Friday, June 28, 2013

In Praise of Journals that Publish Poetry and Their Editors

In a country that highlights Capitalism wherever it can, poetry journals have become a peaceful protest against money first. The majority of literary journals in this country (and other countries even more so) are done on a lima bean budget. The editors I know devote  late night hours each week to reading, editing, corresponding, fact checking and producing attractive magazines --- with no ad money.

In other words: editors are good people. They believe in the radical notion that poetry matters. Sometimes, a college English department supports the journal's staff, but this is becoming rarer. Other times as with Crab Creek Review and Floating Bridge Review, which are unaffiliated, the journals hold annual contests to bring in funds and sometimes do an end of the year letter so they can continue to cover printing costs. In view of full disclosure, I have edited and been on the board of these last two journals. 

Other journals such as the Heron Tree or Cura Journal work as online journals and then publish in hard copy one issue per year. I appreciate this hybrid notion that paper copy and pdf's both matter.

I've now have joined the ranks permanently as Poetry Editor for The Human journal based in Istanbul, Turkey. This Sunday our inaugural issue will go live and I promise to post the link here. We will feature poems by Kelli Russell Agodon, Jennifer Markell, and Hilary Salick, among others. This is what has me thinking about the world of editors.

1. Poetry Editors are almost always poets themselves. They take time away from their own work to promote other writers and allow new work entry into the world.

2. No one gets rich or becomes famous as a poetry editor. They do work for free or little money.

3. Perhaps this is obvious: editors are people. They appreciate a kind word, a brief thank you note, some acknowledgement that you noticed. Be kind to your editor and they will return the favor.

4. If an editor accepts your work, you can send them new poems (you may want to wait a year or so). They've liked what you've done and may like it again. In any case, it is worth building a relationship with a journal. Think long term relationship rather than one night stand.

5. It's summer even in Seattle. Perhaps especially in Seattle, people want to get outside and play. If a journal takes longer than expected to respond to your work, don't shoot off a worried email, just be patient. (Also check the submission guidelines as many journals do not read in summer.)

Other journals that I've found respectful to writers and beautiful for readers include the Alaska Quarterly Review, Bellingham Review, New England Review, the Southern Review, Poetry International and Poet Lore. There are, of course, many more but these are journals that have been kind to me over time. Both Alaska Quarterly Review and Bellingham Review have published my work for more than twenty years. Not every time I sent, and not every year, but the relationship continues to thrive through various editors and iterations.

If you've worked with an editor who has been thoughtful, accommodating, and careful - why not say thank you? We're all in this together ---

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Almost Summer and Things to Look At!

Photographer: Matthew Christopher

A bit small here, but you get the idea. I'm looking at images and have one in mind, but would love to get a sense of what others think. I've been looking and looking at images.

This is a newer image by the painter Nicola Slattery whose work I first saw in West Cork last summer. This is very different than what I've been looking at.

Another painting by Nicola Slattery, with a great big tip to Chagall's The Bride.

Another photograph by Matthew Christopher of the Abandoned America project. This was taken at a TB asylum in Taunton, Massachusetts, not too far from where I grew up. Which piece of art grabs you the most? Which would you choose for a book of poems called CLOUD PHARMACY? I have one in mind but love the idea of receiving more input. Many thanks.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Generating New Work and Sending Polished Poems into the World: We Can Hold a Place for You

 Why not reserve one of three spots left?
Our last one day workshop was offered on Ground Hog Day and now, by popular demand, we've added a Generating New Work: Sending (Polished) Poems into the World on Flag Day weekend. What better way to celebrate the minor holidays than with poetry? Join us in the South Lake Union neighborhood for an afternoon of writing and a writers salon.

You will leave the afternoon with drafts of six poems, a submission sent off (by Kelli and me) to a journal hand-picked for you, and your questions answered on publishing. We'll also throw in some great snacks and a list of journals that you can submit to over the summer months.

The class is open to writers at all levels: from those who have yet to send their work for publication to those who are old pros. We're going to have fun and we hope you can join us. To find out more specifics, you can click right here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Lilly Wasserman's "Scarecrow" from Kathleen Flenniken's, The Far Field

Lilly Wasserman, poet extraordinaire

Each week, or sometimes every few days, Washington State Poet Laureate, Kathleen Flenniken, highlights the work of a talented Washington State poet. From every corner of the state, from every age group, gender, and racial background, Flenniken finds a poet worthy of a wider audience. She's been doing this for more than a year and the talent still keeps coming. This week is no exception.

Poet Lilly Wasserman is currently studying creative writing at Western Washington University. This poem, "Scarecrow," is part of a larger work of persona poems in which Wasserman reconsiders Dorothy and the Land of Oz. With images as powerful as "miscalculated blooms" and "porcupine fractures" it's hard not to admire this burgeoning poet. You heard it here first: I believe Lilly Wasserman is just getting started. May this be the beginning of a beautiful love affair with poetry.

Please enjoy!


He had eyes like sewn seeds
anxious, I thought they might
come unstrung and sprout again
raining from white casks
over clawed hands
beetle-backed and tight
through slits to the moss below.

Flax shoots of hay
pierced his overcoat at each elbow
porcupine fractures of desert bone
wind-whipped and waterless,
forever pointing south.

He was a dizzying character
a flailing hand-packed half-man
tossing his stuffing
in miscalculated blooms
and chuckling curses
as they blew away.

(to continue reading "Scarecrow" please visit The Far Field)