Friday, March 29, 2013

The Big Poetry Giveaway 2013

Hey All,

I'm participating in the big poetry giveaway.  I am giving away my chapbook, Ophelia Unraveling, as well as Sarah Hannah's Longing Distance.  Sarah Hannah reminds me often of Sylvia Plath, which is pretty much the highest compliment I can give.

Here's just a snippet from "Rumination":

Were my mouth to find yours in the gloom
Of dying promises--canted, mid-sentence,
Mid-phrase or quotation--were I on a lark
To marry wood, the hard pine panels
Of this room, your lips, the rivulet
Tips of your lingering sweats,
Who would I be then?

So, yeah.  You want this book. Leave a comment between now and April 30 and I'll pull a name out of the hat and contact you.  That's it! 

If you want to participate as a blogger, please check out Susan Rich's info here

A little bit about me:

In addition to Ophelia Unraveling, I will also have a chapbook, The Ornithologist Poems, coming out from Dancing Girl Press this next year.  I blog about poetry stuff that's on my mind as well as birds I see out on my daily (-ish) walk.  I'm a writing tutor who lives in Massachusetts and travels occasionally, most recently to Australia. 

Good luck and Happy National Poetry Month!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To Read Speckily

I haven't been taking my walk/run/thingy lately, preferring to stay indoors and jump rope.  So the bird watching has been limited to my front yard:  downy woodpeckers, juncos, tufted titmice.  The occasional bluebird that love the suet. 

I have way too many books.  Just yesterday, three books came in the mail and I'm expecting more.  I find myself having a difficult time reading through books or journals--although that's not completely true, but I do feel that right now, I'm trying to read/juggle read at least, what, four or five books simultaneously.  What happens is, a book is mentioned somewhere on the internet and I go to Amazon to take a peek.  If they have a "Look Inside!" I generally do and then decide if I need it.  If I have to have it.  Way too often, I think I do.  But then, the book comes in the mail, I open it, dive in so to speak and then another book comes along.

Today, for example, at work I'm trying to get through the introduction to Lisa Russ Spaar's The Hide-And-Seek Muse.  I love the things she is saying and there are poet in this anthology that I haven't spent time with and think I need to.  But:

I'm also trying to read Poetry As Survival by Gregory Orr.  This I do really feel I need to why aren't I reading it?  Also, in my bag that I bring to work with my stuff, I found Uncanny Valley by Jon Woodward that I totally forgot I bought and that I'm really looking forward to reading because 1.  Jon was my former teacher and a very good one and 2.  I think this will be innovative poetry that hopefully will help mine.  But I haven't even cracked the book to peek inside. 

That's not even mentioning the books that I re-read at bedtime--last night, I was trying to read The Golden Compass, but I read a few paragraphs and plunked it down.

I feel like my reading habits are becoming specky, which isn't a word, I know, but feels right.  Like I'm picking at books like some bird at seeds.  I know that the internet is having a profound impact on the way I read or don't read or read speckily.  Rebecca Loudon asked this before on Facebook and I think it's true, that Facebook and the internet are interrupting the fundamental way in which I read.  Or don't read.   

For example, I think I'm able to access more books than I need or can possibly get through.  Amazon's one click makes it super easy to buy, rather than, say, stand in a long line at Borders and debate internally with myself whether I really need this journal.  The quick hit of Facebook or checking my email for the five hundredth time is an inter rupture  as well. 

But then again, I think that maybe the internet is helpful with finding these books, finding all these poets I want to read, all these journals.  For example, that yellow issue of Fairy Tale Review (you should get that) is fabulous and while I didn't read the complete issue, found amazing poems and got ideas about writing poetry that I never would have thought of on my own and even if I didn't read the complete issue, who cares?

Even if I'm reading sporadically, is it such a bad thing?   Or reading voraciously sporadically? 

What are your thoughts about how you read?  Have you found your reading habits changing?  Does the internet bother your reading skills? Do you read speckily, too?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stealing Poetry--Update and Other Notes

I found my Fairy Tale Review!!!  A friend realized I had left it somewhere and picked it up for me.  So yay! 

