Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How Do You End a Poem?

One of my 4th grade students asked this question. I told him it was a great question with lots of possible answers. I posed to question to my friends on Facebook. Here are some of their responses. More here.

“With a whimper, not a bang.” -Shawnte Orion

“With some concrete truth that ties together any imagery in your poem.” -Catherine Conley

“You don’t.” -Charles Kruger

“Without a bow.” -Kelly Cressio-Moeller

“I don't know if I have a concrete response. It's sort of like asking, How do you know that it’s love?... I don't think I've ever thought, oh it’s time to end this poem. I just know that it is. The ending usually presents itself…and I just know…” -Janette Schafer

“When it feels like you have nothing more left to say.” -Nandini Dhar

“With a line that leaves the reader with a sense of wonder, emotion, or satisfaction.” -Donna Vorreyer

“By beginning the next one.” -Adam Atkinson

“In my experience, the best ending in my poetry is the line before the last line.” -Ronnie K. Stephens

“With a good strong word. One syllable if possible. On a strong stress.” -Jennifer Swanton

“…let the last line leave an impression in the reader's mind. A strong image or emotion.” -Rie Sheridan Rose

“Write past the last line. Then go back and find the real last line later.” -Martha Pauline

“Close the door or leave it a tad bit open! One of those. Never leave it all the way open.” -Teresa Petro

Friday, October 25, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Poet Lisa Mangini

poet, Lisa Mangini
Lisa Mangini holds an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University, where she also teaches. She is the Founding Editor of Paper Nautilus, and the winner of the 2011 Connecticut Poetry Prize.  Her poetry collection, Bird Watching at the End of the World, is forthcoming from Cherry Grove in October 2014.

Laura Davis: How do you being writing? Do you just dive in? Warm-up exercise? Daydreaming? Any strange rituals involving smelling a drawer of fruit? 

Lisa Mangini: Daydreaming is essential to my writing, and I think, for me, that’s where all writing really begins. I’m a veteran of long commutes and spend a lot of time in the car, so just about all of my first kernels and leads for ideas are generated from that particular kind of mind wandering that occurs while driving a familiar route. And I have to sit and stew on ideas for a while – sometimes a few days, sometimes a month – before I even begin drafting them out. That thinking-it-over period gives me the opportunity to figure out how to turn a fleeting idea into something more substantial.

LD: What writing implement do you wield? 

LM: Handwritten with a pen is my first choice, preferably with a legal pad, since those spiral-bound books are less comfortable for writing left-handed. This process is tedious, especially for prose, but I find using a computer too distracting: the temptation of the internet, and all the red and green squiggles under words, backspacing and re-writing until I walk away with two lines after a few hours. Longhand helps shut out that inner-critic so I can actually get something done.

LD: How do you motivate yourself to write? Chocolates? Self-flagellation? Coffee on an IV drip? 

LM: While writing is always work (research to make some details more authentic, digging up emotional baggage,  picking apart that flat ending until it works), I try to treat the act itself as an indulgence. Life post-MFA means I have no consequences if I’m not producing new work, and with teaching, running a small press, and a day job, I don’t have as much time to spend on my own writing anymore. Carving out an hour or two a week to write now falls in the same category as a long bath or watching bad TV; it becomes the thing I do to reward myself for getting through all those other things that needed to be done.

LD: Do you believe in “writer’s block?” 

LM: In a way, yes, I do. I don’t believe in waiting for some “muse” to appear either, but I do think it’s easy to get burned out when there’s this expectation that one must be inspired all the time. There have been times that I wanted to write, set aside time to write, and found I really didn't have anything to say. Like I mentioned, all writing is work, but I don’t ever want to cross into that territory where it becomes a chore. If I’m truly tapped out, I spend that time reading instead, which eventually opens me up to new ideas or triggers something. If it takes longer than a few weeks to generate anything, it usually means that the block is me, getting in my own way with anxieties or fear about the anticipated quality of the new work – in which case I freewrite really badly until it passes.

LD: Beverage of choice? 

LM: Iced coffee, milk, no sugar. Sometimes with vodka.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Writer Michelle Auerbach

writer, Michelle Auerbach
Michelle Auerbach is the author of The Third Kind of Horse (2013 Beatdom Books). Her writing has appeared in (among other places) The New York Times, The Guardian, The Denver Quarterly, Chelsea Magazine, Bombay Gin, and the literary anthologies The Veil (UC Berkley Press), Uncontained Baksun Books, and You: An Anthology of Essays in the Second Person (Welcome Table Press). She is the winner of the 2011 Northern Colorado Fiction Prize. She is an editor at Instance Press and can be found online here.

Laura Davis: What’s the strangest object you've ever used to write a poem or a story with and/or upon?

Michelle Auerbach: Recently, like almost two years ago, I was falling in love. I’m not a teenager, in fact I am the parent of three teenagers, but like anything else related to the birds and the bees, I became a texting addict. I was sitting down at my desk in my study, because I had the idea to write a poem about Midas for a series I was working on with characters drawn from mythology - I could relate to them because they were experiencing what I was, just a while ago. So, I was at my desk, with my phone next to me waiting to hear from him. I was fiddling with lines, putting in the ones I liked and trying to build on them. And then he texted. And his text was perfect for the line I needed so I added it in. I kept going, texting and writing and texting and writing and I found that what he was sending me was exactly what I needed to add into the poem. I am used to working off lines from books, overheard conversations, or from art that moves me, but never from texts or IM’s. The poem ended up to be one of my favorites, partly because I married the guy, but partly because Midas and his texts and my needs all came together to make something that really, really was how I felt. It was not emotion recollected in tranquility, but texting recollected in poetry.

LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem?

MA: I never finish anything. I want to edit things that are already in print. I want to edit my novel, which has been out for almost six months. I open the book and start reading aloud and I want to change it, like, "Oh, this would be much better if . . ." I heard that some painter had to be dragged out of a museum before he altered one of his paintings that the museum owned. That’s me. If I don’t send this in soon, I will edit it a tenth time.

LD: How long have you been writing? What’s the first thing you remember feeling good about having written?

MA: I have been writing since Fourth Grade. I started keeping a journal and I wrote a book of poetry for my teacher called “A Smile Spreads A Mile With Poetry.” I kept writing every single day until I was 42. Then my ex-boyfriend, who was also a writer and should have known better, read my journal. I stopped. The violation was so extreme that I now have journaling PTSD. It took me three years to read the journal he had read, and to come to terms with what he had done. But those three years trained me to do something else, not journal. I think the daily practice was so good for me, so cathartic, so useful in learning to develop voice and pacing, and for figuring out how to get emotion on the page, and for learning to write in character, me or not me, that I would call it the world’s greatest apprenticeship.

