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 alley. 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.

Bullshit Lit Anthology Is Out

Photo credit: Ravijung, Cow Dung Cakes, Nepal. 3 May 2017. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

A few days ago Editor-in-Chief Veronica Bennett, of Bullshit Lit Mag + Press, emailed to inform me that Bullshit Anthology 01 is now out and available in print and pdf forms. She gave me a pdf copy, but I have now ordered a print copy and am beginning to read it. Based on the examples I have seen so far, I believe the b.s. selected by Editor Bennett, much like the energy-packed cakes above, has much more to offer than its excremental designation might suggest. Most often, the works creatively push the envelope on topics like the nature of poetry and the limits of poetic language.

I’m proud that my “Sonnet from Romeo & Rosaline,” which I wrote about here, is included in the anthology, and I look forward to my print copy.

“Radbod Decides” Accepted by 100subtexts

I can’t remember where I first learned the famous story about Radbod, a lord or king of the Frisians who ruled from 680 to his death in 719. For those of you unacquainted with it, I will try not to spoil it for you here. You can easily find it online (N. B.: “Radbod” is variously spelled), or read my piece when it comes out.

Suffice to say, I found his story compelling. I didn’t feel I had an angle from which to approach writing about it, however, until I saw the above embroidery in Utrecht a few years ago. Radbod looks so awkward and vacillating, not least because he seems to be trying to hide his nakedness. This seemed all wrong. I don’t know much about the Frisians, but I learned something about Anglo-Saxon language and culture in grad school, and the Frisian language and culture are similar. Both populations were tough because they had to be.

Sure enough, when researching Radbod before telling his legendary story in a more fitting way, I found that he was able to mount significant resistance against the stronger Franks off and on over almost 40 years. I don’t think he was a weak or awkward person–that’s just Church propaganda.

I enjoyed writing a brief retelling of the incident recorded in the embroidery above (and a fair number of other artworks), but found it was a hard sell, possibly because editors tend to want contemporary pieces told in a contemporary voice, or perhaps because the story is irreverent. It was hard even to find a market that was likely to consider it seriously.

So I am especially grateful to Editor John Hopper, who not only said he loved the piece, but also that he loved Radbod. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside to have someone else see Radbod the way I do and appreciate him.

100subtexts is a new magazine that “is always looking for the experimental, quirky, off-key.” They are currently open for submissions to Issue 2, the one I’ll be in. I’m excited to see what else catches Editor Hopper’s fancy.

Post showing writers already accepted for Issue 2 of 100subtexts.

“For R.” Up at Fevers of the Mind

Water color and pen and ink work by Rena Williams, photographed by me. I am not sure whether this has a title, but she said she created it for her son Robert, who passed away in his thirties.

Many thanks to David L O’Nan, Editor of Fevers of the Mind, for publishing my ekphrastic take on the above piece by my late friend, Rena Williams. The poem is my last Wolfpack contribution, which makes me a little sad, but a little relieved, also. I often go weeks between poems and months between the ones I consider to be exceptionally good, so choosing what to submit every month for my contribution was a little difficult. On the whole, though, I am proud of the variety and quality of the pieces I sent in during my membership in the pack. One reader already wrote to thank me for “For R.,” and Rena’s daughter loved it, which makes me feel particularly good about it.

In this poem, I tried to imagine the circumstances in which Rena might have worked–she usually worked while listening to music, often Baroque or early Mozart operas–and the way the forms in the painting evoke her experience of losing her son. Of course I can’t really know these things; I can only associate the forms with what occurs to me as likely to have been going through Rena’s head and heart while she worked on them. I tried to evoke the rich life in the artwork and what I see as its hopeful spirituality, with a delicacy that honors Rena and her son, rather than obtruding my own reactions.

I would be honored if you took a look at this poem. And while you are there, take a look around at some of the many other offerings from the indefatigable editor. You’re sure to find something enriching, and goodness knows, we all need that, especially in these troubled times.

Two Poems Accepted by Door Is A Jar

The brace I had when I broke my wrist.