Also, Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

And soon April will be upon us with National Poetry Month.  There will probably be poetry book give-aways here and elsewhere.  And hopefully some poems will be written.  (Please let some poems come, O Poetry-Giver!)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stealing Poetry

On my walk yesterday I saw a pileated woodpecker!  Ah!  As you know, that's one of my very favorite birds to see because they aren't around all that much and when they open their wings to fly, the pattern on their wings is gorgeous.

So I left my copy of the yellow issue of Fairy Tale Review somewhere and now, when I want to use it, can't find it.  Inside there was a fabulous poem called "Cinder" (I think I'm remembering correctly) which was so clever and I wanted to write it out and steal from it.  I had even written inside the cover that I wanted to do so.  Now that I can't find my copy, I wonder what someone glancing around inside might wonder about that.  About stealing from it.  If they think poets are all a bunch of thieves.   How do you tell people about T.S. Eliot's injunction that good poets borrow, great poets steal?  What I take that to mean, from my own poetry experience, is that I steal the character of Ophelia and run away with her and take her to a river and devise my own story.  Or that I discover a new form, like Natasha Trethewey's Myth poem, and want to use that form for my own poems.  Or take words from a poem or bird book and riff off of them.

So I'm curious:  Is that what you take Eliot to mean?  How do you steal in your poetry? 

I'm also wondering about this because a new press, in their submission guidelines states that no plagiarism will be tolerated and that "all quotes will be checked for copyright issues." (I feel I should quote them!) Of course, one should document one's borrowings, but for some reason this seems, I don't know, obvious and therefore unnecessary to state so in their guidelines.  That it should be understood.  Is plagiarism as much a problem in poetry as it is in college comp classes these days?

Shoplifting Poetry
Martin Steingesser

We're in the bookstore stealing poems,
lifting the best lines--
You cop one from Williams,
I stick my hand into Pound.
No one's looking...
I throw you a line from The Cantos--
It disappears in your ear like spaghetti.
We stuff ourselves with Crane,
cummings, Lowell, Voznesensky--
Neruda, Rilke, Yeats!
The goods dissolve in our brain.
Now we move from the shelves with caution.
The cashier's watching. Can she tell?
Fat! We've overeaten.
You giggle. End-rhymes leak at your lips like bubbles.
I clap a hand on your mouth.
You are holding my ears
as we fall out the door.

      ©1977, Martin Steingesser, all rights reserved

Monday, March 11, 2013

Post AWP--Phew!

I didn't really walk or run up the path today so much as lurch.  There were some very uneven tracks and they were icy and crunchy.  But the cardinals were overjoyed at the sun--they climbed to the highest branches and sang their love songs and it was beautiful.  Their red bodies lit up by the sun--just gorgeous.

Yesterday I was in the best mood ever for some reason.  I think it was because I was back from AWP and that I'm on Spring Break from work and got my other part-time job stuff done as well. 

AWP.  Well, that was an adventure.  Thursday I did go into work, my son did have school, and because it was snowy and snowy and snowy, most of my students either no-showed or canceled.  So, early in the afternoon, I went over to Boston and checked into my very small, very warm hotel room after lugging my luggage down through the parking garage and into the wrong building at first.  I changed and walked out into the snow and wind and found Copley Mall and walked through that to the Hynes Convention Center to register.  Then I decided to tour the bookfair and find out where I was supposed to be for Friday.  Wow.  The book fair was totally overwhelming:  so many booths of journals and MFA programs and book publishers.  I talked to the people at Missouri Review and tried to remember to approach the editors as a fan and not a submitter.  I got thirsty and tired very quickly and so left.  Went back to the hotel, then went to Legal Seafood for an early dinner of spicy fish and chips, back to the hotel and in bed and snoozing by 9:00 p.m.  Then woke up at 12:00 to loud drunken writers trying to figure out where their room was apparently.
Then I slept till 7:30.  I can't believe how much I slept!!! 

Friday I woke up early and went to some panels.  The first panel was Women and The Anxiety of Influence wherein four women poets talk back to Harold Bloom's idea of how the strong (very male) poet is supposed to overthrow or kill, a la Oedipus, their "fathers" in order to write good poetry.  The women were great speakers and talked about who influenced their writing etc.  I discovered some writers whose books I wanted to purchase.