LD: Do you believe in “writer’s block”?

MA: I do not believe in writer’s block. I believe in the insidiousness of fear and the angry reds and the mean blues when you doubt the veracity or importance of what you have to say. Or at least I do. But, my college professor, who was my hero, made me read Hemmingway’s journalism and instilled in me a belief that writing was a job, that you do every day, not just when inspired, and that some or all of it could be crap and life would go on. Try again the next day. It really helps when the self-critical voices start up to know I have to do it anyway.

LD: What writing implement do you wield?

MA: I am a stationary and pen freak. I am obsessed with what everyone uses to write. I am obsessed even with various computer programs. A lawyer friend told me about a program she uses to plot out cases – it tracks the characters and the lines of argument and I was sure I could use it to plot a novel. I love fountain pens and Clairfontaine notebooks that I buy in Paris. That sounds really snobby, but it is true. If you go to France, please bring me a cheap drugstore fountain pen and any kind of Clairfontaine notebook. You can get them in Monoprix, if you are looking. I learned this when I took a workshop with Natalie Goldberg in the 90s and she said to find a pen and paper that moved fast. That was my vroom vroom combo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

LitShare: SF LitCrawl, Harry Potter plays Ginsberg, and one kick-ass collaborative poem

Donna Vorreyer mixes it up with a collective poem inspired by the Submission Bombers.

Here's the map for this Saturday's LitCrawl. Holy shit, I want to go to everything.

The Southeast review offers a Writing Regimen program for 30 days at only 15 smackers. You get lots of stuff too, like prompts, podcasts, quotes, reading assignments, and other goodies to inspire you to write a shit-ton of new work.

Daniel Radcliffe is portraying Allen Ginsberg in the movie Kill Your Darlings, also staring Michael C. Hall. I want to see this movie 100 times already.

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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Writer Alicia Hoffman

poet Alicia Hoffman
Raised primarily in Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes and teaches in Rochester, New York. An MFA candidate at the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University, her poems have been published in journals such as Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, Tar River Poetry, Poets/Artists, Red Wheelbarrow, A-Minor Magazine, SOFTBLOW, elimae, decomP, and elsewhere. She is the author of Like Stardust in the Peat Moss (Aldrich Press, 2013).



Laura Davis: What color is your writing process? Do explain. 

Alicia Hoffman: I would say deep ocean blue. When I write I attempt a dive into water. I try to immerse myself in the temperature of the poem. Granted, sometimes I am knocked by the waves of distraction, coughing on the impediment of time or my own imaginary walls that block that ocean of imagination. I hope I don’t sound too cheesy, but when I think of the color of the writing process, I am thinking of diving down through all the gradations of blue.

LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem? 

AH: This is a great question and one I always struggle with. I immediately think of Valery, who said “A poem is never finished, only abandoned”. And I think of what one of my writing mentor’s, David Biespiel, once said, that we are always writing different versions of the same poem. That, in essence, when we discard one, or “finish” one (though they are never, truly, finished), we move onto the next poem or story- unknowingly writing out of the same compulsion that brought us to the first. I think there is truth to this. And I also think there comes a time when I just have to let the poem go. That, maybe, I needed to write that poem, in all its imperfection, in order to move on to one that may reach farther and ring more true. It’s all a process. And I am still learning to accept this process, because it is a difficult thing to learn. That maybe we can’t work on the writing till it’s perfect. That perhaps its imperfection is part of what makes it sing.

Hoffman's writing space
LD: How long have you been writing? What’s the first thing you remember feeling good about having written?

AH: I was reading long before I was writing, and then I was writing long before I was writing anything but angst-ridden journal scribbles. I had it bad. It wasn't till I got to college that I realized people could actually study poetry. And not just study poetry, but study the actual craft of writing poetry. I still don’t know if I've written a poem that I feel forever good about, but I have written some that I feel good about for what they are. It was probably sometime after graduate school – a poem that got published in an actual journal. I felt validated then. There is something about having some stranger enjoy what one says that makes us feel less disconnected to the world. I am constantly second-guessing my own writing. I admit. I usually feel real good about having written something, anything, at first glance. Then, when I wake in the morning and revisit the same poem, it’s a bit more distant, and I begin to scrutinize. I then go deeper into that scrutinizing until I can’t any longer. Sometimes I bury it, deep in those word files, knowing it won’t last, and other times I sense I can’t go further but yet it feels somewhat complete and I send it out into the world. Then, I again begin to massage that impulse that yearns to withstand the test of time.

LD: How do you motivate yourself to write? Chocolates? Self-flagellation? Coffee on an IV drip?
 
AH: Wine. But seriously, I think sometimes writing is like an itch that needs to get scratched, a nagging at the back of the brain. For me, it is a compulsion. When I go long spurts without writing, I feel something akin to guilt. It’s a self-inflicted guilt. But it is also, for me, a welling forth of feeling. Physically, I don’t know if I could ever not write. I think I would become a different person. A lesser person. I feel lighter after writing. More buoyant. Better. And if that’s all it brings me, so be it. I write to honor myself and the world.

LD: Let’s talk about your writing soundscape. Do you listen to music? Cafe rumblings? White noise? Utter silence?

AH: Utter silence.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

LitShare: Hallowed Cows, Hybrid Notebooks, and Why Pittsburgh Rules

me reading at the CPITS Symposium,
photo by Mareen Hurley
New online lit mag, Cease Cows, is having a flash fiction contest. It has a theme of "Hallowed" or just "Hallow". $5 for one piece, $10 for three.

Check out the Periodic table of storytelling.

Pittsburgh, PA makes the list of 20 Great American Cities for Writers. -via Flavorwire.

Moleskine and the online note compiling platform Evernote are collaborating on a weird hybrid sketch book that uploads your sketches to your Evernote account. Cool and weird. The future is now.

Sundress Publications is having a sale: any two books for $20! I suggest Donna Vorreyer's A House of Many Windows.

Lastly, I was contacted by a poet recently who wanted to join Submission Bombers and do the writing process interview. His poetry is pretty freaking amazing. Check out these words over at ditch poetry. I also recommend just Googling D.M. Aderibigbe.

