I was happy to read in The Spectator that I had received the equivalent of an honorable mention in Competition No. 3235, in which “you were invited to invent a prequel to a well-known work of literature and supply an extract from it.” I guess they liked my sonnet from Romeo & Rosaline, in which she puts him in the friend zone. For those of you who may not remember, Romeo meets Juliet while on the rebound from her cousin Rosaline, and only attends the party where he meets Juliet in hopes of catching a glimpse of Rosaline.
While the political views of The Spectator are considerably to the right of my own, it is nice to see my name in such a highly respected publication. Goodness knows when I will find an opportunity to publish my sonnet, but it was fun to write.
In other news, I received a revise-and-resubmit rejection from The New York Times. I will try to revise my essay, but I’m not sure I can satisfy them. Anyway, while it gets tiresome being the bridesmaid, rather than the bride, at least I have participated in two weddings in the space of a week. This was a much-needed distraction from Ukraine and other evils.
Today I received the exciting news that my can poem, “Amy,” has been accepted by the new journal, 2% Milk, which is so new its multimedia website is still under construction. Not only did Editor Nic Rago accept “Amy,” he also asked me to send along any other “food-related” poems I might be harboring, so I sent my 25th can poem, written a few weeks ago, “Light & Crispy FACTS.” As I mentioned in another post in the can poem category, I do not intend to write more, though if in the future a can’s text seems to be crying out to be remixed into poetry, I may not be able to resist.
The text of “Amy” is derived from text on a can of Amy’s Organic Soup. I used mainly the opening instructions and a long section where the makers describe their homey soup line and mention their daughter, Amy, whose name is on the label. From this I derived a poem in which a parent talks to her (probably) daughter’s lover and her daughter (Amy), trying to advise on a passion that is clearly beyond the parent’s control. While the parent’s imagining of her daughter’s love life seems to violate boundaries, this is in tension with her protective concern for her inexperienced child’s wellbeing. I think it is touching, and I am happy that Editor Rago and team saw something in it as well.
No more reviews right now, as my son has gone back to teach real, heavy facts–not the light & crispy variety–to his high school students. My apologies.
Many thanks to Sara Altman, Editor of Whimsical Publications, for accepting “Why the Frogs Sing,” which is about my reaction to the death of my mother. When I got the call telling me she was dying, I had an odd sensation of lightness. Later, I woke up when it was still dark. It was a steamy Southern night, and the frogs were chorusing.
A few years ago, I heard a story on NPR about how frogs in a lake (as I recall) near the Atlanta airport were unable to chorus due to noise pollution from the planes. Because they could not produce their intimidating group noise, owls were picking them off.
My imagination connected the image of frogs borne upwards to the lightness I had felt when I first heard Mom was going. I felt many confused things about Mom’s sad life and her death during, but apparently not from, COVID. I thought of the abuse she had endured as a child, and of how hard she had tried to escape the mental illness that landed her in a home far away from me, and of how hard she had found it to socialize with us even for a short time the last time we saw her.
It seemed to me there was a parallel between the frogs’ short, desperate lives and our own, between their singing to cheat death and our efforts to give our lives meaning, and between their ends as they were borne aloft in the owls’ talons and the feeling of a lightening of burdens and at the same time an emptiness that i imagine death brought to Mom, and that I certainly felt.
This is what I tried to convey in the poem. Again, I’m grateful Editor Altman found it suitable for WhimsicalPoet, and I look forward to familiarizing myself with that publication.
I was delighted to receive a copy of Love Lifespan Vol. 4 from Pure Slush Books. It’s a big thick book with a lot of short little nuggets. It is nice to see my poem, “Snow Globe,” which I talked about here, in print, and I can’t wait to dive right into the rest of the volume.
I photographed it atop She’s with Me because seeing my work in print always makes me feel like a superwoman, and especially in this case because getting poetry out of my experience with a narcissist does seem like a superpower that negates his attempts to hurt me.
Judging by what I have read of the Friendship volume in the same series (almost all of it), I believe Love would make a nice gift, so if you purchase it in any of its several formats, let me know what you think. I am always interested.
Just a note to say that Love Lifespan Vol. Four is now out in Kindle and ePub formats. My poem, “Snow Globe,” which I wrote about here, is in the anthology. Now you have two more ways to read it and the other works in there. What are you waiting for?
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.
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.
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 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.