“Camp Yes!” Is Out in Coalition Works

While in the throes of back-to-back orchestra concerts, I was pleased to learn from Editor Jaime Alejandro that coalitionworks had made its debut, with my last can poem–“Camp Yes!”–inside it. Check out the preview, below.

I wrote about the poem here. I am happy to see it in the whimsical, rollicking company of other lighthearted absurdities. I did not expect to like the contents of the journal as much as I did because I often feel frustrated when confronted by literary works that deliberately block me just when I am “making sense” of them. But I found myself fascinated by the ways the different works engage with and thereby transform, even co-opt, potentially dehumanizing forces. The whole issue has a liberating, carnivalesque vibe.

So if you would like to learn to laugh at some of the negative forces in your life, I urge you read the issue. I literally found it hard to put down.

Photo credit: Thomas Altfather Good. The four 50th Anniversary “Art Of Soup” Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans featuring a facsimile autograph by, portrait of, and quote from, Andy Warhol. The commemorative cans were released on 2012-09-02 at Target Stores. They contain actual tomato soup. 2 Sept. 2012. Wikimedia Commons. GFDL 1.3.

Radbod Story Is Out in 100subtexts, and the New Generation Beats 2022 Anthology Has Arrived!

d john hopper, cover of 100subtexts Magazine, issue 2. Used with permission.

I was happy to receive a pdf of 100subtexts, issue 2, with “Radbod Decides,” as well as many other pieces, in it. I have not had a chance to read more than a few pieces yet, but they are definitely eclectic, meaning most readers will probably find something they like. One poem I read was sensual, while another, a series of requests to someone to “show” the speaker their “ass,” went a little further than that. The story I read had a nice twist in the epilogue, and then there is the outspoken but sympathetic character of Radbod in my own creative retelling of a legendary historical event, which I wrote about here. Each piece has something compelling to offer, and I’m pleased that Editor Hopper thought my piece did, too.

So why are you still here? Go get your pdf copy here, already! Then come back and get a copy of this:

Picture of New Generation Beats 2022 Anthology, ed. and cover design by Debbie Tosun Kilday. Taken by me.

The arrival of the New Generation Beats 2022 Anthology, which contains my poem, “I Always Knew It Would Be This Way, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon,” was just as gratifying as the public appearance of Radbod in “Radbod Decides.” I have not had a chance to read many pieces from this anthology either yet, but besides looking forward to the contributions of my open mic friends, I believe it will be fun to see what different people take from the original Beats and how they interpret and update them.

As I suggested in my earlier discussion of my own poem, I believe I have taken the ethos of protest from the Beats. I also use a fairly informal delivery with some extreme imagery to convey my sense of conventional mores cracking and falling apart under pressure from the crises of our times. And I locate these mores in my early childhood in the mid-1960s, when many of the conventions the Beats rebelled against were still staples of middle-class life. But I see that others have used surrealism, sensual urgency, references to and linguistic reproductions of jazz, descriptions of people and places that exude Beat sensibility, and no doubt many other approaches that link their work to the Beats.

Judging by what I have heard and read from open mic friends like Dane Ince, Michael Sindler, and Generalissimo Bryan Franco, this volume has a lot of exciting poetry. If you click the title link under the picture and get yourself a copy, you won’t be disappointed.


“The Perfect Doll” Accepted for Personal Bests Journal

A couple of days ago, I was scrolling through a “calls for submissions” page on Facebook, when I saw a call for “Personal Bests.” I had seen this call before, but I had assumed it was for some distasteful uplifting stuff, and had scrolled on by. This time, I paused to read the commentary accompanying the call, and realized it was an opportunity to submit one’s best story to Personal Bests Journal for consideration and a share of the royalties if accepted.

After some thought, I selected “The Perfect Doll” (which you can read about here). I want my other stories to know that I love all of them, but I was choosing with the thought of what an editor of such a volume might want. “The Perfect Doll” is the only one of my stories that combines some slick commercialism–carefully constructed genre narrative–with interest in characters and thematic material (children, the use and abuse of religion, and Northern European paganism). It is horror, so it is upsetting, but it doesn’t really contain any material I would think of as triggering. Still, I didn’t think it had much chance of being accepted out of hundreds of submissions as one of the thirty or so pieces for the journal. Most likely, I thought, they would give preference to “literary” (non-genre) stories.