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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Submission Bombers Are Seeking Publishers for 2013

The Submission Bombers are currently seeking editors of literary publications that want to collaborate. Here's a little about what we do:

The Submission Bombers are a group of 800+ writers who want our (often marginalized) voices to be heard. Through online events called "bombings," group members are encouraged to submit to a collaborating journal. Our goal is to take large-scale action that will bring about the change we want to see within literary publishing. 

A publications must be either 1) one year old with one issue published or 2) less than a year old with two or more issues published. Available upcoming time slots are listed below and are FCFS. If you're interested in setting up a bombing, please click here to email me with your top 3 preferred time slots.

Oct 21 – Nov 1
Nov 4 – 15
Nov 11 – 22
Nov 18 – 29
Dec 2 – 13
Dec 9 – 20
Dec 16 - 27
Dec 23 - 31


Additionally, 2014 is wide open for bombings. New events start each Monday beginning mid-January. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Writer Matt Pasca

poet Matt Pasca
An award-winning high school English teacher, Matt Pasca’s poetry has appeared in over a dozen journals, including Paterson Literary Review, Georgetown Review and Weave Magazine, as well as nine print anthologies. His first book, A Thousand Doors (2011, JB Stillwater), was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Laura Davis: What color is your writing process? Do explain.

Matt Pasca: Great question. My writing process most resembles the lavender of summer twilight – that liminal haze between the beating pulse of action/community and surrender to stillness and the songs of insects. There is just enough light to see, and all the richness of experience seeps into the cracks of consciousness. So much discovery waits in that purple runway of goodbye, the letting go of a day, where one’s mind and heart hunker down in wordless privacy. My writing starts when I walk through the door and find them locked in embrace.

LD: How do you motivate yourself to write? Chocolates? Self-flagellation? Coffee on an IV drip?

MP: In rare moments of unplanned or untaken time (i.e., when not full-time teaching, tutoring, parenting, husbanding, exercising, cooking, cleaning, grading, planning, promoting, gigging or speaking) I go straight to random.org and punch the number of writing projects I have going at the time into the website’s number randomizer. It seems absurd, I know, but I’m serious.

For example, the website might spit the number 6 at me, which corresponds to number 6 on a list I keep that might look like this:  1) revise new rough poem, 2) type in work from journal, 3) freewrite in journal, 4) revise almost finished piece, 5) clean up manuscript, 6) work on memoir and 7) fragment play. Like most adults, I make thousands of tiny decisions a day at work and at home. In my opinion, a tired and decision-weary mind is not fit to deal properly with the boon of unplanned time, likely as it is to squander such precious moments trolling Facebook or watching talking heads hurl uninformed opinions at each other. For me, a randomizer is a benevolent taskmaster making me choose between many children, all of whom I love and who require my attention. Once the decision has been made for me, motivation is never an issue. I am insatiable when it comes to craft and creation. No measure of time is large enough.

LD: Describe the process of making a recent poem or story. Lightning? Slow-dripping faucet? How long did you work on it?

MP: I have two distinct methods of fashioning a poem. In scenario 1, work streams through me, wherever I might be located, into a journal I then flip through weeks later to see whether or not I have written a passage that has “potential.” If so, I type said passage in, revising as I go, then revise five or six more times before emailing it to the talented and honest editors I am lucky to know. This was the case with "Rainer and the Rio Grande", a poem I scrawled down as a quick entry during a flight home from a vacation in New Mexico with my wife and boys. In scenario 2, I rifle through various fragments of phrases and castaway stanzas I have saved in “composting” folders on my computer. I look for connective tissue and begin cutting and pasting, slashing, building and burning, ultimately cobbling together a collage of poetic parts. From there, I follow the previous procedure. This was how I arrived at "Receiving Line", an autobiographical piece about my experience at my father’s wake that I felt compelled to assemble after attending a fourth student’s parent’s service in one school year. Scenario 2, by the way, requires a word about computer usage:  after 28 years, I am still head over heels in love with the kiss of pen to paper, but am equally energized by the aggressive cross-pollinating and paint-splattering Pollock-esque freedom afforded me by technology. A prerequisite, of course, for the process in scenario 2 is that one be willing to slaughter and recast one’s own writing, to not think one’s work too precious. I like to think of myself as a matchmaker who lets the lonely, cologned and perfumed single fragments of my work go out on the town of my hard drive to find each other.

LD: Do you believe in “writer’s block”?

MP: I believe in writer’s block as one believes in hepatitis or tuberculosis without having experienced them. I know it is there. I have heard stories and imagine that if writing were my full time profession I’d have contracted a case of “the block” by now. But I also think it’s about approach. Do we wait to be inspired? Do we look for it? Do we look too hard? Do we know too much? National Book Award-winner Colum McCann came to my high school one year and told the assembly, “If you know where you are going when you are writing, there is no point to doing it.” I think I benefit from having no idea where I am headed when I set pen to paper or fingers to keys. Perhaps I benefit, too, from being an intensely visual and intuitive person to whom being spontaneously and/or analytically verbal does NOT come naturally. Writing pulls back the tall red curtain, lets me give words to the cinema of my experience, interpret and subtitle the reels of silent footage running from my brain to my heart, to find out what they know – to put myself between them in their backroom embrace. And playing with language – the music of syllables and sounds along the way – is so enjoyable I imagine I will always write, as I have since I was 11, for the sheer love of it, regardless of professional ambition.

LD: What do you like to read before you write? Or after? Or during?

MP: I will confess to you now a great and shameful secret – I am an English teacher who rarely finishes books. I have always been this way. I do read a lot and love to read but do so until I am sparked so full of inspiration and motivation that I put the book down and am off, shot down the track, blowing steam from my opened head. All it usually takes is a poem or two, if it’s good work. I am highly flammable.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Writer Katrina Otuonye

writer Katrina Otuonye
Katrina Otuonye is a Yooper, transplanted Tennessean, China explorer, and teacher. She recently published nonfiction in The Feminist Wire, Crab Orchard Review and Litro Magazine, among others. Otuonye teaches at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and serves as a Poet Mentor for Southern Word, a nonprofit based in Nashville.

Laura Davis: How do you begin writing? Do you just dive in? Warm-up exercise? Daydreaming? Any strange rituals involving smelling a drawer of fruit?

