix in visual imagery as well.
So I encourage you to hit the links, read the poetry and other offerings, and let me know what you think.
In the meantime, here is another Review of For All Mankind:
I am pleased and thankful that Editors Shi Yang Su and Jia Ning Ran have accepted two poems, “Where the Machine Can’t Go” and “Mother and Child,” for the second issue of their new poetry journal, Poetic Sun. From the little I have read in Issue 1, the editors favor dramatic language and emotional story-telling. The poems they accepted share that aesthetic.
“Where the Machine Can’t Go” is a piece of imaginative ekphrasis inspired by a trip to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Many of van Gogh’s self-portraits were on display there, though not the one above, which I selected for the expression in the face. There was also a lot of information about van Gogh’s sad life, including a letter to his brother Theo contrasting painted portraits with photographs. The title of my poem derives from this letter, which led me to reflect on how much humanity there is in these portraits and the ways in which van Gogh seems to be trying to get at that humanity, which I take to be the place “where the machine can’t go” in van Gogh’s view of painting.
The second poem the editors of Poetic Sun accepted, “Mother and Child,” is based on a portrait of a mother cat and her kitten by Robert Sijka, who specializes in portraits of Maine Coon cats. Call me a crazy cat lady if you must, but I think these portraits are striking, so I wrote this poem. I do have doubts about the language being a little more over-the-top than I would like, but I couldn’t think of a better way to express what I was saying, and I think the poem says some things about the bond between mothers and children and the difficulties of being a single mom that are interesting. So I look forward to both these poems appearing sometime soon.
I am pleased that the editors of the new magazine, Angel Rust, have accepted my can poem, “BEST,” for their first issue. I have written about my can poems so many times that they have their own category on the blog, so you can just hit that for more information. Basically, I select text from top to bottom, front to back, of a can. The words coalesce around a theme. To give myself a slightly broader vocabulary, I sometimes put parts of two words together to make another.
I find that composing these pushes me to think outside the box because words I would not have thought of get worked into the poem and help it say something I did not expect. The corporate and commercial language also tends to produce an activist slant, because, divorced from its original context, this language highlights systemic depersonalization and inhumanity in our society, although at times it can also get positively lyrical. I hope to find enough new can text to produce four more poems, and then I plan to stop, though you never know.
“BEST” fits the can-poem theme of corporate depersonalization since its subject is an anonymous, perhaps collective, speaker’s demand for subservient mediocrity. According to their About page, Angel Rust “is a place for under-represented voices to be messy, to speak their truth no matter how shocking, and to die on a hill no one else cares about.” As such, it seems a fitting place for “BEST,” and I look forward to seeing the kind of company my poem will keep there.
And now, a review. This is the end of the Oscars reviews. Before my son and partner called a halt to them, I had already seen this movie and thought it was very good, so I strongly encouraged him to see it and do a review with me. I’m still his mother–what choice did he have? So after we finished seeing It’s a Sin, we saw Crip Camp. Here’s our review.
After a worrisome dry spell, Right Hand Pointing announced on Facebook that they didn’t have enough acceptances for their next issue and requested submissions. Since they so recently accepted “Luminous,” I thought I should send something, and I happened to have a good poem called “While You’re Away,” written when my husband had to take two trips in a row
I walked into the living room/dining room/music studio (not visible in the picture, but to the left of the table), and found those two chairs turned as if invisible people were turned away from me and talking. I see that in the picture they don’t look exactly like this. The actual reason they are turned is that I read with my coffee in the mornings and rest my legs on the chair to the left. But that day they were positioned more as if two people were sitting talking together, so a poem was born. I’m grateful to Editor Wisely and staff, who promptly accepted it.
I enjoy the quirky work in Right Hand Pointing, and I have also been enjoying the haiku and senryu in First Frost, another product of Right Hand Pointing‘s parent press, Ambidextrous Bloodhound Productions. If you like brief, evocative reflections, this is the poetry for you. I don’t often attempt this sort of thing, but admire those who do it well.
I look forward to seeing “While You’re Away” out in July. In the meantime, here’s a review:
I am happy to see that my poem, “Government Buildings in Berlin, 2018,” is out again in The Bookends Review. Many thanks to the editors, especially Editor-in-Chief Jordan Blum, who graciously accepted it as a reprint. I previously wrote about the poem here, and I am happy that Bookends included an explanatory note that you can read under the poem. It was first published in After the Pause.
From the admittedly small sampling I have read in Bookends, I would say the editors have an ear for beautiful language and an affection for all things quirky, offbeat, and original. So it’s not that surprising they liked my poem. Please go check out the other intriguing fare at the journal.
And now, another review of Russell T Davies’s It’s a Sin: