Monday, December 22, 2008

New Issue of Pedestal Magazine... up and I'm in it! You can read and listen to me here. I love that Pedestal will also post an audio file of the poet reading their work and am very surprised that not many people seem to take advantage of that opportunity. Then again, I needed my lovely boyfriend Mihnea to help me record myself and it is quite likely that not every poet has a Mihnea in their life.

Also, I am, as always, smirking in my photo. I can't seem to stop doing that.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Lovely Poetry Day

Sunday was a very lovely poetry day. First, Laura and I hosted another poetry workshop through Weave where I got to meet some really cool local poets who I perhaps would never have met otherwise -- there was a great variety of styles and subjects. I love workshopping and it was wonderful to get to hang out and read some pretty awesome poems.

Also on the Weave front, Laura and I have begun working with one of our fiction readers and I am simply blown away by him. He is very serious and very skilled and clearly highly motivated. I can't wait to get the chance to work with him more.

When I got home from the workshop I had an acceptance from Hawk & Whippoorwill sitting in my inbox. I'd submitted about 5 months ago and it was very exciting to hear back from them. I write a lot of poems about woman in nature and am very glad they decided to pick one of them up. It was a lovely way to start off my evening!

No sooner had I sent out a couple of withdrawals for the poem Hawk and Whippoorwill picked up, than The Pedestal Magazine sent me an email accepting "Barefoot and Listening", the title poem to a chapbook I'm putting together.

I'd been feeling a little down about the submissions I've sent out lately - I've been trying to push myself and have gotten a lot of rejections of late. It's been a little demoralizing. To be honest, these acceptances have really lifted my spirits a lot and have shown me that pushing myself is what I need to do.

In other news, Juliet Cook over at Blood Pudding is putting together another multi-writer project. There are only about 7 slots left and I'd like to snag one of those, but I've been struggling with putting together my submission for her. I know I do have poems that would fit with her aesthetic, but the problem is finding and editing all of them.

Also! The Winter Issue of Arsenic Lobster is up! Hoorah!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The digital chapbook issue of the always lovely blossombones has gone up! It is definitely worth checking out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Issue 01 of Weave - On sale now!

The first issue of Weave Magazine is on sale now! Click on the link or head over to to get your copy today!

On (not) being prolific

Barring that embarrassing time in high school when I wrote a poem a day, no matter how horrendous the poem, I have never been a prolific poet. It was a good run when I wrote 6 poems in three months. In fact, it was the most I think I have ever written and been happy with in that kind of a time period.

I could blame my job, my family, my editorial duties, but even when none of those things existed it was very difficult for me to pump out the 12-15 poems I had to write each semester for my creative writing courses, and often what I did write I was not entirely happy with. There were times I was downright embarrassed to bring a poem to class, but I had to in order to hit my quota. I understand the need for a quota, of course, but none of the poems I wrote at the last minute because I had to have seen the light of day since. In fact, most of them never even made it near my senior portfolio.

I've tried different techniques to up my output over the past year or so (it was just unhealthy when my number of poems published in a year exceeded my number of poems written) - more freewriting, changing location of writing, using prompts (boy did that one fail on an epic scale), but the only one that has (sort of) worked has been writing at red lights. I have a tiny notebook and I write in it at red lights on my commute to and from work. For some reason that time in the car is the perfect time for my brain to work on poetry. I couldn't tell you why, but all the poems I have written since August have been written in part while getting honked at when the light has just changed.

This way of writing does mean that I only get a line or two down at a time, but I'm writing more than I ever have before. It's fun to figure out which lines fit together, to structure poems from the pieces. Maybe eventually the day will come when I write a poem a week, but for now I'm just happy to have my red light poems.

And because it fits, stolen from the lovely Mary over at The Word Cage:

1. When was the last time you wrote a poem? - November 15th

2. What was its title? - After the Cold Snap

3. What was one image from the poem (if applicable)? - tying knots in curtain tassels

4. Do you currently have a poem percolating in your brain? - yes!

5. If you answered "yes" to number four, what is one image from that poem? - a butterfly pinned to wax

1 point for each response. Partial credit available. No penalty for attempting. This is an open book test.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Cheesecake

My dear friend and co-editor of Weave, Laura Davis, talked about a very interesting topic over on her blog, Laura Without Labels a few weeks ago at this point - women as both smart and sexy, and is it possible to effectively present yourself as both at the same time.

Laura wrote about this topic primarily as a member of the skeptical community, but her post got me to thinking about how, from my experience, I am perceived as a woman off the page in poetry.

As you may or may not be aware, I run and host a poetry cabaret with my darling friend Crystal called The TypewriterGirls, and I must say that we have had some pretty darn lovely ladies and gents at our shows. Crystal and I always find some kind of costume to wear for our shows, often ones that could arguably be described as "sexy".

Anyway, whereas Crystal and I often look oddly sexy at TypewriterGirls shows, we stopped short of doing a show about sex where we wouldn't mention herpes or necrophilia, but rather would try to actually be sexy. We (or maybe it was just I) even had an idea for a flier that would have involved strategically placed typewriters.