Katrina Otuonye: I dive in. I have a journal where I keep my notes, post-its and scribbles, but once I open a new Word document, or flip to a blank page, I’ll pick one that conjures an image and start writing. I close my eyes and take a second to see it in front of me. People in cafes probably think I’m sleeping. I’m processing. I write in bursts, as if I need to get everything that’s in my head down on paper before it flows away. I like to show my students this clip from Finding Forrester, where an aging writer admonishes a younger student on how to write: “You write your first draft from your heart, and you rewrite with your head. The first key of writing is to write. Not to think.” He doesn't even look at the typewriter as he’s talking, and composing, at once. I try not to put too much pressure on myself, but that’s how I start. I remind myself I could write something brilliant. I have a vague idea of what I want to say and my first description might be weak—it might be awful—but it could be absolutely brilliant.

LD: How often do you write and for how long? What time of day?

KO: I aim for 500 words every day. That could take 10 minutes, or 3 hours, depending on what I’m working on, how the words are flowing that day. If it’s a good day and I have time, I keep going, humming along like a machine. I might only write 50 words for me today, but they’ll be mine and I will love and cherish those words. Or I could get an idea for an entirely new story and write 5000 words.

Once I get into a groove on a project, I could write all day. But I have to get started. If I get up early to write, I end up on Vulture to see what people are saying about Breaking Bad. I work best during the late afternoon, or at night. I think that’s a procrastination-based habit I developed in college, where I would put off whatever it was that I needed or wanted to do until the last minute. My main motivation is, well, “Katrina, you have to finish this draft so you can eat dinner.” or “You have to get this on the page so you can sleep.” And then I think, "Ok, let’s do this."

LD: What writing implement do you wield?

KO: The initial ideas typically arrive on paper and then I develop [them] on my computer because I type faster than I can write by hand. I love the Notes app on my phone. My friends may think I’m texting someone when we’re out, but I’m usually pecking in something funny they said. I also have a bunch of journals and little notepads for scribbling. My old phone died on me a few weeks ago when I was trapped at a rest stop, waiting on AAA. So I pulled out a notepad and started writing about my current predicament. Technology won’t always save you. I teach some writing workshops in Nashville and when the students have a long prompt, or I’m observing, sometimes I’ll write with them for a few minutes. I pulled out a journal the other day and one of my students nudged another one and announced, “She has a journal!” They were in awe; as if teachers can’t have journals. I think they only see other students using them, or believe those tightly bound pages are only for compositions.

LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem? 

KO: Hah, when there’s a deadline. No story is ever finished. Usually when I’m exhausted and just sick of the draft, I’ll walk away. I’ll love it, but it’s as if one of my favorite songs comes on the radio and I turn the station because I need to be on a different wavelength. Once I get everything down on the page, maybe read it over once, I take a break. I work on something else and revisit it in a few days or a week, just to let everything settle. And then I can start the 4th or 5th or 11th draft. I’ll read it and love it, or I’ll know I can fix things, but usually when I’m happy with it, I’m done. I’ll go back and make sure I've accomplished telling the story and making a point about myself or the event and then I just…this is a non-answer, but I just know. Poems are different. Poems and I are still growing on each other. I never know. I’ll show a poem to someone and they’ll make a suggestion and I’ll rewrite the whole thing. It’ll be as if the 1st one never existed. But that’s the point of drafts.

LD: Let’s talk about your writing soundscape. Do you listen to music? Cafe rumblings? White noise? Utter silence? 

KO: I write well in cafes where there’s music that I’m not in charge of, or when it’s silent. If I hear a familiar song, I’ll sing along and get distracted. I’ll think, “I wonder what The Barenaked Ladies are up to?” and start Googling. But so many of my memories are punctuated by songs. I heard Celine Dion the other day. When I was younger, her music, and other light rock and R&B played on the radio on late weeknights in the car with my parents, driving back from my brothers’ basketball games. Suddenly, I’m 11, listening to Boyz II Men in the back of our minivan on a freezing Michigan February night wrapped up in an afghan my mom’s friend sewed for me before I was born. Then, I’m furiously typing, getting that scene on the page before I forget. That’s how it goes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not-So-Free Freelancer

It's Thursday, which means if you work a 9-5 job then tomorrow is Friday, as in TGIF! As in two days off. As in holy crap I need a break. As in time-to-myself. As in the weekend is nigh.

There are so so so  many things I love about freelancing. My schedule is really open and many of my jobs don't require me to leave the house. This time of year, this freedom becomes less free. In the last three months I've already worked 1/3 of my annual hours. That's 1/3 of the work in 1/4 of the time. If you aren't good at math and/or find fractions confusing, go fill a 1/3 measuring cup with water and pour it into a 1/4 cup. As you sop up the water you've spilled all over your counter, imagine that's me liquefied.

Since it's my third year at this, I've gotten a lot better at not completely ignoring my physical needs. Naps are essential. So are breaks, even mini ones to just warm my cup of peppermint tea. I say no to just about everything social. Lots of deep breathing. To keep my poetry-writing muscles toned, I make words my smallest unit. Word lists. Etymological research. Dictionary reading. A manageable task. Anything that makes approaching the page a little less daunting. Something that I can do while I'm exhausted. So, here for your reading enjoyment, and possibly a little poetic inspiration, are a few photos of my latest lingual collections.




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Writer Uma Gowrishankar

Writer Uma Gowrishankar
Uma Gowrishankar lives in Chennai, South India. She writes, paints, practices yoga and maintains a terrace garden in the middle of a noisy and populated city. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Qaartsiluni, Buddhist Poetry Review, Whale Sound, Catapult Magazine, Curio Poetry, Words Dance and Carcinogenic Poetry. Her short fiction has been published in Pure Slush and Postcard Shorts. Presently she is writing a novel in collaboration with a writer friend. She blogs here.

Laura Davis: Where do you write? Paint us a word picture. Put us there. And that other place you like. Or just send a real picture.

Uma Gowrishankar: I write at my table in my room. It is an old teak table that I brought from my parents’ home. The table is at the window that overlooks my terrace garden which teems with butterflies, bees and dragonflies. I live in an intensely populated locality, but my apartment and my room is tucked away from the din and noise, and this garden gives me a piece of quietness to work.

LD: How often do you write and for how long? What time of day? 

UG: I have a 9 to 5 job as education consultant. Fortunately I can quickly slip into my writing, so I manage snatches of writing even through my working day. I write in the evenings between cooking for family and yoga. Basically I am a night person, I stay up late and write. During the weekends I write for full days, getting myself only a few hours of sleep.

