Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Terrapin Books: Upcoming Open Reading Period


Terrapin Books will open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts on January 24 and will remain open thru February 29, 2020. We look forward to reading many fine submissions.
Our Guidelines are as follows:
Submit a manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems for a book of approximately 90-110 pages (count includes poems, front and back matter, blank pages, and section pages).

Include contact information on title page (we do not read anonymous submissions). Use one inch margins all around.

Do not use all caps for poem titles.

Include Table of Contents.

Include page numbers.

Include Acknowledgments Page that lists journals and poem titles. Format as a list indicating which poems appeared in which journal. Do not format in paragraph form. Please note that we allow a maximum of 6 poems from a previously published chapbook(s). Regardless of the number of chapbooks, it’s no more than a total of 6 chapbook poems. Poems previously published in a chapbook should be indicated as such on the Acknowledgments page. Include title of poem and title of chapbook.

In cover letter area include a brief bio and a 4-6 sentence description of your manuscript—in your own words. Do not send a blurb.

We recommend that 25-50% of the poems have been previously published. More is fine.

Simultaneous submission is acceptable but please withdraw your manuscript immediately if it's accepted elsewhere.

We strongly suggest that you peruse at least one book from Terrapin Books before submitting. We suggest that you do this with any press before you submit.

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Terrapin Books is committed to publishing outstanding books of poetry by outstanding poets. We intend to fully support our poets. We will edit your manuscript and work with you on revisions. We expect our poets to actively engage in promoting their books. We require our poets to maintain a dedicated website and to be a member of Facebook.

Our books are 6 x 9, paperback, color cover, printed spine.

We are committed to publishing accepted titles within approximately six months of acceptance. We do not maintain a long list of books-in-waiting.

We offer a standard contract, a generous number of author copies, a substantial discount on additional copies purchased by author, and a royalty payment.

Please note that we are unable to accept submissions from outside the US.

All submissions must be made thru our Submittable page.

Our guidelines and link to Submittable may also be found on our website.

We are happy to respond to questions, but please read our FAQs before asking as your answer may be found there.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Yes, Virginia


Each Christmas I like to revisit the following essay from the The Sun. My grandmother read it to me many years ago. I've always remembered it. If you don't already know this piece, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a Merry Christmas if that's what you're celebrating. And I hope you'll have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being a Blogalicious reader.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's The Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on September 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.


Here's Virginia's letter:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."


Here's the reply:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Constellation of Kisses Buzzing at The Hive Poetry Collective


Click for Amazon
Recently Dion O'Reilly invited me to be interviewed on her podcast, "The Hive Poetry Collective." We spent 50 minutes talking about my new anthology, A Constellation of Kisses. I read a few of my own poems and we talked about Terrapin Books and the anthology. The end of the program included Danusha Laméris reading "The Kissing Disease," her poem from the anthology. Then Dion read "Birdman," her own poem from the book.

I loved the entire interview, but I especially loved the closing part, so I asked Dion if she could extract that part from the longer interview  and she kindly did so for a 13-minute program.

Danusha's poem was written for the anthology. In “The Kissing Disease,” the poet takes us back to high school, to those first precious, delicious kisses—and, for some, the mononucleosis that results when desire "enters the blood.” Here's the poem:


The Kissing Disease

Isn’t that what they called it? The fever
you could catch from pressing your lips
to the lips of another in the dark corner
of the gym after the game, or later,
lying down in the rough bramble
of the field. Wasn’t that how it began?
And didn’t it lead to a long malaise—
a month in bed, swollen glands
of the neck? You had to sip hot fluids,
eat crackers laced with salt, lie down
until it passed. What a way to meet
the god of want, slack deity who slips
into the back of your throat, microscopic
germ. The way we learn desire
is a contagion cast from one body
to the next. Something you contract
by getting close enough to inhale
the whiff of musk rising from her
like a lick of flame. Or from feeling
his shirt shake beneath your palm—
the dizzy of his heart. Bitter particle,
trick spore. Microbe hidden
in the volcano of the mouth.
Malady of the young, virus
of the tonsil, the tongue. What
can we say of how it enters the blood,
scorches a path through the veins,
sickens us with hunger, shapes
the course of what’s to com
e.


Dion's poem is a revision of a poem she wrote years ago. “Birdman” is about her pet of 40 years, a parrot with one damaged wing. Dion addresses her bird as "my little green man," and describes him as “full of loathing” and wearing a “plumed suit the color of lawn.” Here's the poem:

Birdman

Every morning, my Amazon parrot greets me
as he has since the day I bought him
for ten bucks on a dusty road
with his downcast rage and broken wing.

Hello Birdman, I say, and from his iron cage
he chirps like a telephone, lowers his yellow head,
so I can scratch the down beneath his pin feathers,
lift him to my lips for a clucky kiss.

For over four decades, he’s hated
first my boyfriends, then my husbands, three dogs, and a cat.
On the October morning when I carried my swaddled
twins into the sunroom and set them in the bassinet,
he watched with one yellow eye, tilted his head,
raked the air with his screams. Oh, he’s full of loathing,
my little green man.

How could he have known— as he flew
above the milpas in Hermosillo, before some kid
shot off his wing—that for the rest of his life,
he would live with a giant companion looming
over him with heavy bones and fleshy claws.

And how could I have known my prince
would fill a space in the chaos
three inches wide and eight inches long, that he would
kiss me at dawn with his Bakelite beak and
dry tongue— wear a plumed suit the color of lawn.


Interspersed between the readings, the two poets talk about poems and love, the strange turns both take.

I am delighted to have these two wonderful poems included along with 105 other poems in A Constellation of Kisses.

Both poets have forthcoming collections. Danusha's second book, Bonfire Opera, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in spring 2020. Dion's debut collection, Ghost Dogs, will be published by Terrapin Books in mid-February 2020.

You can (and should!) listen to the short podcast here. Then you should get the whole book. And while you're at it, get some for your friends. A Constellation of Kisses makes an excellent gift for the poets in your life.

Listen to the full interview here.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Finding the Right Cover Art for Your Poetry Book



I like to work collaboratively with my Terrapin poets on cover design. Once a manuscript has been accepted, I ask the poet if he or she has any initial ideas in mind. Some know immediately what they want and have already selected a piece of art. If I like it too, we go with it. Other poets have no idea, but most are somewhere in between. That’s when we begin the hunt for the perfect cover. The hunt usually takes some time, but it’s an enjoyable, exciting process. Following is a Q&A with Kory Wells whose poetry collection, Sugar Fix, was recently published by Terrapin Books. I’ve invited Kory to talk with me about our search for her perfect cover.


Diane Lockward: Most poets begin to imagine a cover for their book as soon as the manuscript is accepted. When you learned that Terrapin Books had accepted your manuscript, what cover images came into your head? What expectations did you have for your cover?

Kory Wells: While I was still revising the manuscript, I had the idea that I might like the cover to include or somehow suggest an image of a red velvet cake, after one of the poems in the collection. I'd also caught a bit of inspiration from the photography of Jill Wellington, whose stock images I've used to promote some individual poem publications on social media. 

Despite these ideas, at the very beginning of the process with Terrapin, I was trying to keep my expectations largely in check! I'd had some frustrations working with the publisher of my chapbook to arrive at a cover we both liked. For Sugar Fix, I was thrilled that you wanted my ideas and confident that even though I might not get my first pick, I’d ultimately get a cover I was happy with since Terrapin has consistently produced attractive books. Of course your covers are on your website, but I'd purchased several Terrapin titles before I ever submitted to you. As an author, I think it's imperative to know a press produces a book you'll be proud of.


Diane: How did you go about searching for a good image?

Kory: First of all, I pulled books of all genres from my shelves to consider what really stood out to me. I realized I wasn't against using a photo, but I gravitated more toward some sort of painting or collage.

Next I made a private Pinterest board to share with you some of these images and other cover ideas. I made notes on what I liked about certain covers: the collage on Cecilia Woloch's Carpathia, the fonts and whimsy of Kim Sunée's A Mouthful of Stars, and the intriguing surreal painting on Ashley Seitz Kramer's Museum of Distance, just to name a few. Although my cover doesn't look particularly like any of these, I see now how they informed our path.


Diane: I recall that the first image we seriously considered for the cover of Sugar Fix was a single slice of red velvet cake on a plate floating in air. It initially seemed perfect for your book which several times references red velvet cake. We both loved that image. I enhanced the colors, then muted them. I worked up several sample covers. You did too, but we ended up not using the image. Tell us why we had to abandon it.

Kory: I am quite taken with the work of Charles Keiger, and as you say, his red velvet cake was so tempting to use. On his blog he even says that the painting to him is about nostalgia and longing, two themes that  occur in Sugar Fix. Ultimately, though, the image didn't pass my gut check. Although some of the poems in the book turn toward darkness, the painting felt too moody for the collection as a whole. Some might consider this a poor aesthetic, but I wanted a cover that simply made me feel happy when I looked at it.


Diane: I recall that you next zeroed in on the art of Janet Hill. What attracted you to her work?

Kory: I'd discovered Janet Hill not too long ago when I was adding images to my Pinterest board "The Art of Reading," paintings that show people engaged with books. To me, much of Hill's work is a delightful combination of romantic and quirky; they feel vintage and yet contemporary. Her paintings have a charm that seems very Southern (although Hill lives in Ontario) and are at times darkly comic. I like to think all those same descriptions apply to Sugar Fix.