I was delighted yesterday to get the news that Door Is A Jar has accepted two of my poems for their December issue! The first one I wrote, “The Hand That Sank Lower Than a Foot,” is based on my experience after breaking my wrist. Those high-tech casts are no doubt an improvement, and my wrist healed in only four weeks, but the sock under mine got wet a lot, causing my hand to become smelly and fungal, much like a foot. So an allegory about privilege was born.

Photo credit: Ashley Pomeroy, A metal hip flask. 3 Oct. 2020. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

The second poem the editors of Door Is A Jar accepted, “Fruits of Prohibition,” came out of my musings on the recent Supreme Kangaroo Court ruling that it is OK for the government to tell people with uteruses what to do with their bodies. My father’s anecdote about getting “throat tonic” before football games when he was in college in the early 30s occurred to me. The pharmacist apparently also provided abortions.

One of the poem’s implications, clearly, is that just as Prohibition failed to keep people from drinking, abortion bans will not stop them from having sex or getting abortions. At the same time, I found that the imagery of jarred fetuses in conjunction with drinking raised uncomfortable questions about personhood and responsible behavior. None of these questions should be construed as supportive of forced-birtherism. I view the fact that fetuses, if not arrested in their development, would become people as an argument for more and better family planning, not less. Nonetheless, it is a fact, and a disturbing one I thought should be confronted. So I left it in the poem.

Many thanks for the Door = Jar team for finding merit in these pieces. I also discovered today that my colleague, Matt Duggan, whose latest book is really good, and you should be reading it instead of this right now, will be appearing in the issue with me, which makes me look forward to it even more. While waiting, I will, as usual, enjoy reading more of the publication.

Two Features at The Dumping Grounds

Many thanks to The Dumping Grounds Poetry for creating and featuring audiovisual versions of two of my poems! “Snow Globe” was first published in Love, Lifespan Vol. 4 (Pure Slush). I wrote about it here.
And the indefatigable Ema Lia, coordinator of The Dumping Grounds Poetry, also did this on Insta & Facebook! “Mercy” originally appeared in Mulberry Literary. I wrote about the poem here. This version is not the whole poem, but selected lines. For the whole poem, go here.

This all came as a total surprise to me, and aside from reading at The Dumping Grounds open mic, I didn’t really have anything to do with these lovely productions of my poems. But I am especially pleased that they met with so much acceptance at Dumping Grounds because it is a wonderful project that offers the opportunity to share one’s pain by creating beautiful art, and to be welcomed into an amazingly supportive, diverse community. Cynic that I am, if someone told me about this project I would be skeptical about the quality of the poetry, but in my experience, everyone there has an ear for the music of language and a refreshing and powerful honesty of expression.

The supportiveness of the other poets helped me feel at home, even though I was the only white poet the nights I participated, which made me feel even more self-conscious than usual about my degree of privilege. I fear I may have had too happy a life to write enough of the correct sort of poetry to continue participating in this group. Then again, one of my problems is that it was always important for me to “be all right,” and more than all right, in order to support my mother and reassure her that she was OK (she wasn’t OK). And the state of the world certainly supplies ample grief to every sensitive person. I will try to continue contributing. If nothing else, attendees are always welcome to just listen.

If you feel in need of a supportive, creative outlet, I can’t recommend The Dumping Grounds enough. Just use the link to their site at the beginning of this post and drop by. Supportive folks are always welcome.

2% Milk Roundtable Up on YouTube

2% Milk logo on tee I got at the launch party. Taken by me. 4 June 2022.

Here is the link to the 2% Milk roundtable discussion that I mentioned in earlier posts. Editors Nic Rago and Lily Reed (mostly Editor-in-Chief Nic) follow up with the artists on their views about their creative processes, their art, and the interaction between the arts and their social and cultural contexts. As on the website, the graphics in the roundtable video are trippy, which I mostly enjoyed. I’m both happy to have been a part of this well-thought-out, interesting, and experimental project, and a little sad that it’s over. The amount of time and energy the editors have put in is truly impressive.

So check it out. And if you have created anything especially intriguing and a little wild, 2% Milk is open for submissions here: submission@uddertimes.com.