LD: What is your favorite exercise that gets the words flowing?

a painting of her writing space by Uma Gowrishankar
UG: If I do not read poetry, I cannot write. I immerse myself in reading poems; I carry a pocket-sized book with names of contemporary poets, which I pick from recommendations made by friends who are fine poets themselves. Reading poetry, for me, is like the breathing exercise before starting the yoga asana; it is the space I create, vibrating with certain energy. Sometimes an image from a poem I have read becomes the germ of my writing, like a cotton seed it flutters revealing various possibilities, capturing on its wings different slants of sunlight. Words, metaphors, turn of phrases and sentences bear such promises; they hold the torch in whose light and inspiration I develop a thought or idea.

LD: What color is your writing process? Do explain. 

UG: I am glad you asked me this question. Being an artist I navigate my life through color codes. My writing process on most days is green color - the green you find under water, turbid at the bottom and luminous at the surface. On certain days it could be warm ochre, the ochre of a mango fruit in the market in Chennai.

LD: How do you motivate yourself to write? Chocolates? Self-flagellation? Coffee on an IV drip?

UG: Oh, none of these! Reading motivates me the best, it could be poetry, prose or novel. Words strung exquisitely make me restless to put aside whatever I am reading, to get to the computer to write. My work table has books splayed open on their spine beside my computer where I write. Yes, I can read and write at the same time!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Poet Ruth Foley

Poet Ruth Foley
Ruth Foley's work has appeared in The Bellingham Review, Yemassee, and Weave, among others, and been nominated for the Pushcart prize and for the Best of the Net and Best New Poets anthologies. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor at Cider Press Review, and you can find her online on her blog.

Laura Davis: How do you begin writing? Do you just dive in? Warm-up exercise? Daydreaming? Any strange rituals involving smelling a drawer of fruit?

Ruth Foley: I now wish I had a drawer of fruit, but I'm afraid I have to say that I usually just dive in. Often, I begin writing by reading, and my reading can trigger strange responses. Recently, I was reading a book of poems that I found to be deliberately obscure, and I really wanted to put it down forever and pick up something else. Then I realized that every time I picked up that book, I ended up drafting a new poem. I think it was a reaction to the obscurity, a drive for clear expression. Lately, for me, beginning to write requires crawling into bed with a book (and a notebook on the bedside table), but it has in the past required obsessively listening to a particular song or artist, waking myself just as I'm drifting off in order to capture on paper whatever was floating around in my head in the moments right before sleep, and/or driving by myself with the radio off. Or any number of other things. A ritual works for a while, and then it doesn't, and I move on.

LD: Describe the process of making a recent poem or story. Lightning? Slow-dripping faucet? How long did you work on it?

Foley's manuscript while sequencing
RF: I recently finished putting together a full-length manuscript I'm really happy with. I had a lot of material that I wasn't sure what to do with, but that was driving me to work with it. I've written several poems of grief over the past year and a half or so, and it was very important to me for multiple reasons that I handle them well and find the right way to present them. Some of them appear in the chapbook Dear Turquoise, but I knew the chapbook wasn't the end of things. I spend a week every summer with the same group of poets at a self-organized conference in Connecticut, and one of my goals for the week was to get a start on getting the manuscript together, but I had no idea how to begin. Sometime mid-week it occurred to me while talking to some of the genius poets there that I could use the Turquoise poems to anchor the manuscript thematically, and I started spreading poems out all over my room—on the bed, on the floor, on the desk, anywhere there was space. I got a good start at the conference after I got home, my husband put one of the big leaves into our giant dining room table and then left the house for the better part of two days. It was sort of like having a pipe burst, but it a good way: for about a year, everything was frozen, nothing could move. And then everything exploded at once. The real moral of this story is to surround yourself with genius poets and partners who support you wholeheartedly.

LD: What color is your writing process? Do explain.

RF: I think it's probably the grey-green of the northern Atlantic. Lots of colorful stuff can hide under there, and the ocean itself can pretend to be blue or white or even black for a while, but we all know better. I regularly try to turn away from the ocean and find that I can't. A friend of mine likes to say that we need to write away from our obsessions and find new topics because our obsessions will find their way into our work anyway, and I tend to agree with him. My process has the kind of false honesty of the ocean—a poem often starts out looking like one thing, like something very straightforward, and turns out to be something else entirely.

LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem?

RF: In general, I think poems decide they're finished working on me. I have gone back to poems after years—after they've been published, when I think they're long-since done speaking to me—and found that they have other things to say. So I don't tend to use the word "finished;" instead I say, "quiet" or "resting." Poems are resting when I no longer feel driven to work on them anymore, when they seem to be satisfied with the shape they're in. I try very hard to think of them as their own creatures, with their own needs, and to listen to what they want from me.

LD: Let’s talk about your writing soundscape. Do you listen to music? Cafe rumblings? White noise? Utter silence?

RF: Silence is good. There's usually some noise—from the street, or, if I'm in my office on campus, from the other people in the library. My favorite soundtrack when I'm writing is the quiet presence of my two greyhounds, who are almost always asleep. I don't want music while I'm writing. I don't tend to want any outside input at all. And if I'm working on something larger, like a series of poems, I'm often very careful about what I listen to even when I'm not writing. I'm superstitious about setting the right mood, or maybe about accidentally breaking the mood and not being able to get it back. It's an almost physical reaction, sometimes, my aversion to the "wrong" kind of noise—and what's "right" or "wrong" tends to vary. But I can always count on the dogs. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Poet Molly Spencer

Poet Molly Spencer
Molly Spencer’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cave Wall, Linebreak, The Massachusetts Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. A native Michigander and one-time Minnesotan, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and their three children. She writes about poetry, the writing life, and parenthood on her blog.

Laura Davis: Where do you write? Paint us a word picture. Put us there. And that other place you like. Or just send a real picture.

Molly Spencer: Either here:


I'm almost embarrassed to share this. But here is my desk (above). Please note: hair brush and barrette from this morning's hair styling session with my 7-year-old; my 10-year-old's prescription (thankfully remembered this morning with breakfast); emergency ibuprofen supply at the ready; random hourglass, provenance unknown; many love notes from 7-year-old; notes to self about submissions hanging from snowflake made by 7-year-old; husband's rain jacket hanging on my chair — EGREGIOUS VIOLATION!; totem crow. This desk is literally within reach of my kitchen counter to the left, and my kitchen table to the right. 

Or here:


My favorite spot at the library. My happy place.