In the end, as I said, we opted not to do a show about sexiness, in part, I think, because Crystal writes very lewd, weird, semi-offensive comedy, and it probably wouldn't have worked out anyway, but mostly because we didn't want to reduce the TypewriterGirls to poetry girl cheesecake. I don't know if this is at all a common occurrence in the poetry world, this idea of pretty poet girl as primarily pretty girl and secondarily poet (I do recall the great Fence debacle of '05), but especially where readings are concerned I see where it could be problematic.

To be fair, we do, I think, get a somewhat larger audience in part because we're cute girls who (sometimes) dress cute, and in that way it works to our advantage. However, I know that Crystal and I both desire to be seen as poets first, cute girls second, and while most men don't have short skirts to take advantage of on stage, they do have an establishment that they still seem to have a majority stake in.

Men also seem (whether this is accurate or not) to either be more confident than women about their writing or have a greater desire to publish. Laura and I probably receive twice as many submissions from men and as from women for Weave. I have been told by a male editor that for every ten submissions from a man, he receives one from a woman. To that I say - DANG.

I know a lot of amazing female writers, but it's true that many of them just don't send their work out, and I'm not certain why that is because honestly, it's a problem I've never had. I've been submitting my work regularly since my senior year of college.

I would, of course, be interested to hear others weigh in on this -- is this disparity because men are encouraged to publish more than women? Is it because there are just more men writing than women (I seriously doubt this)? Is it because women do see publishing as male dominated? Or is it because Laura and I are just so cute that men want to be near us via their poetry?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lifting Belly High

Over the past three days I had the great fortune of attending the literary conference Lifting Belly High: A Conference on Women's Poetry Since 1900. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There was a point last night when Crystal and I were hugging each other and crying, we were so moved by this event and the amazing women we met there.

One of the panels I attended was a panel on Rachel Blau DuPlessis a poet and scholar who has done amazing critical work on feminist writing and is in the process of writing a long-form poem (and by long form I mean that it currently is 3 books long) called Drafts. One of the speakers at the panel talked specifically about DuPlessis' use of footnotes in Drafts, and this discussion has only further excited me in my reading of this body of work. Drafts is far from the easiest poem I have ever read, but is clearly layered in ways that I am enjoying discovering.

I also got to meet Dr. DuPlessis while at the conference. I hope I didn't gush too embarrassingly.

The panel Fairytales and Epics was also fascinating. I am very interested in how women writers utilize myth, folklore, epic, fairytale, and religion in our poetry -- some of my favorite poet friends do this in their writing, and I always love seeing the way that they look at the myth - as Dr. DuPlessis said, "criticism becomes the heart of the myth." It says a lot about us as people and as women, how we reinvent the mythology we have received.

I got the chance to talk to two of the panelists after the panel; Julie Weeks, a scholar from Notre Dame who studies fairytale, primarily in British women's poetry and who had some really good ideas regarding my research which I am itching to take a look at, and Claudia Emerson, one of my poet heroes. Julie came out for tea with Crystal and me and we talked about Romania. It was lovely.

There was a roundtable of Feminist Presses that I also attended. It ended up being one of the most encouraging parts of the conference for me (though there were many of those!) because every single one of the panelists talked about how community building is important to them and they consider it part of their duty as a feminist press. This is one of the principals Laura and I founded Weave on, which, by virtue of our commitment to having at least 50% of our contributor list be female and the mere fact the Laura and I are female, I consider to be feminist.

One of the biggest highlights of the conference for me was getting to meet Judith Johnson, an amazing poet and performer, and also the editor and founder of 13th Moon. I can't think of any other way to say this -- I love Judith Johnson. She's warm and intelligent and fiery and truly works to empower women through her writing and publishing efforts. I hope I get to spend time with her again.

The only downside to the conference was the almost complete homogeneity of the participants. I would say 80-85% of us were white women, and then there was an even split on the other 15% of men and women of color. There has been a lot of talk already of how this can be changed. It was really nice to see this shortcoming acknowledged and to actually talk about ways to remedy it. Hopefully we will act on these ideas.

I could go on and on, and may in an additional entry, but I wanted to get all of this written out while it was still fresh in my mind. I've been so excited and so nervous over the past few days that I have had difficulty eating, and now I'm heading out to Windber with Phat Man Dee for Blair and Renee's baby shower!!

Busy busy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On not being "that" editor.

When I first started trying to publish my own poetry one of the things I heard a lot was "sometimes you just catch the editor on a bad day and that's why you get rejected," and this idea never sat well with me. On one hand, I understand time constraints and that an editor really has no obligation to me as a submitter, but I will admit that it bugged me.

As a couple of you might know, one of my far-too-many-these-days projects is editing Weave Magazine. I can assure you that I do my absolute best to not be "that editor". If I don't like your poem(s), I will, for sure, at least wait until after I've had my morning coffee to give them a reread and potentially send out your rejection.

Of course, this might change if we start getting 300 submissions a week or somesuch thing, but right now the reread after a cup of coffee or a solid week away from the initially disliked submission is important to me -- important enough that I promise you if you submit to Weave I will read your submission. Then I will read it again. Then I will reject it.

Or accept it. That happens too.