Diane: You found a kitchen image by Janet Hill that we liked, but I felt it was too similar to the cover of another book that Terrapin had just published. Then there was another one we liked, but when I contacted the artist we learned that it was no longer available. How did we finally arrive at the image we used?

Kory: I confess I still think about that evocative kitchen scene with a teal refrigerator (teal is my favorite color)! But I totally understood Terrapin's need for a different look. I used Canva to make mock-ups of our two final choices, printed and trimmed them to actual book size, and road-tested on my family members. You made some mock-ups with your cover software. Neither of us could argue with the results: the coconut cake on that vibrant green background caught everyone's eye!


Diane: Once we’d settled on the image and obtained the artist’s permission to use it, how did we arrive at the final design?

Kory: The painting itself more or less pointed us to the position of the title and other text; I think deciding the font for the cover was the most important decision. All along I'd leaned toward a script, and you sent several choices. Again, I was printing out options and laying them on the kitchen table to "live with" for a bit. The back cover was all yours—and though the graphic element is a rose, it's delightfully close to a buttercream rose!


Sugar Fix is available at Amazon, B&N, and the Terrapin bookstore.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Anniversary for Terrapin Books



Turtle in Party Outfit
This month marks the 4th anniversary of Terrapin Books and we're celebrating! Back in 2015 I decided to open a small press for poetry books. Getting started involved a lot of work and new learning, but I approached it one day at a time and kept telling myself I could do it. I practiced my personal mantra: Patience and Persistence.

I first did all the business stuff that had to be done—formed an LLC, obtained an FEIN and a state ID, opened a business account at the bank, registered a domain name, built a website, researched printing options, and opened an Ingram account. Then came the biggest challenge—learning how to format a book.

I needed help along the way so when I needed it, I reached out and asked. Everyone I asked for help seemed happy to provide it. By January 2016 I was ready to put out my first call for submissions. That first book was the anthology, The Doll Collection. I took those first submissions by email, but have since joined Submittable.

In spite of the amount of work involved, I’ve never regretted opening the press. In fact, I love the work. It is a huge source of satisfaction to have built and launched the press, and it’s a joy to publish books for poets.

Since opening, Terrapin Books has published 19 poetry books with two more in progress:

Neil Carpathios, Confessions of a Captured Angel
Lynne Knight, The Persistence of Longing
Jessica de Koninck, Cutting Room
Christine Stewart-Nunez, Bluewords Greening
Patricia Clark, The Canopy
Carolyn Miller, Route 66 and Its Sorrows
Susanna Lang, Travel Notes from the River Styx
Hayden Saunier, How to Wear This Body
Michelle Menting, Leaves Surface Like Skin
Karen Paul Holmes, No Such Thing as Distance
Geraldine Connolly, Aileron
Michael T. Young, The Infinite Doctrine of Water
Lisa Bellamy, The Northway
Paige Riehl, Suspension
Gary J. Whitehead, Strange What Rises
Ann Fisher-Wirth, The Bones of Winter Birds
Sarah Wetzel, The Davids Inside David
David Graham, The Honey of Earth
Kory Wells, Sugar Fix
Dion O’Reilly, Ghost Dogs (forthcoming)
Ann Keniston, Somatic (forthcoming)


We’ve also published 3 anthologies:
The Doll Collection, ed. Diane Lockward
The Book of Donuts, eds. Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham
A Constellation of Kisses, ed, Diane Lockward

and 3 craft books:
The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop
The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop
The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics

Terrapin poets have received some wonderful recognition for their books and poems. This, too, is a great source of satisfaction. Our poets have been featured on Poetry Daily, The Writer's Almanac, Verse Daily, The Missouri Review, Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, and Tracy K. Smith's podcast series The Slowdown.

Our books have been reviewed in a number of publications, including The Chattahoochee Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, American Poetry Journal, Broadkill Review, Rain Taxi Review of Books,  Mom Egg Review, Sabotage, Pedestal Magazine, New Letters, Pleiades, Compulsive Reader, The Collagist, Connotation Press, Rhino Poetry, Whale Road Review, The Adirondack Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Poet Lore, and The Literary Review.

Our books have also been adopted as course texts at such institutions as Bucks County Community College, Colorado State University, Washington & Lee University, Missouri State University, and Grand Valley State University.