LD: How do you begin writing? Warm-up exercise? Daydreaming? Any strange rituals involving smelling a drawer of fruit? Do you just dive in?

MS: I always begin by reading the work of other poets. Often I’m reading my way through a collection, but sometimes it’ll be a literary journal or just a stack of poems I've printed from various online sources and set aside for later. As I read, I write down interesting words and phrases, sometimes whole lines. Then I use those scraps of language to do some free-writing. I call this process my “morning reading and writing,” and it is the foundation of all my work.

LD: What is your favorite exercise that gets the words flowing?

MS: I’ll often use a word bank of 7 to 10 words – usually a combination of interesting words from whatever I’m reading plus a few from my own personal universe deck (which I wrote about here). I also go through recent free-writes, pulling phrases and words that catch my interest. Then I’ll start writing anything that comes to mind, and try to use the words and phrases that I've identified. Once I've done that, I often load the lines I've written into a list on this site and press the “randomize” button. This process sifts the lines and somehow helps me to see which ones are most important, I think because it releases me from whatever progression originally asserted itself in the writing. By this time I’m often well on my way to a draft and I usually start cutting like crazy to find it.

Another thing I do a lot of is what I call “word work.” For a few words that seem important to what I’m writing, I’ll look up etymology, alternate definitions, synonyms and antonyms. As I’m doing this work, phrases or other words will often come to me, so I’ll jot those down in the margins. Often they make their way into whatever I’m working on. This is also a helpful exercise for finding just the right word while revising.

LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem?

MS: I don’t find the word “finished” to be a helpful one when it comes to my writing. Instead, I think in terms of: Is this poem send-out-able? Do I believe in this work? Those, for me, are much more helpful questions than, “Is it finished?” because what I've found is that poems have a life of their own and they often come knocking on my door months or years after I last worked on them, insisting upon some revisions. 

LD: What’s the strangest thing you've used to write a poem or a story with and/or upon?
MS: My pant leg. Unless you want to count my children’s minds – I've been known to make them memorize lines that are coming to me as I’m driving.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Poet Carol Berg

poet Carol Berg
Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming or featured in The Journal, Spillway, Redactions, Pebble Lake Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Verse Wisconsin. Her poems have received Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. Her most recent chapbook, Her Vena Amoris, is available from Red Bird Chapbooks. She blogs here.

Laura Davis: Describe the process of making a recent poem or story. Lightning? Slow-dripping faucet? How long did you work on it?

Carol Berg: I’m part of an on-line group of poets who try to write a poem every day during certain months. A prompt is provided that you can choose to use. I’m also using Diane Lockward’s book The Crafty Poet. So last Tuesday, I started a poem by picking a line from a song, “I know a dirty word,” from Kurt Cobain’s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Then I scoured the dictionary for words using only those letters. That was time consuming—I think it took me at least two hours or so. I got three journal pages of words and then the next day started crafting the poem. I used the phrase “I know to” to start generating lines. I don’t know how long it took to get a draft—25 minutes maybe? The world doesn't really exist when I’m inside the poem, crafting it. Right now the poem is simmering in a folder. I've visited it today and tinkered with a few words, but I know it’s not finished yet.

LD: How do you begin writing? Warm-up exercise? Daydreaming? Any strange rituals involving smelling a drawer of fruit? Do you just dive in?

CB: I keep a journal and sometimes my writing begins by mind-dumping. I need to write out my fears. Other times, if I’m writing a series of poems with a particular speaker, I’ll scour my journal for ideas or an image or some subject matter that I want to explore. There are things I’d like to do in my poems that I see other poets do. For example, I love poems that have dictionary themes to them and about a month ago, I was writing poems in the voice of a woman who dwelled in the caves of Lascaux. So I tried to write a dictionary poem of sorrows through that woman’s voice.

LD: What color is your writing process? Do explain.

CB: I love this question! I think my color is a gray-ish opaque, mainly because I’m so inside my head or inside the words themselves that the process seems foggy. The dictionary is so very black and white. I write with a pencil in a journal so there’s a lot of black and white happening visually there as well. Then when I move to the computer with its blue background the process might change a bit. Things might open up more.
 
LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem?

CB: There was a Facebook photo going around where it said something like, “I do my best revising after I submit a poem.” Sometimes this is very true of me: I get so excited about my poems that I send them out too quickly. Other times, the ending is pretty final to me. This is a very intuitive part of the process. It’s a feeling about the poem—either you feel that it is finished or you still want to prod it a bit. Poke at it in the middle and see where it jiggles.
 
LD: How do you motivate yourself to write? Chocolates? Self-flagellation? Drugs?

CB: It’s pure pleasure. Nothing else I do mentally gives me as much feeling of understanding about myself and the world. Not to mention the surprises that come, either new ideas about myself or a new way of seeing things in the world, and I've done that. I wrote that new thing. Pretty powerful stuff, really.


Would you like to be a featured writer in this interview series? Email Laura for more information.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Poet Sandy Longhorn

poet Sandy Longhorn
Sandy Longhorn is the author of The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, forthcoming from Jacar Press, and Blood Almanac (Anhinga). Longhorn teaches at Pulaski Technical College and for the low-residency MFA at the University of Arkansas Monticello. She co-edits Heron Tree and blogs at Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.

Laura Davis: What is your favorite exercise that gets the words flowing?

Sandy Longhorn: I love to use a word bank to get started writing. For this exercise, I read several poems by writers I admire, and I “collect” all of the fantastic nouns and verbs in my journal, scribbling by hand and allowing myself a few adjectives. I let these words fall at random on the page in a big mess. As they fall, words clash together and sparks start to fly. I circle words and draw arrows when connections leap up. Once I’ve got a good chunk of random material, lines begin to suggest themselves and off I go, drafting a new poem.

LD: How long have you been writing? 
SL: I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil and form crude letters on newsprint. My first official “short story” was written in 5th grade, featuring a group of kids investigating a haunted house; in other words, I plagiarized an episode of Scooby Doo. My teacher gave it a star, though, so she must not have been a fan of the cartoon. I switched to poetry in junior high so I could write righteous break-up poems for my friends, and I haven’t looked back since.

LD: Let’s talk about your writing soundscape. Do you listen to music? Cafe rumblings? White noise? Utter silence? 