Then I went into another panel--but didn't stay.  Sometimes the panels were too full and claustrophobic feeling and I had to leave.  This happened a few times.  I ate lunch and then went to sit at the Stonecoast table, ostensibly to talk to people interested in the program, but mostly got to catch up with Gen Creedon, fellow poet from Stonecoast, which was great.  Then I got to meet Sandy Longhorn and had a great time laughing and learning tips about how to negotiate AWP and it's 323 page conference program.

I went to a translation panel, with a male poet who wrote bluesy love poems and who, at the end of his speech, sang his poem which really took a lot of guts and luckily he did a very good job.  The last panel of the day was on persona poetry and that room was packed.  I escaped. 

Saturday I really didn't want to do much, except get some AWP swag.  I purchased the new editions of Barn Owl Review, Fairy Tale Review, Court Green, got the latest edition of Poetry for free, a back issue of South Dakota Review, picked up a free Permafrost (which I've never heard of ), bought the book To Embroider the Ground with Prayer by fellow Stonecoaster Teresa J. Scollon, got free notebooks and pens and stickers.  Then lunch with Ruth Foley and her boss from Cider Press Review.  Then home!!! 

There are a million other things I could mention, about seeing all my favorite poets walk right past me, walking blocks in the snow and wind and thinking surely I'm lost or going the wrong way, and the noise and the people.  I'm glad I went, but boy am I glad to be back home. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Art The Poetry The Women

Today on my walk/run/thingy I had the path all to myself...well, almost.  It was rainy and then snowy and I had to put my cramp-ons on then take them off then put them on again.  But it was lovely and the path almost almost has one clear strip the whole way up.  On my way up the path, I noticed these strange markings--a three pronged imprint that I thought at first must be somebody's strange ski-pole, but then thought--turkeys.  And sure enough, on my way back, right near the pond, was Mr. Tom and his three mates.  One was this amazing white female turkey with brown streaks down her breast.  I was nervous about having to pass them, since he kept puffing himself all out and looking at me...but I climbed over the fence and made as little noise as possible and kept my head down.  It worked and he let me pass by without hissing or chasing me.  So that was exciting!  They were truly gorgeous.

So I may not be heading to AWP until Friday, if the weather does what they threaten it's going to.  That's okay.  I will be at the Stonecoast Table from 11:30 till 12:30 if anybody wants to stop by and say hello.
I am still hoping to go in Thursday after work, but if my son's school gets canceled--my Thursday gets canceled as well.  I'm sure there will be plenty of AWP on Friday and Saturday though and will let you know what I see and hear and buy!

You should check out this gorgeous feature at Escape Into Life here in honor of Women's History Month.  The art the poetry the women are all just fabulous. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Part Of The Journey

The path today had slushy spots, icy spots, snowy spots, and bare spots.  I did my walk run jog thing which felt very nice and saw some chickadees and what I thought might be red-winged blackbirds, but could just have been grackles.  Still.  Yesterday there was sun birdsong and gurgling water. 

This next week I'll be going to AWP here in Boston.  I am scared and nervous and super-excited and just plain curious.  This is my first year going to an AWP and I'm quite sure I'll be overwhelmed.  I can't even decide what panels I want to go to, what off-site readings I wanna be sure to go to, or what books I want to buy at the bookfair.  I will try and keep you posted on what all occurs there and all the things that happen.  I'm hopefully gonna be meeting some wonderful writers I've only "met" on-line so that'll be nice.  And nerve-wracking...did I mention I'm nervous about seeing all the poets I'm crazy about?

Today I sent my manuscript out to like four or five contests.  Cha-ching!  That's expensive, but hopefully will be worth it.  I'm still tweaking the book, which I've titled Her House Of Matches, still trying to get that perfect poem order happening.  I realized today that I've sent it out for about a year and a half.  I know it can take years, and that this is all part of the journey.  And since I'm not writing any poems, at least it's fun to play with those poems. 

Better if the chickadee gave up
its sweetheart call,
or the embrace eroded against the trellis
of amaryllis, or was lost
in the arbor of grapes clustering
like gossip.

A shame, its insistence
on clarity, clear pitch sailing over beds
of oleander, over the clarinet
branches of juniper,

so that its hoarse offer
goes unanswered, ricochets
off the crumbling wall at woods' edge
where the mint parts
from the jasmine.

Paula Bohince
Verse Daily

Heron Tree

I have so enjoyed working as an editor for the Heron Tree volume 5 edition.  I learned so much from reading submitted poems!  And realized w...