Our books and our poets have also received some nice awards:

Lisa Bellamy won a 2018 Pushcart Prize for "Wild Pansy," from The Northway.
Michael T. Young’s book, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was named to the long list of finalists for the 2018 Julie Suk Prize.
Christine Stewart-Nunez’s book, Bluewords Greening, received the 2018 Whirling Prize from Etchings Press.
Patricia Clark’s book, The Canopy, received the 2018 Book Award from the Poetry Society of Virginia.
Michelle Menting’s book, Leaves Surface Like Skin, was named a 2017 finalist by Foreword Reviews in its annual book contest.
Lynne Knight’s book, The Persistence of Longing, was a finalist for the 2016 Northern California Book Award in Poetry.

We even have a state Poet Laureate among our poets! Christine Stewart-Nunez has recently been appointed Poet Laureate of South Dakota; her term began July 1, 2019.

Terrapin looks forward to continuing to publish beautiful poetry books. We hold two open reading periods each year. Our next open reading period will be January 24 - February 29, 2020. Guidelines are posted at the website. Perhaps you’ll join our list of poets?

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Book Launch for A Constellation of Kisses

A book launch reading and party is always exciting. I'm especially excited for the upcoming one for A Constellation of Kisses as I have such a spectacular group of 16 poets from the book coming to read. Here's the lineup:

Tina Barry
Robin Rosen Chang
Jessica de Koninck
Jane Ebihara
Deborah Gerrish
Jared Harel
Tina Kelley
Adele Kenny
Marjorie Maddox
Charlotte Mandel
Wanda Praisner
Susanna Rich
Kenneth Ronkowitz
Susan Rothbard
David Vincenti
Michael T. Young

The reading will be followed by a reception with home baked cookies, cheese platter, and beverages. Everyone is invited to join the poets for refreshments and conversation.

The anthology will be available for sale and signing.

2:00 - 4:00 PM   Free
West Caldwell Public Library
30 Clinton Rd.
West Caldwell, NJ 07006
973-226-5441


Friday, September 20, 2019

Some Thoughts about Submitting Your Manuscript


My press, Terrapin Books, has been in operation now for four years with two submission periods each year. Thus far, we’ve held 8 open reading periods. So I’ve read quite a few manuscripts. While most of them arrive nicely prepared, I’ve seen a number of the same mistakes made repeatedly. In an effort to guide you away from such mistakes, I’ve put together some suggestions, most of which will apply to my press and others as well.


1) Before you submit your manuscript to any press, buy or borrow at least one title published by that press. There are several good reasons for doing so:

  • You need to be sure that your manuscript suits the mission of the press. Would your manuscript be a good fit? Would it fit and still offer something that the press doesn’t already have? Each submission period I get a few submissions of wildly experimental work. A review of what we publish should make it clear that we don’t publish experimental work. We don’t get it well enough to be able to offer much help to the poet. Is your work loaded with obscenities? An examination of what we publish should tell you that your manuscript is probably not for us. Are the poems in your collection all haiku, all prose poems, or any other single form? Again, not for us.
  • Would you be proud to have your book published by this press? Do you see lots of errors that slipped by the editor? Is the font appealing and readable? Is the physical quality of the sample book sloppy?
  • Your first purchase is one good way to support the press that you’d like to publish your work. But if you can’t afford to purchase, you can still get a sense of the quality of the work done by the press by perusing the website. You can also see the interior of many books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

2) Before you hit the Submit button, be sure that your manuscript is formatted correctly. After you convert your Word doc into a pdf, open the pdf and make sure it all looks good. You want your manuscript to suggest that you know what you’re doing.

  • Be sure that each new poem begins on a new page. It’s distracting and confusing to get a manuscript in which a new poem begins on the same page as the preceding poem. Do not use the Return key to get to a new page; instead use a Page Break.
  • Don’t use larger than a 12 pt font (it will appear larger in the pdf anyhow). And use the same font throughout the text, though titles are fine in a different and larger font. Don’t use colors. Don’t use fancy fonts.
  • Use one-inch margins all around.

3) Read the Guidelines. Read the Guidelines. Read the Guidelines. I can’t say that enough. Each submission period I receive some manuscripts whose authors clearly did not read the guidelines. I ask for 40-55 poems, so if you send 28 poems, I can be pretty sure that you didn’t read the guidelines. You just wasted your submission fee as well as your time and mine. Also, I ask that previous publications be listed with each poem title and journal title put in a list, yet each submission period I get some that omit the poem titles and lump the journal titles together in one paragraph. Not a big deal and it won’t get you disqualified, but it will tell me that you didn’t read or heed the guidelines.


4) Do not place the copyright symbol anywhere on your manuscript. That implies that you are afraid that someone at the press will steal your work. Really, it’s the sign of an amateur. Don’t do it. A minor matter but it matters.


You want your manuscript to be treated with care. Be sure you also treat it with care.

Good luck!

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