SL: I fluctuate between some background, instrumental music and a quiet house with just the rustlings of the cats inside and the singing of the birds outside as background noise. When I listen to music, my playlists include Yo-Yo Ma, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Steffen Basho-Junghans. I’ve tried to write in coffee shops and restaurants, even libraries, but I am hopelessly distracted by any kind of language or movement of people. I’m a looky-loo and an eavesdropper; I blame this on my maternal grandmother.

LD: Do you believe in “writer’s block”? 

SL: No, I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in fallow periods, times when the creative mind gets quiet and goes dormant. In this dormancy, new ideas are taking root, new inspirations and new models are being formed. It’s taken me a long time to become even a little bit comfortable with this phenomenon. Of course, if one finds oneself making excuses for not writing when the ideas are there, waiting to be heard, then it might be time to break out the emergency axe and get to work on the block.

LD: Beverage of choice? 

SL: Double-fisted drinking, I write mostly in the mornings when I must have a cup of hot, hot, hot coffee (none of this iced latte business here) and a glass of ice-cold orange juice (no pulp!) diluted 50% with water. 


Would you like to be a featured writer in this interview series? Email Laura for more information.

Monday, September 9, 2013

LitShare: Cornbread, Step-parenting, and Gravity

Weave Magazine is having a subscription drive for September: 50 subscriptions in 30 days.

The latest issue of Muzzle Magazine is available, which includes a review of Jan Beatty's new book, The Switching/Yard. HOT DAMN, this book is good.

Meena Alexander ponders the use of poetry.

Really beautiful piece about step-parenting.

This essay about cornbread by Beth Gilstrap will make you hungry.

Visual inspiration: dancers defying gravity.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with Poet Donna Vorreyer

poet Donna Vorreyer
Donna Vorreyer is a Chicago-area writer who spends her days teaching middle school, trying to convince teenagers that words matter. Her work has appeared in many journals including Rhino, Linebreak, Cider Press Review, Stirring, Sweet, wicked alice, and Weave. Her fifth chapbook, We Build Houses of Our Bodies, is forthcoming this year from Dancing Girl Press; in addition, her first full-length poetry collection, A House of Many Windows, is now available from Sundress Publications. She also serves as a poetry editor for Mixed Fruit magazine. Visit her online here.

Laura Davis: How often do you write and for how long? What time of day?

Donna Vorreyer: I am a public school teacher, so my workdays often begin before 6 AM and usually don’t end until after 4 PM. And I have to try to workout, take care of my dogs, cook dinner, spend time with my family…you get the idea. So, most of the year, I write at night, usually multitasking or tuning out the television to work. On my school breaks and in the summer, I find that afternoons are productive for me, mostly for practical reasons. If I get all of my chores and duties done in the morning, the afternoons are guilt-free for thinking. However, when I am out at a conference/retreat/residency, I turn into a completely different animal. I often stay up until 2 or 3 AM pumping out new material. I think it’s the freedom of having no other “jobs” during those times. When writing is my job for those short days, I can focus completely and live in my head, let things build up all day and then just explode.

LD: What writing implement do you wield?

DV: I always draft by hand, in a notebook. There is something about moving a pen – either my Dr. Grip ballpoint (I have arthritis) or one of my fountain pens – that is more freeing to me than typing. I also like to cross things out, circle them, draw arrows. My drafts are a hot mess. After I draft, I retype/reline on the computer as a first revision step. I go through phases with notebooks – I love my Moleskins, but currently I am in love with these square, plastic-cover notebooks with three sections I found at Target.

LD: What is your favorite exercise that gets the words flowing?

DV: I write a quote or a song lyric all the way down the left margin of a page (one word per line) and use those single words to start new lines. This exercise helps when I am sitting down with an absolute blank slate, and it often gives me at least the kernel of a big idea I want to address or a turn of phrase that I really like. Either way, most of the time the exercise is not a waste. While I was working on my manuscript, I often used this exercise to find new language to link to the theme. If I am sitting down with a specific idea, I concentrate on free writing, trying to shut out my internal editor, filling as many pages as possible. Then I can return and find what is true, what has music. Sometimes, as with my chapbook of Pioneer Wife poems, I do quite a bit of research first, which leads to drafting.

LD: Let’s talk about your writing soundscape. Do you listen to music? Cafe rumblings? White noise? Utter silence?

DV: I am probably the only writer I know that does NOT like the “writing in a café” scene at all. I get too distracted by the noise, the movement, plus I’m cheap and don’t drink coffee, so I don’t like to spend a lot of money to sit and have tea or a soda I could easily have at home. When I’m drafting, I prefer white noise or instrumental music. (My favorites are instrumental indie rock bands like Explosions in the Sky, God is An Astronaut, and MaybeSheWill.) If I am revising, I need silence – I often revise aurally, so music is a distraction at that point.

LD: Do you believe in “writer’s block”?
Donna's writing space: a private cafe with free Diet Coke

DV: Absolutely not. Of course, there are patches where the poems I have the time and energy to produce are not at the quality level I would like, but writer’s block (in my opinion) is a convenient excuse. I can write every day – it just may not be good. Peter Murphy, who runs the wonderful Poetry and Prose Winter Getaway in New Jersey every January, sends poets out every morning of the conference with the charge to go “write a shitty first draft.” Everyone can do that – and most of the time, when you just write something, anything, there will be something there to learn from or think about later. Get words on paper – that’s how all good writing begins.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

LitShare: Heinous Tasks, Literary Decor, and Maybe We're All Martians

Sandra Beasley has compiled a fabulous list of poems about the body.

Molly Spencer teaches us something about the sacredness of writing time and when it's ok to interrupt that sacred time with banana bread.

Goodreads giveaway for Diane Lockward's book The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop.

How and why you should make a Heinous Tasks Table.

Fun book-related gifts, such as a bookshelf chair or paper-scented perfume.

Best New Poets announced their Top 50 for 2013. Congrats to Weave Magazine contributors, Michael Boccardo and Rochelle Hurt!

We might be part-Martian.

Check out Kamilah Aisha Moon book short for She Has a Name on Vimeo.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Writers on the Writing Process: An Interview with poet Teresa Schartel Narey

Teresa Schartel Narey
Teresa Schartel Narey's poetry and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in wicked alice, No Tokens, The New Yinzer, Poets' Quarterly, The Mom Egg, and elimae, among others.  She is a recipient of an Academy of American Poets University Prize.  She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband Daniel.

Laura Davis: Describe the process of making a recent poem or story. Lightning? Slow-dripping faucet? How long did you work on it? 