I was therefore greatly surprised when Editor David Gardiner (apparently speaking for himself and Guest Editor Philip Jennings) wrote me back the next day to say that volume V of the journal was close to being in print, so he had read my story right away and wanted to include it. He also said the story needed no editing because “the standard of writing is very high both in the literary sense and technically.” Well. Thank you! Glad I took a second look at that call.

As always, I look forward to seeing my piece in the journal and reading to the rest of them. I am curious to see what sort of “best” stories other writers have chosen.

Image credit: Becal.uso, Gold Cup exemple. 6 Feb. 2022. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Erbacce Poetry Journal Available for Pre-Orders

Cover of the forthcoming erbacce journal. Used by permission.

Today Editor Alan Corkish wrote to inform me that erbacce poetry-journals 70 and 71 (but it’s two volumes in one) are ready to go to press and will arrive in December. I am still grateful and agog at being recognized out of over 15,000 entries to the erbacce-prize contest, but now I am also grateful for all the work Alan has done on the journal and the work Andrew Taylor put in on his interview of me for my feature. I gave long answers to his questions, partly because I was interested in them and partly because I figured better too much material than too little. So we’ll see what they kept.

One interesting thing they do with the cover is ask the featured writers to select a weed (“erbacce” means “weed” in Italian) whose colors will be incorporated into the flowers on the cover. I see what appear to be pictures of my chosen weed (flowering kudzu) in some of the petals of my flower as well. As I told the editors, kudzu is appropriate for a Southern writer, and it brings a wealth of potential metaphors to the table. Also, its flowers are deceptively pretty.

So order your copy here. Some of my best stuff is in there, and some best stuff from others as well, I bet.

Remixes of Trump Campaign Emails Accepted by Bureau of Complaint

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Complaint – The Noun Project.svg icon from the Noun Project. 29 Dec. 2017. Wikimedia Commons. CC0 1.0.

I am constantly surprised by acceptances and rejections alike. Yesterday I woke up to a rejection of my haiku about Nebraska. I bear no ill will–obviously the editor received a ton of submissions. It’s just that he has previously accepted something from two other submissions I’ve sent to one of his other literary magazines. Also, I know a little about writing haiku, and this one had all the requisite ingredients, so far as I am aware: no five-seven-five syllable counting, but approximates the Japanese form; a description of details in which allusion to aspects of a scene evokes a season and at least one mood; and a turn in the last line. So in this haiku, “knee-high corn” is simply what I saw, but it connotes spring and uncertain hope (corn is demanding, and the wrong future weather could easily destroy knee-high corn down the road); likewise the rainbow I saw stretching long and low over the corn seems to promise something, furnishing a turn in the last line, but not completely allaying uncertainty. All this is not to claim the editor failed to recognize my brilliant genius, but just to explain why the rejection surprised me.

But then last night I was surprised in the opposite, nicer way when I discovered that LJ Pemberton, Editor-in-Chief of Bureau of Complaint, had accepted my eight-part remixes of Trump 2022 Campaign emails, “Solicitations From a Lone Star.” I wrote about this poem series here. I submitted it to the Bureau‘s “Hybrid” category, which, as I recall, was labeled “hybrid creative fuckery” and was characterized as anything not fitting into fiction or poetry. Since my remixes are very unconventional and not directly recognizable as a complaint per se, I thought this category would fit best. I sent the series in with an explanation about how the poems not only contain many complaints from Trump and various associates but also represent my own complaint about his campaign’s not removing me from their email list despite repeated requests to do so. For good measure, I sent a complaint-themed bio about how I had imposed on various places to publish my complaints, and how I occasionally took a break from complaining to “grudgingly write other stuff.”

Because my submitted poems were not all complaints, and not explicitly my complaints, and because they did not really resemble the samples I read, I did not think they had much chance at this journal, but I sent them anyway because there aren’t a lot of publishing opportunities for strange and savage political satire, and these poems were at least related to complaining. I was therefore surprised and delighted that Editor-in-Chief Pemberton loved them and promised to “put them in the queue.” Bureau of Complaints seems to embrace the strange, the malcontent, and the witty. In short, right up my general alley, despite my particular misgivings in this case. I look forward to seeing “Solicitations from a Lone Star” among the Bureau‘s offerings, and I am hopeful that I will eventually place my haiku as well.