“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.

“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.

“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.

Review of Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow Up on Fevers of the Mind and a Video

Matt Duggan’s Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow. Taken by me, 8 June 2022.

Thanks to David L O’Nan, editor of Fevers of the Mind, for posting my review of Matt Duggan’s Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow on the Fevers site. It is my Wolfpack contribution for June. I have written very few reviews. Generally, I feel that literary criticism, though an honorable pursuit and a crucial aspect of literature’s power to speak to people, does not give me the thrill of immediate connection I get from producing or directly experiencing literary discourse.

I wanted to put in the effort for Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow, though, because it is good and should be read widely, and because I believed I would learn from the process of reviewing and achieve a deeper understanding of the work, and because, while I don’t know Matt well, I believe he is a kind person, and I deeply respect his talent—so I wanted to show support for his collection.

Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow grew out of Matt’s experience in the pandemic, during which time his father grew ill and died. The collection also hits many of the notes of Matt’s earlier work–themes of decay, the corruptions of imperialism, capitalism, and bureaucratic institutions, the magic of travel, the beauty of nature, and our need of it–and the pieces in it contain the rich imagery and variety of inventive formal approaches readers of his work will have come to expect.

It seems to me, though, that the breadth and depth of subject matter combine with a sense of urgency and extreme emotion to give this collection an epic feel. You can read the review for the details, but Matt is telling an important story about where we are and where we are going, one we can all find ourselves in, and, perhaps, learn from. I’m proud to know him.

Speaking of wonderful artists . . .

Here is a video on the book about Rena Williams that I have an essay in. Her daughter, Mary Dansak, made it. You can see more about Rena’s life and art, as well as photos of her beautiful pieces.

Word Music Featured in Mslexia

Marta Stankevica, Woman_Writing_a_Letter.gif. Derived from Gerard ter Borch – Woman Writing a Letter – 797 – Mauritshuis.jpg. 2020. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 4.0.

It is quite exciting to see my blog, where I often feel as if I were talking to myself, featured in a magazine with 11,000 subscribers, most of whom are women writers. “Blogability,” featuring Word Music in the latest issue of Mslexia, consists of a short description of how I came to write this and what I do here, and an excerpt from the blog. I chose a bit describing my can poems, because it fit well in their 300-word format. Thanks to Production Editor Maxine Davies and the whole editorial team at Mslexia for choosing to feature Word Music.

Mslexia is online and in print. You can learn about it, read some of it, subscribe for access to the whole magazine, and sign up for additional writing-related experiences here. Mslexia has many resources and opportunities for writers, including many opportunities to submit to the magazine.

Mslexia also pays for all writing, I was especially grateful for the boost to my online finances from the “Blogability” publication because my account had become quite low, owing to my getting behind on totting up violin and viola lesson fees. Now I can buy Tom Daley’s latest chapbook, Far Cry, without waiting for my snail-mail check to get to him.

Looking forward to it.

2% Milk Up at Last

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

After a fantastic visit to San Francisco, during which my husband and I attended the launch party for 2% Milk, the issue has launched. It looks spectacular, and I’m not just talking about my poetry. Find out what all the fuss is about here

In case you’re still not convinced, check out the trailer for the project:

The trailer was shown at the launch party, where we also enjoyed the superb fare and beer of Pizza Hacker, the company of indefatigable editors Nic, Reed, and Lily, and conversation with fellow contributor Bob Ernst, as well as various other attendees. I also read my poems there, and a selection from The Jesus Wars—all welcomed by the friendly audience.

As I have said before, 2% Milk is full of cool artists in a variety of media. The editors thoughtfully sent their files to all contributors ahead of time, and I have checked most of them out. I feel confident in saying that the issue contains not just something for everyone, but something you really needed, even if you didn’t know it.

And in case you are more philosophically inclined, on June 8th, the editors will put out a round-table discussion with contributors regarding their work, and art in general, in its sociopolitical context. Don’t worry. I’ll remind you about it.

Fun Times at Reading, and Amazing News!

Publicity sheet David L O’Nan made for the reading I participated in.

I had a nice time in Evansville, Indiana, reading with David L O’Nan (Editor of Fevers of the Mind) and friends. I also played Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on the violin under David’s reading of his poem, “A Hallelujah for a Midnight War.” Met nice people; heard good poetry and an excerpt from Shawna Kay Rodenberg’s memoir, Kin.

Maybe it was a long way to go for a reading, but I’m trying to reach out more. I do hope I will get tips and contacts that might help me market my poetry collection, but I also enjoy traveling to different parts of the country and meeting fellow artists. Now I am looking forward to the 2% Milk launch party in San Francisco (click on link for all the info).

But wait–there was more. When I returned and checked my desktop computer, I found I had been named a featured poet in the erbacce-prize poetry contest! My poetry will be featured in a future issue of the erbacce-journal, and they will be interviewing me. To be named one of the top nine poets out of more than 15,000 is too unreal to contemplate, but highly gratifying nonetheless. Again, thanks to all the judges.

Screen shot of erbacce-prize results. Check out “Featured poets”!

Launch Party & Reading in San Francisco

Instagram post from 2% Milk inviting people to their launch party. They asked me to share this.

Even though I can only dimly remember the last time I went to a “really cool PARTY,” I was excited to get this invitation in my email. First of all, as I intimated in the “update” at the end of this post, my fellow artists are impressive. Here is a video by Ha Vay to illustrate. Second, the concept behind 2% Milk is to combine an eclectic but edgy and experimental collection of artworks in various media with discussions about art and the artist in society. These were conducted live with the San Francisco-area artists, and will be presented with bits from interviews with the rest of us edited in. There will be an interval when just the artworks will be up on the site, and then the discussions will be added, generating a new conceptual angle on the art.

This is my understanding of the project from what Nic, of the editing trio of “Nic + Lilly + Reed” has shared with me. The site is due to go live on June 1st, and I look forward to seeing how everything is integrated. In the meantime, I am grateful to be included in such a sophisticated and well-thought-out presentation.

These positive feelings, together with the opportunities to read, sell my books, and support my fellow artists, made me decide to go to the party. If you are going to be in the area, please stop by and say hello.

P.S. Now that the academic year is all but over, my son has made our reviews accessible again. So search the “reviews” category, and enjoy.