Teresa Schartel Narey: I am not sure what the correct analogy would be here, but I can tell you the last poem I wrote did not come out in one sitting. They rarely do. My husband and I were on vacation in Maine this summer, and I started to think about my family’s first attempt at vacationing when I was kid. That story is ripe with emotion, so like most of my poems, it began as a journal entry (see photo below), also known as “day 1” of my writing process. I tried to recall the event with just basic details—who, what, where, when, why, how—and then when I started to write the poem (day 2), I filled in the rest—emotions, inner-thoughts, dialogue, etc. In general, after a poem is written, I let it rest for a few days, maybe even longer if I struggled writing it. A struggle means I journal again, specifically about why writing the poem is hard for me and what I thought would happen in the poem versus what actually did. Usually this helps with revising the poem. In this case, I finished the poem without struggling, though I still have a phrase bolded because I might want to refine it at some point.

LD: How do you decide that you are finished working on a story, essay, or poem?

TSN: I always have a story to tell with my poems, so when the story is told, I know the poem is finished.  Also, the poem is finished when every word counts, and I have not forced the language of the poem to make a point or ended with a ta-da moment.

LD: How long have you been writing?

TSN: I have been writing since third grade, so about 21 years.  When I was nine, I read a poem in Highlights that was written by a girl my age.  I thought, If she can do it, so can I.  It is also when I learned that “great writers steal,” because I pretty much reused parts of her poem to write one of my own for a school assignment.

LD: Let’s talk about your writing soundscape. Do you listen to music? Cafe rumblings? White noise? Utter silence? 

TSN: When I write, I listen to wordless music and especially avoid recognizable tunes.  I do not want another artist’s lyrics taking over my poems or interrupting my thoughts so much that I am focusing more on the music than my poems.  With that said, I have been listening to Penguin Café Orchestra or Chopin while I write. 

LD: Beverage of choice?

TSN: I am obsessed with tulsi tea at the moment, especially tulsi masala.  It is a spicy herbal tea that has a calming effect and really helps me clear my head.  Definitely a winner in my book, especially when it is time to write.

Teresa Schartel Narey's journal excerpt 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LitShare: Book Shelfies and Looks of Agony

One week left to submit to the 30 Day Poetry Challenge anthology. Also, Flycatcher wants your place-based writing.

Photography Jill Peters documents Albanian women who live as men for political reasons.

Vicki Hudson has two beautiful poems over at Ditch. Excellent use of space and movement. Kudos to Ditch for showcasing these poems faithfully.

Bookshelf selfies, anyone?

Neil Gaiman says it all about storytelling and reading and life and living.

Don't use these opening lines by Emily Dickinson as pickup lines. Unless you like attracting people who are turned on by, "I like a look of agony."

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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Potential Interview Series on the Writing Process

I'm fascinated by the many ways writers approach the page. Fascinated by how they define the page and what instruments they use for writing. I'd like to start sharing some of the myriad ways and environments in which writing occurs. By illuminating this covert process, I hope to create a menu of sorts for other writers. Sometimes the process of sitting down to write is so daunting, but trying on another writer's process can make it fresh again. Perhaps it can open up new pathways into a poem or a story.

If you're interested in being interviewed about your writing process, please shoot me an email and I'll send you the deets. I think we all have something to share, so I hope to hear from you.

LitShare: Beloved Logos, Infographics, and Who Vs. Whom

The New Yinzer wants original essays about literature, music, or film, and also essays generally about Pittsburgh. Read their latest issue to get a feel for the aesthetic. Email all pitches, submissions, and inquiries.

Check out each state labeled with their most-beloved brand.

This infographic about academia and adjunct instructors versus full professorship positions says so much about our educational system. It also depresses me.

In news that makes me a bit happier, the film version of Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild will be directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and star Reese Witherspoon as Strayed.

The Oatmeal takes on Who vs. Whom. It's unclear to me why people still mess this up after learning the rule. It's not hard to remember.

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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Me & Weave Magazine Issue 09


me and my latest child, issue 09 of Weave. click to subscribe.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LitShare: Beer, Bitch, and Craigslist

Check out the inaugural issue of The Rapid Eye, which features amazing wordsmiths Angele Ellis, Crystal Hoffman, and Jessica Fenlon.

For all the beer swigging poets out there, Dogfish Head's 4th Annual Poetry Contest might be your bag.

Teachers and students can get 20% off a subscription to Bitch Magazine.

Issue 09 of Weave Magazine has arrived! Woot! Also, we republished a story from our inaugural issue entitled "Making Weight" by Jared Ward with an intro by yours truly.

Craigslist and creative writers unite. Poet for hire on Craigslist. Go Craigslist!

A list of the Top 200 Advocates for Poetry over at the Huffington Post.

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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!

Monday, August 12, 2013

LitShare: Lists, Sneak Peeks, How-tos, and More Lists

sneak peek at a proof copy of Weave 09
An interview with Karen Lillis about her small press promotion and sales efforts on the Small Press Review.

Looking for a list? I've got a few for ya. A list of things to ask yourself when making a list of poets via Flavorwire. Here's 50 reasons to avoid dating poets. Tom Holmes shares a list of presses who are currently seeking full-length poetry manuscripts via The Line Break.

"Via Poets & Writers, a Harvard professor teaches leadership skills through literature. "With literature, you can see the whole messy collection of things that happen inside our heads." -Joseph L. Badaracco, the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School.

Over at tweetspeak poetry, a couple of acorns. First, a lesson in how to read a poem. Might want to pass that one on to relatives. In fact they have a whole series of how-tos on poem-reading. Next up, check out this cool story about poem buddies and reading a poem a day for 12 years.

The Guardian wants your found poems!

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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!

Friday, August 9, 2013

LitShare: Epic Poetry, Crafty Poets, and Listening to Poetry

Kelly Egan attended Jane Hirshfield's lecture at the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. She shares Jane's wisdom.

Diane Lockward has a new book called The Crafty Poet, a collection of poetry-writing exercises from a variety of awesome poets.

Poet Robert Pinsky teaches folks how to listen to the music of poetry, and not so much the meaning.

Poetry Postcard Fest is this month. Also these journals are looking for long submissions.

Davka does what she does, brilliantly in a new post called Hot Headed Believer.

Karen Weyant reviews Lori Jakiela's new book, The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious.

Have a splendid weekend, folks.
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*Got some literary news to share? Send it via Twitter or G+ and/or use the #litshare tag!